The Jerry Cans: Original, Uncompromising and Unstoppable
Drawing their “inspiration from the land and people of Nunavut,” The Jerry Cans encompass a blend of Alt-Rock, Folk and traditional Inuit throat singing to “tell the stories about the beauty of life in [their] home territory,” all in the Inuktitut language.
The Jerry Cans, a truly unique band coming out of Iqaluit, consists of Accordionist and Throat Singer, Nancy Mike; Guitarist and Vocalist, Andrew Morrison; Violinist, Gina Burgess; Bassist, Brendan Doherty; and Drummer, Steve Rigby.
You might be asking yourself, “what is the significance of the name The Jerry Cans, and why did they choose it?” Well, it turns out Steve Rigby once jerry-rigged a drum set out of old jerry cans. While the final product didn’t quite produce the sound they were looking for, they sure did get a killer name out of it.
This wasn’t the first time Steve had custom-built his own kit, either. After arriving at a festival they once booked, it dawned on them that there wasn’t a drum set to play on. Steve, who – in Brendan’s own words – is used to playing “whatever busted drum set is available,” took matters into his own hands. All that was available was “a baby blanket, a stage gear box and a chain,” but Steve made the most of it and wailed on that chain all night. Nothing will get in their way of putting on a wicked show!
Having recently been nominated for Break Through Group of the Year & Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the 2018 Juno Awards, The Jerry Cans had the chance to share the stage with Canadian legends such as Jim Cuddy, Arcade Fire, Lights and The Barenaked Ladies.
However, while The Jerry Cans have been enjoying success as of late, things weren’t always so easy for them. When starting out, radio stations, record labels and promoters found that “music sung in Inuktitut did not have a place in the market.” While the band released their first two albums in English, they found that if you “focus on what you are passionate about… people will notice your genuine love for music and everything else will fall into place.”
And notice it they did. When performing at the 2014 Folk on the Rocks festival in Yellowknife, they felt the “crowd might be turned off by the lack of English lyrics… but it was totally the opposite”, the audience embraced their sound and culture and were loving every minute of it. It was at this moment they realized they “could take Inuktitut around Canada [and] the world,” releasing their third album, Inuusiq, entirely in Inuktitut not long after.
The Jerry Cans’ passion has certainly paid off. In September 2016 they initiated “Nunavut Music Week” and by late 2016 started their own – and Nunavut’s first – record label, Aakuluk Music. Not only are they introducing the world to their culture and incredible music, they are also making it easier for their fellow Nunavummiut’s to get out there and do the same!
While very busy touring Canada and the rest of the world, or helping their fellow musicians get started, somehow this talented group finds time for their normal jobs. Nancy is a nurse; Steve, an electrician; Gina, a yoga instructor; Brendan, a counsellor; and Andrew is currently going through Law School!
When the band isn’t tearing up the stage, working their respective jobs or building the Nunavut arts community, they spend time taking in their surroundings on hunting and fishing excursions through the Nunavut wilderness. Taking on those rugged conditions in Nunavut requires a long-lasting, durable boot, and in the wise words of Brendan, “Blundstone boots are perfect for that.”
Be sure to get out there and check them out when you can. The Jerry Cans are taking part in the CBC Music Festival in Toronto on May 26th, Taste of the Arctic in Ottawa on May 28th, the Ottawa Blues Fest on July 15th as well as the Edge of the World Festival in Queen Charlotte, B.C. on August 10th.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Thursday, June 21
Anicinaabe Park, Kenora, ON
Sunday, July 1
Peterborough Musicfest, Peterborough, ON
Saturday, July 7
Montreal Jazz Festival – Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts, Montreal, QC
Friday, July 13
Wild Mountain Music Festival, Hinton, AB
Thursday, October 4
Koerner Hall, Toronto, ON