Canadian pop-rock energy explodes on August 3 as Peterborough Musicfest welcomes JJ Wilde and Suzie McNeil

Juno Award winner JJ Wilde and Juno Award nominee Suzie McNeil will co-host a Peterborough Musicfest rock-pop concert at Del Crary Park on August 3, 2022. (kawarthaNOW collage of promotional photos)

This is the story of two Canadian pop rock hits that, while similar in some ways, are still different enough to stand on their own.

In one corner you have JJ Wilde, whose 2020 debut album won him a Juno Award in 2021, just two years after he launched his music career. Facing her is Suzie McNeil, 2008 Juno nominee for Best New Artist of the Year, whose work as a solo artist and collaborator has captured our collective attention for nearly 20 years.

On their own, each is a musical force to be reckoned with. But get them together on a stage for one night, well, now you’re onto something really special.

On Wednesday, August 3 at Del Crary Park, that will be the case as Wilde and McNeil co-headline another chapter in Peterborough Musicfest’s landmark 35th season. Admission to the 8 p.m. concert is, as always, free.

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Born in Kitchener, JJ Wilde – Jillian Dowding in another life – made the first impression in 2019 with the release of her debut EP Wild eyes, steady hands and single “The Rush”, which in May 2020 reached No. 1 on the Canadian Modern Rock, Active Rock and Mainstream Rock charts simultaneously – one of the few songs to achieve this feat.

All doubts about Wilde’s rock prowess after that remarkable debut were dispelled when his debut studio album of 2020 Ruthless followed a similar trajectory. Nominated for a 2021 Juno Award for Rock Album of the Year, Ruthless brought Wilde his first statue. Not since 1996, when Alanis Morissette won a Juno for Little shredded pillwon a female performer in this category.

Wilde arrives in Peterborough with new material thanks to his second EP Savage, released last year. The six-song collection includes his powerful cover of the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty classic “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, featuring Brett Emmons of The Glorious Sons, with whom Wilde recently toured in Canada – she opened for them at the Peterborough Memorial Center last April — with The Scorpions in Europe.

VIDEO: “The Rush” – JJ Wilde

“This (Wilde) EP was created during the pandemic, so there’s definitely some frustration that has seeped into this project of not being able to play any shows,” Wilde explained during a June 2021 interview with Rob Laing of MusicRadar.

“But having free time to write more also influenced this record in a very positive way. I had more time to sit down with the songs than usual; to refine and make changes. I also had more time to write just for me. I think there’s a real honesty that comes from that.

When asked to describe his sound, which resonated with so many people so quickly, Wilde admits to being puzzled.

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“It’s always hard for me as a musician to describe my sound because music means so many different things to different people,” Wilde said. “It’s all about interpretation. I would say my music is raw, emotional and comes from the heart. My songs are all very personal to me. The sound is rock…heavy guitars, big booming drums and a rumbling bass line.

While a rapidly growing legion of fans eagerly await Wilde’s sequel, his pledge is to “keep evolving and growing.”

“I just want my songs to continue to come from an authentic place. The sound will evolve naturally as the songs are written. As I grow as a person, my interests in sounds will change.

VIDEO: “Wired” – JJ Wilde

Following Musicfest, Wilde will headline August 5 at the Kitchener Blues Festival, then take a break before embarking on a busy fall of performances across Canada.

Wilde is following a path not unlike that well-trodden by Suzie McNeil since 2005, when the Mississauga native placed fourth on Rock Star: INXSsubsequently reaping the rewards of a successful and diverse career as a solo artist and as a collaborator with INXS, Clay Aiken, Foreigner and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

McNeil has recorded three studio albums, with his 2007 debut album Broken and beautiful with the singles “Hung Up” and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics anthem “Believe” and earned him a 2008 Juno Award nomination as Best New Artist of the Year.

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Next albums Rock’n’Roller (2008) and Dear love (2012) followed, the former spawning her hit “Supergirl” and the latter bringing McNeil more commercial success via the singles “Drama Queen” and “Merry Go Round”.

In addition to her Juno nomination, McNeil won an Independent Music Award in 2008 as Favorite Pop Artist, and in the same year was shortlisted for two Canadian Radio Music Awards.

Diversity has been the name of the game for McNeil, his varied musical pursuits including utilizing his multi-instrumental talents as a member of his own Nashville-based country-rock band, forays into musical theater Broadway level and commercial jingle recording. work.

VIDEO: “Supergirl” – Suzie McNeil

Rarely still, she dipped her toe in a number of new musical waters, from singing backing vocals for Pink on her North American tour to entertaining troops in Afghanistan to the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. of 2010.

“I love doing this so much,” she told Jim Barber in a November 2018 interview with Music Life Magazine, adding “I love getting paid for it. I love being able to support myself by doing something. something I love. For me, that’s always been the goal.

“I’m a little bored and I like having new challenges and different experiences. I love musical theatre, so I loved being able to do that with We Will Rock You (in 2007 at the Canon Theater in Toronto). I love 1970s music, so I loved doing this show. When I look back on my life, I’m very proud, and very proud of all the different experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve been able to meet and work with.

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One of those new challenges came in 2014 when McNeil teamed up with Elisha Hoffman, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Marti Fredericksen to form the country rock quartet Loving Mary. This union gave birth to the EP Loving Mary – Live in 2015, and a stint with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a backup band on his first country solo studio album We are all someone from somewhere and his “Out On A Limb” supporting tour of the United States and Japan.

Unsurprisingly, working with Tyler remains a highlight of McNeil’s career.

“He’s a very, very generous man,” she said. “He likes music; he is like a little child with music. He has more energy than me. He’s just a beautiful soul.

VIDEO: “Hung Up” – Suzie McNeil

“He cares a lot about the little things, like people’s birthdays, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s been famous for so long that he probably appreciates all those little things more than us because they make us feel better. I think people who have been fabulous for so long appreciate the simpler things in life.

Ahead for McNeil is a fourth solo album which, as stated on his Twitter feed, “is already written”.

Bet on her cringing fans to hear the rest of the singer who has only surprised during her career.

Peterborough Musicfest presents 16 free concerts during its landmark 35th anniversary season, each held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at Del Crary Park in downtown Peterborough.

Overseen by General Manager Tracey Randall and her staff, a Board of Directors and numerous volunteers, Peterborough Musicfest’s stated mission remains “to provide diverse and affordable live music to enrich the cultural and economic prosperity of our community”.

For more information on this concert or the entire 2022 season, visit or call the Peterborough Musicfest office at 705-755-1111.

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