100 Dollars aren’t your average Canadian country band. Led by the striking vocals of singer Simone Schmidt, they’ve been captivating audiences since 2008 with their raw, honest songs and a beautiful medley of old and new country. “We grew up in the eighties and nineties listening to all kinds of music, from grunge to psychedelic rock, to hip-hop, to bluegrass, and even minimalism,” says Schmidt. “So it follows that the music we make combines a lot of influences that musicians like George Jones or even Dwight Yoakam never had.”

Their 2008 album Forest of Tears received glowing reviews in practically every major Canadian publication and earned them a nomination on the 2009 Polaris Prize long list. Their powerful, moving live shows seem to fit any bill, routinely seeing the band playing festivals and tours across Canada with artists as diverse as punks like Fucked Up or fellow country-rockers like The Sadies.

They released their second full-length album, Songs of Man, last May. Recorded with producer and pedal steel player Steve Crookes (Jill Barber, Hawksley Workman) it was a hit with critics and fans, getting the band longlisted again for the Polaris Prize in 2011. This winter the band finished a cross-Canada tour with Toronto roots-rockers, Elliot Brood. Expect a new album next year.


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When it comes to serving AUX TV’s stated mandate of supporting Canadian independent artists, GlassBOX Founder and President Jeffrey Elliot doesn’t mince words: “Every pro athlete, mega-rock sta, and superstar comedian was once an amateur. To me, there’s nothing better than seeing somebody that isn’t recognized, who’s really talented, and asking, ‘How can we help them?’”

While supporting under-recognized Canadian talent offers AUX an undeniable market opportunity, it also enables the station to act as a leading tastemaker for audiences increasingly hungry for music created by emerging artists. AUX also serves as a unique catalyst to help uncover and raise the profile of artists who are typically under-represented by other music specialty channels.

Launched by GlassBOX as a website in 2008, and then as a specialty channel in October 2009, the station’s focus on promoting independent Canadian artists remains a huge part of their mandate both online and on the air. In terms of video flow alone, Elliott estimates that 85 to 90 percent of programming is Canadian, typically chosen by an in-house music committee led by AUX Music Director, Jeff Rogers.

“The mandate really is to support Canadian artists.” – GlassBOX President Jeffrey Elliot

“And if we have a Canadian band and an American band that are neck and neck, we’ll pick the Canadian band,” says Elliot. “The mandate really is to support Canadian artists and we do tend to wave the Canadian flag quite a bit around here.”

Although the station’s appeal to increase the amount of videos broadcast during daytime hours was recently denied by the CRTC, Elliott is confident they can expand the exposure AUX offers emerging artists by being creative in developing new content.

They already do so with a broad range of programming that includes shows that tread the line between documentary and performance, such as Camera Music, and more instructional offerings like Master Tracks, which provides viewers with an intimate look at the process of taking a song “from demo to download in one day.”

AUX TV marked its second anniversary in October, and the new SOCAN licensee is attempting to serve its mandate even more effectively by engaging viewers interested in well-established acts; by broadcasting more documentaries featuring familiar artists; and by “theming” their monthly programming under headings such as “Dearly Departed” and “Red Carpet.”

In addition, they’ll be leading those viewers to new talent via a new series of segments entitled Connections. Voiced by iconic Canadian radio personality Alan Cross, the segments will explore how the musical legends of the past – many of whom were initially ignored by the mainstream themselves – inform the work of present-day musical pioneers.


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Thrice awarded the Juno for Female Artist of the Year back in the 1980s, Montreal’s Luba remains one of Canadian music’s most recognizable women in song, even if out of the spotlight. (Her most recent release is 2000’s indie album From the Bitter to the Sweet.) She spoke to Words + Music about one of her most enduring hits, “Let It Go.”

Tell me where you were in your career when you wrote “Let it Go.”
Pretty well at the beginning. I had started playing clubs a couple of years before that, paying my dues. I had written some songs, like “Everytime I See Your Picture,” which had done really well. The night I wrote “Let it Go” I was actually on my way to Hamilton to record my first album with Dan Lanois, and I called my best friend to say goodbye. I don’t know why but this melody popped into my head as we were talking. Once I got off the phone I picked up my guitar and started strumming. I didn’t have the lyrics yet but I just knew there was something there. So I wrote down the chords really fast because I was packing. Once I got into the studio, I told Dan I had this idea that won’t go away. He really liked it, and he helped take it to another level.

How did Daniel Lanois impact the song’s development?
I’d never really worked with a “real” producer before. I am shy, and all of a sudden being in a room with someone with that great reputation, I was a little intimidated. He had a very experimental vibe, which I liked. When you’re new to something, it’s nice to have options to try different things rather than someone telling you to do it this way or that way.

How consciously were you trying to write an uplifting song? The lyrics are quite anthemic.
I don’t know. I came up with the phrase “let it go,” and it was sort of a female anthem. I had taken some women’s studies courses in university and was reading Simone de Beauvoir. I wasn’t trying to be heavy, but I guess I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water, being a woman in the music industry. Things were not what they are now. So I suppose maybe I felt the need to say these things to myself, but as I worked on the lyrics I realized this was turning into something bigger than just about me.

What was the reaction from the industry when they heard it?
I think the record label had a little problem with it! Here’s a Canadian girl and she comes up with this crazy calypso song! Dan, he was really frustrated; they gave him a hard time, and it went through many changes. But I had a gut feeling and my gut feelings almost always turn out to be right.

Looking back, what does this song mean to you now?
It was the launching point of my career. I hadn’t been writing for that long, and I’m lucky that I had Dan as a producer. Anytime I perform it people go wild. It’s not your typical dance song, and yet it makes you want to move and I think it has a positive message. I love singing it


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