"It's where we live. It's where we feel alive." Leah Fay of the red-hot Toronto indie-rockers July Talk, is speaking of the band's charismatic live performances and their comfort level on stage. Fay, along with co-frontperson Peter Dreimanis and the rest of the group, are part of the second-annual Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF), happening July 4 to 6 at the Garrison Common. Three stages will offer 44 acts over three days. (As well, there's a bonus club series at the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee's Palace, July 2 to 8.) We asked Fay and Dreimanis to tell us which TURF artists they're looking forward to seeing the most.
Dreimanis, on Jeff Tweedy, the Wilco songster who for TURF brings a new band that includes his 18-year-old son, Spencer, on drums. The project, dubbed TWEEDY, is represented by the new song I'll Sing It, taken from the forthcoming album Sukierae: "When Leah and I first met, one of the artists we we first bonded over was Wilco. There is a song Venus Stop the Train that didn't make it onto the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album. That song has always been really important to the band. Jeff Tweedy is one of the only songwriters, coming out of Uncle Tupelo and with Wilco and his own projects, who matches up to the greats. He's in that school of the Bob Dylans, the Leonard Cohens and the Lucinda Williams's and those kind of people. His songs are like time capsules. You don't even understand how a human could create such truth." Jeff Tweedy plays at 7 p.m., on July 6.
Fay, on Jenny Lewis, the golden-voiced songstress and former child actress who recently released the single Just One Of The Guys, from her forthcoming album The Voyager: "She's been one of my idols since I was four years old. Me and my brother used to make our mom rent the movie The Wizard for us. She plays this kick-ass little kid, and we probably saw the film a hundred times in a span of three years. I actually didn't know that Jenny Lewis was the actress in the movie when her band Rilo Kiley came out years later. Her music, across the board, whether with Rilo Kiley or Jenny and Johnny, or working with the Watson Twins or doing her solo stuff, is so well composed. They could be stripped down to notes on a guitar and they would still be these really sound songs. Lyrically, she tells it like it is. She creates stories that you want to be a part of. And she says the things that people may not want to acknowledge, but when you hear them they ring so true in your heart. I'm so excited to see her. I'm a little terrified that I'll have to make eye contact with her, though. I don't know what will happen." Jenny Lewis plays at 4:35 p.m., on July 6.
Dreimanis, on Born Ruffians, the tuneful, upbeat Ontario rock-pop quartet that in 2013 released its third album Birthmarks, with a deluxe version of the disc released a year later with new tracks and acoustic cuts: "They're great friends of ours, and just an amazing live show. [Frontman ] Luke Lalonde sounds like a sort of preteen yelper, and they write these catchy songs. He had a great solo record last year as well. Generally, the band is someone if I'm home and they're anywhere near Toronto, I'll go try to catch the set. What they do is so smart. When you go to their live shows, they're like one of those comedians, like George Carlin, that instead of laughing you say 'oh my god, that's so funny.' With Born Ruffians, instead of just singing along with them, I'm transfixed by the way they've written they're songs. The way they use tension and patience, it's just so interesting. They blow me away, and I just can't wait to see them." Born Ruffians play at 4 p.m., on July 4, and at 10:30 p.m., on July 2 (sold out, at the Horseshoe Tavern).
Toronto Urban Roots Festival, July 4 to 6. $67.50 to $107.50 (three-day pass, $149.50 to $329.50). Garrison Common, 100 Garrison Rd., torontourbanrootsfest.ticketfly.com.
July Talk plays at 3:20 p.m., July 6, and at 10:30 p.m., on July 7 (sold out, at the Horseshoe Tavern)