Duntroon band enters CBC’s Searchlight contest

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Duntroon based band Mad River has entered CBC Music’s Searchlight contest, which welcomes “Juno ready” musicians in any genre to compete for a chance at the national spotlight. 

The contest relies in part on public support so Mad River is asking people to go online, listen to their new song Body & Soul, and vote. 

Mad River’s creative core is Neill Lanz, Rick Garner and Craig Smith. They are based out of Lanz’s home studio Mad River Music, where many musicians come to record with Smith, who runs the studio. And when the studio isn’t booked, Mad River gets in there for some sessions of their own. 

Together, Mad River released their first album, Swamp Music, in 2017, but the Searchlight entry, Body & Soul, is off the band’s upcoming second album. 

Lanz said there is a collaboration that takes place with each song. As singer/songwriter, Lanz takes a song to Garner to be arranged and then to Smith, who is the producer and engineer. 

Lanz, a retired Stayner Collegiate Institute English teacher, and Garner released a 1993 folk-country album, Tickler, along with then band member John Miller, of Strange Potatoes. Four songs from this album received international radio play. Lanz was also in the band Butterfoot, playing cover tunes and original music locally and in Toronto in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Garner, who had success with his album Blue Mountain Blue, plays locally with his son Aaron Garner.

“We go back a long way,” said Lanz. “[In 2015] We got back together to get some current music going. And then we did some recording and that’s when we hooked up with Craig Smith… He’s kind of a magician with music. We call him the aficionado.”

Smith plays locally and hosts Thursday night open mic sessions at Crow Bar in Collingwood, where Mad River takes stage with support from band mates John Hall and Michael Donovan. 

“It’s a very collaborative experience, playing music. We really enjoy it,” said Lanz. “At this point it’s fun to share too and that’s why this contest is a cool opportunity.”

In Round 1, fans can cast a daily vote for Mad River until 3 p.m. on Feb. 14. Shares on social media are also appreciated. 

In Round 2, 50 artists will make it through to the top-100 (50 artists will make it through by popular vote, and the other 50 will make it through by internal judging from a team of CBC Music producers.)

A top-10 list of finalists will be revealed on Feb. 28, and then the winner of will be declared on March 7.

The winner gets a spot in the 2019 Allan Slaight Juno Master Class, Canada’s premiere artist development program, a weeklong mentorship program led by some of Canada’s top music industry leaders, culminating with a live performance at an industry showcase in Toronto and on to the 2020 Juno Awards, where they will perform at JunoFest and attend all the Juno festivities.

To vote online, visit www.cbcmusicsearchlight.ca. 

To hear more from Mad River, visit madrivermusic.ca. 

Watch for details about a CD release party later in the spring.

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