Celebrating the Indigenous new wave

A music mentorship program, a series of in-community workshops and an intimate evening of live music, poetry and story-telling, are the gears that run New Constellations.
“We’re just artists engaging with other artists who happen to be Indigenous.
“We want to let the artists articulate what they want in the space provided,” said Jason Collett, a Canadian musician who’s a member of the Canadian super-group, Broken Social Scene and founder of The Basement Revue.
Collett curated the musicians touring with New Constellations.
New Constellations is a tour of 88 artists and mentors, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, coming together to play music, share stories, read poems and celebrate the future of Indigenous and Canadian arts and culture.
New Constellations is based off the same template as Collett Basement Revue, a Toronto live event, which provides a space for poetry, music and sharing stories for an evening.
“I felt really supported as an Indigenous artist,” said Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg author, academic and musician who helped to turn the idea of New Constellations into a reality.
The Gateway hosted the tours second stop the night of Friday, Nov. 24 and featured among others, the likes of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Jason Collett and Singers Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis of July Talk.
“The Basement’s been this scrappy lark in Toronto.
“It quickly became this fun thing to do,” said Collett.
He said the idea to take New Constellations on the road came from Simpson. He said her point was that The Basement Revue always did well getting Indigenous artists in front of a Toronto audience and that something similar wouldn’t be out of place in the form of a tour on the road.
“There’s an intimacy in the format, it’s a generative, cool, synergetic space,” said Simpson
Simpson said the audience at the New Consetellations Thursday, Nov. 23 concert in Saskatoon was so diverse and supportive of the tour that she hopes to see more Indigenous artist exclusive and collaborative tours because of how well the show was received.
“People keep asking the big questions, like ‘what does this mean?’”
“This is what it means, it’s joy, it’s very simple,” said Collett.
“We’ve been reluctant to say what it means, it means we’re coming together. What that results in? We’ll find out.
“Come find out, it’s an intimate opportunity to listen to the voice of resurgence.”
Collett said the tour is an opportunity for non-Indigenous artists to approach something not easy to approach. And that artists are largely thankful for it.
“With July Talk, I offered them a date, and they said ‘can we do more?’”
“This is personally very important to them.”
Collett said when he merely mentioned the idea of New Constellations to other musicians, they were instantly on board.
“That instant reaction tells me it works, that instant ‘I’m in,’” said Collett.

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