Sunday April 02, 2017

Midnight Shine lead singer hits the road to the Juno Cup

Adrian Sutherland, lead singer of Midnight Shine gears up for the Juno Cup in Ottawa. 0:29

Listen 13:24

Adrian Sutherland is the lead singer of Midnight Shine, a roots, classic and modern rock band from Attawapiskat First Nation, Ontario.  

But it wasn't his music that had him hit the road last week.

Sutherland, who is Cree, was drafted to play at the Juno Cup this year. So he packed up his gear and headed out on the ice road. He drove from his home in Attawapiskat, in far northern Ontario, to Moosonee, where he hopped a train to Cochrane, Ont., and from there he hit the road again to Ottawa.

"It's quite the trip. Long days, lots of driving but it's definitely worth it."

Sutherland, who took his wife and kids along, explained that it is expensive to fly to Ottawa and it is the norm for people in the James Bay region to take advantage of ice roads to travel to Moosonee and catch the train further south.

All in four days

The long road trip was made extra special for Sutherland as fans greeted him along the way.

"People were greeting me all along the coast, " he said. "They knew where I was going, they had been following the band and everything leading up to this week."

He made the almost 1,000 km trip for the opportunity to play hockey alongside rock greats like Jim Cuddy and Sam Roberts as well as hockey legends Mark Nappier and Paul Coffey.

Sutherland said he learned to skate on the back lakes and ponds near his home.

"Taught myself how to skate and I was very passionate about the game of hockey," he recalled. "I'm a pretty modest person. I'm not going to tell you I'm a good hockey player (but) some people think I'm a good player."


Adrian Sutherland is the lead singer of Midnight Shine but this weekend he is a hockey player as he gears up for the Juno Cup in Ottawa. (Provided)

The land is also where Sutherland finds inspiration for his music. He takes his family out on the land to hunt for goose and fish several times a year.

He said the land sings.He listens to the spring birds sing their morning songs and is inspired by their different melodies that he tries to incorporate into his own songs. 

Accidental Band 

His band, Midnight Shine was a happy accident. Sutherland was playing different venues as a solo act when opportunity came knocking. He was invited to open for Trooper in Timmins, Ont., in 2011. However, there was one condition: he had to perform with a band. He pulled together Zach Tomatuk (guitar/vocals), Stan Louttit (bass/vocals), and George Gillies (drums/vocals), and Midnight Shine was born.

The foursome have made two albums together, Midnight Shine and Northern Man and Sutherland hopes to further experiment with their sound including incorporating the Cree language.

"You just gotta find whatever you can with your surroundings and the environment that you're in."