North by no way

Roche Uhntraal will neither cease nor desist.

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After a single year of promoting under the clever spoof label NXNE, the North by North End festival, featuring local bands playing in north end Halifax venues, will be legally forced to modify its marketing strategy for 2006. The huge North by Northeast festival — held annually in Toronto — smacked the organizers of the Halifax event with a cease and desist order, claiming music fans were becoming confused by the dual use of the NXNE moniker. “I have it in my email, the name of the law firm,” says co-organizer Jessica Whyte. “They asked us to cease and desist… they said it was with the intent of making people think we were putting on North by Northeast which obviously we’re really not.” The citation isn’t without its irony. The name “wasn’t technically registered until May 2005,” she adds, laughing. “We had a chance at it, but we didn’t get it, obviously.” As for a new name, planners are combining satirical forces once again. While the festival has serious aims to continue and develop the scene where much of Halifax’s arts scene calls home, this festival is about the fun of it. “It’s going to be North by North End, but we were thinking we’re either going to use the acronym FUNXNE or NXNE-X,” she explains, eliciting memories of ’90s grunge act Bush, who was forced to change its name to Bush X. “We aren’t going to use NXNE, because we don’t want to get sued.”

Youth Club’s national branch

Perhaps local bands grasping for approaches to expose their music should start watching the example being set by Tyler Messick and Andy March. The partners — who along with Pamela McInnes are The Museum Pieces — are attempting to advance the musical ambitions of several like-minded groups on their label Youth Club. “It basically came out of loving Special Noise so much, and Sharp Like Knives, that we figured nobody was really doing anything about it,” Messick says of their inspiration. “So we did the label, which also gave us the opportunity to put out The Museum Pieces album in a more substantial way.” A large part of their strategy is already falling into place, as all three groups have received interest from Ontario-based Sonic Unyon for national distribution. Messick calls the current status of the deal a handshake agreement. “They loved Sharp Like Knives, Special Noise, and they loved us. So it was a win-win,” he says. “They also have a good partner in the US, Caroline Records, which we thought was really cool, we wanted some US access.” The progression doesn’t stop there. Production is set to begin this spring on a video for “It Keeps Me Up,” off 2005’s Philadelphia, which will be paid for by a VideoFact grant. Messick will provide support for Joel Plaskett in New Brunswick this weekend, before assuming duties with The Museum Pieces for weekly sessions once The Seahorse re-opens.

Providing support: scene@thecoast.ca

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