December 23, 2008
True North expands into agency, concerts
By KAREN BLISS - For Jam! Music

Bruce Cockburn is one of the artists on the True North Records label. (Sylvia Train/Toronto Sun/SUN MEDIA/file)

Legendary Toronto indie label True North Records is expanding into concert promotion and booking with True North Concerts and True North Agency.

The first True North Concerts presentation is The Canadian Songbook, featuring Murray McLachlan, Stephen Fearing , Paul Quarrington and Catherine MacLellan “sharing songs and stories together in an intimate setting.” It will take place at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall December 27 and at Ottawa’s Centrepointe Theatre on the 28th.

The True North Agency roster currently consists of MacLellan, The John Henrys, and the Sicilian Jazz Project.

“Artists [on True North Records] that have their own existing booking agents, they will stay with them if they want to. We’re not going to try and steal any away or interfere with any relationships. We have to work with agents on a number of fronts,” says True North president Geoff Kulawick.

The True North Records roster includes Bruce Cockburn, McLachlan, Fearing, 54.40, Colin Linden, The Golden Dogs, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, and Michael Occhipinti. The label was founded in 1969 by Bernie Finkelstein and has more than 450 releases to it credits, as well as 40 Juno Award wins, and 37 gold and platinum certifications.

Kulawick says True North Agency will not depart from the styles upon which Finkelstein built the respected record company.


“We’re going to be staying in the niche genres of roots and jazz, but also classical and singer-songwriters. That is what the brand is known for. We’re not going to be stepping into hip hop, hard rock and club music any time soon.”

New signings to the label will not be obligated to go with True North Agency, Kulawick assures.

“If they don’t have a current agent, then we want to develop the artist and we’ll engage our booking agency for them, and if at any point the artist wants to look elsewhere for booking, they certainly have that right,” he says.

He will also be looking at acts signed to other labels that don’t have an agent.

“We’re going to consider every opportunity to work with the artists that we think are special,” Kulawick says.

True North Concerts launches with the two Canadian Songbook shows just after Christmas.

“We’ll be doing more shows as we grow the division and we’ll produce those shows that we think are going to perform well and create business opportunities,” Kulawick says.

He has hired Ottawa’s Joel Baskin of Pilot Music Group to assist with True North Agency and True North Concerts.

Pilot is a national booking agency, representing some 50 artists on an exclusive and non-exclusive basis, including Canadian and international names such as Gilby Clarke (ex Guns N’ Roses), Eve 6, Flo Rida, Bret Michaels, Dokken, Bran Van 3000, Carole Pope, Everlast and DJ Muggs, Extreme, Nightwatchman, Ours, Lukas Rossi (ex Supernova), and Greg Neufeld (Canadian Idol).

“He’s going to be on point for the True North Agency and he’s going to continue booking his other acts under Pilot,” says Kulawaick. “He is essentially working for the True North Agency part time.”