#UnpluggedTogether – A One of a Kind Event Series to Celebrate the Healing Power of Music

Grievous Angels – October 21

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#UnpluggedTogether is an online event series hosted by internationally acclaimed music journalist Alan Cross and produced by Grammy Award-winning music producer David Bottrill, to help fuel conversations on mental health and the healing power of music.

100% of funds raised will support Make Music Matter’s innovative Healing in Harmony therapy program for trauma survivors.

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Grievous Angels

For the last three decades, the Grievous Angels have been carving out a unique place in the alt-roots landscape. Their songs, craftsmanship and live performances  conjure the tragic beauty of life in Canada’s northern blue collar outposts.

The Angels were formed in the late 1980s as a street-busking operation in downtown Toronto. They soon moved to clubs and then to the festival stage at folk  festivals across the country. They have played picket lines, isolated northern reserves, punch-out biker bars and soft theatres. They have toured Canada multiple times and garnered two Juno nominations.

The Angels sound is built around the gritty songwriting of band leader Charlie Angus. The Edmonton Journal once said that Angus sings “flatter than a dirt road in Saskatchewan.” But they meant it as a compliment. They added that “one day his songs will rank up there with Ian Tyson, Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot.” Other critics like the Pittsburgh Post Gazette note that the songs of the Angels “stands up with the best of Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen.”

In January 2021 the band released their 8th and most powerful album so far. ‘Summer Before the Storm’ captures the atmosphere of our times with its deep uncertainties, social dissonance and people struggling to find a way forward. Spill Magazine calls it a “brilliant folk album and one for our times.” Summer Before the Storm, like the Grievous Angels, is a kick ass journey of hope in unsettled times.


Steve Marriner

That Steve Marriner has accomplished as much as he has in the past decade, remains a story that continues to impress on a variety of fronts and for a variety of reasons.

Simply put, it is nothing short of astounding that this Ottawa-raised, Toronto-based musician has driven, guided and participated in so many impressive and acclaimed recording and live performance projects. The multi-instrumentalist, song writing singer sits at, or near the top of the list, as “Canada’s hardest working person in show biz.”

MonkeyJunk, has been a fan and critics favorite since the trio first roared down the track some 13 years ago. The blues-basted trio with whom he sings, writes, and plays ferocious harp, has released six albums. The group has won an impressive number of Juno Awards, and Maple Blues Awards in numerous categories. There’s nothing to suggest that train isn’t going to keep rolling down the track for some time to come.

In addition to having ample opportunities to catch the man with the broad smile and unbridled energy perform with MonkeyJunk, audiences have witnessed Steve play the role of musical foil to Colin James on stage and on the outstanding release Miles To Go. Those same audiences have heard him deliver one tasty lick after another or sing alongside Harry Manx on their 2019 critically acclaimed and chart-topping duo outing, Hellbound for Heaven.

“I like to be on the move. To me, standing still feels the same as walking backwards. Pandemic notwithstanding, I spend at least six months on the road each year. It’s been that way for over a decade. Juggling gigs is something I’ve become fairly adept at. I love it. It energizes me. It keeps things interesting.  I started playing harmonica with Colin James in 2016, and I’ve played guitar for Paul Reddick for about as long. I’ve occupied the guitar, bass and keyboard seat in Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar at various times over the past five years. I’ve been producing records and doing session work for a bunch of artists.  Not only is it a survival mechanism, but it truly is my passion to have my hands in so many different projects. There’s just so much to learn, and it’s that learning that sustains me as an artist,” states Marriner, matter-of-factly.

All of this activity and the response to Marriner’s talents combine for the release of his new solo album Hope Dies Last, which he considers to be yet another unique stand-alone departure in his creative journey.


Jimmy Bowskill

Multi-award winning Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist Jimmy Bowskill has come a long way since being discovered at the age of 11 by Jeff Healey. Five critically acclaimed albums later Bowskill is celebrated around the world as a musical force to be reckoned with.

“One of the most spectacular performances (at Ukraine’s Koktebel Jazz & Blues Festival) was by Canadian boy wonder Jimmy Bowskill and his band. The opening chords showed that the boy is not simply a wunderkind but an exceptionally brilliant phenomenon in the world of Blues and Rock. His incredible guitar technique and his strong free-flowing vocal skills, along with his volcanic temperament, blew the audience away.” – The Koktebel Resistance, Ukraine

Over the past decade, Jimmy Bowskill has toured extensively in Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Ukraine, and Japan with the likes of Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, Joe Bonamassa, and Deep Purple, to name a few. In support of his Ruf Records’ album releases in Europe, The Jimmy Bowskill Band performed in theatres, nightclubs and at world-renowned festivals throughout Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, and France. Jimmy also recently shared the stage with music legends, Johnny Winter and Dr. John.

In November 2015, Bowskill joined the Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs playing lead, rhythm and pedal steel guitar. In 2016, Blue Rodeo released their album 1000 Arms, which includes Bowskill playing on two tracks.

The Standstills are a Canadian duo that seductively pair elements of stoner rock and alternative hard rock. Mixed with psychedelic and wild west themes, this duo has made a name for themselves in the sights of trend setters and rockers alike.

Their first full length album “Badlands” under eOne Music, has reached a world wide audience. “It’s guitar driven, outlaw rock and roll” lead singer and guitarist Jonny Fox declares. Drummer and singer Renee Couture defines the record as “If wild west Clint Eastwood and Belle Starr had a rock and roll baby”. Their first single “Wild” set the record as the fastest charting top ten single in eOne Canadian history. And received over 1 million streams on spotify. Following their release the duo toured across Canada, USA, Europe and The United Kingdom. They have performed at festivals and arena’s as support for Eagles of Death Metal, Rival Sons, Lenny Kravitz and more.

This record follows the success of first EP in 2015 “From The Devil’s Porch” featuring “Orleans” which reached #4 on active rock radio charts in Canada, with “Rise of the Fall” top 10 and “Shotgun” top 15. As a result, The Standstills were awarded Best New Rock Group at the Canadian Radio Music Awards as well as iTunes naming it one of the best rock albums of the year.

Currently, the band is wrapping up their second full length under eOne Music which is set to release in 2022.

The Trews Acoustic Trio

Bursting onto the scene in 2004 with their hit single “Not Ready To Go”, which became the most played song on Canadian rock radio that year, highly acclaimed, east coast bred rockers the Trews – consisting of founding members Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald & Jack Syperek – have since become a staple of the Canadian music scene and abroad. With 19 top ten rock singles to their name (two of which reached number one), 6 gold certifications (4 albums & 2 singles) and support slots for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, KISS, Guns’n’Roses, Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Weezer, the veteran rockers are showing no signs of slowing down with the 2021 release of the single “I Wanna Play” from their forthcoming seventh studio album. Widely considered one of Canada’s best live bands, the Trews are not to be missed in a concert hall (or virtual livestream!) near you!


Corey Hart

Corey Hart has sold over 16 million records worldwide by amassing 9 consecutive US Billboard Top 40 Hits, while scoring an impressive 32 top 40 singles in his native Canada (Including 12 – Top 10 Hits). He’s Grammy-nominated as well as an ASCAP, multiple Juno and Quebec ADISQ award winner.

Corey’s video “Sunglasses at Night” became a staple on MTV during the summer of 1984 and claimed the first ever Juno awarded in the Video Of The Year category that same year.

His iconic debut single was an international sensation propelling young Hart to the summit of the pop world. His brooding good looks and James Dean persona became larger than life during the 80s – where he was regularly mobbed by frenzied fan adulation.

His sophomore album “Boy In The Box” achieved Diamond status certification (1 million plus sales) faster than any other Canadian artist in history by spawning four hit singles lead by his classic anthem “Never Surrender” which spent nine weeks at number one in Canada, winning “Single of the Year” at the Juno Awards in 1985.

Corey has performed in arenas from Montreal to Manila – from Tokyo to Toronto where he sold out the 25,000 capacity CNE Grandstand in ’85. In 1999, following the birth of his third daughter, Corey stepped away from his recording and touring career to raise his four children with wife Quebec chanteuse Julie Masse.

During his years away from the spotlight, Corey wrote and produced several songs for fellow Canadian superstar Celine Dion. In 2003, spearheaded by Sire Music’s CEO Seymour Stein, Hart was offered a record label partnership with Warner Music Canada which he named Siena Records.

On June 3, 2014, after a 12 year hiatus from live work – Corey triumphantly returned to stage performing at a sold out hometown Montreal Bell Centre Arena billed as ‘One Night – Three Decades Of Music’. He also released his autobiography entitled ‘Chasing The Sun’ that same evening.

In 2016, Corey was inducted onto Canada’s prestigious Walk Of Fame. His longtime friend tennis champion Chris Evert presented him with the award and Canadian singer Nelly Furtado surprised Hart with her memorable interpretive performance of ‘Sunglasses At Night’.

In 2019 – Hart released his first studio album in over 20 years produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin, embarking on a major arena tour across Canada & Asia – his first since the 1980s. On March 17, 2019, Corey was inducted in to the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame at the 2019 JUNO Awards.


Gord Sinclair

Surviving life’s dizzying highs and crushing lows is a cakewalk compared to writing about them. But if you can do it, the results are very often liberating, cathartic, and a gateway to electrifying music. Witness Gord Sinclair’s Taxi Dancers.

The solo debut from the musician best known as bassist and songwriter with Canadian rock legends The Tragically Hip brings several firsts. Chiefly, it’s the first release from a member of the band since the passing of frontman Gord Downie in 2017, an event that united the nation.

Taxi Dancers is a farewell of sorts, fearlessly exploring Sinclair’s despair about losing a lifelong friend and bandmate. But it is also a clear-eyed survey of what’s good in the world, and a profound statement about why sorrow must be viewed in tandem with joy. Both are elemental aspects of living, and music — especially rock music, with its boundless capacity for nuance, shading, and sheer emotional heft — is perhaps life’s purest mirror.

Cone McCaslin

Cone McCaslin is a Canadian Musician/Producer/Mixer/Song Writer. His career in music started in 1994 when he joined a garage band with high school friends called Second Opinion. In 1998 Cone joined Sum 41 which then signed a major label deal to Island Records in 1999 and went on to establish itself as one of the most successful Alternative/Pop Punk/Punk Rock acts in the years following. They have recorded 6 full length studio albums and 1 EP to date so far. Their reputation for being hard working and immensely creative has also led to collaborations with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, grandfather of Punk, Iggy Pop, rapper Ludacris as well as multi-talented Jack Black to name a few. The band has toured the world for the past 18 years, selling out arenas and clubs and has also played some of the biggest festivals in the world. Sum 41 has inarguably made an indelible mark within the industry, having sold millions of records, topping the billboard charts, and performing multiple times on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Last Call with Carson Daly and MAD TV.

In 2007 Cone co-founded a side project with friend Todd Morse (H2O, Offspring, Petty Cash) called Operation MD. Operation MD has recorded 2 full length albums as well as 3 more iTunes singles since 2007 with Cone contributing on all aspects of production, recording and writing.

In 2007 Cone started his producing career with a co-production credit on the 1st Operation MD album “We Have An Emergency” which was nominated for 2 Casby Awards. Since 2007 Cone has produced many albums including Operation MD’s 2nd album 2010’s “Birds + Bee Stings”, 6 songs for Hard Rock Halifax band Shelter With Thieves 2011 album “Someday Is Never Soon Enough” which won an ECMA Award for “Loud Recording Of The Year”. In 2012 Cone produced folky/alt-country Toronto band The Strumbellas’ debut full length album “My Father + The Hunter”. Cone has also produced 2 albums for Toronto rock band Sun K, multiple songs for Toronto alt-country band Lebarons, and a long list of other bands.

Ian D’Sa

Ian D’sa is the guitarist for Canadian punk rock band Billy Talent. He met future bandmates Benjamin Kowalewicz, Jonathan Gallant and Aaron Solowoniuk in 1993 at a high school talent show and started a band with them named Pezz (later to become “Billy Talent”). Still playing with Pezz, D’Sa went to Sheridan College where he got his degree in classical animation and then worked on various shows as an animator. Pezz changed their name to Billy Talent a few years later in 1998.

D’Sa co-produced the 2006 album Billy Talent II with Gavin Brown. He also did art direction and package design on the Billy Talent II album. He received co-direction credit for the video “Fallen Leaves”, for which the band was awarded Best Video and Best Rock Video at the 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards.

Released in September 2012, the fourth album of the band, Dead Silence, is entirely produced by D’Sa. He was nominated for Producer of the Year at the 2017 Juno Awards for his work on the band’s fifth album, Afraid of Heights.He has also produced work for Die Mannequin and collaborated with other artists including Sarah Slean, Alexisonfire, and The Operation M.D.

Since the release of their self-titled debut in 2003, Billy Talent have cemented themselves as a generation-defining rock band. They have sold nearly one million albums in Canada alone and nearly 3 million albums internationally. Their albums , and have all received multi-platinum certifications, with platinum status for the last studio album. Their new album debuted at #1 in their home country of Canada as well as in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This is the fourth consecutive #1 debut for the Toronto based group. Billy Talent have enjoyed tremendous success at Canadian rock radio where they have had three #1 hits that combined for 20 weeks at the top spot, six Top 5 hits, and six Top 10 hits. They have won 7 Juno Awards and have been nominated 23 times, including three nods for (Group of the Year, Rock Album of the Year, and Ian D’Sa for Producer of the Year).


Blackbird is a singer/songwriter based out of Ontario, Canada. Blackbird began singing at a very young age and has always used songwriting as an outlet. “When I write something out of hurt, I immediately feel a bit better. It solidifies the notion that there is beauty in the ugly and light in the darkness.” Blackbird’s mission is to create authentic music that helps others the way that her favourite artists/bands helped her. Blackbird has an eclectic taste in music and blends genres that inspire her, while also adding her own individual style to her music.

Blackbird started her music career as the lead singer of rock band, Darkstone Crows. She co-founded the group in 2013 as Pariah and changed the name shortly after. With Darkstone Crows, she has opened for Jeff Martin of The Tea Party, Puddle of Mudd, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and more. Blackbird is currently working on her debut solo EP with 3-time Grammy award winning producer/mixer, David Bottrill.

David Bottrill

David is a three-time Grammy Award winning producer and has had over 15 million copies of his work sold worldwide. He has worked with a diverse spectrum of prolific artists such as Peter Gabriel, Kid Rock, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Muse, Silverchair, King Crimson, and Rush. David has also worked with some of the most influential world musicians, notably Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal of Senegal, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan. Most recently, David has been working with Atlanta-based progressive band Mastodon and Canadian power duo Crown Lands.

David spent 20 years living in the UK, followed by a term in New York, but has settled back in Toronto, Canada, where he has a mixing studio. Even still, David spends much of his time working in the US and abroad.

Since 2009, David has sat on the Board of Directors for Make Music Matter. Through Make Music Matter, David has found an outlet for his experience, truly helping better the lives of others and bringing awareness to the community at large.


Alan Cross is an internationally celebrated Canadian radio broadcaster and music journalist. He is best known as host of the syndicated radio series The Ongoing History of New Music and The Secret History of Rock. Cross also maintains his personal music blog, A Journal of Musical Things. Currently, you can catch him on the airwaves weeknights from 7-8 on the Edge 102.1 in Toronto.

#UnpluggedTogether host and internationally acclaimed music journalist Alan Cross

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Our Impact

From survivors of sexual violence in the Congo to Syrian refugee children with disabilities and soon survivors of generational trauma in Indigenous communities at home in Canada, Make Music Matter’s innovative Healing in Harmony program is making a difference in the lives of trauma survivors around the world.

Healing in Harmony artists from Bukavu, DRC. Photo by Platon for the People’s Portfolio and Dr. Denis Mukwge


Over 5000 individuals across 8 countries have participated in the Healing in Harmony program. Working with a local psychologist and music producer, they emerge as empowered artists and advocates for change, with a renewed sense of self-worth. Their original songs are disseminated globally through A4A Records, with distribution through Warner Music Canada.

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Healing in Harmony artists from Bukavu, DRC. Photo by Platon for the People's Portfolio and Dr. Denis Mukwge

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