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Announcing the Searchlight 2015 regional champions

Editorial Staff

From the 3,333 bands that entered Searchlight, 23 regional champions have been chosen to advance to the national round. You can see them by heading to the Searchlight homepage or scrolling the list, below.

Iqaluit: Scary Bear Soundtrack, "Fault Lines"
Genre: synth-pop

This is Scary Bear's second year running winning their regional championship! Last year this band from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut went all the way to the Searchlight finals. Can they do it again?

Scary Bear Soundtrack, Searchlight Regional champs

Calgary: The Dearhearts, "July"
Genre: folk pop

The Dearhearts are from the almost make-believe sounding town of Rosebud, Alberta, and play a kind of toe tapping bluegrass that conjures up memories of everyone from the Andrew Sisters to the Wailin' Jennys.

The Dearhearts, Searchlight Regional Champs

Cape Breton: Thomas Aaron, "Can't Back Down (featuring Sheppy)"
Genre: hip-hop

Move over Classified? This North Sydney rapper has some great flow as he teams up with Cape Breton producing legend Sheppy on this great track.

Thomas Aaron, Searchlight Regional Champ

Yellowknife: Godson, "Aliens feat. Tiffany Ayalik"
Genre: hip-hop

Godson has called the Northwest Territories home for almost twenty years, and in that time he has become a respected mainstay of the music scene. "Aliens" is a song about how people from the far north often feel alienated from other areas of Canada.

Godson, Searchlight Regional Champ

Toronto: Devan and Khalid, "No Ribbons"
Genre: folk pop

This duo met while attending Queens University in Kingston, and have been crafting their duet-laden modern folk ever since. They've graduated from Queen's, now they're focusing on graduating at the top of the class in Searchlight.

 Devan and Khalid, Searchlight Regional Champs

Halifax: Hillsburn, "Farther in the Fire"
Genre: folk pop

When Hillsburn singer and songwriter Paul Aarntzen found himself in a hospital bed last winter, he swore that if he survived, he wanted to spend time doing what he loved: making music. So far so good. Fans of Hey Rosetta! will love this.

Hillsburn, Searchlight Regional Champs

New Brunswick: Jesse Cox, "Haul Your Tears"
Genre: singer-songwriter

Jesse Cox has music in the blood: his Cape Breton Island parents were popular touring folk musicians in the 1980s. These days, Jesse lives on the New Brunswick side of the water, lobster fishing by summer and strumming out sweet country folk tunes the rest of the year.

Jesse Cox, Searchlight Regional Champ

Quebec City: Orange O'Clock, "Can't Fight the Feeling"
Genre: alt-rock

This Sherbrooke power trio crank out the indie rock disco party jams on their song "Can't Fight The Feeling". If you did the latest artistic turn by the Arcade Fire, or Interpol, or the Cure, this could be your jam!

Orange O'Clock vie, Searchlight Regional Champs

Montreal: The Fall Line, "Original Sin"
Genre: alt-pop

This is possibly one of the most sophisticated and alluring songs in the entire Searchlight competition, almost like it was plucked from the soundtrack of Kill Bill. The band formed through connections made in previous years of Searchlight!

The Fall Line, Searchlight Regional Champs

Ottawa: Lost Cousins, "Drift"
Genre: alt-rock

Lost Cousins are a confident, solid, harmonious indie rock band from Kingston who would in perfectly on a bill alongside Hollerado, Sam Roberts, and Said The Whale. Love the passionate lead vocals!

Lost Cousins, Searchlight Regional Champs

Hamilton: Skinner, "2nd and Broadway"
Genre: new country

Skinner is Jackie and Breya, two highly accomplished siblings. Besides being great country musicians, they are both world travelers. Breya is a crokinole champion and was a semi-finalist in Nashville Star. Jackie is a bocce ball champ, and was a contestant on the Amazing Race!

Skinner, Searchlight Regional Champs

Charlottetown: Peggy Clinton, "You Will Never Have"
Genre: folk/traditional

Talk about a renaissance woman! Peggy Clinton, from Souris, PEI, is not only an accomplished musician, but also a wife, mother of four kids, and works for the Department of Forestry. Oh, did we mention she's also nominated for three PEI Music Awards, including Country Recording of the Year?

Peggy Clinton, Searchlight Regional Champ

Northern Ontario: Murder Murder, "Jon & Mary"
Genre: bluegrass/outlaw

This folk-noire band performs "murder ballads" exclusively (think outlaw country, Johnny Cash, "Long Black Veil"). Murder Murder also localize things, weaving the harrowing pioneer stories of their own backyard of wild Northern Ontario into their songs. Clearly, they also dress the part.

Murder Murder, Searchlight Regional Champs

Windsor/London: Ivory Hours, "I Won't"
Genre: alt-pop

From London, Ontario, this bright pop band delivers the goods in a big shiny way on track. They've already played with Sam Roberts and Delhi 2 Dublin, and are booked to play this year's Canadian Music Week in Toronto.

Ivory Hours, Searchlight Regional Champ

St. John's: Kellie Loder, "On This Drive"
Genre: singer-songwriter

Kellie Loder is originally from Badger, Newfoundland, smack dab in the middle of the island. Her parents knew she'd be a musician when she wouldn't stop drumming pencils along with the hymns in church. Sure enough, she was a drummer first, and is now a Juno-nominated singer with an amazing voice.

Kellie Loder, Searchlight Regional Champ

Winnipeg: Mika-Dawn, "Oil Man"
Genre: singer-songwriter

Mika-Dawn lives on a farm in the small Manitoba town of Pilot Mound, where she's just as likely to be found in muddy boots working the farm as she is with a guitar in her hand. This song is about the dangers of working too hard without enjoying life while doing it.

Mika-Dawn, Searchlight Regional Champ

Saskatchewan: Amanda Hagel, "Before We Call it a Night"
Genre: country

Amanda is another prairie farm girl, having grown up on the family homestead in tiny Lancer, Saskatchewan, where she was fed a steady diet of Garth Brooks, Martina McBride and Faith Hill. The influences have certainly rubbed off in all the right ways. By day, Amanda is a personal trainer.

Amanda Hagel, Searchlight Regional Champ

Edmonton: The Royal Foundry, "All We Have"
Genre: folk pop

Edmonton husband and wife band The Royal Foundry are like Stars if they played acoustic instruments, or Bahamas if he permanently shared the stage with Feist.

The Royal Foundry, Searchlight Regional Champs

Victoria: PK Tessmann, "Cannot Explain"
Genre: singer-songwriter

PK hails from the tiny Vancouver Island town of Cumberland, where she is a mother of two small boys and an early childhood educator when not playing her tunes. Looking for a new Feist? You found her.

Pk Tessmann, Searchlight Regional Champ

Vancouver: Shy Sharity, "Sparkles"
Genre: pop

Shy Sharity has already been a success in the entertainment business for years, having appeared in films alongside actors like Ryan Reynolds and William H. Macy. The Vancouver artist is also a very accomplished musician, who sounds poised for big things on this ready-to-go pop single "Sparkles". Think Mother Mother meets Lights.

Shy Sharity, Searchlight Regional Champ

Whitehorse: The Bennett Sun, "The Ballad of Salty Hair"
Genre: folk

The Bennett Sun play self-described "tumbleweed pop". This five piece female band came together five years ago at a late night jam under the Yukon midnight sun. Since the band formed, three of the members have had babies, but they keep the band going all the same.

The Bennett Sun, Searchlight Regional Champs

Kelowna: The Burn Ins, "Good Vibes"
Genre: rock

Hot blues rock from deep within the Rocky Mountains. The Burn Ins are from Elkford, BC, in the East Kootenays, and will harken up good vibration memories of the Black Keys, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Pack AD.

The Burn Ins, Searchlight Regional Champs

Kitchener-Waterloo: Kyle Boyne, "Misguided Soul"
Genre: singer-songwriter/rock

Kyle believes that inflated egos and narcissism have no place in art in any shape or form! Glad to see he's grounded. And passionate. If you like Kathleen Edwards or Tom Petty, you'll dig Kyle Boyne.

Kyle Boyne, Searchlight Regional Champ

This round, things are different. Voting continues until 3 p.m. ET on Monday, May 4, and the five acts receiving the most votes will automatically advance to the next round, the national top 10. In this national voting round, you can vote for up to 10 artists each day.

The top 10 will be rounded out by our celebrity judges, Dan Boeckner, Jenn Grant and Saukrates, who will choose the five remaining acts. On Tuesday, May 5, the national top 10 will be revealed. Tune in to q in the morning to find out the five acts voted through, and then tune in to the afternoon shows to find out which five acts the judges save.

The Searchlight winner will be revealed on q on CBC Radio on Friday, May 15. That announcement comes after judges and votes narrow the field down to a final four.

As you help your favourite bands move closer to being named Canada's best new artist, don't forget that by voting you can win prizes from Yamaha Canada Music.