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Metro's Trevor Greenway looks at the people who gave a big boost to Ottawa

In a year where music lost a lot internationally, Ottawa kept growing.

Danielle Allard plays a long list of shows every year, many of them for local charities.


Danielle Allard plays a long list of shows every year, many of them for local charities.

2016 was a tough year in music.

All you need to do is go through the list of fallen musicians in 2016 and you will see how much we all lost this year.

But while global music scene suffered from the loss of so many pioneers, the deaths of these crusaders didn’t dampen the scene in Ottawa, and in fact, likely fueled it.

Here’s to the top 5 movers and shakers of Ottawa in 2016

Danielle Allard

Ottawa songstress Danielle Allard is arguably Ottawa’s hardest working musician. Allard works full time teaching communications at Algonquin College, she’s a producer at Rogers Ottawa and still finds time to play a ton of shows, many of them benefits for charities in the city.

Mackenzie Di Millio's strong voice is the front of Monday I retire.


Mackenzie Di Millio's strong voice is the front of Monday I retire.

Mackenzie Di Millo

When we first heard Mackenzie Di Millo’s teenage voice six years ago on her first Monday I Retire record, it was just that: a teenager with a sweet voice trying to make it in the sonic world.

But it didn’t come without hard work. Di Millo spent four years crafting her sound at Carleton’s vocal jazz school, where she learned everything you hear in her smoky jazz voice today. The hard work sure paid off. Monday I Retire’s latest studio venture is a groovy campaign filled with Di Millo’s buttery vocals, M.J. Heney’s silky guitar and Stephen Adubofuor’s pleasing popcorn drumming.

Riishi Von Rex

For those of you who didn’t get enough of El Paso prog rock band The Mars Volta before they disbanded can thank Riishi Von Rex for keeping the prog train going. Riishi Von Rex and her co-conspirator Michel Delage exploded onto the scene when they dropped their sinister ska, reggae-prog rock EP in early 2016.  

Mike Mikkelsen

All you need to do is look at the roster of DJs Mike Mikkelsen has brought into his Kinki After Dark Series this year: Scratch Bastid, DJ Scratch, Mat the Alien, ONIONZ . Mikkelsen of Kapacity Entertainment has been dedicated to elevating Ottawa’s DJ and hip hop culture since 1999, and he’s fared well doing so. He’s brought in the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Erykah Badu, DJ AM, A-Trak, Chromeo and Wu-Tang Clan, just to name a few.

Mike Mikkelsen.


Mike Mikkelsen.

Kelly Symes

Kelly Symes transformed 24 small Ontario communities into premiere music cities this past fall with her Festival of Small Halls. Symes and her team made it possible for music fans in small towns like Pakenham, Smiths Falls, Gananoque and Burritt’s Rapids, among others, to host premiere bands like Basia Bulat, Jim Bryson, Brock Zeman and Australia’s Hat Fitz and Cara in their little charming Ontario towns.

Seriously, hats off to you and your team Symes for bringing the world to small-town Ontario. I wish you were around in northern Saskatchewan when I was a teenager.

Here’s to 2017.

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