National attention for local hip-hop group

Red Deer hip-hop band Midwest Mindset has jumped from the Alberta bar circuit into the national spotlight.

Red Deer hip-hop band Midwest Mindset has jumped from the Alberta bar circuit into the national spotlight.

The “empowering” rap group that plays with all-live instrumentation was selected into the Top 25 in the CBC 2016 Searchlight talent contest from 2,000 entrants from across Canada.

MC Travis Omen thinks it’s very cool to have been chosen the No. 1 band from the Southern Alberta region, including Calgary, where the group relocated two years ago for broader opportunities.

The judging panel (included CBC host George Stroumbouloupoulis and many music industry insiders), credited Midwest Mindset for crafting “empowering, thoughtful lyrics,” and for “playing with the (rap) medium and pushing it forward.”

The panelists loved the band’s “polished” mix of singing and rapping, as well as acoustic and electric sounds that are all created live on stage (instead of being pre-recorded).

Up to now, the Searchlight contest has been determined by on-line voting as well as judging scores, Omen noted his six-member group didn’t spend a lot of money for YouTube or Facebook ads to drum up votes. “We didn’t win the voting rounds… we were pushed ahead by the judging panel.”

Next week, the musicians will hear whether they get into the Top 4 of Searchlight. Since voting has closed, it’s now up to a new set of Searchlight judges — Maestro Fresh Wes, Sarah Blackwood of pop-folk band Walk Off the Earth, and Dallas Smith of country-rock band Default — to pick three finalists. (The fourth will be determined by vote scores).

The four finalists will vie for the $50,000 grand prize on a prime-time televised broadcast on CBC TV.

Omen hopes his group moves forward. But he believes Midwest Mindset is already benefitting by getting more social media attention from the contest. The band’s debut album, 1313 (named for a lot of ‘lucky 13s’ associated with the group) was released last summer. And Erasing My Mind, the first single, is getting played by college radio stations across the country as well as by CBC Radio.

Midwest Mindset was formed in Red Deer in 2011. Omen, who had graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in 2007, got together to create music with his long-time school buddies, MC Danny (Epic) Atsbaba, and DJ Ben “Official” Larsen. They were joined by local guitarist Berkley Roth and keyboardist Jared Buote, as well as drummer Jordan Swanson of Lacombe.

Bringing various musical influences, ranging from punk to old-school rap, the six began collaborating on original material. “It all starts with the beat. The music pretty much determines that the song is going to be,” said Omen, now 27.

The band’s tunes tend to be inspired by either the personal or the political.

Erasing My Mind, with its video of televisions being smashed, takes a swipe at unrealistic media images that cause dissatisfaction. The song ends with a twist: “erasing my mind” becomes “embracing my mind,” which is about self-acceptance.

The next single, with a music video expected out at the end of the month, is Footsteps. “Without sounding too cliché-ed,” said Omen, it’s about starting on a positive path.

Midwest Mindset performed all over Red Deer before group members decided they had gone as far as they could in the local music scene and needed to expand their horizons in Calgary. But Omen and the other musicians regularly return to their hometown to play for fans, friends and family members.

“We have a soft spot for Red Deer,” he said. “We always get a great turn-out.”

The next local show by Midwest Mindset is at 9 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Bo’s Bar and Grill. There’s a $10 cover from the venue or Ticketfly.com

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Festival of Trees volunteers honoured at breakfast

This year’s Festival of Trees was able to provide the Red Deer… Continue reading

Two Red Deer filmmakers are finalists in web-series contest

Angel Peterson and Jason Steele are each creating pilot episodes with $20,000 prize

Sexual predator preyed on his own young daughter and niece

Eckville man sexually assaulted numerous children as young as two for nearly a decade

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

OTTAWA — Signs began to emerge Friday that the coming race to… Continue reading

Man who tried to kill Edmonton police officer, pedestrians sentenced to 28 years

EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and… Continue reading

Drug bust: Red Deer RCMP seize drugs, cash, vehicles

Criminals are getting creative. Red Deer RCMP have seized cash and vehicles… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday Join us at the Senior Center Downtown House (5414 43 St.… Continue reading

Rebels head into break with win over Swift Current

Red Deer has five wins in the last 7

Regina police say male driver dies at scene after collision with large truck

REGINA — Police in Regina are investigating a fatal crash in the… Continue reading

From fourth place, Singh says he’d rather push Liberals than work with Tories

OTTAWA — The New Democratic Party is sitting in fourth place after… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $31 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $31 million jackpot… Continue reading

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

VANCOUVER — Standing out in the rain on a path between tents… Continue reading

Advocate says Winnipeg must tackle poverty, addictions to end violent crime

WINNIPEG — A recent spike in violent crime in Manitoba’s capital has… Continue reading

Grizzly bears move north in High Arctic as climate change expands range

Some unlikely neighbours are moving in around the northernmost communities of the… Continue reading

Most Read