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Judge for The Free Press

Toronto, Canada
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Portrait of The Free Press
About The Free Press
"Like a fine wine or a wooden guitar,
A hunk of French cheese or a Cuban cigar,
Maturity counts in a rock ‘n’ roll star."
Loudon Wainwright III
Watch Me Rock, I’m Over Thirty

Toronto’s The Free Press are a bold breakthrough in Pop music – a band that thinks as hard as they rock, or in the context of their live show, a band that entertains as much as they ask their audiences to think. It’s a combination that comes from the band’s unique blend of personal and musical backgrounds, and from their enduring belief that – as cliché as it might sound – rock ‘n’ roll can still change the world.

Alex Oliveira, Len Ottesen, Jesse Pitcher, James Dallas Smith and Mick Torbay build a relationship with an audience that’s bigger than life, taking you on a journey that alternates between making you want to sing along and fight back. Musically, it’s a full palette, with a full range of dynamics and emotions, powerful vocal harmonies, and rich instrumental lines that stay with you. Emotionally, everything is up for grabs.

The five bring together an eclectic yet profound combination of personal life experiences, distilling big themes and tough ideas into strong, enduring melodies. Among the group are a tv star, a political analyst, an award-winning comedian, a marketing weasel and a guy with no employment history worth writing down. But alternately, there’s a First Nations Canadian, an ex-con, a seasoned session player, a pilot and, frankly, several who’ve struggled through tough relationships, successfully and otherwise. That’s led to a body of work that challenges the listener, pulling them through an exploration of relationships, careers, faith, child abuse and social responsibility.

And while there are no small stories in The Free Press, their deeper examination of ideas doesn’t mean hopelessness and brooding – the inexperienced angst of a younger band without lives of context within which to tell their tales. The Free Press bring a joy to their playing as much as they bring maturity. Their performances are cathartic – for them and for the crowd. It’s a band that loves to play for people who love to listen.

With the release of Half Truths & Whole Lies, The Free Press puts everything at stake. Working tirelessly with legendary producer and industry veteran J. Richard Hutt (Northern Pikes, Skydiggers, Tom Cochrane, 2000 CCMA Producer of the Year) The Free Press have left everything behind to make this album soar. It’s an intense, meaningful, and most of all a compelling collection of music and emotions, with an energy you can feel as you listen.