SOUND SEEKERS: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School
Scene & Heard

SOUND SEEKERS: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

The Balconies Pull an Arcade Fire

They started as the pop group called Jacquie in the Kitchen and developed a loyal following playing club gigs and battle of the bands shows around Ottawa.

Steve Neville, Jacquie Neville, Liam Jaeger Jaeger is the one with the hat
Steve Neville, Jacquie Neville, and Liam Jaeger are The Balconies. 

After a few years, the group found their hard-and-sweet rock style and became the internationally touring act known as The Balconies. Ever grateful for the education that two of its members — siblings Jacquie and Stephen Neville — received at Canterbury High School, the band decided to end its current tour by playing a show back at their old stomping grounds with proceeds from the gig going to support the school known for its arts program.

They aren’t the first band to heap praise on the school located near Walkley Road and St. Laurent Boulevard. Super-group the Arcade Fire drew attention to the place when they played in Canterbury’s cafeteria in 2007 between a string of sold-out dates in Montreal and New York. AF’s Richard Reed Parry went to Canterbury to study in the literary arts stream. Other prominent alumni include actors Raoul Bhaneja, Jessica Holmes, and filmmaker Martin Gero.


The Balconies want to carry on the Arcade Fire’s tradition. Balconies bass player Stephen Neville says he feels fortunate to be able to pursue a career in music because of what he learned at Canterbury, a place he describes as “an Ottawa gem.”

The show is open to the general public and attendees will have a chance to buy a pre-release copy of The Balconies’ new album, Fast Motions, to be released in January 2014.

Ahead of the show we asked The Balconies’ front woman Jacquie Neville to reminisce about high school.

Favourite High School Memory

L-R: Steve Neville, Jacquie Neville, Liam Jaeger Jaeger is the one with the hat
The Balconies play Canterbury High School on Friday, November 22.

“It’s not a specific memory, it’s a feeling,” she says. “When you’re a teenager you’re growing into who you are going to be physically, emotionally, creatively, and mentally. It’s a confusing and difficult time. To be honest, high school is a bit of a blur to me now. However, I remember the feeling of genuine excitement and thirst to learn and create. I don’t know how I would have turned out if I didn’t have music. It helped me through a lot as a teenager by having a healthy platform to express myself.”

Favourite Class
“I loved all of my creative writing courses and music classes.”

Favourite Teacher
“It’s a tough pick, so I am going to choose two: Mr. Pohran, my music teacher. He taught me viola/violin lessons and was my strings teacher. He was my mentor. Mr. Blauer was one of my English teachers. He was extremely encouraging and supportive of my musical undertakings and my writing. He was a fantastic teacher!”

Other Canterbury Memories
“Mr. Dawson was the most eccentric, hilarious, and amazing teacher — a real character! He had this incredible act at school. You’d say hi to him in the halls and he would dramatically throw himself up against the lockers as if you scared him to death! You had to be there. I thought he was the best. We got a kick out of him and his classes.”

The Balconies play Canterbury High School, 900 Canterbury Ave., Friday, November 22 with guests Dear Rouge and The Capitol Beat. 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit the school’s music program.