The Jerry Cans

Have you heard of the Jerry Cans? This Iqaluit based band combines Inuktitut lyrics with traditional Inuit throat singing and an upbeat flair of drums, base and violin. The Jerry Cans do more than make me want to get up and dance. They give me hope.

The Jerry Cans are an Iqaluit based band who have been garnering some well-deserved attention of late. Earlier this winter I had the immense pleasure of seeing them perform. After many a kitchen dance party inspired by their music I learned that the Jerry Cans would perform within 500 kilometers of my home. I made plans for a weekend road trip to see them in person. This was rather out of character for me to take a weekend away from the mountains but I had a hunch the Jerry Cans would be worth the trip.

The Jerry Cans sing in Inuktutut. A language with a multitude of dialects and sub dialects many of which are close to being lost forever. Many of the songs start with Inuit throat singing, some of which are very old songs that have been passed down for generations. Lyrics touch on many pressing issues in Iqaluit and other northern communities, including my own; youth suicide, violence against women, and a lighter but valid concern- mosquitoes.

During the concert I chatted with a local teacher whose school the band had visited earlier in the week. The teacher described the grin of even the shyest kids after they tried throat singing and the full-on dance party that erupted in the school theatre. Clearly the Jerry Cans had had an impact on these youth.

More than simply talented musicians, the Jerry Cans bring heart and clearly articulated values onto the stage with them and into the communities they perform in. There is a significance to the music they offer. A non-indigenous lead singer singing his heart out in Inuktitut. A violin and a throat singer going note for note, beat for beat. The Jerry Cans do more than make me want to get up and dance. They give me hope.