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The Daily Beast

The Toronto Star‘s Holy Joe and the Principles rock out at Newzapalooza V on Friday night.

On the same night that their magazine counterparts were feeding on a chocolate fountain at the Carlu, the scrappy newspapermen and women of Toronto’s major dailies were knocking back bottles of Molson and rocking out at the Opera House: Newzapalooza V, the city’s fifth annual Battle of the Media Bands, went down last Friday, raising close to eight thousand dollars for the Children’s Aid Foundation. And far from strumming as Rome burns, the event served—intentionally or not—as a defiant celebration of the romantically proletarian spirit that somehow still manages to underpin the culture of the broadsheets.

The Screaming Headlines, repping the Toronto Sun.

Once known as “Little Prichard and the Deadlines,” Star band Johnny Hondo delivered a credible rendition of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” to close out their early set. They were followed by the Globe‘s The Doubts, fronted by non-journo Erin Benoit (only three-quarters of a band has to be from the industry), who belted out shockingly good, heartbreakingly sincere takes on The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”—both of which are difficult to perform, even more so to perform without irony. A remarkably hard-rocking interpretation of “Secret Agent Man” was the highlight from the Sun‘s Screaming Headlines, led by movie critic Jim Slotek (pictured right).
As far as we’re concerned, though, the whole show was stolen by Holy Joe and the Principles, also from the Toronto Star, whose carefully honed groove/funk stylings were augmented by the presence of three impressively coordinated and choreographed backup dancers, led by figure-skating coach/homeowner/ace crime reporter Robyn Doolittle. Health writer Robert Cribb was responsible for vocals and, alternately, keyboards and sax, while City Hall scribe Donovan Vincent (pictured above) handled guitar duties.
Guests judges Farley Flex, Geri Hall, and Mark Breslin offered (non-)critiques of each act, and in the end narrowed down the seven bands in competition to three finalists: The Doubts, Holy Joe, and the Globe/CP badasses of Stimulus Package. Voting by applause crowned the lattermost the champions, the audience no doubt stuck with the Package’s cover of “Monkey Wrench” in their heads.
If nothing else, Newzapalooza provided an opportunity for overworked journalists to indulge their rock star fantasies. “Isn’t it a case of ‘the grass is always greener’?” host Trevor Boris quipped. “Maybe Bono wishes he wrote for the Toronto Sun.”
Photos by Jonathan Goldsbie/Torontoist.