2015 Hero: Newzapalooza
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2015 Hero: Newzapalooza

Nominated for: putting together a great show for a worthwhile cause.

Torontoist is reflecting on 2015 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until midnight on January 7. At noon on January 8, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Heroes  Newzapalooza  Evan Munday

To thunderous applause at The Opera House, Conrad Black Sabbath, the in-house garage band from Postmedia, blew away the competition to nab the inaugural Jonathan Jenkins Memorial Trophy at Newzapalooza 2015. While Sabbath won on the strength of a revamped rendition of ‘Paint it Black,’ the real winner in 2015, as always, was the Children’s Aid Foundation, worthy recipients of $150,000 in donations raised since Newzapalooza formed in 2004.

The premise has always been simple: find friends, grab your gear, rent a hall and jam like you’ve never jammed before!

Harkening back to the days when you cranked the music to drown out your flaws, this Battle of the Bands grew from the mind of local newshound Jonathan Jenkins. Newza quickly became a marquee event of the Toronto media community; there was no other place to be that first Friday of November. Bands from the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, CTV, the Canadian Press, CBC, and a junket of freelancers all got in on the fun.

When Jenkins was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, many wondered whether Newzapalooza would continue without its founding member and driving spirit. Planted firmly behind his drum kit, already having lost his hair, Jenkins led Sun band The Screaming Headlines to a tie with Toronto Star band Holy Joe & The Principles. It was the last Newzapalooza Jenkins would play; he passed away in April 2014.

But the event he created lives on. In 2015, with the support of Google Music Canada (which matched funds raised by Newzapalooza’s fans and tossed in an additional $10,000), the event raised $50,000 for the Children’s Aid Foundation. It was the single largest amount Newza had ever raised. Earlier this year, CAF awarded Jenkins and the Newzapalooza team with a Community Partner Award for the work Jenkins spearheaded improving the lives of children in need.