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London, Ontario's modern rock sensation, The Hedge Hoppers, are gearing up for an exciting new chapter in their musical journey. The band has announced a change of name, transforming into The Lost Keys, and they're ready to make their mark under this fresh identity. Fans can witness their grand debut as The Lost Keys on Friday, July 28th, joined by Small Town Strip Club, Growers, and Stone Free to collectively create an unforgettable experience of powerful rock performances.

The Lost Keys' inaugural show as the newly minted band will take place at Rum Runners, located at 176 Dundas St in London, Ontario. Doors will open at 7:00 PM, with an all-ages and licensed event that ensures everyone can enjoy the show. Advance tickets are available for $10 online at, or, you can purchase them in person at Grooves Records or directly from the bands.

Fans and music enthusiasts can look forward to an electrifying night of live music, filled with dynamic performances and an atmosphere of pure rock energy. The Lost Keys are poised to deliver their signature sound, combining infectious melodies, powerful vocals, and an undeniable stage presence that leaves audiences wanting more. Embrace the transformation with The Lost Keys as they step into this exciting new phase of their career. Be part of their journey on Friday, July 28th, and witness their first show under their new name at Rum Runners for an unforgettable night of music and the raw passion that defines The Lost Keys.

The Lost Keys. Photo credit: Taken from The Lost Keys online band page, photography by @mytch_94

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The night was young, and the air was thick with anticipation: artists and musicians were scattered amongst the bar inside, some preparing for soundchecks and awaiting release of varying blends of soundscapes threatening to knock Sarnia off its feet.

Secret Sign

As I approach the door, I can’t help but feel the excitement that comes with entering space that will soon be filled with frenzied guitars, pounding drums, and long-awaited experiences of sound and sensation that can only be brought about by the underground.


My destination: Empty Fest. Held across two different venues, there are two stages at The Refined Fool to kick it off and one at Maud’s for the final night. As I make my way through the doors I watch people start trickling in to turn on, tune in, and vibe out. I’m here to document and experience the world of Sarnia’s longest running independent music festival. As the sun sets and the bands begin to play, I’m transported to a different plane of existence. I can feel the electricity in the air as I move through the crowd with a camera, approaching the keys to unlocking the psychedelic depths of my soul: independent music.

Bad Waitress

The weekend is full of eclectic sounds, dreamy melodies, fog, lights, projected artscapes, ethereal vocals, raw intensity, festival goers lost in trips and trances, and wild and beautiful artists pouring their hearts and souls into their songs.

Paulo Sinski Microband

I’m left with a sense of euphoria from the depth of energy, frequency, and vibration shared by these musical masterminds and those I’m surrounded by; the misfits, the rebels, the lovers and dreamers, united by the shared love of music, and the culture that creates it.

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It was Spring of 2008 in an empty building in downtown Sarnia when the first concert happened.

"In 2007, I caught a ride back to Ontario from B.C with fellow Sarnian Eric Woolston. On that long ride back, Eric, who was an established professional musician living in Toronto, put forth an idea to start a concert series to get more indie/underground acts to perform in Sarnia. The shows would happen in 'empty spaces' downtown, since half of the downtown area was vacant back then," says Danny Alexander, co-founder of Sarnia's longest running independent music festival. "There would also be a major emphasis to pair these touring bands with up and coming local bands, especially those still in high school," (ie. all ages shows), he explained from Toronto to Mouthpiece Magazine earlier this week, as he gears up to return home for the 12th annual festival set to kick off this weekend.

The road trip conversation between the two artists was then taken by Woolston, (Alexander notes his more transient mindset at the time), and quickly became a reality downtown: and so began in April of 2008 the Empty Spaces concert series.

"Flash forward 9 or so months... [and] that's when I noticed the first Empty Spaces concert was announced. I attended and I was immediately hooked by how unique the Toronto band was; it was true that Sarnia didn't have very many 'indie' bands (for lack of a better word) coming through back then, so I was immediately hooked by Eric's concept and wanted to help bring as much interesting music to the area as possible, help build the local scene and, hopefully, inspire people to start more bands."

After the launch of the Empty Spaces concert series, Empty Fest began one year later as the first year anniversary party of the original series. "There were a ton of "Empty Spaces Presents" shows scattered throughout the year until about Empty Fest 10," noting he started dialing things back a bit to what is currently the annual Festival and the Holiday show, in April and December respectively.

When asked about the evolution and importance of Empty Fest on Sarnia's local scene, the co-founder had this to say:

"I think Empty Spaces, alongside other important cultural events such as Artwalk and First Friday, had a large impact helping to jumpstart the rejuvenation of downtown Sarnia. I'm always in awe by how many friendships and connections have been established at these shows. Often, Toronto bands will meet for the first time in Sarnia and become great friends, despite living in the same city and being part of the same general scene. And of course, many local artists have made connections with touring acts and gone on to play shows with them across Ontario. I always try to grow the festival a bit each year and stack the lineups as much as I can. I like to go all out!"

Officially launching as "Empty Fest" in 2009, this weekend marks the 12th instalment of the longest running Sarnia based independent music festival. Set across two venues, The Refined Fool (London Road) and Maud's Variety (Mitton Village), the work of Danny Alexander continues to contribute to the growth and celebration of musical culture within Sarnia wherein musical acts across the nation will again come together and share their independent and underground sounds.

Event Info:

DAY 1 Friday, April 28th @ Refined Fool (1326 London Rd): 9 BANDS ON TWO STAGES $22 advanced on Eventbrite:

Doors at 8:30pm / Music at 9:00pm

DAY 2 Saturday, April 29th @ Maud’s Variety (125 Mitton St S) $20 at the door only **NO ADVANCED TIX / VERY LIMITED CAPACITY Doors at 8:00pm / Music at 8:30pm

The Lineup:

Friday, April 28th at Refined Fool Brewing Co. London Rd Doors @ 8:30pm

9:00 - 9:30 - Johnny Deerest / KETTLE STAGE 9:30 - 10:00 - The Strange Happenings / FRONT STAGE 10:00 - 10:30 - Gaijin Smash / KETTLE STAGE 10:30 - 11:00 - Martian Crisis Unit / FRONT STAGE 11:00 -11:30 - Secret Sign / KETTLE STAGE 11:30 - 12:00 - Possum / FRONT STAGE 12:00 - 12:30 - Twin Rains / KETTLE STAGE 12:30 -1:00 - ANIMATIST / FRONT STAGE 1:00-1:30 - Leona Hell / KETTLE STAGE

Saturday, April 29th at Maud's Variety ** limited space, arrive early! $20 at the door

8:30 - 9:00 - Daphne’s Demise 9:20 - 10:00 - Faiyaz and The Wasted Chances 10:20 - 11:00 - Theo Vandenhoff 11:20 - 12:00 - Bad Waitress 12:20 - 1:00 - yoo doo right 1:20 - 2:00 - Paulo Sinski Microband

Event and Band Posters:

Poster Design: Kalina Nedelcheva

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