Birds of Bellwoods
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Birds of Bellwoods

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Rock




"Birds of Bellwoods Concert Review"

...The group etched themselves a little piece of local lore one harmony at a time... Combustible floor stompers and sweet love songs... Tracks such as "No Less Than All" and the longing "Train Song" fell on eager ears... The romance of the swaying encore "Better Than Me" triggered slow dancing and amorous embraces. 9/10. - Exclaim! (Mackenzie Herd)

"Breakout Toronto Bands: Birds of Bellwoods"

Toronto four-piece folk ensemble Birds of Bellwoods seem to be incapable of doing wrong. With a mere four songs released on the band's SoundCloud page (each better than the last), the group has staked out a place amongst the city's most talented emerging songwriters, with no regard for due process... Their music is anything but contemporary mainstream folk. Birds of Bellwoods play strong indie melodies, built with folk instrumentation and peppered with classic Americana twang. Gang vocals, strutting bass lines and doting banjo flow effortlessly from verse to chorus... - Blog TO (Aaron Ries)

"'The Fifth' EP Review"

...The group's vocals, perhaps the band's greatest asset, are meticulously executed and fantastically captured here, too; while singing duties are centered on the sometimes sweet ("Sky"), sometimes fierce ("Roll Your Stone") and always passionate performances of lead singer Stephen Joffe, the foursome truly soars when singing as an ensemble... - Exclaim! (Mackenzie Herd)

"Birds of Bellwoods at Soho House"

...The intensity is enough to give you shivers. The anger and pain in Joffe’s voice is palpable. The thumping of standup bass player Kintaro Akiyama lines, feels like an increasing heartbeat, matching your own as the music swells and soars... To hear their influences you would have to be aware of early Americana recordings, and bluegrass. Today’s folk artists have more in common with an acoustic Bruce Springsteen than what Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan pioneered. - LIVEiNLIMBO (Dakota Arsenault)

"Making Handsome Music"

...The real thoroughfare in their varied tracklist is the earnest energy that pervades every element of their performance. The group brings classical elegance to emotive pop performances with very little investment in twine and twang... And the folkies are taking notice. Their first trip out west in 2015 to the Jasper Folk Music Festival earned them an invitation to come back this year “by popular demand. - BeatRoute Magazine

"Birds of Bellwoods: Vier Jungs Mit Viel Harmonie"

...Dass dies nicht nur leere Worthülsen sind, zeigen die vielen Erfolge, welche die Band aus Toronto bereits verzeichnen konnte: Bei den Toronto Independent Music Awards wurde Birds of Bellwoods als beste Folkband ausgezeichnet und war für den besten Song nominiert. Im John Lennon Songwriting Contest schafften es die Musiker im vergangenen Jahr in den Final und ihre EP war für den Canadian Beats Award nominiert... - Mike Weiland

"Birds of Bellwoods - Keeping Busy as the Rising Band to Watch"

...Giving us what was arguably one of the more intimate musical experiences I’ve had to date, Birds of Bellwoods came prepared with charming folk melodies and impressive harmonies. It’s rare that anyone can get a group of rambunctious, intoxicated twenty-somethings to remain in stunned silence for any amount of time, but the only sounds made from any of us were the cheers between songs... There is a tangible charisma and comfort when it comes to Birds’ performances. While the music and the content itself is enough to hook you to pay attention, the visible experience and ease with which they perform rounds out the act. - Music Vice (Megan Rach)

"Interview - Birds of Bellwoods"

"...With our new stuff we’re trying to take in a lot of influence from our peers in the indie rock community around us. Electric instruments, driving percussion (from producer Jack Emblem), weird whirly synth noises, the works...” - Canadian Beats (Cassandra Popescu)

"Bands Spotted (April 2015)"

This talented folk quartet has an enticing charm that brings a rustic sound to the city... From their heartfelt lyrics to their enticing melodies, Birds of Bellwoods proves to be an emerging band that’s here to stay. The beautiful mix of string instruments paired with Stevie’s sharp vocals exudes a heartrending tale... - Novella Magazine

"Idioteque (Radiohead Cover) - Exclusive Video Premiere"

...We’re excited to premiere the video for their roots-y cover of Radiohead’s “Idioteque,” a staple of their live show and a fitting taste of the kind of sound you can expect when you catch them live. And for Radioheads, a take on their minimalist classic like you’ve never heard before... - AUX.TV (Tyler Munro)

"Indie Rock 'n' Folk Charts (#1)"

#1 - Come Home by Birds of Bellwoods. - Indie Rock 'n' Folk

"'The Fifth' EP Review 2"

...Birds of Bellwoods have created a musical masterpiece demonstrating everyone's excellent musicianship - from the brooding tones in Grey Ghosts to the emphatic percussion and instrumentations in The Fifth. Lead singer Stephen Joffe excels throughout the EP, gripping you with his brutally honest lyricism and raw and passionate vocal tones... - The Flux Presents (Mustafa Mirreh)

"Charts - Birds of Bellwoods on Spotify"

1. Birds of Bellwoods, "Come Home" (Birds of Bellwoods)... - Chronicle Journal

"NXNE 2016 Best Bets"

"...[They will] make you want to hold your lover's hand and squeeze it tight." - Indie 88 (Staff)

"No Less Than All (Live Session) - Exclusive Video Premiere"

...The four-piece have shared a video in anticipation of the upcoming release, and it features a live rendition of new tune "No Less Than All." Shot in the great outdoors, the bluegrass-y number showcases what the band describe as their "rural sound with an urban heart."

Since forming a year ago, the group have crafted their catalogue of modern folk songs into Livewires, which tells a narrative of "romance lost and found" and harkens back to a sound that's "reminiscent of old love ballads." ... - Exclaim! (Sarah Murphy)

"Band Interview with Junnnktank"

A: ...Do you find Banjo players highly underrated?
S: I find there's been a big return to the Banjo in current music. People are really into their craft beers, banjos, and mesh hats these days.
C: Banjo is kind of like mustard. It doesn't work with every type of sandwich and if you put it on everything you'll get sick of it. So my job involves trying to minimize listeners getting sick of it, whether by playing sparingly, dropping out for whole sections and just using it for percussion...
K: Banjo is definitely awesome, but it is not the right sound for every band. We are fortunate to have an excellent banjo player, and it fits right in to the tonal spectrum of our music.
A: I'm still waiting on a collab between Chris and Deadmau5. - Junnnktank (Shyun Atown)

"Band on Fire"

Birds of Bellwoods perform original songs that grab you. Mostly guitar, banjo, bass fiddle. And voices, oh those voices. The music borrows and blends several sources. Folk, country, blue grass, and the rhythm of slapping, tapping, and stomping. But what makes their material so compelling is the larger sweep of the melodies and highly controlled voices sailing through life’s hurt and joy. The male voices skate intimately around each other, creating careful echoes, then suddenly join, opening into a single, elegant wave of sound. The four voices are married. The effect is breathtaking... The music is masculine, romantic, with a wild, generous heart. It’s a perfect match for what’s happening outside, on a Saturday night, on a bustling Toronto street, alive with neon and a new generation... If anyone in the music industry is listening, they should seriously investigate Birds of Bellwoods. Having seen it before, I have a feeling something BIG is about to happen. - Burke Campbell

"'The Fifth' Review 3"

...Birds of Bellwoods fits the Alt-Folk brand well, with well written lyrical content... The Fifth hits all of the right notes... - thereviewsarein (Joshua Murray)

"Full House + Full Sound"

...Their live set, tender and playful (a good show for that first date that you hope won't be the last) sounds better and better every time we come back for more... These performers have a way of making you feel right at home... create music from the heart for heartfelt listening... "Do you recall these arms that held you close?" Maybe, but with certainty I can recall the fortitude with which Birds of Bellwoods played their last show. A revolutionized Bright Eyes meets Death Cab meets Lightfoot meets Bob Dylan... - weinthepocket (Hatley Walker)

"Introducing: Birds of Bellwoods"

...Charming the city with their heartfelt lyrics... a treat to behold... bursts into live with the band's combination of banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and double bass. Stevie sharp and organic vocals make this cover shine... we guarantee you'll be a fan in an instant! - The Flux Presents (FP)

"Idioteque (by Radiohead) - Birds of Bellwoods Cover"

Toronto based, Birds of Bellwoods is made up of four amazing musicians... Like what you hear? Look forward to their CMW Showcase in May 2015 and an upcoming performance at the Jasper Folk Music Festival. - Canadian Beats (Jenna Melanson)

"'The Fifth' Review 4"

...A perfect example of how a young Canadian folk quartet can achieve an accessible, yet authentic sound, all while looking fresh and burning down barns across Ontario as they go. Be sure to keep an eye out for Birds of Bellwoods at venues across Canada this summer and into the fall... - The Goodie Bag (Dylan King)

"Livewires EP Release"

...They capture a rustic sound using acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass, with all four members contributing to the rich harmonies... - Exclaim! (Alex Hudson)

"Birds of Bellwoods and Groenland Concert Review"

...The 4-piece string band is full of pep and energy, with guitarist Adrian Morningstar’s animated facial expressions adding to the joyful ambiance they create. The band’s rich harmonies, complex songwriting and charming banter made for a delightful feast for the ears... - Naked Underground (Sky Regina)

"Current Sessions at The Central"

...Once Birds of Bellwoods took the stage, the floor in front of them was flooded with people... The energy was through the roof, literally speaking – there were people actually attempting to crowdsurf, grazing The Central’s low ceiling. Birds of Bellwoods are a band to keep an eye on – their music is eclectic and charming with Stevie Joffe’s raspy vocals and taking full advantage of the rich sounds each string can make (there is a banjo, a guitar, a mandolin and an upright bass…enough said)... - Music Vice

"Interview: Birds of Bellwoods"

AM: ...Just to add on, I’d like to say that yes, we’re making folk music, but we’re not attempting to make folk music. I think our makeup of instruments and vocals sort of made us folk from the get go, rather than attempting to write folk songs.

SJ: What we’re primarily trying to do is tell stories, and different experiences may end up sounding entirely different, but fundamentally what we’re trying to do is tell those stories in the best way possible... - Anchor Shop (Jessica Maxwell)

"Life in Toronto - Birds of Bellwoods"

...There’s something different to be found with this 4-piece. Something that doesn’t even come close to the typical balancing act that folk music performs on the fence between cliche and boring. They’re in a different place altogether, and what a refreshing place to be!

Stevie Joffe, the lead singer, also happens to be a working actor in Toronto, and the skills he’s learned from that profession translate beautifully to his persona as a front man. I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling him that, though, as there isn’t a single member in the band that fails to bring something to the table. They’re all entertaining- they’re a unit, on their feet in a single file line, looking right at you with a wink and a smile and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s all in good fun.

They all sing, too. Harmonization is a key component of Birds of Bellwoods, and it’s a joy to kick back and close your eyes as they launch unflinchingly into each new song. “When I die, point my body west” hums Joffe with the kind of ambiguous poeticism that can only be found in a talented, natural lyricist. He’s got an unsettling versatility to his voice that allows him to either sing you to sleep, or gloomily present you with an interpretation of his own nightmares if he so chooses. Guitarist Adrian Morningstar strums along, capable of demonstrating the melancholy as well as the upbeat nature of the acoustic guitar, and Chris Blades is never afraid to add in some buoyancy with his banjo. Underneath it all is Kintaro Akiyama, weaving a haunting melody with his upright double bass. My absolute favorite thing about these guys, though, is that no two songs are guilty of feeling similar to one another. They played all originals at ROUND, and each tune had its own tempo, its own style, and its own powerful nature.

You’d be shocked to learn how recently Joffe and Morningstar assembled this crew. They’re just so tightly knit. They all focus entirely on their own thing, and if you choose to do the same you won’t be disappointed with any of them. It’s quite fun to breach new waters with live music. I’ve been looking to do it for some time myself, and this was a fantastic start. I’m looking forward to seeing what Birds of Bellwoods puts out in the near future- they don’t even have an EP release yet but they’re booking shows all over Toronto. If you’re interested in their sound, check them out here: - Life in Toronto (Adam Cunliffe)

"Dancing Through Life - Birds of Bellwoods"

Toronto is lucky to be home to to so many fantastic bands and music venues, and a few weeks ago I got to visit a new-to-me place to see a band with a brand new name. Habits Gastropub played host to the newly coined Birds of Bellwoods, featuring Stevie Joffe on mandolin and vocals, Adrian Morningstar on guitar and vocals, Kintaro Akiyama on Upright Bass and Backup Vocals, and Chris Blades on Banjo and Backup Vocals.

The night opened up with a trio of opening acts with the standout being Kenisha Humber. The gal has an incredible set of pipes and wowed the crowd with her vocal abilities and awesome vibe. I was so impressed and look forward to making a point to see her perform again.

The Birds of Bellwoods' set did not disappoint. There have been some changes in the band and I was stoked to see the addition of the banjo and upright bass; The dynamic of the four-piece certainly suits the folk sound that they've been honing. The four of them are solid musicians and bring great energy and talent to the group. Joffe's lyrics are heartfelt and often heartbreaking, giving you the sense that he is an old soul who has seen a lot in his time. Their harmonies are stellar and Adrian and Stevie do a good job at keeping the crowd engaged and appear to be having a ball whilst doing so. Their songs are charming and enjoyable and the crowd was with them every step of the way.

...I'm stoked to see how the band evolves now that they're a four piece and look forward to attending more of their shows in the future. - Dancing Through Life (Ashley Gibson)



  • Beast Comes Calling
  • Felixstowe
  • No Less Than All
  • Better Than Me
  • Train Song
All Songs Recorded LIVE.

  • Sky
  • Come Home
  • Roll Your Stone
  • Grey Ghosts
  • The Fifth
Multiple Awards and Nominations.



Birds of Bellwoods

Birds of Bellwoods are known for their lyrical storytelling, lush harmonies, and tight musicianship.

Comprised of Stephen Joffe (lead vocals/mandolin), Adrian Morningstar (guitar/vocals), Chris Blades (banjo/electric guitar/vocals), and Kintaro Akiyama (upright bass/vocals), the group is currently working on a full-length follow up to their award-winning debut EP “The Fifth”. With performances at iconic venues including The Horseshoe Tavern, The Mod Club, and Yonge & Dundas Square, as well as festivals such as Boots and Hearts, TURF, NXNE, and Canadian Music Week, Birds of Bellwoods are establishing themselves as one of Toronto’s most unique emerging bands. 

**winner - 2016 Independent Music Award**
**winner - 2015 Toronto Independent Music Award**

**winner - June 2016 Akademia Music Award**
**nominee - 2015 Canadian Beats Award**
**nominee - 12th annual International Acoustic Music Award**
**winner (honourable mention) - 2016 International Songwriting Competition**
**finalist - 2015 John Lennon International Songwriting Competition.**
**semifinalist - 2015 International Songwriting Competition**

The group have performed at Boots and Hearts, TURF, Jasper Folk Music Festival, KOI Music Festival, The Great Heart Festival, Festival of Good Things, Hamilton Music and Film Festival, NXNE, CMW, Burlington Sound of Music Festival, Roots North Music Festival, Wi Fest, and more.

Blog TO - "Toronto four-piece folk ensemble Birds of Bellwoods seem to be incapable of doing wrong... The group has staked out a place amongst the city's most talented emerging songwriters."

LIVEiNLIMBO - "Lush harmonies... The intensity is enough to give you shivers... A treat to watch."

Music Vice - "...Once Birds of Bellwoods took the stage, the floor in front of them was flooded with people... The energy was through the roof, literally speaking, there were people actually attempting to crowdsurf... a band to keep an eye on."

Exclaim! - "...The group etched themselves a little piece of local lore one harmony at a time... Combustible floor stompers and sweet love songs... Slow dancing and amorous embraces."


Band Members