For Immediate Release, September 13, 2021: Sakamoto Agency is delighted to continue the diversification of our roster with the signing of three Canadian acts, which are wholly unique from each other and bursting with talent. Joining the roster are up and coming BC-based band The Heels, country alumni Duane Steele, and as a first for the agency, platinum-selling rock group Econoline Crush.

The signing of Econoline Crush marks the growth of a new branch for the agency, stepping further into the world of rock after signing several non-country acts in the last couple years. While Responsible Agent Paul Biro has booked many rock artists from KISS to Culture Club to Tom Cochrane, he’s excited to work with a band that has not only a long-standing Canadian legacy, but also new music coming to the market, and a documentary film in the works. “When the opportunity to represent this fantastic Canadian Rock Band presented itself, at the very time we were diversifying our roster it felt like perfect timing,” says Biro. “In Econoline Crush’s prolific career, they have consistently created amazing music, with a string of hits, placements, and touring North America. This band truly has the potential to continue to grow and have now created some of their best music yet! We can’t wait to assist them in bringing that music and their amazing live show to the public!”

On the latest efforts by the band and the signing to Sakamoto Agency, lead singer Trevor Hurst says “I realized what a great gift was bestowed upon us as a band and as individuals, to have this ability to make music and to entertain. I don’t take this for granted. Everybody in the band feels this is an opportunity to do something truly meaningful. We are so excited to get back out and play some shows, and release new music, and we know with the talented team at Sakamoto Agency, we are in good hands!”

Duane Steele joins the roster under his own name this time, as the award-winning artist also fronts The Legend of George Jones, a multi-media extravaganza of songs and stories from one of country music’s all-time favourites. While the salute to George Jones has been a much-toured show on the Sakamoto roster since 2017, Duane Steele is back in the saddle releasing his own new music, with a new EP in 2020 called Bonfires and Guitars, and a duet with Gord Bamford called “Blue Collar Palace”.

Says Steele about the signing, “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be a part of the Sakamoto Agency roster of talent as a solo artist. I look forward to working closer with everyone there and bringing some music and joy to even more people in the coming months.”

Lastly, British Columbia based trio (plus band) The Heels are the newest band to join the roster. Working hard over the past 5 years and climbing the ranks provincially, The Heels are multiple BC Country Music Association Award winners that offer organic, three-part female harmonies, incorporating influences ranging from classic country, gospel, and Motown. Brittni, Bobby, and Kyla are also prolific songwriters, making regular trips to Nashville to write, with over 100 songs on the books in the past few years.

Their US-based management Arny Granat and Tony Conway are excited to be working with Sakamoto Agency, saying “We have a history of working with the Sakamoto’s on past projects and feel this is the perfect combination for the Heels on touring Canada.” The ladies of The Heels say, “We couldn’t be happier to partner with Sakamoto Agency. The team felt like family from our first meeting together and we admire their commitment to keeping the live music industry thriving while elevating the careers of Canadian artists. We are grateful for this new representation!”

Summing up the signings, Biro says,“These three recent additions to the Sakamoto Agency roster perfectly represent the new direction our agency is taking, by adding an established rock band and an exciting all-female group of go-getters, while respecting our history in signing an established and well celebrated country artist. Unbridled by genre and looking to continue growth and diversification, we look to build steady footing for an uncertain future, and branch into new business with our valued customers, partners, and industry colleagues,”

Econoline Crush, Duane Steele, and The Heels join the roster for a total of nineteen original artists and five specialty shows at Sakamoto Agency. What started as a primarily Canadian country music roster, has grown in diversity with such additions as #1 Singing Impressionist Andre-Philippe Gagnon, and Indigenous Drum Group the Young Spirit Singers, as well as multimedia salute-style shows featuring the music of Tom Petty, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Stompin’ Tom Connors. The embrace of a legacy Canadian rock band represents Sakamoto Agency’s continued growth and ability to diversify, while still supporting Canadian country artists both developing and established.

Press requests may be directed to Joelle May at [email protected].


Recording their first full-length album in over a decade, nothing will stop Econoline Crush. In the years between live performances and releases, the band’s frontman and songwriter Trevor Hurst became a registered psychiatric nurse. Reconciling the pursuit of rock stardom with the desire to connect with people and make a difference, Hurst and Econoline Crush are reemerging a revitalized band, with a deeper sense of purpose. The industrial rock sound of Econoline Crush is still there, with a more modern aesthetic, and many new influences thanks to co-producer Ian Smith. Hurst, Smith and band meld the sound to create something both unique and appealing to their legacy of fans, and new music fans of today.

Historically, Econoline Crush released 4 albums on EMI Music Canada between 1994-2001 including the platinum-selling, JUNO-nominated The Devil You Know (1997), and two albums independently, Ignite (2008), and The People Have Spoken, Vol. 1 (2011). In 2005, Trevor formed Hurst with ex-Collective Soul guitarist Ross Childress, releasing the Wanderlust EP. Econoline Crush has enjoyed song placements on Melrose Place, Psi Factor, ESPN, and PlayStation game Sled Storm, shared stages with Alice Cooper, KISS, Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Tea Party and so many more. Current core band members are Trevor Hurst (vocals/lyrics), Ziggy Sigmund (guitars, 1997-2002, 2009-present), bassist Troy Zak (Bishops Green), drummer Dayvid Swart (Todd Kerns Band), and guitar player Dan Garrison (Gob).

Duane Steele is among Canada’s top country recording artists and songwriters with a professional career dating back to 1984. The multi-award winning artist has released six studio albums and one greatest hits album, and has had many Top 10 singles on the Canadian country charts, including the #1 hit “Anita Got Married”. Duane has toured the world headlining shows and opening for some of the hottest acts in country music including Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Trisha Yearwood and Sammy Kershaw. His pure voice and authentic country sound also makes him the ideal artist to pay tribute to George Jones, and he does so in a custom built, songs-and-stories format show called The Legend of George Jones. In 2020, Duane released a brand new album to the world called Bonfires and Guitars, including the title track single, and a duet with Gord Bamford called “Blue Collar Palace”, and also embraced technology to provide live streaming shows, taking part in Tom Jacksons “Almighty Voices,” an online series of concerts in support of the Unison Benevolent Fund. Duane was also the first artist to provide a recorded concert for Sakamoto Agency’s 100 Homes initiative, providing pre-recorded concerts to care homes across the country as entertainment for those isolated. Duane’s comfort with the stage and natural presence makes his live shows a must see, and his songwriting style is relatable for any music fan.

By incorporating influences ranging from classic country, gospel, and Motown, with organic, three-part harmonies, Bobbi Smith, Brittni Dominelli, and Kyla Rawlins offer stories that speak the language of modern women, complete with good-natured brash and sass. Combine their dynamic live show that showcases each of their distinctive voices and personalities, with a kickin’ backing band, you’ve got Canada’s pop-country queens, The Heels. Two-time BCCMA award winners and 18 time nominees, the trio just released their sophomore album I Am, in June 2021, the follow-up to their warmly received 2018 debut, Love, Heels.

Sakamoto Agency is an award-winning booking, talent buying, and event programming agency in Canada. With over 100 years of combined music industry experience among staff including booking, talent buying, management, publicity & marketing, and project management, Sakamoto Agency is an industry leader, recently named CCMA Booking Agency of the Year in 2020. Along with 20+ years of various nominations, VP and Operating Partner Paul Biro has also won CCMA’s Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer or Promoter of the Year twice, in 2019 and 2020.