RIP: Mel Hurtig, publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia and a steadfast Canadian nationalist, died in Vancouver on Aug. 3, of pneumonia. He was 84. Hurtig was co-founder of the Council of Canadians, a group dedicated to preserving the country’s sovereignty. “Let’s never, never, give in to those who are selling out Canada,” he urged in his 2002 book The Vanishing Country. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he had honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from six Canadian universities and was the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson “Man of the Year Peace Award.” Source: Canadian Press
RIP: Marianne Ihlen, the woman who was Leonard Cohen's muse in the 1960s and inspired songs like "Bird on a Wire" and "So Long, Marianne" passed away on July 29th. She was 81 years old. Source: CBC News
-- Congrats to Serena Ryder on her upcoming marriage to Colin MacDonald from The Trews. We hear she has been killing it on stage with recent performances in Ontario and Vancouver Island. We add too that an earlier version of this item incorrectly named her husband-to-be and for this we offer our sincerest apology--and ongoing best wishes.
-- Tom Cochrane is coming close to the end of his Take It Home summer tour, this coming Monday in Thunder Bay, and has 10 more shows before kicking back after another trending and lucrative national sweep. No word on a next album, but we had to wait forever for the last one that largely fell on deaf ears with rock radio content to pump out his decades-spanning catalogue of hits.
--Lavish record label parties are rare these days. So are musical talents as strong and original as Norah Jones. Happily the stars aligned at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto last night for a stellar soiree hosted by Universal Music Canada in honour of Ms. Jones. After being lavished with superb food and excellent wine, we were treated to a listening session from the singer's upcoming album, Day Breaks--followed by a Q&A session with Norah and Nicholas Jennings. This was followed by a four-song solo set by Jones at the red piano. Universal head Jeffrey Remedios introduced the star by noting “the whole world could use a little Norah Jones.” The new tunes sounded great, especially a fresh take on Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied.” Jones noted at the event that “I love Neil and he has always been very generous with me.” Over her 15-year career, Jones has sold 45 million records and won nine Grammys. This showcase confirmed she’s the real deal, an artist happily unconstrained by genre barriers. This scribe recalls a similar excellent evening at The Rivoli back in 2002, as Jones launched her multi-platinum debut album, Come Away With Me. Look for more on Jones from FYI’s Bill King shortly. (KD)
-- Tickets are now available for the CCMA Songwriters Series. The four-day event celebrates the crafting of original songs and the stories behind those songs and is a feature of Country Music Week which runs from September 8th through 11th in London, ON.
-- Canadian Music Week, the East Coast Music Association (ECMA), Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and BreakOut West will be heading to Cronulla Beach for Australian Music Week 2016 this Nov. 2-4.
-- Western Canadian SOCAN members and musicians are invited to submit now for the SOCAN Song House at 2016 BreakOut West, Scheduled for Oct. 12-13 in Regina. The submission deadline is Sept. 6. Ralph Murphy, author of Murphy’s Law of Songwriting – will lead the two-day interactive workshop. Entry details here.
-- In case you missed it, the National Post has pictures of a $1m pad Alanis Morissette has put on the market in Ottawa. Some might describe the 11th floor sub-penthouse off Sussex Drive as austere chic. In fact, it looks like a showroom for Jon Anderson’s long-standing Yonge Street emporium, Morningstar Trading. Take a peek for yourself and let us know what you think.
-- Effective July 1st, the provincial portion of the HST in Newfoundland and Labrador increased from 8% to 10%, bringing the total HST rate to 15% as announced in the province's 2016 budget. Also effective July 1st, the provincial portion of the HST in New Brunswick increased from 8% to 10%, bringing the total HST rate to 15% as announced in the province's 2016 budget.
-- On July 11th, the government of Canada announced it had a signed the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). Both countries will now proceed with their respective domestic implementation processes to bring the CUFTA into force.
-- Midnight Oil could be back together touring next year. The following appeared on the Aussie band’s website: "We know it’s been a while but we wanted to tell you that the five of us are finally making plans to get together again for some gigs next year. We’re looking forward to hopefully playing overseas and touring our homeland for the first time since 2002. We won’t know exactly when, where and what we’ll be doing before next January at the earliest so in the meantime please just ignore any rumours. Unless and until you hear about something from us you can safely assume that it’s not yet confirmed." The “Beds Are Burning” group reformed for twin concerts in March of 2009 to raise money for the victims of Victoria’s bushfire disaster in Feb. of that year.
-- The Rolling Stones Cuban concert doc Havana Moon premieres on Sept. 23 for one night only in more than a thousand cinemas worldwide. It’s expected the band will use the spotlight to showcase something from an expected new album that Keith Richards is on record as saying will feature “a lot of Chicago blues.” Eric Clapton is featured on a couple of tracks. Covers of Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter are said to be included.
-- Blue Highways is the title of Colin James’ next album, due out on Oct. 14 on True North Records. James has been named as an inductee into the 2016 Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame presented by FACTOR. In addition to this honour, Colin will be headlining the Western Canadian Music Awards Show at Casino Regina on Oct. 13. The 13-track LP is a mix of originals and covers. Among the latter are songs written by Freddie King, Peter Green, Don Nix, Amos Blakemore, William Bell, Blind Willie McTell, and Robert Johnson. Track listing, show dates and more on CJ’s website. Below Colin and band earlier this year playing the blues.
-- Before our holidays we mentioned that Nielsen SoundScan would be pitching clients with its new dashboard, part of an up-grading package to compete with Border City Media’s BuzzAngle Music. The latter’s competitive advantage beyond pricing is access to data 24/7. Nielsen’s advantages include a long-standing relationship with the biz, proof of performance—and chart histories that are used by marketing teams and label managers to approximate/project sales on new releases by established artists. The feedback we are getting from unofficial sources state that Nielsen SoundScan has not countered with 24/7 access. It remains a weekly service; however, the refined package is said to be very client friendly and intuitive. So the beat goes on, with the industry pushing off making any actual decision on whether to switch or stay—as BuzzAngle continues to push its services and flip comps into paid users. The announced Canadian Indie chart that CIMA was supposed to be publishing as yet has not surfaced, although it is surely coming we are told.