Music News Digest, Nov. 3, 2017

The annual Maple Blues Awards are firmly established as Canada's premier honours in the blues world. Nominees for the 21st annual edition have been announced, and those topping the list with three nominations apiece include Dawn Tyler Watson, Paul DesLauriers Band, Steve Hill, Angel Forrest, Colin James and Cécile Doo-Kingué. A full list here

Online voting is now open, and Canadian blues fans can express themselves online in the eligible categories until Dec. 1. Register at mapleblues.ca.  Hosted by the Toronto Blues Society, the Awards will be held on Jan. 15 at Koerner Hall in Toronto. Ticket info here

 —  The memory of late singer/songwriter Lhasa de Sela continues to burn bright, on the Montreal scene and beyond. This is confirmed by the news that the Audiogram label will release a new album, Live in Reykjavik on Dec. 1. This 14-song collection captures performances by Lhasa and her band at the Reykjavik Arts Festival, May 23rd and 24th, 2009.

A tribute concert celebrating Lhasa and the 20th anniversary of her album La Llorona will be presented Dec. 16th at MTelus in Montreal. The musicians featured on that record are reuniting for the occasion.  Other artists participating include Marie-Pierre Arthur, Betty Bonifassi, Ariel Engle, Fred Fortin, Camellia Jordana, Plants and Animals, Amparo Sanchez and Patrick Watson. Lhasa died in 2010, age 37.

 — Multi-platinum selling Canadian rockers Big Wreck have announced an upcoming tour to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their debut album, In Loving Memory Of. The record spawned the band's first three Top 10 singles, "The Oaf", "That Song," and "Blown Wide Open," and earned a double platinum certification. The 35-date North American tour will see Big Wreck playing the album in its entirety in addition to fan favourites from their catalogue. The tour will kick off Jan. 18 in Peterborough, ON and wraps on March 10 in Los Angeles, CA. Full itinerary here

A third single, "Digging In," from Big Wreck's fifth studio album Grace Street (ole label group / Anthem), has just been released.

 —  The TD Discovery Series Special Projects is an initiative created by Toronto Downtown Jazz (TDJ) that encourages the creation, development and presentation of projects by jazz musicians in the city.

Through a juried process, successful applicants will be awarded a bursary and obtain marketing and public relations support from TDJ and TD. Submissions are now being accepted, with a deadline of Dec. 8. Four projects are to be chosen. The 2016 winners were Amanda Tosoff, Sundar Viswanathan, David Occhipinti, and Nick Fraser.

 — All-female combo The 'B' Girls were one of the mainstays of the late '70s Toronto punk scene, and they made a splash in New York City as well (Debbie Harry was a supporter). To mark the 40th anniversary, the group has reunited for a show at The Rivoli in Toronto on Saturday (Nov. 4).

Before disbanding in 1982, The 'B' Girls released one single, "Fun At The Beach," but other material and demos have now been arranged into a compilation album entitled Bad Not Evil, out on Bomp! Records.

 — Renowned Toronto-based baroque orchestra Tafelmusik finished its 2016/17 season with its 17th consecutive budget surplus, the orchestra reported at its recent AGM. The surplus was $7,123.

Tafelmusik also reported a record-breaking year in donations, with more than 1,000 members and donors giving more than $975,000: a 63 per cent increase over the previous record set during the 2015/16 season. Italian violinist Elisa Citterio succeeded music director emerita Jeanne Lamon in 2017, becoming only the second music director in Tafelmusik’s 39-year history.

 — The recent documentary on The Tragically Hip, Long Time Running, will launch the Much series Icons on Nov. 17 at 10 pm. Subjects of future docos in the series include Tupac, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston and Sam Smith.

 — In the Soil Arts Festival 2018 will celebrate its 10th year in St. Catharines, April 27-29. It is accepting applications for musical acts to showcase, but you have to be fast. The deadline is tonight (Nov. 3) at 11:59 pm.

 —  Benjamin Hackman, leader of Toronto band The Holy Gasp, describes their new single, "Beat Wave," as "big band punk.. kinda like the disgruntled millennial response to Green Day’s 'Longview.'" The song features 17 players, including Karen Ng (Andy Shauf), Jessica Upton-Crowe (Beliefs), Nixon Boyd (Hollerado), and many other prominent Toronto musicians. The group has an Ontario and Eastern Canada tour set, Nov. 14 to Dec. 9.

RIP

Muhal Richard Abrams, a US jazz pianist and composer of sweeping influence, died Oct. 29 at his home in New York City. He was 87. Abrams was a founding father of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians [AACM], one that had a significant impact on the free and avant-garde jazz scene. He released around two dozen albums over a 50-year-long career and collaborated with the likes of Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell.

His compositions have been performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can and Kronos Quartet. Source: NPR.

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