Pic: Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Pic: Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Music News Digest, March 7, 2018

Canadian Music Week (CMW) has announced the next wave of artists performing at this year’s festival taking place May 7-13, at over thirty venues across downtown Toronto. Leading the list are Atlanta MC and trap rap king 2 Chainz, electronica artist Alice Glass (ex-Crystal Castles), DJ/producer Sango and indie-pop duo Matt and Kim. Other new names added include Mauno, Johnson Crook,  Moon King, Twin Bandit, Petra Glynt, Shred Kelly, Tough Age, Taylor Knox, The Beaches, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dirty Nil, and The Rural Alberta Advantage.  More info here  

– Given that he's performed there more than any other artist, it is fitting that storied Toronto venue Massey Hall has given Gordon Lightfoot the honour of being the final performer there before the Massey Hall Revitalization Project, one that sees the doors closed until fall 2020. Concerts skedded for June 29 and 30 have sold out, so a third show has just been added on July 1. Tix here

–  A US federal judge has ordered former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli to forfeit $7.36 million in assets, Reuters reported Monday. Those assets could include a Picasso painting and a single-copy Wu-Tang Clan album.  In 2015, Wu-Tang Clan released just one copy of the album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, sold to the highest bidder. That was Shkreli, for a reported $2M (US). Source: The Hill

– Her membership in Cub and then New Pornographers plus a period of living in Vancouver has given American singer/songwriter Neko Case 'honorary Canadian' status. Her next album, Hell-On, will be released on Anti_ on June 1, and it features contributions from Canucks k.d. Lang and AC Newman, as well as Mark Lanegan, Laura Viers, Beth Ditto, and Kelly Hogan. US tour dates have also been announced. Here's the brand new title track single.

– Toronto movie producer J. Miles Dale is riding high after the film he produced, The Shape Of Water, won the Best Picture Academy Award on Sunday night. He is also winning kudos for his gracious response to the fact that his acceptance speech was spoiled by play-off music.

One interesting fact: Dale is the son of noted Canadian musician and music director Jimmy Dale, who performed with Peter Appleyard, became a music director for CBC television in the '60s, then relocated to Hollywood, working as a music director on such popular shows as The Smothers Brothers Show, The Andy Williams Show and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. “The years we lived in Hollywood really de-mystified the celebrity culture for me,” J. Miles Dale once explained.

– Montreal art-rockers Suuns' new album, Felt (on Secret City) has quickly met with rave reviews from such sources as NPR Music and Uncut. After gigs this week in St. Hyacinthe, Montreal and Quebec City, Suuns play Toronto's Great Hall on March 15, followed by shows in Europe and the UK (March 29 to April 11), then an extensive US tour, April 27 to June 1. A Vancouver show is set for May 12. Itinerary here

– The lineup for the third edition of Toronto hip-hop/R&B showcase Bass N’ Tings has been announced. Those taking to the Lee's Palace stage on March 31 include Kandy K, Nadia Stone, EverythingOShauN, Staasia Daniels, Just John, OSIYM, Kelsey Vaz, Romeyo Wilson, and Stay Out Late.

–  Curated and hosted by local honkytonk heroine Lori Yates, Hamilton's annual Your Good Girls Gone Bad event is set for This Ain't Hollywood on March 17. In its sixth year, it features area female singers performing their favourite classic C&W songs, backed by Yates' band Nashville Rejects. The lineup includes Laura Cole, Piper Hayes, Ginger St. James, Jennifer Budd, and Charissa. Tix here

– Toronto rockers The Beaches have announced their first national headline tour in support of their debut album Late Show, released last fall via Universal Music Canada. Kicking off in Vancouver on April 21, “The Late Show Tour” will make 16 stops before culminating in a hometown gig at the Opera House on May 11. Taylor Knox opens all shows. The Beaches are up for a Juno Award in the Breakthrough Group of the Year category. Tour dates here

–  Last Friday, Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) announced the 2018 Top 100 Festivals & Events in Ontario at its annual conference in Hamilton. See the winners list here  Also announced were the 2018 Service Excellence Award winners, recognizing the best suppliers to the festival and event industry. The successful recipient of the FEO Student Leadership Award for 2018 is Kelly Burke, a student in Niagara College's Event Management Program.

–  BRDGS is the solo project of Newfoundland-raised, Toronto-based pop singer/songwriter/producer Jon Pike. On Friday he releases a new single, "All My Friends," on Dreaming Out Loud (Neon Dreams), preceded by a March 8 showcase at The Rivoli in Toronto. Last year's debut BRDGS single, "In The Wild," reached No. 28 on the Canadian Top 40 chart.

– Heavyweights Brass Band releases its new album, This City, on March 9 on Lulaworld Records, with an album release show set for Toronto's Lula Lounge on March 29. The group's third full-length album, it was recorded in New Orleans, home of their major influences, and it reaffirms the feel-good quality of their horn-driven sound. Guests include Kevin Breit and Jackie Richardson. This City is available from Slammin Media on CD and vinyl, and distributed internationally on digital by Believe. 

–  East Coast singer/songwriter T. Thomason begins a residency at Toronto's Dakota Tavern tonight (March 7), performing every Wednesday night for the month. The nights also feature an exhibition of apparel and crafts. Thomason's latest EP, Sweet Baby, was re-released on Coax Records last year and received a 2017 Nova Scotia Music Awards nomination.

–  Facebook Canada's HQ in Toronto is hosting a special International Women’s Day showcase on March 8, featuring sets by Nice Horse (expect to hear its new feminist anthem "Mansplainin'), Brooklyn Doran, Iskwe, and Witch Prophet. More info here

–  After taking a fall in LA, Carole Pope has been forced to postpone her planned International Women’s Day themed concert at Toronto's Hugh's Room Live on March 8. Her appearance has been rescheduled to May 9. Replacing her on March 8 is another formidable presence, Shakura S'Aida.

Rootsy singer/songwriter Slow Leaves (aka Grant Davidson) has just wrapped a European tour and has announced cross-Canada dates beginning April 2, in support of his new album Enough About Me.  Full tour dates here. Slow Leaves grabbed attention in 2015 for his selection in the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class. Here's his brand new video.



Alexander “Bender” Buchanan, a former champion of KOTD battle rap, and member of the Ottawa hip-hop group Flight Distance passed away in Montreal on March 1, at age 37. Sleep apnea has been reported as a possible cause.

Buchanan was an MC, producer, artist, and novelist. In a statement, KOTD (King of the Dot) noted that "Bender made his mark as King of the Dot Champion and a writer ahead of his time. Everything from his paintings to his novels spoke volumes to his creative skillset."

After winning the 2011 crown as King of the Dot, Buchanan travelled the world to compete in battle rap contests. Flight Distance released three albums, and the second, 2011's Bad Information, is acclaimed as one of the best to emerge from Ottawa.  A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support his family. Sources: Ottawa Citizen, kotdtv

Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, died on March 4 of an apparent heart attack, at age 92.

He is described as a visionary entrepreneur who built a global retailing empire and the most famous company in the history of Sacramento, California. The Tower chain revolutionized music retailing until it was swamped by iPods, big-box stores and other dramatic changes in the industry.

Tower went out of business in December 2006 after a second stint in bankruptcy.

Tower began in 1960 with a single store in Sacramento, followed by a location in San Francisco in 1967. At its peak, Tower was a $1 billion-a-year business stretching from Boston to Bogota, Colombia, with outposts in Tokyo, London and Toronto. 

Solomon operated on a philosophy that was obvious to him but extraordinary for its day: Build big stores and pack them with as much music as possible. The company eventually branched into books and video. Apparent to him but extraordinary for its day: Build big stores and pack them with as much music as possible. The company eventually branched into books and video.

All Things Must Pass, a documentary on Tower’s history produced by actor Colin Hanks, debuted in March 2015. Solomon was honoured in other ways in his later years. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2016. Source: Sacramento Bee

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