CBC broadcaster, journalist and author Dennis Skene died July 5 in Surrey at age 74 following a lengthy illness. He began his career with CBC Ottawa in 1973 and worked with the Corporation in Winnipeg, Halifax, Edmonton and Calgary before joining CBC Vancouver as Director of Television from 1988-91. He also authored several books on current affairs and biographies of prominent political figures. A Memorial Service will be held at 3 p.m. July 23 at Beecher Place, 12160 Beecher Street, Crescent Beach, Surrey. Sun/Province obituary
Two-time Grammy winning American songwriter Wayne Carson, whose long list of credits included "The Letter", "Soul Deep" and "Neon Rainbow" for The Box Tops; "No Love At All" for BJ Thomas and "A Horse Called Music" for Willie Nelson. He was 72.
— Bobby Bazini has been out of the spotlight for some time so we reached out to Universal Canada CEO Randy Lennox to find out when we'll be able to get a fresh fix of Montreal's soulman. He reports back that 18 new songs have been recorded and we can expect a new early in 2016. Bazini's 2014 release, Where I Belong, is now certified Platinum. He's currently on tour in Quebec and lands at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square on August 11th.
— Bret Higgins’ Atlas Revolt is the first CD from Higgins' new band, on John Zorn’s New York label Tzadik Records and out today. The Toronto bassist's project began in 2013 as a vehicle for his original instrumental compositions that draw inspiration from a unique blend of genres and influences including film scores, jazz, orchestral, pop, rock, and elements of Eastern European and South American music. Joining Bret in the core group are some of Canada’s most in-demand players — violinist Aleksandar Gajic, keyboardist Robbie Grunwald, electric guitarist Tom Juhas and drummer Joshua Van Tassel. (Kerry Doole)
— Regina's Rah Rah has been relentlessly touring and releasing projects since their debut full-length Going Steady came out in '08. The band's fourth, Vessels, produced by Gus Van Go and Werner F (Said the Whale, Hollerado, The Stills), is scheduled on September 11th, on Hidden Pony Records. The infectious keyboard-spiked first single, "Chip Off the Heart", is available at iTunes and is described by NCM's Noah Siegel as "an irresistible and enjoyable earworm." Rah Rah has North American dates in place supporting Dear Rouge this fall.
— Miley Cyrus' brother Trace Cyrus called off his Friday concert in Canada because of mental health problems. Scheduled to appear on the Vans Warped Tour stop in Toronto, the tattoo festooned 26 year-old guitarist took to Instagram to apologize to fans and explain that his image makes him a target.
"Most every time I cross into Canada, border agents treat me like a criminal. Even though I've never been arrested, had a DUI, or any serious trouble with the law," he wrote. Continuing, he added that "I suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks and the idea of being detained in a room against my will is just something I can't handle mentally right now."
— PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA have signed completion documents to launch the world’s first fully integrated multi-territory music licensing and processing hub covering European territories. The move follows the European Commission’s competition clearance in June.
— Kanye West. Really? From yesterday's online edition of the Globe & Mail: Re Online Pan Am Petition Seeks Closing Ceremony Alternative To Kanye West (July 16):
"I operate a video-content firm that has invested well over a million dollars in the past two years, producing and promoting music and talent in the Canadian music industry. This activity generates significant tax revenue all down the line by hiring locally and dealing with Canadian artists.
We invested in music because we believe in the talented resource of Canadian musicians. The Kanye announcement made our jaw drop.
Not only were non-Canadians chosen, but two more unlikely artists than Kanye West and Pitbull to represent the spirit of sports you could not find.
With Mayor John Tory’s hyperbole around T.O. as Music City, he has missed a golden opportunity with this event to support Canadian talent and to show he walks the walk.
This boneheaded decision diverts tax dollars and a global stage from what should be a focus on Canada and Toronto.
I suggest the mayor put his money where his mouth is, by matching the salaries of the U.S. performers to kick start his proposed Music City initiative.
That would be something to cheer about."
Josh Killham, partner, Lightbox Video
— From radio consultant George Johns' most recent blog post:
"I remember once listening to an interview with Frank Zappa where he was talking about driving through Hollywood on the way to a meeting with his record company in Burbank when he had to stop for a red light.
Sitting there with the top down enjoying the California sunshine while singing along with the radio he noticed that the couple in the next car were staring at him horrified. Frank suddenly realized that he’d been singing along rather loudly to “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies."
— One of the most-praised features of Apple Music has been its ‘For You’ offering – which hand picks playlists and albums for users every few hours based on their previous tastes.
It didn’t take long for Spotify to launch a rival – with a twist.
Updated every Monday morning, Discover Weekly offers ‘two hours of custom-made music recommendations, tailored specifically to you and delivered as a unique Spotify playlist’. - MBW
— Legacy Recordings, the catalogue division of Sony Music Entertainment, is opening up the archives to fuel a new online merch shop from the major.
Shop.LegacyRecordings.com offers a wide range of merchandise incorporating and/or inspired by Sony’s historic label designs, logos, album covers, promotional swag, artist biographies and more.
These include Columbia Records, Epic Records, Groove, Kama Sutra Records, OKeh Records, RCA Victor and Silvertone Records.
Branded merch items currently offered include cell phone cases T-shirts, messenger bags, mugs; magnets — and a range of home decor items including duvets and pillow covers are on the way. - MBW
— When Ottawa’s Chris Murray wanted help a couple of months ago with an elaborate proposal for his girlfriend, he reached out to one of his favourite bands, Arkells. Frontman Max Kerman rose to the challenge and played himself as a busker on a park bench, strumming “11:11″ as the suitor went on bended knee in front of his girlfriend Jennifer Katsuno. It's a story with a happy ending, as Ottawa Citizen scribbler Alison Mah tells it.
— Canadian drummer Corky Laing is in Helsinki writing his book and producing a young Polish band called Elevator with Gary Lyons. It's not all work and no play for the ex Mountain-eer. He's performing with Kinky Friedman in the Hamptons August 26 before starting a tour in the UK in September where it can be expected he'll be thumping up interest in his 2014 concept album with band Perfect Child, entitled Playing God.
— Jimmy Page is holding court at Indigo's flagship store in the Manulife Centre in Toronto today. He's pimping his 152-page memoir recounting life from age 13 as a ruddy faced choirboy to Sixties session musician, through The Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin and today where he is redolent in the glow of winning a nasty zoning spat with close neighbor Robbie Williams. The ex-Take That star had been wanting to posh up his £120million London pile but the 71 year-old Zep icon was having none of it. Pictures available for viewing here.
— Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz's Hollywood-based Epitaph Records has signed one-man acoustic act SayWeCanFly to the label. The 20 year-old Hamilton Braden Barrie is currently on the road with the Vans Warped Tour. SayWeCanFly has self-released music since 2009 and recently formed his own label, PureWolf Records.
— Don Henley will release Cass County, his fifth studio album, and first solo album in 15 years, on September 25th. It's named for the northeastern Texas county where Henley was raised. "That Old Flame" is the lead country single, out now. It features Martina McBride. Universal Music has also released "Take A Picture of This" to mainstream pop radio. A sneak peak about the album can be viewed here.
— If I Should Go Before You, the new album from City and Colour (aka Dallas Green), will be released October 9th on Dine Alone Records. In advance of the release, Zane Lowe recently premiered the lead track, “Woman,” on Beats 1. You can listen to it here.
— They do it because they can — it’s the ideal adolescent mantra.
We’re talking about digital file-sharing here — or, in a less sanitized word, stealing. Of course, “sharing” sounds much more virtuous — warm and fuzzy, with a righteous Power to the People subtext — than stealing.
Despite legal downloading services like iTunes (which takes a 30-per-cent commission) and streaming services like Spotify (which pay notoriously little in royalties to the artist), the fact remains that close to half of music acquired online — 45 per cent — is through illegal file-sharing.
Hackers are seen as the Robin Hoods of our day. Steal from the rich to give to the pampered youth. These are Montreal Gazette writer Juan Rodriquez' words. His authoritative and intelligent mind sums up author Stephen Whitt's smart new book, How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy. You can read Juan's review here.
— A New York federal judge ordered a music programmer Friday to pay hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and his Roc-A-Fella Records LLC record label nearly $195,000 in legal fees, ruling the man’s failed copyright lawsuit was unreasonable.