Music News Digest, June 9, 2017

An impressive turnout of industry types and fellow musicians showed up for Leeroy Stagger's Toronto showcase at The Dakota Tavern last night. The Western Canadian roots rocker is making a splash with new album Love Versus and focus track "I Want It All," a cut catchy enough that True North's Geoff Kulawick is spending serious coin to push it Stateside.

Those spied checking out Stagger's set included Bernie Finkelstein (he's very excited about Bruce Cockburn's new album), Exclaim publisher Ian Danzig, and Jude Coombe (Starfish Entertainment), plus an all-star cast of singer/songwriters, including John Cody, Terra Lightfoot, Kevin Kane (Grapes of Wrath), and Lindy Vopnfjord. The sound mix for Stagger at the gig was less than stellar, but he remains a formidable talent.

— On July 1, 1967, Tom Connors was performing at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, ON, where he was introduced for the first time as "Stompin' Tom Connors"

This month, Anthem Legacy, an imprint of ole Label Group, is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stompin' Tom Connors with the release of… Stompin' Tom Connors 50th Anniversary self-titled CD.

In association with Canada 150 and an introduction from NHL Legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, the June 30 edition will include all of Stompin' Tom's timeless classics, with four new renditions from The Cuddy/Polley Family Band, Corb Lund, George Canyon and Whiskey Jack.

— Canadian digital media distribution firm Yangaroo has announced the signing of a multiyear renewal with the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys.  

Yangaroo will provide its secure digital awards management platform, which is powered by the company’s patented Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS), a platform that streamlines every aspect of awards-show management.

"We have worked with Yangaroo for many years now, and we are thrilled to extend the partnership,” said Rick Engdahl, Chief Information Officer of the Recording Academy. “We look forward to continuing a successful and productive relationship.”

The Canadian firm’s patented technology has allowed it to become a leader in the Awards field, and a global distributor of media content to radio and TV across the Americas, the UK and in Europe.

— Vancouver's Robbie Slade and Peter Ricq have earned a strong rep live together as duo Humans. Now they are pushing the tech envelope with the release of the MuchFact-assisted music video for “Boys and Girls” by taking a 2D drawing into the VR space. It’s an intriguing start. What do you think?

— In its 9th year, Hamilton's Supercrawl, the city's largest annual festival, includes Blackie & the Rodeo Kings (featuring proud local resident Tom Wilson), Sam Roberts Band, John K. Samson, Basia Bulat and Tanya Tagaq.

Other notables include the Acorn, Bros, Dearly Beloved, Dan Edmonds (ex-Harlan Pepper), Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Harrison, Harrow Fair, Kelly Prescott, Poor Nameless Boy, Ginger St. James, Andy Shauf, Steve Strongman, White Cowbell Oklahoma, Thompson Wilson, and Donovan Woods.

The shindig runs Sept. 8-10.

Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds" is reinterpreted on Canada Day when Tyson is joined by 1,500 ukulele, banjo, guitar and mandolin players in a “strum n sing” version at Olympic Plaza in Calgary.

Tyson wrote the song in the early '60s, and it has earned innumerable covers, including versions by Neil Young, Harry Belafonte, John Denver, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Blue Rodeo. and Ian & Sylvia who first cut it in 1964. "Four Strong Winds" was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CHSF) in 2003.

— Canadian violinist Benjamin Bowman has been appointed to one of The Metropolitan Opera's two concertmaster chairs. He joins the Met Orchestra's current concertmaster, David Chan.

The Brandon, MB native has been concertmaster of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra since 2014 and prior to was associate concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and concertmaster of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. He hosts CBC Radio 2's This is My Music on June 17.

— Filming has been completed on an offbeat musical doc in T.O., billed as The Jews Who Wrote Christmas. The reel's focus is on the fact that Jewish-American songwriters — including Irving Berlin, Mel Tormé, Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne and Johnny Marks —  wrote the soundtrack to Christianity’s most musical holiday. 

Described as a period piece, circa 1960s, Canadian Larry Weinstein directs with Jason Charters and Liam Romalis of Riddle Films named as producers.

An A-list of Canadian singers and musicians perform the Christmas classics. Included: Steven Page, Dione Taylor, David Wall, Aviva Chernick, Tom Wilson, Kevin Breit, and Lemon Bucket Orkestra.

The Jews Who Wrote Christmas will have its world broadcast premiere on CBC TV, and CBC's Documentary Channel in December 2017.

— Acclaimed and feisty East Coast singer/songwriter Mo Kenney has announced Sept. 29 as the release date for her next album The Details (Pheromone Recordings). Look for devils in the details, as a press blurb states the album "traces her own strange, devastating, and ultimately hopeful trip through the trials and tribulations of booze-fuelled breakdowns, clouds of depression, and disintegrating relationships."

Kenney's trophy case includes a SOCAN Award, numerous Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music awards, and a Canadian Folk Music Award. This advance track gives a taste of what's to come, hinting that the folk tag for her work no longer applies.

We Want Peace is a fundraising concert being held at Toronto’s Harbourfront Fleck Dance Theatre Saturday June 10, in advance of World Refugee Day. Spearheading the event is former child soldier Emmanuel Jal, who will be joined by Nelly Furtado, Somali refugee sister duo Faarrow, Paul Beaubrun, The Love Peace Harmony Ensemble, and Vibe with the Tribe.

— The City of Bhangra Festival begins in Vancouver and Surrey venues runs June 11 through June 17. The event counts 350 performers, including EDM star Nucleya. The fest's artistic director is Tarun Nayar from Delhi 2 Dublin.

— Toronto punk rock trio The Discarded impressed with last year's eponymous debut, and they'll be recording with Ian Blurton (Change of Heart) again soon. Both bands are on the bill at Crock Stock in Bewdley, ON, on June 17, and The Discarded have their own shows at Duggan's Basement in Toronto (June 10), The Spill in Peterborough (June 15), Kingston's The Mansion (June 16), Ottawa's House of Targ (July 6), and Toronto's Cherry Cola's (July 15). Fun fact: The Discarded comprise dad Joel Wasson (The Snowdogs) and his sons Jared and Caden.

— Female folk trio Trent Severn has often featured Canadian references in its material, and new track "Eh Canada" ups the ante. Timed to coincide with Canada's 150th, the song references such Canadian icons that included Rocket Richard and Anne Murray.

A new album from Trent Severn (comprising noted singer/songwriters Emm Gryner and Dayna Manning, plus Lindsay Schindler), entitled Portage, is released on June 30.

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