Music News Digest, July 28, 2017

In an unexpected move, Mick Jagger released two sharply political new tracks, "Gotta Get a Grip" and "England Lost" yesterday. In a statement he issued, Jagger termed them responses to the "confusion and frustration with the times we live in."

British rapper Skepta is featured on "England Lost," a song Jagger states is "about a feeling that we are in a difficult moment in our history. It's obviously got a fair amount of humor because I don’t like anything too on the nose, but it's also got a sense of vulnerability of where we are as a country."

He describes "Gotta Get A Grip" as about how "despite all those things that are happening, you gotta get on with your own life, be yourself and attempt to create your own destiny."

— Justin Trudeau may have received the Rolling Stone cover this week, but potential rival Charlie Angus has captured the support of many significant Canadian musicians. That was shown last night at an event for the NDP leadership candidate at The Garrison in Toronto. Serving as MC as well as performing was Angus' longtime pal and earlier bandmate in L'Etranger, Andrew Cash, another musician turned NDP pol. Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene spun vinyl, and short sets were given by Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers (joined by Cash on a stirring version of "You Got A Lot Of Nerve"), Oh Susanna, Ansley Simpson (winner of Slaight Music's Bullseye talent search) and Sam Cash and the Romantic Dogs. Torq Campbell of Stars recited a poem, then drew applause with a stirring endorsement of the candidate. Angus joined Andrew Cash for one song, and gave a rousing speech.

— The neon Sam The Record Man sign on Yonge Street was a landmark in Toronto for decades. It has been the subject of controversy after Ryerson University bought the store's property in 2008, but restoration work on the sign has begun. It is expected to be installed on a new site overlooking Yonge-Dundas Square in the fall. Estimates of the restoration cost run as high as $250K.

— A donation to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia of 2,000 prints from famed American music/celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz has run into serious problems.  According to a CBC report, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board has refused to certify the collection as of "outstanding significance and national importance." This ruling has raised doubts about whether the collection, estimated to be worth $20M, can be displayed.

A gallery spokesperson disagreed with the decision, stating "We consider Annie Leibovitz to be one of the most influential photographers of her time and feel the collection is culturally significant — to our province, our country, and internationally."

— Canadian DJ/producer A-Trak is a co-founder of Brooklyn-based label Fool's Gold. That label has just joined in a worldwide distribution partnership with Caroline, Billboard reports.

Caroline's first release for Fool's Gold is "Believe," A-Trak's collaboration with Quavo and Lil Yachty. Founded in 2007 by A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, Fool's Gold's catalog includes early releases by Kid Cudi, Run the Jewels, Flosstradamus and Danny Brown. A-Trak won the DMC World DJ Championship in 1997 at the age of 15, making him the youngest and first Canadian winner of the competition.

— Canadian honkytonk heroine Lindi Ortega is still buzzing about her appearance at country music shrine the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville a month ago. “A holy moment. Spiritual,” is how the singer described her second performance there.

Ortega released a well-received EP, Til the Goin’ Gets Gone, earlier this year, followed by a tour with Chris Stapleton. She is touring North America extensively this summer, including dates at the Wide Skies Festival in Lethbridge, July 27, the Calgary Folk Festival, July 28-30, and Boots & Hearts in Oro-Medonte on Aug. 12.

— Pioneering LA punk band X is being saluted by that city's baseball team, The Dodgers, on Aug. 16. Singer/bassist John Doe will sing the national anthem at a game then, while co-lead singer Exene Cervenka is in line to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. X plays Toronto's Danforth Music Hall on July 30, with veteran local garage-rockers UIC opening.

— Orchestral composers with a connection to Canada’s prairie region can submit their works to the 2018 Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region Emerging Composer Competition. The deadline is Sept. 15. The 15th annual edition of the contest offers a cash prize of $1,500, and a performance of the winning score by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

—  Co-writers Ria Mae and Joel Stouffer recently received a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for Mae's "Bend," which topped the CBC Radio 2 Top 20 chart earlier this month. Co-writer Serena Ryder will receive her plaque at a later date.

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