Music News Digest, Aug. 4, 2017

It has been a long wait for Down Under fans keen to see Alanis Morissette onstage. She hasn't played in New Zealand or Australia in 20 years, but three dates in NZ tourist towns (Queenstown, Taupo and Whitianga) have been set for January 2018. Morissette is in a bill with George Thorogood (the macho blues-rocker seems an unlikely match) and Men At Work singer Colin Hay.

She then travels to Australia for two more intimate headline concerts performed in an acoustic trio setting. These shows are at Melbourne's Palais Theatre on Jan. 23 and Sydney's ICC Theatre on Jan. 24. Morrissette has scored two No. 1 albums in Australia, with 1995's Jagged Little Pill, and 2002's Under Rug Swept. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie made it to No. 2 in 1998.

Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, a documentary on the blues-rock guitar star, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) before airing on Showtime in 2018. It is directed by Oscar winner Lili Fini Zanuck (producer, Driving Miss Daisy) and features extensive interviews with Clapton and his peers. No word on whether Slowhand will attend the fest.

TIFF has become known for world premieres of some major music documentaries, including films chronicling Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Pearl Jam. This year's fest also premieres profiles of Grace Jones and Sammy Davis, Jr.

— Hard-working Montreal psych-rock band Elephant Stone is back on the road, touring Canada, the US, UK and Europe with bands including The Black Angels, Dream Syndicate and a Place To Bury Strangers. They play four shows in Quebec this month, followed by 14 shows in Europe and the UK in September, then US gigs in December. Full itinerary here

— Ruth B.’s debut album Safe Haven is now officially certified gold in Canada. The album includes the singer's triple-platinum hit single “Lost Boy," one that also scored big internationally and helped her win a Juno this year as Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Its video (below) has attracted a hefty 60M YouTube views.

Her summer Canadian festival tour continues, with upcoming shows in Regina, Vancouver, and Ottawa. She is part of the star-studded bill at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame induction event at Massey Hall on Sept. 23, with US theatre dates following that.

— The second annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto will take place Sept. 15-17, and the first performers announcement has been made. The impressive list of those playing clubs in the 'hood includes Jackie Richardson, Alana Bridgewater, Sharon Lee, Shawne Jackson, Laila Biali, Robi Botos and Mike Downes,  Elizabeth Shepherd,  Alex Pangman and Heather Bambrick. Shows are cash only, with money going directly to the artists. More on the fest and its founder Molly Johnson here.

— Women working in the music business will be the centre of attention during Nova Scotia Music Week (NSMW) this November 2-5 in Truro, NS. The conference has announced a program entitled Women in Music (WIM), one that will examine the challenges faced by women in the music industry. Participants in panels and workshops will include Louisa Rainbird (The Music Sales Group), Alison Lamb (Prolifica), Sofia Ilyas (FLOAT PR), Vivian Barclay (Warner/Chappell Music), Stefanie Purificati (United Talent Agency), Vanessa Cito (Coalition), and Steph Marziano (Producer/Mixer). More details here

— As we reported recently, gold and a platinum records belonging to late Junkhouse member Dan Achen were stolen last month from Catherine North, the Hamilton studio Achen founded. They have not been recovered, but in a classy move Sony Music Canada is reprinting the awards, and forwarding them to the studio.

Catherine North co-owner and engineer Scott Peacock told CBC News that "It's so awesome to have that piece of Canadian music history back at the studio. "We were honoured that the label reached out and cared enough."

— Veteran Toronto folk outfit Whiskey Jack is being kept busy touring its tribute to Stompin' Tom Connors show, and the Canada 150 connection has helped fuel the activity. Tonight (Aug. 4) the group plays a Music Niagara show at The Market At The Village, in Niagara On the Lake. Upcoming shows are set in Bancroft, Lindsay, Parry Sound, and Renfrew.

"Watch for us in the Maritime provinces and other Ontario theatres in the months to come," leader Duncan Fremlin informs FYI, adding that "to date, we've performed 38 shows for 9500 fans. We've only just begun!"

Not many hair salons become pop culture landmarks, but Toronto snip shop House of Lords qualifies. Located on downtown Yonge Street, it has shorn the locks of David Bowie, Axl Rose, Ron Wood, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Kiefer Sutherland, and Rod Stewart, plus countless local celebs. It has also been used to host record release parties and live radio broadcasts.

 The Toronto Star now reports it is set to close after 51 years, with British-born owner Paul Burford calling soaring rents the culprit (sound familiar?).


Goldy McJohn (born John Raymond Goadsby), a Canadian best known as the original keyboardist for Steppenwolf and a classically trained pianist, died from a heart attack at his home in Burlen, Washington, on Aug. 1. He was 72. The news was confirmed on his Facebook page.

McJohn helped form Steppenwolf in late 1967 in Toronto along with singer John Kay and drummer Jerry Edmonton after they split from Jack London & the Sparrows, which also included Bruce Palmer, who later joined Buffalo Springfield. Earlier, McJohn was a member of the Mynah Birds with Palmer and future R&B star Rick James. Neil Young (who also joined Buffalo Springfield) was a member of that band after McJohn left. In later years he was to play with Steve Marriott in a reconstituted version of Humble Pie.

McJohn's FB page notes that "his next performance was to take place at a benefit concert honoring legendary drummer, Alvin Taylor... This concert, [in Indio, CA, on Sept. 1] in full agreement of all participating, will now also stand as a tribute to Goldy and the indelible mark he has left on the world of Rock and Roll and the lives of all those who knew and loved him."

Gilles Tremblay, one of Quebec’s major contemporary music composers and pianists, died July 27, age 85. One of Tremblay’s many accomplishments was his composition for the Pavillon of Quebec during Expo 67. The following year, the Société St-Jean-Baptiste awarded Tremblay with the Calixa-Lavallée music prize.

In 1991, he was the recipient of the prestigious Denise-Pelletier Award, considered to be Quebec’s highest distinction for performing arts. That same year Tremblay became an officer for the National Order of Quebec. His most famous compositions include "Fleuves," "Vers le Soleil" and "Compostelle I."

Tony Cohen, an Australian record producer, on Aug. 1. Aged 60. He was recognised as one of his country's best producers and engineers for the past three decades. Artists he produced included Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Hunters and Collectors, The Birthday Party, The Go-Betweens, The Triffids, The Cruel Sea, Powderfinger, and NZ band Straitjacket Fits. He was a multiple winner as Producer of the Year at the ARIA Awards (Australia's Juno/Grammy equivalent).

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