Music News Digest, Sept. 15, 2017

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has cleared the path for Live Nation's acquisition of John Giddings' marquee Isle of Wight Festival. It now becomes a US-based marketing brand, so expect to see shed artists muddled in the marquee in the 2018 edition.

After slamming the door on its Canadian operation, United Talent Agency has sealed a deal to acquire the New York-based speaker's bureau Greater Talent Network. Don’t expect the plethora of agencies here to be hustling these speakers north of the 49th.

Yes has cancelled all upcoming dates on its tour after guitarist Steve Howe's son, DJ ‘Little Barry’ Virgil died unexpectedly. The prog-rock dinosaurs were expected in Massey Hall on the 16th, Grande Theatre de Quebec on the 18th and St. Denis Theatre the night following.

Steely Dan is alive and well, despite co-founder Walter Becker’s death this month. His other half, Donald Fagen and whomever hit Casino Rama, ON, on Oct. 19. Call it ‘Pretzel Logic’!

— Proving that vinyl is hotter than a White House scandal, Austin, TX, is now home to a new vinyl pressing plant. The enterprise is called Gold Rush Vinyl and is powered by Viryl Technologies in Canada.

Larry LeBlanc turns in a spectacular interview with longstanding agent Jack Ross and former UTA head honcho in Canada. The in-depth interview is chock full of facts and one of Canada’s top-notch biz execs goes further in including some remarkable asides. It’s a must read and can be found here.

BreakOut West is “excited” to announce the winners of the artistic awards for the Western Canadian Music Awards, celebrating the best artistic talent in western Canada. The 15th annual awards were announced earlier Thursday at a reception at the Dinwoodie Lounge in Edmonton. The 15th annual confab runs September 13-17. At press time, the winners weren’t posted on the website but you can keep checking here.

— The invincible Molly Johnson is barking at the bite to launch the 2nd annual Kensington Jazz Festival in Toronto. Her seemingly indefatigable energy has collared over 250 jazz musicians performing in 20 spots over 3 days starting tonight. FYI’s primary care-giver and financial supporter Gary Slaight is backing this Montreux-worthy-event in Toronto with a mainstage financial contribution. Molly, meantime, has a new album in the pipeline that comes out sometime soon on UMC. 

Seal’s next album comes out on Decca on Nov. 10. The “Kiss from A Rose” heartthrob reinvents himself singing standards made famous by Sinatra, Ella and Nina Simone. The package is imaginatively entitled “Standards”.

— And on the subject of standards, Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra has an Ultimate Christmas collection released by UMC on Oct. 6. The 20-track Sinatra collection combines chestnuts released by Capitol and Reprise and there’s collectable and giftable 2-disc black or white-vinyl editions as well as CD and digital download versions all available to give-wrap or gift-card to grey hairs and hipsters everywhere.

— With help from Khalid as well as SZA and Post Malone, Lorde has released a remix to her latest single Homemade Dynamite.”

To commemorate the title’s 25 anniversary, R.E.M. plans on reissuing Automatic for The People November 10 via Craft Recordings/Universal Music Canada. A myriad of editions is available, depending on how committed you are. The richest of the jewels is a 4-disc set that includes 20 souped-up demos and land deeds to some Florida real-estate.

— Award-Winning Producer/Songwriter Azeem Haq has just released his first single “Taking It Back”, and officially partnered with Toronto’s SickKids Foundation to donate proceeds of the future hit song towards a goal of $10K. It could take awhile given today’s streaming rights, but it’s the intention that counts, right?

The Mundial Montréal world music festival has announced the lineup for this year’s Indigenous Sounds series, supported by Slaight Music. For the last five years, Mundial has been highlighting artists from various Indigenous communities in Canada, providing opportunities for the artists to share their music and culture with audiences from coast to coast.

The featured Canadian artists this year are Quantum Tangle, William Prince, Amanda Rheaume, and Lacey Hill, with Nive & The Deer Children (Greenland) and Emily Wurramara (Australia) also participating. Mundial Montréal runs Nov. 14-17. More info on Indigenous Sounds here

—The careers of two titans of Canadian jazz are to be honoured at Mississauga's Living Arts Centre on Dec. 9. Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones: A Celebration is a gala event that coincides with both Canada’s 150th birthday and the Living Arts Centre’s 20th anniversary. Jones will be receiving the first-ever Living Arts Centre Excellence in The Arts Award at the tribute.

A stellar lineup of fellow pianists set to perform includes Monty Alexander, D.D, Jackson, Robi Botos, and Marc Cary, with other guest vocalists and musicians set to include Other esteemed musicians include Dione Taylor, Casey Benjamin, Brandi Disterheft, Kahil El’Zabar, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. The program will feature a mix of primordial music written by Peterson and Jones such as "The Canadiana Suite" along with original material written by the three generations of artists who will be performing. 

— The Music Managers Forum Canada (MMF) has announced its 2017-18 Executive Committee. Those elected are President Meg Symsyk (Last Gang Management), Vice President Susan de Cartier (Starfish Entertainment), Treasurer Jake Gold (The Management Trust), and  Secretary Alex Bonenfant (Nightmare Management).

On Saturday (Sept. 16), MMF and the Rifflandia Festival present Get Off This Island, a discussion will dig into strategies for artists to break into new markets across Canada and the West Coast of the US. Moderated by Nick Blasko of Amelia Artists, the panel features Bonenfant,  Donna Branston - DMCL Chartered Professional Accountants, Colin McTaggart  (Amelia Artists), Kate Wattie (Tonic/Boompa Records), and Grant Paley (Paquin Artists Agency). More information here

The MMF also hosts a Music Managers Huddle at Breakout West on Sunday (Sept. 17), with speakers Mike Renaud (Hidden Pony Records & Management) and Stephen Carroll (Music Manitoba, The Weakerthans).

 The Toronto Blues Society (TBS) has announced some staffing changes. Hüma Üster steps into the role of Office Manager, while Amanda Rheaume (an accomplished singer/songwriter) has been appointed as the part-time Project Manager.


Grant Hart, singer/drummer of ground-breaking US post-punk trio Hüsker Dü', on Sept. 14, of cancer at age 56.  Based in Minneapolis, Hüsker Dü' (comprising Hart and bandmates Bob Mould and Greg Norton) released six albums from 1983's Everything Falls Apart to 1987's Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Critics and musical peers have credited Hüsker Dü' with shaping the sound of ‘90s modern rock.  Hart's battle with heroin addiction was well-documented. After Hüsker Dü' broke up, he led the band Nova Mob and released a number of solo albums, the final one being 2013's The Argument. Hüsker Dü's early career is being explored in a Numero box set titled Savage Young Dü that comes out on Nov. 10.

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