Music News Digest, Sept. 25, 2017

Shawn Mendes has joined other major music stars in pledging support for the relief campaign for victims of the recent earthquake in Mexico. On Friday he announced he is teaming up with the Red Cross to raise funds and awareness. Mendes was on tour and  in Mexico City during the earthquake. “After seeing the impact of the damage firsthand in Mexico, I wanted to find any way I could to raise funds,” he said in a press release. “So we reached out to the Red Cross and partnered with them to set up a way to help those affected by the earthquake.”

This campaign will raise funds on CrowdRise, a crowdsourcing site that’s part of GoFundMe. Mendes and his manangement company AG Artists already donated $100K and are asking for fans to help out further. You can attribute your own donation here. The campaign has raised $178K in the first two days. Watch Mendes’ video asking fans to assist below. 

The East Coast Music Association has announced Jonathan Torrens as the host of the 2018 East Coast Music Awards show, set for Halifax, NS on May 3 at the Scotiabank Centre. Actor and TV host Torrens is perhaps best known as J-Roc on Trailer Park Boys.

The announcement was made in a very funny short video you can view here. Maritime stars offering their preferred choice and their disappointment over the host chosen include Classified, The Once, Ria Mae, Rose Cousins, David Myles, Jenn Grant and Lennie Gallant. Previous ECMAs hosts have included comedians Jonny Harris and James Mullinger, former TV personality and current MP Seamus O'Regan, and artists such as Roch Voisine, Damhnait Doyle, George Canyon, Heather Rankin, and Ashley MacIsaac. Tickets for the show are already on sale.

— Internationally-lauded and Polaris and Juno-nominated songstress Cold Specks (aka Ladan Hussein) released her latest album, Fool's Paradise, on Arts & Crafts on Friday. A label press release states that the album "encapsulates the naturalness of existing during difficult times. Hussein recently learned about her family’s former life in Somalia. During the writing process, she dug deep into grainy VHS recordings found online of Somali musicians, songs and videos that had survived war."

This fall, Cold Specks will set off an extensive world tour with recently announced North American dates beginning on Nov. 2 including seven shows across Canada. Full dates can be found here.

— Michael Louis Johnson has long been a popular fixture on the Toronto club scene, leading such combos as The New Kings and Rambunctious, playing trumpet in the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, and serenading at his weekly residency at The Communist's Daughter for the past 14 years. He has just released his first solo album, Half Moon Half Crazy, launching it with a Dakota Tavern gig last Friday. The disc showcases his storytelling gifts to fine effect. Check it out here

—Tonight (Sept. 25), Hugh's Room Live and the Toronto Blues Society (TBS) hosts the International Blues Challenge contest blaze, featuring three of Toronto's best blues acts, Dan McKinnon, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, and Raoul and The Big Time. The winner will represent Toronto at the IBC in Memphis, set for Jan. 16-20, 2018. The HRL show is free.

—Raucous rockers Danko Jones have toured relentlessly in support of their latest album, Wild Cat. That continues with a just-announced upcoming Canadian tour, kicking off on Nov. 2nd in Oshawa, ON, and featuring dates in Alberta and Manitoba too.

— "My Little RNR," the first single off Wild Cat, peaked at #6 on the Active Rock Charts in Canada earlier this year.

On Friday, during her appearance on CTV’s The SocialJann Arden revealed her newest song, "A Long Goodbye." The track marks Arden’s first original music since 2014’s Everything Almost and finds the celebrated singer-songwriter reuniting with legendary producer Bob Rock, with whom she’s been regularly collaborating from 2010.

"A Long Goodbye" arrives as Arden begins promotion for her soon to be released book, Feeding My Mother – Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives With Memory Loss, out Nov 21 via Penguin Random House Canada. Arden has begun performing 27 Canadian dates over the course of this fall, including a series of special A Jann Arden Christmas concerts. Details on her next studio album remain under wraps.

 — The German-born jazz pianist/composer Florian Hoefner moved from Manhattan to St. John's three years ago, and has quickly become a valued member of that city's musical community.  In 2015, he won the Stingray Rising Star Award at the Montréal Jazz Festival for his original composition "Newfound Jig. " He has been a prolific recording artist as a bandleader and a member of the group Subtone, and has just released his first solo piano record, Coldwater Stories, a work inspired by his new home province.

Hoefner showcased its material in vibrant fashion at Gallery 345 in Toronto on Friday, combining technical virtuosity and a style that displayed such varied influences as Debussy, Keith Jarrett and Ray Charles.

— On Sept. 30, Music BC hosts a half-day workshop (from 10am) at its Vancouver office entitled 'Don't Break Up The Band.' It will give participants the essential skills that are needed to prevent difficult discussions or band disagreements from spiraling out of control. More info here


Charles Bradley, the US soul singer who found success late in his career, died of cancer, Sept. 23. Age 68. Bradley was diagnosed with stomach cancer a year ago, but returned to touring until the diagnosis that the cancer had spread. Bradley worked as a James Brown impersonator prior to being discovered by soul label Daptone Records. Beginning with his 2011 debut, No Time For Dreaming, Bradley released two more albums, 2013’s Victim of Love and 2016’s Changes, but it was his dynamic live performances that was the cornerstone of his success. A 2016 appearance on CBS: This Morning earned him an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.” Sources: Consequence of Sound, Variety



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