Music News Digest, Oct. 13, 2017

The music and publishing worlds collided to beautiful effect at The Pilot in Toronto on Wednesday evening. The occasion was the launch of Lightfoot, the definitive biography of the musical great written by Nicholas Jennings and published by Penguin Random House. The recipient of plenty of advance publicity, the book raced straight to the top of the non-fiction bestsellers list, a rarity for a music-themed tome.


A galaxy of stars showed, headed by Gordon Lightfoot himself. A group of local players and singers, including Lightfoot's daughter Meredith Moon, performed some Lightfoot covers very ably, and a definite highlight of the night came when Gord joined his longtime pals The Good Brothers for a rendition of "Alberta Bound" that drew major cheers.

Musical peers spied included Sylvia Tyson, Liona Boyd, Lorraine Segato, Greg Godovitz, and Marc Jordan, alongside such authors as Denise Donlon and Brian D. Johnson and many notables that included Lloyd Robertson. A grand time in Yorkville indeed.

— Voting for the 2017 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize is now open. The Heritage Prize honours Canadian albums of the past from four distinct time periods in the pre-Polaris Music Prize era.: 1960-75, 1976-85, 1986-95 and 1996-05. There’ll be eight winning albums declared this year, two per era— one voted on by the public and one voted on by the specially assembled Heritage Prize jury.

Music fans are encouraged to seek out and listen to all the nominated albums and then go here to vote for your favourites. Voting closes Oct. 19, and the winners are to be announced on Oct. 24. The 2017 Polaris Heritage Prize is supported by Slaight Music and Re:Sound.

— Now in its 24th year, North by Northeast (NXNE) has announced the 2018 edition will be staged June 8-17. One significant change is the return of Yonge-Dundas Square as the fest hub, following its relocation for the last two years to The Port Lands. YDS will function as a festival village throughout the weekend,  hosting free concerts, NXNE talk sessions and comedy shows.

The festival will expand the Club Land - Curator Series throughout the week. Leading Canadian musicians will host and curate showcases across the city at dozens of venues and clubs. Game Land will return June 8-10, at a venue TBA.

— Launched last year by imagineNATIVE with support from Slaight Music, iN Bullseye is an Indigenous music talent search contest that provides Canadian artists with significant opportunities, including a $10K cash award, to turn their talent into a career.

The ten finalists have been announced, and the contest winner will be named and awarded at imagineNATIVE’s annual music showcase, The Beat. The 18th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival run in Toronto, Oct. 18-22.

The ten finalists are  Lacey Hill, Bebe Buckskin & The Dirty North, Illustrated, Celeigh Cardinal, Liv Wade, Leo Vance, Cliff Cardinal, Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone, Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, and Cody Coyote. Last year's inaugural winner was Anishinaabe singer-songwriter Ansley Simpson.

— On Wednesday night, music scribe David McPherson launched his book The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History with a well-attended party at (of course) The Horseshoe in Toronto. The night featured short sets by Stephen Stanley (The Lowest Of The Low), Skydiggers, Julian Taylor and Harrow Fair, while reminiscences were provided by club owners Jeff Cohen and Kenny Sprackman, Jack Ross, and McPherson. Copies of the book (published by Dundurn Press) quickly sold out, confirming the broad affection so many feel for the storied venue, one that officially turns 70 in December. Our congrats to David and all at the 'Shoe.

— Newfoundland's Gerry Strong is the recipient of the Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award for the 2017 Canadian Folk Music Awards( CFMA). The award will be presented during the CFMA Gala weekend on Nov. 18 and 19 at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa.

For more than forty years, Strong has been one of the mainstays of the music scene in Newfoundland and Labrador. A member of the seminal band Tickle Harbour, Strong was one of the pioneers of the traditional music revival who helped create an interest in the musical heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador. Considered the top tin whistle and Irish flute player in Newfoundland, he currently performs with the groups A Crowd of Bold Sharemen, What Odds, and Cotillion.

This annual legacy category award recognizes the exceptional contribution of an individual, group, or organization to any aspect of the Canadian Folk music scene. Nominees must be perceived as an "unsung hero"; someone who has received little in the way of national and public recognition for their accomplishments. 

— Carly Rae Jepsen's mega-smash hit "Call Me Maybe" surpassed one billion views on YouTube earlier this week, placing it in elite company.The elated songstress posted this on FB: "This is crazy town. THANK YOU to all involved in making this baby spread. Still feeling the luckiest."

Highly-regarded Toronto world music group Sultans of String release their Christmas Caravan album today (Oct. 13). Multiple Juno nominees, SoS have upped the ante on this one, recruiting such special guests as Rebecca Campbell (Jane Siberry), Nikki Yanofsky, Alex Cuba, Richard Bona, Chieftains leader Paddy Moloney, a Turkish string collective, and more.

The group will support the album with Canadian dates that include a Dec. 2 hometown show at Isabel Bader Theatre. Here's a taste of the new record.

— BC rockers Grizzly Waves recently released an EP, Welcome To Wrangellia, one featuring the songs of main man Luke MacDonald and guest vocal spots from Matt Gould (Northcote) and Chase Brennemen (Living With Lions). They're heading east for a six-city show in October, covering Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and PEI, from Oct. 20-26. Dates here

— Canadian singer-songwriter Jason Benoit has signed a deal with U.S. management company, D & D Endeavor, who will represent him in the US and worldwide. In 2015 Benoit won the inaugural Canadian Country Music Association Discovery Atlantic Award and his highest charting single "Gone Long Gone" reached No. 7 on the Canadian Country Billboard Charts. He has opened for Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Tim Hicks.


Grady Tate, American jazz drumming legend, died Oct. 8, age 85. The veteran percussionist and vocalist recorded with the likes of Jimmy Smith, Charles Mingus, Wes Montgomery, Lena Horne and Peggy Lee, Paul Simon and Bette Midler, in addition to his significant solo career. He worked as the drummer on “The Tonight Show” from 1968 to 1974. As a singer in the jazz and R&B vein, he earned two Grammy nominations. Source: NY Daily News


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