Music News Digest, Oct. 18, 2017

Johnny Reid’s mightily anticipated next album is entitled Revival, and it has its commercial release on Nov. 3. The Nashville-based Canadian country-crossover star takes a bit of a turn on this new 13-song set, amping up his deep affection for American rhythm & blues. Reid has sold a staggering 1.5M albums across nine releases in Canada and won no less than six Junos. The set is co-produced by Reid with Bob Ezrin. Universal Music Canada has the release. Here’s a lyric video track from the collection to whet your whistle.

– Kick-ass 2017 CCMA Group of the Year winner The Road Hammers continue to squeeze gold-plated hits from their current album, The Squeeze. Here’s the spanking new video (and eight single) for “Your Love Is the Drug” taken from the album, as mentioned above

Robbie Robertson became the first recipient of a Six Nations of the Grand River Lifetime Achievement Award at the new Six Nations Convention Centre near Brantford, ON, on Saturday, Oct. 14.

Frank Sinatra’s rustic Palm Desert retreat is on the block. Villa Maggio comes with 7.5 acres and sits on a 4,300-foot plateau above the desert floor. Asking price is US$3.7M.

– In Malibu, a 4-plus acre estate once owned by Johnny Carson is up for sale with an asking price of US$81.5M. It comes with waterfront and a whole lot more that can be viewed here.

– For those with long memories: Leonard Kennedy has just returned from a trip to Croatia, Italy and points in between, enjoying the Baltic coastline and other fashionable spots with his wife Annie. He tells the column he is alive and well and lovin’ every minute. Much has changed since Saturn Distributing was a force to reckon with in the bricks and mortar world. Who remembers when the Bay and Zeller's had 400 stores selling albums, and K-Tel was still pushing out hit packages that sold by the skid load?


– JP Guilbert returns to the devastated island of St. Maarten next week to pack up his and Lorna's belongings and shed a tear for their wharf-based Pizza Galley and The Dock bar business that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma (as pictured here) . The couple will now be settling in Quebec where they have built a small home. Chris de Burgh's manager Kenny Thompson, continues to reside on the island (for now).



Applications for the Jim Beam "Make History" Talent Search are now open, until Nov. 12. The contest is free and open to Indie and emerging artists not signed to a major record label.

Five artists will be selected from regional entries to perform live at a showcase event at a local live music venue in each participating market (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax- dates and venues TBA). The winning regional artists will enter the national competition, where judges will select one band to perform live at the Indies Awards, held on May 12 during CMW in Toronto.

–  Solange leads the just-announced 2017 Soul Train Awards nominations with seven nods, while Bruno Mars, Rihanna and DJ Khaled also figure prominently. The Weeknd is up for Best R&B/Soul Male Artist and Album/ Mixtape of the Year, for Starboy. Drake gets a nomination in the Best Dance Performance category for his collaboration with Wizkid on "Come Closer." The awards show will air on BET on Nov. 26.

Tegan and Sara have teamed up with the non-profit Women in Music Canada to create a series of initiatives that support women musicians and professionals across the country. In a joint letter to WIM-C members, the Toronto Women in Music Facebook group and industry gatekeepers, the sisters outlined their “call to action” that includes building a database of self-identified women, transgender and non-binary individuals active in the Canadian music industry. Now magazine has reprinted the letter.

The Kings, who famously have stretched a long career on the strength of the segue hit “The Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide,” are now pimping a 40-minute doc cheekily entitled Anatomy of a One Hit Wonder. Details on the band website.

– Congrats to Confidential Records, an entirely student-run record label and events company in Toronto now celebrating its 20th anniversary. It is an initiative of Artist Management students at the Harris Institute and is a partnership with MusiCounts. The label hosts a celebratory showcase tomorrow (Oct. 19) at The Boat in Kensington Market, featuring Desiire, HMLT, and Young Lungs.

Lionel Richie is helping to develop a new biopic about soul legend Curtis Mayfield. The movie, produced via Lionel's RichLion Productions with the blessing of the singer’s estate, is expected to chronicle Mayfield's rise to fame as a teenage member of The Impressions, before branching out on his own, scoring hits such as” The Makings of You,” “Move on Up,” and “Superfly.” The singer was paralysed from the neck down in 1990 after a lighting rig fell and crushed him during a show in Brooklyn, New York, but he continued to record music until his death from diabetes complications in 1999, at the age of 57. Casting details TBA.

-- Gord Downie's Secret Path In Concert will make its broadcast premiere on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 9 pm on CBC and also stream at

Commemorating the 51st anniversary of Chanie Wenjack’s death, the one-hour shoot filmed at Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 21, 2016, features a supporting band that includes Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin  (Broken Social Scene), Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies), Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers), and Dave Hamelin (The Stills). The program includes footage from The Secret Path animated film.

–  Festival of Arabic Music & Arts, presented by the Canadian Arabic Orchestra (CAO), is taking over the GTA in a few weeks, Oct. 28-Nov. 12. It has over 100 artists in 10 venues over ten dates and features music, comedy, dance and theatre. Highlights include Iraqi guitarist, singer and composer Ilham Al Madfai and Sultans of String, at Koerner Hall, and female Oud masters, Waed Bouhassoun with Syria’s first YouTube star, singer Faia Younan, at Hammerson Hall at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre  

As well, there is the world premiere of Origins on Nov. 9, at the Aga Khan Museum. This unites traditional indigenous songs with classical Arabic instruments performed by Laura Grizzlypaws and the CAO.

The Festival also presents multi-award-winning Lebanese composer, singer, and musician, Charbel Rouhana who will perform with the CAO at the Jane Mallett Theatre in Toronto, Nov. 3, and again in Montréal as part of the Festival du Monde Arabe de Montréal on Nov. 5 at Monument National. The event marketing targets 14K in the GTA. Details here, and schedule and passes here.

Liss Gallery in Toronto (112 Cumberland St.) hosts an Andy Warhol exhibition starting Oct. 25 (6-8 pm). The exhibit is expected to run two weeks and includes as many as a dozen originals and silk screens by the American pop artist, director, producer and businessman.

–Freeman Dre has been called the Bard of Parkdale — and he is undoubtedly the gritty Toronto community’s most notable singer-songwriter.

To mark the vinyl release of his album Reckless Good Intentions, Dre has invited Juno-nominated singer-songwriter Corin Raymond to share the stage on Wednesday, Nov. 1st at Parkdale’s most notable music venue, Queen West’s Cadillac Lounge.

– The Jim Cuddy Band will perform at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on Sunday, Dec. 17. This show is part of the club’s 70th Concert Series'.

Sakamoto Agency now has the exclusive representation for The Abrams; brothers in life and music, and an award-winning Canadian country music duo. Recently signed to Warner Music Canada, Jon and James Abrams join several other Warner artists represented by Sakamoto Agency, including The Washboard Union and Aaron Goodvin. The brothers Abrams recently won Roots Artist or Group of the Year at the 2017 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards.

Music Ally reports that Spotify has moved to formalize the process by which major and independent labels pitch for slots in the Browse section of its service, with a quota-based system applying to global and local playlists. The move follows discussion within the industry about the extent to which Spotify promotes its in-house curated playlists over those from label brands (like Digster, Filtr and Topsify) and independent curators.

-- Janice Staub of Vancouver is elected to the Board of Directors of SOCAN, following board member Craig Horton stepping down. Staub has an extensive background in the music, film and TV industries, is currently President of Yaletown Financial Management and is one of the three principals of boutique pubbery, Hyvetown Music.

-- Blackie & The Rodeo Kings get intimate at The Mulespinner in Hamilton on Nov. 1. The band will record a live album at the studio and event space created by Bob Lanois and Glen Marshall.

-- The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has inducted Gino Vannelli’s soulful 1978 ballad “I Just Wanna Stop," and honouring it with a tribute version by Beyries for the Hall of Fame’s Covered Classics series.

“I Just Wanna Stop” was the result of a cooperative effort by three Italian-Canadian brothers from Montréal. Written by Ross Vannelli, sung by older brother Gino, and produced and arranged by Ross, Gino and brother Joe, the song made it to No. 1 in Canada and No. 4 on both the Billboard U.S. AC and Hot 100 Singles charts. It appeared on Gino's million-selling album Brother to Brother and helped earn Vannelli a Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year.

-- In celebration of Canada 150, Music/Musique NB (MNB) turned to the community and to the music industry to create a list of 150 New Brunswick Music Builders. After receiving over 750 submissions, a group of volunteers had the challenge of narrowing the list down to 150 names. See who made the cut here

-- Toronto roots-rockers The Sadies are winning converts on their first-ever tour Down Under. In The Sydney Morning Herald, the country's major daily paper, critic Hannah Francis writes "Canada's The Sadies absolutely knocked it out of the park. As festival headliner Justin Townes Earle said when they joined him on stage later, 'If you missed their set, you f*&%ed up.'" Rolling Stone Australia concurs, praising their "thundering cow-punk-a-billy explosion." The tour closed out in Sydney Oct. 17, and the group is now set for shows in Europe and the UK for shows, Oct. 20-29.

-- Highly-regarded Winnipeg-based country-folk songsmith Slow Leaves (aka Grant Davidson) plays the Burdock in Toronto tonight (Oct. 18), in support of his latest album, Enough About Me. Davidson was one of the three winners of the 2015 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class.

-- Popular US country rock outfit Old Dominion has announced their headlining Happy Endings world tour for 2018, with the first leg of dates set to kick off on Feb. 1 in Regina. The band plays nine shows in Western Canada (Feb. 1-11) and have recruited The Washboard Union and Cold Creek County to open.


Harold Pendleton,  the founder of Reading Festival and London’s Marquee Club, has died. Age 93. Pendleton took over jazz nights held in the Marquee Ballroom on Oxford Street in 1958. The club later moved to Wardour Street, and he owned it until 1987. Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, the venue hosted era-defining performances from David Bowie, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin and Rod Stewart. Pendleton started the National Jazz Festival in 1961, and it evolved into the Reading Festival, one of England's most important outdoor events.

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