Music News Digest, Oct. 20, 2017

The Tragically Hip & Gord Downie, by the numbers (as tallied by Nielsen Music Canada):

The Hip sales to date in Canada

3.7 million albums

7 #1 albums

1.3 million tracks

128 million on-demand streams

Gord Downie's solo catalogue:

108,000 albums

30,000 digital tracks

3 million on-demand streams

As reported by US trade publication Pollstar

From the 164 Canadian shows we have reports on, the band moved more than 1.4 million tickets and grossed more than $67 million.

54.40, a recent Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, has its new album released in early 2018. The scrappy Vancouver post-punk band formed slightly more than three decades ago has signed a label services agreement with Michael Wekerle’s El Mocambo Records, headed by (ex-Coney Hatch / Soho 69 bassist) long-time A&R and management exec Andy Curran. The TBA LP will be the first on the imprint that is expected to announce itself with a flotilla of headline news in advance of Wekerle’s opening of the multi-million-dollar renovation of the El Mocambo. The Spadina St. club will have its doors open in time for the 2018 edition of CMW, we are assured.

Here’s the lead-track from the mellowed down 54.40 album

Coversion, the sync-focused covers catalogue with hubs in the UK, Canada and the US, launches in North America this month. The repertoire includes covers of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”, Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, Seal’s “Crazy”, Edwin Colins’ “Girl Like You” and The Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud.”

The concept is the latest venture from Janesta Boudreau and Leslie Amos, the team behind Canadian multi-service music licensing house, Rocking Horse Road. Details at

SOCAN reports it has partnered with Pioneer DJ Corporation of Japan to become “the first music rights organization in North America” to use direct metadata extraction technology to identify electronic dance music performances automatically in nightclubs and other electronic music venues.

– Upstart Niagara Falls pop trio James Blonde has released a music video from its self-titled indie debut album. It’s a nifty storyline tease directed by Krystal Kwasniak, scripted and co-directed by Willem Sennema, and entitled “Not This Time.” Michael Greggs at Been There Done That Entertainment is stick-handling.

– Filmmaker Ron Howard disappointed many with last year’s Eight Days A Week, a doc about the Fab Four’s touring years between their Cavern Club days in 1962 through to their final concert in San Francisco in ’66. The disappointment came with the realization that most enthusiasts had already combed YouTube and other sites and seen all of the footage included in the 97-minute spool that cost $5M and grossed slightly over $12.3M at the box-office globally.

Netflix is now screening It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper and Beyond–a doc that picks up where Howard left off and done on such a threadbare budget that few Apple images and none of the Beatles music are included. But the band’s fans are cooing over its source footage and candid interviews with persons of interest at the time (excluding Yoko, Paul and Ringo). Rotten Tomatoes and others have gonged it, but the buzz on it runs contrary to the cushion-seated popcorn eaters.

– Francophone music from Western Canada takes centre stage in Montreal this November with the return of Manitoba Music’s Rame à la rencontre de l’industrie de la musique francophone. Running November 6-7 in partnership with the massive Coup de Coeur Francophone festival, Rame focuses on building music business connections for Francophone entrepreneurs with an industry showcase, industry meetings, and networking opportunities. 
Showcasing this year at free and public gigs are Justin Lacroix from Manitoba, Alberta-based singer/songwriter Ariane Mahrÿke Lemire, and indie folk/pop act Vaero from Saskatchewan. More info at 

– And another one bites the dust. The latest casualty amongst Canadian summer music fests is Interstellar Rodeo in Winnipeg. Fest producer, Shauna de Cartier announced yesterday that it is closing down after three years.  The original edition of Interstellar Rodeo in Edmonton continues, with booking underway for the 2018 version to run July 20-22. De Cartier terms the damaging impact of free Canada Summer Games concerts a factor in the decision, but cites the booking of Beck at the fest in Winnipeg this year as "a career accomplishment."

–The fifth edition of the Edmonton Music Prize is underway.  The award is sponsored by the City of Edmonton through the Edmonton Arts Council and administered by Alberta Music. The winner walks off with $10K and two runners-up, $1K each. The submission deadline is Oct, 27. 2016 winners were Maria Dunn, Scenic Route to Alaska, and Moshin Zaman.

– Singer-songwriter Noosa Al-Sarraj (a.k.a. Winona Wilde) has just been named this year’s recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, for her song "Pincushion Soldier." The award will be presented on Oct. 22, at Folk Music Ontario’s annual conference.

The Colleen Peterson Songwriting Fund was established at the OAC in 2003 by Peterson’s sister, Shirley Richardson, and singer-songwriter Laura Bird. The annual $1,000 award (chosen by an OAC-assembled jury) honours Peterson’s contribution to Canadian music by supporting and promoting the work of Ontario-resident emerging singer-songwriters in the roots, traditional, folk and country genres. Previous winners include Abigail Lapell (2016), Graydon James (2015) and Ken Yates (2014). 

– Vancouver is getting a new multi-day fall festival with music, food, and art components.  BRANDLIVE—the company which founded the Squamish Valley Music Festival—has just announced that SKOOKUM will run from September 7-9, 2018 at Brockton field in Stanley Park. The event will have a capacity of 20,000 people per day.  The full festival line-up, including music acts, will be unveiled next spring. Squamish Valley Music Festival announced its cancellation in early 2016. 

– As tributes to Gord Downie continue to pour in from his friends and musical peers, Greg Keelor posted this personal music salute, "Gord's Tune," to his close comrade on Wednesday.

–  Riit is a young songwriter from Panniqtuq, Nunavut, who released a three-song, self-titled debut EP in June 2017 on Aakuluk Music, the North's first record label. It has become a regional hit, and Riit will soon join From The North, a touring group that includes friends and fellow musicians IVA, Quantum Tangle plus authors and visual artists.

The tour begins in Whitehorse on Oct. 22, followed by shows in Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Iqaluit, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. More details here.

– The City of Toronto-sponsored MomenTO Sounds Like Toronto free music series got off to an excellent start at The Horseshoe on Wednesday. A triple bill explored the storied Queen Street scene by featuring veterans Johnny and The G-Rays and Lori Yates (with Hey Stella) and fast-rising young honkytonker Whitney Rose. All three delivered excellent sets, and the evening featured many references to Gord Downie, a frequent performer and concertgoer at the 'Shoe. Spied watching Rose approvingly were her Six Shooter label team and agent Jack Ross, David MacMillan, and SOCAN's Stan Meissner.

For info on the remaining MomenTO shows, go here

–Toronto-based jazz vocalist Ori Dagan will release his new record (termed "a jazz visual album"), Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, with a show at Toronto's Lula Lounge on Oct. 22. He is gaining international recognition for his inventive video clips, with one video for “Bibimbap” being named an official selection for the Paris Music Video Underground Festival and a quarter-finalist for Best Animated Music Video. 

Recorded with producer Doug Romanow, the Pledge-funded album includes guest turns by jazz luminaries Jane Bunnett, Alex Pangman and Sheila Jordan.

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