Music News Digest, Jan. 15, 2018

On Saturday night, Toronto's vocal collective Choir! Choir! Choir! took its act to New York City's Public Theater, leading its signature mass sing-along in the lobby as part of the Under the Radar Festival. Talking Heads frontman David Byrne was among the participants.

Prior to the performance, Byrne posted this on his FB page: "I’ve sat mesmerized watching online videos of the Canadian group Choir!Choir!Choir!. They somehow manage to get hundreds of strangers to sing beautifully together with rich harmonies and detailed do they do it?? Well, opportunity knocks! I’m going to find out their secret tonight - as I’m singing a song with them (not one of my own) in the lobby of The Public Theater." A few hours later, Byrne joined Choir! Choir! Choir! directors Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman onstage to lead the crowd in a rendition of David Bowie's "Heroes."

– Canada is well-represented on the just-released  2018 GRAMMY® Nominees album. The 24th installment of the popular series features 21 Grammy-nominated artists and hit songs. These include the remix version of the Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit "Despacito," featuring the Biebs. Alessia Cara appears on two tracks; "Stay" (her collaboration with Zedd) and Song of the Year nominee "1-800-273-8255" (she and Khalid guest on the Logic hit). A portion of album proceeds will benefit two Grammy-affiliated charities.

– The fifth annual January Music Meeting, presented by Manitoba Music, takes place in Winnipeg, Jan. 25-28. Described as  "a music industry conference with a DIY ethos," it includes music industry pros in panel discussions, group sessions, one-on-one meetings, and networking mixers. The event runs in parallel with indie festival Big Fun. A complete sked and registration details here

– Make Music Matter is a Canadian charity founded by Winnipeg music producer Darcy Ataman to harness the power of music to help heal the wounds of war. It is behind the creation of two albums (Mon corps n'est pas une arme and Keshu ni situ mupya) written and performed by civilian war victims from Congo and recently released through Warner Music Canada.

Make Music Matter is supported by many well-known Canadian musicians, and it was Billy Talent guitarist Ian D'Sa who took the idea of a record to Warner. Source: CBC News

– iLunch is Interactive Ontario‘s monthly lunch-and-learn series for the digital media sector. The Jan. 23 event, Sound & Music for Digital Media, has panellists including Rhyna Thompson, manager of Kid Koala. The OMDC and Canada Media Fund are co-presenters. More info here

–19-year-old rapper Clairmont The Second has already planted plenty of seeds in Toronto's fertile hip-hop scene. His latest album, Lil Mont From The Ave, is his fifth full-length project, and he has guested on cuts by Harrison and Del Bel. A committed DIY artist, he directs his own music videos, including the just-released "Old Clothes." He opens for Young M.A. at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall on Jan. 18.

– The eighth annual Focus Wales fest takes place in Wrexham, North Wales, May 10-12. It showcases Welsh talent, and, in partnership with BreakOut West, is also inviting seven Western Canadian acts to perform. They are Little Destroyer, nêhiyawak, 3Peat,  Megan Nash, Declan O'Donovan, Figure Walking, and Arlo Maverick. Details here

– Heavy Bell comprises Royal Canoe frontman Matt Peters and actor/singer-songwriter Tom Keenan. Their debut album, By Grand Central Station, came out last week, accompanied by a video for  "Water of Love." The album was inspired by Elizabeth Smart's Canlit classic "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept," and has guest turns by members of Begonia, Imaginary Cities and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. There are six upcoming Canadian shows set. Dates here

– On Friday (Jan. 19), the True North Art Gallery in Waterdown, ON, will present a night of art, book readings and song. David McPherson will read from his book The Legendary Horsehoe Tavern: A Complete History, and New York singer/songwriter/visual artist Joe Crookston will perform and discuss his creative process. Work by Crookston is featured in the gallery, one that specializes in paintings by musicians. Details on the free event here.

– American stoner rock band Fu Manchu releases its 12th studio album, Clone Of The Universe, on Feb. 9 (on New Damage Records). Of note is a special guest appearance by Rush axeman Alex Lifeson. Lifeson has frequently contributed to albums by other artists, including Canadians Platinum Blonde, Gowan, Tom Cochrane, I Mother Earth, and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

– Toronto duo Language Arts is working on a third album, with producer Joel Stouffer (Dragonette, Lowell). A video for earlier track "With Me" is now out, and LA has shows with Close Talker at Montreal's Divan Orange (Jan. 24), Ottawa's House of Targ (Jan. 25), Toronto's Adelaide Hall (Jan. 26) and Hamilton's Mills Hardware (Jan. 27).

On Feb. 23, Six Degrees Records will release Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs from World War II, a new recording featuring Jewish songs never performed before from Yiddish songwriters who died in the war. The project was spearheaded by University of Toronto professor Anna Shternshis, and Toronto's Sophie Milman is one of the vocalists.


Danny Woods, co-founder of R&B outfit Chairmen of the Board with Canadian born Harrison Kennedy and Philly-born Eddie Custs, has died at the age of 73. The group charted six Hot 100 hits in the 1970s, including the top-five debut, "Give Me Just a Little More Time."

Woods went on to perform solo and form Board of Directors. Former bandmate Kennedy is now based in Hamilton, ON, as a blues artist. On FB on the weekend he posted a tribute to Woods, writing "Oh Lord please give Danny a place in your choir...he will amaze you!" 

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