Oh to have been a fly on the wall at Toronto's Revolution Recording on Monday, when the elite studio served as the locale for a chat between hot young R&B star Daniel Caesar and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc. We're not sure of the background to the meeting, but Caesar noted on his FB page that "We got to chop it up with #TimCook today I was very shook but also very honoured. + shoutout Apple for the new gear." Intriguing stuff. Cook visited Canada for the first time as CEO on Monday, surprising students at a downtown Toronto Apple store to highlight the importance of learning to code, and dropping in on a group of developers to thank them for their contributions to the tech giant's app store.
– Matt Mays and his band headline Massey Hall’s Allan Slaight Stage and performs songs from his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time… along with a collection of old favourites, as part of the Live at Massey Hall concert and film series. Also on the May 4 bill is Kathleen Edwards.
– Award-winning music director, show host, and promotional rep Allison Brock is now the Director of Presenting at Banff Centre, effective Feb. 1. “I am very excited about this new chapter and looking forward to building a new presenting series with the Centre. It feels like a great fit and timing for the rest of my working life,” she tells the column. She is currently program manager with the Centre and can be reached at Allison_Brock@banffcentre.ca
– Vancouver quartet Band Of Rascals has announced a 15-city east-to-west tour promoting their Tempest EP, starting at London Music Hall on Feb. 1 and winding down at The Northern in Fernie, BC. New supporters include 977 HTZ FM, Live 885, Rebel 101.7, 89X and Rock 95.
– Drake released a two-song EP titled Scary Hours, featuring the new tracks “God's Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity.” The second features strings and piano and has him rapping about his former dalliance with Jennifer Lopez:
"Booked a private room at Wylie's, waiter twistin' the cork/I got multi-colored rings like the Olympics, of course/ At award shows, cuttin' through the tension, of course/ Girls huggin' me then askin' me, 'what scent that is, boy?,' " he raps, adding that "2010 was when I lost my halo/ 2017 I lost a J. Lo/ A Rotterdam trip had me on front page, though."
Listen to the tracks on Spotify here.
– Separately, TMZ reports that Drizzy is dropping megabucks updating his US$8M Hidden Hills Yolo estate in California. The 12,500 square-foot, six-bedroom palace with extravagant trappings was briefly listed last year for $20M, but it seems he’s keeping his Lalaland playground, even as construction on his 35,000 square-foot hometown luxury mansion in the Bridle Path in Toronto continues.
– Reuters reports that Canada’s trade negotiators have won cultural protections in negotiations with the 11-member Trans-Pacific partnership club. .
– Singaporean Mandopop musician, singer-songwriter and music producer JJ Lin has David Foster as his music director on his upcoming 16-city Asian tour that opens in Shanghai on March 17. Foster also produced Lin’s latest album, Message In A Bottle – the Taiwanese superstar’s 14th that have cumulatively sold over a million copies in his home country. Ten years ago, Linn broke a Guinness record by signing 3,052 CDs in 2 hours and 30 minutes. During the signing, he was not allowed to drink or eat. The average time for him to sign a CD was 2.7 seconds.
Here’s “Little Big Us” from Lin’s Foster-produced album.
– Joey (Scoleris) Vendetta hosts a two-night Hollywood South “all-star party” this weekend in Tampa with Molson Canadian and GoodLife Fitness among the sponsors.
– The Canadian Organization of Campus Activities (COCA) is accepting Showcase applications for its annual shindig that’s in Fredericton this year, June 12-16.
– UK firm Exit Live has launched an online portal offering artists and labels the opportunity to monetise live recordings. The platform takes 20% of sales and pays mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers. Rights holders retain control of their copyrights, as well as the price point for a download on the site. Revenue generated from cover versions is set aside, and royalties paid to rights holders and participating venues earn 3% from live recording sales.
– St. John’s sextet Waterfront Fire’s “What Went Wrong” is top of the pops on the East Coast Countdown this week. The track is the first single from their just-released third album, titled Stillwater Lake. Albums and streams available on CDBaby.
– Music marketing maven Olie Kornelsen is pumped about daughter Shannon Kornelsen and her fiancée, Joseph Pace, credited as co-producers of the Sundance Film Festival doc contender The Game Changers that has James Cameron as executive producer. The film tells the story of James Wilks — elite special forces trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter — as he travels the world on a quest for the truth behind the world's most dangerous myth: that meat is necessary for protein, strength and optimal health.
– Highly-lauded Canadian singer-songwriter Jessica Mitchell has been announced as a support act on Johnny Reid's upcoming Revival cross-Canada tour. The 46-date trek begins Feb. 26 at the Mary Winspear Theatre in Sidney, BC, concluding April 24 at Mile One Centre in St. John's, NL. In a press release, Reid states "Jessica is the real deal and a perfect fit for Revival." Glass Tiger is also featured on the bill and has a new album coming soon that is produced by Reid.
Here’s a live version of “Memphis,” from Johnny Reid’s current Revival album, co-written with Larry LeBlanc and Bob Ezrin, who produced the track and co-produced the album with Reid.
– Matt Zimbel is perhaps best known as co-founder and percussionist of Manteca, but he’s worn many hats and continues to do so as an artistic director, tv and radio show host, and filmmaker. He recently returned from Europe where he has been promoting a documentary, with Jean Francois Gratton, about his celebrated father, George Zimbel who has examples of his work in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The doc is making the rounds of film festivals both here and in Europe.
Here’s a trailer from Matt’s tribute to pops.
– A year ago, Hamilton rocker Terra Lightfoot was awarded CIMA's coveted Road Gold certification, reserved for artists who sell at least 25K concert tickets within a 12-month period. Her reputation as a true road warrior has continued, and she recently completed a four-continent tour including shows in North America, Japan, Australia and the UK, supporting her New Mistakes album.
Still a warrior, Lightfoot has just announced an 11-show cross-Canada trek, following a few US gigs. The tour begins at Winnipeg's The Good Will on Feb. 22, closing out with two shows at McMaster LiveLab, March 9-10, featuring the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra String Ensemble.
– Another fixture on the Toronto live music scene is under threat. Kensington Market haunt Graffiti's is up for sale, though owner Stephen Mitchell told Blog T.O. that shows are booked into February. These include sold-out gigs by Ron Hawkins, who has frequently played at the club. Other regulars over the years have included Scott B., Bill Wood, Scotty Campbell, Sin City Boys, Stephen Stanley, and Michael Brennan.
– The 34th annual International Blues Challenge was held in Memphis on the weekend. Hosted by the Blues Foundation, it had over 200 bands from around the world participating. Montrealer Dawn Tyler Watson won a major prize there in 2017, but Canadians were shut out this year. Those competing this year included Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar and Raoul and The Big Time, who both made it to the semi-finals, and Tim Gibbons. Winners list here
Lari White, a Nashville-based singer, songwriter, actor and record producer, died on Jan. 23. She was 52. The Florida-born White moved to Nashville in 1988 to compete, and win, on the TNN TV talent contest You Can Be a Star. She worked as Rodney Crowell’s backup vocalist on a 1991 tour, and Crowell produced her 1993 RCA debut LP, Lead Me Not. It earned her a nomination as the ACM’s Top New Female Vocalist of the year.
White had a string of country music hits in the '90s, including “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know," “That’s How You Know (When You’re In Love),” “Ready, Willing and Able,” and a duet with Travis Tritt, “Helping Me Get Over You." Her 1994 album Wishes went gold.
She also had her songs recorded by Tammy Wynette, Rebecca Holden, Patti Page, Sarah Buxton and Pat Green, among others. She worked extensively as an actor on TV and the stage, including Broadway, and appeared in the 2000 Tom Hanks movie Cast Away.
As a producer, she worked on Toby Keith’s 2006 album White Trash With Money and produced Billy Dean and Mac Davis. Her last release was 2016's crowdfunded double album Old Friends New Loves. Sources: Musicrow.com, Billboard
Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, the trumpeter/composer known as the father of South African jazz, died on Jan. 23. Age 78. He had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade.
Masekela formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s, then studied and performed in the UK and US. He befriended the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, and became a popular performer in the US, appearing at the Monterey Pop festival in 1967. His song "Grazing In The Grass" became a No. 1 hit in 1968, selling four million copies.
Masekela was a figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement in his homeland, and in 1976 he composed "Soweto Blues" in response to the uprising in the township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)" in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle Upon learning of Masekela's death, The South African president, Jacob Zuma stated that "his contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten."
He was married to South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, from 1964 to 1966. Masekela won two Grammy Awards over his career.
Sources: The Guardian, Wikipedia