Canadian hip-hop star Belly is up for a Juno in the Rap Recording of the Year category this week for his 2017 mixtape Mumble Rap. He caused a stir on social media on Friday by posting pictures on Instagram of himself in the studio with music mogul Jay Z. No information on what they're working on has been released, but stay tuned. Belly is signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label.
In a Billboard interview last October, Belly explained that "Jay-Z was my idol growing up, and until now, he’s still the epitome of what a career should look like. When I write rhymes, I pretend that he’s across the table ready to grade me, and it always kept me sharper."
– Stories from the Studio is a Juno weekend (March 24) event that features nominees from the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year and Recording Engineer of the Year categories to discuss recording methods, concepts, and tricks they've used through their varied experiences in the music industry. Participants include Brian Howes, Thomas "Tawgs" Salter, Felix Cartal, Ben Kaplan, Gus Van Go, Riley Bell, Shawn Everett, and Jason "JVP" Van Poederooyen. Tix and info here
– Platinum-selling cartoon popsters (and Philosopher Kings spin-off) Prozzak are back, and Simon and Milo are developing a new animated comedy series with Portfolio Entertainment. Entitled Prozzak: Love Addicts, it will be a short form series( 3 min/ episode) following Simon and Milo’s search for love in the modern world. Here's the trailer.
– Under his real name, James Bryan (McCollum), Prozzak's Milo is also musically active as a solo artist. The Toronto launch for his new album By Your Side takes place at Burdock on Thursday (March 22). The primarily instrumental record showcases Bryan's strengths as a guitarist and composer. Divine Brown guests on the sole vocal cut.
– The Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes unit has confirmed that Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard is the focus of an ongoing investigation Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Grey told The Toronto Star that " no charges have been laid." The service has declined to offer any further information.
– Another BC-born artist is now facing sexual assault allegations. Dubstep DJ Troy Beetles, known by his stage name Datsik, has cancelled his North American tour, including a Danforth Music Hall show scheduled for March 16. He has also been dropped by his management and booking agencies and has stepped down from Firepower Records, the label he founded. These actions came after multiple people posted various sexual assault claims against the musician on social media last week. Source: Billboard
– The future of a busy T.O. music venue, The Smiling Buddha, is now unclear after news spread that its co-owner was charged with one count of sexual assault in February. Following the story, the club's booking manager quit, and promoters for Collective Concerts, Canadian Music Week and Venus Fest scrambled to move nearly a dozen shows to other Toronto venues. Sources: NOW, Billboard
– BC-based pianist/singer/songwriter Michael Kaeshammer has announced April 20 as the release date for his next album, Something New (his 12th). Out on Linus Ent, the self-produced record boasts an impressive guest list that includes Colin James, Cyril Neville, Curtis Salgado, Randy Bachman, Jim Byrnes, Amos Garrett and Chuck Leavell. Kaeshammer's previous album, No Filter, is up for a Juno as Vocal Jazz Album of the Year this month. Here's the first single from the new album.
– Good news for music fest lovers in BC is the announcement of the inaugural Skookum Festival, set for Stanley Park in Vancouver, Sept. 7-9. Headliners include The Killers and Florence + the Machine, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Blue Rodeo, Stereophonics, and Bahamas. Others on the bill include Mother Mother, Dear Rouge, Said the Whale, Yukon Blonde, The Zolas, Hey Ocean!, and Little Destroyer.
The fest was created by BrandLive, the company behind the Squamish Valley Music Festival that shut down two years ago.
– Play Your Gender is a feature-length documentary produced by Juno-winning singer/songwriter/producer Kinnie Starr. It came out in 2016, but its exploration of the gender gap in the music industry and how it plays out regarding authorship and production is very timely. The film gets a screening/Q&A in Vancouver Thursday (March 22) as part of Juno Week. Presented by Women in Music Canada and Starr's label Aporia Records, it is free with an RSVP here. Starr plays a JunoFest show on March 24. Here's the doc's trailer.
– And another one bites the dust. The Toronto blues, roots and jazz community is saddened by the news that regular live music venue Gate 403 (on Roncesvalles) will be closing on April 15, after a 19-year run. In an FB post, the club addressed the musicians, stating that "we are honoured to have heard and helped you share your music and your art with a similarly passionate jazz and blues community."
– Kitchener Blues Festival has named Stony Plain president Holger Petersen as the recipient of this year's Mel Brown Blues Award. The honour comes "for his long-standing commitment and career supporting and promoting blues music around the world. The award is named after Mel Brown, an American-born blues guitarist and singer who made Kitchener, Ontario, his home for many years until his passing in 2009. He was also the only performer to play at every Kitchener Blues Festival during his lifetime.
Petersen receives the award at the festival in August. Previous recipients include Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records), Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Strongman, Andrew Galloway (Electro-Fi Records) and Rob Deyman (the retired festival ED).