We are apologetically late in reporting on Don Ierullo’s 70th birthday bash at Remezzo Italian Bistro on May 11. Donny and brother Vito famously started Records on Wheels from a refurbished school bus in the early 1970s and built it into a multi-million-dollar retail and distribution empire that was eventually acquired by Koch Entertainment in 2005. Don retired shortly after that whereas Vito has shifted his gaze to film. Pictured here are brothers Vito and Don Ierullo with former Capitol-EMI account rep Greg Malta. It’s our understanding that Karen Hunter takes credit for pulling this luncheon together (with an assist from Don Oates). On a sadder note, Don Ierullo buried his only child, Sky, yesterday.
– Drake's "Nice for What" -- which ruled the Billboard Hot 100 chart for its first four weeks on the chart and then spent two weeks at No. 2, below Childish Gambino's "This Is America" -- returns to the summit for a fifth total week at No. 1. The singer also holds in 3rd place with “God’s Plan” and, according to the US trade mag, has accumulated 26 Hot 100 top 10s–breaking out of a tie with Elvis Presley for a solo share of ninth place among artists with the most top 10s. Madonna leads with 32 entries.
– There was much jubilation at the Canadian Music Publishers Association’s AGM, held Monday, May 28 at Entertainment One’s Peter St. head-office, where it was announced that CARAS had acceded to a request that music publisher credits be published alongside the category of Songwriter of the Year.
Separately and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, member votes re-installed the 2016-2018 board of directors.
– There’s a night to revel at the Phoenix Concert Hall on June 21. That’s when the first gathering of former RCA and BMG (now Sony Music Canada) staffers reunite for an evening of nipper nostalgia. The venue is now owned by Lisa Zbitnew who served as divisional president of BMG Music for a decade running through 2004, making her the first female executive to hold the position of a major record label President in Canada.
– Last week SOCAN held its fourth annual Parliamentary reception on The Hill in Ottawa, attracting over 200 Members of Parliament, Senators, and government staff, including Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. The event is designed to have federal officials learn more about the pro. Performing at the function were Rose Cousins and Andréanne A. Malette.
– Halifax indie label Sonic Records is releasing Matt Mays' first four albums on vinyl in the next several months. The eponymous debut, Matt Mays, featuring the long-lost original recording of “City of Lakes,” and 2005's Matt Mays & El Torpedo are set for release June 15, followed by When the Angels Make Contact (double vinyl with movie poster) and Terminal Romance (with bonus 7-inch single) on the 29th. Mays tours across North America this summer in support of his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time…., and recently sold out Massey Hall for the first time.
– Now aged 85, it was less than a surprise when a stomach ailment forced Willie Nelson to cancel an appearance at his travelling Outlaw Music Fest in Charlotte, NC this past weekend. The activist singer's lone Canadian show is Sept. 9 at Toronto's Budweiser Stage with a cast of many, including family members, Sturgill Simpson, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Terra Lightfoot, Promise of the Real, and Particle Kid.
– The Tenors have two concerts filmed for a North American TV special June 6 and 7 at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto and Ticketmaster gate receipts flow to the #TorontoStrongFund, benefitting victims of the April 10 van attack on Yonge Street that killed 10 and injured 16. The trio recent released a cover of the Christian hymn “How Great Thou Art” that has countless covers and was first inspired by a poem written by Swede Carl Boberg.
– May 27, the Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame inducted Victoria-based veteran keyboard player and vocalist Willie MacCalder, talent promoter, booker, mentor and sound technician (Kathy) Kirby and Winnipeg bluesman Big Dave McLean.
– As well as serving as the Artistic Director of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Josh Grossman is a composer, arranger and leader of the Toronto Jazz Orchestra (TJO). The ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is about to release a new album (its fourth), fittingly entitled 20. Recorded at Revolution, it is produced by Roberto Occhipinti and engineered and mixed by John "Beetle" Bailey. TJO launches with a performance at T.O. jazz hub The Rex tomorrow (May 31). "Flat 10 Strikes Again" (below) is part of "4 PN," a four-movement suite inspired by Phil Nimmons and written in celebration of his 90th birthday.
– New Sound In The Six is a showcase of emerging T.O. artists taking place at The Opera House on May 31. Presented by Akashic Records, the lineup includes Jennie Laws, Gabrie, Accolades, Elby, Mike Black, and Latoya Mullings. More info here
– The Toronto Blues Society (TBS) has announced the six finalists in its TBS Talent Search 2018: Azalyne, Bywater, Gavin McLeod Trio, Glenn Marais and The Mojo Train, Gravely James, and Lela Tequila Blues. All will appear at this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival in a free event on July 1.
– Animal Parts is a Toronto combo fronted by singer/songwriter Joshua Cockerill. Following on from a well-received eponymous debut album and two EPs, the group releases a new full-length, La Jeunesse / Wysteria, on June 1. It is launched with a gig at Burdock in Toronto tonight (May 30).
– On Monday, sibling synth-pop duo, Brave Shores released a five-song EP, La Hoo. It's the first half of a full album to come out via UMC later this year that is co-produced by frontman, Jay McCarrol and Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Said The Whale), mixed by David Tolomei (Future Islands, Daughter), and mastered by Heba Kadry (Bjork). Brave Shores recently toured Ontario with Born Ruffians.
– The Famous People Players Dinner Theatre has honoured Andy Kim with the Daring To Dream Award in recognition of his continued charity work within the community. On May 12, Kim performed at a soldout fundraiser in Toronto, with proceeds going to educational programs for schools to attend performances and workshops by FPP.
– Casino Nova Scotia has announced the five finalists for the 2018 Artist in Residence program who will square off June 15 at the venue’s Schooner Showroom. The initiative offers $20K in funding to assist the winning act’s career development. Music Nova Scotia is working with the casino to administer the AIR program.
– Amanda, Alicia, and Alanna Ault, professionally known as the Ault Sisters, intro songs from their new album, Sisters in Song, at Junction bar 3030 Dundas West, in Toronto, on June 16 at 6:30 pm, sharp.
– Schmaltz waltz-king Andre Rieu is returning with his big screen Maastricht concert film at cinemas across Canada on July 28. The Dutch violinist, who speaks six languages, is known for his Romanesque spectacles that feature 80 to 150 classically trained musicians in the orchestra. The return of his 30th-anniversary show, Amore: My Tribute to Love, is a relatively subdued affair featuring 60 in the orchestra.
– Universal releases another edition of the ‘official’ Royal Wedding album on June 15. "The Royal Wedding: The Official Album" features the music, prayers, and even vows from the newlywed couple’s May 19 ceremony. It includes Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon, Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir’s performance of “Stand by Me,” and 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s rendition of “Ave Maria.” Digital platforms received it within 24 hours of the ‘I do’ vow exchange, and a CD edition was released last week–but June 15 luddites and purists can rejoice with a deluxe vinyl edition commemorating this august event.
– Universal is also cashing in on the newfound love affair with Cutting Crew and Wang Chung who team up for a Canadian tour starting June 15. Two 12-track best-ofs are set for release same day as part of UMG’s ongoing Icon series.
Stewart Lupton, frontman of US indie rock band, Jonathan Fire*Eater, died on May 27 at age 43. The cause of death has yet to be announced.
Lupton formed the group as a high school student in Washington, DC. He and his bandmates moved to New York in the mid-’90s, becoming a precursor to the city’s rock revival. Jonathan Fire*Eater released its self-titled debut in 1995 on Third World Underground and became one of the first signings of the nascent DreamWorks Records, which put out the band’s sophomore LP Wolf Songs For Lambs in 1997. They played their last show in Central Park in 1998. When Jonathan Fire*Eater called it quits in 1998, Upton's comrades went on to form the more successful Walkmen.
Lupton moved back to DC after the breakup and enrolled at George Washington University where he studied poetry. He later formed a new band called Child Ballads. Sources: Stereogum, The Guardian