Carole Pope in a healthier frame of mind
Carole Pope in a healthier frame of mind

Music News Digest, Jan. 7, 2019

 Mike "Beard Guy" Taylor of Walk Off The Earth was a long-time supporter and advocate for MusiCounts. The organisation is now asking fans to honour Taylor's legacy by donating to its cause of improving the access of young Canadians to music through their school and community. For many years, Taylor played in the annual Juno Cup game fundraiser for MusiCounts and was also an adjudicator for Band Aid school applications and MusiCountsTeacher of the Year nominations. He also aided MusiCounts in navigating the logistics involved in transporting instruments to remote northern and indigenous communities. Meanwhile, sources suggest that planning for a star-studded celebration of Taylor's life in Burlington is underway.

– The board of directors of the Toronto Blues Society is honouring the Hornby Island Blues Society with the Blues Booster of the Year award, a special Maple Blues Award acknowledging outstanding contributions to the Canadian blues music industry. “Twenty years in, Hornby Island Blues Society has polished a gem with their annual workshop week”, says TBS President Derek Andrews. “Their dedication and community building deserve to be recognized." The volunteer-driven organization hosts the Hornby Island Blues Week and Music Camp every May on Hornby Island, BC.  

– Canadian country star Chad Brownlee kicks off 2019 with a new single “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere” out via Universal Music Canada (UMC). It's a follow up to “Dear Drunk Me”, his #2 radio charting single that was his first release with UMC and his first ever Top 5 single. The new track was written by Cary Barlowe, Todd Clark and Donovan Woods, and Brownlee describes it as "a song about taking a chance and not looking back. Right now, that is the very credence of this next chapter in my life.”

– A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to assist Carole Pope. The former Rough Trade frontperson, prolific solo artist and self-described "anti-diva" had spinal stenosis surgery last year. This requires months of expensive and rigorous physical therapy, and Pope has been unable to work since the operation. It will take another 4-6 months for a full recovery and the ability to work, so the fund aims to assist with her medical bills and living expenses. 

– Burlington's Sound of Music fest turns 40 in 2019. This year's edition runs June 8-16, and the kick-off concert on June 8 will feature Headstones, Bush, Live, and more TBA. Tix on sale now. The fest is a mix of ticketed and free shows.

– Lady Gaga won a Golden Globe Award last night for her song "Shallow," from the hit film A Star Is Born. In what is being termed an upset, the movie was shut out of the main prizes.

– To launch a new video for the track "Beating This," Winnipeg punk rock band Dissident Mindset hosts a night of bands at Usurper Studios on Jan. 18, featuring "an all-star lineup of Winnipeg's roughest."

– Acclaimed roots singer/songwriter Jon Brooks is resuming his residency at Toronto's Cameron House. Beginning Jan. 7, he takes the 6-8 pm slot every Monday for 12 weeks. John Showman (New Country Rehab) guests tonight (Jan. 7).

– Held at Holy Rosary Hall in Thorold, ON, on Feb. 1, Guitar Wars features four of Canada's premier blues guitarists and one upcoming local phenom. The bill comprises Paul DesLauriers, David Gogo, J-W. Jones, Steve Grisbrook, and 17-year-old Riley Michaels of Beamsville, a Niagara Music Award winner as best blues artist. More info here

– Music PEI hosts a songwriting masterclass with the celebrated songsmith David Francey on Jan. 30 at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall, in Charlottetown. The intimate evening workshop covers topics on technique and inspiration, lyrics, melody, harmony, and writing from outside your own experience. Free for Music PEI members, $15 at the door for non-members. Register here

– Eliza Doyle, banjo player and multi-instrumentalist in The Dead South, is taking her talents to the small Saskatchewan community of Stanley Mission for an artist-in-residence program scheduled to last through January. With support from the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange, the Canada Council for the Arts, and SaskCulture, Doyle has prepared an array of music lessons and programming to engage Stanley Mission and the surrounding community through music. Source: Star-Phoenix

RIP

Paul Steven Ripley, leader of the country rock band The Tractors, died from cancer Jan. 3 at his home in Pawnee, Okla. age 69, surrounded by his family. In addition to his work as a recording artist, Ripley was a songwriter, producer, engineer, studio owner, radio host and inventor of the “stereo guitar”favoured by such fellow musicians as Eddie Van Halen, Ry Cooder and Dweezil Zappa.

Owner of The Church Studio in Tulsa for 19 years, Ripley additionally distinguished himself by playing guitar with Bob Dylan and producing and engineering projects for Leon Russell, J. J, Cale, Roy Clark, Johnnie Lee Wills, and others.

He opened his first studio, Stillwater Sound, in the early 1970s. After a stint writing songs in Nashville, Ripley became a live sound engineer for Leon Russell, then produced critically acclaimed records for the likes of Roy Clark, Gatemouth Brown and Johnnie Lee Wills.

He played the guitar on the Bob Dylan album Shot Of Love and also toured with Dylan. While based in California, Ripley befriended Eddie Van Halen, with whom he collaborated on his stereo guitar design and started the company Ripley Guitars.

In 1994, The Tractors released their first self- titled album for Arista Records’ country division, and it eventually went double-platinum. It also garnered two Grammy nominations and won CMT Video of the Year for the single, “Baby Likes to Rock It.” Between 1994 and 1999, The Tractors recorded seven albums and charted eight singles, all written or co-written by Ripley.

In 2005, Ripley returned to the Oklahoma farm where he was raised, expanding it with a guitar shop and recording studio. From here, he hosted his Rock & Roll radio show for the Oklahoma Historical Society. He also continued recording music, including a collaboration with the Red Dirt Rangers titled Ripley and the Rangers, and a full-length LP for the Red Dirt Rangers as well. Most notably and recently, he worked to preserve the musical legacy of his dear friend and mentor, Leon Russell.

In 2017, Ripley created a live musical event celebrating the arrival of the Bob Dylan archives to Tulsa. Source: CMT

(Ruby) Christine McGuire, eldest sister in popular 1950s vocal trio the McGuire Sisters, died Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, where she lived. She was 92. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Radio and television appearances and a string of Top 20 hits in the 1950s made the McGuire Sisters one of the most popular female singing groups of their time,

Christine, Dorothy and Phyllis McGuire grew up singing in the First Church of God in their Ohio hometown. Their mother, a minister at the church, encouraged their interest in singing but would not allow the sisters to listen to secular music.

In 1952, the sisters pooled their savings and travelled to New York. A chance encounter led to a two-month engagement on the national radio broadcast of singer Kate Smith.

When the sisters finally performed for Arthur Godfrey, singing “Mona Lisa,” they won his popular contest and immediately became regulars on Godfrey’s top-rated radio and television shows. They had their first Top 10 hit in 1953 with a version of “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight,” followed the next year by “Muskrat Ramble.”

The sisters’ biggest hit, “Sincerely” (originally performed by the Moonglows), was released in 1954 and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart. Their 1954 recording of Johnny Mercer’s  “Something’s Gotta Give” reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart, and the trio had another No. 1  hit  in 1958 with “Sugartime."

At the height of their fame in the late 1950s, each sister was earning more than $1 million a year. In all, nine of their songs reached the Billboard Top 20. As their brand of music became unfashionable, they stopped performing together after a 1968 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The sisters reunited and returned to the concert stage in Las Vegas in 1986. They performed at the 1989 presidential inauguration of George H.W. Bush and continued to make frequent appearances together until 2004. Source: Washington Post

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