Andy and Josh of Skydiggers at Unison house concert.  Photo: Cassandra Popescu
Andy and Josh of Skydiggers at Unison house concert. Photo: Cassandra Popescu

Music News Digest, Feb. 25, 2019

This past weekend, Unison Benevolent Fund and 145 Live Solutions presented the first installment of a house concert series in Toronto, one featuring an acoustic set from Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers. The series is a new initiative to bring music fans and artists together while raising awareness and funds for the charity’s programs benefiting Canadian music professionals. The concert raised over $11K for the music community, and Unison’s Executive Director Amanda Power says “The funds raised from the house concerts directly support assistance programs for our community and ensures that Unison remains a reliable resource for music-makers in crisis." If you would like to host or play a house concert in support of the Canadian music community, please contact info@unisonfund.ca for more info.

– Shawn Mendes is adding dates to his already announced arena and stadium tour in support of his self-titled album with 16 additional shows on the North American leg. Second shows have been added in Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Boston, Montreal and Brooklyn. Special guest Alessia Cara will join him on his US, UK and Europe tour stops. Shawn Mendes: The Tour, his third global headline tour, kicks off March 7 in Europe and runs through fall with over 95 international dates, with more TBA.

–  Music Nova Scotia announces the departure of Scott Long as Executive Director, effective Feb. 27. After ten years of service, Long has accepted the position of Managing Director/Executive Producer of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. “On behalf of the board of directors, membership and staff of Music Nova Scotia, I would like to wish Scott the very best of good fortune in his new adventure and thank him for his service to all things musical in our province”, says Brian Doherty, President of Music Nova Scotia. Lisa Stitt, the current Music Nova Scotia Member Relations/Operations Manager has accepted the position of Interim Executive Director.

– Recent Music Canada certifications include Double Platinum Single for DVBBS' "Not Going Home feat. CMC$ & Gia Koka," Gold Single for Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine's "Better Off," Gold Single for Dallas Smith's "Slow Rollin'," Platinum Single for Killy's "No Sad No Bad," and Platinum Single for Loud's "Toutes les femmes savent danser."

– The New Colossus Festival is held March 7-10 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Of the 100+ bands from around the world, over 30 are from Canada, performing at six independent venues throughout the festival. In one event, the fest partners with Canadian Music Week, The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada, and The Consulate General of Canada in New York to present a night of music featuring Dusted (Brian from Holy F*ck), Ellis, Lila, and Tallies on March 7 at Coney Island Baby.

–  On April 12, nine-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Norah Jones will release Begin Again, a collection of singles that gathers seven eclectic songs she has recorded over the past year with collaborators including Jeff Tweedy and Thomas Bartlett. A summer tour includes four Canadian dates, in Ottawa (June 25), Toronto (June 26), Montreal (June 27), and Vancouver (July 28). 

– Following the success of last year's hit video "Late Nights" (over 2.7M views), Toronto-based rapper Houdini has released a 13-track full-length, Hou I Am. Here's the new clip "Auntie." 

–  Feist, Dan Mangan, and Lord Huron headline this year's Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival, held Aug. 10 at Deer Lake Park.  Also on the bill are William Prince, the War and Treaty, and Southern Avenue. Tix on sale March 1.

– The SHINE Concert raises funds for the SHINE Youth Music Bursaries in memory of Jim Fay, James Gray and Doug Queen - Toronto musicians who inspired others to music and who died too young. Bursaries are awarded to young people (16-24) who want to pursue their practice or study of folk or traditional music but who face financial barriers. Awards are presented at the 10th-anniversary concert at Toronto's Lula Lounge on March 3. This year's lineup includes October Browne, Taxi Chain, and The Rizdales, plus appearances by the 2019 Shine Bursary recipients. Money raised at this event will be awarded to next year's Bursary recipients.

– The next Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) free webinar is entitled Avoid the Fyre:  Lessons Learned from the Fyre Festival. On March 21 (1-2pm), the legal seminar, presented by Froese Law, walks through the massive missteps that occurred during the planning and (lack of) execution for Fyre Festival, which resulted in at least eight class action suits and six years imprisonment for the founder.  It provides best practice tips to navigate the legal underpinnings involved with planning a live event. Webinar access information will be sent to all CLMA members in good standing.

– SaskMusic is presenting four simultaneous events in celebration of International Women's Day, March 8, with the support of The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR). These take place in Regina, Swift Current, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon, with artists including Mercy Glover, Lisa Moen, Lyzanne Foth, Éemi, Joelle Fuller, Hummingbird Crossing, White Blood Cells, The Garrys, The Hermitess, Ezra James Phillip, and others. More info here

RIP

Fred Foster, longtime producer and Country Music Hall of Fame member, died in his sleep Feb. 20 following a short illness. He was 87.

The North Carolina native founded Monument Records in 1958 and was at the helm of many major country records, including seminal albums from Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Ray Stevens and Jeannie Seely. He also founded Combine Music, which published Kristofferson’s "Me and Bobby McGee" (co-written with Foster) and "Help Me Make It Through the Night," Orbison’s "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" and Tony Joe White's "Polk Salad Annie."

Foster had a hand in producing many hits by Orbison in the 1960s, including “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Only the Lonely” and “Crying,” as well as Parton and Jimmy Dean’s first singles. He also helmed Kristofferson’s debut album, the 2007 Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price album Last of the Breed, as well as Price’s final album, 2014’s Beauty Is. His last project was Dawn Landes’ 2018 album, Meet Me at the River.

At 18, Foster left his family farm in NC for Washington, D.C., where he began his work in the record industry. He started a pop division for J&F Distributors, and his first task was to work on Dean’s first recording, “Bumming Around.” He also worked with George Hamilton IV during his time at ABC-Paramount, as well as Mercury Records before he formed his own label.

Foster was particularly successful with singer/songwriters, including Parton, Nelson, Kristofferson, White, Larry Gatlin and Billy Joe Shaver. 

Foster founded Monument Records in Baltimore, then moved to Nashville. Foster’s former studio is currently in use as Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Nashville, where acts including Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley have recorded.

Foster was a member of the North Carolina Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. A memorial service will be planned in March with additional details TBA. Source: Billboard

Johnnie Lovesin, Juno-nominated Toronto rock 'n roller, died on Jan. 23, age 69. No cause of death given. His family passed on the news in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Lovesin made a mark on Toronto's Yorkville scene from 1969 onwards, first in the band Black Ballet, and then as leader of such outfits as Johnnie Lovesin and the Invisible Band, Johnnie Lovesin and the Sidewalk Commandos, and The Next, and as a solo artist under the stage name Crazy John Lovesin, the Ace from Space.

After years of extensive gigging in Toronto bars, Lovesin released his debut album Set the Night on Fire in 1980, followed by Rough Side of Town in 1983. He received Juno nominations as Most Promising Male Vocalist in 1984 and 1985. In 1985 he was nominated for a CFNY-FM U-Know Award for Male Vocalist of the Year, based on the airplay of the track "(I Need A) Working Girl."

 He then signed to A&M Records, which re-released Rough Side of Town and his follow-up 1986 album Tough Breaks, but a brain aneurysm slowed his career. He later became the leader of the house band at Toronto's famed Matador Club, and released an independent album, Ready to Rumble, in 1996.

A high-energy performer, Lovesin played such memorable gigs as opening for The Ramones in 1976 and Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1987. On FB yesterday, promoter Gary Topp posted "Johnnie was one of Toronto’s real legends. Gary Cormier and I believed in Johnnie, he wasn’t a black leather punk, but he was a punk and worthy of supporting those first three Ramones shows. RIP, you huge personality."

In later years, Lovesin moved to Jordan, ON, performing just sporadically. A musical sendoff is expected, but no details as yet. Sources: Wikipedia, TorontoMoon, Cashbox

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