2019 MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award Winners Stephen Stohn, Linda Schuyler and Bob Ezrin. PC: CARAS/iPhoto Inc.
2019 MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award Winners Stephen Stohn, Linda Schuyler and Bob Ezrin. PC: CARAS/iPhoto Inc.

Music News Digest, March 20, 2019

MusiCounts has announced Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn as the 2019 recipients of the MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award, presented by The Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation. The award recognizes individuals who have had an extraordinary impact on music education and MusiCounts over the course of its 22-year history. In 2016, Schuyler and Stohn  pledged $500K in matching funds to the MusiCounts Band Aid Program. In recognition of the Award Recipients, Band Aid Program Grants will be awarded to these Canadian schools: Smithfield Public School - Brighton, ON, St. Michael’s Elementary School - Stephenville Crossing, NL, Mezi Community School - Whati, NT.

– The summer music fest scene in Toronto has taken a hit in recent years, but the EDM-focused Veld Festival is still going strong. It has announced some big names for the 2019 edition, led by Cardi B, Skrillex. Kygo, Tiësto, Juno winners Loud Luxury, Jaden Smith, Alesso, Kodak Black, Zeds Dead, Murda Beatz and more. The fest is at Downsview Park, Aug. 3-4.

– RBCxMusic, in partnership with Golf Canada, has announced a new concert series, featuring Grammy-nominated duo Florida Georgia Line (FGL), and Juno-winning homegrown rock band, The Glorious Sons. The two acts perform at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, June 7-8. This is the biggest event in Canadian golf. Tix on sale March 22 here 

– The deadline for applications to showcase at the annual Mundial Montréal, North America’s World Music Summit, is April 1. The call for submissions is presented by Caisse Desjardins de la Culture.

– Since being taken over by Shawn Creamer of Dakota Tavern fame in 2015, The Hayloft Dance Hall in Prince Edward County, Ontario, has played host to many top-tier Canadian acts, including 54-40, Sloan, The Sadies, Hey Rosetta!, Skydiggers, Strumbellas, and Kiefer Sutherland. The Toronto Star reports that the century-old barn turned music venue in the increasingly hip rural area is up for sale, with a $1.25M price tag. It is expected to keep operating for now, with Creamer posting on FB that he'll announce the summer lineup soon.

– Vancouver alt-rock group Tourist Company has put out a video for their new single, "Conflicted/Restricted," ahead of a sophomore full-length coming later this year. The band has been touring out west and plays Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, supporting Long Range Hustle, on March 22. 

– The 6th Annual Music March, a fundraiser for the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund, takes place in Toronto on March 31. It features a noon-hour march along Bloor St. to Lee’s Palace, led by Maracatu Mar Aberto, followed by an after-party at the club. Performers include Matata 6, CARYS, Havelin, Rachel Romu,and Darrelle London. Music Canada is one of the sponsors.

– The second edition of Soundtrack Music Festival at Kinsmen Park in Edmonton has announced a lineup led by Boyz II Men, Shaggy, Ludacris, and Ashanti. Also on the bill are Maestro Fresh-Wes, Supersonic, and local acts the Fronts and Paul Woida, with former MuchMusic VJ Master T back as the festival emcee. Tix on sale March 22.

– Stratford Summer Music has been granted $46K in operational funding through the Ontario Arts Council. The music festival was selected as one of 50 theatre and music organizations across the province to receive annual operating grants beginning this year.

– Durham College’s Music Business Management students will put on multiple music-related events around Oshawa for their 19th year of Oshawa Music Week (formerly known as Reel Music Festival). The events run April 1-6 and have been prepared throughout the first- and second-year student’s second semester. They include a world music showcase, a lip sync battle, performances and roundtable discussions, a club series, summit, and an award show to celebrate music industry professionals in the Durham Region. 

– Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Deeps (real name: Steve De Piante) launches his new album The Aftermath of Last Night, with a hometown show at This Ain't Hollywood on March 23. Here's a taste.

– The Pretenders‘ Chrissie Hynde has announced she will be releasing a long-in-the-works album this summer called Valve Bone Woe, which she recorded with award-winning producers and film score composers Marius de Vries and Eldad Guetta. Hynde showcases tracks from the record at a concert on July 6 at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Valve Bone Woe is described as a jazz-dub record that includes renditions of songs by The Beach Boys, The Kinks‘ Ray Davies, Nick Drake and others. The rocker begins rehearsals for a new Pretenders record shortly. Source: Classic Hits and Oldies

– The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, recently announced the reappointment of Simon Brault as Director of the Canada Council for the Arts for a four-year term. An Officer of the Order of Canada, Brault earlier served as Administrative Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Theatre School of Canada from 1982 to 2014.

– Canadian teens J J Jun Li Bui, Harmony Zhu, and Ryan Zhu have been announced as three of only 24 pianists selected to compete in the 2019 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition in Dallas this spring. 230 13- to 17-year-olds from 32 countries applied to take part in this prestigious event. 

– Tonight (March 20), the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts hosts a charity event in support of The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Voices for Africa. It features Juno nominee Gregg Lawless, John Sheard, Ryan Granville-Martin, and Mitch Girio accompanying  students from eight area schools and the McConaghy Centre Seniors Choir. Tix here

RIP

Zephire “Andre” Williams, R&B's raunchiest raconteur who worked with everyone from Berry Gordy to thrash punks, died on March 17, age 82, of colon cancer.

Born in Bessemer, Alabama, Williams escaped rural poverty for the bright lights of Detroit around 1950. He created a sing-speak style mixing humour and innuendo with the ruling R&B and doo-wop styles of the time. Some have termed this one of the starting points for rap music.

In 1955, he won a local talent quest and a contract with tiny indie label Fortune Records. His biggest hit came in 1956 with "Bacon Fat," which reached No. 9 on Billboard’s R&B chart. His funniest record, "Jail Bait," was too risque for radio play.

In the early '60s, Berry Gordy hired Williams to produce and develop Motown’s new signings. This didn't last, and Williams assumed a similar role in Chicago, at One-derful. In 1963, he co-wrote "Shake a Tail Feather" for the Five Du-Tones, a minor hit that almost immediately became an R&B standard (famously performed by Ray Charles in the film The Blues Brothers).

In 1964, he wrote the R&B and pop hit "Twine Time," for Alvin Cash. Throughout the decade Williams issued his own records while writing and producing for everyone from Mary Wells to Parliament-Funkadelic to Bobby “Blue” Bland. Work with Ike Turner is blamed for Williams picking up a cocaine habit and having his career collapse.

Williams cleaned up at in the 1980s and began working Chicago’s blues clubs, and was surprised to find he had a cult following. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion brought him to the UK in the mid-90s as support act.

He paired with garage rockers The Dirtbombs for his 1998 album, Silky, and a year later collaborated with Toronto band The Sadies on Red Dirt.  In 2012, another Williams and The Sadies collaboration, Night and Day, was released, on Yeproc.

In 2007, Spain’s Vampisoul Records issued Movin’ on With Andre Williams, a double album that provided an overview of his career from 1956 to 1970. Chicago’s Bloodshot Records issued several albums by Williams, while 2012’s Hoods and Shades was produced by Detroit guitar star Dennis Coffey.

Williams frequently performed in Toronto over the years. Noted club booker Dan Burke recalled on FB that "the best show I did with him was upstairs at The El Mocambo (late '90s or 2000). The Sadies backed him and we went to The Matador [a famed speakeasy]  afterwards 'til dawn."

One of Wlliams' friends and labelmates, Jon Langford of The Mekons, posted this on FB: "We lost one of the true greats yesterday - Rest in Peace Andre Williams you fabulous inexplicable complex genius man - all the love in the world from your fat-faced white buddy - you leave a space that no one could fill." Sources: The Guardian, Celebrity Access, Exclaim!

Chauncey “Chick” Crumpacker, 91, a three-time Grammy-nominated producer and executive for RCA Victor known for recruiting Elvis Presley away from Sun Records, died March 12, of natural causes, according to Billboard.

He had a long and diverse career, 57 years of it under the helm of RCA. He began in the A&R department in 1953 in New York City and played a key role in bringing Presley to the label, then touring with the icon. He attempted to bring Johnny Cash as well, but was unsuccessful because RCA wouldn’t back his play.

He moved on to producing and working with artists like Chet Atkins, Harry Nilsson, Eartha Kitt and Harry Belafonte. His daughter Caroline told Billboard that career highlights include listening to Leonard Bernstein introduce the score of “West Side Story” on piano at his Manhattan apartment for RCA scouts and executives. Crumpacker also tried to get RCA to back the musical but was again met with opposition.

After 50 years of working at RCA, the exec received a plaque reading, “78s, 45s, LPs, 8 Tracks, Cassettes, Compact Disks and DVDs. You’ve been a part of the greatest sound developments of the 20th century. Producer, Promoter, Author, A&R Executive, Composer and Archivist. Your talent knows no bounds. Knowing you is a pleasure. Working with you is a dream come true. Thanks for making history.” Source: Billboard

Bernie Tormé (born Bernard Joseph Tormey), an Irish rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, record label and recording studio owner, died on March 17, age 66, of double pneumonia". He is best known for his work with Gillan, as well as stints with Ozzy Osbourne's backing band and Atomic Rooster.

“What a sad day. We’ve lost another great musician,” Osbourne said via Twitter. “Bernie was a gentle soul with a heart of gold."

Tormé played in Dublin band The Urge in the early 1970s before relocating to London in 1974, where he initially played with heavy rockers Scrapyard, whose bass player, John McCoy would later be reunited with Tormé in Gillan. Inspired by punk rock scene, he formed the Bernie Tormé Band in 1976 and signed with Jet Records. Success eluded the band, and Torme joined Gillan in 1979.

He left in 1981, then replaced the recently deceased Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne's band, for a short period only. Tormé spent several years with the band Desperado with former Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider. In 2006, Tormé announced the formation of Guy McCoy Tormé (aka "G.M.T"), with former Gillan bassist John McCoy and drummer Robin Guy.

He continued to release solo albums, including 2018's Shadowland. Tormé also ran his own label, Retrowrek Records, and recording studios, Barnroom Studios in Kent, where he lived with his family. Sources: Ultimate Classic Rock, Wikipedia, nme.com

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