CM founder Jim Norris with Kira Isabella
CM founder Jim Norris with Kira Isabella

Music News Digest, April 29, 2019

On Thursday, Canadian Musician magazine celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a well-attended party at a downtown Toronto pub. Over 30 artists showed, including The Trews' Colin MacDonald, John Angus MacDonald and Jack Syperek, Kira Isabella, Ryland James, Marc Jordan, Steve Strongman, Kevin Young (Moist), Mike Levine (Triumph), and Sean Jones. Industry notables we spied included John Harris, Cam Carpenter, Rosie Levine, Brian Hetherman, Steves Kane and Waxman, Tony Tobias, Steve Anthony, Martin Melhuish, and CM founder Jim Norris. Performing were Ferraro, Kris Barclay and CJ Flemings.

–  Last week, SOCAN presented Toronto pop duo Darcys with a No. 1 Song Award for “Just Here with My Friends” (featuring Leah Fay), which topped the CBC Music Top 20 last August. The honour went to Darcys’ Jason Couse and Wes Marskell, who co-wrote and co-performed the song with Leah Fay of July Talk. The song is self-published by Darcys, co-published with July Talk Music Inc.

– Submissions are now open for the 15th edition of the Canadian Folk Music Awards, to be held April 3-4, 2020, in Charlottetown, PEI. The early bird deadline is April 30, with June 28 the final cutoff date. Submit here

– In honour of National Concert Week, Live Nation Canada is offering $20 tickets for summer concerts across the country, May 1 to May 7. The promotion covers 100 shows in many genres and featuring Bryan Adams, The Chainsmokers, Sarah McLachlan, and Vampire Weekend and others. More info here. Supplies are limited.

– The Hot Docs documentary film fest in Toronto on the weekend featured the world premiere of Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, a feature-length film portrait of the Canadian music legend. In an interview last week, Lightfoot told us he was holding off on seeing the film until its premiere. Lightfoot biographer (and a key contributor to the film) Nicholas Jennings reports that the star guested with his close pals The Good Brothers at a post-screening party that also featured performances by Cowboy Junkies,  Fergus Hambleton, Skydiggers, and Tim Bovaconti and his band. 

Those in attendance included the doc's producers/writers/directors Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe, producers John Brunton and John Murray, Sylvia Tyson, Bernie Fiedler, Victoria Lord, John Welsman, Cherie Camp, Murray McLauchlan, and Bernie Finkelstein. The film has another Hot Docs screening tomorrow (April 30), followed by a theatrical release next month. Look for an upcoming FYI feature story.

– A posthumous David Bowie record, The Mercury Demos, is set for release on June 28, via Parlophone. The 10-track effort will feature previously unreleased Bowie recordings. The Mercury Demos are 10 early recordings, captured live in one take to a Revox reel-to-reel tape machine in Bowie’s apartment in the spring of 1969, with accompaniment from John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on guitar and vocals. Source: Live For Live Music

– Bob Dylan fans will be thrilled to learn that Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, a documentary about the singer's legendary and star-studded 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour will arrive on Netflix on June 12. Variety reports the film will also be shown in various movie theaters around the globe. These “roadshow” screenings will take place on June 11. No word yet re Canadian screenings. Also confirmed is a CD box set of material compiled during the Rolling Thunder Revue. The 14-disc set arrives on June 7. Source: Ultimate Classic Rock

– Songs of the City is an evening of story and song presented by United Way in Niagara as a thank you for the public's support. The second edition (already sold out) takes place on May 1 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines and features three speakers giving their stories on how United Way funded programs changed their lives. This is followed by original songs about these people, written and performed by top Canadian artists Tom Wilson, Matt Dusk, Dione Taylor, and James Bryan, with the Laura Secord Secondary School Choir.

– The Orchestre Classique de Montréal is the brand new name of the ensemble formerly known as the McGill Chamber Orchestra. The change is made to coincide with the 80th anniversary season, and artistic director Boris Brott told The Montreal Gazette “We want to have a name that reflects the professionalism of who we are.“ The ensemble was founded by Brott’s father, Alexander, and managed for decades by his mother, Lotte. Details of the upcoming season here.

– Indigenous Canadian singer-songwriter William Prince reportedly dazzled the crowd at the Stagecoach fest in Indio, CA, on Saturday. LA Times music critic Randy Lewis noted that "emerging artists who score a booking on the SiriusXM Spotlight Stage get to play the world’s largest gathering of country music fans but usually do so early in the day, long before the masses show up for the superstar headliners. William Prince overcame all obstacles on his way to delivering one of the most captivating performances of the weekend. Armed with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, the 33-year-old artist served up several compelling songs from his Juno-winning 2015 album Earthly Days."

– The popular Whiskey Jack Presents Stories & Songs of Stompin' Tom show has four northern Ontario dates in May. Joining Whiskey Jack onstage are notable special guests, The Good Brothers, Russell deCarle (Prairie Oyster) and Cindy Church (Lunch at Allens). They play North Bay (May 8), Elliot Lake (May 9), Sault Ste. Marie (May 10) and Sudbury (May 11).

– Award-winning artists Madison Violet and Mo Kenney co-headline the 2019 Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women & Song, held at Seacaps Memorial Park in Lockport, NS, July 26 and 27. Early Bird tix available for $35 until May 1 here

– The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is commemorating the Woodstock fest’s 50th anniversary, with a special exhibit opening May 1 and running until the fall. The Hall also presents Woodstock themed nights with Inductees and Woodstock performers Freddie Stone of Sly & The Family Stone and Michael Carabello of Santana.

– The second annual Kalmunity Music Week in Montreal began yesterday (April 28) and runs to May 5, focusing on black artists in a variety of genres, including hip-hop, jazz, reggae, and R&B.  Acts performing include Larnell Lewis, Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh, Spek Won, Lady Alma, Smif N Wessun, Micah Shemaiah and Asadenaki Wailer. Source: Montreal Gazette

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Dave (David Alan) Samuels, a Grammy-award winning vibraphonist best known for his work over three decades with the crossover jazz-fusion band Spyro Gyra, passed away April 22 in New York City after a long illness. He was 70 years old. The exact cause of death has not been disclosed.

Before his work with Spyro Gyra, Samuels was a member of baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s sextet, accompanying him on his legendary 1974 Carnegie Hall reunion concert with trumpeter Chet Baker. He was also a freelancer with the likes of Carla Bley, Frank Zappa, David Friedman, and Paul McCandless, and released several albums under his own name throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1993, Samuels founded the Caribbean Jazz Project, an acclaimed and award-winning Latin-jazz ensemble that became his primary vehicle for the remainder of his career.

Frank Busseri, a founding member of the popular 50's/60's group The Four Lads, died on January 28, 2019, at the age of 86.

Born and raised in Toronto, Busseri was and educated at St. Michael's Choir School where he co-founded The Four Lads with Connie Codarini, Bernie Toorish, and Jimmy Arnold.

Before rock and roll took over the charts, The Four Lads dominated the early 1950's North American pop scene. Their four-part harmonies and clean-cut image helped make songs like "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" "Moments to Remember," "No, Not Much!," "Who Needs You" and "Standing on the Corner" hits in North America.

Frank Busseri and the Four Lads were inducted into the Canada Music Hall of Fame in 1984, the United States Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, and received a SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival Legacy Award in 2013.

Busseri was a resident of the Palm Springs area for 15 years where he performed at the renowned McCallum theatre in Palm Desert (his last performance) as well as many venues throughout California and other parts of the US.  He often returned to Southern Ontario to perform in Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara Falls.

For the past 28 years, he was also a partner and advisor to ARB Productions, an entertainment agency, and promotion company in Canada.

A memorial mass will be held at St. Andrews Church in Oakville at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Sources: The Globe and Mail, Martin Melhuish

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