Ron Sakamoto
Ron Sakamoto

Music News Digest, June 3, 2019

Veteran concert promoter Ron Sakamoto is one of eight Albertans named as new recipients of the province's highest honour, The Alberta Order of Excellence. The investiture ceremony will be held in Edmonton on Oct. 17. 

–  Geddy Lee's lavish coffee-table book, Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass, has become an unlikely best-seller. It scores high on both the non-fiction and Canadian non-fiction bestseller lists published in the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail on the weekend, actually topping the Globe's latter list.

 The Funhousean interactive art maze built by more than 70 local artists and creators, has now opened in Toronto's West End. Of note is the fact that six of the rooms were created in conjunction with Universal Music Canada, for collaborations between visual and music artists. Those involved include Jazz Cartier, Lights, and The Beaches. Source: Toronto Star

– Nearly two decades after launching iTunes and disrupting the retail-store model of album purchases, Apple is ready to retire the product, according to Bloomberg reports. During the software keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California today (Monday), the tech giant is set to replace it with standalone music, television and podcast apps.

The long-rumoured move will align Apple’s media strategy across the board: iPhones and iPads already offer separate Music, TV and Podcast apps in lieu of the centralized iTunes app that lives on Macs and MacBooks. Sources: Rolling Stone, Bloomberg

– Last week, Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company learned that its acclaimed first original musical, Rose, scored a leading 11 musical nominations earlier this week at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, which recognize excellence in Toronto theatre, dance and opera. This was followed by the release of the original cast recording of Rose to music streaming platforms on Friday. Based on Gertrude Stein’s children’s book, The World is RoundRose had a roughly five-week run at the Toronto theatre this past winter. Source: CP

A genre-crossing pop/rock/hip-hop group, Vancouver's XL The Band features Prevail and Rob The Viking from noted hip-hop group  Swollen Members, vocalist/flautist Liesa Norman from The Leisure Principle, and Nephfrom Alpha Omega. The new combo has now launched a debut single, Birds.

–  Surrey Canada Day returns July 1 at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale with headliner Our Lady Peace and also featuring Bif Naked. The free event regularly draws large crowds.

– Back in the '90s, Toronto band Mrs. Torrance earned critical acclaim and even an opening slot for Oasis. Leader Tamara Williamson then pursued a solo career, but she has now forged a band reunion to perform The Break-Up Diet - an autobiographical, alt-rock musical produced in association with Toronto Fringe Festival this summer. A soundtrack EP is to be released in advance of the show. The Break-Up Diet has a seven-show run at Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St., Toronto) at the Fringe in early July. Source: Broadway World

– Franco-Fête de Toronto runs July 5-7 in Yonge-Dundas Square, and the preliminary artist lineup for its 37th edition has been announced. It features De Temps Antan, Melisande,  Nomad’Stones, and UNI-T, with the full lineup TBA June 10.

 

RIP

Mose ScarlettCanadian folk singer and guitarist, died on May 30, of cancer. He is believed to have been in his 70s.

Scarlett was a fixture on the Toronto folk club scene, and he performed across Canada at festivals, clubs and theatres, as well as touring through the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia.

He performed solo, with various accompanists, and, for 20 years, in a well-received trio with Ken Whiteley and the late Jackie Washington. The trio was nominated for a 1993 Roots and Traditional Juno award for its first recording together, entitled Where Old Friends Meet.

Scarlett's solo debut, Stalling For Time, produced by Bruce Cockburn, came out in 1981, followed by The Fundamental Things in 1995, and Precious Seconds in 2002. The latter album featured duets with Jim Condie, Amos Garrett, Jeff Healey, Colin Linden, Tony Quarrington, Margaret Stowe, Ken Whiteley, and David Wilcox.

He released solo and trio albums on  Borealis Records. Label co-founder Bill Garrett told FYI that "Mose was a long time friend. We first met in 1967 when he showed me open G tuning on the guitar. Years later I had the pleasure of accompanying him on several gigs. Mose was a generous and kind soul along with being a wonderful singer, raconteur and guitarist. He will be greatly missed by many.

Scarlett billed his music as "Jazz, Blues, Ragtime and Swing." It had stylistic similarities to that of his good friend Leon Redbone, who, by coincidence, passed away on the same date.

Source: Borealis Records

Roky Erickson (born Roger Kynard Erickson), lead vocalist and principal songwriter for the psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators and one of the leading lights of Texas rock, died May 31 in Austin, age 71. No cause of death has been given.

Erickson’s death was confirmed by his brother Mikel to Bill Bentley, who produced the all-star 1990 Erickson tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye, which included performances by R.E.M., ZZ Top, Doug Sahm and other stars.

“Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him,” Bentley told Variety. “He lived so much, and not always on this planet.”

His intense, piercing yowl was the focal point of the Elevators’ seething 1966 single You’re Gonna Miss Me.  It has become a garage rock classic, and was featured on Lenny Kaye’s influential 1972 compilation Nuggets.

The band released four albums of psychedelia for Lelan Rogers’ label International Artists between 1966 and 1969; its first two collections, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators”and Easter Everywhere, are acknowledged classics of psych-rock.

In 1969, Erickson was arrested for possession of marijuana and diagnosed with schizophrenia. To avoid jail time, he pleaded insanity and was admitted to Rusk State hospital, a maximum security institution in Texas, where he was subjected to electroshock treatment and prescribed Thorazine.

He emerged, three years later, but was plagued with mental illness throughout his subsequent solo career.

Occasionally his profile would rise, as it did in 1990, with Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye, or in 1995, when the Butthole Surfers helped him make All That May Do My Rhyme.

Erickson’s battle with mental illness was chronicled in the 2007 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me.

In later years, he often toured, backed by such acts as the Black Angels. 

Sources: Variety, The Guardian

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