Skydiggers  Photo: Heather Pollock
Skydiggers Photo: Heather Pollock

Music News Digest, Feb. 12, 2020

Toronto roots-rock veterans Skydiggers are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of their eponymous debut album by playing two hometown shows at The Monarch Tavern on March 14. The shows will feature Peter Cash and the band playing the first album in its entirety. Tix info here. A limited vinyl edition of the album is now available on pre-order. A press release notes that fans can expect "a year-long series of special concerts and musical releases."

Variety reports that Drake has announced an exclusive multiyear partnership with live streaming service Caffeine. Infamous for his own rap feuds, Drizzy will first produce a series of rap battles along with a range of additional live content, all of which will premiere on his new Caffeine channel. Produced in partnership with Urban Rap League (URL), the first battle will stream live from Atlanta on Feb. 29 with two more planned for this spring in Houston and Charlotte.

— Justin Bieber has released a new track (and video), Intentions, featuring Migos rapper Quavo, and his intentions are pure. The song tackles real-life challenges faced by women living in LA, and the Biebs has started a fund in support of that city’s Alexandria House, a transitional housing shelter in Central LA that provides resources for women, their children and the surrounding community. The video (below) follows three women from the shelter. Source: LA Times

— Toronto’s 18th annual Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival has announced three showcase events in addition to wristband-accessed shows for the event, running Feb. 21-23, in Toronto’s Annex. On. Feb. 21,  Blues and Bluegrass features Ken Whiteley, The Layrite Boys, Chris Whiteley & Diana Braithwaite, at the Tranzac Club. Tix here. On Feb. 22, They Put The Folk in Winterfolk presents James Gordon, Jon Brooks & Lynn Miles at the Tranzac Club (tix here), and the same venue on Feb. 23 (1 pm) presents Jack de Keyzer headlining an event entitled Evolution of Blues Guitar & Blues Guitar Jam. Tix here. Winterfolk has over 100 artists on five stages. More info here 

— The Backstreet Boys have announced the continuation of the DNA tour, launching July 10 in Wantagh, NY, and closing out Oct. 9 at the Hollywood Bowl in LA. Four Canadian dates are included: Vancouver's Rogers Arena (Aug. 9), Quebec City's Centre Videotron (Sept. 15),  Montreal's Bell Centre (Sept. 16), and Toronto's Budweiser Stage (Sept. 18).

— Best known as the leader of Indigenous roots-rockers Midnight Shine, Adrian Sutherland has been invited to tour with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings on five dates in Southern Ontario next week. This marks Sutherland’s first solo tour. He released a debut solo single,  Politician Man, last fall.

— The Sam Roberts Band is headlining the Bandshell Stage at Toronto’s Festival of Beer. The six-time Juno Award-winning band will take the stage on July 25. Other headliners for the 24th edition of the summer festival, running July 24-26, are TBA.

— Music BC’s next Let's Hear It! showcase celebrates International Women's Day on March 7. Presented with Cushy Entertainment, the lineup at Venue features Turunesh, Mamarudegyal MTHC and Missy D and host Tonye. Tix here


Lyle Mays, a jazz keyboardist whose work, chiefly with the Pat Metheny Group, won nearly a dozen Grammy Awards, died Feb. 10 in Los Angeles. He was 66.

Mays had a “long battle with a recurring illness,” according to Pat Metheny’s website.

“Lyle was one of the greatest musicians I have ever known,” Metheny wrote. “His broad intelligence and musical wisdom informed every aspect of who he was in every way. I will miss him with all my heart.”

Born in Wausaukee, Wisconsin, Mays played organ as a youngster. He joined Metheny’s group in the 1970s, where he was a performer, composer and arranger. The ensemble’s endlessly innovative fusion style incorporated everything from rock and contemporary jazz to world music. The group won numerous jazz performance Emmys, and some for a best contemporary jazz album, including 2005’s award for The Way Up. t also scored an award in 1998 for best rock instrumental performance for The Roots of Coincidence.

Mays also was a sideman for albums by jazz, rock and pop artists, including Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and Earth, Wind & Fire. He also helped compose soundtrack music for several movies, including 1985’s The Falcon and The Snowman.

Mays was also a self-taught computer programmer and architect who designed a house for a relative. AP

Joseph Shabalala, who helped introduce the sound of traditional Zulu music to the world, died on Feb. 11, age 78.

The musician was best known as the founder and director of choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which won five Grammy awards and featured heavily on Paul Simon's Graceland album.

They also reached number 15 in the UK charts with a cover of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, for the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Shabalala was the eldest of eight children living on a farm, near the town of Ladysmith in South Africa.

He became the leader and main composer for a local choir, fusing indigenous Zulu songs and dances with South African isicathamiya, an a capella tradition that was frequently accompanied by a soft, shuffling style of dance.

They were re-christened Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and a radio performance in 1970 led to a recording contract. In 1973 they released Africa's first gold-selling album, Amabutho.

"The group is on tour in the US, but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is family," the band's manager Xolani Majozi told the South Africa Times.

In a statement, the band said: "We celebrate and honour your kind heart and your extraordinary life. Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever." Source: BBC News

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