Ralph  Photo: Joe Bulawan
Ralph Photo: Joe Bulawan

Music News Digest, Feb. 14, 2020

Jaimie Vernon reports that he is updating his Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia again to include digital era releases. Its author has advised that the ongoing refreshed content will soon be available on a platform known as Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale and made available to post-secondary institutions and libraries. Volume One of the Encyclopedia was released in hardcover March of 2012 and Volume Two in Nov. A biographical index can be found online here.

– Hot on the heels of a Juno Award nomination in the Dance Recording of the Year category (for Gravity), electro-pop songstress Ralph has announced the launch of her new label, Rich Man Records. The imprint’s frst release is Ralph’s new single Superbloom. She has also announced her 2020 US tour with joan, followed by headlining Canadian dates. Ralph plays Toronto's Velvet Underground tonight. Sked here

– Applications are now open for the $25K Top of the Country music competition, sponsored by the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and SiriusXM, and supported by SOCAN and SOCAN Foundation. The top three finalists will have the chance to travel to Nashville on a writing trip with support from SOCAN. For the winner, prizes will include $25K, an appearance on the CCMA Awards broadcast in 2020, and attendance at CCMA/SOCAN song camps (in Nashville and one other location TBD). Interested country music creators can register here, until Feb. 28.

The Weeknd has announced the title of his new album. It’s called After Hours, and is the followup to 2018 release My Dear Melancholy. Release date TBA. Watch the teaser below.

–  Entitled Celebrating An Icon, an upcoming concert at Hugh's Room Live in Toronto pays tribute to much-loved East Cast folk veteran Laura Smith. Set for Feb. 28, it features Paul Mills, Tony McManus, Grit Laskin, Tannis Slimmon, Allison Lupton, Eve Goldberg, David Woodhead, John Sheard, and Lenny & Wendy Solomon. A press release from the venue notes that "Laura Smith has shared her music, stories and gifts with the nation.  Although Laura would LOVE to join us – truth is, she is unable to travel from the east coast after the recent diagnosis of incurable cancer."

– Now based in Austin, Canadian honkytonker Whitney Rose releases her next album, We Still Go To Rodeos, on April 24, a set of 12 self-authored songs produced by Paul Kolderie of Uncle Tupelo and The Pixies fame. It comes out on her artist-owned label, MCG. Here's a new cut.

Apple Music has expanded its preferred distributor list to include Believe Digital, CD Baby, FUGA, Kontor New Media and The Orchard. Full list here.

Glass Tiger has put a new spin on This Is Your Life, a track originally released on the band’s recent 33 album. The newly recorded version is given a bright remix by highly touted Halifax electronic music duo Pineo & Loeb, with additional musicians that include Matt Mays on backing vocals. “We originally were asked to do just a remix, but we met with Glass Tiger and pitched them the idea that we would like to do this as a new thing, not just as a derivative of their song. We wanted to make it into this new project and get other musicians involved. They thought it was a great idea, so we got some other instrumentalists, and we brought in Matt Mays,” Pineo explains, adding that one of the reasons to include Mays was as a nod to Bryan Adams’ background vocal performance on the Tiger’s first big hit, Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).

– Last night, East End Hamilton bookstore The City & The City Books hosted an event featuring veteran Toronto troubadour John Borra and poet Eva H.D. discussing their collaboration on songs appearing on Borra’s ace new album Blue Wine. Borra sang, Eva H.D. read, and store co-owner Tim Hanna moderated with aplomb. Hanna explained that the store will host more such events in the future. Stay tuned.

– Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter JP Saxe returned to his hometown of Toronto late last month for a sold out show at The Drake Underground. Prior to the show, he was surprised with a Canadian Platinum plaque by Sony Music Canada for his breakthrough hit If The World Was Ending, his collaboration with multi-platinum US artist Julia Michaels. The video for the hit has earned 63M YouTube views. Source: Music Canada

– BC-raised and now based in Toronto, Wes Carroll and his band Confabulation release their second studio album, Elephant in the Sea, today. A mix of vocal tunes and five instrumentals, it features modern jazz, hip-hop, soul and singer-songwriter stylings. The record is launched with a concert tonight (Feb. 14) at Toronto's Tranzac Club. Carroll is currently working on a Masters in Jazz Performance at the U of T. 


Christopher ‘Chris’ Kennedy, died Sunday, Feb 9, at the age of 69 years. Born and raised in Montreal, he moved to Toronto in the early 1970s where he met and married Margret Sharp. After approximately 30 years in Toronto, the couple moved to Leamington, ON where they have owned and operated Ponds RV Park for the past 15 years. Chris Kennedy worked for a short time with his older brother, Leonard, in the rack and music wholesale business. Donations to The Bridges youth resource centre can be made here.

Paul English, the longtime Willie Nelson drummer, has died at the age of 87 of undisclosed causes. Nelson's publicist confirmed English's death to Rolling Stone Country,

The Texas-born English performed as part of Nelson's band beginning in 1966. English also served as Nelson's unofficial bodyguard over the years, as well as helping to run his business.

In addition to playing drums with Nelson over the course of decades, English provided inspiration for more than one song in the icon's catalogue, including Devil in a Sleeping Bag, which appeared on Nelson's seminal Shotgun Willie album in 1973. Nelson also immortalized their friendship in a song from Yesterday's Wine in 1971 titled Me & Paul, which documents their various scrapes with authority over the years. Source: tasteofcountry.com, Rolling Stone Country,

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