Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award winner Donnie Campbell
Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award winner Donnie Campbell

Music News Digest, March 13, 2020

East Coast musician and radio host Donnie Campbell has been named the recipient of the Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award for the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards. This annual legacy category award recognizes the exceptional contribution of an individual, group, or organization to any aspect of the Canadian Folk music scene. The award was to be presented to Campbell on April 3 in Charlottetown, during the planned CFMAs weekend (April 3-4), but the event has just been cancelled, given Coronavirus fears.

A CFMA press release describes Campbell as "a Canadian icon in every sense of the word. He has made major contributions as a performer, promoter and historian of Canadian Folk and Celtic music, and continues to capture the hearts of listeners worldwide with his radio show Celtic Serenade, now in its 46th year. The show features Celtic Music, homegrown Cape Breton and Atlantic Canadian artists, Folk and Bluegrass. More info here 

– Hit pop duo Tegan & Sara have announced a return to the road following a sold-out headline tour last year. The 40-date North American run launches at Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane on May 18 and wraps up on Sept. 2 at Tabernacle in Atlanta. The sked includes shows at Toronto's Rebel (Aug. 13) and Montreal's MTELUS (Aug. 14). The tour supports Tegan & Sara's latest release, Hey I’m Just Like You. Tix on sale today here

– On Wed night, historic Toronto watering hole The Wheatsheaf threw an invite-only opening party to show off its impressive renovation. The good news is that the refit is stressing live music (what a concept!). As the room's music booker/impresario Shawn Creamer (Dakota Tavern, Hayloft Dancehall) stated at the event, “Toronto’s oldest bar is now the city’s newest music venue.” It hasn’t received the hype $30M bought the El Mocambo, but this is a notable venture. Creamer told FYI that there’ll be local music there every weekend, with the occasional big-ticket act mid-week. He has great taste and connections, so this is exciting stuff. Plus the chicken wings are still yummy. Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar were an excellent choice of band for the opening soiree. Those spied included Martin fans Rob Bowman and Rick Fenton, plus Shauna de Cartier (Six Shooter), Jude Coombe (Starfish), Yvonne Matsell and Karen Bliss.

– Vancouver duo The Pack AD has announced it is saying goodbye to full cross-country touring and is gearing up to release a final album for the foreseeable future. It was fun while it lasted is due on April 17. Here's the first single, Give Up.  

– The TD Toronto Jazz Festival has announced some major names for its upcoming edition, slated to run June 18-28. That list includes Smokey Robinson, David Crosby, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Ana Moura, Femi Kuti, The Roots, Trombone Shorty, John Scofield & Dave Holland Duo, and Shabaka & The Ancestors. Herbie Hancock hosts anm80th birthday celebration in early September. Tickets on sale now at In a press release, the fest stresses that "we will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 on an on-going basis."

– Chris Birkett, the British-born award-winning producer, arranger, and composer is now officially a Canadian citizen. His collaborations with A-list artists like Sinead O’Connor, Alison Moyet, Talking Heads, The Pogues, Bob Geldof, Quincy Jones, Thomas Dolby, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Steve Earle have sold over 100 million records and earned a Grammy, four Junos, the Polaris Music Prize and three international AMPEX Golden Reel Awards for excellence in the music business. He co-produced Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Polaris-winning Fire In The Blood album. Birkett is also a singer/songwriter whose last solo record, 11:11, was released in Nov. 2019. In a press release, Birkett states that "living in Toronto, the most important city for music in Canada, I can tour the musical world without leaving. It’s all here, and I am grateful and humbled by this country welcoming me.”

– The March 7 reunion fundraiser concert by Chalk Circle at Lee's Palace in Toronto was a major success, netting $20K for the Rethink Breast Cancer organization. The show was entitled "Be Tracy's Ally" in honour of Tracy Sheridan, partner to Brad Hopkins, Chalk Circle's bass player. Sheridan lives with metastatic breast cancer. Read more here

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