Music News Digest, April 1, 2020

Postponements or cancellations of major Toronto music events continue apace. The 2020 North By Northeast (NXNE) festival in Toronto has been postponed until Aug. 11-16, replacing the original dates of June 12-21. Fest founder/mainman Michael Hollett made the announcement via Facebook. Yesterday (March 31), the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, set for June, announced a postponement. "We are hopeful we can move the Fest to a later date this summer," a notice on its website states. Pride Toronto is also believed to be cancelled. Yesterday, Toronto mayor John Tory ordered the cancellation of all public events set to take place in Toronto between now and the end of June as part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

 – The situation is similar for international music conferences and fests. Through the CIMA site, we have learned of the cancellation of Jazz Ahead! in Bremen, Germany, and England's The Great Escape. Liverpool Sound City has been pushed back from May 1-3 to Sept. 25-27.

 – The National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada’s live-streamed #CanadaPerforms series (one supported by Slaight Music) continues to roll out a stellar list of Canadian musical talent. Those performing in the next few days include Moscow Apartment (April 1), Ria Mae and Rae Spoon (April 2), and Mo Kenney, MonkeyJunk, Andrea Ramolo, and Alexandria Maillot (April 3).

– It’s tough to keep track of all the live-streamed from home concerts these days, but we can recommend sessions featuring two top young Canuck talents today (April 1). Scott Helman goes live at 3 pm on his Instagram page, with special guest Michael Buble. At 4 pm, also on Instagram, Brett Kissel performs as part of AprilFoolsALooza - a mix of performances, and some fun April fools day stories and memories from the Invictus roster, all in support of the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief Project and Unison Fund. Also featured are Gord Bamford, Jade Eagleson, Aaron Pritchett, Jess Moskaluke, and Cory Marks.

– Add the Toronto Bach Festival to the ever-growing list of cancelled or postponed music events. The fifth season of the acclaimed fest, skedded May 29-31, has been cancelled, given the pandemic situation. According to AD John Abberger, “Steps are being taken to keep in place as much of the 2020 festival's artistic plan as possible in May 2021.”  Keep updated here 

– Originally planned for June 14-21, the 2020 Burlington Sound of Music festival has been cancelled. Read the announcement here

– St. Catharine's, ON, store Ryson's United Studio of Music is closing down, after 80 years in business.  Owner Anne Deyme is retiring, and the shop shutters on April 28. Thousands of music students, their parents and customers have trooped through its doors, including James Bryan McCollum (Philosopher Kings, Prozzak). He posted on FB that "Ryson's is where I learned how to play guitar when I was 9. My first teacher, Guy Cayen, was an inspiring mentor and supported me in pursuing my dream of becoming a 'rock star.' And Anne and Don Deyme gave me my first opportunity to be a guitar teacher when I was barely a teen."  Source: The St. Catharines Standard

– There is no shortage of Coronavirus-themed novelty tunes and videos out there these days. Adding to the list is Calgary-based singer/songwriter Rozette, who has taken some big hit songs of all time, added a healthy dose of playful humour with a topical twist to create a series of short videos where she ‘covers’ popular tunes. She broadcasts these over her social media channels from her home studio, where she is currently practicing ‘social distancing.'  The videos have over 300K Facebook views. Her take on Dolly Parton’s Jolene (as Vaccine) is one example.


Jan Howard (born Lula Grace Johnson), an American country music singer, songwriter, and author, died March 28, age 91.

As a singer, she placed 30 singles on the Billboard country songs chart, was a prominent member of the Grand Ole Opry member and was nominated for several major awards. As a writer, she wrote poems and published an autobiography. Additionally, she was married to American country songwriter Harlan Howard.

As a teenager, she moved from Missouri to LA, where she would meet Wynn Stewart, one of the architects of the Bakersfield Sound. She would also meet her second husband, songwriter Harlan Howard. She signed to Challenge Records and, at the label’s request, changed her name to Jan Howard.

Her first hit, penned by her husband and Fuzzy Owen, was The One You Slip Around With, a Top 20 single in 1960. The Howards relocated to Nashville, where she began appearing on the Opry. Howard would sing on demos of songs written by her husband, including I Fall to Pieces, a major success for Patsy Cline. After a brief recording career with Capitol Records, she was signed to the Decca label, landing a Top Five single with Evil on Your Mind. Howard would also team with Opry star Bill Anderson on a number of duets, including her sole Number One, For Loving You.

Howard’s eldest son, Jimmy, was sent to drafted into the Vietnam War, leading Howard to write the Grammy-nominated song, My Son. Her work with the armed forces, mental health facilities, and veterans organizations earned praise. In 2005, the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars presented her with the Medal of Merit, for “exceptional service rendered to country, community and mankind.”

Howard was inducted into the Opry on March 27, 1971, and would continue to have hits through the Seventies. She served as one of the Opry’s key performers and ambassadors throughout the remainder of her life. Her autobiography, Sunshine & Shadow: My Story, published in 1987, detailed a turbulent, often tragic life. Source: Rolling Stone

Wallace Roney, a US Jazz trumpeter and recording artist, died on March 31 from coronavirus complications, age 59.

Roney picked up the trumpet at an early age and reportedly went on to take lessons with jazz greats Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie.

He is well known for his association with the legendary Miles Davis, who began mentoring Roney in the mid-’80s.

Davis’ influence on Roney’s playing with immense and, after Davis died in 1991, Roney got the call to play trumpet alongside the remaining members of the famed Miles Davis quintet — Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter — on the Grammy-winning A Tribute to Miles in 1994.

Roney worked with other artists and acts, such as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as well as pursuing a career as a solo recording artist. He released his first solo effort, Verses, in 1987, going on to record some 20 albums as a leader — the most recent being 2019's Blue Dawn-Blue Nights. Sources: Mercury News, NPR

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