Toots Hibbert pic courtesy of punk.street.punk via Instagram
Toots Hibbert pic courtesy of punk.street.punk via Instagram

Music News Digest, Sept. 14, 2020

Celine Dion has announced next year’s rescheduled dates for the North American leg of her Courage world tour that was originally postponed in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new North American dates begin in Winnipeg on Aug. 16 and end in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24, with stops in three other Canadian cities along the way. Those include shows in Saskatoon on Aug. 18; Edmonton on Aug. 20 and 21; and Vancouver, on Aug. 28 and 29. Dion and Concerts West/AEG Presents said last week that the tour would return “safety permitting.” Tix purchased for the 2020 tour dates will be honoured for the rescheduled 2021 dates, the release said. Dion’s 2021 performances in Europe kick off March 19 in Paris and wrap July 25 in Bucharest. Source: CP

– The 18th Annual Forest City London Music Awards and London Music Week events are proceeding in London, ON, virtual form this month, running Sept. 13-20. There are five music awards gala presentations, six free music industry professional development workshops, a keynote address from Ken Caillat, the man behind Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, presentations for the 2020 FCLMA Hall of Fame (Grant Smith and the Niosi Brothers) and Lifetime Achievement awards ( Martin Boundy and Terry McManus) and FCLMA Ken Palmer Music Bursary, and a Women of London Music showcase. The galas are streamed here. More info here.

– As part of this year's Modern Drummer Festival, Neil Peart, the late Rush drummer, was honoured on Saturday with a tribute concert featuring the likes of Mike Portnoy, Carl Palmer, Stewart Copeland, Taylor Hawkins, Chad Smith, Chicago's Danny Seraphine, Carmine Appice, Def Leppard's Rick Allen, Kenny Aronoff, and more. Proceeds from the pay-per-view event go to brain tumour research at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Source: Loudersound

Joni Mitchell fans will be excited to learn that she is opening her musical vault for the first time for the Joni Mitchell Archives, a new series of box set releases that will span the next few years. Mitchell has reportedly been “intimately involved’ in producing the archive series. It starts on Oct. 30  with a five-disc box set, Archives – Volume 1, and two associated vinyl releases. This features nearly six hours of unreleased home, live, and radio recordings, beginning with her earliest-known recording as a 19-year-old Mitchell performs at CFQC AM, a radio station in her hometown of Saskatoon. In all, the set includes 29 original Mitchell compositions that have never been released before with her vocals.

– A collaboration between the Toronto Blues Society and Paul Reddick, the COBALT Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award aims to promote blues music through exploration of its form. Submissions are now open with applications being accepted until Oct. 30. The winner of the $500 cash prize will be announced during one of the Maple Blues Awards live stream sessions next Feb. Previous winners Digging Roots, Conor Gains, Ann Vriend (she has won twice, including for the song below), Joe Nolan, and Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes. Submit here.

– Working under the name Buildings and Food, Jen K. Wilson is a Canadian electronic music artist set to release a new album, Up Down Strange Charm, on Sept. 25. An advance single and video, B-Movie, is now out.

– Rising pop phenom Johnny Orlando has released a new single and video, Everybody Wants You, on UMC/Island Records. The track sees Orlando collaborate with New York-based songwriters/producers Pom Pom aka Kellen Pomeranz and Jesse Fink, and singer-songwriter and label-mate Soran Dussaigne. Orlando’s sophomore EP is scheduled for release this fall. 

– CIMA is facilitating a series of roundtable discussions on anti-black racism in the Canadian music entertainment industry. The series is presented in association with supporting partner ADVANCE, Canada’s new Black Music Business Collective which is working to develop an infrastructure for the betterment, upliftment and retention of black people in the music business. CIMA has invited peer and partner organizations from across the national industry to support the initiative. Breaking Down Racial Barriers takes place in 10 zoom roundtable discussions, each Tuesday.  Episode 7, on Sept. 15 at 6 pm (EDT), is entitled Representation in the Corporate & Organizational Entertainment Industry: Record Labels, Streaming Companies & Industry Associations. Sign up for the session here 

– The X Avant XV: Transmissions fest runs Oct. 1 to 18 in Toronto. All shows will be available to stream online free and will be a mix of on and off-site concerts produced by the Music Gallery; (still) located at 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education. Artists featured include OK Miss featuring Du Yun, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Leanne Simpson Trio, Rich Brown, Kaie Kellough & Jason Sharp, Tara Kannangara, Mingjia. and Alanna Stuart.

– Country Connections Live! is a brand new virtual showcase, presented by British Underground, Canadian Independent Music Association and Sounds Australia, taking place this week at Thriving Roots, a new digital conference presented by the Americana Music Association. A showcase of Americana artists from Australia, Canada and the UK, Country Connections Live will feature four acts from each country playing two songs apiece. The Canadian acts are Ahi, Mo Kenney, Julian Taylor, and Mama's Broke. To watch, you'll need to purchase a pass to Thriving Roots from the Americana Music Association's website, with a starting price of US$99. Country Connections Live will stream on Sept. 17 at 5 pm Nashville time. Check out a trailer here

– On Oct. 2, the Big Screen Harvest Party – a fundraising concert featuring live performances by Canadian country stars George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett – will take place at the new High River Sunset Drive-in. There will be three one-hour shows ( at 6, 8, and 10 pm), and funds raised go to The High River District Health Care Foundation.

Obit

Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert, frontman of the legendary reggae band Toots and the Maytals, died on Sept. 11,  at the age of 77. The cause was not disclosed, but he had recently been taken to hospital with Covid-like symptoms.

One of Jamaica's most influential musicians, he helped popularise reggae in the 1960s with songs like Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and Funky Kingston. He even claimed to have coined the genre's name, on 1968's Do The Reggay.

A charismatic and soulful performer, Hibbert scored 31 number one singles in Jamaica. Thanks to his full-throated and soulful vocals, he was often referred to as "The Otis Redding of Reggae" - but he was always Toots.

The youngest of seven children, Hibbert grew up singing gospel music in a church choir - but it was school where he formed his ambition to become a performer. "We had to sing before class, sing in the morning," he told BBC 6 Music in 2018. "And teacher said, 'Yeah, you have the best voice,' and gave me good encouragement."

Both his parents were dead by the time he was eight. As a teenager, he moved to Kingston, where he lived with his older brother John and found work in a barbershop. There, he struck a friendship with singers Jerry Matthius and Raleigh Gordon, with whom he formed the Maytals.

In 1962, they were discovered by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, who signed them to his Studio One label. Over the next 10 years, they released a string of hit singles including Fever, Bam Bam, and Sweet and Dandy.

In 1967, Hibbert was arrested for possession of marijuana. He served nine months in jail and, on his release, recorded 54-46 (That's My Number) - a reference to his prison number. It became one of the first reggae songs to receive widespread popularity outside Jamaica, introducing many Europeans to the sound for the first time.

At the time, however, the word reggae didn't exist. The music, which was an evolution of ska and rocksteady, had been called blue-beat or boogie-beat until Hibbert intervened.

"The music was there and no-one didn't know what to call it," he told 6 Music. "And in Jamaica, we had a slang - if we're not looking so good, if we're looking raggedy, we'd call it 'streggae'. That's where I took it from,” he told 6 Music. "I recorded this song [Do The Reggay] and people told me that the song let them know that our music is called Reggae. So I'm the one who coined the word!"

The Maytals were part of a scene that included soon-to-be legends, such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff; and they recorded with everyone from the Skatalites to Prince Buster.

The group scored a UK hit with Monkey Man in 1970, and, in 1972, Hibbert appeared in the ground-breaking film The Harder They Come, starring Cliff. The Maytals' song Pressure Drop was featured on the film's soundtrack - which introduced many US fans to reggae - and it was later covered by The Clash, cementing the group's reputation in the UK.

In 1981, Matthias and Gordon retired from music and Hibbert continued as a solo act.

He assembled a new version of the Maytals in the 1990s and toured extensively - but made a more high-profile comeback with the 2004 album True Love. Boasting new recordings of his best-known hits, the record featured a host of guest stars, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, No Doubt, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and the Roots.

It went on to win a Grammy award, rejuvenating the musician's career. He released a solo album, Light Your Light, in 2007 and hit the road for the Maytals 50th anniversary in 2012.

The following year, however, he was injured by a flying bottle during a concert and was unable to perform again until 2016.

Hibbert recently released what was to be his last album, Got To Be Tough.

Toots and the Maytals performed regularly in Toronto and Canada over the decades, and Toronto guitarist Carl Harvey (ex Crack of Dawn) was a member of the band for over twenty-five years. Harvey posted on Facebook that "the world has lost one it's greatest talents. I have lost a band-mate and a friend." Sources: BBC News, Rolling Stone, The Guardian

 

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