Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes

Music News Digest, Oct. 15, 2020

In Wonder, a new documentary about singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes, is coming to Netflix on Nov. 23, just days ahead of his fourth studio album, Wonder, which arrives on Dec. 4. Mendes released the album’s title track as an advance single on Oct. 2. The feature-length documentary, helmed by veteran music video director Grant Singer, is an intimate look at Mendes’ life and journey, filmed over the last few years. In Wonder will likely feature footage of Mendes from his 2019 self-titled world tour that took him across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. It was a special event selection at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

– Juno-winning Hamilton roots-rocker Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Lee Harvey Osmond, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) was arrested yesterday (Oct. 14) during a protest against a housing development in Caledonia that has angered the local Indigenous community. The Hamilton Spectator reports that “Wilson said during a Twitter livestream on Wednesday that he was arrested earlier that day 'for delivering food to land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane, and also I went with a few other musicians to perform for the families there.'"

“I guess in Canada that’s illegal now,” said Wilson, who performed at one of the Land Back music concerts where artists such as Logan Staats, Derek Miller and Big Joe Sharrow have also taken the stage. The OPP confirmed that Wilson, angered by “state violence and blatant racism” faced by land defenders in Caledonia, was charged with mischief and disobeying a court order.

– A reminder that the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and MusicOntario are holding their Annual General Meeting today (Oct. 15) virtually on Zoom, 3-4 pm EDT. Performing are Savannah Taylor and Tennyson King, with guest speakers Jim Mahoney (VP Global Operations, Merlin Network),  David "Click" Cox (President, CLK Creative Works) & Ian Andre Espinet (Club & Concert Impressario, Iconic Arts & Entertainment Inc.)  The full list of nominees for the 2020-23 CIMA Board of Directors can be found here. RSVP for the AGM here

– The Jim Beam National Talent Search is now taking place virtually Oct. 13 - 20, with 30-minute episodes spotlighting five bands from eight Canadian cities. Hosted by Josie Dye of INDIE88, each episode will focus on one city and feature interviews and performances from five talented local bands. Visit INDIES.CA to vote for your favourite local artist. The Grand Prize winner will perform at the 2021 Indie Awards in Toronto.

– At the Prix MNB Awards, 19 awards will be presented to artists and industry professionals who have made their mark on the provincial music scene. Music NB members can vote here

– Toronto indie-rock artist Taylor Johnson – aka The Hope State – would have turned 33 yesterday (Oct. 14), but he recently passed away from an undiagnosed medical condition. To celebrate his life and work, an album of his material, Burn or Bloom, was released yesterday. Musical friends and peers are paying tribute by performing his songs on Instagram. Those participating include members of  The StrumbellasJeremie AlbinoThe BalconiesWhale and The WolfLaurent Bourque, and David Newberry. Check the artists' Instagram pages for the schedule.

– For more than three decades Canadian philanthropist, actor and singer Tom Jackson has ushered in the Holiday season with his seasonal variety show and fundraiser, The Huron Carole. While its 33rd season may look a little different this year due to covid, the show —designed to support local food banks and other social service agencies nationwide — is set to press on starting this November. It is being planned as a  virtual event that can either be enjoyed from home or a local venue’s big screen within its regional social distancing protocol and allowance. Info here.

– Now based in NYC, Canadian composer, arranger and bandleader Darcy James Argue continues to attract attention in the US with his adventurous big band, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society. The 18-piece jazz orchestra’s Real Enemies project is a timely one. It began as a jazz-theater work co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and others that premiered at BAM in 2015 as a multimedia collaboration with writer/director Isaac Butler and filmmaker Peter Nigrini. The 2016 Real Enemies album earned Argue and the Secret Society a Grammy Award nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He has now reimagined Real Enemies as a cinematic experience for the Cal Performances At Home series, premiering on Oct. 21. Read more in this feature in the San Francisco Classical Voice. A major talent, Argue deserves far more exposure in his native country.

– Released in March, DNA Activation, the second album from Eritrean-Canadian singer/songwriter Witch Prophet, received a very positive response, culminating in its placing on the Polaris Music Prize's shortlist (the winner will be announced next week). Here's a brand new video for one of the tracks, Tesfay.

– Last Friday, BreakOut West: Home Edition wrapped after 15 days. Although 2020 proved to be an unusual year, given the circumstances surrounding Covid-19, the virtual fest and conference brought attendees immersive online experiences, where artists and industry professionals were given the opportunity to expand their careers with 112 speakers, 18 panel discussions, 7 networking events, and over 443 virtual meetings with 95 mentors. Music discovery was celebrated as well with 51 Highlight Artists featured throughout the event. In total, over 720 people attended the events, with delegates joining in from 15 different countries, sharing their valuable insight. BreakOut West plans a return to Winnipeg, MB in 2021, from Oct. 13-17.

– Andrea Morris' AM to FM Promotions hosts a virtual performance by Canadian country artist Amanda Hagel today (Oct. 15) at 8 am PDT. View it here 

– John Cody and former Leonard Cohen backing singer Perla Batalla have teamed up for a duet to benefit the Unison Benevolent Fund. An excerpt of The Great Divide initially aired on the CBC Radio podcast The Band Played On, which covered a teacher-student sex abuse scandal at Bell High School in Ottawa during the 1980s. The song The Great Divide was downloaded over 1 million times from the episode and has been in constant demand ever since. Cody, one of the victims, has now created a moving video for the song, featuring performances by Batalla and himself. Services by all the musicians involved recording The Great Divide were donated and the video, completed by Cody at his home studio, includes a mini-doco detailing the song’s background and its significance.

Suffering some serious health issues of his own, Cody – along with the blessing of Batalla – is assigning all net sales generated by The Great Divide to music industry charity the Unison Benevolent Fund. Unison has done so much to help me and others during difficult times that they’ve provided me with a lifeline,” said Cody in a statement.  “Without them, I’m not sure how I’d survive. I wanted to give back and this is the best way I can figure out how to do it.” Donate to Unison here. To purchase The Great Divide, please go to a streaming platform of your choice: Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora. Perla Batalla’s Apple music site is here. (Nick Krewen).

– Indie Week has announced Martin Atkins as a keynote speaker for its virtual edition next month. The founder of industrial supergroup Pigface, he has played in Nine Inch Nails and PiL, and is considered one of the music industry’s foremost speakers on DIY marketing and touring. His address is on Nov. 10 at 3 pm EST, and on Nov. 14 he has a conversation with Michael Illargo, who signed Metallica, and Wendy Day, who worked with Eminem. Closing today (Oct. 15) at 5 pm is a $10 discount promo code (IWC20OFF) for Indie Week.

– Mariposa Folk Festival is releasing a short video vignette showcasing the music and legend of Joni Mitchell. The Mariposa Virtual Stage will be hosting this 15-minute video, titled Episode 2, on Mariposa’s Facebook page at 8 pm EDT, on Oct. 15. For those who miss the launch event, the vignette will also be available on Mariposa’s website here. These “Episodes” pay homage to folk and Mariposa legends by combining rare and unearthed archival footage with compelling contemporary performances. The Episodes help celebrate the famed fest's 60th anniversary. Episode 1, released to popular acclaim in June, featured Gordon Lightfoot and Dala.

– Meg Toohey, Sara Bareilles, and the Waitress Band pay tribute to the late Canadian Broadway star Nick Cordero with a new song,  Lucky Streak. The two singers and the musicians who played alongside Cordero in the original Waitress have come together for a stirring celebration of a life lost too soon.  Source: Billboard

– Toronto world music group Al Qawha Ensemble has released Marrakesh, the first single from its upcoming album African Routes, out Nov. 27. The group includes noted singer Maryem Tollar and wind player Ernie Tollar. The video for the track is officially out tomorrow, but here's an advance look.

– Adventurous Hamilton music festival Something Else has been hosting free shows at the Gazebo in Hamilton’s Bayfront Park, Saturday afternoons from 1 pm. Next up on Oct. 17 is the acclaimed Rob Clutton Trio from Toronto. Recommended.

– Canadian pop-country artist, Jordyn Pollard has been selected as the first-ever Stingray Music Trending Track Artist for her new single Back To Us. Stingray started the Trending Track initiative with Pollard on Oct. 12, and will continue to support emerging Canadian talent on participating country radio stations. Every other month, Stingray will select a different artist’s track to be featured and receive two months of support and a minimum of 25 spins per week across 19 stations. 

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