The Kings   Photo supplied by CSHF
The Kings Photo supplied by CSHF

Music News Digest, Oct. 29, 2020

On the 40th anniversary of The Kings’ hit This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is honouring the mash-up song during a virtual induction airing on Breakfast Television Canada on Nov. 2. On hand will be songwriting partners and members of The Kings, David Diamond and Mister Zero. The presentation will also include a live-streamed performance by The Kings on stage inside the El Mocambo in Toronto.

“We’re thrilled to recognize the writing duo of Diamond and Zero, whose song will now join a rich legacy of fellow Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees who have also created hybrid hits including The Guess Who’s No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, and Galt MacDermot’s Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In by The Fifth Dimension,” said Vanessa Thomas, CSHF Executive Director. The 1980 release of This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide became The Kings’ breakout rock hit that stayed on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 23 weeks, and today has more than 2 million+ streams on Spotify while the video has 4 million+ views on YouTube. The track was produced by Bob Ezrin at Toronto’s Nimbus 9 recording studio.

– The Weeknd and Roddy Ricch topped the nominations for the 2020 American Music Awards, each with eight. Megan Thee Stallion came next, with five nods. Justin Bieber has multiple nominations and will compete against The Weeknd and Post Malone for the Favorite male artist — pop/rock award. The nominations were announced on Good Morning America by Dua Lipa, a double nominee. See the full noms list here. The show will air on Nov. 22 from 8 to 11 pm ET on ABC.

– Canadian singer Emm Gryner, who toured in David Bowie’s band, will appear on a star-studded live-streamed tribute on Jan. 8, to her former boss called A Bowie Celebration…just for one day! “Thrilled to join these legends to celebrate David!” Gryner wrote on her Facebook with a link about the event. The legends include Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, Gavin Rossdale, Perry Farrell, Joe Elliott, and Ian Astbury.

The show, on Bowie’s birthday, is being put together by his long-time bandmate Mike Garson and producers Stacey Sher and Kerry Brown and will be available post-stream just for one day (24 hours) on Rolling Live Studios. Tickets are available, alongside various VIP bundles. Bowie died of cancer in 2016 at age 69. The sub-title is a line from his song Heroes. (Karen Bliss)

– The 2020 Indie Week online conference runs Nov. 10-14, featuring industry keynotes, panel discussions, workshops, networking and pitching An early bird offer expires on Oct. 30. Register here.

– Here at Digest, we’re big fans of the enfant terrible of Canadian rock, Art Bergmann. That means we’re thrilled at the news he has a new album, Late Stage Empire Dementia, coming next year via Porterhouse Records. It is being teased with a new video for one of the tracks, Christo Fascists, featuring guitar from legendary American rocker/activist Wayne Kramer, of the MC5. The topical tune probes the growth of fascism to the south, while the riveting clip is up to date enough to include the Pence fly!

– Five noted Newfoundland artists, Alan Doyle, The Once, The Ennis Sisters, Fortunate Ones and Rachel Cousins, have collaborated on Songs From Home, a six-song EP  due out Nov. 13 through Warner Music, The first single, It’s OK, features all five artists reimagining a song from Doyle’s EP Rough Side Out, and it comes out tomorrow (Oct. 30).

– Mav Karlo (the solo project from Menno Versteeg of Hollerado), recently released a debut album, Strangers Like Us, on his Royal Mountain imprint. He has now announced an Atlantic bubble tour, featuring seven Nov. shows in PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, Nov. 11-19. Three gigs (Nov. 13-15) are at Bannermans, St. John’s, NL, with Adam Baldwin. Itinerary here

– Fast-rising  R&B singer-songwriter Emanuel has just put out the official music video for his hit track Black Woman.  Since its release just two weeks ago, Black Woman has already been streamed almost half a million times, graced the covers of Spotify’s Just Vibing and Amazon Music’s The New Black playlists, and has been added to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist in over 10 countries. Check it out here.

– Popular Quebec singer Éric Lapointe received a sentence this week that will leave him with no criminal record as long as he follows the conditions of his probation for having assaulted a woman he knew. The singer pleaded guilty to the assault, one that occurred a year ago. The sentence includes a conditional discharge if Lapointe respects the probation conditions for a year. Source: Montreal Gazette

– Montreal roots songsmith Patrick Hutchinson made a mark with Bare Bones and Swift Years, and, of late, BluesReel. He describes this as “a roving blues-to-Celtic harmonica/guitar duo with John Kerkhoven. A second album, Saint-Quentin, is now released on Bandcamp. It features originals, new twists on trad tunes, and an Ian Dury cover. Notable guests involved include John McColgan, Gilles Losier, and Stephen Barry.  

– Celine Dion will be featured alongside Sam Heughan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas in an upcoming Sony Screen Gems romantic drama, tentatively titled Text for You. The film is an English remake of the German-language film SMS Fur Dich, based on Sofie Cramer’s novel, and it is written and directed by Jim Strouse. No word on when it may reach screens. Source: Variety

–  Emerge is an all-ages free festival & conference described as "all about helping up and coming creatives advance to the next level in their career." It has been taking place in Halifax this week and closes out tomorrow evening (Oct. 30). More info here.

– The 4th annual Mississauga Music Awards are set for Nov. 7 at 7 pm EST on mississaugamusic.com. Supported by the City of Mississauga’s Culture Division, Living Arts Centre & Canadian Community Arts Initiative, this year boasts 13 award categories & 56 nominees. The awards were secretly handed out over Zoom during the past two months with the winners collecting their trophies at LAC shortly thereafter. Check the nominees' list here.

– Yorkville Sound and Long & McQuade Musical Instruments are presenting a star-studded live-stream, Rocktober’s Love Letter to Live Music, tonight (Oct. 29) at 8 pm EST.  It features members of Barenaked Ladies, Big Sugar, Big Wreck, 3RDEYEGIRL, Sloan Music, Tim Hicks, Colin James and more. Info here

– Kudos to Toronto blues-rock guitarist/singer Anthony Gomes, whose new album, Containment Blues, has just debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard blues chart.

– The Board of Directors of Music PEI is calling a Special Meeting of all current members on  Nov. 3, at 6:30 pm. This meeting is required to make a bylaw amendment specifically to deal with the rescinding of awards. The meeting will be held on Zoom. More info here.

– BC rock band Mother Mother has a live-streamed intimate acoustic trio performance on @sessionslive on Nov. 20, at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST. Tix here. An Encore Party after the livestream will host a very limited number of fans. 

–  Potatohead People are Nick Wisdom & AstroLogical, a Vancouver hip-hop/electronic producer duo. They release a new album, Mellow Fantasy, tomorrow (Oct. 30), and its earlier two singles featured the likes of De La Soul, Illa J and Slum Village and had a hip-hop vibe. New single Hidden Levels has a neo-soul/jazz feel and features guest vocals from Vancouver's Clear Mortifee. Clear is the niece of noted Canadian artists Ann Mortifee and Paul Horn. 

Creative Manitoba's AGM is set for Nov. 4 at noon. RSVP here in advance. Only current members are eligible to vote. Zoom link and materials will be shared with those who register closer to the date.

Obit

Billy Joe Shaver, the Texas singer-songwriter who was a key player in the Outlaw Country movement, died on Oct. 28, age 81, after suffering a massive stroke the day before. Shaver had recently undergone hip replacement surgery and was recovering in a Waco rehabilitation facility when the stroke occurred.

As a youth, he spent more time working on family farms than in school. As he wrote in his song Fast Train, “I have an eighth-grade education … I got all my country learning picking cotton, raising hell and bailing hay.” 

His grandmother gave him a Gene Autry guitar when he was 11. Shaver left home at 16 to serve in the Navy and afterwards took a series of jobs, including one in the professional rodeo. After losing several fingers in a sawmill accident, he decided to do what he really loved to do: write songs. 

In 1965, Shaver hitchhiked to Nashville in the back of a cantaloupe truck. Camping himself at the office of country singer Bobby Bare, he convinced the Nashville star to listen to his songs. Impressed, Bare signed him to a $50 a week job as a songwriter. Bare recorded Ride Me Down Easy and other musicians took notice of his tunes too. Kris Kristofferson did Good Christian Soldier and Tom T. Hall covered Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me.

In the early '70s, he became a close companion to Willie Nelson. He was part of a close circle of friends that included Nelson’s Highwaymen bandmates Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, as well as Texas music greats Jerry Jeff Walker and Johnny Bush, both of whom died earlier this month.

Shaver had a career breakthrough year in 1973. He released his debut album Old Five and Dimers Like Me (Kris Kristofferson produced) and he wrote almost all the songs on Waylon Jennings’ landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes, released that same year.

A song Jennings and Shaver co-wrote, You Asked Me To, was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1975. That was just one of many Shaver songs eventually recorded by hundreds of artists. They include Ride Me Down Easy (Jerry Lee Lewis), Georgia on a Fast Train (Johnny Cash), Black Rose(Willie Nelson) and Live Forever (actor Robert Duvall, on the soundtrack to the film Crazy Heart). Nelson also included Shaver’s song We Are the Cowboys on his latest record First Rose of Spring, released in July.

Shaver went on to release more than 20 albums for such labels as MGM, Capricorn, Columbia, Zoo/Praxis, New West, and Sugar Hill Records. His 2007 album, Everybody’s Brother (Compadre Records), earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Album and his most recent release, 2014’s Long in the Tooth (Lightning Rod Records), was his first to chart in Billboard’s Top Country Albums. 

His biography included moments of tragedy. He married, divorced and remarried Brenda Tindell, who died of cancer in 1999. Their son Eddy Shaver, who played guitar in his father’s band for many years, died of a heroin overdose on Dec. 31, 2000. On July 4, 2001, Shaver suffered a massive, and nearly fatal heart attack while performing on stage.

In 2007, Shaver was arrested for aggravated assault after shooting a man outside a bar in a Waco suburb. He was acquitted in 2010 after testifying that he acted in self-defense, in a trial that also included character-witness testimony from Willie Nelson.

He was honoured with the first Americana Music Award for Lifetime Achievement in Songwriting in 2002 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

A long-time admirer and friend, Robert Duvall cast Shaver in his 1996 movie The Apostle, and Shaver later acted in such films as Secondhand Lions, The Wendell Baker Story, and Bait Shop. Duvall also produced the documentary A Portrait of Billy Joe.

Shaver’s music attracted many illustrious admirers over the years. Johnny Cash, who covered Shaver’s I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day), called him “my favorite songwriter,” while Willie Nelson, a frequently Shaver collaborator, declared that "Billy Joe is definitely the best writer in Texas.” Bob Dylan not only has performed Shaver’s Old Five and Dimers Like Me in concert, but even name-checked him in his tune I Feel a Change Comin’ On. 

One Canadian connection for Shaver: Toronto bassist Brad Fordham (formerly of Rang Tango and long based in Austin) regularly played in Shaver's band over the past two decades, with Fordham's wife Lisa Pankratz taking drumming duties. Sources: Rolling Stone, Conqueroo, Austin 360

 

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