The third of four instalments of the 24th Maple Blues Awards streamed from Petit Campus in Montreal on Monday evening. Hosted by Dawn Tyler Watson and Ben Racine, the half-hour show announced four MBA winners. Colin Linden was announced as the winner of the Songwriter of the Year award (sponsored by SOCAN), Steve Marriner won the Harmonica Player the Year trophy, Jesse O'Brien won for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year, and MBA for Drummer of the Year went to Gary Craig. The evening featured a song apiece from Matt Andersen and Durham County Poets.
Next Monday (Feb. 22), Jim Byrnes and Dalannah Gail Bowen will be hosting the fourth and final stream from Vancouver's Blue Frog Studio, with featured performances from Liam Docherty and Lindsay Beaver. The 24th MBA sessions are being streamed at 8 pm Eastern via Facebook here and on Toronto Blues Society's YouTube channel here.
– Co-hosted by George Canyon and Mariya Stokes, the 10th annual Country Music Alberta Awards Show airs Feb. 28 at 7 pm MST. Performers for the show include nominated up-and-coming acts Michela Sheedy, Brandon Lorenzo and Nice Horse as well as chart-topping nominees Lindsay Ell and Gord Bamford. Other nominees, including Tenille Townes, The Dungarees and Prairie States, will also make special appearances throughout the night.
– Platinum-selling East Coast singer/songwriter David Myles has launched a new podcast, Myles From Home. Available on all podcast platforms, it is an expansion of the Myles From Home “not so late night” YouTube talk show. The podcast will include audio versions of the YouTube talk show as well as episodes exclusive to the podcast. The first six episodes feature Reeny Smith, Matt Mays, Jeremy Dutcher, Sheree Fitch, Jennah Barry, and Adam Baldwin, with Bahamas set for a later show. New episodes will be released on the 1st and 15th of each month.
– Shot 50 years ago, the earliest live footage of Neil Young gets a March release date via Young Shakespeare, a previously unreleased 1971 live set and concert film, in March On Jan. 22, 1971, two months after the release of his acclaimed After The Gold Rush album, Young performed at The Shakespeare Theater, in Stratford, CT. Filmed for German TV, the footage has never been made commercially available, but that’s set to change on March 26, when the concert film and solo live album is released.
The collection features live takes on future classics Old Man, The Needle and the Damage Done, Tell Me Why (below), A Man Needs A Maid and Heart Of Gold, which would feature on Young’s 1972 album, Harvest. Young wrote on Neil Young Archives (NYA) that Young Shakespeare is “a more calm performance, without the celebratory atmosphere of Massey Hall, captured live on 16mm. To my fans, I say this is the best ever… one of the most pure-sounding acoustic performances we have in the Archive.” Source: Loudersound
– Nominations for the 2021 CMAOntario Awards close tomorrow (Feb. 19). Submissions are open to CMAOntario members in good standing only. To submit, click here to access the site and enter your Member user name and password. Once you've logged in, select "Add a Nomination" and begin your submissions for the awards.
– Two people, including a Toronto rapper known as Top5 (real name Hassan Ali) , have been charged in connection with the murder of a 20-year-old student outside his North York apartment building two weeks ago. Ali, 22, has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and failing to comply with probation, as well as numerous drug-related offences. Top5 has nearly 135K followers on Instagram and more than 18K subscribers on YouTube. Source: CTV
– Music Nova Scotia continues to strive to provide support for artists who have been impacted by the Covid pandemic. The deadline to apply for the Covid-19 Recording Fund is today (Feb. 18) and applications for a third round of the Covid-19 Response Program are due March 15. More info here.
– Six-time Juno-nominated jazz vocalist/pianist Carol Welsman has partnered with Randy Bachman for a new version of her tune A Taste Of Paradise. The song was originally recorded for Welsman’s acclaimed 2020 Latin accented album, Dance With Me, but a recent meeting with Bachman prompted the new collaboration.
– Folk Music Canada (FMC) is selecting 10 Canadian export-ready folk artists/bands to financially support the creation & recording of original music in a new collaboration model. This is a digital export program for the Canadian folk sector as your music will be promoted to both industry and audience in Australia and the Nordic region. Artists/bands will be partnered with international artists to write and record a song remotely. Deadline for (free) applications here is Feb. 19 by 2pm EST.
– Indie rock faves Tokyo Police Club have just announced the cancellation of planned early summer Canadian dates (you know the reason why). The group is still planning to play 14 shows in the UK and Europe, Sept. 19 to Oct. 10.
– On Feb. 26, acclaimed Nova Scotian singer/songwriter Mo Kenney releases her new abum, Covers. She launches it with a ticketed live-stream from Joel Plaskett’s The New Scotland Yard space on Feb. 25, via Side Door Access. Tix here. Highly recommended. Here is one of her earlier covers.
– The Edmonton Opera is hosting a drive-in concert performed live from the roof of the Jubilee Auditorium on March 13. The spring-themed event features singers from Edmonton Opera's Emerging Artists Studio, with performances broadcast directly to cars' FM radios.
– A reminder to Dean Brody fans: Live Nation presents a ticketed live-stream performance by the Canadian hat star on Feb. 26, 9pm ET. Tix here
Raymond Lévesque, a Montreal-born singer, composer, actor, poet and playwright who wrote hundreds of songs including the classic Quand les hommes vivront d’amour, has died at 92, after contracting Covid-19.
He contributed to Quebec’s cultural scene for almost 50 years and was also an activist for Quebec sovereignty. He was part of a select group of singer-songwriters, along with Félix Leclerc, Gilles Vigneault and Claude Léveillé, who captured the imagination of several generations and also had successful careers in La Francophonie.
His songs were sung by the biggest names of francophone music, from Barbara to Pauline Julien, Cora Vaucaire, Eddie Constantine, Vigneault, Leclerc, Robert Charlebois, and younger artists like Luce Dufault and Marie-Pierre Arthur.
After growing deaf in the mid-1980s, Lévesque devoted his life to writing, publishing more than a dozen works, including seven collections of poems and two plays. His works were tinged with humanity, social conscience and often drenched with scathing humour.
In 2005, a decade after the second sovereignty referendum, he refused, for political and ideological reasons, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and its $15,000 grant. A fundraising campaign by the Bloc Québécois managed to raise more than twice that amount for Lévesque.
Lévesque’s first steps onto a performing arts stage were in theatre — in Marcel Dubé’s Zone in 1953. In 1954, like many “Canadiens français” of the time, he left for Paris, and spent the next five years working the clubs of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, alongside French names like Brel, Béart, Barbara, Ferrat and Perret.
He met producer Eddie Barclay in 1955, who helped him record his first LP, and then Eddie Constantine, who became his friend and sang many of his songs, including Les Trottoirs and “Quand les hommes vivront d’amour, about the Algerian war and police brutality
When he returned to Quebec in 1959, he co-founded, with Clémence Desrochers, Claude Léveillé, Jean-Pierre Ferland and Hervé Bousseau, a “boîte à chansons” called Les Bozos, a small venue where singers could perform. It was during this time that he wrote another of his hits, Bozo les culottes, sung by Pauline Julien among others.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Lévesque toured, adding scathing, nationalist and socialist monologues.
After retiring from the music scene in 1977, with his final album, Le P’tit Québec de mon coeur, Lévesque contributed to the 1980 referendum campaign, with a tour called “On veut savoir.”
Quebec Premier François Legault called Lévesque a “great Quebecer” on Monday, and said Quand les hommes vivront d’amour was “one of the most beautiful songs of all time.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Lévesque “one of our greatest songwriters. His voice and his words will always be with us.” Sources: Montreal Gazette
Johnny Pacheco (born Juan Zacarías Pacheco Knipping), legendary bandleader, producer and co-founder of salsa label Fania Records, died Feb. 15 at the age of 85, of complications from pneumonia.
Pacheco was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. Throughout his life, he was known best for his commitment to uplifting the Afro-Caribbean community and its music.
Dubbed “The Godfather of Salsa,” Pacheco composed more than 150 songs, many of which became classics — such as La Dicha Mía, Quítate Tu Pa’Ponerme Yo, Acuyuye and El Rey De La Puntualidad.
Pacheco inherited the passion that his father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, bandleader and clarinetist of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, had for music. At the age of 11, he moved with his family to New York, where he pursued musical percussion studies at the Julliard School, and became one of the best percussionists of his time. He was also known for playing the flute, saxophone and accordion.
In 1960, the young musician organized his first orchestra, the legendary Pacheco y Su Charanga, and his first album sold more than 100,000 units in less than a year, thus becoming the best-selling Latin production of the time.
Pacheco and his milieu internationally popularized their own dance style, the “Pachanga” — a fusion of the name Pacheco with “Charanga” — which made him an international star, spanning several tours of the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and even Africa.
Pacheco and his Charanga were the first Latin orchestra to headline at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1962 and 1963. At the end of 1963, together with the Italian-American lawyer Jerry Massucci, he founded the company record label Fania Records, which for decades brought together the most renowned Latin musicians of the era under one banner.
As a company executive, creative director, and music producer, Pacheco was responsible for launching the careers of many Fania Records alumni, including Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentín and Rubén Blades.
Four years later, Pacheco brought together all the label’s musicians to perform as a supergroup named the Fania All-Stars — catapulting Caribbean icons like Tito Puente, Héctor Lavoe and Celia Cruz to international acclaim, and forever changing the course of tropical music.
In addition, the salsero shared the stage with many American jazz and popular music legends, such as Quincy Jones, Stan Kenton, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Sammy Davis Jr., and Steve Wonder.
While building a successful musical career, Pacheco simultaneously produced several films that have helped popularize salsa music internationally.
Throughout his life, Pacheco was characterized by his commitment to developing the Latino community around the world. In 1994, he established a scholarship program that provides financial assistance to a Latino student in their first year of college.
Pacheco was also known to participate in all kinds of solidarity and charitable initiatives, such as the Concert for Life, held in 1988 in New York to raise funds in the fight against AIDS.
By the time of his death, Pacheco counted nine Grammy Award nominations, ten gold records, and countless other awards that paid tribute to his output as a flutist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. In 1998, he was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame; and in 2005, the Latin Recording Academy honored him with their annual Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Source: LA Times