Music News Digest, March 4, 2021
Platinum-selling Nova Scotian hip-hop artist Classified heads the recently announced list of nominees for the 2021 East Coast Music Awards, with eight noms. He's followed by acclaimed singer/songwriter Rose Cousins (six) and Beolach, Catherine MacLellan, David Myles, Rich Aucoin, and Neon Dreams, who each have four. A new category this year, African Canadian Artist of the Year, features Joe Bowden, Keonte Beals, Miokal, Owen O’Sound Lee, Shelley Hamilton and Zamani as contenders. East Coast Music Week is planned for May 5-9 in Sydney, NS. See the full list of nominees here.
– A recent change in protocols from PEI’s Department of Health regarding Covid-19 has forced the postponement of Credit Union Music PEI Week, originally set to run March 4-7. Music PEI is now working on a revised schedule for later in March and aims to make an announcement shortly Check here for any updated info.
– Music BC has been leading the lobby efforts for the renewal of the Amplify BC fund since its inception, and is now soliciting letters of support for a long-term investment in the program. Amplify BC was established after two years of the BC Music Fund (BCMF), implemented in 2016, which injected $15m over two years into the BC Music economy, providing a significant return on investment. . With the current government, the BCMF was extended and rebranded as Amplify BC, a $7.5m one-year investment, currently under the stewardship of Minister Melanie Mark (Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport).
Music BC notes that “until the fund becomes a fixed line-item investment in the provincial budget, we will continue to seek your annual support for a renewal so we can collectively express how imperative this investment is in ensuring a prosperous future for BC’s music economy.” For more details on how best to draft a letter of support, contact Music BC: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Canadian Music Week (CMW) is producing the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search Tour, which will take place virtually June 14-30. Each of the resulting regional webisodes will be streamed via Indies.ca. CMW and the Talent Search Tour will provide 18 of Canada’s best new bands their own virtual stage, ownership of their own recordings, and starring roles in this musical event. Each episode will focus on one Province and feature performances from three local bands, as well as feedback commentary from three Canadian Industry Mentors. Apply here.
– Over the course of March and April, CIMA will be presenting a 5-part webinar series for CIMA members and companies interested in learning all there is to know about HR. The Cultural Human Resource Council (CHRC) will be leading the discussions, based on the CHRC HR Management Toolkit, with invited HR firms Williams HR Law Professional Corporation, Woods Consulting, and Pivot HR Services. Each 90-minute session will feature presentations covering relevant concepts and themes related to human resource management, concluding with Q&A periods addressing the discussed subject. Session dates: March 9, 16, 23, 30 & April 6 (1-2.30 pm EST). Cost of series: 20$ for CIMA Members (100$ for Non-Members) Register here.
– City of Vancouver and Creative BC are partnering to provide dedicated funding for Indigenous and other underrepresented artists. Applications have opened for the second round of the $300K Vancouver Music Fund, believed to be the first of its kind in North America in supporting these groups of artists. Apply by April 28 here.
Held last month, The Jaymz Bee Caravan of Music jazzy fundraiser for Unison raised over $11K, thanks to the support of Slaight Music and Vesuvius Music. It’s still online, and you can view it here.
The irrepressible Bee has already organised another fundraising live-stream, this one for Covenant House Toronto, on March 7, at 8 pm EST. The A-list of performers includes Heather Luckhart, June Garber, Sam Broverman, John Finley, Moscow Apartment, Oakland Stroke, Alex Pangman & Tom Parker, OKAN, Tia Brazda, Shuffle Demons, and more. Free, with donations encouraged. More info here.
– Indigenous Music is celebrating International Women’s Day with a special virtual concert and talent showcase on March 8. Iskwewak Nikamowak -- which means ‘women singing’ in the Swampy Cree dialect -- will feature stellar Indigenous women performers, including established artists and undiscovered talent. Presented through the Indigenous Music Development Program (IMDP) at Manitoba Music, both events will be streamed via the Indigenous Music Facebook page. The artist lineup and more info here.
– To help mark International Women’s Day, Music NL is presenting a virtual panel discussion - Women Overcoming Obstacles - on March 4, at 4 pm NST. The webinar features two experts at connecting women to overcome these challenges. Learn more on this and other Music NL IWD events here.
– Dead by Daylight, a popular survival horror video game, announced its newest chapter this week. In keeping with the chapter’s K-Pop theme, developer Behaviour Interactive teamed up with Kevin Woo from the K-Pop band U-KISS and DJ Swivel, a Grammy-winning, Canadian music producer who has worked with groups like BTS. Source: IGN
– Red Rover, the sixteenth album from highly-praised Toronto folk-rocker and author Kyp Harness is now out, and worthy of your attention. Read more on Harness here and check out this focus track below.
– TuneTown is a collaborative project featuring three of Toronto's best jazz players: drummer Ernesto Cervini, saxophonist Kelly Jefferson and bassist Artie Roth. The group's second album, Entering Utopia, will be released internationally on March 19 and is the debut release for the new Canadian label Three Pines Records. Learn more about the new album from this clip.
– Free-spirited and Juno-nominated Kandle (Osborne) is prepping a new album, Set The Fire, for a spring release. Yesterday (March 3) she premiered a new song and film noir-inspired video, Honey Trap.
– With support from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the City of Toronto, arts presenters Uma Nota are producing an online concert series with a diverse lineup. Episodes air on March 10, 17, 24, 31, and artists include Lola Bunz and DJ Elle, Dub Chronicles, Ahmed Moneka, and Maria and the Band. More info here.
– ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, has appointed Keziah Myers as the organization’s first Executive Director. Myers brings a breadth of experience from her cross-collective role, working at both SOCAN and Re:Sound.
– The annual SHINE Concert in Toronto is a fundraiser for the Shine Bursary, an award for young, aspiring Canadian musicians that has raised over $75K in the past decade. It goes virtual on Sunday (March 7) at 7.30 ET, via Eventbrite. The performers are GR Gritt, Julian Taylor Emily Burgess, and Michelle Rumball. Tix here
Chris Barber, the British trombonist, double bassist and trad jazz bandleader who influenced the path of mid-century pop, has died aged 90. He had dementia. His death was confirmed on March 2 by his UK press representative.
The multi-instrumentalist helped forge the skiffle craze with Lonnie Donegan and recorded with Paul McCartney.
Born in Hertfordshire and taught music at London’s Guildhall School, Barber was a champion of trad jazz, the raucous New Orleans style that had waned by the early 1950s as bebop became more fashionable. He helped to reignite the style’s popularity, and became known as one of the Three B’s, alongside Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk, who also separately revived trad jazz.
His first band was led by trumpeter Ken Colyer, and was renamed the Chris Barber Band after Colyer left in 1954 (later also credited as Chris Barber’s Jazz Band and other variations). Following a partnership with replacement trumpeter Pat Halcox until 2008, the group would be an abiding force in British jazz, later expanding into the Big Chris Barber Band.
The group’s biggest hit was in 1959 with Petite Fleur, originally written by Sidney Bechet. It reached No 3 in the UK charts and spent 24 weeks on the chart in total. In 1956, the influential short film Momma Don’t Allow, directed by Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, documented one of the group’s gigs as the pair captured London’s trad jazz scene.
Another of his collaborators was Lonnie Donegan, who Barber first played with in the Colyer band. Barber played double bass on Donegan’s hit 1956 single Rock Island Line, which reached No 8 in 1956. Slowly ratcheting up in tempo and intensity, the song kicked off the craze for skiffle music, credited with pointing the way towards the revolutionary guitar-pop of the 1960s.
Barber would intersect with many stars from those mid-century pop and blues scenes. Paul McCartney gave him an instrumental composition called Cat Call, recorded in 1967, and appeared on it; it was later compiled on the album The Songs Lennon and McCartney Gave Away. Barber profoundly admired blues musicians, and invited Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and other American artists to tour the UK.
He also nurtured Alexis Korner, who played in Barber’s orchestra before his group Blues Incorporated became a breeding ground for stars including the Rolling Stones and Cream.
Barber later expanded his orchestra’s repertoire beyond trad jazz, taking on adventurous pieces by artists including Charles Mingus and Joe Zawinul, and guested with stars including Van Morrison and Jools Holland.
In 2006, with two packed-house nights at Hugh's Room in Toronto, Barber was the special guest with Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards. Those shows were were recorded and released on a Stony Plain Records album, It's Tight Like That.
Barber enjoyed a sideline in motor racing, driving a Lotus Elite. In 1991, he was awarded an OBE for services to music, and published a memoir, Jazz Me Blues, in 2014. He retired in 2019, although the Big Chris Barber Band continued to perform under his name. Sources: The Guardian, Richard Flohil
Michael Solomon Gudinski, considered the most important figure in the Australian music industry, died in his sleep on March 1, age 68.
Gudinski was the co-founder of Mushroom Records and the chairman of the sprawling Mushroom Group of Companies. His roles included concert promoter, publisher, label head, film and television producer, and Melbourne Cup-winning racehorse owner.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Gudinski got his start in the music business as a dancehall promoter in his teens. Legend has it that in 1967, aged just 15, he was making $500 a week booking bands including The Aztecs and Chain. With cash flow like that, it was little wonder he dropped out of high school in his final year to go into the business full time."
After founding Mushroom Records with Ray Evans in 1972, Gudinski, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, rose to become one of the most significant and powerful players in the local music scene. He went on to work with artists including Kylie Minogue, Split Enz, Skyhooks, Hunters & Collectors, the Choirboys, and many more.
In 2006, Gudinski was made a Member of the Order of Australia and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Music Victoria Awards in 2013.
Today, Mushroom Group comprises a collective of independent record labels, such as Liberator Music, Liberation Records, and Bloodlines, in addition to a music publisher (Mushroom Music) and a neighbouring rights company (Good Neighbour).
Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Mushroom Group also contains two booking agencies (Premier Artists and The Harbour Agency), plus artist management companies (Converge Management and Role Model Artists).
In 2019, Gudinski’s touring company, Frontier Touring, entered into a JV with global live music giant AEG. In the prior year, Frontier had handled Australian tours for Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Rise Against, and Ed Sheeran. The Sheeran series of shows broke records as Australasia’s biggest tour ever.
Above all, though, he was a high-profile advocate for Australian music. Gudinski worked tirelessly during the pandemic to make the case for support of the live music industry. He partnered with the Victorian state government on a number of initiatives designed to create opportunities for musicians to play live, either virtually or in person, in the face of the shutdowns that devastated the sector in 2020.
On Anzac Day 2020, the Mushroom-curated Music From the Home Front screened nationally on Nine. Featuring performances from more than 50 Australian and New Zealand artists, it reached more than 2 million viewers across two screenings. A spin-off album topped the ARIA charts, with all proceeds going to music industry charity Support Act.
In partnership with the government, Mushroom created the streamed performance and chat format The State of Music, and in July the Mushroom-curated TV series The Sound debuted on the ABC. In January 2021, Mushroom and the Victorian government once again joined forces to take live music back to the regions in the Sounds Better Together concert series.
As a Founding Patron, Gudinski's lobbying and support led directly to the launch of the Australian Music Vault in 2017 as a permanent home for the celebration of Australian music.
Gudinski and Mushroom also had a huge impact on the New Zealand music industry. Veteran NZ label head and music mag publisher Murray Cammick posted on FB that “at one point Michael was almost single-handedly financing the recording of NZ music with Split Enz, Mother Goose, and Swingers, and with Mushroom NZ (Dance Exponents, Dave Dobbyn's DD Smash, Coconut Rough etc), investing in Flying Nun. His Mushroom Publishing company also signed many NZ acts on other labels, such as Supergroove and Feelers. Mushroom also signed up Propeller Publishing. He probably gained more infamy as a concert promoter but his Mushroom Records was backing downunder talent at a time when the multi-national labels were not.”
Such major Australasian artists as Midnight Oil, Split Enz, Russell Crowe, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, and Archie Roach were quick to pay tribute on social media. Oz rock superstar Barnes declared “the heart of Australian music has been ripped out." Archie Roach: "This is probably the saddest day for Australian music with the passing of a great man who believed in Australian music." Bruce Springsteen stated that "my friend Michael Gudinski was first, last, and always a music man. I’ve toured the world for the last 50 years and never met a better promoter." Neil Finn called Gudinski “a giant of Australian music with an energy and commitment that was exhilarating to watch. So many pivotal and historic moments of Australian music rotated around his passions and strong will to succeed. He was one of a kind, a motivator and a creator.”
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews confirmed this week that Gudinski will be given a state funeral. Andrews said “It will be a celebration of his life; the details will be finalised in coming days. It’s got to be Covid-safe of course, but I think we will be able to come together in an iconic venue and celebrate his life and the mark that he made and the legacy he leaves.”
Sources: MBW, SMH, Noise11, Ultimate Classic Rock
Bunny Wailer (born Neville O’Riley Livingston), a Jamaican reggae legend and member of The Wailers, died on March 2, age 73. The details surrounding his death are not yet known, but the singer had been ailing for many years, and suffered strokes in 2018 and 2020. His passing was confirmed by Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia Grange.
Known as Jah B or Bunny Livingston, Wailer was the youngest of the three original Wailers. The other two band members were Bob Marley (1945 – 1981) and Peter Tosh (1944 – 1987).
The three singers formed The Wailing Wailers (later The Wailers) in 1963. They had a number of hit songs in the ska and rocksteady eras, such as Simmer Down, Lonesome Feeling and Thank You Lord.
After recording two albums, Catch A Fire and ‘Burnin’, Wailer and Tosh left for solo careers in 1974.
Throughout his solo career, Wailer released over 10 albums. He won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991 for the album Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley, in 1995 for Crucial! Roots Classics, and in 1997 for Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary.
He was also featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album. He is best known for songs like Bald Head Jesus, Crucial, and Cool Runnings, and his album Blackheart Man is still a staple in reggae music.
Often reluctant to tour, he made a major return to the international stage in 1986 with a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New York. His final concert tour was in 2016 on the 40th anniversary of Blackheart Man.
Wailer is considered one of the longtime standard-bearers of reggae music. In 2012, he received Jamaica’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica. Five years later, in 2017, he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Jamaican government, the nation’s fourth-highest honour. Sources: Caribbean National Weekly, UrbanIslandz, VP Records