Dallas Green  Photo: Renee Rodenkirchen
Dallas Green Photo: Renee Rodenkirchen

Music News Digest, May 12, 2022

Awards news

MusiCounts has announced acclaimed songwriter, musician, producer, and multi-Juno winner Dallas Green (City and Colour, Alexisonfire, You+Me) as the recipient of the 2022 MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award, presented by CST Foundation. Green is being recognized for his philanthropic contributions to music education in Canada. Green’s philanthropy also extends to supporting Indigenous communities and low-income families. To honour his efforts, three schools that serve Indigenous communities or student populations facing socio-economic challenges will receive MusiCounts Band Aid Program grants in Green’s name.

Green’s lasting impact on MusiCounts was built through years of dedicated fundraising efforts across the country. He generously donated a dollar for every ticket sold on his 2017 and 2019 Canadian tour dates to MusiCounts and gave a dollar for every sale of his 2018 record Guide Me Back Home, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the MusiCounts Band Aid Program. Green will receive The  Ambassador Award at the Juno Opening Night Awards on May 14.

 –The Oshawa Music Awards (OMAs) have extended the submission deadline for its annual ceremony. Artists and industry members now have until 11:59 pm EST on May 15 to place their entry for this year’s consideration. Marking its fifth year, the 2022 OMAs take place on Sept. 29.  Submit here.

– Last week, Austin-based Canadian blues singer/guitar-slinger Sue Foley was a double winner at the 43rd Annual Blues Music Awards. She captured the Traditional Blues Album for the first time (for Pinky's Blues) and won as Traditional Blues Female Artist – Koko Taylor Award, repeating her 2020 win.

Festivals news

– The lineup for the TD Toronto Jazz Fest's 35th-anniversary edition has just been announced. Heading the lineup are Smokey Robinson, The New Power Generation (Performing the music of Prince), Amber Mark, Savannah Ré, TOBi, ES:MO, Andy Milne, Soul Motivators, Kellylee Evans, and local notables such as Amanda Tosoff & Emilie-Claire Barlow, Shuffle Demons, Barbra Lica, Carn Davidson 9, Roberto Occhipinti, and Ernesto Cervini's Tetrahedron.

The fest runs June 24-July 3, with 10 days of free programming in the Avenue Rd and Bloor area. Since its inception, the festival has hosted over 35K artists (85% of whom were Canadian), and contributed more than $600M in economic benefits to the city of Toronto. As part of the 35th festivities, the festival is focused on getting local artists and crews back to work, with 90% of the free shows this year featuring Canadian artists. See the lineup here. This scribe has attended and written about more than 30 of the fests, and would like to congratulate all involved.

– After a four-year hiatus, Rifflandia festival is set to return to Victoria, with almost 100 acts scheduled to play, including headliners Lorde and Charli XCX, plus Pussy Riot and Shaquille O’Neal, playing under the name of DJ Diesel. Performances take place at the Royal Athletic Park and across Victoria’s Arts and Innovation District, Sept. 15-18. The Globe and Mail reports that Rifflandia producer Nick Blasko is grateful for provincial support to the tune of $250K from BC’s $30M pandemic recovery fund for the arts. More info here.

– The tragic death last month of Boris Brott, one of the most important figures in Canadian classical music, is still deeply mourned. He was the founder of the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton, but the event, a popular favourite for 35 years, is continuing. It recently announced that the summer of live, in-theatre concerts will begin June 30, as Alain Trudel makes his debut as Interim Artistic Director with Beethoven’s Ninth, a program dedicated to the memory of Boris Brott. The Festival ends its summer season with a fully staged production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. In between come the sounds of PopOpera, the Italian opera La Cenerentola (Cinderella), festival favourite Valerie Tryon and the Festival’s debut at the new Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, an evening of Frank Sinatra classics and a night to revisit the 70s and 80s with ABBA with Jeans ‘n Classics. Tix and info here or by calling 905 525 7664.

– After a two year hiatus, the annual Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival returns to Deer Lake Park on Aug. 6 with a strong musical cast. US headliners The War on Drugs are joined by Kathleen Edwards, The Soul Rebels, Ruby Waters, Balkan Shmalkan and Robert Connely Farr. Tix are on sale tomorrow (May 13) here

– Toronto's Black music festival AFROWAVETO, in partnership with Live Nation Canada, has announced its 2022 event lineup to take place at History on Aug. 3. Grammy-winning headliner Sean Paul is joined by Stalk Ashley, Projexx, Zenesoul, DoloTheGifted, and Dynesti AKA Dyna. Tix here. Founded in 2019 and spearheaded by Jamaican-Canadian artist, Lexxicon, AFROWAVETO’s mission is to provide growth opportunities for Black multi-genre musicians working within the T.O. music industry through intentional music programming, the creation of safe spaces, and community and cultural connections.

– The London Music Office is behind the Words & Music Downtown Festival returning to Museum London for an evening's celebration of live music in the Forest City.. May 13 (7-9pm). Over the course of the evening, four London creatives/curators (Pablo Tovar, Richard Gracious, Sara Mai Chitty, and Zahra Habib) will invite some of their favourite London artists to the stage to perform. In-person tix here or stream for free with registration. More info here.

– The TD Kitchener Blues Festival is hosting a free launch party May 21 at Bobby O’Brien’s Kitchener location (6 pm on). Listen to Elliott and The Audio Kings, followed by David Vest & The Willing Victims and find out who is playing at the Festival, Aug. 4-7.

– Paris Drinks Fest is a food, drink and music festival in in Lion's Park, downtown Paris, ON, on Aug. 19 & 20. Musical performers are Sloan, Terra Lightfoot, Dwayne Gretzky, and more TBA. Info here.

Industry news

– Folks in Edmonton sure do love that Garth Brooks. All 61K tickets to a June 25 show at Commonwealth Stadium sold out in just 45 minutes, leading the country superstar to add another for the night before, June 24. These are Brooks' only Canadian appearances during his summer tour. Back in 2017, Brooks sold out nine straight shows at the Rogers Place downtown arena in Edmonton.

– Jazz/roots singer/songwriter Big Rude Jake (Jake Hiebert) has long been a popular fixture on the Toronto and Hamilton club circuit. He is now ailing with advanced cancer, and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up on his behalf here. Read a feature Jake wrote for FYI in 2020 here.

– A Pictou County Benefit for Ukraine concert is set for New Glasgow on May 14. Hosted by J.D. Fortune of INXS, the afternoon event features performances by Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, Jud Gunning, Scott DeCoste, Jofe MacDougall, Patrick Walsh, Cory Mercer, Thompson Family, and more. Donations are accepted at the door. More info here.

Artists news

– Acclaimed playwright/novelist/musician Tomson Highway hosts a special event on May 23 at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern to celebrate the release of his album Cree Country, a collection of 12 new country songs in the Cree language. Patricia Cano guests at the concert. Tix here. The album, produced by John Alcorn, was released last month. 

– Universal Music Canada (UMC) has announced the signing of Jamie Fine, a vocalist who reached platinum heights in the duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine prior to going solo in 2020. A new track, Confessions, is out now.

– While the venerable Downchild Blues Band continues to tour, some of its members have also been active with the Hogtown Allstars. Its lineup features Downchild's Chuck Jackson, Pat Carey, Gary Kendall, Jim Casson and Tyler Yarema with Maple Blues Band alumni Teddy Leonard and Howard Moore, and they collectively can boast a trophy room full of plaques. Originally conceived in 2013, the Hogtown Allstars have just released a debut album, Hog Wild, via Stony Plain. It features eight new original songs composed by the members and two covers, and is recommended. The group has shows in Fonthill (Bandshell) on July 28 and Sam's Place in Prince Edward County, July 30. 
– Juno-nominated, St. John's-based pianist/composer Florian Hoefner releases a new album, Desert Bloom, June 3 on Alma Records. It features the ace Toronto rhythm section of Nick Fraser and Andrew Downing, and Hoefner launches it in advance with a run at The Rex in Toronto, May 18-21, to be followed by European dates in June and Oct. shows in Montreal and Ottawa. Stream the album's first single here
 
– One of Canada's premier composers, R. Murray Schafer, passed away last August. Soundstreams commissioned and produced a number of his larger and significant choral works and is now honouring him by presenting and producing a free concert in collaboration with Schafer's wife Eleanor James, Grace Church on-the-Hill, and the Canadian Music Centre. This concert, set for June 5 (4 pm) at Grace Church on-the-Hill (300 Lonsdale Rd) also marks the beginning of Soundstreams' 40th anniversary season. Seats are limited; reserve now here.

– Harmony-driven Toronto folk trio Lunar Bloom releases a new album, Running Deep, in June, preceded by new single Call Me A Woman. Check out this unselfconscious feminist anthem here.

RIP

Mickey Gilley, a country singer, actor and club owner known for launching the Urban Cowboy movement in country music, died May 7 in Branson, Missouri, at age 86. Gilley had just come off of the road, having played ten shows in April.

A native of Natchez, Mississippi, Gilley influenced generations of country singers for decades with his signature, haunting combination of Louisiana rhythm and blues and country-pop crossover melodies. He grew up with his two famous cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, surrounded by the influence of music and earned 39 Top 10 hits and 17 No. 1 songs throughout his career. Those hits included Stand By Me, Room Full of Roses, and Lonely Nights.

In 1971, Gilley opened his world-famous honky-tonk Gilley's in Pasadena, Texas, which sparked a chain of the famous nightclubs. In 1980, he splashed into pop culture when he appeared in the smash-hit movie Urban Cowboy alongside John Travolta, Debra Winger and Johnny Lee. Gilley's served as the backdrop for the film, which helped launch his acting career and put his music career on a whole new level. Gilley went on to star in popular television series including Murder She Wrote, The Fall Guy, Fantasy Island, and Dukes of Hazzard.

Gilley learned how to play piano from Jerry Lee Lewis and dabbled in boogie-woogie and gospel music early in his career before finding his professional footing in the '70s with a string of solo hits, as his honky-tonk style gave way to the more progressive countrypolitan.

Gilley earned six Academy of Country Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He was one of only a handful of artists to receive the Academy of Country Music's Triple Crown Awards.

In a statement, Jerry Lee Lewis explained that "He and Jimmy Swaggert are like brothers to me.  I'm sad and praying. I loved him very much." 

Music industry mogul and producer of Urban Cowboy, Irving Azoff, stated "Working with Mickey Gilley was undoubtedly one of the top highlights of bringing the Urban Cowboy story to both record and film audiences. Mickey was the real deal and a key component of the Urban Cowboy story. He will be missed greatly.”  Sources: LA Times, Wikipedia

Judy (Judith Anne) Henske, an American folk singer and songwriter dubbed "the Queen of the Beatniks" by producer Jack Nitzsche, died on April 27, age 85.

Initially performing in folk clubs in the early 1960s, her performances and recordings embraced blues, jazz, show tunes, and humorous material. Her 1963 recording of High Flying Bird was influential on folk-rock, and her 1969 album Farewell Aldebaran, with husband Jerry Yester, was termed an eclectic "fusion of folk music, psychedelia, and arty pop."

After a long period of retirement from public appearances, she returned to performing in Los Angeles clubs in the 1990s, as well as writing articles for the San Diego Reader and other journals. She released two further albums, Loose In the World (1999) and She Sang California (2004). In Feb. 2007, Rhino Records issued a limited edition 2-CD compilation set of her recordings, Big Judy: How Far This Music Goes (1962–2004), covering her entire career. Source: Wikipedia

 Klaus Schulze, a German composer, musician and producer viewed as a real pioneer of electronic music, died on April 26, at age 74.

Frank Uhle, managing director of Schulze's current label, SPV, posted this tribute: "We were shocked and saddened to hear the news of Klaus Schulze's sudden death. We lose and will miss a good personal friend - one of the most influential and important composers of electronic music - a man of conviction and an exceptional artist. His always cheerful nature, his innovative spirit and his impressive body of work remain indelibly rooted in our memories."

Born in Berlin, Schulze helped shape the 'Berlin School' and was most influential for various music styles that came of Electronic Music – from Ambient to Techno (he has been dubbed 'the godfather of techno').

After success in famed bands Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, he continued with over 50 solo albums, from Irrlicht',Timewind, Mirage, X, and Dune, to Farscape and recently Deus Arrakis, productions under the moniker of 'Richard Wahnfried, and various collaborations with artists like Arthur Brown, Michael Shrieve, Ernst Fuchs, Lisa Gerrard, and, lately Hans Zimmer, the film composer who used one of Schulze’s pieces as part of his score for the movie Dune (2021), and described his work as “the perfect balance between the soul and technology”. Sources: The Guardian, Wikipedia

Dennis Waterman, a full-time English TV star and occasional pop star, has died at the age of 74.

He starred in hit TV series Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks. He also had a hit song in 1980 with I Could Be So Good For You. It reached no 3 in the UK and no 9 in Australia.

One of Waterman’s most recent roles was in the Australian drama Never Too Late, filmed in Adelaide in 2019. Sources: Noise11, Wikipedia

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