Music News Digest, June 16, 2022

Awards

The Polaris Music Prize Long List of 40 Canadian albums competing for the prestigious honour was announced at an in-person event in Toronto on June 14. In total, 223 albums were considered for the Long List by the 197-member jury this season. The 10 album Short List will be unveiled live on July 14 as part of a two-hour special on Drive on CBC Music. The 2022 Polaris Music Prize-winning album will be announced during the Polaris Gala, taking place on Sept. 19 at The Carlu in Toronto.

 The Polaris Music Prize awards $50K to the artist who creates the Canadian Album of the Year, judged solely on artistic merit, without consideration for genre or record sales. The nine other nominated acts whose albums make the 2022 Short List will receive $3K each courtesy of Slaight Music. All ten artists also receive a global music promotion distribution package for one release from Play MPE.

Previous winners Backxwash (2020), Haviah Mighty (2019), Tanya Tagaq (2014), and Arcade Fire (2011) again make the Long List with their current releases. 100 early-bird Polaris Gala tickets for sale to the public are available now via Ticketmaster. Check out the full Long List here and watch the Reveal event below.

– Emily Steinwall has won the 17th annual 2022 SOCAN Songwriting Prize with her composition Welcome to the Garden. The Prize brings her a $5K cash prize, a Yamaha Workstation, and a $500 gift card from Long & McQuade. Steinwall is an accomplished composer, multi-instrumentalist and former backup singer (Alessia Cara), who released her debut concept album, Welcome to the Garden, in 2021. More info here.

– The Mariposa Folk Foundation will enshrine Gordon Lightfoot in its Hall of Fame at this year’s festival, July 8 – 10, at Tudhope Park in Orillia. “Is his enshrinement overdue? Of course, it is. And the Foundation could not be more honoured to celebrate our connection with Gordon at this year’s festival,” said Foundation president Pam Carter.

– The winners of the 45th Annual B.C. Country Music Awards (BCCMA) were announced on Sunday night at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver. Multiple winners included Karen Lee Batten, Tyler Joe Miller, and The Washboard Union, with JoJo Mason winning as Entertainer of the Year.  More info here.

– Country singer George Fox is headed into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The Cochrane, Alta.-raised performer has been named one of this year’s inductees in recognition of more than three decades in the music industry. Fox debuted on the music scene with his Top 10 country hit Angelina in 1988 which led to a Canadian Country Association Award for male artist of the year in 1989 — the first of four consecutive wins in the category. He also earned three consecutive Juno Award wins for country male vocalist of the year from 1990 to 1993. 

He’ll be joined by fellow 2022 inductee Randall Prescott, a producer who’s worked with Charlie Major, Patricia Conroy, Colleen Peterson and Tom Jackson. Prescott has racked up 16 CCMA Awards over his career. Both will be recognized at a private ceremony as part of Country Music Week in Calgary this September. CP

Festivals and conferences

– Making a welcome return, the North By Northeast Music Festival (NXNE) in Toronto is now in full swing, running in multiple venues from June 14-19. This year's event focuses on new and emerging artists, and full Festival general admission tix are a serious bargain at $20. Info and tix here.

– The Toronto Blues Society's Blues Summit Ten takes place at The Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, from June 17 to 20. Many of Canada's top blues artists will perform in showcases open to the public for a mere $10 per show ($25 for all three). Those featured include Rob Lutes, Lance Anderson & NOLA Parish, Harry Manx, Charlie A'Court, Ann Vriend, Tony D, Jack Semple, Kat Danser, Durham County Poets, Paul Deslauriers Band, Spencer Mackenzie, and Zoom with Shawn Kellerman. Info and tix here.

Closing out the Summit on June 20 at Koerner Hall is the 25th edition of the Maple Blues Awards, the premier annual event for the Canadian blues community. A stellar lineup of performers includes Colin Linden, Crystal Shawanda, Kat Danser, Sue Foley, Bobby Dean Blackburn, and the Maple Blues Band. Tix here 

Industry news

– US venue group OVG heads up a major Hamilton arena renovation in its first Canadian project. The aging FirstOntario Centre will soon be torn back to the studs as part of the City of Hamilton’s vision for a new multimillion-dollar sports, entertainment and cultural district in the heart of downtown. Read more in The Globe and Mail 

– On June 17, from midnight to midnight Pacific Time, Bandcamp holds its third annual Juneteenth fundraiser, where it donates 100% of its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to support their ongoing efforts to promote racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education.

– LA-based Song-Word Art House has announced Echoes Of The Flame: Art Inspired By The Lyrics Of The Tragically Hip, an art exhibition opening July 8 at Bracebridge Hall in Muskoka, ON and running through Aug. 28. Produced in partnership with The Tragically Hip, Echoes Of The Flame is an 18-piece collection of original artwork created by internationally acclaimed artists from Canada (including Tom Wilson and Daniel Lanois),  Europe and the US, and includes a mixture of paintings, sculptures and mixed media artworks. A portion of the revenue generated from the sale of the original artwork will be donated to the Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na language and cultural centre, located on a Mohawk reservation in Tyendinaga, Ontario. Funds will be used to help build a school dedicated to teaching students their Indigenous language. Check out the artwork here.

– The Concerts at the Pier series in White Rock is back for 2022. Produced by the White Rock BIA in collaboration with the City of White Rock and sponsored by TD Bank, the annual series of free outdoor summer concerts returns from late June until the end of Aug. at three stage venues in the city. Headliners include the season-openers, Harlequin, The Paperboys, Wide Mouth Mason, and Kadooh

– The King Eddy in Calgary, in partnership with the National Music Centre, will present No Cover Canada Day on July. 1. This features all-day live music with Bebe Buckskin, Amy Nelson, Pierre Sabourin, ZENON, and more, and runs from 11 am to close.

– As has been well-publicised, June 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s album The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, credited with kick-starting his legendary career. A key member of the team behind the success of that record was record plugger Anya Wilson, known to many FYI readers as a celebrated veteran Canadian music publicist and record promoter. Wilson was recently interviewed by the BBC for a Ziggy-themed radio documentary. The programme also includes rare archive material including a lost Bowie interview (as Ziggy) recorded in the Top of the Pops dressing room, a 1972 press conference, and insightful reflections from former band members Mick Ronson & Trevor Bolder. We also hear studio outtakes from the making of the Ziggy Stardust album – as well as a lost BBC session version of the title song which will be aired for the first time since Jan 1972. Check it out here 

– On June 22 at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, esteemed local music journalist/author Michael Barclay will talk with Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt about the latter's book, Any Night Of The Week: A DIY History of Toronto Music 1957-2001, published by Coach House Press. The event is termed a book relaunch. Tix here.

Artists news

– Justin Bieber recently shared with fans the serious reason he recently paused his Justice World tour: a diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The pop star explained the diagnosis in a video on Friday (June 10), stating that “Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. It comes from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis.” No word yet on a resumption of the tour.

– On June 18, LIVELab - McMaster University's Institute for Music and the Mind hosts Aaron Davis Circle of Friends, an evening of music composed by pianist Aaron Davis and featuring an A-list cast of vocalists and instrumentalists that includes Lori Cullen, Maryem Tollar, Suba Sankaran, Dylan Bell, Galen Pelley, Rob Piltch, John Johnson, and Davis. The concert will use LIVELab’s multi-speaker array, motion capture system and visual wall in a multi-multimedia production. Tix and info here.

– Grammy-winning entertainer Michael Bublé has announced dates for his Higher tour home in Canada this fall. Travelling to 11 cities, the tour produced by Live Nation Canada, includes stops at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on Oct. and Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 12.  His just released a new studio album, Higher, is his 9th Top 10 on Billboard’s Album Sales Chart. Tix are on sale tomorrow (June 17). Check here for the full itinerary and ticket info.

– Canadian EDM star Deadmau5 is partnering with banking, NFT and digital currency company Zytara to launch a branded digital bank, offering deadmau5-branded physical and virtual debit cards at 45M global merchants. A banking app – a deadmau5 skinned Zytara app – will connect fans with deadmau5’s merchandise, concerts, pop-ups and in-game purchases. Zytara products will also be integrated within the artist’s streaming and online channels. Source: Hypebot

– In the midst of a career renaissance, Avril Lavigne recently told The Guardian she has set her sights on releasing a cookbook. Other plans include a Christmas album and make-up line, and Lavigne has also partnered with a director to work on a film inspired by her 2002 hit Sk8er Boi. 

– Montreal’s Basia Bulat has announced a Canada-wide tour that will kick off on July 2 and see stops in Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, and PEI, among others. The trek promotes her new album The Garden, which just made the Polaris Prize Long List. Tour dates here. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (June 17). 

– Toronto chanteuse, songwriter, performer and radio host Lily Frost has just released a video for her track Rainbow Glasses, taken from her acclaimed album Retro-Moderne. It comes out to coincide with Pride celebrations, and may well bring Blondie's Heart of Glass to mind.

– A couple of months ago, FYI reported the retirement of Toronto-based rock/opera vocalist Patrizia, a decision prompted by a debilitating stroke that has paralyzed her left side. Earlier this week, the singer expanded on this decision in a rather provocative press release. It reads in part: " I am not interested in making a comeback even if I  have a full recovery...  I have concluded  that I will never return to the music industry that does not value extraordinary authentic talents but are only interested in talentless marketable kids, strippers, prostitutes, thugs and the banalest acts to pander to the masses who are only too eager to support one of their own, the average joe/jane."

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