Blues Booster Patrick Monaghan
Blues Booster Patrick Monaghan

Music News Digest, Dec. 1, 2022


The Toronto Blues Society has selected Canoe-FM Blues DJ Patrick Monaghan as Blues Booster of the Year. The Haliburton-based Monaghan has for over 40 years immersed himself in the music scene as a fan, researcher, promoter and radio host, and has supported Canadian blues musicians through his travels and on his radio show The Buckslide Blues Cruise on Canoe-FM. He is also the President of the newly formed Highlands Buckslide Blues Society. Monaghan will receive the honour at The 2023 Maple Blues Awards on Jan. 30 at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Industry news

– The Weeknd has announced the second phase of his After Hours Till Dawn tour,  one taking in Europe and Latin America. The stadium tour begins June 10 in Manchester, UK, followed by two months of European dates. Mexico City on Sept. 29 is the first date for the Latin American part of the tour. The star also disclosed a $5M donation to the XO Humanitarian Fund, a program to help combat world hunger. The Weeknd and the United Nations World Food Programme are partnering to raise money through a portion of the ticket sales to give to the Fund. For each ticket sale in Europe, the U.K., and Latin America, €1, £1, and $1 respectively from each ticket will go to the cause. A cut from each ticket sale in North America from the first leg of the tour, plus proceeds from selling an exclusive tour t-shirt also contributed to the $5M donation, while The Weekend personally donated $500K to the cause. Source: The Complex

– Last week, 2021 Polaris Music Prize winner, Toronto-based rapper, producer, writer, poet and activist, Cadence Weapon (Rollie Pemberton), announced that he has teamed up with The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), to launch the North American leg of the 100% Venues campaign, #MyMerch. The initiative calls on North American music venues and festivals to join the #MyMerch campaign and sign on to end the practice of taking merch cuts, in which a venue or festival takes a percentage of the artist's merch sales, often in the 20-35%  range. Join the #MyMerch venue database here. Over 400 venues have committed to the campaign.

–The 11th edition of the annual CMAOntario Awards will return to Hamilton in June 2023. The Awards, presented by Slaight Music, will cap off a weekend of live events scheduled throughout the city from June 2-4, with a celebration on June 4, at Theatre Aquarius. Tickets for the CMAOntario Awards go on sale tomorrow (Dec. 2) online here.

– Until Dec. 9, the Global Toronto 2023 (GT23) music conference is accepting applications to showcase here. GT23 is being held in person in Toronto from Sept 18-22, 2023.

– Toronto concert promoter Transit presents another Boxing Week Special of shows (Dec. 28-30) at city clubs The Garrison & The Baby G.. This year features Ombiigizi, Heaven For Real, yoo doo right, Terrell Morris, Rapport, and more. All shows are just $10 in advance.

– Reuters reports that a Beijing court has sentenced Canadian singer Kris Wu to 13 years in jail after finding him guilty of crimes including rape, just over a year after his arrest in China, where he was born and built a lucrative career. The court found the 32-year-old had raped three women. Read more here 

– Controversy continues to follow Arcade Fire after multiple sexual misconduct allegations were levelled against frontman Win Butler. Ticketmaster and tour promoter Live Nation have reportedly refused to issue a refund of concert tickets to buyers who sought them after learning of these allegations. Some concertgoers also sought refunds after opening act Beck withdrew from the tour. Source: CBC

– An Indiegogo campaign has been started to fundraise for a film documentary on a renowned Toronto musician, the late Scott 'Professor Piano' Cushnie, entitled The Nicest Guy in Rock & Roll is Missing. 30 percent of the flexible goal of $50K has been raised, and you can contribute here. Director Andrea Reid explains that "I have been wanting to tell Scott's story from the moment I met him.  He was a phenomenal musician with an illustrious career spanning six decades.  I filmed Scott for 10 years, always with the goal of making this film...Until Scott went missing in 2018.  After a six-week search, it was discovered that Scott passed away, under absolutely bizarre circumstances."



Artists news

– Toronto-based group and movement Amai Kuda et Les Bois released their politically-charged new album, EmUrgency!, on Nov. 25. It will be launched with a special release show at Small World Music Centre (180 Shaw Street, Toronto), on Dec. 9. Tix here

– Toronto-based Americana/roots-rock singer-songwriter Ryan Wayne first made a mark in the superb (though under-rated) band Warped 45s, and news of his return to the scene is welcome. A solo debut album, Crow Amongst The Sparrows, comes out next year, preceded by lead single Wherever You Land. A reflection upon the turmoil of the pandemic, it was inspired in part by the loss to Covid of John Prine. Of note: the track is mixed by ace producer/mixing engineer Malcolm Burn ( (Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Daniel Lanois). Check it out here.

– For the last decade, this scribe has called Champagne James Robertson the best guitarist in Toronto. That claim can be reaffirmed after CJR's sparkling set on Sunday in the cozy environs of east-end Hamilton bar/resto The Capitol. Ably abetted by a skilled drummer and bassist, Robertson delivered a sublime all-instrumental performance that moved effortlessly through psychedelia, ambient, surf, roots, R&B, and more. He currently plays in Dwayne Gretzky and other combos but remains an all too well-kept secret.

– Toronto guitarist and composer Harry Bartlett recently released a trio record, Wildwood, one fusing jazz and roots styles, and it was launched last month with a hometown release show held at the Array Space. The Harry Bartlett Trio was awarded the TD Niagara Jazz Festival Jazz for the Ages Award in 2020.

– Recently signed to dynamic indie label Hidden Pony Records, Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Roslyn Witter is preparing to release a debut EP early next year. It is preceded by This Christmas, an original holiday song. Of note: Roslyn's father is country star Jim Witter.

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