Vivek Shreya  Photo: Vanessa Heins
Vivek Shreya Photo: Vanessa Heins

Music News Digest, Jan. 12, 2023

Awards news

The Inaugural WIM Canada Honours have been launched, and will be presented on International Women’s Day, March 8. This program is designed to celebrate and support women and gender-diverse Canadian innovators and creators who have outstanding success in their field in the eligibility year (Dec. 2021 through Dec. 2022 for the annually based categories). Applicants must submit interest through WIM Canada’s application form by the Jan. 16 deadline. This may be done by the prospective honouree or another Canadian colleague. The honours will be presented at a dinner on March 8 to cap off WIM's IWD programming. Apply here

– The 26th annual Maple Blues Awards has announced the performance lineup for the event, set for Jan. 30th at Harbourfront Centre Theatre in Toronto. It comprises nominees Blue Moon Marquee, Paul Reddick & Kyle Ferguson, Meghan Parnell & Dave Barnes (Bywater Call), Kevin Harvey (Durham County Poets), and Ann Vriend. Produced by The Toronto Blues Society, the gala evening will be hosted for the evening by Quisha Wint and feature newly signed Cordova Bay Recording Artists, The Maple Blues Band. The esteemed house band for the Maple Blues Awards is comprised of Gary Kendall, Pat Carey, Teddy Leonard, Al Lerman, Jim Casson, Howard Moore, Lance Anderson, Meirion (Mei) Kelly, Alison Young, and Roshane Wright. The Maple Blues Awards tix can be purchased here.

– Speaking of blues awards, the veteran Hamilton singer/songwriter Harrison Kennedy has just been nominated for two Blues Awards in the US: Best Acoustic Blues Artist and Best Acoustic Blues Album, for his acclaimed release Thanks For Tomorrow. Congrats, HK.

Festivals news

– Presented by Lula Music and Arts, the Little Portugal Toronto BIA, and Transmit Presents, Calefaction (which means warming) is a new winter festival taking place along Dundas West in Toronto from now until Jan. 29.  The event will feature concerts, DJs, karaoke, dance and music workshops, giveaways, a sidewalk sale, mural tours, gallery and vintage crawls, and more, with over 20 free events planned. The fest is the 'hood's response to a giant sinkhole that had a devastating impact on the smaller businesses on the strip from Nov. on. Event highlights include the HAPPY SUNDAY free concert series at The Baby G, a free album release party by Lady Yetunde (also featuring the Butterfly Band), and a highly recommended concert, the Lula Reggae & Blues Revue, featuring scene veterans Jay Douglas and Danny Marks and set for Lula Lounge on Jan. 26.  Info and tix here. Check for fest info here.

Industry news

– MusicNL has announced that CEO Rhonda Tulk-Lane has been elected as the Vice Chair of the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA). Formed in 2002, the CCMIA is a national council representing the provincial and territorial music industry associations (MIAs) in Canada, including Alberta Music, Manitoba Music, Music and Film in Motion, Music BC, Music Nova Scotia, Music NWT, Music PEI, Music Yukon, Music/Musique NB, MusicNL, MusicOntario, and SaskMusic.

– M for Montreal and Mundial Montréal are presenting the very first edition of the RADAR series of showcases running between March and May 2023. They will be open to the general public as well as being punctuated by professional industry meetings. These monthly professional meetings, in the form of networking activities organized before the artist showcases, will allow the local industry to exchange and connect each month. The project is made possible through the support of the SODEC Innovative Initiatives Program and will be presented twice a month at Le Ministère from March 28 to May 31. The complete program will be unveiled on Feb. 22. The pro events and showcases will be open to industry members for free. Tickets for concerts will also be available to the general public.

– The late Kitchener-based blues great Mel Brown is being remembered in his adopted hometown via a bronze sculpture that's now being cast in the US. It should be ready for public showing in April, the Kitchener Record reports. The soul-jazz-blues fusion guitar master from Jackson, Miss., had a prolific solo career and worked as a sideman for B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Van Morrison, Bobby Blue Bland, and more. The Mel Brown Legacy Project was launched as part of Unzipped, a touring Rolling Stones exhibit. Source: Kitchener Record.

– Toronto roots music fest Winterfolk is looking for front-door greeters, stage announcers, videographers, photographers, stage managers, sound technicians and stage and equipment setup and teardown personnel. Volunteers receive a full-access 3-day pass and a weekend honorarium. Winterfolk returns to the Kensington Market district, Feb. 24-26, and is welcoming its audience back on February 24, 25 & 26, with shows featuring more than 100 artists on five stages. Volunteer here.

Artists news

– Acclaimed BC author, publisher, musician and playright Vivek Shraya has just signed to dynamic Vancouver indie label Mint Records, which stated "We’re excited to work with such a talented multi-disciplinary artist and can’t wait to help share her new music with the world. Vivek has a bold and honest vision and has spent two decades honing her craft as a musician. We’re honoured to welcome her to the Mint Records roster." Since releasing a debut album in 2002, Shraya has been a totally DIY artist until now. Look for new music on the label in the spring.

– Doors Pub in Hamilton last Friday dished up a highly entertaining evening featuring some veteran local punk legends alongside some younger combos. We enjoyed surf-based Danger!! Death Ray, then a short set from Sammy Squid, playing solo and with a band, plus a guest turn by Chris Houston. A highlight was the crowd support in a chant for his new song Stugats. The star attraction of the night was a rare set by Hamilton legend Houston. This rock 'n roll raconteur didn't disappoint, reaching back into his catalogue for Fuckface City and gems like Einstein's Brain's In Hamilton. Beneath his always clever verbiage was some great rock 'n roll riffery.

I wasn't able to stay for the next set, one in which Forgotten Rebels frontman Mickey DeSadist joined his former comrade Houston, with both reportedly trading licks on Flying V guitars. Closing out the night was fine local trio The TrebleTones, featuring in-demand drummer Pete Lambert, onstage for most of the evening.

– Award-winning Ontario singer/songwriter Suzie Vinnick and Australian guitarist/singer Lloyd Spiegel are joining forces for a double-bill Canadian winter tour that is highly recommended for blues/roots fans. The pair play BC shows, Jan. 17-31, followed by 10 shows in smaller Ontario centres, Feb. 8-18. A full itinerary is here

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