SiriusXM Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) are asking music fans to choose Top of the Country finalists, and voting to select the finalists for the $25K grand prize has just opened. Opportunities awaiting the finalists include a performance spot at the CMA Fest in Nashville, performances at exclusive Canadian events including Montreal's Lasso, and cash prizes. This year's semi-finalists are Hailey Benedict – St. Albert, Alberta; Noah Derksen – Winnipeg; Teigen Gayse – Kelowna, B.C.; Amanda Jordan – Smith Falls, ON; Mark Ledlin – Vancouver; The Prairie States – Edmonton; Dayna Reid – Elmvale, ON, and Lydia Sutherland – Montréal. Vote here until May 10. The competition will culminate in the SiriusXM Top of the Country Finale during the CCMA's Country Music Week 2023.
– The deadline for submissions for the Prix MNB Awards is today (May 4). Submit an application on your own behalf or for someone you represent here.
-- The Sled Island Music & Arts Festival has announced the full lineup of artists and comedians performing at this year’s event, one running in multiple venues across Calgary, June 21-25, 2023. The names of over 200 artists revealed on May 2 – including two more selections from 2023 guest curator Bartees Strange – are added to a list of 25 previously announced artists. New names on the bill include Vivek Shraya, The Body, Blackwater Holylight, Cola, Margaritas Podridas, Gustaf, Cecile Believe, Weird Nightmare, Maneka, Marlaena Moore, Super Duty Tough Work, Gloin, Maky Lavender, Ghost Woman, JayWood, Indian Giver, Mother Tongues, Sister Ray, Young Dene. Sargeant X Comrade, Amy Nelson, Ryan Bourne, Miesha & The Spanks, Samantha Savage Smith, Kaeyae Alo, Carissa Gem, and Stucco. More info and tix at SledIsland.com.
– The 47th Annual NL Folk Festival takes place July 7-9 at Bannerman Park in St. John's. Notables featured in the lineup include The Burning Hell, Iris Dement, Kellie Loder, Amelia Curran, Laura Penney, Mark Bragg & The Butchers, Jeremy Fisher, Dave Penny with Daunt Lee, Mackenzie Critch, Silver Wolf Band, and Dumai Dunai. Tix here
-- Toronto's Festival of Beer takes place July 28-30 at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place. The just-named lineup includes Ice Cube, Big Boi, Third Eye Blind, Ruby Waters, T-Pain and Koffee. Tix are now on sale here.
– Applications for this year's Floatchella Music Fest are open until May 17. The event is held on Sept. 16 at Big Barn little farm in Meadow Green NS (outside Antigonish). Apply here.
– The Russell & Roots summer concert series in Surrey, BC, has announced its lineup. On Rock Night, the first event on July 29, Marianas Trench, Big Wreck, Default, and The Wild will take the stage. Country Night, the second event on Aug. 12, features LOCASH, James Barker Band, Meghan Patrick, and locals Dane Bateman and Mark Ledlin. The net profits of the concert series will support several local organizations, including Surrey Fire Fighters, LIFTED Youth and mental health, and Softball City. Tix on sale now here.
– Last month, Daytripper Music Publishing hosted its International Song Camp at Bryan Adam's Warehouse studio in Vancouver, one featuring songwriters and artists from the US, Denmark, and Canada collaborating and creating new music. Attendees of the camp included Sam Avant, Aysanabee, Bel, Simon Blitzer, Laurent Bourque, Ami Cheon, Ari Hicks, Lexie Jay, Marc Koecher, Hill Kourkoutis, Shawnee Kish, Mischa Mandel, James McCollum, Ole Meyer, Alex Sampson, Anna Sofia, Blue in Tokio, and Verskotzi. Participating partners included Angry Mob Music, Sony Music Publishing, GL Music Publishing, Camp Management, Ishkōdé Records, Warner Records, Amelia Records, Antifragile Music Recordings, and Feels Right Management. The event was sponsored by Factor and Ontario Creates.
– Phil Strong, an award-winning Toronto-based composer, producer, musician and sound designer, died on Dec. 3 at age 59. He was a much-loved member of the local music community, and a Celebration of Life is taking place at Trinity St. Paul’s Church in Toronto on May 19 at 1 pm. Read the FYI tribute here.
– Music Nova Scotia has expanded the Artistic Creation Program. The ACP was started in Feb. 2021 for artists of racialized communities and provides $1.5 in investment towards the creation and marketing of musical and audio-visual artistic creations, including but not limited to recordings, performance videos, & music videos. The ACP suite now includes an Artistic Creation Program II investment level as well as a new Industry Builders Mentorship Program. For more info about the new programs, contact Darryl Smith, the Investment Program Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org.
– This week, MDM Recordings Inc. announced it has signed Hamilton-based Americana/Roots country-rock band, The Redhill Valleys. Emerging onto the scene in 2016, the quartet has earned multiple nods at the Country Music Association Of Ontario Awards year after year. MDM founder/prez Mike Denney reports being blown away by the group's show at the 2022 Boots and Hearts Music Festival. The Redhill Valleys will make their label debut with a new single, Long Way Back, out on June 2.
– On May 11, JazzFM presents Sound of Jazz: A Tribute to Archie Alleyne with Kollage feat. Alexis Baro, set for Lula Lounge in Toronto (7-10 pm). Toronto jazz drummer Alleyne worked with such greats as Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Stan Getz, and many more. He died in 2015 at age 82. Tickets here.
– Last fall, singer/songwriter, producer and music biz entrepreneur Jesse Northey released a new album, Onion Knight, on his Victory Pool imprint. He has just announced details of some Alberta shows this month (Edmonton, May 25, Lethbridge, May 26, and Calgary, May 27), followed by a run of performances, June 21-30, in Japan, a welcoming market for his music. Of note: Since 2020, Northey has been the man behind Victory Pool Records, a record label and management company, helping to shepherd such acclaimed acts as Witch Prophet, The Deep Dark Woods, Marlaena Moore, Ghost Woman and Ombiigizi.
– Acclaimed Victoria-based group Astrocolor recently released a new album, Moonlighting – AstroJazz Vol.1, and supported it with four BC release shows. Of note: The new record was Executive Produced and mixed by Grammy-winner Steve Christensen (Khruangbin). The group was named Instrumental Artist of the Year at the 2022 Western Canadian Music Awards, and its catalogue has over 10M streams. A streaming link for the new material here.