By David Farrell
Hugh Dillon’s industry remains remarkable, with or without the effing virus. He’s wrapped Season 4 of Yellowstone with a marquee cast led by Kevin Costner. In it, Dillon appears as Sheriff Haskell in the enthralling Americana drama that returns this fall on Amazon Prime (Paramount channel in the US). More recently he’s stepped his game as co-executive producer, co-creator and actor in Mayor of Kingstown, a new Paramount series being shot in Toronto, Hamilton, and Kingston Penitentiary, about a fictional family of power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan where the business of incarceration is the only industry worth a damn. In November, he returns to stages fronting the Headstones on the packaged Saints + Sinners 16-date arena tour that opens on the 3rd in Victoria and closes with two shows at Rama, on the 26th and 27th.
– With conflicting provincial covid regulations, a federal government unable to mandate a national policy, and a legal minefield for businesses wishing to force anyone to prove vax status, the live music industry is caught in a bind. However, mounting media focus and polling are pushing for restrictions at venues. AEG has announced that covid vaccines will be required for concertgoers at its clubs, theatres and festivals effective Oct. 1; Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) said Tuesday that all employees, event staff and guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result to gain access to their arenas, stadium and restaurants by mid-September, and Live Nation stated Wednesday that it will soon require ticket holders to show proof of vaccination or a negative test before they're granted entry to its concerts. The dominant concert company, LNC owns Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom Midway in Edmonton, as well as the Danforth Music Hall, Velvet Underground and History in Toronto. It also promotes concerts in innumerable arenas, halls and clubs nationwide.
TIFF has its own hybrid restrictions for venues (likely to be tightened before events get underway on Sept. 9), and the same goes for Mirvish theatrical productions that start Aug. 29. In Calgary, the National Music Centre was set to reopen Saturdays and Sundays effective Aug. 15, with reduced capacity.
Like it or not, a policy is slowly emerging that has the major players grudgingly or otherwise complying with the notion that times have not returned to normal and setting up regulations that may or may not stick in a court of law if flouted.
– Apropos of above, CMW hosts a free webinar on navigating the patchwork of city, provincial and federal regs for musicians planning on touring in Canada and abroad. Canadian Musician senior editor Michael Raine moderates with LA-based music attorney Dani Olivia and Toronto-based US immigration lawyer Catherine Glazer providing details. The summit is scheduled for next Thursday, Aug. 26 at 2 pm EST. It would be nice to know that the scandalous imbalance between work visas for Canadian musicians crossing into the US versus Americans crossing to work here is addressed. The imbalance is in the bloated fees US Immigration charges, and there’s plenty of Canadian musicians furious that they lost their fees when the border closed last March.
– The following graph was compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
– Live events and festivals in the UK will be protected by a government-backed insurance scheme if covid forces them to cancel their event. The government has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme as part of the Plan for Jobs program. The scheme will see the government act as a ‘reinsurer’ – stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need.
– Absolute Sync, co-founded by Canadian Glenn Coulson, has struck a deal with fellow Canuck Justin Gray to enhance its music catalogue available to TV, film and subscription-based streaming platforms. The publishing company operates offices in LA, New York, Nashville and Toronto.
– The Warner Music Canada team must be walking on a cloud this week. First is the news that their longstanding hat-hitter Brett Kissel is up for a CMA International Award. Yup, the guy’s had 16 top 10s here, including 4 No. 1s, and won a prairie-sized list of homegrown trophies. The actual nom is in the Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award. He’s competing with entrants from Sweden, Australia and the UK.
– Remember Toronto singer Eric Mercury who made a splash in the late ‘60s with his debut solo album Electric Black Man (Avco Embassy, now available through Unidisc) and went on to write, record or perform with Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Thelma Houston, Dusty Springfield, Steve Cropper and Thelonious Monk? He’s been off the radar for some time, but it turns out he’s alive and well as MD at CanWood Entertainment in Toronto.
– Facebook has introduced a new option to share clips of music videos to its Stories in a move that is undoubtedly intended to compete with TikTok. The feature only works for new releases and there's an opt-out option for artists .
– And just because… Nina Simone performing I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, live in NYC in 1968.