Music Biz Headlines, July 6, 2020

Montreal concert venue La Vitrola (pictured) is closing, Vancouver clubs are under threat, and an aid package for UK music. Also in the headlines are Rufus Wainwright, maestro Victor Feldbrill, Neil Young, Halifax Pop Explosion, Haviah Mighty, Leonard Cohen, Ernesto Cervini, Sarah Wickett, Hipgnosis, CDs, Kanye West, Roy Ayers, Don Henley, Beyoncé, Suzi Quatro, Ryan Adams, and The Clash.

Music Biz Headlines, July 6, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Mile End concert venue La Vitrola closes as owners sound alarm for the scene

La Vitrola is the second Montreal concert venue to close in as many weeks, and owners Mauro Pezzente and Kiva Stimac fear there may be more. “Everybody is in jeopardy,” Pezzente said. “Some other venues are having a harder time than we are.” –– T'Cha Dunlevy, Montreal Gazette

Montreal nightclubs reopen with strict new COVID-19 regulations

While bars across the province were given the green light to reopen June 25, most Montreal nightclubs welcomed back clients for the first time on Friday evening. With dancing forbidden, some nightclub owners worry they won't survive the summer. –– CBC News

Vancouver faces live music drought in wake of the pandemic

As covid-19 restrictions look set to continue for months, many of Vancouver’s live venues and nightclubs are facing an existential and economic crisis, unlike anything they’ve experienced before. Unable to open their doors, with rent and operating costs mounting, and with little financial support on the horizon, small and mid-sized venues may be forced to close permanently, potentially turning Vancouver into, in musical terms at least, a cultural wasteland. –– Robert Collins, Daily Hive


Maestro Victor Feldbrill first conducted the Toronto Symphony at age 18

From childhood on, all he ever wanted to do was make music. Something of a prodigy, Victor Feldbrill first conducted the Toronto Symphony at the age of 18 in 1943, and went on to have an association with that orchestra over seven decades. He was an enthusiastic and tireless promoter of Canadian composers such as John Weinzweig, Harry Somers, Norma Beecroft and Louis Applebaum, many of them his close friends.  –– Judy Stoffman, The Globe and Mail

'Socially distanced Venetian gondolas!' – Rufus Wainwright on his dream festival

With festival season cancelled, we’re starting a new series asking stars for their dream lineups. First up is Rufus Wainwright, blending opera and Florence Welch. –– The Guardian

Neil Young condemns Donald Trump’s use of his music at Mount Rushmore event

The rock icon was not happy after his songs were played at Trump's Independence Day celebration at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. –– Huffington Post

What is happening with the Halifax Pop Explosion?

The director resigns as the storied music festival gets called out for systemic racism.  –– Morgan Mullin, The Coast


Haviah Mighty's Canada Day message: "We have so much work to do"

Ahead of her performance as part of the city of Toronto's Canada Day celebration, the hometown rapper premieres a powerful video about the history of anti-Black racism. –– Richard Trapunski,NOW

Calgary's Music Mile springs to life with 'It's Friday Night' programming

Calgary’s Music Mile will be living up to its name on Friday nights throughout July, with a program presented to both in-person audiences and through live streaming. Live From Music Mile: It’s Friday Night, which is funded by a grant by Calgary Arts Development, will offer a five-hour broadcast every Friday to coincide with live performances at venues throughout the stretch from Inglewood and East Village.––  Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald

Seven dances, one Anthem: Watch modern takes on Leonard Cohen’s classic Canadian song

It's been nearly 30 years since the poet sang about the ‘crack in everything’ that lets the light in, and in troubled times, it still has the power to move us. Here's how performers across the country did it. –– The Globe and Mail

Region's first drive-in concerts at Purple Hill Country Opry postponed to make room for lawn chairs

The London area’s first drive-in concert at Thorndale’s Purple Hill Country Opry has been postponed to the Civic Holiday Weekend. Originally scheduled for two nights July 10 and 11, it now will be held July 31 and Aug. 1, with acts including Bill Durst, Cheryl Lescom, and The Good Brothers. –– Joe Belanger, London Free Press


Etobicoke Juno Award winner celebrates with red carpet gala at home

South Etobicoke musician Ernesto Cervini was so excited to be nominated for a Juno Award this year that he planned to attend the ceremony in Saskatoon in person, with five family members in tow. The Junos held off announcing winners until June 29, when the organization held a virtual event on CBC, and his wife, Jenny, surprised him with a red-carpet gala at home, celebrating the win of Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop in a Jazz category. –– Dominik Turek, Torontocom

Album review: Make space for M. Scorgie's Sounds of Freedom

Edmonton ex-pat M. Scorgie has a great new electronic album, full of wonder and playful musical collisions. –– Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal


Artist of the month: Sarah Wickett

The small-town-girl turned big-city-singer-songwriter story sounds like a song itself, or maybe a lifetime movie, but for Sarah Wickett, it’s just real life. And with her small-town roots at the heart of her songwriting, she’s got country music flowing through her art. –– CMAO Newsletter

Kye Clayton: The fresh prince of Uniacke Square 

As part of our feature on the up-and-coming rapper/beatmaker, we ask Clayton to freestyle for The Coast. –– Morgan Mullin, The Coast


UK government outlines a $2bn funding package for the arts

Following sustained lobbying from elements of the music business, the UK government has just announced a £1.57bn ($1.96bn) support package for Britain’s arts and culture sector. The mix of loans and grants includes aid for concert venues. –– Tim Ingham, MBW

Hipgnosis revenues topped $80M US in FY 2020

Hipgnosis Songs Fund saw its revenues grow to £64.7m (approximately US$81m at current exchange rates) in the 12 months to the end of March 2020. The stat, revealed in the company’s new annual report, is up by many multiples on the £7.2m it generated in the year to end of March 2019. The company is now raising another $250m. –– Tim Ingham, MBW

Covid 19: NZ's first big music concert post-lockdown - L.A.B in Auckland

Kiwi band L.A.B's sold-out concert has been a success as fans turned up to New Zealand's first major music gig since the Covid-19 lockdown. Fans didn't have to worry about social-distancing as the country has not had community transmission of the virus for months — letting New Zealand move to alert level 1. –– NZ Herald

Yes, you should still be buying CDs. Here's why

To say CDs have lost their cool factor is a little bit of understatement, but there’s still good reason to buy them. They sound better than digital streaming files and are good value for money now. –– Tucker Bowe, Gear Patrol

Cultural life is back in Europe. In the U.K., they talk of collapse.

For weeks, Britain’s star artists have begged the government to rescue the arts sector. Will it listen? –– Alex Marshall, New York Times


Kanye West declares he will run for US president in 2020

The rapper uses Independence Day to make the announcement, but it’s not clear if he has filed any official paperwork to appear on ballots. –– David Smith, The Guardian

L.A. jazz-soul legend Roy Ayers has a new album and new hope for the future

Now in the twilight of his career, acid jazz pioneer Ayers, 79, has just released a soul-funk album, Roy Ayers JID002, drawing on ideas from his prime “… Sunshine” era. A deeply relevant set captured to tape in a Highland Park nightclub, the eight songs were co-written and performed by Ayers with producer-composers Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) at Younge’s Linear Labs studio on Figueroa Boulevard. –– Randall Roberts, LA Times

Coronavirus concerns, online criticism freeze a controversial planned Vanilla Ice show

'For the safety and health of everyone we're going to stay home,' says the performer. –– Jim Vertuno, AP

Thievery corporations: Don Henley on how giant online platforms rip off creators — and how Congress can help

On June 2, Don Henley -- the Eagle’s co-founder, drummer, and singer -- delivered a special live-via-video performance for a particularly important audience: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. The occasion was the third in a series of hearings about the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). According to Henley, as well as most organizations of creators and rights holders, the Act gives online platforms an unfair advantage in negotiations. –– Robert Levine, Billboard


Beyoncé ties Michael Jackson’s Top 40 mark as ‘Black Parade’ debuts on Billboard Hot 100

Beyoncé lands a milestone 40th top 40 hit on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, as Black Parade debuts at No. 37 on the list dated July 4. This ties a record set by Michael Jackson. –– Trevor Anderson, Billboard

A documentary on Suzi Quatro delivers stars but dodges paradoxes

Suzi Q is an interesting, if rote, talking-head–style film about a woman for whom fame was a constant battle but whose shadow stretched longer than her slight frame, a point highlighted often (if not always convincingly) throughout Suzi Q. ––  Kim Hughes, Original Cin

LA musicians help flatten the curve with a new video

A ton of musicians, including a large number from LA, came together in May to release the single “Flatten the Curve.” With all proceeds going to Sweet Relief and Jubilee Consortium, the message of the song during these troubling times is clear: keep your distance, wear a mask, and let’s do the right thing during this pandemic. Now it has a video. –– LA Weekly

Ryan Adams is apologizing for the harm he has caused

The career of singer-songwriter Ryan Adams literally stopped in February 2019, when a certain New York Times exposé revealed that several women were accusing him of sexual misconduct. His wife Mandy Moore was accusing him of emotional abuse and other women (including rising star Phoebe Bridgers) blamed him for dangling career opportunities in return for sex. He has now exclusively shared a letter of apologies with an English newspaper. –– Alyson Camus, RockNyc

Back-stabbing, bullying, busking: how The Clash disintegrated

In 1983, The Clash sacked founder Mick Jones, hired three new members, and tried to return to their punk rock roots. Cue two years of fighting and one of the worst albums ever made.  –– Chris Knowles, Classic Rock

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024


Allison Russell, Charlotte Cardin, DijahSB Shortlisted for 2024 Polaris Music Prize

The Beaches, rapper TOBi, indie experimentalist Cindy Lee, and previous winner Jeremy Dutcher are also amongst the ten artists in contention for the $50,000 prize, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based solely on artistic merit. See the whole list here.

Some of Canadian music's biggest breakthroughs of the last year are facing off for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

Charlotte Cardin for 99 Nights, The Beaches for Blame My Ex, Allison Russell for The Returner and Cindy Lee for Diamond Jubilee are among the ten artists shortlisted for the 2024 award, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year.

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