Music Biz Headlines, June 8, 2023

By Kerry Doole

Canada’s high-powered Debra Rathwell has ideas on how to fix the concert industry

One of the highest-ranking female executives working in the concert promotion business today, Canada’s Debra Rathwell is the New York-based executive vice-president of global touring and talent at AEG Presents, the second-largest promoter in the world. She spoke to The Globe and Mail in advance of her keynote appearance in Toronto at the industry convention CMW, June 5-10. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

Serviceable Spamalot a sign of a Stratford Festival failing in quest to find a higher musical-theatre purpose

The mediocre 2005 Broadway musical opened, incongruously, at the Stratford Festival on Wednesday night. In the lead up, Idle told the Toronto Star that a pair of his former collaborators “spent 14 months and £20,000 of our money removing the name Monty Python” from the film project – and that it is now an ex-project. – JK Nestruck, Globe and Mail


Everybody is unfortunately working for The Weeknd in HBO’s degrading and hollow The Idol

It’s downright queasy how director Sam Levinson continues to make content, which purports to be about how women are preyed upon, about himself, where his cast become props who either defend his voyeurism or are subjected to it. – Radheyan Simonpillai, Globe and Mail

Lavender Wild, Toronto’s new queer music festival, started with a love story

Alex Simpson, a festival manager at Live Nation, founded the June 4 fest. She hopes it will be the haven that she and her partner, the Beaches’ Leandra Earl, didn’t have. – Sarah Laing, The Kit

Choristers and poets present an irresistible revolution

“Revolution is movement toward change led by a group of people,” explained HCC artistic director and Ilumini conductor Melanie Tellez. – Leonard Turnevicius, The Spectator

Jónsi and the volcano

Sigur Ros' leader Jónsi’s powerful multi-sensory installation piece “Hrafntinna (Obsidian),”began its run at the gallery back in July 2022 and concludes on Aug. 7 — a week before Sigur Rós arrives at Roy Thomson Hall on Aug. 14 for a sold-out performance with a new album, “Ætta,” in tow. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Bass Coast is the BC festival that’s still thriving

Despite the live music industry’s Covid crunch, there’s plenty of reasons why the Merritt-based event still draws a legion of dedicated partiers. – Kate Wilson, Georgia Straight


Jeremy Dutcher releases a powerful expression of Indigenous resilience

Start your weekend with a curated playlist of new music, with fresh cuts from Jeremy Dutcher, Burna Boy, Haviah Mighty and Foo Fighters. – Richie Assaly, Toronto Star

Theatre Aquarius has lined up an all-star cast behind the launch of a new musical incubator in Hamilton.

The National Centre for New Musicals (NCNM) has a mandate to nurture, develop, and advance Canadian musical theatre projects, stories, and voices. Funding commitments totalling $1 million are secured for NCNM‘s first five years as part of the total budget of $2 million. – Hamilton City Magazine

Nelly Furtado returns with new dance track, “Eat Your Man”

Nelly Furtado surprised everyone when she performed with Dom Dolla at Australia’s Beyond the Valley Festival in 2022. Her appearance on stage with the rising producer was her first in five years, since the  Vancouver Island artist went on hiatus after 2017’s The Ride. Now, she’s officially back, with a new Dolla-produced song called “Eat Your Man.” – Yasmine Shemesh, Georgia Straight

Rufus Wainwright reveals the secret to recording the perfect cover: ‘You have to treat it like life or death’

Wainwright’s new album “Folkocracy” is a compelling collection of reimagined folk classics, with contributions from Chaka Khan, John Legend, Anohni, and more. – Richie Assaly, Toronto Star

8 buzz-worthy Canadian artists to check out at NXNE 2023

The annual music fest returns June 13–17. Here are eight can’t-miss homegrown acts. – Richard Trapunski,

Rock musical Rent resurrected in a loving production to convert the skeptics at Stratford Festival

Are you a Rent skeptic? The Stratford Festival’s terrific new production might just change your mind about – or open up your heart to – Jonathan Larson’s 1996 rock musical that reimagined La Bohème in an AIDS-ravaged artistic community in New York. It did that to me, anyway. – JK Nestruck, The Globe and Mail 


On ‘Such Ferocious Beauty,’ Cowboy Junkies look at the brutal splendour of life

If there’s a theme that sums up “Such Ferocious Beauty,” it’s transience — with much of it focused on loss. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star


Spotify sheds 200 more jobs in its podcast division

Spotify cuts 200 more jobs in podcast division amid industry struggles. The layoffs come amid increased pressure for tech companies to cut costs and boost profits in an uncertain economic environment. – LA Times


Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs says in lawsuit that spirits giant Diageo neglected his vodka and tequila brands

Rapper, producer and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs sued Diageo, saying the spirits company didn’t make promised investments in his vodka and tequila brands and treated them as inferior “urban” products. – Dee-ann Durbin, AP

She enthralled the masses like she was a wonder of the world, bringing her singular electricity to songs about survival, freedom and bravery. It’s hard to believe she’s gone. – NY Times

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters says Nazi-style outfit at Berlin concert was anti-fascist

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters said he was opposing fascism and bigotry when he wore a Nazi-style uniform on stage at a concert in Berlin that led German police to launch an investigation into the British musician. – Reuters

Bruno Mars, from Uptown Funk to beachside bartender

Mars promotes his rum brand in Hawaii, just one of a collection of celebrity-led liquors. – Shinan Govani, Toronto Star

With the Foo Fighters new album But Here We Are, Dave Grohl works through profound loss

Grohl works through sorrow on the new Foo Fighters album, But Here We Are, a title that speaks to an unforeseen situation at hand. The band’s 11th album is a melodic-rock expression of grief that comes in the wake of not only the sudden loss of Taylor Hawkins at age 50 but the death of Grohl’s mother, Virginia, as well. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

The feelin’ was right: how the Bee Gees ruled late 70s pop

Their Saturday Night Fever soundtrack commanded the charts, but beyond that, notes Bob Stanley in an extract from his new book, their golden touch was audible everywhere from Grease to Sesame Street. –The Guardian

Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock at 40: the album that foretold today’s anything-goes pop

The 1983 LP introduced a generation to hip-hop and mashed up style – but by not crediting Black musicians, it was also cultural appropriation. Producer Trevor Horn recalls its creation. – The Guardian

The 10 albums we're most excited about in June

With five album-release Fridays, June is a big month for new music. Bully and McKinley Dixon kicked things off and Lucinda Williams closes the month out with her 15th studio LP. Here are the 10 albums we’re most excited about in this month. – Paste Staff  


Broadway musicians object to David Byrne’s ‘Here Lies Love’

The show plans to use recorded music instead of a live band, but a labor union says its contract for the theater requires musicians for musicals. – New York Times

Brian Eno announces first-ever solo tour

He’s taking a live show called Ships across Europe, joined by Baltic Sea Philharmonic and the actor Peter Serafinowicz, among others. – Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork

TMI? Jason Isbell believes opening your life to fans builds a stronger bond

If Jason Isbell is keeping many more secrets, it’s hard to imagine what they might be. The singer-songwriter and his wife, fellow musician Amanda Shires, open their lives for public consumption in a manner unusual even to artists who mine their own world for material. – David Bauder, AP

Kiss review – typically explosive end to rock’s silliest band

The solos are dull, the banter crass, the songs often lacking in interest – and yet Kiss’s final tour is also a barrage of amazement. –  Michael Hann, The Guardian

Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Kelly Clarkson, Kane Brown, Lil Wayne headline iHeartRadio festival

They are among the headliners this fall at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, which will be broadcast live throughout the country. The lineup for the two-day event Sept. 22-23 at T-Mobile Arena also includes Miguel, Public Enemy, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw, and TLC. – Mark Kennedy, AP

50 Cent

50 Cent


50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

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