Music Biz Headlines, May 3, 2021

Studio wizard Bob Lanois (pictured) is remembered, Neil Young returns to his Canadian roots, and Canadian comics deal with the lockdown. Others in the headlines include Roots Revival, Steve Cropper, Rochelle Jordan, Bobbi Jo Hart, Genesis, Drake, Fungus, UMG, Luminato, The Grammys, Prince, Dave Grohl, Tom Jones, Glenn Danzig, and Paul Weller.

Music Biz Headlines, May 3, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Ingenious studio wizard Bob Lanois was a scientist of sound

If the recording studio savant Bob Lanois needed a piece of equipment that did not exist, he took care of that. His inventiveness was epitomized by a homemade gizmo he dreamed up and built called the “Bob-o-Meter,” a namesake device of unspecified sonic capabilities used in the post-recording process. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Neil Young is back living in Ontario

He and wife Daryl Hannah have been hiding out at 116-year-old cottage on lake near his hometown of Omemee. – Brock Thiessen, Exclaim!

Remembering Roots Revival, the band at the heart of Toronto’s rollicking ’70s reggae scene

Ernie Smith, a world-class talent who immigrated to Toronto from Jamaica, formed the band in 1978. Here, Roots Revival guitarist Paul Corby recalls the jam sessions and gigs where ‘everyone who was anyone’ would show up. – Toronto Star


Armed with a new $80-million grant, Calgary’s Arts Commons aims to revitalize the city centre

When Calgary City Council approved $200-million last week for its downtown revitalization project, the biggest chunk of money went to a theatre project. With the vote, Arts Commons was granted $80-million for the first phase of its transformation project, which will see a new purpose-built theatre complex connected by an elevated corridor to its current home across the street. – Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail 

From drive-in shows to Zoom sets, Canadian stand-up comics have turned pandemic frowns upside-down

While last summer’s drive-in comedy shows were a short-lived experiment (though some promoters are planning such shows again this year depending on local restrictions), the other alternative has proven more enduring: online comedy shows. – Musthafa Azeez, Globe and Mail

Rochelle Jordan makes R&B bangers for near-future dancefloors

The Los Angeles-via-Toronto singer/songwriter's new album Play With The Changes beautifully brings together formative influences and experiences. –  Kevin Ritchie, NOW

Bobbi Jo Hart's doco proves Fanny earned the right to rock

Fanny: The Right to Rock gets the inside scoop on the first all-female rock band to release albums on a major label. If you've never heard of Fanny, don't be too surprised. The way the groundbreaking quartet was overlooked in the history of rock 'n' roll—despite releasing five acclaimed LPs and developing a sound that blew the socks off none other than David Bowie—is the main thrust of Canadian writer-director Bobbi Jo Hart's film. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight


Genesis sets sights on reunion tour with Canadian dates in November

British rock trio Genesis is planning a return to Canada with two concert dates on the calendar for November.The “Invisible Touch” performers say they are set to play Montreal’s Bell Centre on Nov. 22 and Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 25 as part of a 14-date reunion dubbed, “The Last Domino?”–  David Friend, CP

Luminato’s move to fall 2021 is a bad omen for a crowded Ontario reopening

My heart dropped on Tuesday upon hearing the news that the Luminato Festival Toronto was moving its mostly online 2021 edition to October from June – and I’m sorry to say my first reaction was: Why not cancel instead? The decision to push programming that chief executive officer Celia Smith describes as “a dynamic series of film and digital experiences” back to the fall because of the third wave of Covid is certainly perplexing from the outside. – J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail 

Drake to executive produce psychological thriller, ‘Spiral’

Future the Prince will also executive produce the upcoming Selena Gomez-starring film. – Victoria Moorwood, Revolt 

Music review: Fungus’s album Sanguine will grow on you

An addictive listen for fans of Alanis Morissette, Tegan and Sara and Sheryl Crow. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast


Hot Docs review: Summer Of Soul (… Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson's doc about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival is essential viewing for music fans. - – Kevin Ritchie, NOW


Goldman Sachs: Universal is worth over $50bn, and global music streaming revenues will rise $3bn this year

One music industry report that sets the industry's expectations more than any others these days is Goldman Sachs' Music In The Air. The financial company has this week released its latest update to the paper, which has been obtained by MBW It contains some sunny predictions for the record business in the years ahead... and the most newsworthy of them may require Universal Music Group boss Sir Lucian Grainge to slip on his shades. – Tim Ingham, MBW


In major decision, Grammys cut nomination review committees

The Grammy Awards have changed its tune and voted to remove its nomination review committees — groups that determined the contenders for key awards at the coveted music show. The Recording Academy made the announcement Friday after the board of trustees met and approved the change. – Mesfin Fekadu, AP

What are the most valuable songs in the world? Here’s a breakdown by country

There are many ways to evaluate the worth of a song. An Australian outfit called S-Money decided to approach the question by analyzing Spotify streams in every country where the service is available. They then ranked everything on estimated earnings from these streams. Ed Sheeran came out on top. – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things

Prince fans pay respects at Paisley Park on fifth anniversary of his death

Paisley Park’s atrium opened to 1,400 people who were able to snag free reservations, while other fans paid their respects in front of a statue erected outside the front doors in the shape of his famous purple Love Symbol. A custom-made ceramic urn shaped like Paisley Park with Prince’s symbol on top was originally placed in the middle of the atrium when the pop legend’s 65,000-square-foot studio in suburban Minneapolis first opened. – AP

Director’s cut of Prince blowing minds on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ now has more Prince

Last week, seemingly out of the blue, veteran TV producer Joel Gallen, who directed and produced the original Hall of Fame broadcast of George Harrison's induction, uploaded a re-edited version of that famed performance with a simple comment. – Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

For Dave Grohl, what drives musicians is more than the van

Dave Grohl thought he was making a nostalgic film about the formative days of famous musicians. But then the pandemic happened. Partly by design and partly by circumstance, “What Drives Us” became a surprisingly emotional documentary about the power of live music and the pain of its absence. – David Bauder, AP 

Australian politician loses court fight over Twisted Sister song

Clive Palmer was ordered to pay more than $1 million for using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his party’s political advertising. – Yan Zhuang, The New York Times


10 jobs that singers say they'd have, if they hadn't got famous

From Bieber to Britney, all the way to Weird Al, these crooners name their careers from alternate universes. – Param Davies, The Richest

'A blur of legs, arms and adrenaline’: the astonishing history of two-tone

As a new exhibition documents the UK ska-pop sound, stars including the Specials, Elvis Costello and Pauline Black recall how it opened up music, fashion and racial understanding. – Dave Simpson, The Guardian

Sir Tom Jones becomes oldest man to top UK album chart

Tom Jones has become the oldest man to top the UK album chart, after his new record Surrounded By Time went straight in at number one. The 80-year-old Welshman has overtaken Bob Dylan, who topped the chart last June aged 79 with Rough and Rowdy Ways. The late Dame Vera Lynn holds the overall record after her 2009 greatest hits collection went to number one when the Forces' Sweetheart was 92. – BBC News

From spaceships to sweat shops to Studio 54: the world’s greatest nightclubs

A new show at V&A Dundee celebrates a half-century of club culture. Is it a thing of the past? – Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian

Plus-size’ boy band in China seeks to inspire fans

Gathered in a practice room, five generously proportioned young men in baggy black sweaters are patting their bellies and waggling their arms. Bearded with double chins, they shout “Hoo-Ha!” in time to upbeat African drums. The choreography is for the new song “Good Belly,” by Produce Pandas. Members weigh an average of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and proudly call themselves “the first plus-sized boy band in China.“ – AP


Glenn Danzig on his new vampire Western and why horror still inspires him

On the heels of his divisive midnight movie Verotika, the singer turned filmmaker discusses his new genre-blending gorefest Death Rider in the House of Vampires, the Misfits’ future, and more. – Kory Grow,  Rolling Stone

The face of solo guitar is changing. It’s about time

Since the heyday of John Fahey, the genre has been seen as the province of white men. A new generation of diverse players is rapidly changing that. – Grayson Haver Currin, NY Times

Steve Cropper's got stories—and a new album

The famed guitarist joined Stax Records when he was only 20, writing and producing for a stable of R&B stars that included Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Sam & Dave, and—with his longtime bassist cohort, Donald “Duck” Dunn—anchoring its house band, Booker T and the M.G.’s. – Tom Lanham, Paste

Paul Weller: ‘Music means more to me since I’ve been sober’

On the eve of his 16th album, the master of English pop takes questions from musicians, politicians and readers on his punk past, quitting booze, and what lockdown does to mod haircuts. – The Guardian

A 'life' story, retold

For the composer of one of Motown’s most-recorded songs, Orlando Murden is something of a mystery man. By contrast, the life story of its lyricist, Ron Miller, has been told time and time again. For Once In My Life was written 56 years ago by Miller and Murden. It’s celebrated as one of Stevie Wonder’s biggest worldwide hits, while also strongly associated with Tony Bennett. And at Motown Records, numerous versions were made, as if mandatory. –

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award

Music News

Allison Russell Named Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year

The Nashville-based musician from Montreal has been having a huge year, including her first Grammy and her first Hot 100 appearance. Accepting the award on June 19 at the iHeartRadio Canada studio, she talked about her LGBTQ+ advocacy work and the importance of playing with underrepresented musicians.

It was a special Juneteenth for Allison Russell.

Not only did she serve as the special Toronto opener for Sarah McLachlan on the Canadian icon’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy 30th anniversary tour, but she earned another big honour: Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

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