Music News Digest, April 12, 2019

Terri Clark (pictured) has been named RBC Master in Residence at Studio Bell, Sonic Unyon turns 25, and Global partners with the CCMA. Also in the news: The Weeknd, ticket scalping, Radiohead, CFMU, PEI songwriters, The Acoustic Guitar Project, OBEY fest, Shelagh Rogers, Calgary Folk Fest, Collingwood Elvis Festival, and farewell Earl Thomas Conley and James Renald.

Music News Digest, April 12, 2019

By Kerry Doole

Canadian country star Terri Clark has been named the next RBC Master in Residence at Studio Bell in Calgary. During her residence, Clark will offer songwriting expertise to three emerging Canadian country acts from Western Canada during an intensive one-day session: Tracy Bone from the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation in southwestern Manitoba; Vancouver singer-songwriter Shylo Sharity; and Calgary-based Mariya Stokes. The private sessions will conclude with a public Songwriters’ Circle on May 15 hosted by Clark.

Hailing from Medicine Hat and now based in Nashville, Clark was named to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018. She will officially add her name plaque to the Hall of Fame wall at Studio Bell on May 14.


– Hamilton-based independent record label Sonic Unyon turns 25 this year and is not letting this monumental milestone go unnoticed. A film documentary look at the label, Sonic Unyon: Now We Are 25, gets a screening at Mills Hardware in Hamilton on Saturday (April 13), plus a Q and A segment with the label founders. Check the trailer here.Also on Saturday, in honour of Record Store Day, a limited edition pressing (500) of the label retrospective, Now We Are 25,  is being released as a triple vinyl pack.

– Global has announced a new broadcast partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA). The 37th annual CCMA Awards, broadcast live from Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome, airs on Global Sunday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. EST/PST. The CCMA also detailed the return of the Entertainer of the Year Award, described as "the highest honour for a Canadian act (solo, duo or group) who displays the greatest competence in all aspects of the field. This award will speak directly to an artist's overall impact on the Canadian country music industry." It will be presented for the first time in more than 30 years on the 2019 Awards broadcast.


– The Weeknd is the latest celebrity to cash in on the esports world. The Toronto Star reports that the R&B star has invested in Overactive Media Group (OAM), the org behind the Toronto Defiant and other esports teams in the Overwatch league. Drake and famed artist manager Scooter Braun have invested in 100 Thieves, another esports org.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in BC, has announced plans for new ticket buying laws that aim to provide greater consumer protections and fairer processes for people purchasing online or at the ticket booth. The aim is to eliminate ticket bots and mass-buying software. In an official news release, Farnworth stated “These changes are going to make our live-event industry in B.C. even better for the people who matter most — the fans. The new laws will make the ticket buying process more transparent and equitable for consumers so that everyone in our province will have a fair chance of getting tickets for their favourite acts and events.” 

– A coroner's inquest into the fatal stage collapse at a Radiohead concert in Toronto in 2012 continues in that city. Earlier this week, a lawyer told the hearing that the Ontario government should form a working group to examine the processes involved in the live performance industry, including the construction of temporary stages like the one involved in that collapse. Source: CP


– Hamilton's community radio station 93.3 CFMU is having a fundraiser at This Ain't Hollywood tonight (April 12). The impressive lineup of Hammer talents includes Ellevator, TristanPsionic, Haolin Munk, and Granny Smith, plus a special appearance by Luke Bentham of The Dirty Nil. Tix here

– Gordie MacKeeman, Catherine MacLellan and Meaghan Blanchard will bring Heaven to Me - Songs and Stories of Prince Edward Island to the event space at the P.E.I. Brewing Company in Charlottetown every Tuesday and Wednesday during July, August, and September. Inspired by Hal Lone Pine’s 1950s hit song of the same name, Heaven to Me brings generations of songs and stories to life through these top Island songwriters.


– The Acoustic Guitar Project: One Guitar. One Week. One Song is a global songwriting initiative that returning for a third annual Toronto concert, on April 18. It is curated by Rosanne Baker Thornley, who makes a guest appearance, along with Blair Packham. This year's participants are singer/songwriters Ambre McLean, Trevor LaRose, Lori Cullen, Noah Zacharin, Scarlett Flynn, and Kevin Howley (of Running Red Lights). Tix and details here

– The OBEY fest runs May 30 to June 2 in Halifax. The lineup includes Mary Jane Leach, Cucina Povera, Kelly Moran, Guttersnipe, 75 Dollar Bill, Frail Hands, and Just John x Dom Dias.

– New recipients of honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba include broadcaster Shelagh Rogers (Doctor of Letters) and Saskatchewan Indigenous entertainer Winston Wuttunee (Doctor of Letters). They will receive these honours during the 140th annual Spring Convocation of the University of Manitoba in early June.

– The Calgary Folk Music Festival has announced the lineup for the 40th anniversary edition. Major names nclude Sheila E, Tal National, Charlotte Day Wilson, Sharon Van Etten, Belle & Sebastian, Half Moon Run, Rheostatics, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lucius, Asleep at the Wheel, Colter Wall, Strumbellas, Sam Lewis, The Mekons, and Willie Thrasher. The fest runs July 25–28 at Prince’s Island Park.

– The future of the Collingwood Elvis Festival is in doubt after the Ontario town's council unanimously voted to discontinue funding it after this year's edition, which runs July 26 - 28. The tourism draw, which began as a volunteer-run event in 1995, was taken over by the town in 2003. Declining attendance is the cited reason.  CTV News



Earl Thomas Conley, known as one of country music’s most reliable hitmakers n the '80s, died on April 10, aged 77.

His booking agent, Rob Battle, told the Tennessean that Conley had stopped touring two years ago due to health issues. He had been in hospice care because of a dementia-like condition.

Conley had an almost unbroken string of 18 singles that reached No. 1 in the format between 1981 and ’89.

After initially flopping on the GRT label in the ’70s and doing almost as poorly for Warner Bros. late in the decade, Conley became a go-to star working for Joe Galante’s RCA imprint in Nashville. His first No. 1 was “Fire and Smoke” in 1981, and other chart-toppers included “Somewhere Between Right and Wrong,” “Your Love’s on the Line,” “Holding Her and Loving You,”  “Angel in Disguise,”“Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart It Breaks),” “Nobody Falls Like a Fool,” “Once in a Blue Moon,” “I Can’t Win for Losin’ You,” “What She Is (Is a Woman in Love),” the Emmylou Harris duet “We Believe in Happy Endings,” and “Love Out Loud.”


In recent years he was given renewed attention by Blake Shelton, who termed Conley an "all-time hero" and frequently name-checked him. “My heart is absolutely destroyed today,” Shelton tweeted after hearing the news. Others paying tribute included Toby Keith and John Rich, Randy Travis, Bobby Bare, and Mickey Gilley. Sources: Variety, Wikipedia

James Renald, singer and songwriter in Montreal pop duo Sky during the late 1990s, took his own life on Aug. 11, 2018. His death, at age 47, was not made public at the time, but the news was announced by David Friend of CP this week.

Sky broke big with its debut album (on EMI Canada), Piece of Paradise. The single Some Kinda Wonderful reached No. 4 on the Canadian charts. 1999 single "Love Song" was their biggest single, charting in the U.S. Top 40.

Renald was never comfortable in the spotlight, and he announced in 2000 that he was leaving the duo. He wasn't present at the Juno Awards in which Sky won Best New Group. Sky co-founder Antoine Sicotte then recruited Montreal singer  Anastasia Friedman to replace Renald. She was later replaced by Karl Wolf.

Renald later pursued a production career in Los Angeles with artists including Mandy Moore, co-writing and producing her hit song "Cry". Sources: CP, Wikipedia









Toronto Queer Music Festival Lavender Wild Gets Slayyyter, Rebecca Black for Summer Dance Party

Ari Hicks, Makayla Couture and more will take the stage at History for a sweaty August event, with proceeds going towards 2SLGBTQI+ charity The Get Real Movement as well as Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest queer bookstore in the world.

With Pride month in full swing, Toronto queer music festival Lavender Wild has announced a sizzling new event for later this summer.

"Starfucker" singer Slayyyter will headline the August 24 celebration at Toronto's History club, with queer musician and "Friday" singer Rebecca Black DJing, while Canadian drag queens Makayla Couture and Naomi Leone also bringing their star quality to the stage.

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