By Kerry Doole
At a time when gender parity at festivals is a hot topic, the new College Street Jazz Festival in Toronto proudly declares that 95% of its just-announced lineup identifies itself as female. The fest runs April 21-23 at six live music venues in that 'hood. Notable names performing include Laila Biali, Queen Pepper, Alison Young, Carlie Howell & La-Nai Gabriel, Chloe Watkinson, DIJLAH, Trash Panda Brass, Racha Moukalled, Grapevine, and the Jennifer Lo trio. Classy jazz singer Ori Dagan serves as Artistic Director. Tix here.
– The Hagersville Rocks concert on July 15 just got bigger. The original lineup announcement featured Colin James, David Wilcox and My Son the Hurricane, and newly added to the bill are Big Sugar, Daniel Lanois, and Julian Taylor. The show takes place at the Heaslip Ford Amphitheatre at Grant Kett Memorial Park in Hagersville, ON. Tix here.
– Niagara region winery Jackson-Triggs has been at the forefront of attracting big-name Canadian artists for outdoor summer concerts in the region. It has just announced its 2023 lineup, and it is certainly impressive. the list of performers includes Sam Roberts Band (kicking off the series on June 9 and 10), The Strumbellas, Colin James, William Prince, Serena Ryder, Charlotte Cardin, Jann Arden, Randy Bachman, Matt Andersen, and Bahamas. General onsale begins today (April 13) here.
– NXNE continues to add names to the lineup of its summer edition in Toronto. Those newly added include Aja, Dilettante, Allegra Jordyn, Smack Jive, Daniel Blake, and Joey O'Neil. More info here.
– The TD Halifax Jazz Festival has announced a potent lineup of international and Canadian stars for its event, running 11-16. It begins with Feist and closes out with Fleet Foxes, with other artists including Shaggy, Jenn Grant, and Digable Planets. More info and tix here.
– Canadian producer, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Chris LaRocca will release a new EP, perhaps!, on May 5. He was recently signed by Grammy-nominated producer WondaGurl to her imprint Wonderchild in partnership with Red Bull Records. LaRocca's new single deep end marks the first official release to emerge from the label. LaRocca has written and produced for such stars as Kali Uchis, Bryson Tiller, and Boslen.
– A recent CBC investigation says that Juno-nominated R&B artist Danny Fernandes allegedly took more than $200K from about a dozen people, "largely in the form of loans and for career help they say never materialized." CP quotes the singer's lawyer as explaining “He is confident through our joint efforts in rehabilitation and restitution he can rebuild his trust in the public and his career to once again give back to our community the talents he has been rewarded for." Read more in this CP feature.
– The deadline for the Charlie A’Court Scholarship for Excellence in Music is April 13. Funded by the popular East Coast musician, CASEM awards $500 to one Nova Scotian high school graduating student who has been accepted into post-secondary to continue their music education. Info here.
– The Education Foundation of Niagara presents In The Round!, a fundraiser on April 28 featuring a singer-songwriters circle with an impressive lineup: Colin & John-Angus of The Trews, Tim Hicks, Suzie McNeil & Jessica Mitchell. A Silent Auction and Cocktail Reception will also be held. All funds raised will support DSBN Academy. Tix and info here.
– Ontario country artists are coming together to share stories about mental illness and mental health in a benefit concert for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Country Talks: Mental Health is set for May 24 at the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville, featuring Canadian independent country artists Maddie Corinne, Taylor Wilson, Broadtree, Caves, Jessica Towler, and Katy Topham performing in a writers’ round format. The event will be hosted by Nicole McCafferty and Armand Antony, who will perform in the show as Broadtree. All proceeds from the benefit will be donated to the CAMH Foundation. It is believed to be the first benefit concert focusing on mental illness by the Ontario country community. Info and tix here.
– The Folk Music Ontario (FMO) Conference 2023 runs Oct. 12-15 in London. Showcase applications are still open, with an April 14 deadline. Apply here.
– Acclaimed folk/roots singer-songwriter and co-founder of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Stephen Fearing recently released his 14th album, Vejpoesi (Danish for 'Road Poems'). He has now put out a video for his latest single with Denmark's The Sentimentals, Sunny, a track tackling a timely subject, with a press release terming it "a love story about a young transgender person from some small northern Canadian town." Fearing is now out playing Canadian shows with The Sentimentals, a trio with whom he has now established a real bond. His Ontario tour begins tonight (April 13) at London's Aeolian Hall, followed by shows at Bridgeworks in Hamilton (April 14), and in ten other cities (some dates are solo). See the full itinerary here.
– Award-winning East Coast singer-songwriter Tara MacLean brought her current book launch/concert tour to Mills Hardware in Hamilton on Tues. night. She delighted the audience both with excerpts from her already very successful memoir Song of the Sparrow and with new and old songs from her now-extensive discography (solo and with East Coast super-trio Shaye). Her candid stories behind the very personal songs resonated, as did the fine accompaniment of cellist/guitarist Kevin Fox. MacLean has a pure voice, and her folk/pop material is well-crafted. Impressing in their opening slot was the group Minuscule, fronted by singer/songwriter/ukelele player Laurel Minnes. The combination of ukelele, acoustic guitar and a four-piece female choir (down from the group's usual 15 voices) is unconventional, but the inventive vocal arrangements and her strong compositions made it a winning one. See the remaining dates on MacLean's tour here.
– Veteran Toronto jazzniks The Shuffle Demons have a prestigious hometown show coming up on May 6 at Koerner Hall. Also on the bill are world-renowned DJ Skratch Bastid and two-time Juno-winning Jazz vocalist Caity Gyorgy. Tix here.
– Empty Glasses is the name of a star-studded country music series hosted by The Rivoli (upstairs) in Toronto. Happening every second Sunday (3-6 pm), it features classic country gems delivered by the likes of Bazil Donovan, Clayton Yates, Michelle Josef, Bryan Landry, and Burke Carroll. The April 16 session features Jimmy Bowskill (Blue Rodeo, Sheepdogs), subbing for Carroll on pedal steel. Tasty!
– Acclaimed Vancouver singer/songwriter Dan Mangan has announced his upcoming fall Canadian tour, Going Somewhere, in support of his latest record, Being Somewhere, out on Arts & Crafts. Mangan will be accompanied by Gabrielle Shonk and Aysanabee. The 28 dates trek starts in Vancouver on Aug. 25, closing out in St. John's on Nov. 14. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (April 14) here