Music News Digest, April 22, 2020

A spate of summer folk fest cancellations, Aaron Goodvin (pictured) gets a golden surprise, and new material from High Valley. Also in the news are Chris Birkett, the Blues Music Awards, Carmanah, Music NL, Tami Neilson, Kalsey Kulyk, and farewell Ian Whitcomb and Henry Grimes. With video.

Music News Digest, April 22, 2020

By Kerry Doole

This week has confirmed that the summer 2020 folk fest season will be a sad one. Those announcing covid-induced cancellations include the Mariposa Folk Festival, Canmore Folk Music Festival, Salmon Arm, Vancouver Island MusicFest, and Edmonton Folk Festivals. Mariposa had planned to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year. The fest is offering ticket purchasers a full refund, a deferral for 2021 festival tickets, or the option of donating ticket purchases back to the fest. The planned dates for next year are July 9-11. The new Canmore dates are July 31 – Aug. 2, 2021.

– Country star Aaron Goodvin received a nice surprise recently. Thinking he was joining an online meeting with his Warner Music Canada team,  the summit instead was a 'hooray' in finding his single You Are has achieved Gold status. The label promises to give the hat star the real deal when the troubles subside. A CCMA Songwriter of the Year Award winner, Goodvin was nominated for the now-cancelled 2020 Juno Awards.


– Toronto-based producer Chris Birkett (Sinead O’Connor, Buffy Sainte-Marie) has formed a duo with Tallon, The Free Spirits, and has released a new track, a cover of the Sly Stone classic Everyday People featuring Ann Vriend with the Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts Student Choir.

– Hit country duo High Valley has announced the release of a new six-song EP,  Grew Up OnThat, on May 22. A press release informs "the project tells of childhood, family and love," and is  teased with River’s Still Running, penned by Brad Rempel, Randy Montana and Corey Crowder.

– Shemekia Copeland hosts this year’s Blues Music Awards that will be live-streamed May 3 on The Blues Foundation’s Facebook page and YouTube channels at 5 pm EDT. BMA nominees will contribute home-recorded performances.

Carmanah, a Victoria-based band fronted by singer-songwriter Laura Mina Mitic, is attracting attention with its debut release, Speak In Rhythms, co-produced by Gus Van Go and Werner F (Arkells, Whitehorse, Wintersleep). Here’s a new single, Best Interests.


– A reminder that the deadline for submissions for the Canadian Songwriting Challenge 2020 is April 26.

– Canadian-born, NZ-based, vocal dynamo Tami Neilson launches The TAMI Show, a new weekly series on her YouTube channel, tomorrow (April 23), at 6 p.m. ET. She will chat with her fans during the live broadcast.

DDEX, the international music biz data standards-organization, has announced that Jeff King, Chief Operating and Corporate Development Officer of SOCAN, has been named Chair of its Board. He succeeds Paul Dilorito, the former Director of Innovation and Partnerships at PRS for Music.

– To assist local artists during the covid pandemic, Stingray has teamed up with MusicNL, Business & Arts NL, and Genoa Design International to present a special broadcast of the VOCM Variety Hour. The kitchen party style show will feature a variety of entertainment from local music to poetry to comedy and runs every Friday evening for the next two months beginning April 24. Artist submissions here.

– Grocery store chain Giant Tiger has launched a live streaming music series to benefit Food Banks Canada. Performing tonight at 8 pm is Kalsey Kulyk.



Ian Whitcomb, a British-born singer, performer, and author died April 19, of natural causes, aged 78.

He scored one top 10 hit in the US., 1965’s You Turn Me On (Turn On Song), which reached #8 in Billboard. He specialised in vintage British and American comedy songs, and became a noted music scholar and author of music-themed books, beginning with 1972’s After the Ball, and continuing with books such as Tin Pan Alley, A Pictorial History (1919-1939) and a novel, Lotusland: A Story of Southern California.


As a performer, he played vintage songs on the ukulele (he created the music for a documentary on Bugs Bunny) and recorded numerous albums, including Pianomelt, which consisted of 18 piano rolls. His recreation of the music played aboard The Titanic won Grammy awards for packaging and liner notes, which he wrote. Having long ago relocated to Southern California, Whitcomb continued to find work there as a performer and radio host.

Toronto radio producer Doug Thompson posted on Facebook that " Ian was a great guy.  I hired him to narrate a British Invasion radio special in 1983 and he was fabulous. The 12-hour special ran on a hundred radio stations in Canada and the U.S. He'd had a stroke a few years ago, and it's very sad he's gone."

He was also an actor who appeared in numerous films and television shows. Sources: Best Classic Bands, Doug Thompson

Henry Grimes, US free jazz legend, died April 15,  at the age of 84 from covid-19 complications.  

Grimes was an in-demand jazz bassist who played with many legends including Benny Goodman, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, and Lee Konitz. Later he became influential in the free jazz movement, playing with Don Cherry and Cecil Taylor.  

By 1970 amid financial difficulties, Grimes disappeared from the music world. Many thought he had passed away. A social worker and jazz fan named Marshall Marrotte tracked him down through public records in 2002. Grimes returned to jazz in 2003, at age 67, for the first time in decades, at the Vision Festival in New York City. From then on, he continued to play live shows and host student workshops throughout the 2010s. Sources: Legacy, New York Post

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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