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FYI

Music News Digest, April 22, 2021

Kilometre Music Group partners with hit songwriter Shaun Frank (pictured), Heal the Earth features CanCon notables, and  Boots and Hearts is cancelled. Also in the news are the CMAOntario Festival and Awards, Amplify BC, LyricFind, Zack Werner, Lyne Tremblay, Six Shooter Records, Wavelength, The Fringe, Jesse Cook, and farewell Bob Lanois and Jim Steinman.

Music News Digest, April 22, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Recently formed music rights management company Kilometre Music Group (Kilometre) has announced its first acquisition, Toronto-based Shaun Frank’s co-writing interests in the hit song Closer, recorded by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey. Closer is reportedly the 6th most streamed song of all time. The track spent twelve weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts in over 10  countries. Only The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights has spent more time in the Top 5 on the Hot 100


Kilometre’s CEO Michael McCarty stated in a press release that “we couldn’t be prouder that Shaun Frank has trusted us with his song Closer” as our first acquisition. Closer is a great example of the 'Canadian Invasion' sweeping the world music scene and is destined to be one of the classics of its era. It’s the ideal cornerstone of our Barometer Global Music Royalty Fund which we believe will be one of the premiere music catalogs in the world.”. Read a previous FYI feature on Kilometre here

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Heal the Earth is another notable and star-studded online Earth Day event. This one takes place on April 22 (4 pm PT), and is produced and hosted by Tom Jackson. Artists featured include  Murray McLauchlan, Gowan,  Alan Frew of Glass Tiger, Tommy James, Andy Kim, Spoons, and Jackson, who'll perform this song.  More info here.

– The list of music festival and events forced to cancel or postpone continues to grow as the pandemic rages on. One of Canada's biggest summer country music fests, Boots and Hearts, has been cancelled amid Covid restrictions, promoter Republic Live announced on Monday. It was to have been held over the Aug. 5 weekend in Oro-Medonte, ON, with major US acts Dan + Shay, Eric Church, and Sam Hunt booked to headline.

– The 2021 CMAOntario Festival and Awards had been planned for May 28 - 30, but have now been rescheduled for Sept. 3 - 5, 2021 in Hamilton. The event, presented by Slaight Music, will now host three drive in concerts at Ancaster Fairgrounds including the Legacy Revival, the New Faces Showcase & Concert, and the 9th Annual CMAOntario Awards.

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--  The BC government announced recently that $22.5 million in funding has been set aside for the province's music industry over the next three years through Amplify BC. The news came via a press release sent out from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, which is headed by Melanie Mark. "Over the last year musicians have comforted us and inspired us," said Mark in the press release. "Now they need our support to come back stronger than ever... I know that by continuing to work together we will support our talented artists, sustain our vital music businesses, and continue making our mark in the music industry. Source: Georgia Straight

-- LyricFind, the Toronto-based lyric licensing company, has announced the hiring of music biz veteran Zack Werner to manage Business Development. A Winnipeg native, Werner has worked as an artist, producer, record executive, entertainment lawyer, and artist manager. and achieved prominence over a six seasons stint as a judge on Canadian Idol.

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-- Montreal singer/actor/cabaret star Lyne Tremblay and her partner Matt Zimbel are streaming their cabaret show Living In Limbo live from their loft on April 24, 7.30 pm ET. Tix via Side Door. Highly recommended. 

– Six Shooter Records welcomes three new staff to the label. Andrea Aguilar joins as the new Director of Digital Strategy and Marketing, Meghan Borthwick as Marketing Department Coordinator, and Julian Staniewski as Operations Manager. 

– Toronto music org Wavelength is hosting an online monthly music series. Next up, it features a hip-hop double bill featuring two Toronto rap/soul notables: Odario and rapper-DJ-producer More or Les. It streams on YouTube here,  April 29 (8-10 pm ET). This digital concert promotes two new recordings created and released into the pandemic world: More or Les’ The Human Condition and Odario’s Good Morning Hunter EP.

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– Toronto record label Axe Records has just reissued Token For My Mind, an album by '60s Canadian psych-rock band The Fringe. It came out in 1967, the group broke up while on tour a year later, and its members gained some notoriety in their later careers. Chuck Cadman moved to Vancouver, ran for parliament, and nearly brought down the Harper government, Dr. John Murkin became a famous anesthetist, and Chris Thomas became a deep-sea diver and an internationally-known photographer. More info here, and here's the title track.

Bravo Niagara Festival of the Arts' new Amplified Virtual Member Series begins April 23 with Canadian nuevo flamenco guitar star Jesse Cook. For an exclusive performance plus Zoom Meet and Greet go here 

RIP

Bob (Robert) Lanois, a Hamilton area musician, recording engineer/producer, studio owner, visual artist and photographer, passed away on April 19, at age 73. No cause of death has been reported.

Lanois found both national and international recognition for his work alongside his younger brother, Daniel Lanois, and Bob Doidge at Hamilton's Grant Avenue Studio, beginning in the '70s.

Bob and Daniel started recording and engineering music in the basement of their mother's home in Ancaster, ON,  dubbing the basement studio MSR (Master Sound Recordings), and producing regional artists and local radio jingles. As their work became known locally, the pair both both purchased and built studio equipment.

In a tribute posted on Facebook, Bob’s younger sister, musician Jocelyne Lanois, recalled that “Bob was a natural inventor at a young age. He had, by seventeen, delved into the deep mysteries of electronics and sound recording, constructed a photography darkroom in our basement and created large paintings in the evenings at our kitchen table."

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One of Bob Lanois’ early production clients was local band Simply Saucer, now viewed internationally as proto-punk visionaries. SS leader Edgar Breau tells FYI that “who would have guessed in 1974 that the six song demo recorded at Master Sound in Ancaster Ontario in two days would one day catapult Simply Saucer into Canadian cult band status internationally? Bob Lanois was the perfect foil for the young east Hamilton upstarts, green but aggressive in their pursuit of a new sound with a new vision gleaned from cult record collecting. Bob was unflappable, just a smirk now and again betraying the studious, professional approach to the sessions.”

The resulting tapes were rejected by all labels approached, but surfaced 15 years later as the cult favourite album Cyborgs Revisited. Breau recalls that “Bob Lanois played a pivotal role in that. Approached in 1988 with the old tapes by Bruce Mowat and a live tape of our notorious 1975 Jackson Square concert recorded by a single mic plugged into a Tandberg reel to reel tape recorder, Bob set to work restoring the live show in order to give us enough tracks to release an album.”

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“As if that wasn’t enough, Bob co-signed the $3600 loan that Bruce needed to bring out Cyborgs on his new founded Mole Sound Recordings label. Critical acclaim was immediate and international. Spin, Creem, the London Sunday Times, the Village Voice, New York Times, and hundreds of underground fanzines were effusive in their praise for this obscure Hamilton Ontario band’s frankensteined album!”

In 1975, the Lanois brothers and Bob Doidge set up shop in an old Edwardian home in downtown Hamilton, and Grant Avenue Studio was born. Doidge would become sole owner of Grant Avenue Studio in 1985, and he still runs it. The illustrious list of studio clients includes Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Ian Thomas, U2, Johnny Cash, Los Lobos, and countless others.

In the late '70s and early '80s, Grant Avenue hosted sessions by the likes of Willie P. Bennett, Raffi, the Original Sloth Band, Stan Rogers, Downchild, Long John Baldry, Cowboy Junkies, Prairie Oyster, Parachute Club, Sylvia Tyson, Harold Budd, and many more, and its international reputation was boosted when Brian Eno began working there. That connection would lead Daniel Lanois to his highly acclaimed production work with such artists as U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, the Neville Brothers, Peter Gabriel, and others.

Bob Lanois remained active engineering and producing records, as well as making music himself. In 2005, he teamed up with Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond) for a well-received joint album, The Shack Recordings Vol. 1.

A year later, he released a solo harmonica-led instrumental album, Snake Road. This found an international audience and received a 2008 Juno award nomination for Instrumental Album of the Year. Lanois travelled to Sweden in 2007, performing shows together with eclectic Swedish band Big Is Less after having met the band's guitarist Tommy Sahlin via MySpace.

Veteran Hamilton Spectator music critic Graham Rockingham tells FYI “I remember how much Bob loved his harmonica. I recall hanging out with him at the 2004 Juno Awards in Edmonton. At that point he hadn't been playing harmonica very long, but he never stopped. He always had it with him and would play it at every opportunity. At one point we were waiting outside a venue to meet up with some friends. He pulled out the harmonica and started playing. Passersby were impressed. Of course, they thought he was a busker and some threw money at him!”

Lanois worked out of a rustic studio termed The Shack, in Waterdown, Ontario (near Hamilton), and, in recent years, at The Mule Spinner, located in the industrial complex of The Cotton Factory in Hamilton. Lanois partnered with a longtime friend, fellow local musician and producer Glen Marshall, to open that music and entertainment space. It is used for live performances, recording, filming of movies and TV shows, rehearsals, and events, and has hosted notable local and national artists, including Daniel Lanois, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, The Trews, Colin Linden, and Ron Hawkins.

Bob Lanois' peers and business and creative partners have been effusive in praising him. Sister Jocelyne terms him "A wise benevolent philosopher and mentor to many. A renaissance man who communed in mysterious ways with spirits and nature and lately in solitude surrounded by forest at his beloved 'Shack.' His ability to nurture talent with humor and charm, to create beauty and inspire others to excel remains in our hearts. Safe journey Bob. You are loved."

When contacted by FYI, Bob Doidge offered us the following tribute to Bob Lanois: "I knew Bob from age 15 when Dan [Lanois] and I were starting to work on music. I was well aware of his genius. There was nothing he couldn't figure out. People come in to Grant Ave. and think of an old house with some recording gear. Behind these walls is hidden the genius of Bob Lanois."

"He designed and constructed a studio that has lasted for 45 years. His attention to detail and understanding of people in the creative setting is truly unmatched. I called him recently, as I do regularly, to discuss and debate recording gear. After an hour I was once again blessed with his brilliant insight and more importantly, his wonderful sense of humour. I will miss Bob so much and I know we have lost someone special.

Lanois' close friend and musical comrade Tom Wilson tells FYI that "Bob was a fierce creator. He taught me to always lead with art and when he sensed I was fuckin’ around he was there to kick my ass. He gave all of himself to the magic of creation and expected the same from the people he chose to work with. An inventor, poet and daredevil. The world is a way less interesting place today without Bob Lanois.” 

Sources: Hamilton Spectator, Exclaim!, Wikipedia, I Heart Hamilton

International

Jim Steinman, the songwriter of hits for Meat Loaf, Céline Dion, Bonnie Tyler, Air Supply, and more, died on April 19, aged 73. No cause of death has been reported.

Known for his over-the-top sonic approach, Steinman was once dubbed ‘Little Richard Wagner,’ and Guardian critic Alexis Petridis writes that “he reminded us that pop music should involve fantasy and a sense of the ridiculous."

Steinman’s more-is-more approach to rock music was first given full expression on Meat Loaf’s 50m-selling 1977 debut album Bat Out of Hell and sustained until his death. Petridis writes that "Along the way, he helped invent the power ballad, though it’s worth noting that most big 80s power ballads were essentially a toned-down version of Steinman’s writing style."

He wrote one of Celine Dion's big international hits, 1996's It's All Coming Back to Me Now, and was versatile enough to work with Anglo goth rockers Sisters of Mercy.

Steinman’s wholly unique career found him working as a composer, lyricist, and producer for an array of artists in a variety of styles. According to a biography on his website, the records he’s worked on have sold more than 190 million copies worldwide. He was nominated for four Grammys over the course of his career as well, ultimately winning Album of the Year for his work on Dion’s 1996 smash, Falling Into You.

Steinman began his career in musical theater, writing and starring in a rock musical while in college called The Dream Engine. After graduating, Steinman worked at the Public Theater in New York (which Joe Papp established) and juggled various creative projects. In 1973, Yvonne Elliman recorded Steinman’s song Happy Ending, his first commercially released tune. That same year, the Public Theater staged his musical More Than You Deserve.

One of the actors who auditioned for that production was Meat Loaf, and he and Steinman soon struck up a close personal and professional relationship. The two began working on Meat Loaf’s proper solo debut, Bat Out of Hell, in the early Seventies, but the album wouldn’t be released until 1977. It wasn’t until about one year later — after Meat Loaf performed on Saturday Night Live — that the album became a certified hit.

Despite the success of Bat Out of Hell, however, Meat Loaf and Steinman’s relationship soon frayed. They completed and released Dead Ringer in 1981, but worked together much more sporadically, and they were frequently engaged in lawsuits against each other.

During the Eighties, Steinman collaborated with Barbra Streisand, Sisters of Mercy, and Bonnie Tyler, he composed the theme music for pro wrestler Hulk Hogan; and he wrote Holding Out for a Hero for the Footloose soundtrack (sung by Tyler). Meat Loaf also recorded a handful of Steinman songs for 1984’s Bad Attitude, while in 1989 Steinman released the album Original Sin with his group Pandora’s Box.

In 1993, Meat Loaf and Steinman released Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which featured the hit, I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That). As well as working with Dion, Steinman also took on several musical-theater projects in the Nineties, collaborating with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Whistle Down the Wind

In 2006, Meat Loaf released Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, which was credited and promoted as another production with Steinman, but the pair were once again embroiled in a legal dispute and sparsely collaborated on it. In 2016 they released what would become their last album together, Braver Than We Are.

Steinman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. Sources: The Guardian, Rolling StoneBillboard

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