Music News Digest, April 23, 2018
A strong lineup for Estonia Music Week in Toronto, the Francouvertes competition is well underway, and a special reissue from Serena Ryder. Also in our news roundup are Neil Young and Stephen Stills, The Good Brothers, M.I.A. at Hot Docs, Hotel Mira, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elisapie, and a farewell to EDM star Avicii.
By Kerry Doole
The small Baltic nation of Estonia is known as having one of the richest musical cultures in the world, producing artists of high quality in many genres. That will be showcased in Toronto soon, at the first Estonian Music Week, being held at various venues May 24 -29. The Canadian Artistic Director is Tom (Toomas) Treumuth, a notable figure in the Canadian music biz as a producer (Honeymoon Suite, Helix, The Spoons), record label head and artist manager (Hypnotic), and booking agent (JMA Talent). He is of Estonian descent and is passionate about the project.
Leading the Estonian contingent into Toronto is the Grammy-winning choir Vox Clamantis, Estonian Voices, Kerli (the country's biggest pop act), jazz star (and ECM artist) Kristjan Randalu, classical-jazz outfit Avarus Ensemble, Kadri Voorand, rock acts Pia Fraus and Eriki Parnoja, and DJ Sander Molder. The fest has also recruited some prominent Canadian artists to participate, including Elizabeth Shepherd, Quartetto Gelato, Diana, and Justin Gray and Synthesis, while Estonian-Canadian performers will include highly-touted singer/songwriter Kaili Kinnon, Tina Kiik and Rosie Landau, and Leslie Spits. See the schedule here
– The 2018 Francouvertes competition is well underway, and one award has already been handed out. SOCAN's Paroles & Musique Award was presented to member Lou-Adriane Cassidy, and her collaborators Stéphanie Boulay and Philémon Cimon, at the end of the semi-final round, in recognition of the excellence of the songs she performed during the event. Cassidy will enjoy a writing residency at the SOCAN House in Paris, plus a $1.5K international mobility grant presented by the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ). Three finalists – Crabe, LaF, and Cassidy – will compete in the final of Francouvertes at Club Soda in Montréal, May 7.
– On Friday, Serena Ryder released her special edition album, If Your Memory Serves You Well (Original Sessions), via Universal Music Canada. This is a reissue of her career-making major label debut, one that sold Gold and earned Ryder her first Juno win for Best New Artist of the Year. This special remastered release is the ‘originally intended and produced album’ of cover songs that she recorded with producer Steve Mackinnon before three original songs penned by Ryder were added.
– A highlight of the recent Light Up The Blues benefit concert for Autism Speaks at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles was an onstage reunion of Neil Young and Stephen Stills. Together they delivered renditions of Buffalo Springfield classics "For What It's Worth" and "Mr. Soul," and Young's "Long May You Run." Other artists involved included Patti Smith, Burt Bacharach, The Heartbreakers, Beck, Judy Collins, and MC Jack Black.
– Europe is a happy hunting ground for many Canadian artists, none more so than The Good Brothers. The country music veterans will soon head back across the pond for their 40th tour in 30 years. This latest tour includes shows in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria, from May 16-27.
– A notable music-themed entry at Toronto's upcoming Hot Docs festival is Gurrumul, an in-depth profile of much-loved late Australian Indigenous singer/songwriter Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, considered one of that nation's most important artists. This past week, he became the first indigenous singer to sing in his native language to reach No. 1 on the albums chart in Australia. Screenings take place on April 28 and 29 and May 5. More info here
– Another Hot Docs highlight is expected to be the profile of award-winning musician and social justice activist M.I.A. in the documentary Matangi/Maya/ M.I.A. The provocative star will be present at the first screening, at Scarborough Coliseum Cineplex on May 3. More info here
– Vancouver rockers JPNSGRLS have changed their name, apparently voluntarily, rather than through controversy (as with Viet Cong/Preoccupations). The new moniker is Hotel Mira, and the first track under the name, “3 AM Lullaby”, is now out. The Georgia Straightnotes that a Czech hotel termed Hotel Mira gets some negative Trip Advisor scores, hopefully not a bad omen.
– Lynyrd Skynyrd has announced that the band's final ever concert will be held on Sept. 2 at TIAA Bank Field, in Jacksonville. The Florida city is the hometown of most members of the famed Southern rock band. The concert will also feature Kid Rock and Jason Aldean, along with other "special guests" TBA. The group's final North American tour begins May 4 in West Palm Beach.
– Inuk-Montrealer Elisapie shares “Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules”, the first single from her upcoming album to be released in September through Bonsound. The song is inspired by the life and music of Inuk folk-singer Willie Thrasher. Elisapie terms the song "a tribute to survival, to nomadism and the free spirit of the Inuit people. It’s also an ode to the animal life and spirituality."
Avicii (born Tim Bergling), chart-topping and Grammy-nominated Swedish DJ, musician and EDM producer, died on April 20, aged 28. The official cause of death has not yet been released.
Bergling released his debut studio album, True, in 2013. It generally received positive reviews, peaked within the top ten in more than fifteen countries and topped the Australian, Swedish, Danish and US charts. In 2015, he released his second studio album, Stories. In August 2017, Avicii released an EP titled Avīci (01).
In 2016, he shocked his millions-strong global fan base when he announced his retirement from live touring. Avicii had suffered from very public health problems in recent years, including acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking. After having his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014, he cancelled a series of shows in an attempt to recover.
Bergling was nominated for Grammy Awards for his work on "Sunshine" with David Guetta in 2012 and his track "Levels" in 2013. Some of his most famous tracks include "I Could Be The One" with Nicky Romero, "Wake Me Up", "You Make Me", "X You", "Hey Brother", "Addicted to You", "The Days", "The Nights", "Levels", "Waiting for Love", "Without You" and "Lonely Together." Sources: Wikipedia, Billboard