Music News Digest, April 26, 2021
The Osheaga fest is cancelled and the ECMAs go totally virtual, Tate McRae (pictured) has a global smash hit, and a new Stompin’ Tom collection is coming. Also in the news are Drake, FACTOR, CBC Searchlight, Play MPE, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Jukebox Books, Virtual Music Fest MS, Village Vinyl, Stephen Stanley, and farewell Shock G and Les McKeown.
By Kerry Doole
Major Montreal summer music fest Osheaga is the latest Covid casualty. Festival organizer Evenko released a statement Thurs saying that Osheaga, along with the Île Soniq festival and the inaugural edition of Lasso Montreal, will be postponed until the summer of 2022. All passes purchased for either the 2020 and 2021 editions of the three festivals will be honoured in 2022, Evenko said. Refunds are also available for ticket holders who want them. Osheaga had been skedded for late July. Source: CBC
– The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) announces that in-person events planned for the 2021 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference will be moved online, due to renewed Covid concerns in Nova Scotia. The in-person components were slated to take place in Sydney, Cape Breton from May 5-9. Refunds are available for all those who purchased tickets to the 2021 event,. The ECMA’s virtual International Export Buyers Program and virtual industry conference, Our Music Means Business presented by TD will continue online as planned. More info here.
– Last week, on the year anniversary of its release, fast-rising Canadian star Tate McRae’s hit single you broke me first took the #1 spot at U.S. Top 40 radio. This breaks the record for the longest climb to #1 by a female solo artist at 28 weeks. The track also surpassed over 1 billion streams worldwide and has been on the U.S. Hot 100 longer than any other song released by a female in 2020 with 33 weeks. In Canada, the track peaked at #4 on Top 40 and spent 38 weeks on the Canadian Top 200, peaking at #7. The track is platinum in the US, triple platinum in Canada and the UK, and has earned other international certifications. On May 8, McRae plays a Too Young To Be Sad global virtual show (at 8 pm EST).
– Drake, Amazon mega-billionaire Jeff Bezos, and more than two dozen NBA players are part of a diverse investor group that has helped sports media and entertainment startup Overtime to raise $80 million in Series C funding. Overtime said it will use the fresh capital to fund its expansion into new areas, including the debut of a high-school basketball league later this year. Founded in 2016, the company has raised more than $140 million in funding to date. The Brooklyn-based company now has more than 125 employees. Source: Variety
– Stompin’ Tom Connors fans will be pleased at the news that Anthem Records will add to the legend's legacy with the release of Unreleased Songs From The Vault Collection Vol. 4: Let’s Smile Again on June 25 and a vinyl exclusive for Record Store Day Canada on June 12. The album’s title track, Let’s Smile Again, is now available here.
– FACTOR will be holding a virtual information session on May 6, from 6:30 - 8.30 pm. It is entitled FACTOR 101 for LGBTQ2 Artists, and features guests T. Thomason and Ashley Au. Free registration here
– CBC Music's annual Toyota Searchlight hunts for Canada's best underground talent, and this year's competition features the involvement of Play MPE, a Vancouver-founded digital music distribution service. Courtesy of Play MPE, the talent hunt's top five finalists - the winner, plus the four runners-up - will all receive curated music promotion distribution campaigns. Play MPE has a global reach and recently hit a milestone of a billion distributions. .Searchlight kicked off its 2021 submissions last week. Artists can submit an original song for consideration at CBC Music's website here.
– The 2021 edition of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival will be streamed from the festival's four main venues: Ironworks, Performance Works, Pyatt Hall, and Frankie's Jazz Club. It runs June 25 to July 4, and artists include The Sun Ra Orkestra, Josh Zubot, Paul Plimley, Tony Wilson, Khari Wendell McClelland, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Jill Barber, Cory Weeds, and Dalannah Gail Bowen. For the complete schedule visit the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society website here.
– Jukebox Books, an imprint of Quick Red Fox Press, has announced the forthcoming publication of Hawkins, Hound Dog, Elvis, and Red, described as "the definitive history of Canadian rock and roll’s beginnings, an era arising from the 1950s American pop musical and cultural invasion that defined a generation and set the stage for the British invasion of the 1960s." A press release notes that "National Business Book Award-winner Greig Stewart (Shutting Down the National Dream: A. V. Roe and the Tragedy of the Avro Arrow and Arrow) delivers extensive research, including more than a hundred interviews with the vintage bands over seven years. More info here
– Virtual Music Fest MS, a benefit for Multiple Sclerosis, is a live-stream set for May 30, at 1 pm Pacific Time. The high-calibre country music lineup includes Jess Moskaluke, Aaron Goodvin, Jason McCoy, Aaron Pritchett, Wes Mack, Chad Brownlee, Bobby Wills, Ben Klick, the Hunter Brothers, and others. Last year, Music Fest MS raised over $27.5K for MS research. More info here.
– West End Toronto record store Village Vinyl is much beloved by local musicians for its weekly live Sunday Sessions. On May 2 (2-4 pm), Some past performers will return the love with an online fundraiser to help the shop. Spearheading the event is Stephen Stanley (Lowest Of The Low) and James Clark. The impressive cast joining them includes The Beat Club, Erika Werry, Michelle Rumball, Kevin Quain, Alun Piggins, Chris Bennett, Craig Robertson, and Claude Kent. Tickets available here.
Shock G (born Greg Jacobs), a hip-hop artist best known as leader of the off-kilter Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground, died on April 22, at age 57.
Digital Underground found fame with the Billboard Top 10 hit Humpty Dance in 1990, as Jacobs donned a Groucho Marx-style fake nose and glasses to become one of his many alter egos, Humpty Hump.
Jacobs was an introverted “technical wizard” adept at arranging samples who played keyboards and drums, said Digital Underground co-founder Jimi Dright ( Chopmaster J).
Big Boi, Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli, and Busta Rhymes were among those posting online tributes to Jacobs, with many expressing pain after the deaths earlier in the month of rappers DMX and Black Rob.
The group’s platinum-selling debut album “Sex Packets was followed by the gold-selling This is an EP Release and Sons of the P.
Jacobs, whose partner-in-rhyme was the smooth-voiced Money-B, was most comfortable performing in disguise and often struggled privately with the spotlight. AP reports that he gave away much of his wealth and worked on many unfinished side projects, struggling to find validation from those around him. He also struggled with drug abuse. Source: AP
– Les McKeown, former lead singer of the Bay City Rollers who was the voice of the Scottish pop-rock group during their hit-making peak, died on April 20, age 65. No cause of death has been reported.
Although the Bay City Rollers formed in Edinburgh in the mid-Sixties, it wasn’t until the recruitment of McKeown in 1973 that the band found global mainstream success, first in Europe and then North America. The McKeown-sung single Shang-a-Lang was a Number 2 hit in Britain in 1973, and the Bay City Rollers scored their first Number 1 stateside with Saturday Night, in Jan. 1976.
Over the next two years, the McKeown-led Bay City Rollers released a series of Hot 100-impacting singles: Money Honey, I Only Want to Be With You, and You Made Me Believe in Magic, with the band also the stars of their own short-lived NBC Saturday morning variety show. The BBC writes that, during McKeown’s six-year tenure with Bay City Rollers, the band sold 120 million records.
However, by 1978, McKeown and the band (now just “the Rollers”) had parted ways, with the singer releasing a handful of solo albums in the ‘80s. McKeown and founding members of the Bay City Rollers sporadically reunited over the ensuing decades, most recently in 2015; at the time of his death, McKeown had announced a lengthy tour (as Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers) that was scheduled to begin in July 2021, Variety reports. Sources: Rolling Stone, Variety, The Guardian, BBC