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FYI

Music News Digest, April 28, 2022

Bruce Cockburn receives a Walk of Fame Hometown Star in Ottawa (pictured), a large group of A-list artists pay tribute to the late Dallas Good, and the Junos announce more performers. Also making news are Allison Russell, the Cape Breton Music Industry Hall of Fame,Halifax Jazz Festival, Exclaim!, Make Music Matter, CIMA,  A2IM Indie Week, Simple Plan, The Henrys, Terry Gomes, Broken Social Scene, Georgia Harmer Yves Léveillé, Steven Lee Olsen, Brett Kissel, and farewell Michael Armstrong, Susan Jacks, Robert Ouimet, Shane Yellowbird, Guitar Shorty, and Teddy Toi.

Music News Digest, April 28, 2022

By Kerry Doole

On Monday (April 25), Bruce Cockburn was honoured with a Walk of Fame Hometown Star in Ottawa. The public celebration of the folk great took place at the National Arts Centre, featuring dignitaries, special guests, musical performances, and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. 2021 Canada’s Walk of Fame Inductee Cockburn's illustrious career spans five decades, 350 songs, and 13 Juno Awards. The Ottawa-born singer/songwriter is an Officer of the Order of Canada and is deeply respected for his activism on social issues. The Hometown Stars initiative launched in 2017, providing all Inductees with an additional opportunity to celebrate their induction in their hometown.


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– Yesterday (April 27), CARAS and CBC announced the complete list of performers and presenters set to take The 2022 Juno Awards stage. Freshly added as performers are bbno$, DJ Shub,  Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Haviah Mighty, Lauren Spencer-Smith, and Tesher, who join the previously named Arcade Fire, Arkells, Avril Lavigne, Charlotte Cardin, and Mustafa. This year’s show,  broadcasts live from Budweiser Stage in Toronto on, May 15 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT nationwide on CBC TV, CBC Radio One and CBC Music, and streamed live on CBC Gem, CBC Listen, and globally at CBCMusic.ca/junos, and CBC Music’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages. Show tix at ticketmaster.ca/junos.

– CARAS has also announced that The 51st Annual Juno Opening Night Awards will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 14, one of the first live industry events since the pandemic began. Performing will be 2022 nominees Roxane Bruneau, Ruby Waters, Valley, Allison Russell, and Allan Slaight Juno Master Class shortlist artist Jesse Gold. The ceremony will also recognize the special achievement award recipients including the Humanitarian Award (Susan Aglukark), the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award (Denise Jones) and The MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award (MIMAA).

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– Cape Breton’s First Lady of Song (Rita MacNeil), a choir of coal miners ( The Men of the Deeps), and a blues-rock legend (Matt Minglewood) will be the first artists inducted into the Cape Breton Music Industry Hall of Fame, along with Buddy MacDonald’s foot-stomping singalong classic It’s Getting Dark Again, as the initial inductees in the Cape Breton Music Industry Hall of Fame. A gala ceremony is set to take place in May 2023 at Centre 200. 

Festival news

– The Halifax Jazz Festival is returning to live, in-person programming on the Halifax waterfront, at St. Matthew’s United Church and at The Carleton, for its 2022 edition, running July 13-17. Recently announced performers include Julie Doiron, Half Moon Run, Andy Shauf, Tank and the Bangas, The Mellotones, Larnell Lewis, and Amanda Tosoff feat. Emilie-Claire Barlow. Info and passes here.

Industry news

– Survival as a music-based Canadian print magazine and website for 30 years is a feat few have managed, so our congrats go out to Exclaim!, recent proud publishers of a 30th-anniversary edition. That milestone is worthy of a celebration, and so a party was held at Toronto's Tranzac Club last evening.

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Exclaim!'s print frequency is now reduced a little from its earlier monthly schedule, but the mag continues to play a crucial role in the promotion of Canadian artists and in the development of music journalists. Kudos to Ian, Atsuko, and the staff there. Take a look back at the history of Exclaim! here.

– The Tragically Hip, Alex Lifeson, Billy Talent, Sum 41, and more have joined the now open star-studded Healing in Harmony online auction benefitting trauma survivors. Rare collectibles, unique experiences, pro audio gear, and services for recording artists will raise funds for the Canadian non-profit. Juno and Grammy Award nominees and winners, including producers Bob Ezrin, David Bottrill, Chris Birkett, and Hill Kourkoutis, have donated one-on-one time for mentorship and consultations. Bidding here closes on May 1 at 8 pm ET. Money raised will support the MakeMusic Matter Healing in Harmony music therapy program for trauma survivors and will accelerate plans to bring the program to Indigenous communities in Canada. Browse items now at mmm.bidandraise.com

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– The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) presents A2IM Indie Week, June 13-16, in NYC (and with a virtual component). Sister trade org CIMA and A2IM are inviting Canadian independent labels/managers to participate in a business development mission to NYC for Canadian independent music companies that offers great networking opportunities. This mission is only open to CIMA member companies in good standing, and the first 10 companies to register will receive registration at half the cost. Register here before May 13.

Artist news

– That phrase "there was a lot of love in the room" has rarely been as apt as at Toronto's The Great Hall this past Monday afternoon. The occasion was a memorial for the late, great Toronto musician Dallas Good (The Sadies), tragically taken from us two months ago (FYI obituary here). The invitation-only remembrance brought in family, friends (including Gordon Lightfoot), musical peers and comrades, and industry supporters. Eloquent and heartfelt speeches drew tears and laughs, and then music took centre stage as a quite incredible grouping of Good's peers and collaborators performed a song apiece, accompanied by the surviving members of The Sadies (Travis Good, Mike Belitsky, and Sean Dean).

Flying in from the US to pay homage to Dallas onstage were John Doe (X), Sally Timms and Jon Langford (The Mekons), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Ira and Georgia (Yo La Tengo), Kelly Hogan, and members of the Waco Brothers. The Canadian contingent comprised Blue Rodeo, The Skydiggers, Ron Sexsmith, Mary Margaret O'Hara, and Kacy & Clayton, while Dallas' parents Bruce and Margaret Good performed, as did the extended The Good Family and The Good Brothers. Reflecting Dallas' own eclectic tastes, material performed ranged from tunes by The Who, The Kinks, The Gun Club, and Rick White, through to Leonard Cohen, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Lightfoot, and bluegrass gospel. A truly beautiful event, and one this scribe was honoured to attend.

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At the memorial, Dallas' father Bruce Good drew cheers when he announced that the remaining members would continue as The Sadies. That news was made official yesterday by the group's Canadian label, Dine Alone. The next Sadies album, Colder Streams, produced by Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire and featuring Dallas, will come out on July 22. The Sadies begin a North American and European tour on July 17 at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge, MA. Tour details here. Here is the first video for the new record.

– Simple Plan recently launched a fundraiser for children in Ukraine, donating all money generated by YouTube views of its new music video, Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare's Over),  to the UN Children's Fund. The clip was filmed by LA-based Ukrainian filmmaker Jensen Noen. Simple Plan's action has earned kudos from PM Justin Trudeau. Source: CP

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– Under the leadership of ace instrumentalist/composer Don Rooke, Toronto combo The Henrys have been delighting a loyal audience with recordings that mix instrumentals and vocal tracks featuring such distinguished singers as Mary Margaret O'Hara, Gregory Hoskins, and Martina Sorbara.. A just-released new album, Shrug, takes a different approach, as Rooke explained to FYI: " As a bandleader, I formerly voiced my feelings with instruments and hired guest singers to deliver the words. This time it made sense to sing the songs myself, to explore personal ideas that developed over a few years of the pandemic, including concerns about what kind of planet we’re handing to our children." Check Shrug out on Bandcamp

– It came as something of a surprise to learn that famed Toronto indie rock collective Broken Social Scene had never headlined its hometown's legendary venue Massey Hall before. That was rectified last week when BSS played two shows there. This scribe caught the final night and revelled in the nostalgic vibe of the evening. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Broken Social Scene reprised its best-known tracks alongside some lesser-known material, including cuts from the new Old Dead Young: B-Sides & Rarities collection. In signature fashion, a lineup of 10 or 11 players on some songs made for a full-blooded sound, yet the components were always properly balanced. Drummer Andrew Barr (of The Barr Brothers) did a sterling job filling in for ailing regular drummer Justin Peroff, while guest appearances were made by Jason Collett, Georgia Harmer, and drummer Sarah Thayer. Lead vocals were shared by Kevin Drew, Amy Millan, and Ariel Engel, with Brendan Canning also taking a solo turn, and the guitar work of Andrew Whiteman often dazzled. The concert was my first look at the rejuvenated Massey Hall. Colour me impressed.

– Toronto-based singer/songwriter Georgia Harmer released her debut album, Stay In Touch, last Friday, the day after she played Massey Hall as the opening act for her Arts & Crafts labelmates, Broken Social Scene. She impressed with strong and clear vocals and original material that fused pop, rock, and roots elements, and was ably accompanied by a sharp band. And, yes, she is related to Sarah Harmer, Georgia's aunt.  She has spring and summer dates coming up, including opening for Dan Mangan. Itinerary here. One to watch.

– Montreal composer and pianist Montreal Yves Léveillé has just released a new album The Time Scale (on Effendi Records), one featuring a string quintet. He is launching it with Quebec shows, in Montreal at Petit Outremont (April 28), and Quebec City, May 1 - afternoon show) at the Arquemuse. Tix here.

– Ontario smooth jazz composer/guitarist Terry Gomes has released a new track, Steen's Reverie. He tells FYI that "This piece was written for my wife back in March 2020, my first composition into the pandemic. A daydream within a daydream, it explores what I imagined she was thinking and feeling at that time." 

– Grammy-nominated Canadian country singer-songwriter Steven Lee Olsen has released a stripped version of his track Nashville or Nothing via UMC. Here's the video.

– Platinum-selling Canadian country artist Brett Kissel has released a new single, a collaboration with noted pop and R&B vocal group 98°, titled Ain’t The Same. The upbeat cut, dedicated to Kissel's wife, Cecilia, was co-written by Kissel, Karen Kosowski, and Tim Nichols. Read more about the project in People here.

RIP

Michael Armstrong, a Toronto-based percussionist with acclaimed indie rock bands Change of Heart and King Cobb Steelie, died on April 16, at age 58, reportedly from a cardiac event.

Exclaim! notes that "the percussionist was a member of the Toronto music community dating back to the '80s when he was an early member of Change of Heart and later left that band to join King Cobb Steelie. He also played with Change of Heart's Ian Blurton in the early band Jolly Tambourine Man. He reportedly also recorded with Fucked Up and Head.

King Cobb Steelie's leader, Kevan Byrne, said in a statement to Exclaim!: "Michael was a dear friend and kindred musical spirit. We are devastated by this loss and grieve with the music community that he was so much a part of. We will miss him forever.

"Michael joined KCS just after our eponymous debut (1991). He had recorded some percussion on that album but formally left Change of Heart to join us in 1993. He played percussion on Project Twinkle (1994) and Junior Relaxer (1997) and became a full songwriting partner, crafting samples and looped beats on Mayday (2000), Destroy All Codes (2007) and Goodbye Arcadia (2011).

In a statement also given to Exclaim!, Change of Heart's Bernard Maiezza recalls that "I first met Mike Armstrong as teenagers in 1983, when he and I, along with Ian Blurton, were at SEED Alternative High School. He was already in Jolly Tambourine Man at that point, but it wasn't long before Ian talked him into joining Change of Heart as well as my first "psychedelic punk" band, Slightly Damaged, in which Ian and I were the "rhythm section."

"At the time, we were really into the whole tribal feel of that era, especially that first Hunters & Collectors album, and Mike was "the secret weapon" in that regard. It was fun to watch his collection of percussion instruments grow back in the early days of jamming in Ian's mom's basement, including, but not limited to: timbales, shakers, congas, bongos, vibraslap, tone box and, my fave at the time, this giant pylon thing with broken cymbals. He was an essential part of Change of Heart from those early days right up until his departure in '94 when we started to embark on the Tummysuckle sessions. At that point, COH was becoming a bit heavier, arrangements were becoming more guitar-centric, and Mike had an opportunity to join King Cobb Steelie. I think we were all very supportive of this move as that band proved to be a perfect fit for him and he had so much more room to cut loose and "groove" as a member of KCS."

"Mike was one of the most humble and gentlest souls that I ever encountered or had the pleasure to work with. I can not think of a single time that I had a cross word or a disagreement with him and he was always the most positive of influences, and often "the voice of reason." His demeanour was always very calming, and the contribution he made to COH goes way beyond his recorded or performing output with the band... His sudden passing leaves a deep hole in the collective hearts of our community."

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up here to support Armstrong's children. Source: Exclaim!

 Susan Jacks (born Susan Pesklevits), a BC pop singer best remembered as a member of The Poppy Family, died on April 25, from kidney disease. She was 73. Jacks was reportedly on a waitlist for a second kidney transplant.

Jacks was born into a family of eight children in Saskatoon and moved to BC when she was 9. She got her start at the age of 15, appearing on the Canadian TV show Music Hop. She recorded her first singles with two other well-known Vancouver performers, Howie Vickers and Tom Northcott, under the name of The Eternal Triangle. In 1967, at the age of 19, she married Terry Jacks – after asking him to accompany her on guitar for an upcoming appearance. They began performing under the moniker Powerline and eventually changed the name to The Poppy Family.

Their song, Which Way You Goin’ Billy?, written by Terry Jacks, was a major hit in the US and UK, reaching No 1 on the Cash Box chart and No. 2 on the Billboard chart. It has been called the first million-selling song to come from Vancouver, and it went on to sell an estimated 3.5M copies worldwide. The group continued recording, with other top ten singles in Canada. 

The single Where Evil Grows had a resurgence a few years two ago when it was included in the movie Sonic, the Hedgehog. It earlier achieved a little notoriety when local hardcore heroes D.O.A. released a version in 1990.

The Poppy Family name was dropped in 1972, and Susan Jacks went on to record solo albums. The couple split in 1973. Her first solo release, I Thought of You Again, was released in 1973 and earned her a Juno nomination for Canadian Female Vocalist of the Year. She later received Juno nominations for her singles, Anna Marie, All the Tea in China, and Another Woman’s Man. Jacks was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in June 2010, six years after Terry received that honour. 

She met Canadian Football League player Ted Dushinski in 1980, married, moved to Nashville, and had a son. In 2004, Jacks and her family relocated back to Canada after Dushinski was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 2005. Jacks received a diagnosis of kidney disease and received a transplant from her brother Billy in 2010.

Burton Cummings posted this tribute on his FB page: "Sad news the lovely Susan Jacks has passed away. I met Susan on my very first trip to Vancouver way back in the Sixties. She made some great recordings...my personal favourite song she ever sang was Beyond The Clouds. Her health had been failing her in the last years and she has finally succumbed to physical problems. Her recordings will live forever. Of all her recordings, probably the most well-known one internationally was "Which Way You Goin' Billy"...but she had many that will remain with us forever. She was charming and down to earth. R.I.P. Susan...we'll all miss you."

Another big fan of Susan Jacks is Moe Berg, of The Pursuit Of Happiness. He posted this on FB: "Sad news of Susan Jack's passing. She recorded some of the most subversive music in rock history with the Poppy Family. The music would be catchy and cheery but the lyrics would be painfully sad and depressing. "

Lori Yates posted this on FB: "As a Canadian kid, I grew up singing along to the clear soprano voice that belonged to Susan Jacks! I loved her! And those great songs! My fave is That’s Where I Went Wrong. All of us female singers that came after her, owe her a debt of gratitude. RIP." Sources: Celebrity Access, Puget Sound Radio,  Red Robinson, Global TV.

– Robert Ouimet, a Juno-winning composer, remixer and DJ  termed “The Godfather of Montreal DJs,” has died, at age 74. No cause of death has been reported.

Ouimet was the house DJ at the famed Montreal disco palace The Limelight from 1973 to 1981.

Le Devoir reports that "Ouimet reigned over the disco era and then became a pioneer of house music. Named Best DJ in North America by Rolling Stone in 1976 and DJ of the Year in 1977 by Billboard, his notoriety had gone beyond the borders of the province during the disco era, during which he officiated at the turntables of the mythical Limelight nightclub, from 1973 to 1981.

"Thanks to his talent and his formidable flair for new music, he allowed the public to discover new wave in the 1980s, then house, of which he was one of the pioneers in Canada, winning a Juno Award for Best Dance Recording in 1994 for one of his compositions, Thankful, recorded by Red Light, a duo comprising Ouimet and  Miguel Graça.

Until his death, he still offered musical sessions on ACXIT Radio and collaborated with Christian Pronovost on Mundo Disko events. Musician and DJ Pronovost told Le Devoir that "In the 1970s, Montreal had lots of clubs and great DJs, but Robert Ouimet was in a class of its own. He was the first to earn the respect of all the other DJs in town, he was untouchable."

Larry LeBlanc recalls that "In 1975, Billboard reported that Montreal clubs like The Limelight were responsible for the sales success of songs like Pepper Box by the Peppers, Do It (Till You’re Satisfied) by BT Express, Bimbo Jet’s El Bimbo, and Gloria Gaynor’s Never Can Say Goodbye. The Limelight had opened in 1973 on Stanley Street in the center of Montreal’s shopping district. With its disco balls, mirrors elaborate lighting system, its mixed gay and night clientele hearkened back to the most extravagant of ’60s Montreal clubs, but with an air of decadence.

"International artists with a current disco release, including the Ritchie Family, and Gloria Gaynor, played The Limelight often singing against a recorded backing track. The club’s DJs, George Cucuzzella followed by Robert Ouimet, and Gil Riberdy worked with dual turntables and was in on the very beginning of DJ mixing.

Veteran Canadian dance music authority Vince Degiorgio posted on FB that "To me, he was without question, the greatest club DJ in the history of Canada. Influential inside the studio, influential in print. Influential as an international tastemaker and record-breaker. A remixer of domestic reverence. A Juno Award winner and creative until the last day of his life. Unlike many of us stuck in our personal lanes of favourite producers, writers and artists, he seemed to always evolve.

"When Toronto's finest DJs travelled to Montreal on a Sunday or a Monday night to hear him - they returned with tons of vinyl from the likes of Pierre Musique. And it was just because Robert played the records the night before. Our own attempted emulating his mixes - or tried to - when they played again. If he charted a record, it was branded as "hot in Montreal" - and we sold it. Just because.. His influence will never be understated. His contemporaries raved about him. On top of all of this, Robert was a wonderful person. Rest in peace, my friend."

Sources: Le Devoir, Larry LeBlanc, Vince Degiorgio

– Shane Yellowbird, a Cree-Canadian country singer from Alberta, died on April 25, age 42. No cause of death has been reported.

He was best known for his song Pickup Truck, one of the 10 most-played Canadian country music songs in 2007. Yellowbird received the Rising Star Award at the Canadian Country Music Awards in 2007 and three Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards that same year.

His debut album, Life Is Calling My Name, was followed by the 2009 release It’s About Time, featuring the single Bare Feet on the Blacktop.

Yellowbird was often cited as a positive role model for Indigenous youth. Louis O’Reilly, who signed Yellowbird to his record label in 2003 and worked with him until 2013, told CP that Yellowbird was “authentic through and through, a real cowboy” who always stayed humble.

O’Reilly said Yellowbird was revered in Indigenous communities for his success in country music.

Others in the industry also paid tribute to Yellowbird on social media. “He always believed in me as an artist and songwriter, long before a lot of people. A truly beautiful soul,” wrote country artist Aaron Goodvin on Instagram. Aaron Pritchett said, “You will be missed by so many, buddy.”

The family is planning a traditional ceremony to lay him to rest tomorrow (Friday). Sources:Global News, CP

– Guitar Shorty (born David Kearney), an award-winning blues artist, died on  April 20, of natural causes, at age 87.

Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Shorty electrified audiences worldwide with his unpredictable, slashing guitar playing, gruff vocals and supercharged live shows, where he would often do backflips and somersaults while playing. 

The Chicago Reader said, "Guitar Shorty is a battle-scarred hard-ass. He is among the highest-energy blues entertainers on the scene." Billboard said he played "blistering, modern blues-rock, bristling with galvanizing guitar and forceful vocals."

While still in his early 20s, Shorty toured with Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Guitar Slim and T-Bone Walker. Over the first 30 years of his career, he recorded only a handful of singles for a variety of labels and an LP for a small British label. He released ten full-length solo recordings since then, many of which received serious critical acclaim. His renowned live performances kept him constantly in demand all over the world. MOJO magazine noted his "hard-hitting, unrelenting intensity" and "incendiary guitar playing."

He met Jimi Hendrix through mutual friends, and Hendrix confessed that in 1961 and 1962 he would go AWOL from his Army base in order to catch Shorty’s area performances and to pick up licks and ideas.

During his first British tour in 1991, Guitar Shorty cut his first full-length album. He made three albums for Black Top label during the 1990s, followed by one for Evidence Records, and became popular on the global festival circuit.

In 2004, Guitar Shorty joined Alligator Records, releasing three of his best-selling records: 2004's Watch Your Back, 2006's We The People and 2010's Bare Knuckle. He continued to tour and perform well into his 80s. His most recent album was 2019's Trying To Find My Way Back, produced by legendary musician Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams. Sources: Alligator Records

– Teddy Toi, a New Zealand-born bassist who was a member of top Australasian bands Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs and Max Merritt & The Meteors, died on April 18, age 82.

Toi was a member of Sonny Day’s Sundowners in the 60s, then joined the Meteors, ended up in Australia, and became a member of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, in the 60s and again in the 70s. Toi played on The Aztecs' Streaming at The Opera House and More Arse Than Class, as well as earlier recordings.

He also played in Little Sammy and the In People, Wild Cherries, and Fanny Adams. Source: Noise11.com

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DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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