Music News Digest, Aug. 12, 2021

Shawn Austin (pictured) is the flagship signing to new country imprint, Local Hay, Gordon Lightfoot postpones dates, and the CMAO’s Legacy Revival lineup is an impressive one. Also in the news are MUTEK, MMF Canada, Bespoke, Unleash The Archers, Markham Jazz Festival, Music Nova Scotia, Loud Luxury, Kingsville Music Society, and farewell Dee Tee Thomas and Walter Yetnikoff.

Music News Digest, Aug. 12, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Vancouver country act Shawn Austin is the flagship signing to new Canadian-based imprint, Local Hay. That label was recently co-founded by CanCountry star Dallas Smith, producer Scott Cooke, and partner Alex Seif, and is a joint venture with Nashville-based label, Big Loud Records.

To coincide with yesterday's announcement, Local Hay/Big Loud have released Austin's debut single on the label, Tailgate To Heaven, a track featuring platinum-selling US star Chris Lane. The song was written by Canadian songwriter Kelly Archer, along with Will Bundy and Rodney Clawson, with production by Scott Cooke and executive production by Big Loud's Joey Moi. Austin was nominated for the 2019 CCMA Rising Star Award and was recently a season two finalist on NBC's Songland.


– Gordon Lightfoot has been forced to postpone some of his current tour dates following a recent fall at his Toronto home that caused a fractured wrist. It is expected he will take eight weeks to recover. Most of the 82-year-old’s postponed shows are in the US, with a planned Aug. 20 at Casino Rama in Orillia, ON, also affected. It is anticipated Lightfoot will be back in shape for a three-night run to mark the reopening of Toronto’s Massey Hall on Nov. 25 to 27.

– The CMAOntario Festival and Awards, presented by Slaight Music, take place in Ancaster, ON, Sept. 3-5. A strong lineup of Canadian country and folk greats perform a drive-in Legacy Revival concert at Ancaster Fairgrounds, on Sept. 4, featuring Marie Bottrell, The Good Brothers, Russell de Carle (Prairie Oyster) and Michel Lalonde, with Wendell Ferguson hosting. Tix here. 

–  –A feature on the Montreal scene since 2000, electronica and digital art festival MUTEK returns on Aug. 24. The six-day event in multiple venues includes 28 performances of electronic music and digital art from some 60 Quebec artists. Musicians include local producers Pheek (Jean-Patrice Rémillard) and Stereo IMG (Patrick Haggart), who will be teaming up in a remote studio session powered by BeatConnect. Tix here.


– MMF Canada is launching Bespoke, a music management mentorship program for managers, self-managed artists, music entrepreneurs, and emerging music professionals. The goal is to To help create opportunities for advancing the professional development efforts of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who wish to work in this sector of the Canadian music landscape. It is a 12-month program with ten mentees from across Canada. Apply by Aug. 29 here 

– Earlier this year, metal quartet Unleash The Archers won its first Juno Award, for Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year for Abyss. Starting in Minneapolis on Sept. 1, the band is touring in the US, closing out in Seattle on Sept. 26. Tix here

– The TD Markham Jazz Festival's Virtual Programming starts Aug. 20 at 6 pm, runs all day Sat. and into the evening Aug. 21, and concludes Aug. 22 at 6 pm. A strong artists lineup includes Alexis Baro, Friendly Rich, Turboprop, Jennie Thai, Tanika Charles, and Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley. Free streaming here 


– After a brief hiatus due to Covid, Music Nova Scotia brings back its Artist in Residence Program; kicking off at the Grand Oasis Stage in Halifax, Sept 17. Returning with support from Halifax Regional Municipality and Light House, the Program will provide a local emerging musician or group with financial and professional support as well as performance opportunities. This year, the selected act will be awarded $20K. Applications (from MNS members only) here are open until Aug. 18. 

– A second Loud Luxury show has been added at Toronto venue Rebel, on Dec. 16. Tix on sale now here.


– The Kingsville Music Society presents a free outdoor concert featuring Whitehorse, Tom Wilson and Max Marshal at the Carnegie Arts Centre on Aug. 14. CAC is located at 28 Division St. S., Kingsville, ON. Limited capacity. Gates open at 5 pm.


Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member of the long-running soul-funk band Kool & the Gang, died on Aug. 7, age 70. No cause of death has been reported.

Thomas was the alto sax player, flutist and percussionist. He served as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows. His last appearance with the group was July Fourth at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Thomas was known for his prologue on the band’s 1971 hit, Who’s Gonna Take the Weight. Noted for his hip clothes and hats, he was also the group’s wardrobe stylist.

Originally called the Jazziacs, Kool and the Gang was founded in 1969. The band has earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards, and hits included Celebration and Get Down On It. They were honoured in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award. Their music is heavily sampled and featured on film soundtracks, including those for Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. Source: AP

– Walter Yetnikoff, president/chief executive of CBS Records, from 1975 to 1990, died on August 8, at age 87, of cancer.

The LA Times obituary termed him “a combative, profane, licentious record company executive whose frequent feuds, unrestrained drug and alcohol consumption, and skillful management of superstar egos made him a powerful, feared but also beloved music man.”

The CBS artists he worked with included Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Paul McCartney, Public Enemy, Julio Iglesias and Quiet Riot.


Under his leadership, the label’s annual revenue grew from $485 million to more than $2 billion. He was richly compensated, including a reported $20-million bonus after he oversaw the sale of CBS Records to Sony for $2 billion in 1987. Soon after, Rolling Stone called him “the most powerful man in the record business.”

Springsteen and Joel were amongst those lauding Yetnikoff upon learning of his passing. Springsteen stated “A wild man in the old school music business tradition, yup. I loved Walter because he respected and shepherded my art through an often hostile and unfriendly music business. I considered him my friend.” Sources: LA Times,Digital Music News 

Nelly Furtado
Valentin Herfray

Nelly Furtado


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