Music News Digest, Aug. 20, 2020

Andy Shauf (pictured) makes it onto a presidential playlist, Record Store Day is changing in 2020, and the BC Arts Council heads a new Arts Infrastructure Program. Also in the news are The Dirty Nil, Matt May , Canadian Heritage, Jeen, Fergus Hambleton, The Sheepdogs, MNB, Hot Tramp Records, Cole James, METZ, Donna Lidster, Brooklxn, Acoustic Blend Café, and farewell Todd Nance.

Music News Digest, Aug. 20, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Former President Barack Obama's annual summer playlist always sparks plenty of media attention. The one he announced this week features tracks by three Canadians, Drake, Andy Shauf and PartyNextDoor. Who knows whether or not a music nerd pal of the Prez researches the list, but those cited will be happy at the recognition. Check the list out here.

– Since 2008, Record Store Day has grown into the world’s largest single-day music event, shining a light on the culture of the indie record store across the globe. There are major changes in store for 2020, and RSD is now scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October. The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops: Aug. 29, Sept. 26, or Oct. 24.  More info here.


– Earlier this week, we teased the arrival of Fuck Art, a new album from The Dirty Nil. The trio has just delivered a video for the track Doom Boy, and it's a bona fide scorcher.

– East Coast rock fave Matt Mays recently informed that he was reprising his annual weekend of gigs at the Shore Club in Hubbards, Nova Scotia. It has now been announced that the last two of these shows will stream live to fans around the world on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 at 8:30 pm EDT. Tickets here and here.

–  On Monday, the provincial BC government announced that the BC Arts Council will administer a new $2M Arts Infrastructure Program. It will provide grants of up to $7.5K  for improving arts and culture spaces, including acquisitions or renovations, or $40K for purchasing special equipment for arts programming to arts and cultural organizations, including Indigenous groups. The program also seeks to support projects that will improve access to arts and cultural spaces, particularly for underserved communities and underrepresented practices. The grants can also help organizations to adapt to pandemic restrictions. Eligible disciplines span the range from festivals, community arts, and music to literary arts, media arts, and publishing. Applications will be accepted from now until Oct. 19 and information is available online at the BC Arts Council website. Source: Georgia Straight


Canadian Heritage, in collaboration with ADISQ, CIMA and Music Canada, is presenting a virtual town hall on Sept. 9, from 3 - 4 pm EST. This event is an opportunity to share your ideas with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, on recovery measures that would ensure the music sector’s economic recovery in response to the pandemic.  Stuart Johnston, CIMA President and Solange Drouin, ADISQ Public Affairs Vice-President and General Director, will be moderating the meeting in both official languages.  Ahead of this town hall, participants are invited to submit their ideas and suggestions regarding the recovery measures that should be taken by the government. Click here to register and submit suggestions.

–  Toronto rock singer/songwriter Jeen (O'Brien) earned kudos with her 2018 album Gift Shop. She returns to the fray on Oct. 9 with a self-titled album she co-produced with local hero Ian Blurton. A new single, Deep End, is now out. O'Brien previously made a splash with the bands Lilith and Cookie Duster. Read an earlier FYI interview with Jeen here.


– Highly-regarded veteran singer/songwriter Fergus Hambleton is targeting AC Radio stations with a new single, Where Do We Go From Here, featuring Hermina George. Written with Linford Allen (aka LA), it is described by Hambleton as "a call and answer song, about two people who meet after some time apart, who have a lot of unspoken feelings for each other, and who now are asking the question 'Where do we go from here to try to make the magic one more time?'"The song has a warm Caribbean lilt, and programmers would be smart to lend it an ear.


– The Peterborough Memorial Centre (PMC) has announced a two-night drive-in concert series next month featuring some A-list Canadian rock and country acts. The Sept. 18 bill has The Sheepdogs with the Jim Cuddy Band, with Tim Hicks and Jason McCoy on the following night. Both concerts will begin at 7 pm.

– Music New Brunswick (MNB) is launching Sessions Sensées, a series of information sessions on various topics related to the music industry. These will be presented via Zoom between Sept. 2020 and Feb. 2021. Free for members, $7 for non- members. More info here.

– A new Montreal-based label, Hot Tramp Records officially launched last week with the announcement of a new single by one of its acts, Janette King. The track, Mars, begins its orbit tomorrow ( Aug. 21), and King plus label mates Maryze and Alicia Clara are all expected to release albums in 2021. Headed by Sarah Armiento, the label is focusing on female artists. Outside Music is on board as its worldwide distributor. Hot Tramp began in 2019 as an artist management company, and quickly branched into show promotion (the Hot Tramp Fest), tour booking, and PR.  

– Vancouver recording artist Cole James released a new single, You're Mine" this week, and the R&B meets hip-hop sound has a suitable summer vibe. James plans to use this song to raise funds for the Kory Nagata Memorial Fund, set up in honour of a friend who drowned in a boating accident last month.


– Ontario indie rock band Screamin' Deal has only been together since late 2017, but the just-released a fourth album, entitled August Incident!  The group's freewheeling sound mixes post-punk, rock and pop elements. A Soundcloud link here.

– Toronto rock crew METZ has now shared the video for Hail Taxi, the second single off an upcoming full-length, Atlas Vending, out Oct. 9 via Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop.

 Donna Lidster has been promoted to Vice President, Marketing – Canada at Big Machine Label Group. Lidster has been with BMLG for seven years and will continue to lead all the Canadian marketing efforts for the entire roster. “Donna Lidster has been our not-so-secret weapon and the foundation of our success in Canada since coming aboard. She’s simply the best,” said BMLG President/CEO Scott Borchetta. Prior to joining Big Machine Label Group, Lidster spent 13 years with Universal Music Canada as Director of Marketing and VP Marketing, Universal, Island Def Jam. Prior to those roles, she worked in promotion at PolyGram.

– The 2020 call for nominations for the MMF Canada Board is open for one more week. The new deadline is Aug. 25.

– Of Australian/Maltese extraction and now based in Toronto, singer-songwriter, Brooklxn fuses R&B and pop elements, while her debut solo track, Thirsty, is infused with a reggae vibe


– Hamilton-based Acoustic Blend Café has been presenting a well-received series of online concerts. Next up, on Aug. 29 is a performance by Claire Coupland and Peter Light. More info here.


Todd Alton Nance, founding drummer and a 30-year member of the Southern rock jam band Widespread Panic, has died at the age of 57.

The group and Nance’s family confirmed the drummer’s death on Aug. 19, adding that Nance died in Athens, Georgia, following “sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness.”

Widespread Panic said in a statement that "For 30 years Todd was the engine of the Widespread Panic. He wrote great songs and was a giving and forgiving collaborator. T Man was the epitome of a ‘team player.’ Drove the band and drove the van.”

Nance joined Houser, singer John Bell and bassist Dave Schools for the band’s first official gig as Widespread Panic in February 1986. That started Nance’s 30-year tenure as the band’s drummer, with Nance appearing and serving as a co-writer on the band’s first 11 studio albums, as well as sitting behind the kit for countless concerts by the beloved and well-traveled jam band. The drummer would also take part in the Widespread side project Brute as well as lead his own band, Barbara Cue.

Nance and Widespread Panic permanently parted ways in 2016, with Duane Trucks joining the band full time. Source: Rolling Stone 

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024


Allison Russell, Charlotte Cardin, DijahSB Shortlisted for 2024 Polaris Music Prize

The Beaches, rapper TOBi, indie experimentalist Cindy Lee, and previous winner Jeremy Dutcher are also amongst the ten artists in contention for the $50,000 prize, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based solely on artistic merit. See the whole list here.

Some of Canadian music's biggest breakthroughs of the last year are facing off for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

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