Music News Digest, Aug. 24, 2020

The Kings (pictured) celebrate two milestone anniversaries, Toronto music venues get a boost, and Tory Lanez is in hot water. Others making news include The Dead South, The Tragically Hip, Unison, Michael Owen, RUShfest, Arkells, Cory Marks, Kaia Kater, Love Mansuy, Alberta Music, Colter Wall, Holly Woods, and farewell Jack Sherman, Frankie Banali, Ron Gaskin, and Justin Townes Earle.

Music News Digest, Aug. 24, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Aug. 2020 features two milestone 40th anniversaries for Canadian rock band The Kings. One is for the release of their Bob Ezrin-produced debut album, The Kings Are Here, on US label Elektra Records, and, in the same month, the first entry of the group’s smash hit single This Beat Goes On / Switchin’ to Glide into the Billboard Hot 100. On Aug. 23, 1980, The Kings closed the now-legendary Heatwave Festival at Bowmanville, ON, performing after Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Nick Lowe and Rockpile, Teenage Head, the B-52’s, and more. That set was recorded, and now appears for the first time as The Kings: Live at Heatwave, a 30-minute concert movie that has just premiered on YouTube. The Kings and Teenage Head were the only bands that gave permission to be filmed, and their sets were captured by Comfort Sound’s Doug McClement on 8 track half-inch analog tape. Word is that the Teenage Head footage will appear in an upcoming feature film documentary on the band, Picture My Face, to air later this fall on TVO.


– Toronto Mayor John Tory is giving dozens of Toronto live music venues a boost as they struggle with the impact of covid-19. He announced on Aug. 20 that 45 venues will receive a combined $1.7 million in property tax relief to help cope with these financial challenges. The Cameron House, The Garrison, The Dakota, Lee's Palace, The Rivoli, The Rex, The Phoenix, Horseshoe Tavern, Burdock, and Lula Lounge are among the establishments that will benefit from the program. A press release says the program will stay in place beyond 2020 to ensure the “long-term viability” of Toronto’s live music sector. Owner of two key TO music venues, The Garrison and The Baby G, Shaun Bowring has been a strong advocate on this issue. On Facebook he posted that the news "is one of the small wins we have had this year... lots of hard work went on by many to make this happen."


– Danny Kenyon, cellist in the popular Regina folk/bluegrass band The Dead South, has left the group after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced online. The remaining three band members, Scott Pringle, Nate Hilts and Colton Crawford, issued a statement saying they do not condone 'harmful behaviour of any kind.'  Six Shooter Records, the label which signed The Dead South, also released a statement. It said the reports involve alleged incidents that happened before it started working with the band. "We take this very seriously," the Six Shooter statement said. "We believe victims and survivors of sexual assault and are committed to centreing their well-being." Source: CBC

– The Tragically Hip is now aiding the pandemic-plagued Canadian music industry by selling Courage facemasks. To be sold through the band’s web store for $15, the masks (named after a Hip classic) will raise money for Unison Benevolent Fund, an org providing counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry.

– Canadian hip-hop star Tory Lanez is facing serious legal trouble in the US. This comes with the accusation from fellow rap star Megan Thee Stallion that Lanez was responsible for her getting shot in the foot in the Hollywood Hills last month after a night of partying. Stallion made the claim through her Instagram Live account last Thursday, posting “Yes ... Tory shot me. You shot me and you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying.” The LA County District Attorney’s Office is considering whether to file felony assault with firearm charges against Lanez. Source: LA Times


– Best known as leader of the Juno-nominated band Battle of Santiago, Michael Owen has over 20 years experience as a musician, producer, engineer and agent. In 2019, he took from that background in setting up the entertainment agency Made With Pencil Crayons, which represents artists from around the world and specializes in producing events and experiences with an international focus. Last month, Owen launched the not-for-profit org Trade Routes, with the goal of creating opportunities and infrastructure for touring artists. In 2021, the org will present Nomadic Sound Series, a bi-annual music event that will feature hybrid music that incorporates different cultural perspectives. As well, this fall Owen will roll out the Cross Border PresentingNetwork, a digital platform that will connect performing arts presenters, and facilitate cross-border touring to help reduce financial risk while building successful tours.


– RUShfest, the annual Scottish Rush festival, is launching a charity Rush tribute album, and the group's album cover designer Hugh Syme is on board to create the artwork. Tribute - Songs For Neil Vol. 1 will be released on Sept. 12,  the lateRush drummer Neil Peart's birthday. All profits from the album will go to Cancer Support  Scotland (UK) and Glioblastoma Foundation Neil Peart Research Award (USA). The featured artists include Canadians Jacob Moon and New World Men, alongside groups from Brazil, Italy, Scotland, and England. Source: Loudersound

– Budweiser Stage at Homehas announced a special edition of the television series featuring Arkells, to air on Aug. 29 on Citytv and at 8 pm, as well as live-streamed on Live Nation’s Live From Home platform. The show, hosted by musician and Sportsnet host Tara Slone, will bring the spirit of the Toronto waterfront venue to music fans across the country for a one-time field trip outside the city with Arkells. Expect material from the band's latest release, Campfire Chords. Read our interview with Arkells frontman Max Kerman here.


– North Bay, Ontario-raised country artist Cory Marks released his debut record, Who I Am, through Better Noise Music on Aug. 7, and it is making noise internationally. It currently sits at #7 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart, #3 on the Top New Artist Albums chart, #3 on the Canadian Country Albums chart, #6 on the Country Albums chart in the UK, and #2 on the Country Digital Albums chart in Germany. Marks scored a global hit earlier this year with the single Outlaws & Outsiders, featuring Travis Tritt and Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, notching 15M plus streams and 18M plus video views worldwide with the track.

– Canadian folk artist Kaia Kater has earned an international audience and serious peer respect for her work. American hip-hop meets bluegrass combo Gangstagrass recently recruited Kater to add guest vocals on Hard Times Come Again No More, a tune from the new Gangstagrass album, No Time For Enemies.

– The next instalment of the Indie Weekly webinar series is on Aug. 25 at 1 pm EST. The topic is What's Next for Music Festivals?, and the session explores the future of event planning in 2020 and beyond. Speakers are fest experts Andy Jones (FOCUS Wales), Peter Åstedt (Musichelp / Future Echoes), Sebastian Nasra (M for Montreal), with moderator Darryl Hurs (Indie Week / CD Baby)  Free tix here


– Montreal-born, New Jersey-raised artist Love Mansuy  (his birth given name) has returned with another new single titled Calm Me Down, which will be featured on Side A of his upcoming EP titled (món-swee), due out Sept. 18th on Love & Company.  

– The 2020 Alberta Music AGM will be held online on  Sept. 21 at 7 pm. The meeting will include the Election of the Board of Directors. Nominations for the Board are now open, with a Sept. 8 deadline. Email for any questions.
– This year marks the 30th anniversary of Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, an annual event that allows thousands of Canadians to come together and walk in support of people living with Parkinson’s disease. Drummer Kevin Farmer wanted to support the walk and raise funds for the cause, so he'll perform a 12-hour drumming marathon, Drums for Parkinson’s, to be live-streamed on Facebook Aug. 30 from 9 am-9 pm ET. His goal is to raise $5K, and a button to donate will be posted for the duration of the live event.
– Much-heralded retro country artist Colter Wall releases a new album, Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs, on Aug. 28. Its final advance single is Wall’s version of High & Mighty, a Saskatchewan saddle bronc song written by cowboy poet/rodeo rider Lewis Martin Pederson III. Wall has been streaming performances online in his Bunkhouse Sessions video series. 

– Holly Woods, singer in platinum-selling '80s rock band Toronto, has just released a five-song EP, The Demos Have Magic - Holly Woods. It features material Woods co-wrote with JayneOlderman that was recorded in 1988. This new recording was transferred from a cassette found in a box after some 32 years. Here's a video Olderman created for the track The High Point,  and you can hear more here.


Jack Sherman, the former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, has died at age 64, according to an announcement on the band's Instagram account. No cause of death has been given.

Sherman joined the Chili Peppers in 1983, after founding guitarist Hillel Slovak left to focus on his band with Peppers drummer Jack Irons, What Is This?. Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez were then recruited by core RHCP members Anthony Kiedis and Flea to replace Slovak and Irons for 1984’s Andy Gill-produced The Red Hot Chili Peppers; Sherman co-wrote five of that album’s 11 tracks.

Sherman was fired from the Peppers after Slovak rejoined, but he still had co-writing credits on seven of the 14 songs on the band’s George Clinton-produced 1985 sophomore album, FreakyStyley. Sherman also provided backing vocals to two tracks on RHCP’s 1988 breakthrough LP, Mother’s Milk.

Sherman was controversially not among the members inducted with the band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Source: Yahoo Music

– Frankie Banali, best known as the drummer for Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P, died Aug. 20 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 68.

According to a statement from his wife, Regina, Banali was first diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in April 2019.

Banali joined Quiet Riot in 1982 and played on the group's breakthrough third album, Metal Health, which was the first heavy metal album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Banali was the only member of the group to play on every single one of their albums since Metal Health, and took over managing the band in 1993.

In 2010, three years after the death of vocalist Kevin DuBrow, the band reunited. Banali also played drums in the heavy metal band W.A.S.P., recording seven albums with that group between 1989 and 2004.

He was a longtime advocate for animal rescue, a spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and a sponsor of Children International, and in his honour, the family encourages fans to donate to, the ASPCA, PanCAN or Sources: EWBlabbermouth

– Ron Gaskin, a Toronto concert and festival promoter and radio host, died on Aug. 18, at age 71. No cause of death has been given.

A popular presence on the Toronto scene since the ‘80s, Gaskin filled many roles. He managed such artists as the CeeDees, the Polka Dogs and Maja Bannerman, hosted shows on Toronto campus stations CIUT and CKLN, Guelph’s CFRU, and Peterborough's Trent University, worked at The Music Gallery, and promoted club shows and festivals, with a focus on jazz and avant-garde artists. He ran the Next Wave series at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival for five years.

Gaskin's passing was met with eloquent tributes, including this one from his close friend and advocate, singer Rebecca Campbell: "Ron Gaskin curated musical relationships and changed people's lives. He celebrated and inspired creative collaboration, risk-taking, honesty, and beauty. He wanted us to hear what he was hearing. And we wanted to hear what he was hearing! Ron Gaskin was a poet. He was a loyal and attentive friend, a badass, and a bon vivant. He was rock and roll. Ron Gaskin was the coolest, most cosmic cat any of us will ever meet."

A celebration of life event on Toronto Island is being planned. Read a 2003 Globe and Mail profile here.

– Justin Townes Earle, a US roots singer/songwriter and the son of Steve Earle, has died, at age 38. The news was reported via a post on his official Instagram account yesterday (Aug. 23). A cause of death has not been announced.

Earle began his recording career with the 2007 EP Yuma, and would release a string of albums on the Bloodshot Records label. The title track to his 2010 release, Harlem River Blues, won Song of the Year at the 2011 Americana Honors & Awards. He was also named Emerging Act of the Year at the 2009 ceremonies and was nominated for Artist of the Year in 2012.

In 2017, he began working with New West Records, who released his last two albums, Kids in the Street and 2019’s The Saint of Lost Causes

In a 2010 Exclaim!interview, Earle stated "I especially love going to the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. It is one of my favourite venues around. It has a lot of history."

Earle had a loyal audience in Australia and New Zealand and performed there frequently.

He also did some acting work, including a stint on the acclaimed TV series Treme. Sources: Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Exclaim!

Jayda G
David Reiss

Jayda G


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