Music News Digest, Aug. 27, 2020

Calgary rallies around The Ironwood (pictured), Record Store Day Canada announces a competition, and SOCAN’s Encore rewards online concerts. Also in the news are SCENE, The Beaches, Manifesto, TOBi, Music PEI , CIMA, Kitchener Blues Festival, Lawson Vocal Studios, Haley Blais, Jeremy Drury, Land of Talk, Unleash The Archers, Ronley Teper, and farewell Gerry McGhee and Walter Lure.

Music News Digest, Aug. 27, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Record Store Day Canada announces the return of the RSDC Unsigned Competition in partnership with Microforum Vinyl Record Pressing, its official vinyl manufacturing partner. The #RSDUnsigned competition gives one unsigned artist the opportunity to get their music pressed onto 300 vinyl records for free by sending in a performance video of one of their original songs. The competition launches Sept. 1, with a Nov. 30 deadline. To enter the contest, visit RSDC’s official website hereThe Sun Harmonic won the 2019 competition.

– SOCAN’s new Encore program distributes royalties from Facebook/Instagram online concerts. In the first round of payouts, distributed Aug. 15, the org processed a total of 937 submissions for virtual live concerts performed on Facebook and Instagram during the covid lockdown, for a total payout of more than $130K. A total of approx $200K is available each quarter under the program, until March 7, 2021. Each online concert is eligible for a total payment of $150, with shares of royalties going to all rights holders of the music performed. More info on the program and how to apply here


– Music venues across the country are struggling, but Calgary musicians and fans are rallying to save The Ironwood Stage & Grill, a fixture on the scene since 2006. CBC reports that when staff went behind their boss's back and told local musician Jory Kinjo that the venue was in trouble, he quickly rallied to the cause. The online fundraiser he started quickly passed its goal of $65K, and a weekend mini-festival he planned in support was sold out both days. Those shows featured 15 performances by bands and artists volunteering their time, and live-streams allowed viewers to donate to the cause. Kinjo is already planning a second benefit concert for the venue on Sept. 18 and 19, with details to come. Donations can be made here.


–  SCENE, a Canadian entertainment loyalty program, has announced a new partnership with Universal Music Canada, to showcase top artists and emerging performers through interactive programming. This began with a live-stream music event last night (Aug. 26) at The Rec Room in Toronto that featured Juno-winning rockers The Beaches, Valley and Soran. The new initiative will introduce and feature a variety of artists and offer SCENE members exclusive content, socially distanced fan experiences and live events. 

–Toronto’s  Manifesto festival will celebrate its 14th annual edition with a one-day live-stream multidisciplinary music, arts and culture festival headlined by Grammy-winning Jamaican reggae performer Koffee.  She will be streaming her full concert set live from Kingston, Jamaica, supported by Nigerian-Canadian soul singer and rapper TOBi , streaming live from Toronto's Great Hall. This evening of live music will also feature Toronto talents LU KALA, Dijah SB, and Osé. 

– Music PEI has announced the new Music Supervision Mentorship Program (MSMP), a deep dive into learning how to become a music supervisor. The MSMP will cover all facets of the music supervision job, running the gamut from creative to the business side. Music PEI has partnered with instinct entertainment, a leading Canadian music supervision company owned by industry veteran Michael Perlmutter, to deliver the program, one featuring an 8-week comprehensive class will leave you with the foundation and skills needed to move into the music supervision world. The program is set to begin on Sept. 21. Applicants (PEI residents only) can find submission details here. The deadline is Sept. 11.


– On Sept. 3 (noon-1.30 pm) CIMA and Amazon Music present a webinar dedicated to Amazon Music and  Amazon Music for Artists. The speakers are  Mike Lawless (Head of Music, Amazon Music Canada) and Katie Schlosser Vitolins (Principal, Product Marketing at Amazon Music, NYC). Free registration here.


– A stellar lineup of blues and roots artists will perform over 50 free shows this weekend (Aug. 28-30) at local bars for the True Blue Summer Series, produced by the Kitchener Blues Festival, and some will be live-streamed. That list of performers includes Danny Marks, Shawn Kellerman and Eric Schenkman, Mike McDonald, Jack De Keyzer, Shannon Lyon, Lynn Jackson, Brian Blain, Sean Pinchin, Chuck Jackson and Miss Emily. More info here.

– Lawson Vocal Studios has announced the winners of its inaugural “Becoming” contest for emerging artists. Melissa Kadas and JESSIA were named the Overall Standout Artists, and, in all, eight promising young artists were chosen as the winners. Prizes include $1,000 and $500 studio credit to LVS, Long & McQuade gift cards, mentorship sessions with industry professionals, studio time, and more. Industry mentors and judges included Ali Slaight, Ron Lopata, Kayla Diamond, Orin Isaacs, Olivia Lunny, and Fraser Hill.

–  Haley Blais released her debut album Below The Salt on Tuesday, on Tiny Kingdom. She has a live-stream performance set for Sept. 13 at 5 pm PT. Blais has also been hosting an animated lyric video series featuring lipsynching guests, including Chris Vanderkooy of Peach Pit. Here's her new official video.

– Best known as the drummer in The StrumbellasJeremy Drury steps out as a singer/songwriter on his debut solo album Company Store (out on Aug. 28). Recorded at Toronto's famed Lincoln County Social Club, with John Dinsmore at the engineering, it is reportedly an eclectic affair. Here's a taste, new single Do It Right. Drury has just announced that 100% of all sales and streaming proceeds generated by Company Store for its first month will go to the following organizations: MusiCounts, Nia Centre for the Arts, The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, and the Canadian Music Therapy Fund. Bravo!


– BC melodic power metal quartet Unleash The Archers released its fifth full-length concept album, Abyss, via Napalm Records last Friday, followed by a virtual concert performance from The Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver the following night. The band has also just released an entertaining new video (below).

– With guests Laura Fernandez, Antonio Mata and Bernardo Padron, Toronto’s Upper Canada Choristers and their accomplished Latin ensemble Cantemos celebrate Latin American music in a concert titled Inti Ukana: A Latin American Tapestry. Originally scheduled for May as a public performance, it will now be live-streamed, with some pre-recorded elements, Oct. 2 at 7:30 pm.   It will be accessible through the choir’s website and on Facebook here. Admission is free, but donations are welcome, to cover the costs.

– Land of Talk, the Montreal-based band led by Elizabeth Powell, will perform a live-streamed show on Sat. Aug. 29 at 9 pm ET following last month’s release of a new album, Indistinct Conversations, on Dine Alone Records. We’d love to have you join if you’re available. Follow this link to the stream.

– Drive-in shows continue to proliferate across the country. Just announced is a double bill of Terra Lightfoot (solo) and Hawksley Workman in Orillia, ON, on Sept. 26. Proceeds to Orillia Youth Centre. Tickets and info here  


– Free-spirited Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Ronley Teper and her band The Lipliners have just released Crazy Times, a new single and video, and she tells us a new album, Everyone Loves a Good Story, will follow in Jan. The single features Christine Bougie, Benjamin Hermann, and producer Jaron Freeman-Fox, and is a timely look at strange days, even though Teper wrote it pre-pandemic.


Gerald Damian ("Gerry") McGhee, the lead singer of Canadian band Brighton Rock and head of Isotope Music and Precision Pressing, died on Aug. 25, of cancer, age 58.  

Brighton Rock formed in 1982, and after its song Barricade was selected for the Q107 Homegrown album in 1984, it independently released a self-titled EP the following year. A record deal with WEA followed. 

Brighton Rock released five albums throughout its career: Brighton Rock (1985), Young, Wild and Free (1986), Take a Deep Breath (1988), Love Machine (1991), and A Room For Five Live (2002).  The most successful album was Take a Deep Breath, which charted at number 22 in Canada and was certified Gold by the CRIA. The album also spawned the hit single One More Try. 

The band continued to perform occasionally in recent years.

In 1996, McGhee founded Isotope Music, which bills itself as Canada’s largest music and vinyl wholesaler with over 60,000 titles in stock. In 2016, Isotope Music partnered with Czech vinyl manufacturing company GZ in Precision Record Pressing Inc, a Burlington, Ontario-based vinyl pressing plant. Precision has been a major player in the resurgence of vinyl in Canada. Read an FYI profile of the company here.

Canadian music industry veteran Bob Roper signed Brighton Rock to WEA. In a Facebook tribute, he described his friend McGhee as "first and foremost a man devoted to his family... He was a brilliant business man who grew his companies Isotope Music and Precision Record Pressing to major success. He made the world a better place. Rest easy my friend. You were a Rock Star in so many ways." Sources: Brave Words, Wikipedia,, Bob Roper

Walter Lure, guitarist and longtime member of New York punk heroes the Heartbreakers, died of complications from lung and liver cancer on Aug. 21, age 71.

Lure was an original member of the Heartbreakers, the first-wave punk supergroup fronted by Johnny Thunders. Lure co-wrote and played on the band’s sole album, the 1977 classic L.A.M.F. (an acronym for “Like a Motherfucker”). Lure provided lead vocals on some songs. Aside from Richard Hell—who left the Heartbreakers before L.A.M.F. was recorded—Lure was the last surviving member of the band. (Johnny Thunders died in 1991, followed by drummer Jerry Nolan and bassist Billy Rath in the ensuing years.)

After his tenure with the Heartbreakers, Lure played guitar on much of Johnny Thunders’ solo output, such as 1978’s So Alone, 1983’s In Cold Blood, and more.

In 1994, Lure issued Rent Party, his first LP with his band Walter Lure & The Waldos. He was the frontman and core songwriter for the group, who went on to release one more studio album, 2018’s Wacka Lacka Boom Bop A Loom Bam Boo (via Cleopatra).

In his career, Lure also recorded alongside the Ramones, Richard Hell, Mitch Ryder, Phil Lynott, and others. Earlier this year, Lure published his memoir To Hell and Back: My Life in Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, which he wrote with Dave Thompson.

Teenage Head guitarist Gord Lewis was a major admirer of Lure, and he posted on Facebook that "it was a privilege to play with you. A highlight of my career." Sources: Pitchfork, Gord Lewis

Big Boi

Big Boi


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