Music News Digest, Aug 9, 2021
The Weeknd is back in the headlines, a new concert series launches in The Laurentians, and Bachman Cummings cancel US dates. Also in the news are Golden Cinema, Mariposa, Matchedash Parish, Belvedere, Linda Perry, VIFF, deadmau5, Westdale Theatre, Skydiggers, and farewell Toronto reggae legend Jo Jo Bennett (pictured).
By Kerry Doole
The Weeknd is already making tsunami-style waves with a brand new single and video, Take My Breath, the first from his forthcoming album. News of the new record was announced last week via GQ, which, in its first ever global issue in 90 years, featured The Weeknd as the sole cover star on all editions. A snippet of Take My Breath was included in an Olympics promo teaser during NBC’s Olympics Prime Time Show telecast starring Team USA's women’s track and field team.
The track is Abel Tesfaye's first new material since the March 2020 release of his global smash album After Hours. It is certified double platinum by the RIAA with over 15.7B streams, and it topped the charts in 20 additional nations, including Canada and the UK. Read more about the new single here.
– Bonsound and Hublot51 are co-presenting the first edition of Contre-Courant, a series of intimate concerts supported by SiriusXM which aims to transform outdoor spaces into broadcasting venues. Shows run Aug. 11-14 at Kiamika Regional Park in the Laurentians, hosted on a floating stage. A-list artists featured include BEYRIES, Geoffroy, Klô Pelgag and Matt Holubowski. More info here. link
– On Facebook last week Randy Bachman posted that "It is with regret Bachman Cummings announce the cancellation of the US leg of their highly anticipated tour Together Again – Live In Concert, scheduled to occur this September. Randy and Burton cannot wait to see you all again when things are more predictable in terms of travel in and out of Canada."
– Led by singer/ lyricist Andy MacDonald, Golden Cinema is an interprovincial (PEI/ON) pop-rock band comprising members of such bands as Two Hours Traffic, Arkells, and North Lakes. The group’s recent release, REELS (2016-2021), combinines its previous digital EPs with two new songs, Little Sunscreen (charting on CBC Music's Top 20) and Dead Ringer.
– Mariposa Folk Festival is presenting Matchedash Parish on Aug. 22 at the Orillia Opera House as part of the Kinaxis InConcert series, marking the famed roots fest's return to live music. Mariposa was selected by Kinaxis and Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) as one of 30 orgs across the country to host a concert program. A free stream of the show will be available on Facebook here on Aug. 27 at 7:30 pm ET.
– Veteran Calgary punk band Belvedere has announced dates for an extensive Canadian tour in support of new (sixth) LP Hindsight Is The Sixth Sense, (out via Thousand Islands Records). The trek takes in 23 cities, running from Sept. 23 to Oct. 23. Support acts will include Debt Cemetary, Walt Hamburger, Blacked Out, Downway and The Corps. Itinerary here.
– The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) has recruited two heavy-hitting female music biz figures, Linda Perry and Laura Karpman, to speak its 2021 VIFF AMP Music in Film Summit. Perry is a hit songwriter and producer for the likes of Pink, Christine Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani, while composer Karpman is an Emmy award-winner. The AMP Summit takes place online and in-person from Oct. 8-10. More info here.
– Canadian EDM star deadmau5 makes a return to Toronto lakefront venue Rebel on Oct. 10. Tix here
– As live music in Ontario slowly moves indoors, Hamilton's Westdale Theatre presents an impressive ArtsFest series of concerts soon. Highlights include Skydiggers and Elliott Brood in on Aug. 14, in separately ticketed shows. Other artists in the series include Logan Staats, Devin Cuddy Band, Jordan John, Red Hill Valleys, and Mahima. Sked and ticket info here
Jo Jo (Joseph) Bennett, co-founder and horn player in Juno-winning Toronto reggae band the Sattalites, died on Aug. 3, at age 81, after a period of ill-health.
Widely acknowledged as a crucial figure in Canadian reggae, Bennett began his musical journey in his birthplace of Jamaica. Born in Kingston, at the age of 10 he enrolled at Alpha Boys' School studying jazz and the classics.
"It's where he learned so much ...came out of there with a few dollars in his pocket and a horn under his arms," said longtime Toronto friend Blair Moody. "Jo Jo was a consummate musician, a consummate teacher, hence his nicknames [Teach, The Guru]."
After graduation, Bennett played as lead trumpeter with the Jamaica Military Band for a period, then scored some Jamaican hits with his own tracks. He was then courted by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, one of the nation's most popular groups. Bennett recorded several albums with them before choosing to stay in Canada after the band’s show at Expo 67. Bennett's close friend and collaborator Fergus Hambleton tells FYI that "Jo Jo was the star of that band. He was known for his smile and the way he played that horn. When he left in 1967, Byron didn’t forgive him for 40 years, til just before his [Lee's] death."
Bennett quickly became an important presence on the Toronto reggae scene, releasing such singles as Cantaloupe Rock and Fugitive Song under the name Jo-Jo and the Fugitives. Two of his tracks from this period, Fugitive Song and Chips-Chicken-Banana Split, were later included on the groundbreaking Light In The Attic Records compilation, Jamaica to Toronto: Soul, Funk & Reggae - 1967-74.
In 1970, while on hiatus in Jamaica, Bennett released his first and only solo album, Groovy Joe, while also performing live and doing studio work for numerous record companies. He had several 7" hits in Jamaica and the UK, including the 1970 single Leaving Rome, recorded with Mudie's All Stars
Upon returning to Toronto, in 1976 Bennett started an independent record label, Bunjo, one that released his own material as well as singles by other artists, including Leroy Smart and Fergus Hambleton. A 1993 Bunjo CD compilation, Jo Jo Bennett – Classic Variety Volume One, featured many of his solo tracks.
Bennett and Fergus Hambleton, the Sattalites co-founders, met in 1976 while touring backing Tony Tuff and Cornell Campbell, and they began performing together, mixing Bennett's instrumentals with Hambleton's smooth vocals to create the Sattalites' sound.
The band started as a teaching group in Toronto, with the pair opening the Sattalites Music School on a pay-what-you-can basis to spread their influence in 1981. The Sattalites consisted of various types of students from the school who wanted a sense of live performing, then evolved into a collaboration of musicians ranging from talented beginners to experienced pros.
The pop elements of the group's reggae-based sound proved popular live, and led to extensive touring across Canada and the United States. They were the only Canadian band ever invited to appear at Jamaica's famed Sunsplash festival, playing before 25,000 people, and they also performed at the 1993/94 World Skiing Championship in Whistler, BC.
The Sattalites released six albums, from 1985's self-titled debut to 2003's Reggaefication, and won Juno awards for Best Reggae Recording, in 1990 and 1996.
As news of Bennett's passing spread, social media posts quickly attested to the respect and love he built up among peers, friends and fans.
"I’m quite overwhelmed by the reaction of everybody," Hambleton tells FYI. " A lot of people with a lot of memories, not just from our Sattalites days but from his earlier years as well. It has been emotional. He brought a lot of joy into the world with that trumpet."
Patti Habib co-owned The Bamboo, the famed Toronto club that was long a happy home for Bennett and The Sattalites, and she acknowledged on FB "the peaceful passing of a musician and gentle man who always made me smile and made me chill."
Veteran Toronto audio/recording engineer Doug McClement posted that "Jo Jo was a great musician, and such a wonderful person. I learned a lot from JoJo about how to get those island sounds. He was so giving with his knowledge, and he made the session sound better just by walking into the room."
In an eloquent Facebook post, Fergus Hambleton noted "I've had 45 years of deep friendship, 45 years of understanding and learning, and with the loving help of many others along the way we managed to create something good in the world. It is obvious that we grew up differently but we shared a love of jazz, good singing and all musics, we complemented each other well. I never heard Jo disparage any style of music or any other musician. We're all on the same path, he used to say, 'just in different places.'
"For all the musicians, know that Jo Jo loved Clifford Brown, could rip off a startling bebop riff, then drive a room to ecstasy with a few well-placed blasts on the horn...."mistake, fish steak or beefsteak, it's all the same". And for everyone else, know that Jo Jo was the 'encourager" the generous soul who was devoted to music and shared his gift with everyone."
Hambleton told FYI that "what I want to emphasize is his incredible musicality and the generosity of his spirit. That made him a good teacher, he was really good at encouraging people to do things. Whether it was encouraging an audience to get up and enjoy themselves, or encouraging someone who’d never sung in front of people to do it."
A celebration of life is being planned.
Sources: Fergus Hambleton, Blair Moody, Jason Wilson, Canadian Reggae World, Wikipedia