Music News Digest, Dec. 20, 2017

Gord Downie, Lido Pimienta, Ed Sheeran, Hannah Alper, Jacko, and the McGarrigle Sisters all make news today, plus we've included a reel of music videos for your viewing enjoyment.

Music News Digest, Dec. 20, 2017

By FYI Staff

The late Gord Downie has been named Newsmaker of the Year by Canadian Press for the second consecutive year. He's now among a select group of Canadians to be voted top newsmaker more than once. Others include former prime ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau and activist athletes Terry Fox and Rick Hansen.

The Tragically Hip singer was the clear victor, collecting 47 votes (53 percent) in the annual Canadian Press survey of newsrooms across the country. The musician remains the only entertainer to receive the title in its 71-year history. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was second in this year's poll with 11 votes (13 percent), while new NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh finished third with 10 votes (11 percent).


– Newsmaker and recent Polaris Music Prize winner Lido Pimienta has been noticeably quiet since creating a shit storm at Halifax Pop Explosion with on-stage remarks made in Oct. Perhaps the wall of silence is intentional; maybe not but we hear she has signed or is about to sign a global record deal. Management has not responded to a request for information, and the buzz has it that the news will be announced early in the new year, along with a slew of foreign show dates.

– Congrats to Hannah Alper, 14, now the youngest person — and the only Canadian — on Bloomberg’s Ones to Watch in 2018 list. The popular Richmond Hill teen blogger and social activist was nominated by popular Canadian YouTube celebrity Lilly Singh (||Superwoman||) — who’s also Alper’s role model and partner in work. The teen is the daughter of music biz publicity maven Eric Alper.

– Reproduction rights agency SODRAC has announced the first distribution for Apple Music, for the period ranging from the launch of the platform in June 2015 to Sept. 2017. The three main streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple and Google), which currently constitute 90% of this market, are now processed, as well as almost all platforms that complete the remaining 10%. The agency expects to add more streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime.


Separately, The Copyright Board of Canada has recently activated, reactivated and/or expedited its processes for numerous files targeting SODRAC members. You can read in detail here.

MEGAPHONO, Ottawa’s music showcase festival, returns Feb. 8-10, with its 4th edition. The 3-day event has 70 artists performing in 25 venues around the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Among those on the bill: Alanis, Lido Pimienta, Daniel Romano's Ancient Shapes, and Luka.

– Wrapping up his Illuminate World Tour in Southeast Asia, Shawn Mendes delivered his first performance in Bangkok Dec. 11 at the 12K-seat Impact Arena. Review and an interview can be viewed here.

Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie and Beoga performed a cover of the Pogues and Kirsty McColl's “Fairytale Of New York” in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge a few days ago.

Michael Jackson, who passed away in June ‘09 at the age of 50, is the highest-paid deceased celebrity of 2017, with his estate taking in an estimated $75M, the fifth consecutive year that the “Thriller” entertainer has held that position. (Arnold Palmer was second at $40M), according to Forbes. Recent platforms from Jackson, under the auspices of his estate, include Michael Jackson's Halloween, a new, one-hour perennial animated special; and Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D.


– And here’s a mindbender: The most popular songs between 1940 and 2016 in one 17-minute video

–  Montreal fans of the McGarrigle Sisters and their offspring are in for a treat today (Dec. 20).  Martha Wainwright and members of the extended McGarrigle-Wainwright clan will play two free Christmas shows (at 5.30 and 7 pm) at Place Kate-McGarrigle on Laurier Ave. Concertgoers are invited to make donations to the Kate McGarrigleFund which is administered by the McGill U Health Centre for cancer research.


–  The popular Toronto series Myseum Presents: Music From People City is hosting a New Year's Eve Infinity Ball that features Dwayne Gretzky in performance at Enercare Centre, as well as interactive art exhibitions and a whole lot more.

– Calgary’s Big Winter Classic fest runs Jan. 18 to 21 on various city stages. The announced lineup features over 70 acts, including Metz, Red Fang, Daniel Romano, Bend Sinister, Jay Som, Raleigh, The Heirlooms and Duchess Says.

– Toronto singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O'Hara is often described as an eccentric genius and a cult hero. It is now 30 years since she released her only official full-length album, Miss America, but interest in her remains strong. A recent appearance at left-field Dutch fest Le Guess Who? 2017 was recorded and is premiering online at Mojo magazine. Check it out here

–  Folk Alliance 2018 runs Feb. 14-18, and Folk Music Canada is still offering showcase opportunities. Move fast as the application deadline is midnight tonight. Apply here

–  Idiosyncratic Calgary-based alt-pop auteur Chad VanGaalen and his backing band, The Bleach Wipes, just wrapped up a 50 date tour spanning Germany, The Netherlands, UK, France, and North America. A tour highlight was getting to play a rooftop session for Mowno before their Paris show. See the video evidence below. He plays five Western Canada dates next month.

–  Back in the early '80s, Vital Sines was a vital part of Toronto's post-punk scene. A reunion show Dec. 21 show at The Rivoli features Eugene Ripper (Stark Naked And The Fleshtones) and The Dave Howard Singers, with Gord Cumming (The Lawn) DJ'ing. A bargain $5 plus a non-perishable food donation gets you in. Trivia note: Vital Sines' drummer Glenn Milchem now pounds the skins in Blue Rodeo.


– Nightseeker is the non-fictional band of fictional character Dean Murdoch from FUBAR, the cult fave Canadian mockumentary movie that has spawned a sequel and now a TV series on Viceland. The group has now gone legit by signing to go-getting indie label Royal Mountain Records (Mac DeMarco, Alvvays, Pup, Metz). Murdoch is the onstage personality of Paul Spence, co-creator of FUBAR and composer of music in both films. Recorded with Ian Blurton, Nightseeker’s debut album will surface early next year.

– Noted New York City music venues the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge have formed a partnership with Live Nation. The clubs' founder, Michael Swier, joins the concert giant, setting up a new company called Mercury East Presents.

–  During a recent European tour, feisty Toronto rockers Mad Ones took footage that adds colour to a brand new video for the track "Regretless," the title cut from their current album. Scenes include performances on a boat in Prague and at a Serbian rave, with a roller derby in Calgary and a gig at the now defunct Silver Dollar providing Canadian colour. 




Kevin Mahogany, the US jazz singer and educator, has passed away at age 59. No cause of death is reported. Mahogany’s discography comprises more than a dozen albums going back to 1993, including recordings on the Warner Bros. and Telarc labels. He gained recognition outside his hometown for his role in the 1996 Robert Altman jazz film, Kansas City. He was also a jazz educator, having taught at the University of Miami and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Source:

The cast of "Stereophonic"
Julieta Cervantes

The cast of "Stereophonic"


Will Butler on Writing the Tony-Nominated Music for ‘Stereophonic’: ‘It Was Like a Thousand-Piece Puzzle With 200 Pieces Missing’

The former Arcade Fire member has two nominations for his stunning songs, written for a fictional (but very believable) rock band onstage.

Will Butler’s first meeting with playwright David Adjmi was fairly open-ended: a friend had told Butler that Adjmi — a fan of Arcade Fire, the band Butler was in at the time — was working on a play about a band and that Butler could “write the music or just consult or whatever.”

But from their first sit-down at a diner near New York’s theatre district, Adjmi’s vision was “instantly recognizable” to Butler: “Like, oh, it’s a demo — it’s like a transcendental thing that they can never recapture. You have things falling apart because the headphones sound bad, you have people yelling at each other over music but it’s because of how their dad treated them,” he recalls with a laugh.

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