Music News Digest, Feb. 10, 2022

Rufus Wainwright (pictured) has announced a spring Canadian tour, Nova Scotia Music Week will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Cape Breton, and The Music Cities Convention begins today. Also in the news are Music PEI Week Awards, Side Door, SXSW,  Bad Waitress, CMAOntario Awards, Dream Café,  Laila Biali, Bob Luhtala,   Sweet Alibi, Séan McCann, Bruce Cockburn, Rhythms and Resistance , Terry Gomes MMF Canada, and farewell Michael Jones, George Crumb, and Betty Davis.

Music News Digest, Feb. 10, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Nova Scotia Music Week (NSMW) has announced the celebration of its 25th anniversary in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nov. 3-6, the event's second time in Cape Breton. Music Nova Scotia is offering a limited number of festival wristbands on sale now for $40. These allow access to all showcasing events at NSMW 2022, subject to capacity. Limited wristbands are available for sale here until sold out. Regular early bird ticketing will be available later in the spring. More info here.

– 35 speakers from 15 countries will converge online this week at The Music Cities Convention, set to take place Feb. 10 and 11, all helping to promote the transformation of Calgary and Edmonton into “music cities.” Originally set for last fall, the conference was postponed for pandemic concerns. Featured alongside a large contingent of local speakers are global delegates from as far afield as Iceland, Chile, and Torres Strait, Australia. A showcase component will feature such artists as Sargeant X Comrade, T. Buckley, Amy Nelson, Shaela Miller, K-Riz, Fox Opera and Samantha Savage Smith.


Entitled Scaling Up Music Cities: Cultivating the Future of Alberta, this is the first time the annual conference has been based in Canada. It is hosted by Alberta Music, the National Music Centre and West Anthem. Learn more in this Calgary Heraldfeature and here

– Rufus Wainwright has announced a spring Canadian tour, starting April 13 in Regina (Conexus) and concluding in Montreal (Salle Wilfrid Pelletier) on May 16. Three US shows are included, and there's a Massey Hall date in Toronto on May 16. Tix Here. The Unfollow the Rules Tour supports Wainwright’s Grammy and Juno nominated 2020 pop album of that name. The tour follows a successful run of full-band dates in the UK.

– Pandemic concerns have meant that Music PEI Week’s Awards Party will now be held as a virtual event on March 6, not in-person as originally planned. You can watch the awards presentation at 1:30 pm ET via Music PEI’s Facebook page, and the chat will be open. Event organizers are planning to go ahead with six in-person concerts to celebrate the nominees during the week. Currently, they are able to fill 50 seats at the venues, so tickets are limited. All in-person events will comply with CPHO regulations, which may change before then. Tix and more info here.


Side Door, the platform that helps artists and creators find places to perform, is partnering with SXSW on Side Door to SXSW, which will book curated tours for six selected SXSW showcasing artists travelling to Austin for this year's festival/conference. This culminates with an official Side Door to SXSW showcase on March 18. Artists Abstract Rude, Bad Waitress, Gully Boys, JUNACO, S.C.A.B, and Status/Non-Status will kick off the tour in early March, making multiple stops from home cities on their way to Austin for the showcase. 

– CMAOntario Awards nominations are now open, with a Feb. 16 deadline. CMAOntario members in good standing can submit here.


– The Dream Cafe in Penticton BC is putting on a series of digital shows that will be filmed at their venue and put online for purchase at a later date. The hybrid season continues on Feb. 14 with a show by Juno-winning vocalist/pianist/songwriter Laila Biali, while Harry Manx and David Gogo are also featured in the series. Ticket buyers who attend in-person also get a streaming link. $15 tix for the live stream allow watching for a full week. Tix here.

– Popular Toronto music industry veteran Bob Luhtala is currently battling cancer. Prior to his birthday on May 9, it is suggested that friends and colleagues could send him greetings, memories and stories in a video. Please e-mail to by March 30.


– On Jan. 28, Winnipeg roots-pop combo Sweet Alibi released its fourth album, Make A Scene, produced by Matt Peters and Matt Schellenburg (Royal Canoe, Begonia). Here’s a taste.

– The latest Canadian artist to join compatriots Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in pulling his music from Spotify is Celtic folk-rocker and Great Big Sea co-founder Séan McCann. He explained the move in this statement: “Spotify’s decision to prioritize certain creators on the app underscores the company’s profit-at-any-cost priority. This proves it was never about the music, and it’s artists who are ultimately paying the price.” McCann’s solo catalogue held over 87K followers on Spotify, with 52 songs uploaded for streaming. “After five years, my solo catalogue has earned a sum total of $640.25 on Spotify,” McCann reveals. “I found myself asking: Spotify founder Daniel Ek has a personal net worth of more than $4.7B, but he can only ‘afford’ to pay songwriters $0.003 per stream?”

– Bruce Cockburn will be live-streaming the first performance of his 2022 North America tour live from Higher Ground in Vermont. Join the virtual crowd on Flymachine and see the show live on Feb. 24th. Limited early bird passes are available now here.

– Toronto’s long history as a hotbed of Caribbean music is now being showcased in Rhythms and Resistance at the Friar’s Museum ( in the Shoppers, south of Yonge-Dundas Square.) Presented by the Downtown Yonge BIA and the Friar’s Museum, the first ever exhibition of its kind celebrates a wide range of Caribbean sounds in Toronto and the many artists who produced them. It incorporates photographs, posters, handbills, recordings, videos, instruments, costumes, clothing and assorted ephemera, dating back to the ‘40s. Artists featured include Bob Marley, Lillian Allen, Jackie Mittoo, Louise Bennett, the Mighty Sparrow, JoJo Bennett, Leroy Sibbles, Michie Mee and many more. 


– Ottawa composer Terry Gomes has released a new single, Elegy, featuring piano work by jazz pianist Steve Boudreau.

– The next MMF Canada webinar is set for Feb. 16 (1-2 pm ET), and will share US tax and immigration knowledge of benefit for Canadian creative companies and individuals doing business in the US. Featured speakers are Sondra Gold and Lainie Appleby. Register here.


Michael Jones, a Canadian new age pianist and composer, died on Jan. 19, age 79, of emphysema.

Jones was a published author who had degrees in music and psychology as well as adult education. While he was known in the Orillia, Ontario area for facilitating workshops and roundtables in the arts, culture and heritage sector, he was also an accomplished pianist.

He is recognised as an early artist in the genre termed new age. His first album, Pianoscapes, was released on the Narada label in 1983 and sold over 100,000 copies. He went on to release more than a dozen albums of piano music.

He published three books about creative leadership; the most recent being The Soul of Place: Re-imagining Leadership Through Nature Art and Community. Jones was a columnist for the business and leadership website, Management - Issues. He often combined the two sides of his career by performing his compositions at leadership conferences. In 2015 Jones co-chaired the Mariposa Roundtable, an initiative to improve the economy of Orillia through increased tourism.


Fellow recording artist, pianist and Orillian Lance Anderson remembers Jones’s musical prowess well. He told Orillia Matters that “He’d get in a certain mood — he might just look at a picture — and then he’d respond to it,” Anderson said. “He responded emotionally when he’d play. His pieces would just evolve like that.”

A celebration of life was held on Feb. 9. Learn more in this Orillia Mattersobit.


George Crumb, an eclectic US composer, died on Feb. 6, age 92. His death was announced by Bridge Records, his record label.

The NYT described Crumb as "a composer who filled his works with a magpie array of instrumental and human sounds and drew on the traditions of Asia and his native Appalachia to create music of startling effect.. While rejecting the sometimes arid 12-tone technique of Modernists, Mr. Crumb beguiled audiences with his own musical language, composing colourful and concise works.

"Mr. Crumb wrote startling works, sometimes with political themes, and challenged musicians to employ new techniques, vocalize and move about the stage." Read more in this New York Times obit

– Betty Davis, a US funk singer and songwriter who left an underappreciated yet trailblazing body of work, died Feb. 9, age 77, of natural causes.

Rolling Stone reports that “The near-entirety of Davis’ musical catalogue was recorded between 1964 and 1975, but her impact has been felt for decades.”

 A model by profession, Davis first began making music under her birth name Betty Mabry, including her 1964 single Get Ready for Betty. An influential figure in the New York music scene in the late-Sixties, she would pen the Chambers Brothers song Uptown (to Harlem), which enjoyed a recent resurgence when it featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Summer of Soul.

In 1968, she become the second wife of Miles Davis, with the marriage lasting one year only. She is credited with introducing Miles to the rock music of the era, ultimately ushering in the trumpeter’s jazz fusion phase beginning with 1969’s In a Silent Way and 1970’s Bitches Brew.

Her self-titled debut album in 1973 for Woodstock promoter Michael Lang’s Just Sunshine Records was followed by 1974’s They Say I’m Different and 1975’s Nasty Gal. While none of the funk albums were a commercial success, Davis gained a following for her sexuality-laden lyrics.

Following that three-year spurt of material — and following a year in Japan where she spent time with silent monks — Davis abruptly left the music industry, moving to the Pittsburgh area where she lived for the next 40 years without making new music. A cult audience grew, resulting in a series of reissues from the noted archival label Light in the Attic. Read more here and here.

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.

Charlotte Cardin for 99 Nights, The Beaches for Blame My Ex, Allison Russell for The Returner and Cindy Lee for Diamond Jubilee are among the ten artists shortlisted for the 2024 award, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year.

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