Music News Digest, Feb. 2, 2018

Dave Platel is now co-managing Celine Dion, and Greg Hambleton returns with a new album. Those also in the news include Anvil, Clayton Bellamy, Countermeasure, Chip Taylor, MusiCounts, Unison, ECMA showcases, Westben, Moondance, and The Confabulations. Videos featured for your viewing pleasure.

Music News Digest, Feb. 2, 2018

By FYI Staff

One-time CBS Canada marketing maven Dave Platel left the company when Celine Dion’s career took off to co-manage her with her late husband Rene Angelil. When Aldo Giampaolo was named CEO of Feeling Productions Inc., the company that manages Dion's career, Platel returned to Canada. Then Giampaolo left the company last year, and Platel has since returned as co-manager, alongside Denis Savage (who's also a longtime Celine cohort, working closely with her for 30 years). Savage has had a variety of responsibilities, including sound engineer (FOH) and tour director, for the Montreal-born singer.

In June and July, Dion embarks on an 11-date Asian arena tour that has generated demand straining online ticketing platforms and is shortly expected to announce a return to Australia for shows that will be her first in a decade.


In the 1970s and early 1980s, Greg Hambleton created, wrote, produced or engineered a hit parade of Canadian songs and now he’s released an album of his own material, on Axe Records–one of two labels he started at the dawn of CanCon regulations. Legally blind for 20 years, he became a recluse after a remarkable run as a purveyor of homegrown pop.  A few years back an operation returned his sight, and this has led to his taking to the stage for occasional performances–and the release of a delicately crafted, gentle-sounding 10-song pop collection entitled Between The Sea And The Sky.

Stream or purchase the album and find out more on Hambleton’s website. This week “Louise” was serviced to radio as the second single release from the album.

Steve "Lips" Kudlow (vocals, guitar), Robb Reiner (drums) and Chris Robertson (bass) – collectively known as Anvil and known for their hard-driving sound best be described as having the melodic intensity of a forester’s gas-powered chainsaw – are in the headlines again. With almost 20 albums in the catalogue, the Toronto heavy metal band was inducted into the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame at Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove, CA on Jan. 24.


Their claim to fame came in the early ‘80s when Attic Records co-founder Tom Williams went to see them at former hometown R&R palace, the Gasworks.

“As it happened they had just got an indie pressing of their proposed first album,” Williams remembers. “It was called ‘Lips’ and had a big red lipstick kiss on the cover. To me, it looked more disco that heavy metal. I loved the band.  We signed them, and the Attic marketing group started looking for a new name. I wanted something that could be used visually and become a logo. One of us suggested Anvil (each of us claims it, I think).” 

Almost four decades later, Anvil is set to release Pounding the Pavement and is currently on a 14-country, 46-show tour of the UK and Europe. Below, a sample from these whack-a-moles of R&R.

– Motorcross racing star and Road Hammer Clayton Bellamy debuts his new band Clayton Bellamy & The Congregation and material from a forthcoming album at a Triumph Motorcycles promoted concert next week at Danforth Music Hall.


Dubbed a “stunning hour of world-class music” by the Fringe Review at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, global acclaim for Canadian a capella collective Countermeasureis, by any measure, ecstatically enthused.

The 13-strong Toronto vocal ensemble, formed in 2010, has wowed audiences from Spain to NYC’s Central Park and the Kennedy Centre to Toronto’s Beaches Jazz Festival and Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. It was the historic Scottish port city’s Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat that serve as the backdrop for Countermeasure’s video for “Fox in the Field,” the group’s inventive reinterpretation of the literary classic, “The Little Prince.” 


Last month the group packed Brampton, ON’s 800-plus seat Rose Theatre and a string of high-profile tour dates are set to be announced shortly; meantime, take a look at the group’s new video set against a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.

Living up to its mandate as a home to roots music, Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto hosts Chip Taylor on March 6th with bass player Tony Mercadante. American Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, best known for writing “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning,” Taylor is touring the north-east promoting his latest album, Fix Your Words, on his Trainwreck Records imprint. Road managing is longtime friend and Calgary-based music promoter, manager and record label owner Neil MacGonigill. Listen to a clip from the album and read Taylor’s take on the new record on American Songwriter.

SoulHouse Live and Anthony Lewis and his DNA Project partner on a Hamilton Place Show March 23 with comedian host Jay Martin, vocalist Kim Davis and DNA Project musicians. The community outreach series presents local musicians in attractive settings at affordable ticket prices.

—  Sir Alexander Mackenzie Elementary School in Vancouver is the recipient of $10K worth of guitars and djembes — a West African drum —through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program, BC rock band and MusiCounts sponsors Hedley headlined the presentation and offered the students an acoustic performance in the auditorium.

—  Last Friday, Unison Benevolent Fund held its fourth annualBonspiel in Toronto, helping to raise $25K for the charitable org. Out of 17 competing teams, it was Skip, Spare & The Sweeping Hacks that took the prize. The team comprised Mike Rice, Mark Russom, Phil Gumbley and Angela Kozak, knocking out teams from Slaight Music (The Slaight Stoners!), FACTOR, SOCAN, Re:Sound, Music Canada, Sony Music, Coalition,  MLSE, and others.


—  The affiliatedECMA Awards festivalin Halifax May 2-6 includes a long-list of prominent names. Included: Alert the Medic, Bill & Joel Plaskett, Catherine MacLellan, Christina Martin,  David Myles, Don Ross, Fortunate Ones, Heather Bambrick, Heather Rankin, Jenn Grant, Matt Minglewood, Mo Kenney, Port Cities, Quake Matthews, and The Barra MacNeils. Check the complete list here

— TD Markham Jazz Festival, a popular Ontario fest held every August, also hosts community-based concerts during the year. On Feb. 25, violinist Drew Jurecka performs an afternoon show at the Duchess of Markham Pub. The eclectic musician has worked with the likes of Jill Barber and Jeff Healey. More info here

—  Over the past 19 years, the Westben venue in Campbellford, ON, has earned an enviable reputation for hosting top-notch theatre and music productions. Last week, the non-profit announced expansion plans and re-branding as "a Centre for Connection and Creativity through Music." Westben will focus on promoting a year-round convergence of people, ideas and activities through music, rather than concentrating on its summer music festival.

Two new initiatives include a series of house concerts, organized by local musician Ken Tizzard (The Watchmen, Booth Street Records), and residencies throughout the year led by a variety of local and international artists. Major names slotted for the 2018 Westben season include Sarah Harmer, Tafelmusik, John McDermott and Michael Kaeshammer. 


— Mike Taveroff is closing his Moondance record store in downtown Peterborough after 46 years of operation. The shop originally opened at 249 George Street in 1972 and is one of Canada's oldest independent music stores, running close to Fred's Records in St. John's. The Peterborough shop has been a favourite of music collectors because of its extensive collection of imports (and its considerable stock of used LPs and CDs). Source: Kawartha Now

—  Toronto bassist/composer/bandleader David Woodhead’s longtime ensemble project The Confabulation releases its new album, Tunnels And Visions, with a Hugh's Room Live show tonight (Feb. 2), followed by a Feb. 9 concert at Hamilton's The Pearl Company. The genre-hopping ensemble draws on folk, jazz and World music element for its eclectic creations. The lineup includes such respected TO players as Doug Wilde, Colleen Allen, Bob Cohen, Anne Lindsay, and Rich Greenspoon.

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award

Music News

Allison Russell Named Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year

The Nashville-based musician from Montreal has been having a huge year, including her first Grammy and her first Hot 100 appearance. Accepting the award on June 19 at the iHeartRadio Canada studio, she talked about her LGBTQ+ advocacy work and the importance of playing with underrepresented musicians.

It was a special Juneteenth for Allison Russell.

Not only did she serve as the special Toronto opener for Sarah McLachlan on the Canadian icon’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy 30th anniversary tour, but she earned another big honour: Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

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