Music News Digest, Feb. 28, 2020

The Prism Prize Top 20 list is announced, Gord Bamford (pictured) signs to Anthem, and a hometown tribute to Neil Peart is set. Also in the news are Thundermug, The Wheat Sheaf, D.O.A., Alexina Louie, Florent Vollant, Lindy Vopnfjord, Busty and the Bass, TBS, the RBCxMusic Concert Series, and farewell David Roback.

Music News Digest, Feb. 28, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The Prism Prize has announced the Top 20 Canadian music videos of the year as voted by a jury of more than 120 Canadian music, film and media arts professionals. The Top Ten shortlist will be announced on April 2, with the Grand Prize winner named at a screening and awards presentation on May 11 in Toronto and awarded $20K. Now in its 8th year, the Prism Prize has recognized the likes of Kaytranada, Charlotte Day Wilson and Grimes in past years. Check out the 2020 list here

– Anthem Entertainment has announced a new recording agreement (via Anthem Records) with Canadian country star Gord Bamford. The deal includes the extension of a worldwide publishing deal and the acquisition of all of Bamford’s master recordings from Cache Entertainment Inc., including all albums from 2001’s God’s Green Earth to 2018’s Neon Smoke. On April 17, he will release his new album REDNEK, on Anthem Records. 

– May 16 has been set as the date for the much-discussed tribute show in honour of Rush drummer Neil Peart in his hometown of St Catharines, ON. A Night For Neil, organized in conjunction with Peart’s family, will feature an array of performers and speakers. Proceeds from the event go to the charities Overtime Angels, the St Catharines Hospital and Walker Cancer Center, the Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre in Hamilton, and The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. Tickets for A Night For Neil go on sale here today (Feb. 28). Source: Loudersound

– Good news for fans of ‘70s Canadian rockers Thundermug (Africa). Bill, Jim, & Ed, an unreleased album recorded in 1976 and featuring Bill Durst, Jim Corbett & Ed Pranskus, has just been made available by Axe Records, the imprint owned by Greg Hambleton, producer of this and three other ‘70s Thundermug albums. Durst and original singer Joe DeAngelis still write and perform together in the Bill Durst Band.


– Finally, some positive news for the Toronto live music scene. Historic bar The Wheat Sheaf will soon reopen (as Wheatsheaf Tavern) after a renovation, and will place a new focus on music. Programming there will be Shawn Creamer, who helped launch The Dakota Tavern and the Hayloft Dancehall in Prince Edward County. An opening party on March 17 will feature members of Blue Rodeo and Creamer’s fine roots-rock band The Beauties. Congrats Shawn! Source: NOW

– Pioneering hardcore punk band D.O.A. returns with an 18th studio album, Treason, coming March 15 via Sudden Death Records accompanied by a tour supporting Dead Kennedys on the East Coast tour in March, followed by headlining dates across North America in May and June. The new record is reportedly politically charged, with earlier D.O.A. classic F**cked Up Ronnie being reworked as F**cked Up Donald, in honour of you know who. Source: CoS

– Composer Alexina Louie and singer Florent Vollant (Kashtin) are among the latest laureates of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Also cited are actors Tantoo Cardinal, Ryan Reynolds and Catherine O'Hara, and dancer-choreographer Zab Maboungou. The 2020 laureates will be honoured at three events in Ottawa, culminating in the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala at the National Arts Centre on April 25. Source: CBC


–  On Saturday (Feb. 29), Hamilton live music hub This Ain’t Hollywood and Lindy Vopnfjord host Hamilton Loves You, a benefit concert to support Ethiopian social justice activist Kidus Mehalu and his family, who recently moved to Hamilton. The impressive list of local performers includes Corin Raymond, Deeps, Lisa Winn and Andrew Aldridge, Shari and Johnny, Alfie Smith, Lindy Vopnfjord, Andy Griffiths, Blind Mule and more. Their sets are preceded by a family fun time event (5-7pm). Tix here


– Funky Montreal octet Busty and the Bass have officially signed to Arts & Crafts  (Broken Social Scene, Andy Shauf, Sarah Harmer), and more. In March, the octet will be touring in North America with shows in Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. More tour dates TBA. A just-released single, Baggy Eyed Dopeman, features funk legend George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic). Links to the track here 

– The RBCxMusic Concert Series returns to the 2020 RBC Canadian Open, teeing off with headlining performances by The Chainsmokers and Keith Urban, June 12 and 13. The concerts take place near the Open venue, St. George’s Golf and Country Club, on the football field of Toronto's Richview Collegiate Institute. Last year’s inaugural event featured Florida Georgia Line and The Glorious Sons. Tix here

– Applications for this year's Toronto Blues Society’s Talent Search will start on March 1. Check the TBS website for more info.


David Roback, the US producer and multi-instrumentalist who co-founded Mazzy Star, died on Feb. 24, at age 61, of cancer.  

Roback and singer Hope Sandoval formed Mazzy Star in Santa Monica in 1989 after another group he had co-founded, Opal, broke up. Mazzy Star’s biggest mainstream hit was 1994’s Fade Into You, which hit No. 44 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and No. 3 on its Modern Rock chart. That song has since become a dreamy anthem of that era, appearing in the soundtracks for TV shows such as Ray Donovan and many others.

A producer, guitarist and keyboardist, Roback played a leading role in the neo-psychedelic revival of the 1980s and ’90s. He also formed Rain Parade, one of the key bands in L.A.'s “paisley underground” scene of the early ’80s.


Sources: LA Times, Consequence of Sound

Dave Loggins
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Dave Loggins

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