Music News Digest, Feb. 3, 2020

Measha Brueggergosman and Jully Black join forces onstage (pictured), HOROJO Trio shines in Memphis, and Danny Michel’s star-studded 50th fundraising party. Also in the news are Strumbellas, Kevin Hearn, APA, Brian Ahern, Jason Wilson, and farewell Andy Gill and Ivan Kral.

Music News Digest, Feb. 3, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Powerhouse Canadian vocalists' Measha Brueggergosman and Jully Black have become close friends in real life in recent years. They are now working on stage together, in the current Toronto production of the much-heralded musical Caroline, or Change. This marks the musical theatre debut of both stars. The show is at the Winter Garden Theatre until Feb. 15. More info here. Source: The Toronto Star

— Ottawa blues band HOROJO Trio were big winners at the  2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis over the weekend. Representing the Ottawa Blues Society, the group won as 1st Place Band, and its guitarist, JW-Jones, took home the Gibson Guitar Award, for Best Band Guitarist. Congrats! Full winners list here  


— Folk-rocker Danny Michel celebrated his 50th birthday on Jan. 31 by hosting a star-studded benefit show at Toronto’s The Great Hall. Performers included Whitehorse, Sarah Slean, Barenaked Ladies, Lindy Vopdfjord, and Dala. Michel later posted on FB that “together we raised about $25,000 for theOcean Academy School in Belize and I can't imagine the night going any better.” He has long been a major benefactor for the school.

— Back in early Jan, Strumbellas announced the postponement of a 14-city Canadian tour after one of their members was hospitalized with an unspecified illness. Now, the Toronto-based band has cancelled the tour, while the un-named member focusses on “getting back to good health." Full refunds of tickets available at the point of purchase.

— There Are No Fakes, a feature-length documentary built around Kevin Hearn's purchase of a forged painting alleged to be by Norval Morrisseau, had its world TV premiere on TVO on Saturday night. it airs again tonight (Monday) and Wednesday. Both gripping and dark, the doco is recommended. Source: CP Source: CP

— Last week, the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville hosted famed Canadian record producer, Brian Ahern's 75th surprise birthday celebration. Ahern produced hit records for such artists as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Anne Murray, Rodney Crowell, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Keith Richards, Johnny Cash, and many more. He also designed and built the Enactron Mobile Recording Studio, home to over 40 gold and platinum records, ranging from Willie Nelson's Stardust to the 1976 soundtrack for A Star is Born, and now on permanent display at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum. The party included performances by Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Fayssoux Starling McLean, and Dolly Parton.


— APA (Atlantic Presenters Association) has organised a 'Making Tomorrow Better' tour, featuring workshops with Inga Petri and Tammy Lee, March 23-24 at Atlantica Hotel in Halifax. Check out the full workshop descriptions here

— Toronto musician and author Jason Wilson launches his book King Alpha’s Song in a Strange Land: The Roots and Routes of Canadian Reggae, with a performance at The Peppermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills, ON, on Feb. 6.


Andy Gill, the guitarist with Gang of Four, whose sound influenced generations of post-punk bands, has died on Feb. 1 aged 64, of a reported respiratory ailment.


The news was announced by the band on its social media channels on Saturday. It referred to him as “listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed”.

Gill was born in Manchester in 1956 and formed Gang of Four in Leeds in 1976. Influenced by Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson as well as the New York punk scene that he witnessed after receiving a grant to visit art galleries there, Gill fed taut, funky guitar lines and screeching noise into the band’s politically charged music.

While Gang of Four never had a top 40 hit, songs like Natural’s Not in It and At Home He’s a Tourist became cult favourites; their 1979 debut album Entertainment! was named by Rolling Stone in 2003 as one of the 500 greatest ever.


They released 10 albums in all, with a couple of periods of hiatus during their 40-year history – Gill was the only founding member of the band to last throughout. Their most recent album was 2019’s Happy Now, which they toured late last year.

Partly thanks to Gill’s distinctive guitar playing, Gang of Four became hugely influential, with REM,  Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers citing them as an influence. Gill ended up producing the Chili Peppers’ self-titled debut album, and also produced records by Killing Joke, Therapy?, the Jesus Lizard, and more. Source: The Guardian

 Ivan Kral, Czech rock guitarist, songwriter and producer who played with Patti Smith and other rock greats, died on Feb. 2. He was 71.

Kral, born shortly after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, left his home country in 1966 for the US where his father worked as an interpreter at the United Nations.

In the 1970s he played with Blondie, among others, before joining Smith with whom he co-wrote songs including the hit Dancing Barefoot.

Kral also wrote songs for Iggy Pop, John Cale and U2.

After Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution of 1989, which toppled Communist rule, Kral returned home as a performer and a producer for a number of Czech musicians and bands. Source: Reuters

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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