Music News Digest, Feb. 4, 2021

The Weeknd announces a massive global tour and a new compilation, Men Without Hats (pictured) sign with Sonic Envy and Cerberus Management, and MVP Project recipients are named. Others in the news include Neon Dreams, the Denis Parker Industry Builder Award, CIMA, Maple Blues Awards, Margaret Atwood, Jon Mullane, CMW, the ANSMA Awards, and farewell Rude van Steenes, and Tom Stevens.

Music News Digest, Feb. 4, 2021

By Kerry Doole

It seems The Weeknd makes the headlines every other day. Yesterday (Feb. 3) it was for the announcement of a massive 104-date global tour, the After Hours World Tour. It is planned to launch Jan. 14, 2022  in Vancouver at Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena with stops in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, Berlin and more, before wrapping Nov. 16 in London at The O2.

The worldwide tour announcement comes just days ahead of the multi-platinum singer’s headlining Super Bowl performance, and also includes a handful of rescheduled dates shifting from 2021 to be a part of the After Hours World Tour in 2022. Tix go on sale beginning Feb. 8 at Tomorrow (Feb. 5), The Weeknd will release a new career-spanning collection, The Highlights, featuring some of his most notable work, and guaranteed to be another blockbuster.


– Global synth-pop hitmakers Men Without Hats have signed a record label and management deal with Sonic Envy and Cerberus Management, both companies founded by Toronto-based music industry veteran Brian Hetherman. The label will releasea new MWH album of 12 original songs, as well as an album of cover songs in 2021, just as the band celebrates its 40th Anniversary. Originally from Montreal, Men Without Hats relocated to Canada’s West Coast 20 years ago. MWH is now led by founding members Ivan and Colin Doroschuk, joined by industry veteran Sho Murray, and augmented on the next record by Colin’s daughter, Soprano Sahara Sloan. The group gained international recognition for their '80s hit The Safety Dance, a Top 10 hit worldwide. 1987's Pop Goes the World was another global hit. 

Hetherman is thrilled about the new deal. In a press release, he states “I have been a fan of Men Without Hats since I was a kid and I still have the 45 RPM record of Safety Dance that I bought back then. It is in my Jukebox at home. The fact that I am now managing the band and putting out their albums is an incredible honour, and very exciting." More info here.


– On Feb. 3, RBC and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced 12 grant recipients for the fifth round of the MVP Project, a program that provides support to emerging Canadian musicians and filmmakers for music video creation and production. Since the program’s inception in 2018, the joint initiative between RBCxMusic and the Prism Prize has awarded 53 grants to emerging artists to support the creation of 24 music videos, with more to follow this year. Applications for Round 6 will open on March 1 at

– In an unconventional success story, Halifax pop duo Neon Dreams has gone No. 1 in South Africa with their single, Life Without Fantasies. The track was released in Canada in 2019 to just moderate success, but online interest from SA fans prompted a release there in Oct. 2020. The group promoted it with Instagram live feeds, personal videos and private zoom concerts, resulting in a recent placing atop the South African charts.


– This year, MusicNL's Denis Parker Industry Builder Award goes to two pioneer recording studios in the province: Jack Winsor’s Echo Music and Recording Studio in St. John’s and Clode Sound Productions in Stephenville. The Awards will be presented Feb. 7 at 2 pm as part of the MusicNL’s 2020 Industry Awards presentation and can be seen on MusicNL’s YouTube channel.

– CIMA, MusicOntario, & Arthaus present The Art of Wellness, a four-part mental health wellness program. The online sessions will be held on Feb. 10, 17, 24 and March 3. Preference is given to members, and non-members will be placed on a waitlist. Space is limited, so participation across all four sessions is highly encouraged so as to glean the most out of the program. More info here 


Toronto Blues Society's annual national awards show the Maple Blues Awards kicked off this past Monday with the Toronto segment, and over 500 households watched the show live. Next stop is Ottawa on Feb. 8, followed by Montreal (Feb. 15) , and Vancouver (Feb. 22).  Awards segments are being streamed at 8 pm (EST) via TBS Facebook and TBS YouTube channel simultaneously. All sessions are and will be available to replay on both of these channels as well.

– When you think of folk music, the name Margaret Atwood doesn't immediately jump to mind. Her clout as an international literary superstar was recognised by Folk Alliance, though, and they've landed her as a keynote interviewee for the upcoming Folk Unlocked Virtual Conference. Folk artist and Tony Award winner Anaïs Mitchell will conduct the interview. Registration info here

– Maritime singer/songwriter Jon Mullane has a concert special, Jon Mullane Hello Again - Live From Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, released on AOTV Friday, Feb. 12 @ 7pm ET. Here's a live take on Mullane's current radio single.

– Canadian Music Week has announced the 20th anniversary Canadian Independent Music Awards presented by Jim Beam Live will be streamed on May 21. Submissions are now open here until Feb. 5.

– African Nova Scotian music will be celebrated at the 23rd annual ANSMA Awards on March 8 and broadcast on on Eastlink Community TV. Leading the nominations this year is Mark Riley. Full noms list here  


Rude van Steenes (born Rudolf van Steenes Hierck), a Toronto rock singer/songwriter known for his work in Arson, Glamatron!, and Vis a Vis, died on Jan. 29, age 70. No cause of death has been reported.


The Dutch-born van Steenes helped found Toronto punk band Arson in 1979. The band spent a lot of time touring, hitting major cities throughout Canada and the US, but only released a handful of songs, including We've Gotta Get Outta This Place and White Folks. In 1982, after only three years in existence, the band called it quits. 

Van Steenes then formed electronic rock band Glamatron! with Kurt LaPorte. Together they produced one Glamatron! album, Only the Heart Beats … Inside the Silence. Another album Chrome Horizons, was completed but not released.

After Glamatron! was dissolved, van Steenes and LaPorte then formed Vis-A-Vis in 1984. The group won the 1987 CASBY Award for Best Independent Artist.

In 2013, van Steenes and guitarist Marcel La Fleur resurrected Arson and later released an album, not always about you

In 2018, van Steenes and LaPorte released a double Glamatron! album, comprising a reissue of Only the Heart Beats … Inside the Silence plus the first release of Chrome Horizons. Sources: Dignity Memorial, Rave and Roll, AllMusic


Tom Stevens, bassist for the Los Angeles rock quartet the Long Ryders, died on January 23, age 64. No cause of death was cited; he was 64.


The band was a key member of the so-called “Paisley Underground” scene of the 1980s. Heavily influenced by Gram Parsons, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan and other country-rock pioneers, the Long Ryders released just three albums and an EP during their 1980s heyday.

Variety notes that "they were an early purveyor of the genre later dubbed Americana and represented the rootsier side of the Paisley Underground scene. The scene was a stronghold of the American independent-rock explosion of the era, and those bands played on many bills with R.E.M., the Replacements, Husker Du and other college-radio staples."

Stevens was classically trained. He joined an Indiana hard rock group called Magi, which developed a strong regional following and released an album in 1976 before moving to Los Angeles.  Stevens worked at local record stores, networked around the scene and released a solo EP. He joined the Long Ryders after that group's debut EP.  He officially joined singer-guitarists Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy and drummer Greg Sowders in the group early in 1984. As well as playing bass, Stevens sang and wrote a couple of songs per album.

After releasing their Native Sons album on the indie Frontier Records in 1984, the group toured the U.S. and Europe extensively, signed with major label Island and released State of Our Union” the following year.  Despite releasing a solid album, “Two Fisted Tales,” in 1987, commercial success eluded them and they split at the end of the year.

Stevens, who had guested with Olson and Byrds cofounder Gene Clark as well as other L.A. area groups, moved back to Indiana in 1988, and worked in information technology for many years; he also released several solo albums.  Beginning in 2004, the Long Ryders occasionally reunited for gigs or brief tours before regrouping for a full-blown album and tour in 2019. The album, aptly titled Psychedelic Country Soul, reunited the group with producer Ed Stasium (who’d also helmed Two Fisted Tales). Source: Variety

Lana Del Rey performs on "Christmas in Graceland"
Katherine Bomboy/NBC

Lana Del Rey performs on "Christmas in Graceland"


Yes, Lana Del Rey’s Headlining Coachella Set Was Perplexing — And Profound

The iconic artist's night one headlining set included a guest appearance from Billie Eilish, a hologram of herself and so much more.

Not only did Lana Del Rey start her Coachella headlining set early, but her entry was epic.

On Friday, April 12, at 11:16 p.m. the festival main stage screens showed an aerial view of Del Rey and her entourage rapidly approaching. As she neared, it became clear her crew was not rolling up on the expected golf carts that often shuttle stars around the Indio, Calif. fest, but rather motorcycles. And as a snippet of her never-to-be-officially-released song “Jealous Girl” played – with the lyric “Baby, I’m a gangster too” on loop – Del Rey’s motorcade took a lap through the crowd as she smiled and waved to the thousands of fans gathered for this very moment.

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