Music News Digest, Feb. 5, 2018

Canadian hip-hop anthem "Northern Touch" turns 20, and Drake hits the top Down Under. Also in the news are Feist, the BC Music Fund, Neil Young, Celine Dion, Music Moves Me, Ellevator, Best Buy, and farewells to Leon Chancler and Dennis Edwards (pictured).

Music News Digest, Feb. 5, 2018

By Kerry Doole

Described as the most important hip-hop collaboration in Canadian music history, "Northern Touch" turns 20 this year. The anthemic track won the Juno Award for Best Rap Recording in 1999. Spearheaded by Vancouver's Rascalz, it featured guest appearances from such stars of the T.O. scene as Kardinal Offishall, Checkmate, Thrust and Choclair.

A fascinating oral history of the project from CBC Radio is available here

–  A coalition of members of the BC music industry, including Music BC,  is working hard to secure the renewal of the BC Music Fund that was established two years ago and given a significant boost for the province's music scene. A recommendation for its restoration is now in the hands of cabinet, but the coalition isrequesting that personal letters of support be sent to your MLA for the renewal of the BC Music Fund and continued support of the BC Music Strategy. More info here


–  Drake is on top Down Under. His new single “God’s Plan” is now No. 1 on Australia's singles chart, the first new No. 1 of 2018 (it displaced Ed Sheeran's “Perfect.” It is Drake's second chart-topper in Oz., with 2016 smash "One Dance" his first. His other entry from last week, “Diplomatic Immunity,” tumbled down forty-two places to land at No. 96. In at No. 94 is the Justin Bieber and BloodPop track “Friends,” now certified double platinum in sales.

– The Cadillac Lounge has long been a live music hub of Toronto's Parkdale community. It seems to face an uncertain future given owner Sam Grosso's public musings about selling the joint, but Grosso continues to book high-calibre acts there. Ottawa/Austin blues star Sue Foley is playing there regularly, and Canadian country music veterans The Good Brothers have a rare downtown T.O. show there on March 24. It'll sell out fast.


– Neil Young stars in a new western, Paradox, that will premiere at SXSW in Austin. Co-stars include Willie Nelson and his sons Lucas and Micah. The film was written and directed by Young's partner, Darryl Hannah.

– TD and the East Coast Music Association are co-presenting Music Moves Me at the 2018 ECMAs. Nova Scotia high school students can participate by recording a video of themselves performing an original or cover song, then posting it on YouTube. Video entries can be submitted here, with an April 1 deadline.

The winner receives $1K for their school's music program, two passes to the ECMA show, plus travel and accommodations. Second-place brings in $500 and third place $250 for those school music programs. Music Moves Me is part of TD Soundwaves program.

Celine Dion has just announced her first Australian concert dates in a decade. The five-city tour begins at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena on July 27, closing out at Spark Arena in Auckland on Aug. 11.

– Formerly known as The Medicine Hat, Ellevator recently signed with Arts & Crafts and will guest on the Matt Good and Our Lady Peace tour, March 16-31, preceded by gigs at Toronto's The Drake, Feb. 11-12. A new single, "New Survival," has just been released and a debut EP will come out later this year.


– The gradual decline of CD sales in the US continues, with an 18.5 percent drop reported last year. Now comes news that the Best Buy chain has told music suppliers that it will pull CDs from its stores come July 1. Sources suggest that the company is now just selling around $40M of the discs annually, Billboard reports

– The issue of conditions in Toronto's drop-in spaces for the homeless has caught the attention of Leslie Feist. Last week she joined a group of health professionals at city hall to help bring attention to the situation. "All I'm here to do is support them in whatever way I can," the singer told the Toronto Star.


– The Song and Surf music fest in Port Renfrew, BC, runs Feb. 9-11 and is already sold out. Name performers include Band of Rascals, The Pack AD, Bear Witness (A Tribe Called Red)  and Dirty Radio.


Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, a world-renowned pop, funk and jazz drummer, died on Feb. 3, at age 65.

The Louisiana-born Chancler played the drums on Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," and he recorded and performed with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, John Lee Hooker, Tina Turner, Carlos Santana, Lionel Richie, and many more. He also worked as a composer and producer, writing hits for The Dazz Band and George Duke, and producing recordings for Duke, Flora Purim, Santana, The Crusaders, and Tina Turner. He was a Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California. Source: Drummer World

Dennis Edwards, a former lead singer of Motown stars The Temptations, died Feb. 1, at the age of 74, of complications from meningitis. He was a member of the soul group originally from 1968 until 1977 and later rejoining them for various reunions into the Eighties. His voice was present on a string of hits, including "I Can't Get Next to You," "Ball of Confusion" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Edwards later rejoined the group for various reunions into the Eighties. 

Outside of the Temptations, Edwards put out a handful of solo albums and scored a hit with "Don't Look Any Further," a 1984 duet with Siedah Garrett, which made it to Number 2 on the R&B chart. The singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Temptations in 1989. In 2013, Edwards also received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, given to the Temptations. 


Courtesy Photo


Chart Beat

Eminem's 'Houdini' Scores a No. 1 Debut on the Canadian Hot 100

The lead single from his upcoming 12th record, The Death of Slim Shady, has given Eminem his highest spot on the chart in six years.

Look who's back: Eminem has grabbed the top spot on this week's Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with "Houdini," the lead single from his upcoming 12th LP.

The Steve Miller Band-sampling track is Eminem's highest placement on the chart since 2018's "Killshot," which held the No. 1 spot for two weeks, and is his sixth No. 1 in Canada. "Houdini" is also at No. 1 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Global Exc. U.S. charts.

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