Music News Digest, Feb. 7, 2022
The WCMAs honour Ray St. Germain, Carole Vivier, and The Watchmen (pictured), Mariposa announces an impressive lineup, and Robbie Robertson sells his catalogue. Also in the news are Troubadour Festival, Blinker the Star, The Barettas, Les Cooper, Mike Waite, Dead Ends Live, Harry Manx, Hugh’s Room, Ian Lake, Blue Frog, Myriad3, and farewell Donny Gerrard, Lata Mangeshkar, and Glenn Wheatley.
By Kerry Doole
As part of the BreakOut West Home Edition that ran Feb. 2-6, The Western Canadian Music Awards formally honoured the 2021 recipients of the Heritage Award – legendary musician, author and radio/television host, Ray St. Germain – the Kevin Walters Industry Builder Award – film and music industry trailblazer, Carole Vivier – and the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees – Winnipeg rock band, The Watchmen.
All three honorees were celebrated last week with feature interviews on CBC Radio One’s Up To Speed with Faith Fundal. Tune in at CBC Radio 89.3 FM and CBC Listen, and hear all three interviews on-demand here. The 2021 Western Canadian Music Awards were handed out last Oct.. See the complete list of 2021 Western Canadian Music Award winners, in both the Artistic and Industry categories.
– The famed Mariposa Folk Festival was forced to cancel its 2020 and 2021 editions, but it pledges to return to full form this summer. The first wave of artists named to perform is certainly impressive, featuring Mavis Staples, Serena Ryder, Lennon Stella, JP Saxe, Allison Russell, Kathleen Edwards, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, The Weather Station, and over 30 more. The fest will be held at Tudhope Park in Orillia, ON. July 8 to 10. More names will be announced later this spring. Tix here.
– Whitehorse, Martha Wainwright, and Tanika Charles will perform in front of a small audience in Barrie on Feb. 18 at this year’s scaled-back Troubadour Festival. The (dry) concert is at Burton Avenue United Church. Tix here.
– The latest ‘legacy’ artist to sell his music catalogue to a music rights firm is Robbie Robertson. Last week, it was announced that LA-based Iconoclast, headed by Olivier Chastan, has purchased Robertson’s music publishing, and NIL (name, image & likeness) rights, plus his recorded music interests, covering his career to date. No dollar figure was revealed. More details in this MBW feature.
– There’s a fascinating story behind Swan Song, the new single from Blinker The Star (aka Canadian studio wizard Jordon Zadorozny). It is a song co-written by Zadorozny and Brad Laner (Medicine) two decades ago that, under the title Mind's Eye, was pitched to Lindsey Buckingham, of Fleetwood Mac fame. He incorporated significant elements of the tune in Swan Song, featured on Buckingham's self-titled 2021 album. Zadorozny explains that the thought of recording a response to Buckingham's track took root over long winter days at his Skylark Park recording studio, and here's the result.
– This scribe’s first taste of live music in 2022 came via a fine double bill at Hamilton’s Clifford Brewery in Hamilton on Friday night. Previously a garage rock duo in the White Stripes format (guitarist/vocalist and drummer), The Barettas introduced a new member, star local bassist Justine Fischer, at this gig. She added depth to the group’s spirited sound, one that shone on strong originals Touche and Smoke-Filled Baretta and covers of Arctic Monkeys and the Beatles. Also playing was Bryce Clifford and Brother Superior, and their virile roots/Americana stylings impressed once again.
– Les Cooper is a Juno-winning Toronto-based producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who has written with, arranged and produced such artists as Jill Barber, Meaghan Smith, Andy Stochansky, The Good Lovelies, and David Myles. He is now stepping into the solo spotlight via a debut single, Strangers, a song he says "was inspired by my experience touring as a side musician with many bands, playing on multi-city festival tours like Edgefest and Lilith Fair." Cooper tells us that "It's been many years of producing for other folks so this release is a big shift for me." Check it out here.
– Knights of the Mystic Eye is a psychedelic blues-rock duo comprising Toronto veterans Mike Waite and Paul Greig. Waite is well-known locally as the owner of the much-loved record store Mike's Music, but his interesting prior career included work alongside Nash The Slash in Breathless, a band Waite led, followed by producing and co-writing with FM. The debut KOTME album, Cosmic Top Secret, is now out, and here's a sample. Waite told FYI that he was excited to have a new record out after a long absence. Learn more here
– On the weekend of March 18 and 19, Edmonton hosts Dead Ends Live, an indoor fest based on music inspired by The Grateful Dead and the spirit of the Jam Band Scene. Utilizing the Chateau Lacombe Hotel Ballroom and the MacDougall United Church, the fest will feature multiple performances from some local notables plus musicians from San Francisco and Vancouver. The line-up includes The McDades presenting an album release concert for their new disc The Empress on March 18 in MacDougall United Church, while Harry Manx closes the church line-up on Sat. night. Tix here.
– Good news for Toronto roots music fans is the word that Toronto City Council unanimously supported a motion by Councillor Paula Fletcher to offer the much-loved Hugh’s Room music venue, now a non-profit registered charity, a financial guarantee to support the purchase of a new home. A bid to acquire an historic East End building to convert into a venue is now underway.
– Toronto singer/songwriter/actor Ian Lake has released a new single and video, Easier, following on from his well-received earlier track, The Bottom. Of note: these songs and an upcoming album, What It Is, have been produced by noted singer/songwriter Matthew Barber.
– Hip-hop artist, songwriter and producer Classified will release an acoustic album Retrospected in the spring. Here's the first song and video, ft. Breagh Isabel and Brett Matthews.
– The Canadian Music Unearthed Concert Series is a new hybrid performance series produced and hosted by Blue Frog Studios at their video recording theatre in White Rock, BC.. All shows in the five-week series will include both live audiences as well as premiere on the Blue Frog TV channel. The series kicks off on Feb. 13 with 604 Records artist Fionn & Esteva and includes Juno-nominated jazz artists Jodi Proznick & Amanda Tosoff as well as up-and-coming artists. The series is supported by FACTOR. More info here.
– Toronto jazz outfit Myriad3 comprises three notable players on the local scene, and the group has a rare performance set for Feb. 12 at 254 Lansdowne Ave, Toronto, part of the Rich Brown's New Origins series.
Donny Gerrard, a Canadian singer best known as a member of the band Skylark in the early 1970s, has died, age 75. The news was confirmed via Gerrard’s niece on social media. He had reportedly been battling cancer.
Skylark was a band centered around keyboardist David Foster. Their single, Wildflower, spent 21 weeks on the Billboard charts, topping out at No. 9 on the Hot 100 in the US and No. 1 on the adult-contemporary chart in Canada. The single went on to sell one million copies.
That hit launched Foster’s career as a multi-Grammy award-winning producer, songwriter and arranger. Skylark’s second album release, which also included Wildflower, failed to find an audience and the band called it quits.
Gerrard released a single, Greedy for Your Love, in 1976 and another, Stay a While With Me in 1977. He later released a self-titled album, and then performed and recorded as a baritone backup singer for such artists as Mavis Staples.
He sang backup for Staples on her album One True Vine, and at live performances, including at the Lincoln Center in 2014. He continued to perform with Staples and can be heard on her 2016 album Livin' on a High Note.
Gerrard was also a backup singer for musicians such as Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Cher. Sources: Wikipedia, Celebrity access
– Lata Mangeshkar, a vocalist termed the 'nightingale of Bollywood,' has died in Mumbai at the age of 92, from Covid-19.
Mangeshkar was an Indian cultural icon and national treasure who made her name in Bollywood - despite only actually appearing on screen in a handful of films. She sang some 30,000 songs in 36 languages.
The classically-trained star rose to fame in India's booming film industry as a "playback singer", providing the singing voice to Bollywood's lip-synching movie stars over the course of a career which spanned more than half a century.
For decades, the "nightingale of Bollywood" was the country's most in-demand singer, with every top actress wanting her to sing their songs. Her records, meanwhile, sold in the tens of thousands. Read more in this BBC obituary
– Glenn Wheatley, a leading figure in the Australian music industry as a musician and artist manager, died on Feb. 1, age 74, of complications caused by Covid.
In 1998 Wheatley was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame as part of The Masters' Apprentices, whose hits Turn Up Your Radio and Because I Love You are Australian rock classics.
Noise11 reports that “Wheatley would find his niche in the music industry through artist management. He helped open doors for Australian music overseas with the global success of Little River Band in the 1970s, selling over 30 million albums and scoring 10 US Top 20 singles including Help Is On Its Way and Reminiscing.
“His most successful partnership came with John Farnham, who became a lifelong friend and creative soulmate. Wheatley took over Farnham’s management in 1980, and re-launched his career, culminating in the biggest comeback in Australian music history with 1986’s Whispering Jack album." That is now the highest-selling Australian album in ARIA history, while Farnham scored 10 No.1 albums with Wheatley as manager, and sold millions of tickets in arenas and later outdoor festivals.
Wheatley also managed Delta Goodrem, Pseudo Echo, Real Life and Australian Crawl. He also launched Australia’s first commercial FM station, EON FM, in 1980, later rebranded as Triple M.
He released his autobiography, Paper Paradise, in 1999. Source: Noise11