Music News Digest, Jan. 23, 2019

The Dirty Nil (pictured) delivers a SNL parody, MusicOntario goes to NewSkool Rules, and Trent Severn goes on hiatus. Also in the news are pipeline protests, CIMA, FAI, Hugh's Room Live, Michael Occhipinti, WNMF, Alexandra Streliski, the Oscars, Northern Touch Music Festival, Scrape Records, Cadence Grace, The Darcys, Ladom Ensemble, Don Brownrigg, The Fretless, and farewell Ted McKenna and Kaye Ballard.

Music News Digest, Jan. 23, 2019

By Kerry Doole

Fast-rising Hamilton hard-rock outfit The Dirty Nil possesses a sharp wit as well as serious musical chops. That was shown last Saturday when they posted a Saturday Night Livestream parody online. It features fake commercials and SNL-style interview segments, and, best of all, two storming covers of early Led Zeppelin classics. That was a sly dig at divisive Zep clone band Greta Van Fleet's appearance on SNL at the same time. Check it out here

MusicOntario is attending the New Skool Rules Hip Hop Conference and Festival with Music Export Canada for the third year to present showcases and coordinate business activities in the Netherlands. Indie Ontario hip-hop, rap, R&B, reggae and soul artists, managers and labels are invited to participate in the internationally important event. MusicOntario is sponsoring showcases, and the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), alongside Music Export Canada, are working with partners from across the country to create a formidable Canadian delegation and footprint. New Skool takes place from May 17-19 in Rotterdam, NL. Apply directly via the New Skool Rules website.


– Over 200 Canadian musicians and industry players are expressing solidarity with people from a northern B.C. First Nation protesting the construction of a natural gas pipeline on traditional territories. Peaches, Tanya Tagaq, and members of Arcade Fire, July Talk, and Arkells are among those who've signed an open letter to the Unist'ot'en camp and the Wet'suwet'en First Nation saying they watched "infuriated" as RCMP units armed with assault rifles dismantled a checkpoint and arrested 14 people earlier this month. "Meaningful nation-to-nation relationships are not made at gunpoint," the letter says. Source: CP

– CIMA is participating in the 2019 edition of Folk Alliance International, held Feb. 13-17 in Montreal. This year it will organize business events for the Canadian delegates targeted at creating business opportunities and connections with international participants. The mission includes co-hosting a Pan-Canadian Opening Reception on Feb. 13, and partnering with Sounds Australia, British Underground and the New Zealand Music Commission for a Country Connections Speed Meeting Sessions on Feb. 15. If interested in participating in the Country Connections event e-mail for more information. Space is limited.    


– Toronto music venue Hugh’s Room Live has announced a new booking team, comprising three artists: Michael Occhipinti (NOJO, Creation Dream), Blair Packham (The Jitters), and Cheryl Prashker (RUNA).

– Speaking of Michael Occhipinti, his most recent project is In Orbit, a group of A-list Canadian and American jazz players. A self-titled debut album came out digitally in November and now has a CD edition. The musically eclectic group is centred on the original compositions of Occhipinti and US saxophonist/co-leader Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band). The other members are bassist Felix Pastorius, pianist Tom Reynolds, and Toronto drummer Davide DiRenzo.

– The Winnipeg New Music Festival  (WNMF) kicks off this weekend, running to Feb. 1. Terje Isungset — a Norwegian musician who builds his instruments out of ice — opens the festival with concerts at a specially-built outdoor auditorium on the river at The Forks. Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra resident conductor, Julian Pellicano, and percussionist Victoria Sparks will lead the University of Manitoba Percussion Ensemble in the Canadian premiere of Inuksuit, by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams.


– Some heavy hitters will duke it out for the Best Original Song trophy at the Oscars. The nominees include Kendrick Lamar (part of the writing team for "All the Stars" from Black Panther), Lady Gaga (for co-writing "Shallow" from A Star Is Born), and country stars David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (for "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" from The Ballad of BusterScruggs). Joining them in the category are Dianne Warren (for "I'll Fight" from RBG) and Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (for "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary PoppinsReturns).


– Stratford-based folk trio Trent Severn is calling it a day, for now. A Facebook post on Monday stated "after seven years of Trent Severn being our primary focus we have realized that in order to grow as a band, we also need to grow individually as artists. We have decided it is time for the band to go on a hiatus to pursue additional endeavours."

Twice nominated for Canadian Folk Music Awards, Trent Severn comprises noted singer/songwriters Emm Gryner and Dayna Manning, and fiddle player Lindsay Schindler. The group has released three albums; Portage (2017), Trillium (2015) and Trent Severn (2012). The group certainly earned peer respect. At their Heliconian Hall concert in Toronto last May, the audience included Kim Mitchell, Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott, and guitarist Earl Slick (John Lennon, David Bowie).

– Montreal pianist/composer Alexandra Streliski has made a real international splash with her recent album Inscape. It was the #1 album in Quebec for two weeks and made the classical sales charts in 20 countries worldwide, including peaks at #1 Canada, #2 UK, and #5 US. She now has over 30M streams across platforms and over 1.1M monthly listeners on Spotify, and her work is being featured in hit HBO series Sharp Objects. Streliski showcases at Burdock in Toronto tonight (Jan. 23), followed by concerts in Ottawa, Quebec, and Europe over the next two months.

– The 2019 Northern Touch Music Festival (NTFM) runs the July long weekend in Winnipeg, with local, national and international acts. Submissions are now open to singers, producers, rappers and DJ's. All selected artists receive a full conference pass which includes education and meetings with industry from around the globe. Apply here

– A reminder that Credit Union Music PEI Week 2019 in Charlottetown launches tonight (Jan. 23) with a Kick-Off Party at The Guild (7-9 pm). Several of last year’s award winners - Alicia Toner, Catherine MacLellan & Tara MacLean - perform.


–  Two years ago, the metal-focused Scrape Records in Vancouver closed its doors after nearly 20 years. Out of its closing comes a new record label, as owner J.J. Caithcart is launching a new imprint at Scrape Records — The Label is launching with a reissue series of Vancouver veterans Zimmers Hole. The first three albums by the band, featuring former members of such acts as Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend, will get vinyl and CD releases. The label launches with a Zimmers Hole show at The Rickshaw on Saturday (Jan. 26). Source: Vancouver Sun

– Ontario country singer/songwriter Cadence Grace (Runaway Angel) is suffering from Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) and is in need of a bone marrow transplant to survive. The procedure means a recovery time of up to 12 months, and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to assist her. Grace has an admin deal with ole and has co-written or performed on tracks that have appeared on over 15 TV shows and movies internationally.


– On Jan. 27, TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) presents Soundtrack Sundays, a free live music showcase series exploring music in film as a dynamic part of the storytelling process. This month, in anticipation of Bell Let’s Talk Day, local rock duo The Darcys help examine the intersection of film, music, and mental health. The event runs 3-5 pm.

– The Early Bird deadline for passes to Toronto's Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival is extended to Jan 31. Save $10 on each wristband (regular price $25) for pre-orders.

– The Toronto-based Ladom Ensemble's blend of acoustic chamber and world music can be heard on the just-released debut album, The Walls are Made of Song. It was launched at Lula Lounge this week, and the group now begins its first prairie tour that runs through to Feb. 8. Quebec and Maritime concerts follow in the spring.

– Rootsy East Coast singer/songwriter Don Brownrigg releases new album Fireworks on Feb. 22. He describes it as "about being on both the initiating and receiving sides of a breakup." He plays Western dates with Erin Costelo, March 30-April 6, then has shows at Burdock in Toronto (April 17) and NAC in Ottawa (April 19). Here's an advance cut, "Bad Timing."

– Dedicated to traditional folk music, Edinburgh Tradfest returns, April 26- May 6. The international lineup includes Juno-winning Canadian folkies The Fretless.


Edward 'Ted' McKenna, a Scottish drummer who played with Rory Gallagher and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band during an illustrious 50-year career, died on Jan. 19, during elective surgery, at the age of 68.

McKenna was born in East Dunbartonshire's Lennoxtown. Hee joined The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1972, working on all seven of the group's studio albums.

He then played with Irish blues-rocker Rory Gallagher from 1978 to 1981. He also worked as a session musician for The Greg Lake Band, the Michael Schenker Group and Womack & Womack.

In recent years the drummer played as part of two touring projects, Band of Friends, an act celebrating the work of Rory Gallagher, and Michael Schenker Fest, a reuniting of former members of the Michael Schenker Group. His final work, the album Resurrection, was released in 2018. 

McKenna performed in Vancouver last month with Band of Friends. Sources: The Herald, Georgia Straight

Kaye Ballard (born Catherine Gloria Balotta), the singer, actress and comedienne best known for starring in the 1960s NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law, died on Jan. 21, age 93. 

Ballard, a popular nightclub entertainer and star on Broadway, was the first to record the popular tune, "Fly Me to the Moon," in 1954.

Just this month, she appeared at a Palm Springs International Film Festival screening of the documentary Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On.

Ballard's turn as the bored housewife Helen in the 1954 Broadway mock-musical comedy The Golden Apple was a career highlight, as was her performance of the song “Lazy Afternoon” in the production.

The whiskey-voiced singer also stirred audiences on the Great White Way with her rendition of “Always, Always You” as the Incomparable Rosalie in Carnival!, which won the 1961 Dramatic Critics Circle Award as best musical.

Ballard made her movie debut in the musical The Girl Most Likely (1958), starring Jane Powell. She also appeared opposite Shelley Winters in the drama A House Is Not a Home (1964); with Jerry Lewis in the comedy Which Way to the Front? (1970); as Coach Betsy in Jodie Foster's Freaky Friday (1976); and as Jack Weston's wife in The Ritz (1976), directed by Richard Lester.

In 1946, bandleader Spike Jones caught her in a show in Detroit, and a month later she joined his orchestra as a singer and comic tuba player. In 1962, she voiced the Lucy character for the first Peanuts album to music composed by Fred Karlin.

For United Artists in 1960, Ballard recorded Kaye Ballard Swings, an album of her nightclub performances at the Bon Soir. Source:  Hollywood Reporter 

Courtesy of BELIFT LAB


Chart Beat

ENHYPEN Scores Second No. 1 on Top Album Sales Chart With ‘Romance: Untold’

Plus: Eminem, Clairo, Johnny Blue Skies, Billy Strings, Cigarettes After Sex, Megan Moroney, Phish and Hardy debut in the top 10.

For the first time in over three years, the top nine positions on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart are all debuts, led by ENHYPEN’s Romance: Untold atop the list. On the chart dated July 27, Nos. 1-9 are new entries, the first time the top nine are debuts since the May 29, 2021-dated ranking.

Joining ENHYPEN with debuts in the top 10 are Eminem, Clairo, Johnny Blue Skies (aka Sturgill Simpson), Billy Strings, Cigarettes After Sex, Megan Moroney, Phish and HARDY. The lone non-debut in the top 10 is Billie Eilish’s Hit Me Hard and Soft, which falls from No. 5 to No. 10.

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