Music News Digest, Jan. 24, 2020

Sass Jordan (pictured) turns to the blues, Kelly Fraser's legacy lives on, and Laurie Anderson holds court in Toronto. Also in the news are Joni Mitchell, the MVP Project, Evangeline Gentle, Kevin Hearn, Joseph Maviglia, CIMA, Folk Alliance, and farewell Terry Jones and Robert Parker. With video.

Music News Digest, Jan. 24, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Juno winner and Billboard Best Female Rock Vocalist award winner Sass Jordan releases a new album, Rebel Moon Blues, on March 13 via Stony Plain Records. The record finds Jordan singing the blues, covering such well-known tunes as Leaving Trunk and Still Got The Blues, as well as a new original, The Key. Jordan is currently on an international 30-date tour, including Canadian stops in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto — with A Bowie Celebration, the roving tribute to the late legend, featuring a cast of former bandmates. Dates here 

–Juno-nominated and Inspire Award-winning Inuk singer-songwriter Kelly Fraser took her own life on Christmas Eve 2019 at the age of 26. Fraser was a leader and role model for many Inuit and had worked alongside music producer Thor Simonsen to bring songwriting and music production workshops to small communities around Nunavut. This work resulted in a collective album called Ajungi. A portion of the album’s sales will be donated to the Kamatsiaqtut Nunavut Helpline (867-979-3333).


Fraser has two songs on the Ajungi album (Next One and The Other Side), sung in both Inuktitut and English. One of the album's other songs, Adventure Waits by Aocelyn, has spawned a video (below)

– Multi-media American artist Laurie Anderson visited Toronto last week for a video presentation and lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum, a concert at The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall, and a chat after the screening of her 2015 film, Heart of a Dog.  She also has a virtual reality installation, To The Moon, at the ROM until Jan. 25, a separate ticketed event allowing the user to fly through the skeletons of dinosaurs and ride a donkey through the lunar landscape in a kind of choose-your-own-adventure experience. “My target audience is really nine-year-old boys ,” she joked during her Eva Holtby Lecture on Contemporary Culture Jan. 16. “We can figure it out, but they’re fearless.” The 15-minute VR installation was co-created with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang. It premiered last July at the Manchester International Festival. (Karen Bliss)


–  RBC and The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television have announced eleven grant recipients for round three of the Music Video Production (MVP) Project, one that assists Canadian musicians and filmmakers. Artist beneficiaries are Bad Child, Begonia, Moël,  Naya Ali, nêhiyawak, Prado, Nate Husser, Prince Josh, Raahiem, Rich Aucoin, and TOBi.

– On April 3, Joni Mitchell's acclaimed and gold-selling 2007 album Shine will be released on vinyl for the first time by Craft Recordings. The record (her 19th studio album) includes One Week Last Summer, which won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Pop Performance, and an updated interpretation of Mitchell’s 1970 hit Big Yellow Taxi.

– On Feb. 22, fast-rising singer/songwriter Evangeline Gentle, a recent signing to Sonic Unyon, plays Toronto's Dakota Tavern, with Gillian Nicola in support. Highly recommended.

– Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies guests at the Milton Film Festival this weekend, participating in a discussion panel with indigenous speaker and educator Eddy Robinson following a screening of There Are No Fakes, a praised film doc exploring the world of art forgery. The event is on Jan 25 at 10:30 am. Tix here


– Joseph Maviglia, a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, poet and author, recently launched his first novella, The Sicilian Cowboys (on Quattro Books), with an event at Little Italy hangout, Gatto Nero. Those in attendance include top Toronto Star columnist, Rick Salutin. A riveting read, The Sicilian Cowboys draws upon such inspirations as Salinger, Kerouac, and The Who.

– CIMA, MusicOntario and Sounds Australia host a Lunch & Learn to Meet the International Buyers session during Folk Alliance International 2020 in New Orleans. The event is today (Jan. 24) at 1 pm, at Proteus - The Sheraton, Suite 825. Register here



Terry Jones, a founding member of the anarchic Monty Python troupe, died on Jan. 21 age 77 after suffering from dementia. Jones was hailed by colleagues as “the complete Renaissance comedian” and “a man of endless enthusiasms."

Born in Wales, Jones attended Oxford University, where he began writing and performing with fellow student Michael Palin. After leaving university, he wrote for seminal 1960s comedy series, including The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set

At the end of the decade he and Palin, along with Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam, formed the Monty Python troupe, whose Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show’s irreverent humour — a blend of satire, surrealism and silliness — helped revolutionize British comedy.

Jones wrote and performed for the troupe’s early ’70s TV series and films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1975 and Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979.

As well as performing, Jones co-directed Holy Grail with Gilliam, and directed Life of Brian and the 1983 Python film The Meaning of Life.

During the 1970s, Jones also created the show Ripping Yarns with Palin and wrote sketches for comedy duo the Two Ronnies.

Jones was also a presenter, historian, and children’s author. After the Pythons largely disbanded in the 1980s, Jones wrote books on medieval and ancient history, presented documentaries, wrote poetry and directed films, including Personal Services, about a suburban brothel madam, and the comedy adventure Erik the Viking. He also scripted the Jim Henson-directed fantasy film Labyrinth, which starred David Bowie. Source: AP

Robert Parker, celebrated New Orleans singer-songwriter and saxophonist and writer of the 1960s smash-hit Barefootin’, passed away on Jan. 19 at the age of 89. 


When he was a teenager, he began playing the saxophone and soon was playing behind local legend Professor Longhair. Parker began playing at the Tijuana Club in the 40s and 50s which introduced him to booking agent Percy Stovall. He encouraged Parker to start his own band, Robert Parker and the Royals, who toured around the southern US.

Parker was highly sought-after for session recording. New Orleans artists such as Jimmy Clanton, Ernie K-Doe, Fats Domino, Frankie Ford, Irma Thomas and Huey “Piano” Smith all hired him to play on their recordings. During his tenure with the Tijuana Club house band, he shared the stage with icons including Ray Charles and Little Richard.

Parker was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Source: Offbeat

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024


Allison Russell, Charlotte Cardin, DijahSB Shortlisted for 2024 Polaris Music Prize

The Beaches, rapper TOBi, indie experimentalist Cindy Lee, and previous winner Jeremy Dutcher are also amongst the ten artists in contention for the $50,000 prize, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based solely on artistic merit. See the whole list here.

Some of Canadian music's biggest breakthroughs of the last year are facing off for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

Charlotte Cardin for 99 Nights, The Beaches for Blame My Ex, Allison Russell for The Returner and Cindy Lee for Diamond Jubilee are among the ten artists shortlisted for the 2024 award, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year.

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