Music News Digest, Jan. 27, 2022

Indie rockers The Elwins (pictured) are breaking up, Block Heater returns to Calgary, and Winterfolk will proceed virtually. Also in the news are The HP’s, SOCAN Foundation, Her Music Awards, Haviah Mighty, Juno noms, Julian Taylor, SaskMusic, Church of Trees, CMW, and farewell Bob Yeomans and Dick Halligan.

Music News Digest, Jan. 27, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Popular Ontario indie-rock band The Elwins is breaking up, citing the difficulties of touring in the age of the pandemic. They broke the news on social media, with drummer Travis Stokl then telling The Canadian Press the call was made after band members agreed it was “tough to make a living” with the pandemic dragging on and venues across the country facing ever-changing capacity restrictions. The group found success with a 2012 full-length debut And I Thank You, earned a 2016 Juno Awards nomination for breakthrough group of the year, and established a loyal fan base across Canada. A fourth and final album, IV, came out in 2020.


– The Calgary Folk Music Festival's Block Heater festival will proceed in Feb. with fewer acts and venues due to Covid-19 related concerns. It still runs Feb. 17-20, but at two, not seven venues. The still-impressive lineup now features Reuben and the Dark, Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk, Bobby Bazini, Kacy & Clayton, Witch Prophet, Shane Ghostkeeper, Ruploops, Super Duty Tough  Work, Cadence Weapon, Bebe Buckskin, Shawnee Kish. More info and tix here.  Source: Calgary Herald

– It is unfortunate that the 20th anniversary of Toronto’s important annual Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival has to be held online, but organisers have curated an impressive list of performers. It includes Shari Ulrich, Sue Foley, Lucy Kaplansky, Mean Mary, Jack de Keyzer Band, Robert Priest, Jerome Tucker Band, Suzie Vinnick, Ori Dagan, Taylor Abrahamse, Ken Whiteley and the Belua Band, Josh Ritchie, David Storey Band,. Donne Roberts Band, and Julian Taylor. Winterfolk XX will stream online for free, Feb. 18-20.

– The HP's, a talent-heavy Hamilton-based funk/soul collective led by ‘Parkside’ Mike Renaud, is readying the release of its debut album, Gritty City Soul, Vol. 1. Out this week is a new single, The HP Trot (Blow Maceo), featuring the Northern Soul Horns. Check it out below. Renaud informs us that the group has just signed a deal with up-and-coming UK soul label LRK Records for a series of single releases. Bravo.


– The SOCAN Foundation, in partnership with Bandzoogle, has announced the second annual Her Music Awards, a program designed to celebrate and support female-identified, mid-career Canadian music creators who are on the verge of taking their creative careers to the next level. Renowned Canadian artist and jury committee chair Shakura S’Aida will host the award show on Feb. 25 through the virtual world meeting space Aire Ouverte via the SOCAN Foundation office. Award recipients will receive two grand prizes of $5k each. New this year are five honourable mentions of $1k each to be awarded. More info here

– Acclaimed Brampton-based artist, DJ and producer Haviah Mighty is responsible for the Black Entrepreneur Giveaway initiative. In this, Mighty will donate $10K amongst a diverse network of Black-owned businesses to help them further expand and thrive. She will be interviewing the top 20 finalists on Instagram Live at 7:00 p.m. EST on  Jan. 27 and Jan. 28. Tune in here.  Following their responses, Haviah will narrow this list to 10 winners, who will be awarded up to $1K each. Winners will be announced in Feb. to celebrate and honour Black History Month. 


– Save the date: On March 1, the 2022 Juno Award nominations will be announced.

– Today (Jan. 27) Canadian Music Week (CMW) announced its 40th Anniversary event will now take place June 6-11, in person, across a variety of venues in Toronto. The CMW Conference will take place June 7-10, at the InterContinental Toronto Centre. The CMW Conference will include the Radio Active 2022 Conference from June 7-8, with the International Music Summit from June 8-10. Previously announced for April 19-23, CMW has rescheduled as a mindful precaution with the hopes of hosting a safe, in person festival and conference.


– Toronto roots singer/songwriter Julian Taylor has been nominated for five 2022 Native American Music Awards (aka “The Nammys”). He's cited in the categories of Best Debut Artist, Country Recording, Folk Recording (both for his acclaimed 2020 album The Ridge), Male Vocalist, and Country Video (for the title track). Read Taylor’s personal thoughts on the subject of his heritage on his Facebook page. The Ridge earned Taylor the Solo Artist of the Year Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus two Juno noms and a slot on the Polaris Prize longlist. A new album is expected this spring.

– Church of Trees, the Toronto synth-pop project headed by Bernard Frazer, releases a new album, Pish Posh, on Feb 15. Out this week is a new single, Believe It Or Not, one that also introduces the group's new lead vocalist, Stella Panacci (Kat Rocket, Shella). Frazer's close collaborator, studio auteur Jordon Zadorozny (Courtney Love, Blinker the Star), co-produced, mixed, and mastered Pish Posh.

– The next free webinar from Canadian Music Week (CMW) is designed to assist musicians by discussing tax issues. It is held today (Jan. 27) at 2 pm EST.

– In honour of Black History Month (Feb.), SaskMusic is celebrating Black artists and music professionals from various segments of the Saskatchewan music scene. To learn more about being featured on a playlist or in an interview series, go here


Bob (Robert Lawrence) Yeomans, a musician and songwriter best known as a member of the rock band Jackson Hawke, died in Sault Ste. Marie on Jan. 22, age 74. The cause of death has not been released.


Jackson Hawke was started by Tim Ryan and Yeomans in 1974 after both had created the garage band, The Amen in Sault Ste. Marie in 1963. The pair co-wrote one of Jackson Hawke’s biggest hits, You Can’t Dance. That song became an international hit and was covered by numerous artists over the years including England Dan and John Ford Coley in 1978.

The band’s 1977 single, Set Me Free, peaked at number 54 in Canada but went to number 11 on the CHUM chart in Toronto. The group was nominated for a Juno as Most Promising Group of The Year in 1978, having released 2 albums.

Yeomans and Ryan spent some time in the early 1980s working in the Nashville music scene. In 1985, Yeomans returned to the Soo and continued to play locally. He was also part of the Zak’s All-Stars, a band that played at Zak’s on Queen Street for over a decade and appeared on many local telethons. Tim Ryan died in Toronto in 2016. 

Borderline Radio host Brian Tremblay interviewed Yeomans last year, and you can listen to that interview here. Source: Sources: SaultOnline, Soo Today



Dick Halligan, a multi-instrumentalist and composer who won two Grammys for his early work with the group Blood, Sweat and Tears and later turned to film and television work, died Jan. 18, age 78. The family cited natural causes.


Halligan was a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears for the horn-driven rock band’s first four albums, beginning with the 1968 debut, Child Is Father to the Man. He left the group in 1971. It was the breakout self-titled second BST album that earned Halligan both his Grammys and five of his seven nominations. Besides the big win for the Blood, Sweat and Tears album, Halligan also picked up a win for best contemporary instrumental performance for the album’s Variations on a Theme by Eric Satie.

His first film scoring credit was the Barbra Streisand film The Owl and the Pussycat,  released in 1970. By the late 1970s, Halligan had become active in film scoring, doing music for features including Go Tell the Spartans, A Force of One, The Octagon, Cheaper to Keep Her, and Fear City.

After getting out of the film/TV world, Halligan wrote compositions for jazz and orchestral ensembles, which were recorded or performed by the Formosa Chamber Players, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and others. Source: Variety

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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