Music News Digest, Jan. 4, 2021

The Open Waters Festival begins this week, Justin Bieber (pictured) goes tats-less in his new video, and Tenille Arts wins for best Saskatchewan album. Also in the news are Indigenous Music,  the Bovine Sex Club, Music PEI Awards, David Browning, and farewell to Gerry Marsden, MF DOOM, Claude Bolling, and Alto Reed.

Music News Digest, Jan. 4, 2021

By Kerry Doole

The Halifax-based Open Waters Festival of New and Improvised Music, presented by Upstream Music Association is going digital this year with daily livestreaming performances from Jan. 6 to 16.  Award-winning Mi'kmaw artist Alan Syliboy & the Thundermakers perform the premiere concert on Jan. 6. Other artists featured include Jennifer King, Joel Miller, Brian Borcherdt, the reunited Crofts/Adams/Pearse, and Janice Jackson. A festival pass is $30 ($25 for Upstream members), with a single event ticket costing$10 / $5 members. Tix here

– In disappointing news out of Germany, the prestigious Jazzahead! festival and conference in Bremen is without Canada's participation as a partner country in 2021, with that distinction now held off until 2022. This is out of concern over the current pandemic in both countries. Such high-profile artists as Rufus Wainwright and Tanya Tagaq had been scheduled to perform at the fest this year. Canada will still participate in the digital version of Jazzahead.


Justin Bieber debuted his new single, Anyone, on New Year's Eve, quickly followed by the Colin Tilley-directed music video for the track. The boxing-themed clip is grabbing attention for the fact it features all the Biebs’ tattoos covered up. Check out the transformation here. Source: Billboard

– The Saskatchewan Music Awards has announced its list of the Best Saskatchewan Albums of 2020, and Tenille Arts' Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between is at No. 1. J.J. Voss and Jesse Brown placed at 2 and 3 respectively. Due to ties, the Top 10 has 15 albums named. A Long List of 42 titles released over the past year was put to a public vote. Check the full list here. The 2020 Saskatchewan Music Awards will take place in a streaming format on Jan. 24 via SaskMusic’s social media pages.

– Indigenous Music and Manitoba Music will produce an online edition of the Market Builder Residency for Indigenous Artists and Industry Professionals in 2021, running March 22-26. . The project will provide up to 10 export-ready artists and mid-career industry professionals (managers, agents, publicists, publishers, or label representatives) from across Canada with a week of virtual networking, panel discussions, workshops, and mentorship. Participants must commit to attending daily online panels and presentation sessions as well as one-on-one meetings with mentors. Submissions are now being accepted, with a Jan. 22 deadline. Apply here


– Congrats to famed Toronto rock 'n roll bar the Bovine Sex Club, which had its 30th anniversary ("Dirty Thirty") on the weekend. Club supremo Darryl Fine pledges to "celebrate when we are back!"

– A reminder that voting for the 2021 Music PEI Awards nominees closes at 5 pm AT on Jan. 5. Info here

– David Browning is a Vancouver-based pop singer/songwriter who released a debut album, Daddy's Issues, on New Years Day. Produced by Grammy Award winner Ian Prince (Quincy Jones), it features tracks whose videos have received over 2 million views in total. Here's one of them.


Gerry Marsden, leader of '60s English pop favourites Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died, of a heart infection, aged 78.


Broadcaster Pete Price announced the news on social media with a loving tribute to his friend.  He wrote: "It’s with a very heavy heart after speaking to the family that I have to tell you the Legendary Gerry Marsden MBE after a short illness which was an infection in his heart has sadly passed away."

In 1963 the Pacemakers topped the British charts with their first three singles, How Do You Do It?, I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone, a Rodgers and Hammerstein composition from the musical Carousel. The song became the anthem of Liverpool FC, sung from the Kop at every game. The club tweeted: “It is with such great sadness that we hear of Gerry Marsden’s passing. Gerry’s words will live on forever with us. You’ll Never Walk Alone”.


Gerry and the Pacemakers played regularly with the Beatles. Both groups were part of Brian Epstein’s Liverpool-based management stable.

Born in the Dingle area of Liverpool, Marsden was just 14 when he joined his first band, a skiffle group called the Red Mountain Boys, which featured his big brother Freddie on drums. They later renamed themselves the Mars Bars, but the chocolate company demanded that they change their name, and in 1959 the group became the Pacemakers.

In June 1960 they played for the first time with the Beatles – then the Silver Beetles – and in December that year they were contracted to play a four-month stint in Hamburg, prompting the group to give up their day jobs to become professional musicians. “We went over with the Beatles and had a good laugh,” Marsden later recalled.

The group’s first hit, How Do You Do It?, was first recorded by the Beatles in 1962, but rejected by them and given to Marsden’s band by the producer, George Martin, becoming their first No 1 in April 1963.

The single Ferry Cross the Mersey was released in late 1964 and reached No 8 in the UK. In 1989, Marsden topped the charts with a new version of the song recorded with fellow Merseyside artists the Christians, Holly Johnson and Paul McCartney in aid of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, in which a crush of Liverpool fans at a stadium in Sheffield resulted in 96 deaths.

Over the course of his life, Marsden helped raise more than £35m for charity, including the recordings he made with other artists after the Bradford City stadium fire in 1985 and after the Hillsborough disaster.


In 2009 he was given the Freedom of the City of Liverpool for his charitable works for the city and for his contribution to Liverpudlian culture. Sources: The Independentthe Guardian

– MF DOOM (real name Daniel Dumile), a legendary if enigmatic rapper, died on Oct. 31, age 49. News of his passing only surfaced last week, and no cause of death has been reported.

The masked rapper is best known for releasing a pair of the best hip-hop albums of the 2000s, and in the same year, no less: 2004’s Madlib collaboration Madvillainy and DOOM solo album MM…FOOD.

Dumile first released music as a member of rap group KMD in 1991, then made his solo debut (as Metal Face Doom) in 1999 with Operation: Doomsday. He would later share solo releases under pseudonyms King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn.

His last solo album was 2009’s Born Like This, which he followed with various expanded reissues and collaborations, including his 2018 Czarface team-up Czarface Meets Metal Face.

He also collaborated with Gorillaz and Danger Mouse.

Just last week, he released The Chocolate Conquistadors, his and Canadian group BadBadNotGood’s reimagining of Johnny Hammond’s Los Conquistadors Chocolates.


Dumile’s Doctor Doom-esque mask was his trademark, lending him an air of mystery that made him seem larger than life—imposters were known to stand in for him and deliver live performances on occasion, with comedian Hannibal Buress impersonating him at a festival as a prank in 2019.

Toronto music publicist Eric Alper reminisced on Facebook that "I will never forget doing PR for MF Doom, Madlib, Dilla, PB Wolf and others during those Stones Throw Records days, when every record store in the city was going to be cleaned out when they came to play. " Sources: Paste

– Claude Bolling, a French pianist, composer and arranger who attained a worldwide following through his melodic blend of jazz and classical influences has died on Dec. 29, at age 90. A cause of death has not been reported.

He stayed on the Billboard classical charts for more than a decade with his 1975 album Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, a collaboration with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, and a record that earned a Grammy award nomination for best chamber music. Featuring the playful Baroque and Blue and the more reflective Irlandaise, it sold more than 1 million copies. He had two other Grammy nominations.

A lifelong admirer of Duke Ellington, the Cannes native was a professional musician by his teens and over the following decades would perform with everyone from Lionel Hampton to Yo-Yo Ma. He arranged music for Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Greco among others, wrote soundtracks for hundreds of French film and television productions, and his compositions could be heard on such American releases as The Holiday and Joker.

He would later collaborate with Angel Romero on Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano and with Yo-Yo Ma on Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio. In 1984, Bolling was joined by American flutist Hubert Laws for a performance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Bolling also worked with such notable musicians as guitarist Alexandre Lagoya, violinist Pinchas Zukerman, and trumpeter Maurice André. He also worked with and performed tributes to many others, including Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, and Oscar Peterson.  Sources: AP, Wikipedia

Alto Reed (Thomas Neal Cartmell), the longtime saxophonist for Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, died Dec. 30, after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 72.

Seger wrote in a social media tribute to his former bandmate. "Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years. In our band, Alto was the rock star. Over the years, his passion for music, life and new adventures never diminished. We loved him like a brother and will miss him forever." The bandleader gave Reed his stage name.

The Detroit musician began playing with Seger in 1971 before joining the Silver Bullet Band three years later. He's widely recognized for his saxophone solo in Turn the Page from the band's Back in '72 album, and Old Time Rock and Roll from Stranger in Town, the latter of which became a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979 and soundtracked a famedscene in Tom Cruise's 1983 film Risky Business.

As a member of Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Reed won a 1980 Grammy for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal for Against the Wind. The group's fourth studio album topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks in the spring of 1980. It was their only No. 1 album.

Aside from his work with the Silver Bullet Band, Reed performed alongside Grand Funk Railroad, Ted Nugent, Little Feat, Foghat, Dave Mason, Spencer Davis, The Blues Brothers, George Thorogood, Robin Gibb, and the Motor City Horns. He co-led the Reed & Dickinson Band with Steve Dickinson and released an album together titled Tonight We Ride

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Reed’s name to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Detroit Harmony Fund, which provides instruments to music students in Detroit. Sources: Billboard, Rolling Stone

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