Music News Digest, Jan. 6, 2020

Jessie Reyez (pictured) smells of success, Basement Revolver rocks The Casbah, and stars rally to help Oz firefighters. Also in the news are MusicNL, Avkash Mann, ECMAs, Live On The Lake, Steel City Music Awards, Lindsay Ell, and farewell Jack Sheldon, and Ronnie Knowles.

Music News Digest, Jan. 6, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Ah, the sweet smell of success. Over the weekend, Jessie Reyez‏ tweeted the news that she is involved in an ad campaign for Secret Deodorant (#AllStrengthNoSweat #ad). She's one of several celebs featured in a clip you can see here. Elsewhere on her feed, Reyez tweeted that "In 2020 I will continue treating twitter like a public therapist. And make more friends. Maybe. We’ll see." 

—Toronto club booker Dan Burke and Exclaim! magazine teamed up to present a four-band showcase at The Casbah in Hamilton on Friday night. Locals Capitol (formerly UK Cinema) impressed with the Anglo post-punk flavoured material included on their new album Dream Noise. However, covering Joy Division classic Love Will Tear Us Apart was ill-advised. Headlining act Basement Revolver, now signed to Sonic Unyon, is making a splash nationally, and its compelling set of original material showed why. For a reference point, think Alvvays with a rockier edge. Spied at the gig were Sonic Unyon/Supercrawl co-head Mark Milne with his recent signing Evangeline Gentle, and music scribe Stuart Berman. Gentle has shows this month in the Maritimes and Winnipeg, and at Toronto's Dakota Tavern on Feb. 22. She tells FYi she's looking forward to showcases in the UK and Europe this year.


— MusicNL will hold its AGM on Sunday, Jan. 26, at City Hall in St. John's NL. The AGM runs 2-3 pm and kicks off the Music NL 2019 Awards festivities later in the day. For more details, e-mail

— As Australia continues to be engulfed in bush fires, the entertainment industry has begun to rally in support. Quick off the mark is Pink, a genuine superstar Down Under. She has just donated US$500K, stating this will go "directly to the local fire services that are currently battling so hard on the frontline to save their communities within Australia. I do hope that this, amongst all the other outpouring of charitable support, will help the communities in these areas.” Also donating $500K to the cause is Oz power couple Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, offering that sum to Rural Fire Services and praising their efforts in tackling the flames. Sources: Noise11, Perth News


— Canadian-born, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Avkash Mann is not well-known here but is a Punjabi pop star in India. Over the holiday period, he released a new English language single, Dreams, and the video grabbed over 2.6M views in a week.

— The Hamilton Music Awards shut down a few years back in murky fashion. Still, the recently announced Steel City Music Awards, set for Sept. 26 at The Studio, promises to be an alternative, offering (in their words) "a new look, new concept, new awards, new venue and a new vibe within Hamilton’s music scene." More here

— The deadline to apply for the “East Meets West” collaborative initiative at the 32nd East Coast Music Awards is Jan. 10. Two export-ready BreakOut West artists/groups will be selected for two showcase performances at the 2020 ECMAs in St. John’s, NL, April 29 – May 3.


— Fast-rising  Canadian country star Lindsay Ell plays the famed Billy Bob’s Texas venue on Jan. 17.  Also on January's lineup is Junior Brown (Jan. 10) and Jonny Lang (Jan. 31).

— The inaugural Live On The Lake concert in Burlington, ON, was recently announced. Set for June 13 at Spencer Smith Park, the event is headlined by Sum 41 and Third Eye Blind. More acts TBA. Tickets here


Jack Sheldon, a jazz trumpeter, singer bandleader, and actor whose playing, singing, and stand-up comedy were heard for nearly two decades on the Merv Griffin television show, died on Dec. 27, age. He was 88.


While Sheldon’s career spanned music, television and film, he was the first to credit his jazz trumpet playing as fuel for his far-reaching successes in the entertainment world. In the ‘50s, he was one of the vital participants in the West Coast jazz movement, performing with the likes of Art Pepper, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. And he often spontaneously jammed with Baker, his close friend and fellow trumpet player. Sheldon performed regularly in Los Angeles clubs, usually with the small ensemble he called his California Cool Quartet, occasionally with his 18-piece big band.

Sheldon’s alternate career, as an actor and humorist, began to surface in the 1960s, on The Cara Williams Show and his own CBS sitcom, Run, Buddy Run.

His most visible television appearances took place during the 18 years in which he appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. Playing in Mort Lindsey’s Orchestra, Sheldon’s participation ranged from trumpet soloing to humorous interludes in which he often assumed the role of Griffin’s comedic foil.

Sheldon’s quirky voice brought wit and humour to the Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons of the ‘70s via his rendering of songs such as Conjunction Junction and I’m Just a Bill.

He can be heard on more than 200 CDs and recordings, backing the likes of Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, George Shearing and Anita O’Day. Source:LA Times

Ronnie (Charles Ronald) Knowles, co-founder of the Rainbow Bistro in Ottawa, died on Dec. 28, age 72, after a heart attack.

He launched the Rainbow Bistro, Ottawa’s foundational blues bar, with partner Danny Sivyer in November 1984. “He was larger than life: He was big and brash and full of ideas,” says Sivyer, who continues to operate the ByWard Market landmark.

At various times in his life, Knowles also owned a Caribbean dive shop, a murder mystery dinner theatre, a newspaper, a sailing business, a football camp, a pizza restaurant, and an Irish pub. Knowles enrolled in political science at Louisiana State University, where he became involved in student politics as an anti-Vietnam War activist. He first dabbled in the music business there,  booking such acts as Don McLean for LSU events.


In 1984, Knowles returned to Ottawa in search of a bar location in the ByWard Market. The Rainbow Bistro opened its doors on Nov. 28, 1984. The bar featured a raised stage, a dance floor and an upper mezzanine that overlooked the stage, which offered Ottawa a raucous return to live music after so many years of canned disco. Knowles used his contacts in New Orleans and Chicago to book acts such as John Hammond Jr., Koko Taylor, Albert King and Albert Collins. Canadian acts such as Blue Rodeo, Junkhouse, The Tragically Hip, Colin James and k.d. lang also graced the Rainbow stage.

After selling his shares in the Rainbow, in the early 1990s, he moved to coastal Mississippi, and later relocated to Cochrane, Alta. in a recent FB post, the Rainbow says "a tribute to Ronnie will be held at the Rainbow in March/April 2020." Source: Ottawa Citizen 


Taylor Swift 'The Tortured Poets Department'
Beth Garrabrant

Taylor Swift 'The Tortured Poets Department'

Music News

Music Biz Headlines: Taylor Swift's Music  Back on TikTok, Just In Time for 'The Tortured Poets Department'

Our weekly compendium of headlines from home and around the globe also collects stories on the crisis of Canadian arts organizations, new streaming platforms, and debunking exaggerated reports of Coachella's death.

Canada in Top Three Countries for Music Exports on Spotify, But Some Hit Artists May Not Qualify as Canadian

Canadian artists generated more than $400-million in royalties from listeners outside Canada on Spotify in 2023, and were the top exporters of music on the platform behind the U.S. and U.K., the annual Loud & Clear report found. But the platform is warning that some successful songs exported may not qualify as officially Canadian under CRTC rules.– Marie Woolf, Globe and Mail

keep readingShow less