Music News Digest, July 20, 2020

Drake and DJ Khaled (pictured) collaborate on two new singles, Serena Ryder has a new record label and single, and the Orbit Room announces its closure. Also in the news are IF 2020, Hamilton venues, Music Canada certifications, SiriusXM’s Top of the Country, J.P. Cormier, Canal Bank Shuffle, Morning Music, The Great Canadian Concert Series, Red Bull, Tim & The Glory Boys, and farewell Chi Pig, Emmitt Rhodes, Jamie Oldaker, and Marguerite Knowles Doritty.

Music News Digest, July 20, 2020

By Kerry Doole

US hitmaker DJ Khaled has announced his forthcoming 12th studio album will be entitled, Khaled Khaled. On July 17, he released the first two singles, Popstar and Greece, which both feature Drake. “We work amazing together! Drake luv forever,” Khaled gushed on social media. The pair previously collaborated on the 2011 Top 10 track I’m the One, along with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Source: Ydraft

–– Music Canada certifications for the first half of 2020 are led by The Weeknd, who scores a platinum album for After Hours and quintuple platinum for his hit single Blinding Lights.  Certified at seven times platinum is Señorita, the smash from Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. Other acts faring well include Daniel Caesar, Jessie Reyez, Justin Bieber, and Y2K & bbno$. See the full list here.


–– The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), a partnered research institute centred at the University of Guelph, has announced a new online festival celebrating improvisational art. Starting at midnight GMT on Aug. 8, IF 2020 will livestream pre-recorded video/audio submissions from 150+ artists from 15+ countries. This 24-hour festival is free to attend and will feature an array of improvisational artists, including musicians, spoken word poets, dancers, and theatre practitioners. Canadian festivals presenting artists include Hillside Festival, Suoni Per Il Popolo, Coastal Jazz and Blues, and Mariposa. International presenters include orgs from Greece, Singapore, Mexico and Northern Ireland. More info here 

– The Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group has won approval from the city council to undertake a multimillion-dollar revamp of the city’s downtown entertainment venues. The group plans to renovate, maintain and operate the city-owned FirstOntario Centre and FirstOntario Concert Hall for 99 years and the Hamilton Convention Centre indefinitely through a lease agreement. The Precinct Group deal has roots in a push by Coun. Sam Merulla to have a private-sector investor redevelop the three ageing venues to generate more tax revenue and end public subsidies to keep them afloat. An estimated  $400 million to $500 million will be invested in the project over its three-to-five-year build-out.  Source: Hamilton Spectator 


– Six-time Juno Award winner and platinum-selling artist Serena Ryder has just released a new track, Candy, the lead single off her upcoming album, The Art of Falling Apart. The 10-track project chronicles Ryder’s years of struggle with mental health, and her journey from mental illness to wellness. Candy is the first release by ArtHaus Music(Sandy Pandya's new imprint) under its new distribution agreement with Warner Music Canada. Streaming links for the single here

– News of the demise of the Orbit Room marks another major loss for the Toronto live music scene. Co-owner Tim Notter posted on FB that "It pains me to have to announce that the club at 580a College St will remain closed. This doesn't mean that we are out of the live music business, it just means that our shows will no longer be at that address. For 22 of the last 25 years, we have had a band play every night of the week." The club was renowned for the quality of the music it presented, and such acts as The Dexters, Soul Stew, LMT Connection, Fergus Hambleton, and Jordan John had long-running residencies there. It also became known as a real musicians' hangout, and Lou Pomanti of The Dexters recalls on Facebook that those guesting with his band included "Jose Feliciano, Alannah Myles (draped over my B3), David Wilcox, The Memphis Horns, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Jeff Martin (Tea Party), Jeff Jones, Domenic Troiano, and so many more." Stars spotted Orbit-ing have included Mick Jagger, Radiohead, Queensryche, and countless others. Of note: Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson is a co-owner. It will be missed.


– SiriusXM Canada has announced the eight semi-finalists competing for the title of Canada's next big country music star in the third annual Top of the Country competition, presented in partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), and sporting a $25K prize. The semi-finalists are Don Amero (Winnipeg, MB), Raquel Cole (Vernon, BC), Carolina East (South River, NL), Nate Hall (Toronto, ON), Kalsey Kulyk (Hudson Bay, SK), Brittany Kennell (Beaconsfield, QC). Tyler Joe Miller (Surrey, BC), and Kelly Prescott (Almonte, ON). To learn more about the artists,  visit

– Acclaimed Nova Scotian roots singer-songwriter J.P. Cormier intends to launch a lawsuit against Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia, the province and the Halifax Regional Municipality over the lack of high-speed internet in rural parts of the province. Cormier recently told CBC News it would take 41 days for him to upload a 45-minute video to YouTube, but if he travels to his sister-in-law's house 20 minutes away, that same video would only take 90 seconds to upload. "I don't want any money. I want the service put in, which has been explained to me by Bell and Eastlink and others can easily be put in here if the political will is there to put it in. And that's what it comes down to," Cormier said. Covid-19 has forced Cormier to move his performances from live venues to exclusively online, and this poor service has created major obstacles.

– After 18 years of hosting concerts and donating more than $200K to local charities, pandemic restrictions have forced the cancellation of the Canal Bank Shuffle, Thorold ON's signature music event. Typically, the fall event features 30 or so blues bands from across Canada and the US.


– Morning Music Limited is now marking its 50th year in business. It was incorporated in 1971 by Stompin’ Tom Connors, his manager, Jury Krytiuk, and Mark Altman, and, until 1986, it was a sister company to Boot Records, the Canadian indie label owned by Krytiuk and Connors. In 1988,  Altman became the sole owner and president of the company, which includes subsidiaries in the US and the UK, and co-owns a number of other small publishing companies with total assets of over 3,000 domestic copyrights. 

Morning Music has taken part in the success of many performers over the years, including Liona Boyd, The Canadian Brass, Stompin’ Tom, Ian Tyson, The Cottars, Rita MacNeil, Eddie Eastman, Johnny Cash, Don Williams, Crystal Gayle, Alabama, Garth Brooks and Andrea Bocelli. It has also successfully placed soundtracks for hundreds of episodes of television series produced in Canada.  Altman informs FYI that, nearing retirement, he has decided to divest of his holdings, and has already sold a number of assets from the US and Canadian entities. He hopes to review prospective offers in the coming year.  More info here 

– The Great Canadian Concert Series is an online two-day concert event sponsored by Toyota Canada and SiriusXM Canada and hosted by singer/songwriter Julian Taylor. Performing on July 22 are Sarah and Gianni from Walk Off The Earth and A Tribe Called Red, with Coeur de Pirate and The Reklaws playing on July 23.  Tune in at 7:30 pm ET for the live-stream on Toyota Canada Facebook and YouTube channels. 


– Red Bull will close and/or sell off its collection of owned music studios as part of a cutting back of the company’s ties with the entertainment industry. Sources state that management at the firm told staff a week ago that Red Bull would be “ending all music projects” and that, in addition to the studio news, “all Red Bull music events are cancelled."  Red Bull currently runs 11 studios in locations around the world and has been active in Canada. Red Bull also closed down its Red Bull Music Academy and Red Bull Radio in 2019 but will continue to run its Red Bull Records label out of the US. Source: MBW 

– Sony Music Entertainment Canada has signed BC country band Tim & The Glory Boys. The group made a mark with a debut single, When You Know You Know, which made the Top 20 at Canadian country radio. The quartet is fronted by lead singer Tim Neufeld, winner of multiple Juno, Dove, and Covenant awards. The Glory Boys include Colin Trask (dobro/percussionist), Brenton Thorvaldson (banjo/guitar) and Jon Mushaluk (stand up bass). The band is managed by Brad Rempel, half of the popular Nashville-based duo, High Valley.


Chi Pig (Kendall Chinn), frontman and founder of veteran Edmonton punk band SNFU, died July 16, at the age of 57. The cause of death has not been reported.

Chinn formed his first punk band Live Sex Shows in Edmonton in 1981. That group evolved into Society's No Fucking Use, a name later shortened to SNFU. Chinn wrote the lyrics and provided most of the artwork for the band’s records.

After releasing three LPs — 1985’s seminal …And No Else Wanted to Play, If You Swear You’ll Catch No Fish in 1986, and 1988’s Better Than a Stick in the Eye — the band disbanded in 1989 due to in-fighting and burnout from time spent touring internationally.

Chinn relocated to Vancouver in 1990, forming bands The Wongs and Little Joe, while coming out as openly gay during a time when few in the mainstream punk scene were willing to acknowledge or accept homosexuality.

SNFU reformed in 1991, releasing a series of full-length albums during the 1990s under Epitaph Records before the label opted against renewing the band’s contract in 1997.

The group returned to playing and touring in 2003, releasing In The Meantime and In Between Time in 2004 before disbanding again in 2005. Chinn’s life was profiled in the documentary Open Your Mouth and Say… Mr. Chi Pig in 2010.

The band’s last full-length, Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You, was released in 2013, and a live album, …And Yet, Another Pair of Lost Suspenders, marked their last release in 2019.

His musical peers were quick to offer tribute on social media, including Moe Berg, Jim Bryson, Ken Tizzard (The Watchmen), and Derek Downham. SNFU's impact on the international punk scene was reflected by Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong, who posted condolences on Instagram. "This breaks my heart. Chi Pig was one of the greatest front people I’ve ever seen," he wrote.

A GoFundMe campaign for a mural in his honour has been set up, as well as a petition to have him enter the Canadian Walk of Fame. Sources: Exclaim!, Facebook, Kerrang, Edmonton Journal

Emitt Lynn Rhodes, a US singer/songwriter known for his ‘70s solo albums, died in his sleep on July 19, age 70.

Born in Decatur, Illinois, Rhodes played in multiple bands, including the 1960s garage rock band the Palace Guard. He then joined the psychedelic rock group the Merry Go-Round, who were signed to A&M Records and released one self-titled album in 1967.

After the Merry Go-Round disbanded, Rhodes pursued a career as a solo musician. His first proper solo album, which he recorded and mixed entirely on his own, was 1970’s Emitt Rhodes. A critical success, it reached number 29 on the Billboard charts.

Rhodes was later sued by ABC/Dunhill for not fulfilling a contractual obligation to record two albums each year. As a result, he walked away from his career as a recording artist.

He continued working behind-the-scenes as a producer and engineer, and in 2016, he returned to recording his own music with a new album called Rainbow Ends.

A collaboration with Chris Price, the album featured musicians who admired his earlier records, including Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, Nels Cline, and Richard Thompson.

His albums and self-recording methods have been cited as influential by many musicians. Mac DeMarco cited Rhodes as an influence on the Salad Days sessions. Sources: PitchforkWikipedia

Jamie Oldaker, a US drummer whose career included stints alongside Eric Clapton and Peter Frampton, died on July 16, age 68. He had battled cancer in recent years.

Born and raised in Tulsa, Oldaker took up drumming at a young age. In 1974, he played on Clapton’s smash hit album 461 Ocean Boulevard, the first of 11 Clapton albums to feature Oldaker on drums.

“He has the best snare sound I’ve ever heard,” Clapton explained to Tulsa World. “He has the best restrained fills I’ve ever heard, and his bass drum is as solid as rock. He is unique, and the pocket is always perfect. The kind of man he is matches his drums.”

Oldaker appeared on several of Peter Frampton’s releases - including Where I Should Be (1979) and Rise Up (1980) - while also regularly touring alongside the famed rocker. In 1988, Oldaker briefly joined Frehley’s Comet, the group founded by former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. The drummer contributed to the band’s sophomore LP, Second Sighting, before departing.

Other credits on an impressive resume include work alongside Bob Seger, Leon Russell, Stephen Stills, Ronnie Dunn and the Gap Band.

He was also a founding member of the country-rock group The Tractors. The band enjoyed success in the mid-90s thanks to their self-titled, debut album which sold more than three million copies and earned two Grammy nominations.

In 2010, Oldaker was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Source: Ultimate Classic Rock

Marguerite Knowles Doritty, an administrator at the University at Buffalo, a fundraiser for the arts and social service agencies, and active participant in the music community of Port Hope, ON, died July 2 in Cobourg, Ont., after a brief illness. She was 93.

Born Marguerite Jane Wickersham in Pittsburgh, she studied drama at Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, and earned a degree from the Juilliard School of Music, where she studied voice. She went on to be director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council, where she coordinated the membership program and established a nationwide program of regional auditions.

She was later active as a volunteer with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and as director of the concert office in UB’s Music Department. Later she was assistant to director Gerald O’Grady in UB’s Educational Communications Center. She was a past president of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Women’s Committee. For 20 years, she was a district chairman for the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

She married the Rev. Donald O. Doritty, a longtime friend, in 1999 and moved to Port Hope, Ont., where he was a priest in charge of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in nearby Cobourg until his death in 2006.

Mrs. Doritty sang in the choir in St. Peter’s Church and was a member of the bell choir. She was president of the Port Hope Probus Club and was active in the Port Hope Friends of Music and the Northumberland Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. A virtual memorial was held on July 12. Source: Buffalo News

Big Boi

Big Boi


CNE Bandshell Gets Big Boi, Sloan, Big Wreck And More For Throwback Summer Concerts

The headliners tie together the Toronto waterfront series' '90s and 2000s revival theme, while contemporary acts like MacKenzie Porter, Ruby Waters, Tynomi Banks and more will keep things current.

Toronto's CNE Bandshell concert series is leaning into big nostalgia this summer, with major '90s and 2000s acts headlining the throwback-themed lineup.

OutKast rapper Big Boi, Canadian-American rock band Big Wreck, and east coasters Sloan are leading the summer music programming at the Canadian National Exhibition, a major entertainment fair that takes over the Exhibition Place grounds every August.

keep readingShow less