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FYI

Music News Digest, July 29, 2021

The Weeknd (pictured) will receive the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award, the FME fest launches a sister event in Montreal, and Canadian Music T-Shirt Day debuts. Also in the news are the Oshawa Music Awards, Peterborough Folk Festival, Greg Keelor, The Standstills, Jade Eagleson, Dean Brody, Burt Block Party, Muskoka Music Festival, Noelle Frances (The Pears), and farewell Rob Heaney, Joey Jordison, and Dusty Hill.

Music News Digest, July 29, 2021

By Kerry Doole

On Sept. 23, at 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, The Weeknd will receive theQuincy Jones Humanitarian Award during the first-ever Music in Action Awards, hosted by the Black Music Action Coalition. The Music in Action Awards also celebrate BMAC's first Music Industry Action Report Card, an assessment of the music industry’s progress in achieving racial justice and equity.


Within the last year, The Weeknd has given millions of dollars to various causes, including racial justice. Last June, he donated $200K each to both the Black Lives Matter Global Network and the Colin Kaepernick Know Your Rights Legal Defense Camp, and $100K to the National Bail Out Collective. A year ago, he gave $500K to hospital workers of the Scarborough Health Network in Canada and an additional $500K to MusiCares, the philanthropic partner of the US Recording Academy. He also donated $1 million for hunger relief in his parents' native Ethiopia. Source: Billboard

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–  Unable to accommodate the usual number of festival goers for the 19th edition of the festival in Rouyn-Noranda, FME organisers are presenting a brand new event: FME de l’Avent. The mini festival takes place Aug, 6-8 in Montreal, at Parc Riverain de Lachine, as part of La Brise du large and their summer programming. More than 20 Quebec artists, also taking part in the 19th edition of FME (Sept. 2-5), will perform, with folk, rock, hip-hop, funk and electronic music all represented. Acts booked include Ouri, Maky Lavender, Janette King, Kristian North, No Joy, Ragers, Barry Paquin Roberge,Meggie Lennon, Sophia Bel, Julien Sagot, Paul Jacobs, and Maude Audet. Tickets are free here.

– The first-ever Canadian Music T-Shirt Day is happening tomorrow (July 30). The idea is to support Canadian artists, either by buying merch or wearing your fave Canadian music t-shirt, sharing a photo on social, and donating to the registered music industry charity Unison Fund.  Music manager Adam Kreeft (Good Company) and music marketer Jo Lukis (Just Really Good) are leading the initiative, one based on a similar campaign running in Australia. The campaign website conveniently links to merch stores for more than 100 musicians, including Jessie Reyez, U.S. Girls, The Weeknd, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Broken Social Scene, Haviah Mighty, Fucked Up, and Cancer Bats. Source: Georgia Straight

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– The deadline to submit for music and industry award nominations for the 2021 Music Nova Scotia Awards is tomorrow (July 30). Info and submissions here

– The fourth annual Oshawa Music Awards have announced this year’s nominees in seven categories. Now open, public voting here closes on Aug. 20. The awards are across three days: Sept. 9, 16, and 23. This year’s recipients of OMA’s Music Industry Leader and Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame honours are Artemis Chartier (Music Industry Leader of the Year) and Ivan Berry, the late Al Cole, and the late Andy Gondek (Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame)

– Next month, the Peterborough Folk Festival is presenting a socially distanced concert series with an impressive list of performers. Aug. 17 features Greg Keelor, Jimmy Bowskill, and Terra Lightfoot, Hawksley Workman headlines on Aug. 18, Whitehorse and William Prince play on Aug. 20, with Donovan Woods and Chantal Kreviazuk closing things out on Aug. 21. Tix here.

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– On Aug. 5, The Standstills have a live-streamed performance, with special guest  Neil Sanderson (Three Days Grace). There will also be a Q and A segment with both. The event is in support of the Healing in Harmony program for trauma survivors. Tix here.

– Coming off the success of All Night To Figure It Out, his second #1 at Canadian country radio, Jade Eagleson has teamed up with Cancountry star Dean Brody for a good ole boy anthem, More Drinkin’ than Fishin’. This has the feel of a seasonal hit. Eagleson apparently views Brody as something of a mentor, and he (and The Reklaws) will get to open up Brody’s big show at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage in Sept. 24. Tix here.

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– The Burt Block Party shows in Winnipeg Aug 20 and 21, 27 and 28, boasts a stellar Canrock lineup, including The Jim Cuddy Band, 54-40, Northern Pikes, The Sheepdogs, Streetheart, Said The Whale, and more. Info and tix here.

– The Chester Playhouse in Chester, NS, has announced summer music performances, to be hold both outside and in various locations in our community, starting July 30. Artists booked include The Town Heroes, Reeny Smith, Casual Cries for Help, Caribou Run, Jennah Barry, and Twin Flames. More info here.

– Following a two-year pause, the Muskoka Music Festival (founded by Miranda Mulholland) has announced a return in 2022. To celebrate 2021 the festival is hosting a limited capacity private event this weekend in the Gravenhurst area, designed to say thanks to ongoing sponsors, donors, festival family, and help support musicians. The fest has commissioned songs from some Canadian artists (including Theo Tams), with the videos to be shown before the movies at the Muskoka Drive-In all summer. Named as the fest’s 2020 Songwriting Competition winner is Oh My My, the brand new single from Noelle Frances (The Pairs).

RIP

Rob Heaney, a veteran Montreal music engineer, died on June 11 of a heart attack, age 61.

The Montreal Gazette reports that "Heaney was one of the province’s most sought-after engineers and had worked on recordings with Patrick Watson, Elsiane, The Franklin Electric, Michel Pagliaro, Ray Bonneville, Isabelle Boulay and Kevin Parent. He had also worked with Cirque du Soleil since 1994, engineering and mixing many of the Montreal-based circus’s albums, including the Grammy Award-nominated Alegría. He also worked as an engineer on numerous film and TV projects. In addition, he was the live mixer for Kate & Anna McGarrigle’s concerts for much of their career.

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Folk label head and musician Bill Garrett stated that Heaney “was without a doubt one of the best engineers in the country. I’ve worked with some of the best in Toronto and Vancouver, and I can tell you he is absolutely right up there with the best.” Joel Zifkin, who played violin with the McGarrigles for years, said Heaney was a real sound board whiz in concert halls. "He got the McGarrigles. He didn’t make them sound like something else. He made them sound like they do, but better," Zifkin told The Gazette.

His friends and colleagues talk of his engaging personality, his curiosity and his enthusiasm about meeting people. Singer-songwriter Rob Lutes observed that “Everyone is broken up because we lost this really special guy who also happened to be this amazing musical confidante, collaborator, guide. It’s a significant loss.” Source: Montreal Gazette

International

Dusty (Joseph) Hill, ZZ Top bassist  who played with the Texas blues rock trio for over 50 years, died on July 28, at age 72.

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“We are saddened by the news today that our compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” surviving members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement. “We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature, and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

Earlier this month, Gibbons and Beard played their first performances without Hill in more than 50 years, stating that the bassist had been forced to seek medical attention “to address a hip issue,” according to a statement. The band’s longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, filled in. Over the past few years, Hill endured a hip replacement surgery and a shoulder injury. 

While ZZ Top was best known for their synthesizer-powered 1980s hits, they were a thoroughly Texan, heavy rock-blues band at heart, spawned from the same psychedelic scene that birthed Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators but keeping things roots and rocking throughout their more than 50-year career, even as they incorporated synthesized rhythms into their sound in the 1980s.

Hill was born in Dallas and played cello in high school, which made for an easy transition to electric bass. He, his guitarist brother Rocky and future fellow ZZ Top bandmate Frank Beard, a drummer, played in local bands such as the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers and American Blues, working the same Texas touring circuits as ace guitarist Billy Gibbons’ band, the Moving Sidewalks.

The brothers parted company in 1968 over musical differences, and Hill and Beard moved to Houston, where they eventually united with Gibbons in ZZ Top. Gibbons had formed the band in 1969 and recorded a one-off independent single produced by manager Bill Ham, who would remain with them for decades. The act’s original bassist introduced the guitarist to Beard; Hill would join Gibbons and Beard for a gig in Beaumont, TX, on Feb. 10, 1970. The lineup remained the same for more than five decades: They celebrated their 50th anniversary at a San Antonio concert in February 2020.

Launched on London Records in 1971, the Houston-bred threesome secured its first major hit with the No. 8 LP Tres Hombres in 1973; the set included the raunchy single La Grange, a homage to the Chicken Ranch, the notorious bordello in the like-named Texas city. Another top 10 album, Fandango!, followed in 1975, powered by the FM-staple single Tush. Half of that album was recorded live in New Orleans, and captured the band’s powerful blues-rock groove.

By the end of the ‘70s, ZZ Top’s potent brand of gutsy, no-frills blues ‘n’ boogie had made it one of America’s top concert attractions; its elaborate 1976 Worldwide Texas Tour featured actual livestock on stage. They moved from London Records to Warner Bros. in 1979 for Degüello, which shifted 1 million copies.

While the popularity of that album hinted at bigger things to come, El Loco (1981) introduced both the sound and the look that would put the band over the top. The first hints of the sonic manipulation that would take center stage on Eliminator were heard on that set. Gibbons’ and Hill’s long beards graced the album’s cover.

But it moved to another level of popularity with 1983’s Eliminator, which found Gibbons and his band mates experimenting with new technologies – guitar loops, manipulated vocals and synthesized bass and drums — that refreshed their sound.

The breakout success of three singles – Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs – and their accompanying videos, which featured car aficionado Gibbons’ like-named 1934 Ford coupe, lofted the band to a new level of commercial success and popular ubiquity. 

Eliminator peaked at No. 9 and spent a remarkable 183 weeks on the American album charts, ultimately receiving diamond certification for sales of more than 10 million copies. The megahit album was succeeded by the quintuple-platinum Afterburner (1985) and the million-selling Recycler (1990). The band was cast as themselves in Bob Zemeckis’ Back to the Future III (1990).

In 1994, ZZ Top exited Warner Bros. for a highly publicized $35 million pact with RCA Records. With that move, Gibbons took on co-production duties with the band’s manager Bill Ham, who had helmed their studio work since the group’s debut single. The immediate result was the platinum album Antenna. Gibbons took the solo production reins on the group’s last two RCA releases, XXX (1999) and Mescalero (2003), and co-produced La Futura (2012) with Rick Rubin for his American Recordings imprint.

Rolling Stone observed that during the band's career "Hill remained a quiet presence through it all, rarely granting interviews and letting Gibbons serve as the group’s mouthpiece. When he did talk to the press, he hinted at a darkness that few fans saw. “There have been any number [of low points in my life], but I never discuss them in public,” he said in 2010. “They’re not for the public to pick over and dissect."

ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Sources: Rolling Stone,Variety

Joey Jordison, co-founder and original drummer of the hard rock band Slipknot, died on July 26, age 46. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed, although the statement from his family says he died “peacefully in his sleep.” 

Clad in masks and playing a style of music unusually aggressive even for the heavy metal genre, Slipknot exploded onto the music scene from the unlikely locale of Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1990s. Jordison was a highly visible member of the band, whose music relied on his pummeling rhythms and endurance; he also cowrote many of their songs. He was a member from their formation in 1995 until his departure in late 2013. While no official statement was made, sources say he was fired from the band; Jordison said he did not leave voluntarily.

In addition to Slipknot, he also played guitar in the band Murderdolls and drums in Scar the Martyr and his most recent band, Sinsaenum.

Formed by members of anarray of Des Moines-area hard rock bands, Slipknot made its debut in December of 1995. Jordison, along with bassist Paul Gray — who died in 2010 — and percussionist Shawn Crahan, was a core early member, suggesting the band’s name and working with the others to plot its strategy. The group self-released its debut album, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., on Halloween Day, 1996, with vocalist Corey Taylor replacing original singer Anders Colsefni several months later.

As the buzz around their performances increased, veteran metal producer Ross Robinson signed on to helm an album with the group, and they signed with hard rock powerhouse Roadrunner Records in 1998. An appearance on the 1999 metal-oriented Ozzfest tour, coinciding with the release of their self-titled official debut album, vaulted the band into stardom. With their overpowering stage shows and masked identities, Slipknot was more about the experience than music, and the group soon acquired a rabid following. Not surprisingly, the members were often combative, and the group’s lineup had many changes throughout its history.

By the early 2000s, Slipknot was one of the biggest hard rock bands in the world, working with producer Rick Rubin on their 2004 third effort, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and winning their first Grammy in 2006. However, internal problems remained, exacerbated by Gray’s death from a drug overdose in 2010. The group was uncertain whether to continue, but resumed touring the following year and began work on an album in 2013.

However, Jordison was apparently fired late in 2013, saying in a Facebook post that he “did not quit” and was “shocked” and “blindsided.” He later revealed that he suffered from a neurological disorder that impaired his drumming, although he played drums in his most recent band, Sinsaenum. He formed Scar the Martyrn shortly after leaving Slipknot. That group split in 2016; he joined Sinsaenum shortly after and played with them until the present. Sources: Variety, 

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'La nuit s’achève' album cover

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