Music News Digest, June 15, 2020

MacKenzie Porter (pictured) is crossing over big time, Chad Brownlee is axed by his label, and Rush salutes the spirit of radio. Also in the news are Country Connections, Ontario Creates, Colin Hay, Vivienne Wilder, John Prine, Ben Caplan, Wide Mouth Mason, Ramblin' Deano, Eastlink, Mundial Montreal, Allen Baekeland, and farewell Freddy Dixon and Ricky Valance. With video.

Music News Digest, June 15, 2020

By Kerry Doole

A multiple Juno and CCMA Award nominee, MacKenzie Porter is writing a serious success story with her current single, These Days (Remix).  Last week, she became the first Canadian artist in over 20 years to celebrate Country/Pop crossover success, with These Days (Remix) holding the #1 most added spot at Top 40 radio in Canada. It debuted Top 30 on the Canadian Pop charts, making it the highest pop debut for a Canadian country artist on Billboard/BDS since Shania Twain in 1999 (Man, I Feel Like A Woman), and the highest pop debut for a Canadian country artist in the Mediabase era. 

The original (and gold-certified) version of These Days earned Porter a #1 at Canadian country radio last December. Her current Canadian country single, Seeing Other People, is now bubbling under Top 10 this week. Signed to Big Loud records in Nashville, Porter is starting to make a splash Stateside as well. These Days recently debuted on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, along with Rolling Stone's Trending 25 chart, after being Top 10 most added in its first week. In all, her material has generated over 60M artist streams.


– Country Connections is a global networking initiative previously held at The Great Escape, AmericanaFest, Folk Alliance International and SXSW where professional delegates from Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland and New Zealand networked with each other. Due to covid-19, it is moving online. During the Classical Next edition, CC will offer a number of breakout meetings between international professionals from multiple countries. The first runs today (June 15), 10 am to noon (EST) via Zoom. Free with registration here. This opportunity is open to CIMA members and its partner associations with business in the Classic Music genre.

– Canadian country singer Chad Brownlee has been dropped from Universal Music Canada after a controversy erupted around an anti-Semitic image Brownlee posted online. "As of last week Universal Music Canada has made the decision to part ways with Chad Brownlee," a label rep told Exclaim!


– The next session in the Ontario Creates Discussion Series takes place June 26, 9 -10.30 am, via Zoom. The topic is Reaching Audiences during covid-19, and the cross-sectoral panel will speak about their experiences facing and finding creative solutions to obstacles, and provide insights on how other content creators and distributors can move forward. Register here

– In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Permanent Waves, Rush has premiered a new conceptual animated music video for The Spirit of Radio, a track from that album that became a fan favourite. The video pays homage to the FM radio format with a nostalgic nod to the pioneering DJs involved. The group's seventh album, Permanent Waves reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in the US and No. 3 in Canada.  Source: The Music Universe

– Former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay and City Winery have lined up a stellar cast of performers for Dear Father, a live-stream event for Father's Day, June 21. That cast includes Bruce Cockburn, Hay, Dar Williams, David Bromberg, Billy Bragg, Joan Osborne, Fantastic Negrito, Nikka Costa, Jorma Kaukonen, Glen Phillips, Delta Goodrem, and more. Proceeds will benefit NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) to help save independent venues across the US. Tickets are available here 


– Toronto rock artist Vivienne Wilder released a new album, postromantic, on Fallen Tree on June 12. Here's a brand new video from the record, her third release.

– The final recorded song from the late singer/songwriter John Prine, I Remember Everything, has been released. This comes on the heels of last Thursday's live-streamed tribute to Prine that featured Bonnie Raitt, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Sturgill Simpson, eric Church, Bill Murray, and other artists and celebrities. The stream raised funds for three organisations: NAMI, Make the Road New York, and Alive. Prine died in April from complications related to covid-19. 


– Nova Scotian folk troubadour Ben Caplan tweeted yesterday that “I’ve been robbed. Someone broke into my office and stole my laptop, my record player, my Bose speaker, and multiple cameras. They overturned a file folder with 4 years' worth of meticulously organized bookkeeping records. I am speechless. I am devastated.” In another tweet, he mentioned that ”I deeply appreciate messages of empathy that I have received. I’m in a difficult financial position in this moment and the robbery hurts a lot. I could use help at"

– Prairie blues-rock duo Wide Mouth Mason has released an animated video for the song Some Kinda Requiem from the recent release I Wanna Go With You.

– An American-Canadian soprano specializing in 19th-century Italian opera, Sondra Radvanovsky has been called one of the leading Verdi sopranos of her generation. The IRCPA’s Debra Chandler hosts a Conversation with Radvanovsky online on June 17, 1-2 pm EDT. Featured Topics: Opera in the future,  Live-streaming content, Social Media yes/no?, Advice to young singers, Screaming Divas. To join the conversation, RSVP to

– On June 19, US roots-rocker Ramblin' Deano (of Waco Brothers) presents the fourth stop on his virtual tour to benefit some of his favourite music venues affected by the pandemic, and this one is to assist employees of Toronto's legendary Horseshoe Tavern. On this night, he'll feature songs from the Waco Brothers album Electric Waco Chair. All proceeds from the show go to the venue's employee fund. It streams on his Facebook page.




– Eastlink has partnered with Canadian musicians for a musical production called Heartstrings, one designed to reach and celebrate Canada’s seniors – especially those in long-term care homes where they have been hit particularly hard. The show premiered last night (June 14) on Eastlink Community TV Channels 10 and 610 and featured musical contributions from Tim Chaisson, Classified, Reeny Smith, David Myles, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir and many others. Source: PE Guardian.

– Mundial Montreal presents a live-stream featuring ace guitarist/composer Roberto López as part of the #RoadToCanadaDay #CanadaPerforms series. Tune in on MM's Facebook page, June 16 at 7 pm EDT. This show is made possible thanks to the National Arts Centre.

– On June 18 at 8:30 pm, CJSW Radio in Calgary offers a tribute to the late Allen Baekeland, a musician (The Now Feeling and Lost and Profound) and radio host who passed away recently.  The episode will feature all sorts of songs, stories and memories of Baekeland as told by his friends. Listen live on 90.9 FM or on Read the FYI obit here


Freddy Dixon, a pioneer on the Ottawa Valley country music scene, died June 5, of heart failure, at his home in Smiths Falls, Ontario. He was 76.


Dixon (also billed as Fred Dixon) was born in Perth, Ontario, and was likely best known nationally for writing the song The Last Fatal Duel, which was recorded by Stompin' Tom Connors and featured on Connors' renowned album The Hockey Song. Dixon is also featured on the Stompin' Tom Connors album and Canadian film production Across This Land, performing his song Tribute To Stompin' Tom, recorded live at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

During his early career years, Fred Dixon released two albums on the Rodeo/Banff label under the name Fred Dixon & The Friday Afternoon. Several single releases were pulled from these albums, charting nationally with his best chart showing coming in 1971 with the single Jim's Used Car Lot, peaking a #22 on the RPM Country charts.

By the late 1970s, Dixon began directing his songwriting to story-telling ballads. His album Country And Proud Of It featured songs paying tribute to the history of his adopted hometown of Smiths Falls. He would later release a series of albums (CD's) with a mix of tribute songs, and his talents as a songwriter, balladeer and stylish vocal work that would range from traditional country to rockabilly. Among his tribute songs were ballads paying homage to his idols Johnny Cash, Ronnie Hawkins and Ian Tyson.

While a prolific songwriter and recording artist, Freddy Dixon was equally active on the live music scene throughout the Ottawa Valley, performing at events highlighted by Nashville and Canadian headliners, as well as being a steady attraction at Ottawa Valley country music venues. In 2012 Freddy Dixon wrote and published the book Country and Real People I Have Met.

Freddy Dixon was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. - Contributed by Larry Delaney

-- Ricky Valance (born David Spencer), the first Welsh artist to have a solo UK number-one single, has died at the age of 84. His agent said he had been diagnosed with dementia and had been in hospital since before the start of lockdown.

Valance’s big hit song was Tell Laura I Love Her in 1960. It was controversial at the time and reportedly banned from airplay by the BBC, but went on to be a number one single, selling more than a million copies.

It spent 16 weeks in the chart, three of those at number one, but was to prove his only big hit in the UK. In 2017, he released a final single, called Welcome Home, to raise money for the Royal Air Force Museum and RAF Association. Source: BBC News

50 Cent

50 Cent


50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

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