Music News Digest, June 25, 2018

Miranda Mulholland (pictured) announces the Sawdust  City Music Festival lineup, Tim Hicks releases a new album, and the Northern Touch Music Festival returns to Winnipeg. Also in the news are CIMA, the Downie Wenjack Fund, SOCAN, Mick Thomas, the A2IM Libera Awards, Music BC, and farewells to Geoffrey Oryema, David Bianco, and Vinnie Paul.

Music News Digest, June 25, 2018

By Kerry Doole

The Sawdust  City Music Festival in Gravenhurst, ON, debuted last year, and is now set for an encore edition. It was launched last week via a fun kickoff party at Toronto's Woodshed Studio, where fest founder Miranda Mulholland announced the strong lineup. Two of this year's performers, Samantha Martin and Rattlesnake Choir, played a song each at the soiree. Those spied enjoying the craft beer and scotch included musicians Andy Maize and Julian Taylor, industry veteran Chris Topping (recruited to help produce the fest), and politicians Josh Colle and former Harperite cabinet minister Tony Clement.

Notable acts playing Sawdust City Aug. 3-5 include Good Lovelies, Rose Cousins, Royal Wood, Danny Michel, Dana Sipos, The O'Pears, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Damhnait Doyle, Liam Russell, and many more.


– Nominations are now open for the 2018-2019 CIMA Board of Directors. Voting level members are eligible to run and the election process will take place during CIMA’s AGM on Oct. 4, 2018. Those interested in standing for election or seeking more information should contact Administrative Coordinator Matt Badoe, at Deadline is Aug. 31

– Platinum-selling Ontario country star Tim Hicks released his new (fourth) album, New Tattoo, on Friday, via Open Road, and he previewed some of its tracks at an industry showcase in Toronto on June 21. The first single, "Loud," was the #1 most added song at Canadian radio (all formats), its first week of release. New Tattoo is the follow-up to Hick's 2016 hit album Shake These Walls. He's playing summer festival dates across Canada. 

– The Northern Touch Music Festival is returning to Winnipeg for a second year with a two-day industry-developing conference and live music events around the Exchange District, June 29 and 30. Named for the Canadian hip-hop anthem, the fest focuses on hip-hop, R&B, and soul. Over 20 local artists will perform in front of conference speakers at three nighttime showcases, which also feature headliners Toki Wright, MURS, Dai Burger, and DJ Miss Brit. The conference component is presented by FACTOR and Manitoba Music.


– As part of Indigenous History Month, the NCCT (The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto) and the Downie Wenjack Fund are teaming up to present a free concert at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on June 27. The powerhouse lineup features A Tribe Called Red, Keys N Krates, and Iskwe (just added to the Polaris Prize Long List) performing from 7-10 pm.

– Submissions are now open for Francophone SOCAN Publisher of the Year Award, with a July 23 deadline. The award will be presented at the Montréal SOCAN Award Gala on Oct. 2. Download the nomination form here     

– Back in the late '80s, Australian roots-rockers Weddings, Parties, Anything made Canada something of a second home, touring extensively and making lots of fans and friends. They included The Lowest Of The Low, whose song ""Rosy And Grey" turned into a Down Under hit for WPA. Former LOTL member Stephen Stanley has helped WPA leader Mick Thomas score a Toronto gig, at Sauce on the Danforth on July 5.


–  On June 21, the 2018 A2IM Libera Awards were held at The PlayStation Theater in NYC, closing out A2IM’s annual Indie Week. Winners included Nick Cave, Taylor Swift, Aimee Mann, Shabazz Palaces, Benjamin Booker, Jason Isbell, Converge, Sylvan Esso, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and Elliott Smith.

– Music BC and Honda Celebration of Light jointly present a showcase opportunity on Aug. 1 at the Park Stage on Second Beach in Vancouver. All genres considered, with a June 29 applications deadline. 

– The Prairielands Jazz Camp is designed for developing young jazz musicians (grades 7-12), and it runs July 8-14 at the University of Regina. More info here



Geoffrey Oryema, a Ugandan singer/songwriter and world music star, died on June 22 at age 65, reportedly from cancer. Oryema was the son of a Ugandan cabinet minister who was murdered, allegedly on President Idi Amin's orders. Geoffrey Oryema fled Uganda in 1977, basing himself in France, and did not return for 40 years. He performed in Kampala and at the Ouagadougou Jazz Festival in April 2017.

Oryema earned his international reputation on the release of his second album, 1993's Beat the Border, on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. He performed at WOMAD festivals around the globe and at Woodstock 94. Later albums were released on Sony International. In July 2005, he performed at the LIVE 8: Africa Calling concert in Cornwall, and with at the Live 8 Edinburgh concert. Sources: Kampala Post, Wikipedia



David Bianco, a Grammy-winning producer, died on June 20 after suffering a stroke, age 64.

His production, mixing and engineering credits include work with Bob Dylan, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Mick Jagger, Danzig, Lucinda Williams, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, and many others. In 1996, he won a Grammy for his work on Tom Petty’s Wildflowers album. Other notable works include Osbourne’s Ozzmosis, Jagger’s Wandering Spirit and Dylan’s Together Through Life.

Bianco got his start at Los Angeles’ Record Plant studios in the ‘70s after landing a job as a janitor there. Source:

Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul, drummer for Pantera, Damageplan, and Hellyeah, has died at age 54. The news was announced via a statement on the Pantera Facebook page. Paul's family later told TMZ that he died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas, and there are unconfirmed reports he suffered a heart attack.


Along with his brother, Dimebag Darrell, Paul formed Pantera in 1981. The group found mainstream success with second lead singer Phil Anselmo. Throughout its career, Pantera earned four Grammy nominations and charted nine albums on the Billboard 200, including its 1994 album Far Beyond Driven, which debuted at No. 1 on the chart. 

Following Pantera’s demise, the Abbott brothers formed Damageplan in 2003. The band was performing on Dec. 8, 2004, when Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed onstage during a concert. Paul was most recently in the band Hellyeah alongside Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray. Sources: Las Vegas, TMZ

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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