Music News Digest, June 25, 2020

The 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards nominees are named, Ron Hynes will be celebrated at the ECMAs, and Mariposa goes virtual. Also in the news are Junos 365 Songwriters’ Circle, Rufus Wainwright, the Senator Restaurant, House of Jazz, Jeff Healey, Amplify BC, Music PEI, Michaela Slinger, Hawksley Workman, Stephan Moccio, Leela Gilday, Chris Bell, Joshua Van Tassel, Shawn Hall, Shuffalo, and Ben Kunder. With video.

Music News Digest, June 25, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The Western Canadian Music Alliance has announced the artists and music industry professionals nominated for the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards. The list is headed by the National Music Centre, with four nods, while Nuela Charles, William Prince, and the West End Cultural Centre each received three noms. The full list of nominees can be found here, with the winners in both the artistic and industry categories to be named on Sept. 25 during a special live-streamed event. Voting is now open to members of all western Provincial and Territorial Music Industry Associations. Voting concludes on July 6, at midnight, Pacific Time.


– The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has partnered with the East Coast Music Awards Festival to celebrate the induction of folk singer-songwriter Ron Hynes to the CSHF. Hynes, known as the “man of a thousand songs,” was a master songwriter and performer, and is oft termed one of the greatest storytellers in Canada. The six-time ECMA Award winner passed away in 2015 and will be honoured in a special pre-recorded broadcast of the 2020 East Coast Music Awards presented by TD. The celebratory two-hour special airs July 11 at 9 pm AT / 9:30 NT on CBC TV in Atlantic Canada and simultaneously on GEM at 7 pm EST on CBC Gem across the country.

The show will also be available on-demand on Gem following the broadcast. The 2020 ECMAs are hosted by Canadian comic Mary Walsh and feature performances by Tim Baker, Rose Cousins, Wintersleep, Damhnait Doyle, Matt Mays, Neon Dreams, Motherhood, Eastern Owl, Zamani, Jacobus, and Shanneyganock. The tribute to Hynes, supported by the SOCAN Foundation and Peer Music, brings together longtime members of his backing band and such East Coast artists as Shaye, Joel Hynes, and Lennie Gallant. Read more on Ron Hynes' career here


– For the first time in its 60-year history, Mariposa will host a free online concert series over the coming months. Mariposa Virtual Stage. Episode 1, hosted by CBC Radio producer/host Shelagh Rogers, launches June 28 at 8 pm EST, with an online watch party on Mariposa’s Facebook page. The concert will also be available on Mariposa’s newly designed website 

Episode 1 is a 20-minute video, paying homage to folk legend and Mariposa veteran Gordon Lightfoot. Audiences will get the opportunity to listen to an unreleased recording of Lightfoot’s 1964 Mariposa performance of Early Morning Rain. Canadian acoustic-folk duo Dala is also featured.

– The final instalment of the five-part Junos 365 Songwriters’ Circle begins streaming June 26 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on CBC Gem and worldwide at Hosted by TylerShaw, this episode features Nuela Charles, Patrick Watson, and The Reklaws, all 2020 Juno nominees. Stream previous shows now on CBC Gem.

– Ahead of his next album, Unfollow the Rules (out on July 10), Rufus Wainwright announces Unfollow the Rules: The Paramour Session, a concert that will be live-streamed on June 27 at 2 pm EST / 8 pm CET. The show will feature the record in its entirety, plus older and newer material, with Wainwright performing acoustically, with a socially distanced string section, piano and guitar,  in the ballroom of LA’s Paramour Mansion. The live-stream will premiere on ALL ARTS’ Facebook for the US and Canada and will also be accessible via Rufus Wainwright’s Official Facebook. On July 10. A TV broadcast of the concert will be available for viewing in the US on the ALL ARTS broadcast channel, free streaming app and 


– Toronto jazz fans lamenting the loss of live music now get some good news. Tomorrow (June 26), the famed Senator Restaurant, long associated with live music, launches a new summer live concert series, Senator Serenade from the Balcony. The resto’s balcony has been transformed into a well-spaced stage 25 feet off the ground to entertain patrons and passers-by every week from 4-6 pm. First up is one of the city’s best jazz vocalists, Ori Dagan, accompanied by guitarist Nathan Hiltz and saxophonist Alison Young. The show will also be live-streamed on The Senator's FB page. Sweet!


– The news for jazz lovers in Montreal is not as good, as the House of Jazz by Oliver Jones has announced its permanent closing, as another covid casualty. The Montreal Gazette notes that the club was opened by George Durst and bassist Charlie Biddle in 1981 under the name Biddle’s Jazz and Ribs, and served as a springboard for the careers of top local musicians including Oliver Jones, Ranee Lee, Bernard Primeau, and many more. The club was renamed House of Jazz in 2005, and in 2018, Durst added Jones’s name in tribute to the legendary Montreal pianist. A Laval outpost launched in 2015 belongs to Durst’s widow, Marie-France Villette. It reopens today (June 26).

– CP has reported that three prominent Canadian rock bands, Mother Mother, Said The Whale, and The Beaches, have pulled out of a planned virtual Canada Day celebration in Surrey, BC, protesting what they say is that city’s lack of commitment to dismantle systemic racism. Acts still on the bill include 54-40, Colin James, Alex Cuba, Madeline Merlo, and Bif Naked, though they may now well feel pressure to follow suit.

– Last month, Eagle Rock Entertainment released a 2-disc deluxe edition of Heal My Soul, an album from the late great Toronto blues-rocker, Jeff Healey. For the first time, the 2016 record is packaged with its companion album Holding On, and the set comes recommended to fans of the much-missed axeman.  


– The BC government recently announced a renewed investment of $7.5 million for Amplify BC to boost the province’s music industry. Applications for the Live Music and Innovation programs are now open, with Music Company development and Music Industry Initiatives opening on July 15. More info here

– Music PEI is relaunching its funding programs. The new Capital Purchase Program has been created with support from the provincial government to help musicians adapt to the online environment with funding available in two separate pools for Emerging and Exporting/Export Ready artists/bands. The application deadline is July 10. Apply here and here. Music PEI Investment applications are here, and the Microgrant Program application form is here  

– Noted Vancouver-based indie label 604 Records has announced a new signing, Vancouver indie-pop artist Michaela Slinger. She makes her label debut on July 3 with the release of a single, Tarot. Slinger’s debut full-length release is forthcoming. 

– Award-winning songsmith/multi-instrumentalist Hawksley Workman premieres a new single via Isadora Records/The Orchard titled Just a Dream. The track is co-written and produced by Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, The National). 


– Best known as a hit songwriter for the likes of Céline Dion, Avril Lavigne, Seal and Josh Groban, multiple Grammy and Oscar-nominated composer/songwriter/producer Stephan Moccio continues to release solo material, including a new track, Le Temps Qui Passe, out now on Decca Records/UMC. 

– Award-winning singer/songwriter Leela Gilday has released a new single Giants. Co-written and produced by Hill Kourkoutis, it was written for the 2020 World Cup of Cross Country Skiing (which was cancelled). Gilday notes in a press release that "it is the first time I have used my own language (Dene) in spoken form in a song. That was very special for me as I am just a beginner learner. My mother and my aunt did the translation and coached me in my pronunciation. It's not perfect, but it's me giving it my best effort.”

– Chris Bell has performed as a member of Wintersleep and worked as a live sound engineer with the likes of Broken Social Scene and Arkells, and now he has released a self-produced full-length solo album, Division Street.  Here's its newest single, Whispering Town.

– Toronto musician/composer Joshua Van Tassel has released Eternal Turtle, the second single from forthcoming LP, (his sixth) Dance Music Volume II: More Songs For Slow Motion. The album features his use of the Ondea (a contemporary re-creation of the famed french synthesizer the Ondes Martenot), a string quartet, and electronics. 

– Shawn Hall, one half of the maverick BC blues duo The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer, has a new project, Satellite and The Harpoonist, one with a debut 6-song EP ready to roll.  His collaborators include Geoff Hillhorst (The Deep Dark Woods), Theo Vincent (The Boom Booms), and Bradford Reed (King Missile III).

– Calgary-based pop-rock quartet Shuffalo has released a new single, Stay On Me. Produced by the band, Juno winner Ryan Worsley and Matt Di Pomponio at Echoplant Studios in Vancouver this the first taste from an EP to be released later this summer. It is a follow-up to the group's debut EP Heart Attack, awarded 2018 Alternative Recording of the Year at the YYC Music Awards. 

–Coinciding with the release of his latest single Stranger, Toronto-based singer/songwriter Ben Kunder performs an online concert today (June 25) at 7 pm EST via Side Door. All proceeds will be donated to the Black Mental Health Alliance and Trans Women of Colour Collective. Joining Kunder will be a special guest, Carmen Elle. Tickets for the show here. The live-stream is in support of Kunder's next LP, Searching For The Stranger, out Oct. 2 via Comino Music. 

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