Music News Digest, March 21, 2022

Gordon Lightfoot attends the world premiere of the documentary film Lightheaded: A Gordon Lightfoot State of Mind (pictured), Will Butler leaves Arcade Fire, and a star-studded lineup will salute Joni Mitchell. Also in the news are Rockin Riverfest 2022, Geneviève Racette, Dallas Green, Roberto Occhipinti, Women in the Studio National Accelerator, Rosanne Baker Thornley, Michelle Willis, NMC, Jens Lindemann, Tebey, CIMA and ADVANCE, and farewell Barbara Morrison.

Music News Digest, March 21, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Last Thursday (March 17) in Toronto, Gordon Lightfoot was guest of honour at the invite-only world premiere of Lightheaded: A Gordon Lightfoot State of Mind, a new documentary film that explores the community of fans of the Canadian folk legend. The film, produced by Michigan-based super-fan John Corcoran, includes interviews with Lightfoot, and premieres on Amazon's Prime Video in the spring. An acclaimed comprehensive Canadian documentary of the singer, Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, came out in 2019. Source:Record-Eagle

–  Arcade Fire has made plenty of news over the past week. First was the release on Thurs of the band's first original music in five years - title, followed by word a day later that a new album, We, is set for release on May 6. That was quickly followed by the news that guitarist Will Butler (brother of band leader and co-founder Win Butler) has left the band. In a series of tweets, he noted that he left at the end of last year when We was complete. CP reports that Butler says there was “no acute reason” for his departure beyond that “I’ve changed — and the band has changed — over the last almost 20 years.” He adds that the band “are still my friends and family.”


Will Butler is reportedly working on a new record, booking shows, and writing music for a David Adjmi play, as well as other projects. Butler has released three solo albums, Policy, Friday Night, and Generations.

– The Recording Academy has announced a range of Grammy winners as performers at the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala honouring Joni Mitchell. The star-studded list includes Chaka Khan, Beck, Sara Bareilles, Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Angélique Kidjo, Jon Batiste, Black Pumas, Mickey Guyton, Allison Russell (the only Canadian), Cyndi Lauper, Pentatonix, Stephen Stills and St. Vincent, along with a remote performance from Graham Nash. Batiste and Carlile, who has five nods of her own, will also serve as artistic directors for the evening, to be held in Las Vegas on April 1, two days before the Grammy Awards. Mitchell, 78, is only the second Canadian to receive the honour, following Neil Young in 2010. Source: CP


– Live Nation has announced the lineup for Rockin Riverfest 2022, which runs from July 28 to 31 in Merritt, BC. The headliners will include Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, Chris Janson, Billy Currington, and HARDY. Also performing will be Randy Houser, Kip Moore, Jo Dee Messina, Rodney Atkins, Aaron Pritchett, Cam, Mackenzie Porter, Madeline Merlo, Tyler Joe Miller, Chris Buck Band, and Karen Lee Batten. Tix here.

– Montreal folk singer/songwriter Geneviève Racette released her third studio album, Satellite, on March 18, and is now out touring it. A show last week at Toronto's Dakota Tavern featured a big-name guest, Dallas Green aka City and Colour. The pair dueted on the album's Someone, and this gig was the first time they'd sung it together (below). Racette is currently playing shows in Quebec (including a Montreal gig at Satellite, on March 21) and will showcase at Folk Alliance on May 20. Dates here.


– Internationally-acclaimed Toronto jazz bassist/composer/record producer Roberto Occhipinti has released a new album, The Next Step, on his Modica Music imprint. It will be officially launched on March 23 with a performance at Toronto's Jazz Bistro, with Occhipinti joined by pianist Adrean Farrugia and Snarky Puppy drummer Larnell Lewis. Tix (just $10 and including a CD) here. Highly recommended.

– Music Publishers Canada is accepting applications for its Women in the Studio National Accelerator. Now in its fourth year, this program offers a series of curated production-related opportunities and networking experiences to women-identifying producer-songwriters from across the country. Participants will gain valuable insights from mentors and industry experts for the duration of the program starting with sessions in June through to Jan. 2023. The program will focus on topics including technical skills, financial literacy, music business skills, and branding and will offer opportunities for creative collaborations. Apply here by April 8.


– Respected Toronto singer/songwriter Rosanne Baker Thornley (RBT) is releasing singles in advance of the upcoming album, Sorry I'm Late. Here is the latest, In Paris. More info here.

– Hotly-tipped Toronto-raised, NYC-based, singer/songwriter Michelle Willis releases a sophomore album, Just One Voice, on April 8 on GroundUP Music. The album features contributions from Willis' regular collaborator David Crosby, as well as Michael McDonald, Grégoire Maret, Becca Stevens & Taylor Ashton, and is produced by Fab Dupont (Andre 3000, Gregory Porter). Willis has toured and recorded both Crosby and McDonald as well as Snarky Puppy, the Zac Brown Band, Iggy Pop, Stevens, and many others. She plays an album release show at Joe's Pub in NYC, on March 31. More info here, and below is one of the new album's focus tracks.

– The National Music Centre’s afternoon classical music series at the King Eddy in Calgary returns on April 10, running to June 26, with an impressive lineup. Artists performing will include Jens Lindemann, Kevin Chen, Peaks + Prairies Ensemble, New Works Calgary, and more TBA. The concerts begin at noon. Tix on sale here.

– Canadian Musician and NWC present a free webinar about songwriting on May 24, at 2 pm ET. It features hit writers Tebey and Andre Kaden Black sharing tips and secrets. Register here

– CIMA and ADVANCE present a Zoom webinar entitled Contracts in the Music Industry: Management Agreements, on March 24, 1 pm ET. The session will benefit managers, self managed artists and anyone interested in that realm, and features entertainment lawyers Nico Elliott and Lindsay Dykstra and manager Mahad Jama. Register here 



Barbara Morrison, a notable jazz and blues vocalist who left a lasting imprint on the LA music scene, died on March 16, age 72.

A GoFundMe launched for Morrison in early March, after “she was sent to the hospital with cardiovascular disease,” raised more than $13K. People who donated described her as “a national treasure” and “a legend.”

The three-time Grammy-nominated singer made Los Angeles her home in 1971 after moving to the west coast from Detroit. At the time the then 21-year-old worked with blues icon Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and performed on The Johnny Otis Show.

Her singing career took her to perform at jazz festivals in the California neighbourhoods of Montreux, Monterey, Long Beach and the North Sea. She also performed at Carnegie Hall and jazz venues in Southern California and toured Europe with Ray Charles. Learn more in this LA Timesobituary and here.

Abel 'The Weeknd' Tesfaye performs live at the London Stadium as part of his After Hours til Dawn Tour on July 7, 2023 in London, England.
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Abel 'The Weeknd' Tesfaye performs live at the London Stadium as part of his After Hours til Dawn Tour on July 7, 2023 in London, England.

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