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FYI

Music News Digest, March 27, 2020

Alex Henry Foster (pictured) releases a short film today, #CanadaPerforms continues to attract stars, and a Rush reissue is delayed. Also in the news are Mathew V and Jocelyn Alice, Drake’s sneakers, Kenny Rogers, The Monowhales, TBS Talent Search, coronavirus relief, Soft Plastics, and farewell Bill Rieflin and Jean Leber.

Music News Digest, March 27, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Today (March 27), Quebec rock songsmith Alex Henry Foster (leader of prog-rockers Your Favorite Enemies) releases a short film to accompany his song The Hunter (By the Seaside Window). He hosted a live broadcast featuring a short interview and performance of the song from his studio/church last Sunday, and it quickly reached 15k views. Further live sessions are expected. Foster's 2018 debut solo album Windows in the Sky topped the sales charts in Quebec.


– The Toronto Musicians’ Association is asking musicians and their friends to sign the Save Live Arts petition here.  Directed at all levels of government in Canada, the petition outlines "quick and targeted measures" to enable the arts community to make it past the Covid-19 pandemic and make a full recovery.

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– Acclaimed roots songsmith Justin Rutledge has been added to the very impressive lineup of the #CanadaPerforms initiative organised by the National Arts Centre and Facebook. His live-streamed performance is on Sunday (March 29) at 8 pm. Others skedded to perform on Friday and over the weekend include Serena Ryder, Vishten, James Keelaghan, Steve Hill, Jeremy Fisher Junior, and Leela Gilday. See the full sked here  

– Mercury Records/UMC has pushed back the 40th-anniversary editions of Rush’s Permanent Waves by two months, to May 29. The deluxe editions of the Terry Brown-produced album include a 40-page hardcover book, reimagined artwork by original album designer Hugh Syme, plus unreleased live tracks from the accompanying 1980 live tour recorded in the UK and the US. The set includes the trio's breakthrough hit, The Spirit of Radio.

– Vancouver singer Mathew V and platinum-selling singer/songwriter Jocelyn Alice (Jackpot) have a new music video for their current single, Missing Me. Check it out here

– Drake is currently under quarantine at his Toronto mansion after hanging out with basketball star Kevin Durant, who last week tested positive for COVID-19. This week, Drake treated fans to a tour of his sneaker closet, showing off his impressive collection of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant signature shoes. Source: WENN

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– The Toronto Blues Society has been forced to cancel some shows and workshops (you know why), but it is still accepting submissions for the 2020 TBS Talent Search. Six finalists are selected to perform for a professional development package including festival gigs, mentorship meetings, studio time, graphic design and more. The competition is slated for June 27, 2-6 pm, as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, but of course that is subject to change. Apply here

– On Sunday (March 29), Elton John will host a “living room concert” for coronavirus relief this Sunday, featuring at-home performances on the broadcast special by Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Backstreet Boys, Tim McGraw and Alicia Keys. The hour-long iHeart Living Room Concert for America airs commercial-free on Fox, and will pay tribute to the health professionals, first responders and local heroes battling the coronavirus outbreak. Source: Rolling Stone

– Soft Plastics is the new music project of Carey Mercer, former songwriter/ leader of indie rock faves Frog Eyes. The songs on a forthcoming album, 5 Dreams (Paper Bag Records - release date TBA) were written by Mercer in the fall and winter of 2018–2019, months after the dissolution of Frog Eyes. Mercer, Mel Campbell and Shyla Seller comprise this new band iteration.

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– The newly formed Live Events Coalition is calling on Congress to establish a special task force to help rescue the event and entertainment industries. Learn more here 

Kenny Rogers fans, take note. A tribute special, Remembering Kenny Rogers, premieres tonight (March 27) on SiriusXM's Prime Country Channel 58. The two-hour show is hosted by T. Graham Brown.

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– Toronto pop-rockers Monowhales have always been strongly DYI, and they have now broken the radio record for the highest-charting “not-yet-signed” band by hitting #2 on the Mediabase Canada Alternative Rock Chart with their catchy single RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down). RWLYD also reached #4 on the Billboard/BDS Canada Modern Rock Chart.

Obits

Bill Rieflin, an American drummer whose credits included work with R.E.M., Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and King Crimson, has died at the age of 59, of cancer. Rieflin’s passing was confirmed by King Crimson founder Robert Fripp in a post to social media

Rieflin played on Ministry’s 1988 album The Land of Rape and Honey, a landmark release in the industrial music genre. He continued as a member of the group through the mid-90s, contributing to five of the band’s albums.

He joined R.E.M. in 2003 as a touring member, later contributing to the band’s final three albums.

In 2013, Fripp announced that Rieflin had joined King Crimson. The drummer appeared on the band’s live album Live in Toronto 2015. He had been absent from the group since taking an indefinite sabbatical in 2019. Source: Ultimate Classic Rock

Jean Leber, French violinist conservatoire director and founder of the Paris Octet, died on March 18 of coronavirus complications, at age 80.

Leber, a key figure in contemporary music, cut his teeth playing in the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, before joining the Paris Opera.

He founded the Paris Octet with Michael Walès in 1965, and in 1972 he became director of the Conservatoire de Gennevilliers. He later took up the position of director at the Centre musical Edgar-Varèse.

As a pedagogue, Leber directed the schools of the École nationale de musique de Gennevilliers, École nationale de musique de Chartres, and chamber music classes in Poitiers. Source: ClassicFM

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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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