Music News Digest, March 28, 2022

Charlotte Day Wilson (pictured) will perform at  the Juno Songwriters Circle, the Stones will release Live At The El Mocambo in May, and Roberto Occhipinti launches The Next Step. Others in the news include Tami Neilson, Banx & Ranx, Art d‘Ecco, Jerry Leger, Shaela Miller, Charlotte Cornfield, Aviv, Theo Tams, Maria Muldaur, Heavyweights Brass Band, Danny Michel, and farewell Jeff Carson and Taylor Hawkins.

Music News Digest, March 28, 2022

By Kerry Doole

The Juno Songwriters’ Circle, presented by SOCAN Music and FACTOR) in association with Music Publishers Canada, is set for Massey Hall in Toronto on May 11, at 8 pm. The impressive lineup comprises Charlotte Day Wilson, Serena Ryder, TOBi, The Weather Station, and more tba, with Tom Power hosting. Tix here, with $1 from every ticket sold going towards MusiCounts.

– Quickly attracting attention is news of the release of a Rolling Stones live album, Live At The El Mocambo, on May 13. This is the first official appearance of the group's two now-legendary secret concerts at the 300-capacity Toronto club in March 1977. The album, available on CD, vinyl and digitally, features the Stones' full set from the March 5 show, plus three bonus tracks from the March 4 gig, newly mixed by Bob Clearmountain. Only four of the performances found their way onto the Stones' 77 Love You Live album. Two tracks from the shows, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll and Rip This Joint, are now available on all digital services. For these two shows, the Stones masqueraded as the Cockroaches, with radio station contest winners attending thinking they were there to see April Wine.


– On March 23, acclaimed Toronto jazz bassist/composer/producer Roberto Occhipinti hosted a launch party and performance for his new release, The Next Step (out on his Modica Music imprint), at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro. Accompanied by fluent pianist Adrean Farrugia and stellar drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy), Occhipinti premiered his lyrical new compositions and a fresh take of Jimmy Rowles ballad The Peacocks to a full and appreciative house. Simply superb. Those spied enjoying the music and pre-show soiree included jazz vocalist/scribe Ori Dagan, Juno-winning piano virtuoso Hilario Duran, Toronto Jazz Festival head Josh Grossman, music writer Nicholas Jennings, TV producer/writer Carol Hay, drummer Martin Worthy, and label veterans Warren Stewart and Paul White. This evening felt like the good old pre-Covid days. Thanks to ace publicist Jane Harbury.


– Now based in New Zealand, Canadian roots music dynamo Tami Neilson recently had an experience she terms a career highlight. Flying up from Down Under to perform at SXSW in Austin, she got an invite to perform at Willie Nelson’s famed Luck Reunion shows. Willie has long been a musical idol for Neilson, and having him join her onstage for a song there gave her a ‘pinch me’ moment.

– Lethbridge singer/songwriter Shaela Miller has been named the winner of the final Project WILD after a finale at the King Eddy in Calgary on March 26. This earns her $100,953 in prize money, while runners-up Kyle McKearney and Drew Gregory won $75K and $50K respectively.

– Universal Music Canada (UMC) has announced a new partnership with multi-platinum producer-songwriters Banx & Ranx (Zacharie “Soké” Raymond and Yannick “KNY Factory” Rastogi). This deal features an artist agreement to release their own music, and an A&R partnership to co-sign artists to UMC and their own label, 31 East. The Latin Grammy-nominated duo has amassed over 2B streams and more than 1B YouTube views worldwide, producing, co-writing and collaborating in three languages with stars like Dua Lipa, Blackpink, J Balvin, Ty Dolla, Shenseea, Sia, David Guetta, Ellie Goulding, Sean Paul, Diplo, Major Lazer, Gorillaz and more. 


– Glam rocker Art d‘Ecco reportedly made a splash at the recent SXSW in Austin and he has just released a new single and video, Palm Slave. A new full-length is expected via Paper Bag Records later this year. He has upcoming shows at Edmonton's Winterruption (April 1) and Calgary's Big Winter Classic, April 2. Tix here.

– Toronto roots troubadour Jerry Leger is receiving deserved kudos for his new album, Nothing Pressing (out on Latent). On March 31, he launches it with a Toronto release show (backed by Hugh's Room Live) at the Paradise Theatre, accompanied by Dan Mock, Kyle Sullivan, Alan Zemaitis, Tim Bovaconti and Angie Hilts. Tix here.


– After recent SXSW gigs, acclaimed Ontario roots singer/songwriter Charlotte Cornfield is continuing an extensive North American tour that includes a Toronto show at Longboat Hall on May 19. She heads to the UK for dates in Oct. Her 2021 album, Highs In The Minuses, continues to earn positive notices. Full itinerary here

– 16-year-old Toronto indie popster Aviv is making major moves fast. After generating millions of streams independently, she started releasing singles for Photo Finish Records/Dine Alone, who will release her debut album, Drowning In The Culture, on April 15. Her profile will be boosted as an opening act on a 12-date Canadian arena tour with Imagine Dragons, starting April 10. 

– Toronto pop singer/songwriter Theo Tams continues to release well-crafted singles full of emotional resonance. The latest is Tongue Tied, described by Tams as "a bit of a queer anthem. It was inspired by my engagement to my partner, and how when we announced it to our families, we weren't really met with a ton of support and excitement. We still have a lot of support, even familial support has come around, but in that moment it was us against the world. Tongue Tied captures a moment that reflects, at the end of the day, I know you're mine and I'm yours."

– Kudos to Blue Frog Studios in White Rock, BC, for securing folk/blues great Maria Muldaur's only Canadian date on her current US tour. The April 16 show will be filmed and live-streamed in front of a live studio audience at Blue Frog's state-of-the-art video recording theatre. Tix here.


– Fans of New Orleans-accented brass band music in the GTA should put April 8 in their live music calendar. On that date, The Heavyweights Brass Band and Big Smoke Brass Band share a potent bill at Supermarket in Toronto. Tix here.

– When travelling musicians visit New Orleans, highly enjoyable experiences generally follow. That was sadly not the case for noted Canadian singer/songwriter Danny Michel's recent trip to The Big Easy. He contracted Covid there and had to be hospitalized, before being able to fly home last Friday. On FB, Michel posted this: "I do NOT recommend getting stranded in another country, alone, sick with Covid. It’s not fun. Stay safe out there folk."


Jeff Carson (born Jeffrey Lee Herndon), a country music hitmaker and Academy of Country Music Award-winner, died on March 26, of a heart attack, age 58.

Carson was born in Tulsa and began his musical career early on singing in church. After forming a band in Rogers, Arkansas, Carson eventually moved to Branson, Missouri where he wrote songs and played around locally before moving to Nashville where he began recording demos, including tracks by Tracy Byrd, Tracy Lawrence, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill, among others.


In 1995, Chuck Howard was instrumental in getting Carson his recording contract at Curb Records, and soon a single, Yeah Buddy, was released to radio. His first charting single, it was followed up with Not On Your Love which went number one. The following single, The Car, reached No. 2 and won Carson his first Academy of Country Music award for Video of the Year.  In total, Carson’s career achieved 14 charted singles on the Billboard chart.

In 2009, Carson retired from music to become a law enforcement officer in Williamson County, Tennessee, where he currently remained on the police force.

Carson returned to music in 2019 signing a singles deal with MC1 Nashville to recut and release a previously recorded song, God Save The World, which charted on the Music Row Top 40 chart. Most recently Carson signed with Encore Music Group and was in the studio with Buddy Hyatt recording a specialty album to be released later this year that included duets with Michael Ray, Darryl Worley, Mark Wills, and Craig Morgan. Sources: 2911 Media, Forbes

Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters drummer, died on March 25, aged 50. No cause of death has been reported, though multiple drugs were found in his system.

“The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins,” the band’s official account tweeted. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever. “Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time.” 

The Foo Fighters are on tour in South America and Hawkins was found dead in his hotel room in Bogota, Colombia, prior to the band's scheduled appearance at the Festival Estereo Picnic in that city on March 25. The rest of the group's South American tour has been cancelled.

Tributes have been flowing for Hawkins, who had drummed for 25 of Foo Fighters’ 28 years of existence after taking over from original drummer William Goldsmith in 1997. One Canadian homage, posted on Facebook, came from The Dirty Nil: "We had the honour of playing with the Foos in 2019. Way before our respective sets, we saw Taylor Hawkins and DG watching every band play from the side stage. They were all smiles, enthusiastically reacting to everything they saw and heard. Despite being the biggest band in the world, they were just 2 guys on their own little Rock n roll journey, a part of the continuum rather than perched atop it."

A Californian, Hawkins had a strong career connection with Canada. He toured as Sass Jordan's drummer, then toured with Alanis Morissette for nearly two years at the height of her fame, before joining Foo Fighters after hearing their previous drummer had left. “I scrambled to get Dave Grohl’s number and called him,” Hawkins said last year. “I thought Alanis wanted to go in a more laid-back direction, and it seemed like the right time to jump. Alanis didn’t need me!”

Hawkins played on Foo Fighters' eight studio albums since, beginning with There Is Nothing Left To Lose in 1999. The Guardian notes that "Known as a highly endearing and energetic showman, Hawkins was probably the most prominent member of the group after founder and frontman Dave Grohl, regularly appearing alongside Grohl in interviews and playing roles in the band’s videos. He also starred in Foo Fighters’ recently released horror-comedy film Studio 666 with the rest of the band.

Aside from Foo Fighters, Hawkins led his own band, Taylor Hawkins and The Coattail Riders, and that group released three albums. Sources: The Guardian, Rolling Stone, AP

Céline Dion in 'I Am : Céline Dion'
Prime Video

Céline Dion in 'I Am : Céline Dion'

Tv Film

Céline Dion Calls Prime Video Documentary 'A Love Letter To My Fans' In a Message at Her Montreal Premiere

The Quebec artist is as vulnerable as ever in 'I Am: Céline Dion,' which premiered on June 17 before its official release on June 25. Here's what we learned from the sneak peek of the film, which is raw and vulnerable and sometimes hard to watch.

The Maisonneuve Theater in Montreal was packed to celebrate Quebec's national treasure, Céline Dion.

Monday evening, June 17, Prime Video organized a handful of previews of Irene Taylor's highly anticipated documentary I Am: Céline Dion. In Montreal, where Billboard Canada was among the guests, many people came to attend the special screening.

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