Music News Digest, March 31, 2022
The Sam Roberts Band (pictured) is profiled in a new documentary, MDM Recordings launches the Henry Armstrong Award, and Michael Fonfara is remembered at a star-studded memorial concert. Also making news are the TSO, Martha Wainwright, Leonard Cohen, Michael Barclay, Voivod, Nick Cave, the CFMAs, Patrick Watson, Music Nova Scotia, The Metcalf Foundation, and farewell Tabby Shaw.
By Kerry Doole
Sam Roberts Band Presents All of Us is a new documentary look at the popular Montreal band that is out now in Canada via Crave. Check out the trailer here. The film explores the recording of the band's seventh album, All of Us, during the 2020 pandemic and features an exclusive live performance of its songs and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the group and producer Gus van Go.
– Award-winning Canadian country music label MDM Recordings Inc. has just launched the Henry Armstrong Award, a bursary and mentorship program created to develop, elevate, and support the diverse talents in the Canadian Indigenous music community. The HAA is open to all Indigenous music artists across Canada (excluding residents of QC) with submissions opening April 19 and closing May 13. A juried selection process of music industry professionals will select a winner who receives a $10K bursary along with a mentorship program of professional development services, announced on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. The award is named for MDM Recordings’ president and founder Mike Denney’s grandfather Lloyd Henry and mother Gloria Denney (née Armstrong), both fellow Six Nations Lower Mohawk. More info here.
– The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recently announced its 2022-2023 performance lineup marking the institution’s 100th anniversary. This is the TSO's first full season of concerts in over two years. The season launches with a free public concert on Sept. 24. Noted cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s 50th concert with the Symphony comes at a Nov. gala event and features Indigenous singer/composer Jeremy Dutcher. In Feb. 2023, the TSO will return to its original stage with a performance at the recently renovated Massey Hall. Among the guest artists set to take the spotlight are French-Canadian cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and internationally renowned pianist Yuja Wang. See the full schedule here. Subscriptions on sale on April 8.
– Canadian music and musicians are profiled in three new books worthy of attention. Montreal-based singer/songwriter Martha Wainwright has delivered a memoir entitled Stories I Might Regret Telling You (published by Random House Canada and out now), one reportedly showing she takes after her father, celebrated folk artist Loudon Wainwright 111, and her brother Rufus in terms of candour.
There is no shortage of books on Leonard Cohen, and Matti Friedman adds to that canon with Who by Fire: War, Atonement, and the Resurrection of Leonard Cohen (McClelland & Stewart). It is an in-depth exploration of Cohen’s visit to the Yom Kippur War warzone in Israel in 1973. Also coming soon (via ECW on April 26) is Michael Barclay’s Hearts on Fire: Six Years that Changed Canadian Music – 2000-2005, an in-depth look at the Canadian artists (Feist, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire et al) that gave our country’s music scene hip credibility in that seminal period. Source: Globe and Mail
– The late great rock and blues keyboardist Michael Fonfara is being remembered by his Toronto comrades via a memorial concert, presented in association with The Toronto Blues Society, set for April 5 at The Paradise Theatre. A stellar lineup includes The Hogtown Allstars w/ special guest Donnie "Mr. Downchild" Walsh, John Finley, Danny Weis, Peter Hodgson, Alan Gerber from Rhinoceros, Prakash & Jordan John, Johnny Wright & Hotline w/ Robbie Rox, Robin Banks and more. Proceeds from the night will help to establish Registered Education Savings Plans for the Fonfara grandchildren. Fonfara passed away last year, and his impressive resume includes work with Jon, Lee & The Checkmates, Electric Flag, Rhinoceros, Lou Reed, Rough Trade, The Lincolns, Johnny Wright & Hotline, The Maple Blues Band and The Downchild Blues Band. Tix here.
– Legendary Juno-winning Quebec metal band Voivod has announced North American tour dates for this coming June, in support of the new album Synchro Anarchy, charting high on global metal charts. The tour will kick off in Trois Rivieres, Quebec on June 1, followed by shows in Ottawa, Toronto, London, and US cities, wrap up on June 19th in Boston, MA. All ticket info and links are here. Synchro Anarchy, Voivod's 15th studio album, was released last month.
– The internationally-lauded Nick Cave exhibition Stranger Than Kindness gets its North American premiere at Montreal’s Galerie de la Maison du Festival, Montreal, where it will be installed from From April 8 to August 7, 2022. A press release notes that "Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition is an unprecedented look into the creative world of musician, storyteller and cultural icon Nick Cave. With more than 300 objects collected or created by Nick Cave through six decades of his creative and private life brought together in large-scale installations, the exhibition is an artwork in itself." The exhibition is accompanied by the book, Stranger Than Kindness, a bestseller published in March 2020. Currently playing Canadian shows, Cave will be present for a Q&A session at the gallery on April 5.
– The 2022 Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMAs) return to PEI to host its 17th annual Awards celebrations in Charlottetown this week, from March 31 to April 2, and all are invited to attend virtually. The events include live performances, but all CFMA shows will continue to be streamed via the CFMA website, folkawards.ca (En) and prixfolk.ca (Fr) on Facebook and the CFMA / PMFC YouTube channel. Events include two sets of showcases (The Songs and Stories — Songwriters Nominee Showcase and Tradworks — Traditional Music Nominee Showcase) and two nights of Award Concerts, including performances by 2022 CFMA nominees. 20 CFMA awards will be presented during the two nights of Awards Concerts, held at The Guild, including the Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award presentation. Alicia Toner, nominated for the 2022 CFMA Solo Artist of the Year, will host the Songs and Stories showcase, and Reney Ray replaces Guillaume Beaulac in the lineup. More info here.
– Polaris Prize winner Patrick Watson has Better in the Shade, his seventh full-length studio album, set for digital release on April 22 via Secret City Records worldwide. Here's the first single.
– Music Nova Scotia is celebrating spring with a concert featuring new provincial talent on April 16 at the Marquee Ballroom in Halifax. The lineup features MNS Artist in residence Kxng Wooz, along with Burry, Jade Bennett, and Jayden Austin. Tix and info here.
– The Metcalf Foundation has announced the 15 finalists for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes (Johannas). The five Ontario-based winners and their protégés will be announced on May 19 at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Each winner will receive $25K and will name a protégé as a way of celebrating early-career artists who are showing formidable promise. Protégés will be awarded $10K each, double the inaugural prize year, bringing the total value of the prizes to $175K. The finalists are from the worlds of dance, theatre, and music, with those in the latter category comprising Ian Cusson, John Kameel Farah, Yaovi Hoyi (YAO), iskwē, Rosina Kazi, Juliet Palmer, and Peter “Alo” White.
Donald 'Tabby' Shaw, the lead singer of the famed Jamaican reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, was killed in a drive-by shooting on March 29, age 67.
The singer-songwriter dedicated five decades to music. The Mighty Diamonds released more than 40 albums. Comprising Tabby, Lloyd 'Judge' Ferguson and Fitzroy 'Bunny Shaw', the group was bestowed with the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for their contribution to the development of Jamaican music in 2021.
The trio broke through in the mid-1970s with the song The Right Time and was signed to Virgin Records before releasing its debut album Right Time in 1976. The group gained fame with singles Country Living, I Need A Roof, and Pass The Kutchie, which was one of the tracks on the 1981 album Changes. Source: Jamaica Gleaner