Music News Digest, May 1, 2020

City Councillor Joe Keithley (pictured) has written a pandemic song, Make Music Matter uses music to promote mental health, and Sultans of String win two IMAs. Also in the news are Alessia Cara, Drake, Hillside Festival, RBC Bluesfest, Battle of Santiago, Tenille Townes, CIMA, Record Store Day Canada, TBS, Shade, and farewell Tony Allen. With video.

Music News Digest, May 1, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Forever to be known as leader of D.O.A. and a punk rock pioneer, Joe Keithley is now a City Councillor in Burnaby, BC. To raise spirits in this pandemic era, he has written a new song, We’re All in This Together, and enlisted Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley on bass and backup vocals on the track. "Joe wrote this great song, and I hope it energizes and fortifies people to stay strong,” said Hurley. “It calls on us to double down on our commitment to each other and beat covid-19.”

– Ottawa-based non-profit Make Music Matter has launched a series of techniques to help individuals de-stress and strengthen their mental health through a new campaign: Music Reconnects Us: 6 Steps to Relieve Stress with MusicThe resource guides people to become mindful of their psychological and physiological state. Make Music Matter supporters including General Romeo Dallaire, Cone McCaslin (Sum 41), and Steve Kane, President of Warner Music Canada, took part in a video message released this week to promote the initiative.


– Winners of the 18th annual Independent Music Awards announced earlier this week include Toronto world music group Sultans of String, who took home two trophies. The track The Grand Bazaar, featuring guests Béla Fleck and Robi Botos, won for Instrumental Song, while SoS leader Chris McKhool and John "Beetle" Bailey won as World Producer. Other prominent IMA honorees included Lucinda Williams, Jesse Malin, Jonatha Brooke, The Dollyrots, STORRY, and Sekou Andrews.

– Drake’s habit of surprise releases continues. Hits Daily Doublereports a new mixtape, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, came out last night, via OVO/Republic. The 14-track project has guest features from Future, Young Thug, Playboi Carti, Chris Brown, Giveon, Fivio Foreign, and more, and includes the chart-topping Toosie Slide. Word is a sixth studio album arrives this summer.


–  Alessia Cara plays the character Jane Willoughby in Netflix's animatedfeature The Willoughbysthat is marked a top priority for the movie streamer. Variety calls it "a delightful, sugar-rush" and CTV's Richard Crouse "a delightfully dark tale about true value of family". Cara also earns distinction in co-writing and performing the lead song I Choose. Other stars include Ricky Gervais and Martin Short.

– Guelph's Hillside Festival is the latest pandemic casualty. The next edition is set for July 23-25, 2021. 

– Also announced as cancelled this week is Ottawa's RBC Bluesfest. The 27th edition had been planned to run July 9-19. All ticket purchasers will be entitled to a full refund, with details coming soon.

City and Colour (aka singer/songwriter Dallas Green), has released a remix for the track Song of Unrest, entitled Song of Unrest (Isolation Remix). It is available exclusively via City and Colour's Bandcamp today (May 1) for 24 hours. The release aligns with Bandcamp waiving all artist fees. The track is available to purchase at a $2 minimum, and all profits from the sale of the remix will be shared between Food Banks Canada and Feeding America.

– CIMA is partnering with CARAS /The Juno Awards for a webinar previously planned for Juno Week. Now set as a Zoom webinar for May 6, it tackles the topic of release strategy. Speakers are Erin Kinghorn, Mike Denney, Evan Newman, and Stephanie Hutchinson. Register here  


– Toronto's Afro-Cuban ensemble Battle of Santiago, whose new album ‘Queen & Judgement hit the airwaves this morning, was a labour of love for the band who brought parts of it to life in Cuba and left (just in time) with good memories, great stories, and some awesome visuals. Grammy-winning Andres Levin (David Byrne, Childish Gambino) and Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dirty Nil, Weaves) are credited as producers on the album.


Tenille Townes will release her highly anticipated debut album, The Lemonade Stand, June 26 via Columbia Nashville in partnership with RCA Records. 

– The June 20 date for Record Store Day Canada, itself a replacement for the original April 18 event, has been cancelled due to ongoing store closures resulting from the pandemic. Instead, the titles originally slated for release are to be divided up over three Saturday "RSD Drops": Aug' 29, Sept. 26, and Oct. 24.  An updated version of the release list with drop dates assigned to each title will be issued June 1; however, a preliminary list can be viewed here.

– The Toronto Blues Society (TBS) is partnering with the City of Toronto for the new City Hall Live Live Stream series on Facebook. First up is Raoul Bhaneja on June 4, at noon. Live Stream will be available to watch on the TBS Facebook page and City Hall Live's page. City Hall Live will raise money for Unison Benevolent Fund and create paid opportunities for local musicians. The itinerary of events can be viewed here.

– In other TBS news, the application deadline for this year's Talent Search is extended to May 31. As the Toronto Jazz Festival is postponed to a later date, TBS will be holding the judging virtually. Submission of live performance videos within the application is now mandatory. Apply here 

– Hamilton rock band Shade shares its latest single, Morningmaker, taken from the album Combat Rave, released today (May 1) via Sleepless Records. 


Tony Allen, the Nigerian-born drummer described as a pioneer of Afrobeat, dies April 30, at age 79. No cause of death has been reported.

Allen had a long collaboration with bandleader and world music star Fela Kuti. Allen performed in and musically directed Kuti’s band Africa '70 in the Sixties and Seventies. He was described by Brian Eno and Damon Albarn as the greatest drummer on the planet,


Kuti and Allen recorded more than 30 albums together, before going their separate ways in the late Seventies. Kuti, who died in 1997, had previously said: “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.”

In the Noughties, Allen worked with musicians such as Albarn, Flea (from Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and Jeff Mills, releasing his last album Rejoice, a collaboration with the late Hugh Masekela, in March 2020. Sources: The Independent, Rolling Stone

Big Boi

Big Boi


CNE Bandshell Gets Big Boi, Sloan, Big Wreck And More For Throwback Summer Concerts

The headliners tie together the Toronto waterfront series' '90s and 2000s revival theme, while contemporary acts like MacKenzie Porter, Ruby Waters, Tynomi Banks and more will keep things current.

Toronto's CNE Bandshell concert series is leaning into big nostalgia this summer, with major '90s and 2000s acts headlining the throwback-themed lineup.

OutKast rapper Big Boi, Canadian-American rock band Big Wreck, and east coasters Sloan are leading the summer music programming at the Canadian National Exhibition, a major entertainment fair that takes over the Exhibition Place grounds every August.

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