Music News Digest, May 16, 2018

A roundup of news and gossip about musicians, bands, associations and other components that fit under the umbrella of the music business today, and delivered with brevity and elan.

Music News Digest, May 16, 2018

By Kerry Doole

A just-announced tour pairing Drake and Migos is expected to be one of the biggest of the year. Entitled the Aubrey And The Three Amigos Tour, it will help promote Drizzy's upcoming fifth album Scorpion, expected in June. The 41-date tour kicks off in Salt Lake City on July 26 and wraps up in Atlanta on Nov. 17. Included are two Toronto shows at the Air Canada Centre, Aug. 10-11, a Sept. 4 stop at Montreal's Bell Centre, and two shows at Vancouver's Rogers Arena, Nov. 3-4.

– In other Drake news, NOWreports that he has Deep 6iXed his much-hyped Toronto restaurant Frings, set to close its doors on King West on June 23, after just two years. Pick 6ix, OVO's collaboration with Montreal chef Antonio Park, is still operating.


– Last week, SOCAN presented a 2017 SOCAN Award and two No. 1 Song Awards to representatives of Kobalt Music Publishing U.K. while they were visiting our country during Canadian Music Week, meeting with various organizations with which they’re affiliated. The International Award from the 2017 Montréal SOCAN Gala was for “Kiss Me,” performed by Olly Murs, and co-written by SOCAN members Yannick Rastogi and Zacharie Raymond, along with Gary Derussy (SACEM), Taio Cruz (PRS), Olly Murs (PRS), Steve Robson (ASCAP), and Lindy Robbins (AMRA).

Kobalt was also recognized with a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for publishing Ria Mae's radio hit “Bend.” The song was co-written by Ria Mae, Joel Stouffer, Adam King, and Serena Ryder, and co-published by Nettwerk Music Group Inc., and Universal Music Publishing Group Canada.

The publisher's other honour was for their work with “Not Nice,” performed by PartyNextDoor. The song was co-written by PartyNextDoor, Drake, Noah "40" Shebib, Paul "Nineteen85" Jefferies, Carlo "Illangelo" Montagnese, Andrew "Dre Skull" Hershey (ASCAP), Dwayne "Supa Dups" Chin-Quee (ASCAP), and Adidja “Vybz Kartel” Palmer (BMI). The song is co-published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada, EMI Music Publishing, and Warner Chappell Music Canada Ltd.


– Israel has won the Eurovision song contest with pop star Netta Barzilai’s entry "Toy." She was awarded 529 points, beating favourites Cyprus into second place. Accepting her prize in the Altice Arena in Lisbon, the  25-year-old Netta told the Eurovision hosts: “I’m so happy, thanks for choosing difference, thank you for celebrating diversity.” Source: The Guardian

– Canadian publisher Eternal Cavalier Press has announced the release of its 6th title, Shine: How A MuchMusic Compilation Came to Define Canadian Alternative Music And Sell A Zillion Copies. As that lengthy title indicates, this is an in-depth look at the success of 1996's smash hit Canrock compilation Big Shiny Tunes. Authored by music scribe Mark Teo, it will be launched at Toronto's Supermarket club on May 26. The pwyc event features music by Mike Trebilcock of The Killjoys (a band featured on the album), plus an author's reading.

– Gordon Lightfoot is not usually identified as jazz, but we're sure he's thrilled to be included in the star-heavy lineup of the upcoming Blue Note JazzFestival. Comprising over 100 events in five venues throughout New York City, it runs June 1-30. Joining Gord on the bill are Chris Botti, Art Garfunkel, Gregory Porter, Al Di Meola, Gordon Lightfoot, The Manhattan Transfer, Eddie Palmieri, Tab Benoit, Sergio Mendes, Robert Cray, Bilal, Southside Johnny, and more.


– The Georgia Straight reports that Vancouver-based MRG Group has acquired Donnelly Events, the local company behind numerous festivals, street parties, and awards ceremonies. MRG owns and operates venues in Vancouver and Toronto, including Biltmore Cabaret, Dublin Calling Sports Pub & Kitchen, and the Vogue Theatre, the historic spot it restored and reopened in 2008. The MRG Group's events division heads up such outdoor happenings as Toronto's Budweiser County Fair.


Donnelly Events is to continue to use its original moniker, working out of MRG’s offices in Toronto and Vancouver to stage newly-expanded events including North Vancouver’s Shipped Waterfront Festival and Richmond World Festival. Read an earlier FYI Profile of MRG head Matt Gibbons here

– Ontario indie pop-rockers The Kents have announced a string of summer tour dates, including a run of Atlantic Canada shows and performances at Hillside, Sound of Music, and Beaches Jazz Festivals. The group's latest release, Within Waves,  has helped them surpass 2M streams on Spotify and garnered profile appearances including SiriusXM's Live@TheVerge, CBC Radio's The Strombo Show and MLB's World Series. Tour dates here

– Toronto world music ensemble Near East is releasing a self-titled debut album as a part of Small World Music’s 16th Annual Asian Music Series. The concert takes place at the Small World Music Centre (180 Shaw Street) on May 19. Comprising local favourites Ernie Tollar and Ravi Naimpally and up-and-coming artist Demetri Petsalakis, the trio combines elements of both raga and maqam to create a unique and richly textured sound. More info here


Glenn Branca, the US guitarist and composer, has died at age 69, of throat cancer. The avant-garde NYC musician is credited with inspiring such bands as Sonic Youth.

He formed the group Theoretical Girls in the late '70s, then had a major impact with his 1981 experimental album The Ascension.

In 1982, Branca launched his record label, Neutral Records, which released the eponymous debut album from Sonic Youth. David Bowie also counted Branca as an influence, including The Ascension on a list of his 25 favourite albums.

Branca also famously conducted a symphony of 100 electric guitars at the base of the World Trade Center just months before the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, he was honoured with the prestigious Grants to Artists Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Artists. Source: The Guardian


Scott Hutchison, frontman for the Scottish indie-rock group Frightened Rabbit, died last week, at age 36. His body was found near Edinburgh on May 10, shortly after his family and bandmates reported him missing and expressed concern for his “fragile state.”  

Hutchison was known for writing emotionally raw folk-rock songs. Though not a household name outside their native Scotland, the group could fill 2,000-capacity venues around the UK, which boded well for the prospects of their next album, which had been expected later this year.

His 2006 debut album, Sing the Greys, was as part of a duo with his brother Grant. A second album, The Midnight Organ Fight, helped Frightened Rabbit earn a US following. Three more albums followed, plus a solo LP under the name Owl John. Sources: The AV Club, The Guardian

Celine Dion
Courtesy Photo

Celine Dion


Celine Dion Battled Extreme Muscle Spasms From Stiff-Person Syndrome With Dangerously High Doses of Valium: ‘It Could Have Been Fatal’

The singer opened up about her decade-long struggle with the rare neurological disorder in Tuesday night's (June 11) primetime NBC special.

Celine Dion was so desperate to alleviate the pain from severe muscle spasms during her secret, nearly two-decade-long battle with the rare neurological and autoimmune disease Stiff-Person Syndrome that she took near-lethal doses of Valium in search of relief. In her one-hour primetime NBC special on Tuesday night (June 11), Dion said she took up to 90 milligrams of the medication used to treat anxiety, seizures and muscle spasms, an amount that is more than twice the recommended daily dose.

“I did not know, honestly, that it could kill me. I would take, for example before a performance, 20 milligrams of Valium, and then just walking from my dressing room to backstage — it was gone,” Dion said of the instant pain relief the medication offered at levels, however that “could have been fatal” if she’d continued at that pace. “At one point, the thing is, that my body got used to it at 20 and 30 and 40 [milligrams] until it went up. And I needed that. It was relaxing my whole body. For two weeks, for a month, the show would go on… but then you get used to [and] it doesn’t work anymore.”

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