Music News Digest, May 27, 2020

Kaelan Roddy wins the final OMA, Joey O’Neil (pictured) starts a virtual tour, and POP Montreal brings Le Funhouse fest. Also in the news are Arthaus, CIMA, MMF, WHOOP-Szo, Martha and The Muffins, Land of Talk, Ken Tizzard, and farewell Jimmy Cobb, Bucky Baxter, and Allan Baekeland.

Music News Digest, May 27, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The final episode of the Oshawa Music Awards on May 23 featured Kaelan Roddy’s composition Durham Road receiving the OMA’s Song of the Year Award. It beat out songs by Karrie Lynn Dymond and Josh Kvasnak of the Doozies. The show’s stream also featured a special Durham Strong celebration of the music industry, hosting the messages of notable individuals, OMA team members, and musicians. The OMAs were presented via eight weeks of online live segments. 

– A collaboration between Arthaus, Serena Ryder and Dr. Anita ShackThe Art of Wellness: Finding Balance (Level 1) is a six week online program for the arts community starting June 2. Through weekly 90 minute sessions, participants will develop tools and practices to master stress reactions and find balance — using meditation, breath, and movement, to find clarity, calm, and connection in ways that are instantly applicable in everyday life.  For a limited time, this is a complimentary course, and the first round is already filled. Another round of signups is now open. More info and registration here 


– Women in Music & CIMA present a Zoom session entitled Entrepreneurship & Economics: Changing Times on May 28, 1-2 pm. Featured speakers are Shauna de Cartier (Six Shooter Records) and Heather Gibson (National Arts Centre). The session focuses on the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship and restructuring economic models to reflect the changing industry landscape. Register here 

– Yukon-based folk-country songstress Joey O'Neil has started a virtual tour in support of her new LP Ever Ahead. It began last night (May 26), and runs until June 2, with O'Neil performing every evening from her camper at 6 pm PT/9 pm ET via Instagram Live as she makes her way back home to the Yukon. Click here to tune in.

– Today (May 27) at 1 pm ET, Music Managers Forum (MMF) hosts a webinar entitled Safer Music Spaces: The Practical and the Virtual. Presented by Stacey Forrester from Good Night Out Vancouver, the session will introduce participants to some of the core concepts of ‘safer spaces’ and share practical tools to help prevent and address issues of harassment and misconduct, as the industry seeks to rebuild. Register here


– The POP Montreal 2020 line up is TBA, but the fest's  Le Funhouse is a 3-day festival taking place June 5-7, broadcasting from a virtual Rialto Theatre. Expect concerts, fashion, contemporary art, artisans, films, panel discussions, workshops, and the best of 2020’s online clubs featuring Club Quarantine and Transmission.

– Indigenous rock band WHOOP-Szo will release an EP of remixes of their acclaimed recent album, Warrior Down, on June 5.  Contributions come from Zoon, DOOMSQUAD, Ice Cream, AG47 (nêhiyawak), and more, and 100% of proceeds generated will benefit Life Spin for covid-19 Relief.  A listening party hosted by Exclaim! will take place June 4. More details TBA. 

– Martha and The Muffins, the Toronto duo of Martha Johnson and Mark Gane, have taken a song from the 1984 album Mystery Walk, Come Out and Dance, and reworked it as a social distancing meme called Stay Home and Dance. The pair states "we send Stay Home and Dance out to spread a little light and as a heartfelt thank you to all the doctors, nurses, first responders, farmers, truckers, factory and postal workers and the countless others who are keeping it together for all of us


– Land of Talk, the Montreal-based band led by Elizabeth Powell, has shared the video for new track Diaphanous, the opening cut from the forthcoming album Indistinct Conversations, out July 31 via Dine Alone Records. On June 7 at 4:30 pm EST, Powell has a livestream performance as part of POP Montreal via


– Rootsy singer/songwriter Ken Tizzard (The Watchmen) performs as part of the NAC live-stream series on May 28 at 7 pm. Expect a mix of originals and covers of Ron Hynes and other artists.


Jimmy Cobb, a jazz drummer best known for backing Miles Davis on a string of iconic records, including 1959’s Kind of Blue, has died from lung cancer at age 91.

He also worked with Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley.

Cobb, born in Washington D.C. in 1929, began his touring career with saxophonist Earl Bostic in 1950. This led to a cascading series of gigs with vocalist Dinah Washington, pianist Wynton Kelly, and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.

His most famous work arrived at the end of that decade: Along with Davis’ modal, melodic masterpiece Kind of Blue, he joined the trumpeter on several other albums, including 1959’s Porgy and Bess, 1960’s Sketches of Spain, 1961’s Someday My Prince Will Come, and the 1962 live set Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall.

But Kind of Blue remains an unparalleled jazz landmark, and Cobb’s shimmering cymbal work and feather-light pulse helped the album achieve its otherworldly sense of cool.

“Miles would tell us all little things to do and then have us work off his idea,” Cobb told Billboard in 2019. “He trusted all of us because he knew we were all good musicians. He didn’t really have to do anything else but say what he wanted doing. One time he tried to tell me something about playing the drums with both hands, and I turned to him said, ‘Um, let me play the drums!’ But we were good friends, so I could say things like that to him without worrying about getting fired.”


In the late Fifties, Cobb also played on Wayne Shorter’s debut LP, 1959’s Introducing Wayne Shorter, and a string of albums from John Coltrane, including his influential 1960 record Giant Steps (on the song Naima).

Cobb issued his first set as bandleader, So Nobody Else Can Hear, in 1983. He released his two final albums, This I Dig of You and Cobb’s Pocket, in 2019.

He continued performing and was scheduled to appear at Hugh's Room Live in Toronto earlier this year, but illness intervened. Sources: Rolling Stone, NPR

Bucky (William) Baxter, an ace pedal steel guitarist who worked extensively with Bob Dylan and Steve Earle, died on May 25, age 65. No cause reported.

Baxter began studying pedal steel guitar in the 1970s. In the 1980's, he played on Steve Earle’s influential 1986 debut, Guitar Town, along with other classic Earle LPs like 1988’s Copperhead Road and 1990s The Hard Way. Baxter also toured with Earle as a founding member of his longtime backing band the Dukes.

During a tour with Earle, he met Bob Dylan, who asked Baxter to give him steel guitar lessons. In 1992, he joined Dylan’s band as steel player and multi-instrumentalist, hitting the road on Dylan’s storied Never Ending Tour. Baxter travelled the globe with Dylan through 1999, playing more than 750 shows, including a 1995 MTV Unplugged concert, and adding pedal steel to  Dylan’s Grammy-winning 1997 album, Time Out of Mind.


Post-Dylan, he released the solo instrumental album Most Likely, No Problem in 1999 and began touring and recording with Ryan Adams. He also contributed steel guitar to records by Kacey Musgraves, Old Crow Medicine Show, and those by his own son, Rayland Baxter, including 2018’s Wide Awake. Source: Rolling Stone Country

Allan Baekeland, a Calgary-based musician who worked in The Now Feeling, Lost and Profound, and The Rembetika Hipsters, died on May 23, of cancer, age 60.

Baekeland and Terry Tompkins formed psych-rock band The Now Feeling in 1983 and released one album, From Haloes to Lampshades (1988), prior to breaking up. The group reunited in 2012, releasing two more albums, TheNow Feeling and The Now Feeling Return. 

Tompkins and Baekeland started the band Lost and Profound with vocalist Lisa Boudreau and relocated to Toronto. Baekeland played on that group's self-titled 1992 album, out on Polygram, and added guest vocals on the second, Memory Thief. 

After relocating back to Calgary in 1995, Baekeland helped form the Greek music-accented combo Rembetika Hipsters. He also performed solo, and had one song, Drinkin' Ex And Askin' Why, featured on the 1991 Moose Records album, Moose: The Compilation.

Baekeland also hosted shows at campus radio stations in Calgary and Toronto over a long period. Terry Tompkins tells FYI that "we bonded over CJSW as he had a show there when I first met him. They had no budget then, and I remember that he borrowed my New York Dolls records to play on his show, soon after we met. Allen is legend at CJSW, having sat in to save it from being shutdown."

CJSW confirms Tompkins' recollection in its tribute to Baekeland, noting that "in 1980 Allen, who was then CJSW’s Station Manager, locked himself inside our studios to prevent the nascent University of Calgary Student Radio Society from being forced out of their space by the student government of the day. This event was a watershed moment for what would eventually become CJSW 90.9FM. Had Allen not been around to defy the rules, albeit, at the expense of his job, it is highly doubtful that CJSW would have ever gained an FM license in 1985." 

Upon returning to Calgary, Baekeland began hosting The Boot Heel Drag on CJSW, a show focusing on the best in country music that ran from 1996-2002. He continued to volunteer at the station, and sat on the 2019/2020 CJSW Programming Committee.

Tompkins also recalls his comrade as a master of the mixtape. "His music knowledge was stunning and he used to, in the days of cassettes, make me mixtapes that turned me on to such great music, and really widened my scope of musical interest. I'm sure anyone who got an Allen Baekeland mixtape remembers how impeccably they flowed together. I loved being in the Now Feeling with him, and I'm so glad we got to make those two great albums. We were starting to talk about doing another, alas it is not to be." Sources: CJSW, Terry Tompkins, Discogs

Celine Dion

Celine Dion


Céline Dion Rumoured for Paris Olympics Comeback Performance

The Quebec superstar hasn't performed since before the announcement of her Stiff Person Syndrome diagnosis in 2022, but she could be singing at the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26.

A Canadian icon may be making her return to the stage this week.

Céline Dion hasn't performed since before she publicly announced her diagnosis with Stiff Person Syndrome in December 2022, but the superstar reportedly planning a comeback performance at the Paris Olympics. Variety reports today (July 23) that Dion is rumoured to be singing during the Opening Ceremony this Friday, July 26.

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