Music News Digest, May 8, 2020

The Tenors release a new video for Mother’s Day, James Barker Band has live streamed 50 shows, and 120 Diner closes down. Also in the news are Junos 365 Songwriters Circle, Gordon Lightfoot, Midem, Uptune, Contact East 2020, Halifax Pop Explosion 2020, The Royal Foundry, Mississauga'sConcert of Hope, TOBi, and farewell Millie Small, Florian Schneider, Sweet Pea Atkinson, and Brian Howe.

Music News Digest, May 8, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The latest single from The Tenors is Mother, an original song the star vocal group says "is dedicated to Moms everywhere and the amazing work they continue to do throughout these extraordinary times and long thereafter." The accompanying video is both poignant and timely.

– Canadian country combo James Barker Band certainly isn't being idle in these covid days. Last night (May 7), the group hosted its 50th consecutive live stream show, presenting  tonight with special guests The Reklaws, Jade Eagleson, Chad Brownlee, Brett Kissel and Dallas Smith. JBB has been hosting these live streams every day since March 19 on all group platforms including  InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube and  Tik Tok.


– Launched by CBC Music and CARAS, Junos 365 Songwriters Circle is presented by SOCAN, in association with Music Publishers Canada. Adapted from the popular Juno Week event that was cancelled due to covid-19, the second episode of the series runs May 15. It features Rose Cousins bringing together stories and songs from Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies), William Prince and Tenille Townes. The remaining three episodes will be released every other week on Fridays until June 26. Tune in on FacebookYouTubeCBC Gem or at 8 pm ET.

– The acclaimed recent Gordon Lightfoot documentary, If You Could Read My Mind, will get a US release on Greenwich Entertainment this summer. Read an FYI story on the doc here.

– And another one bites the dust. The latest covid casualty on the Toronto music club scene is the 120 Diner and Club 120 on Church Street, now permanently closing their doors due to the financial strain of the pandemic. Since opening in 2014, the 120 Diner has hosted live jazz almost every night, and has been a beloved spot for musicians and jazz fans alike. Co-owner Todd Klinck announced the news in a Facebook post on May 6. Source: Jazz FM


– Midem has announced the 20 finalists for the 2020 Midemlab music tech startup competition, which will take place during the Midem Digital Edition June 2-5. The 13th year of the competition saw 226 submissions from 49 countries. The 20 finalists include 5 startups from each of four categories. The Live Music Experiences finalists include Canadian company Uptune, which provides a suite of software tools helping musicians improve their sound.

– The voting deadline for the 2020 CMAOntario Awards has been extended to May 10. Members can vote here.

– The Atlantic Presenters Association has cancelled Contact East 2020, originally scheduled for Sept. 24-27 in Moncton, NB, amid ongoing covid-19 concerns. Contact East 2021 is planned for Sept. 23-26, 2021, in Moncton.

– The deadline for applications to play Halifax Pop Explosion 2020 has been extended to June 12. The event is planned for Oct. 21-24, but the pandemic situation may still threaten this.

– Edmonton’s The Royal Foundry performed a NAC live stream concert (#CanadaPerforms) last night (May 7). The band has just released a video for Okay?, the third single from 2019 album Wakeup, Wakeup. The clip features the work of Calgary animator Hudson Munshaw.


– The Mississauga Arts Council presents Rise Up Mississauga - Concert of Hope, tonight (May 8) 7:00 PM on Facebook Live @missartscouncil. Contributors include Patti Jannetta-Baker, Matt Zaddy and Heather Christine, the Dreamboats, Arlene Paculan, Queen Pepper, Alessia Cohle, Jacelyn Holmes, Jeff Jones, Michelle Deneault, Stephanie Braganza, Tom Barlow and David Leask.

– Brampton hip-hop artist TOBi recruits some ace Toronto  top talent for his new track and video, 24 Toronto Remix, including Haviah Mighty, Jazz Cartier, and Shad. The video, featuring a tour of T.O., was made with a 2020 Music Video Production (MVP) Project grant earlier this year.



Millie (Millicent Dolly May) Small, the Jamaican singer who introduced the world to ska with her hit My Boy Lollipop in the 1960s, died May 5, of a reported stroke, age 73.

My Boy Lollipop became the first Jamaican song to make it on to the British and American music charts, reaching number one in Britain and number two in the United States in 1964. The song was produced by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and guitarist Ernest Ranglin, and Jamaica's first million-selling single.

Small was the daughter of an overseer on a sugar plantation and the youngest of a family of 12. In 1960 Small won a singing contest at the Palladium Theatre in Montego Bay. This success led her to team up with Roy Panton, at just 12 1/2 years old, to form the duo Roy & Millie, and they recorded the local hit songs We'll Meet and Sugar Plum with Sir Coxsone.

When Blackwell was 26 he heard one of Small's local hits and convinced Sir Coxsone that he could launch her career if she came under his management. Blackwell took her to England in late 1963 when she was old enough to travel alone.

Blackwell convinced Small to do a cover of an American rhythm and blues song, My Boy Lollipop, originally done by Barbie Gaye in 1957.

Small enjoyed popularity and success during the early period of her career, generating a media frenzy in the US on her first visit. She returned to Jamaica to a massive welcome home party. She was escorted by police motorcycle to greet Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante and the governor-general.

Probably the highlight of her success and popularity occurred when she returned to the United States for the New York World's Fair 1964. The organizers had designated August 12 as Millie Small Day at the fair.


Small recorded a number of other songs; however, only two others became hit singles — Sweet William and Bloodshot Eyes. Her song called Oh Henry was also popular.

Her recording career ended in 1970, and she moved to Singapore. She reappeared on a London news report in 1987, poor and living in a youth hostel with a young daughter. Speaking in 2016, she said: “I focused on being a mother from 1984 when my daughter was born, and since then I’ve been happy living a quiet life, sleeping and dreaming and meditating.”

On August 6, 2011, the 49th anniversary of the Jamaica's Independence, Small was conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) for her contribution to the development of the Jamaican music industry. The award was accepted on her behalf by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. Sources: Jamaican Observer, The Guardian

 Florian Schneider, a co-founder of pioneering German electronic band Kraftwerk has died, of cancer, age 73.

In a statement, Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hütter confirmed "the very sad news that my friend and companion over many decades Florian Schneider has passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday."


Schneider formed the influential group and multimedia project with Ralf Hutter in 1970, working out of their electronic Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf (Germany). All the Kraftwerk catalogue albums were conceived and produced there. In 2014 Hütter and Schneider were honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.

Kraftwerk's creative peak came in the '70s and '80s, with songs like Autobahn and The Model, and its influence on '80s synth-pop artists was huge. One admirer, David Bowie, entitled a composition on his album Heroes V2 Schneider, in tribute.

Schneider left the group in 2008, but Kraftwerk has continued to tour in recent years. Sources: Billboard, Variety

Sweet Pea Atkinson, an in-demand backing vocalist and a member of Was (Not Was)  passed away on May 5, at the age of 74, after a heart attack.

While Was (Not Was) became Atkinson's claim to fame, it was also the stepping stone into a career that included two solo albums -- Don't Walk Away in 1982 and 2017's Get What You Deserve -- and membership in another band, the Boneshakers.

He also spent a decade on the road with Lyle Lovett and sang on records by Bonnie Raitt (including her Grammy Award-winning Nick of Time), Bob Dylan, Elton John, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Iggy Pop, Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Bob Seger, Keb' Mo, and others.

While working at a car plant in Detroit in the ‘70s, Atkinson sang in a local band called Hi Energy, and that is when Don Was first met him. He remained a staple in the Was (Not Was) lineup over the years and was also a key voice in Was' Orquestra Was and its 1997 Hank Williams covers album Forever's a Long, Long Time -- as well as the Grammy Award-nominated short film that accompanied it. Source: Billboard

Brian Howe, the lead singer of Bad Company, has died aged 66. The performer was believed to be on his way to hospital when he died of a heart attack.

Bad Company originally formed in 1973 by Free singer Paul Rodgers and Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. After Rodgers left to form another supergroup with Jimmy Page, the Firm, Bad Company recruited Howe in 1986, and he went on to perform on four subsequent albums.

The band was at a low ebb when Howe joined, having fallen from their peak 70s popularity with platinum-selling albums such as their self-titled debut, Straight Shooter, and Run With the Pack. But after helping to steer them away from the poppier sound of flop album Fame and Fortune, he returned them to success with 1990’s Holy Water, another platinum-seller in the US.

The UK-born Howe initially performed with heavy metal band White Spirit. He was hired to perform vocals with US guitarist Ted Nugent, touring with him and singing on his 1984 album Penetrator. Following his subsequent spell with Bad Company, he released three solo albums and briefly collaborated with Megadeth.

He continued touring until close to the end of his life, with dates across the US throughout 2019. Source: The Guardian

50 Cent

50 Cent


50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

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