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FYI

Music News Digest, Nov. 1, 2019

Loreena McKennitt (pictured) is putting her music career on hold, Sean Pinchin and Sandra Bouza head to Memphis, and Andrew Loog Oldham will now teach in Kamloops. Also in the news are SUMMIT, Music Nova Scotia, ALGMS, Renegade Studios, BTS,  Justin Bieber, Metalworks, and farewell Littles the General.

Music News Digest, Nov. 1, 2019

By Kerry Doole

Internationally-renowned world music artist Loreena McKennitt has announced she is putting her music career on hold to more fully focus her energy on the battle against the harmful effects of technology and threats posed by global warming. In a press release, McKennitt explains that "As a mother and a citizen, it is hard to sit idly by. I genuinely believe that we as citizens have been called to action, particularly on these two vital fronts, and we must be prepared to make sacrifices if we’re to be successful in dealing with them."

“I’m not quitting per se, just positioning these issues as higher priorities than my career,” adds the self-managed artist, who outlined her plans on Sept. 26 during a speech to the Rotary Club of Stratford. Today (Nov. 1), McKennitt releases a new album, LiveFrom The Royal Albert Hall.  She closes out her Lost Souls world tour with shows at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall tonight, Ottawa's NAC (Nov. 2), and Sherbrooke's Salle Maurice-O’Bready (Nov. 3). McKennitt has sold more than 14 million records worldwide.


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– The Toronto Blues Society (TBS) has announced that Sean Pinchin is the winner of this year’s Toronto contest for the International Blues Challenge Solo/Duo Category while Sandra Bouza took the first place for the Band Category. They will be representing the Toronto Blues Society in Memphis between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1, 2020.

– SUMMIT, a new two-day event designed to uplift and inspire emerging creatives, runs Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Artscape Daniels Launchpad in Toronto. Speakers at SUMMIT include a fashion designer, an installation artist and industry tastemakers from The Drake, Arts+Crafts, Vice and Sony Music. Passes and info here  

– Former Rolling Stones manager and famed rock producer Andrew Loog Oldham will soon be seen in an unlikely locale, Kamloops, BC. The CBC reports that, starting January, Oldham (now 75) will teach a course about the evolution of pop culture from 1954 to 1984 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. Oldham, the Stones' first manager, discovered Marianne Faithfull and produced records by Rod Stewart, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Humble Pie, Donovan, Eric Clapton, and many more. He has been splitting his time living in Bogota, Colombia and Vancouver since 2003. Oldham is not the only major international rock producer to settle in Canada. Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company) is now based in Toronto, and John Punter (Roxy Music, Japan, Slade), has long called Peterborough home and recently became a Canadian citizen.

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– On Nov. 10 (at noon) at the Holiday Inn, Truro (during MNSW), Music Nova Scotia is partnering with a team from Apple Music for a free presentation on how the service can work an artist, manager or independent label. RSVP here

– The Big Butter & Egg Men are winners of this year's Amy Louie Grossman's Music Scholarship (ALGMS) for Toronto blues artists. Now in its eighth year, this artist development bursary, backed by a yearly fundraiser, presents an act from the Greater Toronto Area $2K to help advance their career. For the first time, ALGMS awarded an honourable mention; Mike Nagoda was given $500.

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– Musicians are scrambling as one of Vancouver’s largest rehearsal facilities suddenly announced its permanent closure on Monday. Renegade Studios at 3030 East Broadway closed its doors on Oct. 30, reports Vancouver Courier. About 50 musicians are out of a space, along with visual artists and dance and theatre groups. Owner Jim Buckshon said the closure comes as a result of a protracted battle with the property owner over promised repairs that never materialized.

–  K-pop sensation BTS has now topped the Billboard Social 50 chart for 150 weeks, and now threatens Justin Bieber's all-time record of 163 weeks at No. 1. Now at No. 36, the Biebs has racked up a total of 427 weeks on the chart.

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– ELEVATE Music Project is a new initiative created to help reignite Vancouver’s live music scene and support local emerging artists. Applications close Nov. 4 for the preliminary round of showcases during November.

– Famed recording studio Metalworks has an open house at its campus (3611 Mavis Road, Mississauga, ON) on Nov. 3 at 1 pm. RSVP here

RIP

Littles the General (born Ryan Lorde), a Nova Scotia-born, Georgetown-based, hip-hop artist and promoter, was shot and killed on Oct. 29, age 36.

As an artist, Littles was a vocal member of the Toronto-based group, The Offense, who famously took on Drake and The Wise Guys in what is considered Drake’s first official rap beef. He made music for several more years before switching his focus to management and promotions.

He had been working with Mississauga’s Syph of Nu Money Gang and Toronto artist, Dutch Revz, and, earlier, with Sayzee and Devon Tracy. Read more at Hip-Hop Canada

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Celine Dion
Courtesy Photo

Celine Dion

Pop

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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