Music News Digest, Nov. 1, 2021

The Weeknd leads Canadian nominees for the American Music Awards, Indie Week announces some featured speakers, and more stars are named as CCMA Awards performers. Also in the news are Theo Tams, Bryan Adams, Universal Honey, the Royal Conservatory of Music, Folk Alliance, Music BC, and farewell Adam Balsam (pictured).

Music News Digest, Nov. 1, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Nominations for the 2021 American Music Awards have been announced, and The Weekend tops the list of Canadian contenders with six nods, just one less than the leading nominee, Olivia Rodrigo. Rodrigo, The Weeknd, BTS, Drake and Ariana Grande will face off for artist of the year against Swift. Justin Bieber and Daniel Caesar also scored nods, and Canada dominates the Favourite Male Pop Artist category, with The Weeknd, Drake And Bieber cited alongside Lil Nas X and Ed Sheeran. The fan-voted AMAs take place in Los Angeles on Nov. 21. See the full list of noms here


– Indie Week,  online Nov. 9-13, has announced its first slate of featured speakers that include Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Marky Ramone, Steve Stewart (CEO, Vezt, Inc.), Margaret McGuffin, (CEO, Music Publishers Canada), and Michael Anthony Alago (the former Elektra Records exec who signed Metallica). Over its five days, IW will present 100+ speakers,and 50+ sessions. Info and tix available here.

–Award-winning Toronto R&B/pop artist Theo Tams has received justified praise for his two recent Trilogy EPs. His brand new track, a compelling cover of the  Destiny Child classic, Say My Name, is the first in a series of covers to be shared ahead of Trilogy III’'s release.

 – The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Corus Entertainment have announced more names set to perform at the CCMA Awards show, Nov. 29 at Budweiser Gardens in London, ON.  Don Amero, Lindsay Ell, Robyn Ottolini, and Tenille Townes will join previously named artists Tenille Arts, Tim Hicks, Dustin Lynch, MacKenzie Porter and Dallas Smith. Tix available here.  

– Bryan Adams recently tested positive for Covid, forcing the cancellation of his planned appearance at the Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sat. He had been scheduled to participate in the tribute to new inductee Tina Turner by performing their hit duet song It's Only Love. Adams is reportedly fully vaccinated and not experiencing covid symptoms. Keith Urban stepped in to replace Adams at the show.


– Though group principals Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair remain active with the roots-accented band Tucker Lane, the pair also put out new tunes as Universal Honey, the band they formed in the '90s after leaving The Pursuit Of Happiness. Here's a new single.

– The Globe and Mail reports that Canadian concert pianist Stewart Goodyear has been appointed the Royal Conservatory of Music’s first-ever artist in residence. In addition to annual performances at Koerner over the course of his three-year term, Goodyear will conduct master classes, deliver content for the school’s certificate program and be involved in the newly renamed Oscar Peterson School of Music.  On Nov. 27 at Koerner Hall, he’ll perform the world premiere of his new Piano Quintet with the Penderecki String Quartet. 

– Folk Alliance is again offering first-timer artist and industry scholarships to attend the 2022 conference. For the Jan. 2020 conference in New Orleans, FA awarded 250 first-timer scholarships. The application deadline for artists has been extended to Nov. 17, and industry folks must apply by Feb. 4. 


Advance voting for nominees to the Board of Directors of Music BC is open, with a deadline of Nov. 1. for members in good standing. Music BC's 2021 Annual General Meeting will be held virtually on Nov. 3, from 5-7 pm ET.


Adam Balsam, drummer for Toronto bands The Wilderness of Manitoba and Mad Ones, died of natural causes last week, at age 42.

He passed away just prior to The Wilderness of Manitoba's album release show at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern. The group's manager, Graham Stairs of Popguru, released this statement: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Adam Balsam, drummer for The Wilderness of Manitoba. He was a great father, son, brother, musician, drummer and bandmate. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family. Today is a bittersweet day because we are releasing The Wilderness of Manitoba album, Farewell To Cathedral, but Adam is not here to celebrate it with us. He worked hard on the album and was so excited to share this music with everyone. So, we are dedicating its release to his memory."


The Wilderness of Manitoba's statement reads as follows: "We are heartbroken by the sudden loss of our bandmate and brother, Adam Balsam. Since joining the band in 2018, Adam has been a constant source of enthusiasm, boundless creativity and encyclopedic music knowledge. He was a truly gifted and deeply musical multi-instrumentalist whose playing was filled with passion and love. Adam’s contribution to the band’s growth is immeasurable, and he is sorely missed. We love you, Adam."

Stairs also praised Balsam to FYI, describing him as "totally reliable and someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. We often tried to out music nerd each other."

The Wilderness of Manitoba will air a live-stream digital concert (Balsam's final performance with the band) on Nov. 6, as a part of The Popguru Revue, a new live event series streamed from Revolution Recording in Toronto. This event is also now dedicated to Balsam.

Prior to joining TWOM, Balsam was the drummer for The Most Serene Republic (he joined in 2009) and he was also a member of Toronto rock trio Mad Ones as well as drumming recently for Eamon McGrath.

Mad Ones leader, Andrew DeVillers, offered this tribute to FYI: "Adam Balsam was an integral collaborator and bandmate for these past 5 years, and we were very lucky to play together all over the world. He was an expressive and unique drummer and we used to love stretching and twisting our arrangements on stage. More than anything Russ Fernandes and I will miss his gentle spirit, kindness and sense of humour."


Balsam was featured on 2017 Mad Ones album Regretless as well as the upcoming album Last Forever (out Nov. 26). He was to have played in both Mad Ones and HotKid for gigs this month (the shows will proceed).,

A funeral for Balsam will be held today (Nov. 1) at Pardes Chaim Cemetery- 11818 Bathurst Street, Toronto, at 1 pm. Everyone is welcome as long as they are double vaccinated. Memorial donations may be made to The Unison Fund.

A GoFundme campaign to support Balsam's daughter has been established. Check it out here.

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell at an interview with iHeartRadio for Billboard Canada Women in Music on June 19, 2024


Allison Russell, Charlotte Cardin, DijahSB Shortlisted for 2024 Polaris Music Prize

The Beaches, rapper TOBi, indie experimentalist Cindy Lee, and previous winner Jeremy Dutcher are also amongst the ten artists in contention for the $50,000 prize, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based solely on artistic merit. See the whole list here.

Some of Canadian music's biggest breakthroughs of the last year are facing off for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

Charlotte Cardin for 99 Nights, The Beaches for Blame My Ex, Allison Russell for The Returner and Cindy Lee for Diamond Jubilee are among the ten artists shortlisted for the 2024 award, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year.

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