Music News Digest, Nov. 19, 2020

Scott Helman (pictured) makes his video directing debut, Indie Week gets the thumbs up, and Amaal stars on Juno TV. Also making news are Byta Internet, Tom Wilson, iskwē, CityFolk, Shaye Zadravec, Dave Young, Jeffery Straker, Lou Molinaro, Colonel Tom and the American Pour, Tom Cochrane, MMF, and farewell Bruce Swedien.

Music News Digest, Nov. 19, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Toronto pop singer/songwriter Scott Helman has made his debut as a video director, helming the clip for his latest single Lois. Helman and longtime collaborator Ben Knechtel shot the video over two days last month in Huntsville, Ontario. Lois is featured on Helman’s album Nonsuch Park (sa), which was released in Sept. The album, the follow-up to his 2017 debut Hôtel de Ville, also includes the hits Wait No More and Everything Sucks. Helman is preparing to return to the stage for a concert on Sessions Live at 9 pm EST on Nov. 26, presented by iHeartRADIO.  Tickets here.


– The reviews and numbers are in, and they show that last week's virtual version of the annual Indie Week conference was a real success. Organisers note that “more than 1000 participants experienced the conference online that brought together topics of diversity and equality in the music industry, educational components on how to grow audiences and monetize music online as well as high level presentations on building strategy. The online platform statistics included; 357 049 sponsor impressions, over 7000 messages facilitated, 575 participants in meet-ups, and 82 community boards created. Moving online allowed that networking to go global, as 40 countries were represented by the attendees and speakers of the conference.

Bob Bender, host of The Business Side of Music, stated “I've been involved in quite a few 'online' conferences this year, most of them disappointing to say the least. Then there is Indie Week. Probably the most organized and professional event I've seen so far this year.” IW founder Darryl Hurs stated "my expectations were surpassed and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

– CARAS has announced the release of the fourth episode of Juno TV’s docuseries, Rising. The latest installment, now streaming on the Juno Awards Facebook and YouTube channels, highlights Somali-Canadian singer-songwriter from Toronto, Amaal. The digital content series, presented by TD, has garnered over 850K streams across all platforms. 


– Earlier this week, the Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the final recipient for the third cohort of the Creative Export Canada program, Alberta's Byta Internet. This project entails a platform that enables users to send and receive digital audio in a clean, simple and secure way. Byta will create several new business and networking opportunities and will introduce, develop, and expand its brand into three new international target markets: the US, Australia and Brazil.

This funding follows three announcements this month of a total of $7,945,400 to be awarded as part of the third cohort for the Creative Export Canada program. This round includes 16 separate cultural projects from across Canada that represent a variety of different cultural industries, including the audiovisual, interactive digital media, music, publishing, visual art and design industries. Source: Canadian Heritage 

– Hamilton rocker/author/activist Tom Wilson (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond) is hosting a protest event, Coast to Coast Unity Fire, on Sun. Nov. 22, at 4 pm ET. This is in honour of 125 days of Haudenosaunee land defense at 1492 LandBackLane, in the Six Nations reserve near Caledonia. Wilson was recently arrested by the OPP in connection with this protest, and he's inviting those wishing to show support to light a fire-a campfire, a fireplace, or even a candle. This campfire will be live-streamed and yours and other fires can join the event live or in a pre-recorded submission. The Zoom Video Meeting link is here. Donations are being accepted at the 1492 Land Back Lane legal defence GoFund Me.


– In other Tom Wilson news, he recently partnered with fellow Indigenous singer/songwriter iskwē for a new version of Blue Moon Drive, a song Wilson originally recorded for his acclaimed 2015 Lee Harvey Osmond album Beautiful Scars. The collaboration stemmed from the 2020 Indspire Awards in Ottawa, when Wilson and iskwē sang together for the first time. The song, recorded live off the floor from Jukasa Studios in Six Nations, ON, features trumpeter Chuck Copenace and an all-star cast of players.


–Ottawa's CityFolk fest is proceeding as a 2020 Virtual Edition, Nov. 27-28, this year. An impressive list of artists giving exclusive performances, streamed interactively, includes Steve Earle, Hawskley Workman, Devin Cuddy, Hannah Georgas, NQ Arbuckle, Jason Isbell, Ben Caplan, Tim Baker, Great Lake Swimmers, Wild Rivers, The Abrams, and Theo Tams. Tickets here  

– Calgary-based folk singer Shaye Zadravec recently released a new album, Now and Then, featuring her fresh take on tunes by the likes of Joan Besen, Lynn Miles, Roy Forbes, and Ian Tyson. The most left-field song choice is Skyway, written by US rocker Paul Westerberg of The Replacements, now chosen as her new single. More on Zadravec in FYIhere.

– Famed veteran jazz bassist and composer Dave Young releases a new quartet recording. Ides of March, on Nov. 20 (on Modica Music). This is the follow up to his 2019 disc Trouble in Mind, a trio outing nominated for a 2020 Juno Award. His all-star quartet features Reg Schwager, Kevin Turcotte, and Terry Clarke. Young has been a first-call bassist for the likes of Oscar Peterson, Lenny Breau, Oliver Jones, Cedar Walton, and has worked with Peter Appleyard, Renee Rosnes, Don Thompson, Joe Sealy, Molly Johnson, Guido Basso, and countless more. Here's the new album's title track.

– Last week, Saskatchewan singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker released a festive new EP, This Christmas, and he has also announced his 2020 tour A Very Prairie Christmas. Barring a pandemic lockdown, it begins in Moose Jaw on Dec. 1 and stops in 11 venues across SK and AB. Dates here.


– As co-owner of Hamilton's best rock club, This Ain't Hollywood,Lou Molinaro has been a popular key player on the city's music scene. TAH sadly closed its doors over the summer, and Molinaro has just announced his new gig, teaching Talent Buying & Venue Mgmt at Harris Institute in Toronto. A great fit, so our congrats! Molinaro also hosts a great rock 'n roll radio show on CFMU, Lou's Control, running 3 -5 pm every Wed.

– Popular Toronto retro-country band Colonel Tom and the American Pour (featuring Alex Pangman) is live-streaming a show via their Facebook on Nov. 21, at 8 pm. 

– On Dec. 3, MMF Canada (Music Managers Forum) is teaming up with the Cultural Human Resources Council to offer an in-depth session, Respectful Workplaces in the Arts, facilitated by Farah Fancy. More info here 

– Tom Cochrane and Red Rider have announced a full band live-streamed performance via Sessions Live, set for Dec. 19. Tickets here.

– The RBC Launchpad music entrepreneurship program is a new platform dedicated to supporting and empowering local emerging artists, music creators, and entrepreneurs. The deadline for applications is Nov. 22. More info here 



Bruce Swedien, a US recording engineer and music producer, died on Nov. 16, at age 86. No cause of death has been reported.

A five-time Grammy winner, he recorded, mixed, and assisted in production on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and work by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock,  Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, and many more.

Swedien first came to recognition for his work in 1962 on Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons' No. 1 hit Big Girls Don't Cry.  He started his studio career in Chicago, working at Universal Studios under chief engineer Bill Putnam. He first met Quincy Jones when Jones was vice president for Mercury Records in Chicago. The two men worked on albums for artists like Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. Swedien later moved to Brunswick Records in the late 1960s and 1970s where he ran and developed the label's studios and sound. The label was responsible for numerous R&B and pop hits during that time, with artists such as The Chi-Lites, Tyrone Davis and Jackie Wilson.

Swedien is known for pioneering the "Acusonic Recording Process", pairing up microphones together on vocals and instruments, a technique enabled by synchronizing several multi-track recorders with SMPTE timecode. This achieved an enhanced roomy ambient sound, some of which is evident on albums produced in collaboration with Jones on such tracks as George Benson's Give Me the Night, and the Michael Jackson albums on which he had worked.

Minneapolis-born Swedien was a five-time Grammy Award winner and he received 12 additional nominations. Source: Wikipedia

Big Boi

Big Boi


CNE Bandshell Gets Big Boi, Sloan, Big Wreck And More For Throwback Summer Concerts

The headliners tie together the Toronto waterfront series' '90s and 2000s revival theme, while contemporary acts like MacKenzie Porter, Ruby Waters, Tynomi Banks and more will keep things current.

Toronto's CNE Bandshell concert series is leaning into big nostalgia this summer, with major '90s and 2000s acts headlining the throwback-themed lineup.

OutKast rapper Big Boi, Canadian-American rock band Big Wreck, and east coasters Sloan are leading the summer music programming at the Canadian National Exhibition, a major entertainment fair that takes over the Exhibition Place grounds every August.

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