Music News Digest, Oct. 22, 2020
Bob Moses (pictured) teams up with Twitch, a Kiwi collaboration for Kacy & Clayton, and BreakOut West partners with two international festivals. Others making news include Braids, Michael Posner, Bell Orchestre, Carroll Baker, Jill Barber, Music Publishers Canada, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Shawn Hook, Stan Rogers, George Canyon, Elaine Bomberry, and farewell Spencer Davis and Gordon Haskell.
By Kerry Doole
Electronic music band Bob Moses has announced an exclusive partnership with Twitch, which will serve as the sole destination to catch future Bob Moses branded live-streams. The partnership kicks off Oct. 23 at 7 pm PST with an hour-long Bob Moses concert. Filmed live from an abandoned radio tower in Topanga Canyon, outside LA, the hour will comprise multiple sets in different configurations, drawing material from their latest project Desire and previous albums Battle Lines and Days Gone By. A live Q&A between Bob Moses’ Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, and the Twitch community, will follow. Watch a trailer for the live-stream here.
– Exciting news for roots music fans is word that a collaborative album by Saskatchewan folk duo Kacy & Clayton and acclaimed Kiwi troubadour Marlon Williams is headed our way. Plastic Bouquet comes out on US imprint New West Records on Dec. 11, preceded by a first single, I Wonder Why. The two acts have had a mutual admiration thing going on, and they reconnected last year when Williams attended Toronto's TIFF for an Australian movie he acted in, True History of the Kelly Gang. The bulk of the album was written and recorded over just three weeks in Saskatoon in Xmas 2018.
– BreakOut West has teamed up with Latin America’s Festival Cardinal and Zandari Festa, out of South Korea, to showcase performances from western Canadian artists via the festivals’ live-streamed concerts running from Oct. 23-25. Festival Cardinal will feature seven western artists (including notables Said the Whale, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, and Rayannah), plus acts from the USA, Mexico, and Latin and South America. More info here. Zandari Festa is a three-day music festival and showcase held in Seoul. The free 2020 online edition features 30 Korean and 30 international showcases, with Meghan Nash, Rumpus, and Jay Wood repping Canada. Fest performances can be viewed at live.presented.kr/zandari
–Braids will embark on their second 24 hour WWWorld Tour, on Oct. 29, live-streaming from their studio in Montreal, playing six concerts in six different time zones in one day. Tune in to their YouTube channel or on their Instagram account. The Manchester concert will be streamed via The Line of Best Fit’s Instagram account. Braids new album Shadow Offering, co-produced by Chris Walla, is out now via Secret City Records.
– Noted Canadian journalist/author Michael Posner has just published Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories -The Early Years, the first of a planned trilogy of oral biographies of the bard of Montreal published by Simon and Schuster. The Times of Israel reports that over a period of four years, "Posner has interviewed 520 people from around the world, who together span all stages of Cohen’s life and career."
– Montreal’s avant-garde outfit Bell Orchestre is back and has announced a signing to British independent label, Erased Tapes, for releases outside of Canada — ten years after the release of their last body of work. The group, who feature Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry from Arcade Fire amongst their six members, won critical approval for its first two records, 2005’s Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light and 2009’s As Seen Through Windows. To celebrate the news, Bell Orchestre shares a short film, IX: Nature That’s It That’s All, directed by band member Kaveh Nabatian who utilises 16mm processing and scans of footage from the British Pathe archives. Watch here.
– Carroll Baker, dubbed Canada’s First Lady of Country Music, is now the proud owner of the historic Port Medway Baptist Church in Nova Scotia. Through a decision by the church’s membership on Oct. 1, Baker became the successful bidder on what was her home church for years. Yorkton This Week reports that "Baker identifies strongly with the church, which was consecrated in 1872. The first time she sang on stage was in the building at a Christmas concert. She plans to keep it a functioning church that holds weddings and funerals.
– Nominations for The Independent Blues Awards are now open, with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2021. There is no cost involved for the artist. More info here.
– On Nov. 20, Live Nation Canada/Shocap Entertainment resurrect Vancouver’s historic Palomar Supper Club to present Jill Barber and her Phantom Jazz Band. The event is described as "a live-streamed immersive musical experience that combines virtual reality and XR technology in which viewers will be transported back in time through the doors of a long-since demolished live music venue. Tickets are on sale now at jillbarber.com.
Expect the eclectic Barber to showcase her critically acclaimed repertoire of folk, vocal jazz, pop, and songs in both French and English, The famed Palomar Supper Club stood at the corner of Burrard and Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver from 1937 to 1955, attracting such stars as Nat King Cole, The Ink Spots, Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong, and more.
– Music Publishers Canada will soon present its Music Tech Summit. This is a members only event, but a Keynote address by Mark Mulligan from MIDiA Research is open to the general music industry. Held on Nov. 2 at 1 pm EST, this presentation will explore how Covid-19 has affected the music business, in terms of creators, audiences and business models, as well as building a view for what the next 12 months will look like and then the state of the industry beyond that. Register for the keynote here.
– Juno-nominated soulsters Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar have released a new gospel-infused single, I’ve Got a Feeling. The group's new album, The Reckless One, comes out on Nov. 20 via Gypsy Soul Records.
–Shawn Hook has a live-stream concert with @sessionslive tonight (Oct. 22) at 9 pm ET. He'll preview a new EP Take Me Home, out tomorrow (Oct. 23). Free tickets here.
– The 30th Montreal international First Peoples Festival launches three concerts online, all recorded at the Cabaret le Lion d'Or in mid-September. They will premiere on Oct. 29-31 on the site presenceautochtone.ca, and feature Laura Niquay and Gotta Lago (Oct. 29), Backwater Township (Oct. 30), and, on Oct. 31, Moe Clark with Nina Segalowitz, David Ryshpan, Mark Nelson and Marino Vazquez. All concerts start at 7 pm EST.
– On Nov. 1 (at 7 pm EST), an online concert celebrates the musical legacy of the late Stan Rogers with an all-star cast of singers and musicians including Rogers' record producer, Paul Mills, James Keelaghan, Dan McKinnon and members of Rogers' immediate family. The Home County Music & Arts Festival in partnership with the Home Routes present this tribute to the folk great. Home County was originally planning to present this show live at Aeolian Hall in London but due to the pandemic, it has been rescheduled for the Fall of 2021.
– Country star George Canyon brings his #VeryAcousticChristmas to Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, BC, for four holiday shows, Dec. 17-20, There are just 50 tickets available per show in this socially distanced safe event! Tix here. Luca Fogale plays the same venue, Dec. 4-5.
– The Western Swing Authority, Canada’s leading Western Swing group, is releasing a new single and video today (Oct. 22), This Old Bar. The video (below) addresses the lack of places for people to hang out with friends or see their favourite bands, and was inspired by the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill, Ontario, where WSA first played together. To compile the video, WSA and its label, Curve Music, started sending messages to venues all over North America to see if they would be willing to send footage of their venues sitting and waiting with no bands and no people inside. Many did send in pictures and videos, reinforcing the song's poignant message.
– Toronto Blues Society continues to celebrate 25 years of Rez Blues, highlighting the best Indigenous blues talent Canada has to offer. The Pioneer Profile Series returns with longtime Rez Blues producer Elaine Bomberry, in conversation with TBS co-founder Derek Andrews. A free event, at 8 pm EST live on TBS' Facebook page on Oct. 23. RSVP here.
– The Ontario Creates Discussion Series explores best practices, knowledge sharing and networking for the creative industries. The next session, on Oct. 30, discusses the Digital Marketplace during Covid-19. Hear from content creators from across the sectors about how they adapted to the challenges of this new business landscape, and what are some of the opportunities and strategies Ontario companies can use to ensure their content thrives in the online marketplace. Join via Zoom here
Spencer Davis (born Spencer David Nelson Davies), founder of the '60s English rock band The Spencer Davis Group, died on Oct. 19 from pneumonia, age 81.
The Welsh guitarist was the driving force behind The Spencer Davis Group, who scored transatlantic hits with Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me.
The band, which also featured a teenage Stevie Winwood, toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones in the '60s.
The son of a paratrooper, Davis was born in Swansea in 1939 and first started learning harmonica and the accordion at the age of six.
He moved to London to work for the civil service at the age of 16, but later relocated to Birmingham, where he taught German by day, and played in local clubs at night.
Inspired by blues and skiffle, he formed a band called The Saints with Bill Wyman, later a member of the Rolling Stones; and performed folk music with Christine Perfect - who, as Christine McVie, became a core member of Fleetwood Mac's classic line-up.
It was with his eponymous rock group that he struck gold. Formed in 1963, The Spencer Davis Group featured Davis on guitar, a teenage Stevie Winwood on organ and vocals, his brother Muff on bass, and Peter York on drums.
Originally called The Rhythm & Blues Quartette, they changed their name in 1964 when Muff pointed out that Davis was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews - the logic being that the rest of the band could slope off to the pub while he handled the press.
Their breakout hit, Keep On Running, was a cover of a song by West Indian performer Jackie Edwards. When it topped the UK charts in 1966, it knocked the double A-sided Beatles single We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper from the top slot - and Davis received a telegram from the band congratulating him on the achievement.
Somebody Help Me, another Jackie Edwards cover, gave the quartet a second number one in March 1966.
The band went on to prove they had songwriting chops of their own, with hit singles like I'm A Man and Gimme Some Lovin', which was later covered by The Blues Brothers.
The Spencer Davis Group also recorded the theme song for the long-running children's TV show Magpie.
By 1966, the band had starred in their own film, a musical comedy called The Ghost Goes Gear, which found the band stranded in a haunted manor. Davis also made a cameo in The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, as a bus passenger.
Hits followed in the US, although the band never toured there; while Davis's ability with languages (he was fluent in German, French and Spanish) helped the band further their career in Europe.
According to official UK charts, The Spencer Davis Group had two No. 1 hits including four top ten hits and seven singles which made the top 40.
The group came to an untimely end in 1967 when, at the height of their fame, Winwood quit to form Traffic, leaving Davis without his dynamic frontman.
The band recorded a few more minor hits, but broke up soon after, with Davis moving to California, where he embarked on a short-lived solo career.
At the time, he later claimed, he was near to bankruptcy, thanks to a punitive contract with Island Records. He was rescued when a track he wrote with Eddie Hardin, Don't Want You No More, landed on the Allman Brothers’ Beginnings album.
He then mended fences with Island, working in artist development at the label in the mid-70s. There, he helped to promote newcomers like Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and Eddie And The Hot Rods, as well as working alongside Winwood, who was now establishing himself as a solo artist.
Davis returned to songwriting with 1984's Crossfire, which featured contributions from Dusty Springfield and Booker T.
He subsequently reformed the Spencer Davis Group - minus the Winwood brothers - with whom he toured the world for the rest of his career, often playing more than 200 shows a year.
A Canadian connection for Davis was his production of the 1981 Downchild album, Blood Run Hot, released on Attic. On Facebook, the band's Gary Kendall recalls that "Downchild circa 1981 was a very reckless group to put it mildly. It was like adding a Welsh gentleman to the Wild Bunch. Spencer was a real nice guy, very easy to get along with, and navigated the chaos pretty well. When the record came out we followed it up with a short tour with Spencer. It was a lot of fun to be able to play his hits in our show, Gimme Some Lovin, I`m A Man and Keep On Running. I was a big fan of The Spencer Davis Group so getting to know him, work with him and call him a friend was a thrill. I value the time I had with him." Sources: BBC, NME, Variety
Gordon Haskell, the English guitarist and singer who scored a huge chart hit late in his career, has died aged 74. No cause has been reported.
He released his first album in 1969, but failed to make the UK charts for the next three decades, despite releasing eight more solo albums.
However, his 2001 track How Wonderful You Are became a surprise hit, reaching number two in the UK singles chart. It was narrowly beaten to the Christmas number one spot by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman's Somethin' Stupid. How Wonderful You Are from surpassed The Beatles' Hey Jude and Frank Sinatra's My Way in becoming Radio 2's most-requested song ever. The album the track was taken from, Harry's Bar, also reached number two.
Haskell had previously played in The Fleur de Lys and spent a short period as a bassist and singer in King Crimson in 1970 alongside his old Dorset schoolmate Robert Fripp.
In 2002, Haskell told the BBC he made his records the old-fashioned way, and claimed his late arrival had struck "a blow for the old school" and rocked the music industry machine.
Earlier in his career, Haskell had replaced Greg Lake as singer and bass player in King Crimson His former band noted how his time with them "wasn't a particularly happy part of his long career" but that his work on their second and third albums, The Wake Of Poseidon and Lizard, is still "much admired in the Crimson community".
Musical differences caused Haskell to leave the band soon after, as he preferred a more raw and soulful sound; and objected to having his vocals manipulated in the studio.
Prior to that, he had enjoyed relative success around the world playing bass in the psychedelic pop band The Fleur De Lys - an Atlantic Records session band. During this period, Haskell also briefly shared a London flat with guitar sensation Jimi Hendrix.
He released his first solo album in 1969, with his 13th and final one, The Cat Who's Got The Cream, arriving in Jan. 2020. Source: BBC