Music News Digest, Oct. 5, 2020

Louis-Jean Cormier (pictured) is amongst the leading Félix Awards nominees, the MVP Project announces its new recipients, and Music Canada & CONNECT launch a new series. Others in the news include Slocan Ramblers, the Junos, SOCAN, Crack of Dawn, Melba Moore, Cœur de Pirate, Rhonda Tulk-Lane, Sinéad O'Connor, Polaris Music Prize, Barbra Lica, Ben Kunder, Halifax Jazz Festival, and farewell Rocco Prestia and Cookie Monsta.

Music News Digest, Oct. 5, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The Quebec music industry has announced nominations for the annual Félix Awards. There will be three ADISQ galas. The Industry Gala, hosted by Claudine Prévos, will be presented Oct. 26. The Premier Gala, to be broadcast Oct. 28, will be emceed by Pierre Lapointe, while Louis-José Houde will for the 15th time offer his colourful commentary on the big night of Nov. 1 for the televised Main ADISQ Gala. Leading the nominations field are Louis-Jean Cormier, Les Cowboys Fringants, Bleu Jeans Bleu, Flore Laurentienne, and Alexandra Stréliski. View the noms list here

– RBC and The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has announced the 13 grant recipients for round four of the Music Video Production (MVP) Project. The MVP Project provides music video funding for emerging artists which enables Canadian creatives to explore their craft, hone their filmmaking skills and encourage growth within their respective industries while fostering the art of the music video. See the recipients list here.


This collection of Round four recipients consisting of Canadian recording artists, producers and directors will have the opportunity to bring their music video treatments to life. For a little taste of what funding by MVP Project can lead to, check out Rich Aucoin's Walls (below). Round five submissions are now open, with a Nov. 1 deadline. Eligible emerging artists can submit an application online here.

– Music Canada & CONNECT Music Licensing have launched an  Industry Insider Video Series. The series was created in collaboration with local artist Domanique Grant and provides useful tips and resources from some of the industry's top experts on how to navigate the music ecosystem as an artist-entrepreneur. The first two episodes are now out, featuring Amanda Power, ED of Unison and Catherine Jones, ED of CONNECT. More episodes will be released in the coming weeks. View on Music Canada's InstagramFacebook, and YouTube channels (links below). 


– As reported earlier, the 2021 Juno Awards are now accepting submissions. The early bird deadline is Oct. 16, and the final deadline for submissions here is Nov. 6, 2020. For the first time, two partners are subsidizing the cost of submissions in seven categories.  Worthy of note is the division of the R&B/Soul Recording of the Year category into two unique categories: Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year and Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The change reflects the growing success of R&B artists across the country. 

– SOCAN has launched a six-month diversity review with Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario, a leader in organizational equity audits and change programs for arts organizations, as part of its goal to create and foster an even more equitable company.

– Toronto soul/funk legends Crack of Dawn return with a high-profile new collaboration. On the new track Tiempo, the band is joined by famed US singer Melba Moore, a multiple Grammy nominee and a Tony Award winner. Crack of Dawn was the first Black Canadian band to sign with a major label, having joined Columbia in 1975. The group reunited in 2012.


– Juno-nominated Toronto bluegrass group Slocan Ramblers has just won a coveted 2020 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Award, in the Momentum Band category. The band's most recent album, Queen City Jubilee, came out in 2018.

– Quebec star Cœur de Pirate returns with a new track, T’es belle, one described as a feminist anthem. The single is supported by a video created by Cœur de Pirate herself—a major first. Check it out here.

– MusicNL has announced Rhonda Tulk-Lane as its new Executive Director. The org states that "over the past 20 years, Rhonda has built strong relationships with key decision-makers including government, business and labour. She looks forward to working with the provincial membership of MusicNL and providing solutions to them during this time of change and opportunity."


– Sinéad O'Connor has returned to the spotlight with a new track, a riveting version of Trouble Of The World, a traditional song made famous by gospel star Mahalia Jackson. It is now released on Bandcamp, with 100% of revenue from the digital sales going to Black Lives Matter charities, a cause close to O’Connor’s heart.  

– The Polaris Music Prize, presented by CBC Music, has announced the Canadian filmmakers selected to create short films for the cinematic event honouring the 10 albums nominated for the 2020 Polaris Short List. These short films will stream as part of the reimagined 2020 Polaris Music Prize Celebration, set to be broadcast in Canada on the CBC Gem streaming service, CBC Music’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages and around the globe at on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET (5 pm. PT). The 2020 Polaris-winning album will be revealed live at the end of this event. 

– Toronto jazz/pop singer-songwriter Barbra Lica has released a new song called Hello From My Basement, with all proceeds from Bandcamp sales going toward the Daily Bread Food Bank. Lica says she has raised “a few hundred dollars” for the food bank in order to help out those who have struggled to make ends meet during the Covid-19 pandemic. She hopes sales of her music can raise even more. She terms the timely tune "the musical encapsulation of that early dystopian period in our lives as I saw it, as somebody who’s a true extrovert." Source: JazzFM 

– Toronto-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Kunder released his third album, Searching For The Stranger, on Friday, via Comino Music. It was co-produced with Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sound, as well as with Chris Stringer at Union Sound Company. Kunder hosts his first-ever global album release party on Oct. 8 at 7 pm ET. Broadcast live from Union Sound Company Studio in Toronto, it features Kunder and a full band and will be filmed and directed by Mat Dunlap (Sheepdogs, Terra Lightfoot). The show is being broadcast to Ben’s Facebook Live and YouTube channel. Tix are available here.


– The TD Halifax Jazz Festival is now accepting artist submissions for HJF 2021. After a year of adapting and virtual offerings, HJF is looking ahead to a strong line-up for the 35th edition, running July 13-18, 2021. Artists can apply for free here, up to Jan. 5.

– CROW. Bar and Variety in Collingwood, ON, is the latest music venue to fall prey to the pandemic. In a recent FB post, the owner explained that "Sadly, takeout isn’t cutting it for us. We sincerely appreciate the support you have all given us over our 3 short years and especially since we closed our doors in March. We are closing up shop effective immediately." Those lamenting the loss include Danny Michel, who thanked the venue "for hosting many of my 'School Night Mondays' series and so many other shows, incredible meals & laughs."



Francis Rocco Prestia, legendary Tower of Power bassist, died on Sept. 29, aged 69, after a brief time in hospice care.

The fingerstyle funk master is acknowledged as one of the most influential bassists of the past 50 years. His style defined the East Bay funk and soul sound spearheaded by Tower of Power.

Born in Sonora, California, Prestia started playing electric guitar as an adolescent. When he auditioned for Emilio Castillo's band, Tower of Power, Castillo persuaded him to switch to electric bass.

Prestia worked with the band for the next three decades, before he became seriously ill in 2001. His fans and friends created a foundation in order to help pay the artist's medical costs. In 2014, Prestia underwent successful liver transplant surgery.

Prestia was a master of fingerstyle funk, a technique in which he lightly muted the strings with his left hand to get a percussive sound, with the pitch remaining clear and accurate. That characteristic sound, in combination with a highly rhythmic approach to bass lines, makes Prestia's sound unmistakable

Along with James Jamerson, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Jackson and Alphonso Johnson, Prestia belonged to a generation of musicians that fostered a revolution on the electric bass—inspiring the innovative work of Jaco Pastorius in the mid-1970s. Prestia cited James Jamerson and the different musicians who worked for James Brown (particularly Bootsy Collins) as his main influences.

He released one album as a bandleader, 1999’s Everybody on the Bus!. Sources: Guitar World, Celebrity Access, Wikipedia, Brian Rachlin

Cookie Monsta (born Tony Cook), a longstanding bass music producer, has died at age 31.  No cause of death is being provided, with his label Circus Record Circus stating on Oct. 2 that, "0ut of respect for Tony's family, we will hold off on commenting any further until deemed appropriate."

The UK-born producer was a veteran on the global bass music scene and played many of the world's biggest dance music festivals, including Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, Electric Zoo and Glastonbury. Source: Billboard

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Live Nation Will Soon Face DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit: Report

Federal regulators are reportedly planning to sue the concert giant over claims that it abused its dominance to undermine competition.

The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to sue Live Nation over alleged violations of federal antitrust laws, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

A lawsuit will be filed within weeks that alleges the concert giant leveraged its dominance over the live music industry to undermine competition for ticketing, the Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Few other details about the planned case were revealed.

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