Music News Digest, Sept. 10, 2020

The biggest hit by Rough Trade (pictured) enters the CSHF, Shawn Mendes partners with TIFF, and the Kensington Market Jazz Festival goes virtual. Also in the news are US visa fee increases, Unsigned Only, Play The Parks: Calgary, Sam Roberts Band, The Dirty Nil, Ever New, CIMA, Edgar Breau, Storry, Brian Blain, MMF Canada, Music Nova Scotia, David Dacks, and farewell Ronald Bell and Simeon Coxe.

Music News Digest, Sept. 10, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has announced the song induction for the breakthrough hit, High School Confidential, written by Carole Pope and Kevan Staples, founders of the band Rough Trade. Described by the CSHF as “one of the most controversial songs in Canadian music,” it was written as an anthem to teenage hormones. The song’s openly gay and sexually explicit lyrics, paired with their captivating live shows and a controversial television moment, propelled Rough Trade from the underground Toronto club scene to the national spotlight, and helped usher in a new era of sexual openness for LGBT and women artists. The CSHF will present the song induction to Pope and Staples today (Sept. 10), airing on CTV’s Your Morning at 8:45am ET.  Following the virtual presentation, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame will be adding the song to its permanent and interactive exhibition at the National Music Centre in Calgary.


– Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes will perform at the 2020 TIFF Tribute Awards on Tues. Sept. 15. Presenters for the broadcast include Olivia Colman, Regina King, Ava DuVernay, Colin Farrell, Jodie Foster, Delroy Lindo, Tabu, and more. The show airs at 8pm ET/PT on CTV and everywhere CTV content can be found, and streamed internationally by Variety, during this year’s 45th annual Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF is also partnering with the Shawn Mendes Foundation to present a new $10,000 award in support of civic-minded cinema. The Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award will be given to a festival film that tackles issues of social change. The winner will be chosen by the TIFF Next Wave Committee of teenage film enthusiasts. Mendes’ foundation will support the initiative to elevate young voices with an annual contribution.

– The annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto has announced it is returning this year, though in virtual fashion, with the presentation of streamed performances on Nov. 7 and 8. Some of the city’s top jazz artists have pre-recorded shows at two of the fest venues, Poetry Jazz Café and Handlebar. Fest creator Molly Johnson and Team KMJF thank Gary Slaight, Derrick Ross and Slaight Music, City of Toronto, Ontario Arts Council, the Kensington Market BIA, and all patrons and donors for their support. More info here.


– Once border restrictions with the US ease, musicians from Canada and elsewhere wanting to play shows there will soon face a steep increase in the visa fees involved. NME reports that these will rise by over 50% from Oct. 2. The fee increases will affect both the P and O visa types, which are generally used by touring artists. Filing fees for an O visa, which applies to “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement,” will increase from $460 to $705, a rise of 53%. The P visa, which can also be used by family members of the individuals, will increase to a total cost of $695. Visa application waiting times are set to increase to 15 business days, but a fast track service that costs over $1000 will be available for those needing their application to be dealt with more quickly. For more information, visit the Federal Register website.


 Winners of the US-based Unsigned Only Music Competition were announced on Sept. 9. A total of 20 Canadian artists garnered wins in the competition. Established in 2012, Unsigned Only has become known as the leading music competition honouring international artists who are not signed to a major record label. Over US $160K in cash and prizes are split among 38 winners. Notable judges included Charli XCX; Aimee Mann; O.A.R.; Ruthie Foster; Robert Smith (The Cure); David Benoit; Tyler Williams (The Head And The Heart); Janiva Magness, and Tinariwen. Canadians earning a second-place distinction Big Little Lions, Buck Twenty, and JoJo Worthington. Included amongst thr honourable mentions were Alexz Johnson, Benjamin Dakota Rogers, Madison Olds, Scot Free Sessions, and The Royal Foundry. See the full winners list here


–  Play The Parks: Calgary, a new, annual and free multi-genre concert series, launched this week. It is produced by Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI) and presented by TD Bank, in collaboration with Calgary Parks and the National Music Centre (NMC). The concept behind Play The Parks is to celebrate diversity and connect communities while showcasing six city parks. In the interest of public health, the series of pre-recorded 30-minute performances will be launched virtually this year. A total of nine artist performances will be hosted on CMI’s Facebook page every Wed and Friday at noon (MT), Sept. 9 to Oct. 7. Confirmed performing artists include Amelie Patterson, Bebe Buckskin, Kate Stevens, Matt Blais, Ruben Young, Ryan Lindsay, Selci, Static Shift, and Sargeant X Comrade. 

 Sam Roberts Band has announced the release date of its new studio album All Of Us as Oct. 16, via Secret Weapon / Known Accomplice Records. The first single from the album, Ascension, soared up the rock radio charts earlier this summer and other cuts reportedly reflect upon life in the pandemic era. SRB  played a sold-out drive-in show as a part of Ottawa's Bluesfest 2020 and has a few more outdoor concerts this summer, including two in Toronto at Ontario Place. The first show (Sept. 29) is exclusively for Air Miles contest winners, followed by a public show on Sept. 30.  Info and tix here

– Hamilton rockers The Dirty Nil and their team are known for thinking outside the box in terms of marketing and promo ideas. In their latest highly original stunt, they solicited 16 videos from celebrities checking out the current Nil video for Doom Boy. Some major names snagged include David Hasselhoff, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Gilbert Gottfried, Perez Hilton, Sisqo, Pamela Des Barres, and Mark McGrath. A German blog has already picked up the Hoff video (below).


– EVER NEW is a Bandcamp-exclusive compilation of new music and covers by a notable list of Canadian artists, with 100% of the proceeds going to Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ2S charities (Black Health Alliance, Indspire, and The 519). The lineup features Mac DeMarco, Owen Pallett, Jessy Lanza, Ryan Hemsworth, Yves Jarvis, Lydia Ainsworth, Harrison, New Fries, Chad VanGaalen, LAL, Frigs, Zoon, Charity, Sarah Davachi, and more. Named after the pioneering singer and composer Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s 1986 song of the same title — reinterpreted here by The Head (Joseph Shabason and Thom Gill) and Jennifer Castle — the collection of songs spans diverse genres and voices. Check it out here 

– A reminder that the deadline for nominations to join the Board of Directors of CIMA is Sept. 11. More info here.

– With the Toronto Raptors Game Six win, the Walk off the Earth with Harm & Ease concert at OLG Play Stage in Toronto scheduled for Friday, Sept. 11 has been rescheduled to accommodate the viewing of Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. It has been moved to Sept. 13. The additional Walk off the Earth concert on Sept. 12 will remain unaffected and will move forward as originally scheduled. 


– Simply Saucer's Edgar Breau and Colina Phillips play an early evening show at Stonewalls in Hamilton on Sept. 12 (6.30 to 9 pm). Breau informs us he is finishing a new album and he has just placed Shadows Of Ecstasy, featuring vintage solo material from 1988/89 Grant Avenue sessions, on Bandcamp.

– The annual Great Canadian Songwriter Challenge presented by Bell Media will take place virtually, Sept. 26 and 27, featuring workshops with renowned industry professionals. Topics this year include creative song writing, the business of song writing, and music video production, with songwriter/producer Justin Gray (Mariah Carey, John Legend, Amy Winehouse) as the lead facilitator.

–  The much-buzzed-about and Juno-nominated Toronto artist Storry released a new EP called Interlude-19 on Sept. 5. The visual album is described as one "exploring themes like time, waiting, power, self-deprecation and death." A third single, Telling (produced by Junia-T) is now out.

– Toronto blues booster and veteran singer/songwriter Brian Blain releases his new album,I’m Not Fifty Anymore, on Sept. 11, his 74th birthday, via a Facebook Live performance at 8 pm. The album will be available at, while a video for the title track, featuring Steve Marriner on harp, is now out. Check it out here.

– Voting for the MMF Canada Board opened yesterday (Sept. 9) and closes on Sept. 23. There are eight seats up for election this year, with four directors returning to serve the final year of their two-year term (Helen Britton, Michael Gorman, Liam Kileen and Savannah Wellman). More info here.

– A month ago we reported that Toronto watering hole and occasional music venue The Paddock was about to be put out to pasture, with the bar posting that “negotiations with our landlord have hit a stalemate." Thankfully, that has since been resolved, and the 74-year-old business has just announced it can continue. Source: Blog TO

–  Due to the ongoing impacts and restrictions of Covid-19, Music Nova Scotia will be putting the following programs on hold for the remainder of 2020: Tour Support, Showcase Support, Business Travel. The following programs will be available for the Sept. 15 deadline: Marketing Support (for Artists II & III), Mentorship. Furthermore, there will be another special deadline on Oct. 15, with the following programs available: Artist Development, Covid-19 Response - Artist II, Covid-19 Response - Artist II and Export Ready Companies. More info on these programs is available at The Oct. deadline programs are only available to applicants who did not apply, or were previously unsuccessful, in 2020.

Following an extensive search, the Music Gallery in Toronto has announced that a familiar face will be taking on the role of Executive Director. David Dacks, the Music Gallery’s most recent Artistic Director has been selected by the Board of Directors for this leadership role. Dacks started programming at the Music Gallery in Sept. 2010 and has been Artistic Director since Jan. 2012. 


Ronald 'Khalis' Bell, singer-saxophonist and co-founder of funk-pop hitmakers Kool and The Gang, died on Sept. 9, age 68.

He co-wrote the band’s biggest hits, including Ladies Night, Jungle Boogie and Celebration.

In 1964, Bell and his teenage brother Robert “Kool” Bell, unable to afford drums, would collect old paint cans in their Youngstown, Ohio neighbourhood and use them as makeshift percussion instruments. It was a crude way to learn music but it launched a musical career that lasted more than 50 years.

Kool & the Gang performed continuously longer than any R&B group in history. The band, who won two Grammy Awards, also appeared alongside Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John and The Roots, and performed on a 50-city tour with rock legends Van Halen.

Their music is featured on the soundtracks to Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. Celebration” is also regarded among the most popular wedding songs of all-time.

In addition to keeping pace with the road, Bell devoted much of his life to songwriting and producing for Kool & the Gang as well as developing new acts. Among them: The Fugees, known as Tranzlator Crew when they worked with Bell on their debut album, Blunted On Reality.

In 2014, Kool & the Gang was honoured with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award. In October 2015, in the town they sing about in one of their earliest hits, Hollywood Swinging, Kool & the Gang was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The band released music as recently as 2016. In 2018, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Sources: Rolling Stone, Variety

Simeon Coxe, inventor and electronic musician behind the experimental US psychedelic rock group Silver Apples, died on Sept. 8, at age 82. No cause of death has been reported.

In the late 1960s, Coxe was a member of the Overland Stage Electric Band when he decided to incorporate the sound of a vintage oscillator into the music. He formed a new duo called Silver Apples with drummer Danny Taylor, and their debut self-titled album was released in 1968.

The electronic rig of his own creation was dubbed the Simeon, and it featured 16 oscillators, foot pedals, telegraph switches, wah-wah pedals, Echoplexes, and more. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of Silver Apples, and Coxe jammed with Hendrix on The Star Spangled Banner prior to Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance.

The group’s breakup was prompted by a lawsuit from Pan Am Airlines over their 1969 album Contact. The duo are seen in a Pan Am airplane cockpit on the front cover, and on the back cover, they’re photographed near a wrecked plane. The Pan Am lawsuit over the album resulted in the album getting pulled from stores, the label Kapp Records folding, and the breakup of Silver Apples.

Following the group’s dissolution, Coxe worked as a news reporter and producer for WKRG TV in Mobile, Alabama. He worked in Alabama television in the 1970s and 1980s.

Silver Apples were revived by Coxe in 1996. A new lineup featuring Xian Hawkins produced two albums in the ’90s: Beacon (1997) and Decatur (1998). In 1998, Coxe and Danny Taylor reunited the original lineup for live shows and a new album called The Garden. That same year, Coxe sustained extensive injuries in a car crash, including a broken neck. Taylor died in 2005, and Coxe continued to sample his drumming in subsequent Silver Apples performances. The last Silver Apples album was 2016’s Clinging to a Dream.

He is cited as an influence by the likes of Stereolab and Portishead. Sources: Pitchfork, the Guardian

Soleil Launière
Jaime Antonio Luna Quezada

Soleil Launière


Soleil Launière wins the Francouvertes: “It means a lot to me as an Indigenous artist”

Meet the Innu artist, big winner of the 2024 edition of the showcase-competition, who is the first Indigenous artist to win since the Quebec music competition started allowing submissions in Indigenous languages.

Soleil Launière has won the 28th edition of Francouvertes, becoming the first Indigenous artist to win the Quebec-based music competition.

The multidisciplinary Innu artist from Mashteuiatsh, Quebec won the grand final of the musical showcase on Monday, May 13. The Montreal-based artist edged out rapper Sensei H and maximalist rock singer-songwriter Loïc Lafrance.

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