Music News Digest, Sept. 17, 2020

Jann Arden (pictured) returns to TV and releases another album, a Tragically Hip doco double bill hits screens, and bluesman Steve Strongman signs with Linus. Also in the news are the Jim Beam National Talent Search, BPAC, the SOCAN Foundation, The Chefs Table, Remember The Music, drive-in shows, John Lennon, Sing Leaf, Alec Fraser Jr, Elliott BROOD, Manitoba Music, Roveena, Terra Lightfoot, Discogs, Keith Brown, Andrea Morris, and farewell Bruce Murray.

Music News Digest, Sept. 17, 2020

By Kerry Doole

On Sept. 25, multi-platinum singer, songwriter, actor and author Jann Arden releases a new album Hits & Other Gems, on Universal Music Canada, The release of Hits & Other Gems will follow the return of the CTV comedy series JANN for its second season, airing Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT on CTV and everywhere CTV content can be found, beginning Sept. 21. Back in the spring, Jann Arden Live, a 19-date cross-Canada tour, was forced to postpone due to the pandemic. All tour dates are expected to be rescheduled and ticket-goers should hold onto their tickets as they will be valid for the new dates. For rescheduled dates thus far and for more info, visit


– The Jim Beam National Talent Search will now take place virtually Oct. 13 - 20, with 30-minute episodes spotlighting five bands from eight Canadian cities. Hosted by Josie Dye of INDIE88, each episode will focus on one city and feature interviews and performances from five talented local bands. Visit INDIES.CA to vote for your favourite local artist. The Grand Prize winner will perform at the 2021 Indie Awards in Toronto.

– The Tragically Hip has announced that a special double feature of the celebrated films, Long Time Running and A National Celebration, will screen at select Cineplex Theatres across Canada. Starting on Sept. 18, fans will have the chance to take in both titles at Cineplex Cinemas. A full list of theatres presenting The Tragically Hip: The Ultimate Double Feature is here. Tix for the limited engagement screenings are now available here 

– The Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC) is the latest music/arts venue to return to live performance. It has announced a Studio 50 (patrons) 4 (now) Season, referencing the max of 50 patrons per show. The series launches with hometown faves The Spoons (as an acoustic duo), Oct 2 and 3. Chantal Kreviazuk plays Oct. 8-10, and Legacy: A Tribute to Gord Downie (a fundraiser for the Downie-Wenjack Fund, featuring Tom Wilson and Twin Flames) is on Oct. 15 and 16. Elise LeGrow performs Oct. 25, Kevin Fox presents Songs for Cello & Voice on Nov. 1, and multiple Juno winner Sarah Slean is in on Saturday, November 7. See the full schedule here.


– For the third consecutive year, the SOCAN Foundation has awarded 5 cash prizes of $5K to young creators—aged 21 or less—from across Canada who were chosen the winners of its Young Canadian Songwriters Award sponsored by Sirius XM. The winners (all female) are Zamani Millar (NS), Chiamaka Azubuike (ON), Madison Maria (BC), Olivia Lunny (MB), and Mélissa Doyon (QC). The jury was composed of renowned songwriters Melissa Laveaux, Ewan Currie, Mike Clay, Rose Cousins, and Kayo, and they reviewed 200 entries. More info here 

– Though Covid forced the cancellation of the RBC Ottawa Bluesfest this year, a fest-produced concert series at the National Arts Centre has quickly sold out. The Chefs Table features live music paired with cuisine prepared by world-class Canadian chefs. Concertgoers dine on a terrace, listening to listening to music performed on a boat moored on the Rideau Canal. Last weekend, the series launched with music by Dueling Pianos (featuring Dave Kalil & Tyler Kealey), with Rebecca Noelle headlining this weekend (Sept. 18-19). The final weekend (Sept. 25-26) features the award-winning Horojo Trio, led by local blues favourite JW-Jones. Source: Celebrity Access


– Back in Feb., we previewed Remember The Music, a Toronto benefit jazz concert supporting Alzheimer’s research and the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Covid forced the April event to cancel, but, on Oct. 4, it will proceed online. TranzitionzJazz presents the benefit, one live emceed by Jazz.FM91’s Laura Fernandez, and featuring artists Ilana Waldston, Sam Broverman, and the JazzProject, plus Tranzitionzjazz artists Jim Thomas (flute), Richard Uglow (keyboard), Jasmin Uglow (vocals and percussion), Nick Arseneau, (bass) and Stu Mein (drums). They will also be joined by Juno-winning Cuban-Canadian jazz pianist Hilario Durán and Director Sergio Navarretta, who has just released an acclaimed movie, The Cuban, with Durán performing a song from the soundtrack. TranzitionzJazz is also seeking donations to help fund a research study by U of T Faculty of Music and St. Michael’s Hospital investigating the therapeutic benefits of remembered music for people living with Alzheimer’s. All donations are tax-deductible. The concert streams via YouTube Live and tix are available here


 Soundbox Productions and Skware Eyes Collaborative launch a new Live At The Drive-In series at The Ancaster Fairgrounds, in Ancaster, ON. It will host a number of events this fall, with hard rock band Silverstein in on Sept. 25, and Juno-nominated rockers The Trews on Oct. 3.

BritBox, the streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV offering the largest collection of British television in North America, has acquired the original documentary special Lennon’s Last Weekend. Premiering in Dec. in recognition of the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic assassination, the film includes the last in person interview the British icon ever gave, for the BBC, before his assassination.

– Sing Leaf is the project of Toronto singer/songwriter David Como. His new album, Not Earth, comes out on Sept. 25 (on prestigious UK label Tin Angel), and was produced by his long time friend and collaborator Sandro Perri. Here's an advance track.

– Toronto music veteran Alec Fraser Jr. is organising, producing and recording Songs For Food And Shelter, a charity event that will stream here via Facebook Premiere. He will add to the already stellar lineup that features Martin Tielli, Jon Brooks, Jack de Keyzer, Shakey Trill, Maggie Fraser, Colleen Hodgson, Rick Fines, Mike Daley, Julian Fauth, Grier Coppins. The show broadcasts Sept. 20 at 7 pm, and Fred Victor is the organization that will collect donations for the charity event to help fight Toronto’s homelessness. 


 Hamilton-based roots-rockers Elliott BROOD release a new (and seventh) album, Keeper, tomorrow (Sept. 18), via Six Shooter. It is launched that evening (8 pm EST) on the group's Youtube channel here. Here's the current single.

– Manitoba Music has launched the EMBARK Export Accelerator Program, a new opportunity for the province's artists and music industry professionals to develop their businesses in export markets. Through this program, Manitoba Music will work with participants to develop their target markets through mentorship, market training, cultural support and online networking opportunities. The application deadline is Oct. 1. More details here

– Sri-Lankan born Toronto-based singer-songwriter Roveena has made a real splash on YouTube and Spotify with her earlier material. This week, she returns with a new single, Fly, a powerfully emotional ballad inspired by her late father. It was co-written with her frequent collaborator James Bryan (Philosopher Kings).


– To launch the release of a new album, Consider the Speed (out Oct. 16 on Sonic Unyon Records), Hamilton roots-rocker Terra Lightfoot has announced three hometown shows before an audience limited to just 50 attendees per show. These full-band concerts take place at 125 Barton St. W. (South Building), Hamilton, on Oct. 16 and 17. The Friday date is a  "Dinner and a Show" VIP Experience featuring local rockstar chef Jonny Blonde, with the two shows on Oct. 17 (noon and 6 pm starts)  being straight-ahead concerts featuring twinned 45-minute sets. Tix here

– Billing itself as “the world's foremost Database, Marketplace, and Community for physical music, Discogs recently surpassed a significant data milestone with the addition of the 13 millionth release to the Discogs Database. More than 539K  contributors continue the nearly 20-year mission to create the comprehensive music database and marketplace. Discogs has witnessed a massive increase in vinyl sales. Over 5.8M records were sold between January and June, which is up 33.73% compared to the same period in 2019, according to its recently released 2020 Mid-Year Report.

– Montreal music veteran Keith Brown has written a memoir, Truly Unfamous. On FB, he explains that "the book covers the ten-year period I worked for Donald K Donald (1969-78). I would later go on to work at Aquarius Records, but during my first decade in the music business, I was a tour manager and worked over 1200 concerts. I've enjoyed every stage of my career but the early years were the most fun. This book explains why." Sounds like an entertaining read, and it is in stock at Amazon now here.

– Adventurous Hamilton jazz/new music fest Something Else! had to cancel its regular fest in June year (yep, covid), but is presenting live music on the next two Sat. afternoons. The concerts start at 1 pm at Bayfront Park, with Fog Brass Band on Sept. 19 and the Imaginary Percussion Ensemble on Sept. 26. The shows are free (100 person capacity), with donations encouraged.

– Toronto music promo dynamo Andrea Morris has relaunched her popular AM to FM Live series. Last month it featured M.T. Walker (below), and the next event is with Jonas Tomalty on Sept. 28 at Kensington Sound Studio.  

– Music Nova Scotia is presenting info sessions to assist applicants for its Artist Development Program. This deadline is available to any Artist (not rated Artist II or III) who didn't apply in 2020 or was unsuccessful in May 2020. Sessions are: Sept. 17 ( 6 pm), Sept. 28 (2 pm) and Oct. 6 (7 pm). RSVP here.

– On Sept. 19, Calgary locals, Free the Cynics, I Am The Mountain, and The Varmoors play that city’s Wildhorse Live, a socially distanced event series presented by Air Miles. Tix on sale here. Upcoming shows include The Funk Hunters (Sept. 17-18) and Dallas Smith with JoJo Mason, Sept. 24-25 (both sold out). Tix on sale here

– Award-winning Canadian bluesman Steve Strongman has joined forces with Linus Entertainment in a multi-faceted deal that sees that company globally representing his music publishing catalogue, and the distribution of his sound recordings, as well as future recordings and songwriting.  Now seven albums deep, Strongman is already well-known as a solo artist within the blues community. 

“I believe Steve has what it takes to be a world-class creative force in the blues scene,” shares Geoff Kulawick, President of Linus. “We will be utilizing his strength as a songwriter, introducing him as a producer, collaborator and co-writer to our Stony Plain Records affiliated artists as well as artists on other labels.” A new album from Strongman is in the works and will be released alongside his back catalogue on the Linus affiliated roots and blues label, Stony Plain Records.


Bruce Murray, a Nova Scotian singer/songwriter, teacher and author, died on Sept. 15. His age and cause of death have not been reported.

He was the younger brother of Anne Murray, who reported his passing on Facebook, calling Bruce “a singer extraordinaire, a beloved teacher who touched the lives of many students and an author. He was a compassionate and sweet man…with a kind word for everyone. Our hearts are broken.”

Bruce Murray took piano lessons as a child and was the regular organist at church by age 11. He initially dreamed of being a teacher, studying at St. Francis Xavier.

Upon graduation in 1974, he auditioned for Singalong Jubilee, went to UBC for a year and later moved to Toronto where he signed with Balmur Music and in 1976 released his self-titled album His sister Anne co-produced, and it spawned two singles: From Now On and a rendition of Boz Scaggs’ ballad We’re All Alone.

He toured with Olivia Newton-John across Canada and Australia and had a sophomore album in 1979 as well as a final album in 1984.

Murray also appeared as a guest musician and did duets with his sister while also appearing among the cast of dozens in the recording of Tears Are Not Enough for African famine relief.

He later upgraded his education and returned home to Nova Scotia where he taught. In 2017, he published his first book Piau: Journey to the Promised Land. It told the story of a folk hero, Murray’s ancestor Pierre Belliveau, who led his people from the brink during the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 to safety years later. Source: Chronicle-Herald, 

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