Music News Digest, Sept. 2, 2021

Drake is reportedly set to release his new album (cover graphic pictured), the Record Store Day Canada Unsigned Competition returns, and Nova Scotia Music Week will take place in Truro. Also in the news are Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Music PEI Awards, Songbird North, TSO, Contact East, Martin Atkins, MMF Canada, Make Music Matter, The Trews, and farewell Ron Bushy, Bill Emerson, Larry Harlow, and Ruth Marx.

Music News Digest, Sept. 2, 2021

By Kerry Doole

All the signs are pointed toward tomorrow (Sept. 3) as the release date for Drake’s much-teased new album Certified Lover Boy. CPreports that “After lengthy delays and months of internet hype, the Toronto rapper finally locked in the release date for his first full-length album in three years. And he did it all through a simple Instagram post. Early Monday, Drake uploaded an image composed of 12 pregnant women emojis alongside the album title and date.” The emoji creation is believed to be the official Certified Lover Boy album art.

– The renowned Festival International de Jazz de Montreal returns for a 41st edition this month, as a free event. From Sept. 15 to 19, a formidable list of over 30 artists will perform at the Quartier des spectacles. They include Daniel Lanois, Patrick Watson, Basia Bulat, Steve Hill, Ranee Lee, Beyries, Plants and Animals, and Dawn Tyler Watson. The free tickets have to be reserved online here, with some shows already sold out.


 Record Store Day Canada announces the return of the RSDC Unsigned Competition in partnership with Microforum Vinyl Record Pressing, their official vinyl manufacturing partner. Now in its third year, the competition gives one unsigned artist the opportunity to get their music pressed onto 200 vinyl records for free by sending in a performance video of one of their original songs. The contest launched on Sept. 1, with a Nov. 30 deadline. Industry experts have been selected as judges. More info and entries here 

– Nova Scotia Music Week, presented by Music Nova Scotia, returns to Truro, NS, Nov. 4-7, after being forced to cancel because of  the pandemic last year. This year's event includes performances from such area artists as Andre Pettipas and The Giants, The Bombadils, Hillsburn, Century Egg, Kim Harris, Like A Motorcycle, and The Town Heroes. Early bird ticket pricing is in effect for Festival and Delegate Passes until Sept. 21. Purchase here


– Music PEI Award submissions will open on Sept. 15. In 2020, the trade org secured funding from FACTOR and ACOA to develop a new awards platform specifically for the Music PEI Awards. Developed by Wavelength Media, it is ready to launch for the 2021/2022 awards season. To nominate an eligible artist, industry professional or community contributor for a Music PEI Award, head here. Music PEI Week will take place from March 2-6, 2022.

– Presented by The Songwriters Association of Canada, Songbird North, Vancouver’s longest-running songwriters showcase, will launch its 26th season with a return to live performance on Sept. 14. Respected folk veteran Shari Ulrich will host performances by local singer-songwriters C.R. Avery, Ben Sures, and Yael Wand at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Tix here.

– In its first performances in front of a live audience in nearly a year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) returns to CityView Drive-In for four performances with two concert programs: Mozart & Martines on Sept. 24 and 25 and Pride Together on Oct. 1 and 2. All shows at 7.30 pm. Over 20 TSO musicians will be live on-stage performing audience favourites, while the concerts are also displayed on a massive LED screen and piped into patrons’ cars. The TSO last performed at CityView Drive-In in the fall of 2020. Tickets on sale Sept. 3. 


– The official lineup for the Contact East 2021 conference has been announced. Check out the full schedule of showcases, workshops, and activities here. The event runs Sept. 23-26 in Moncton, NB.

–The upcoming Music Pro Summit has just added a new speaker, Martin Atkins. He was a member of Public Image Ltd and Killing Joke, he founded industrial supergroup Pigface, and has contributed to Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, prior to becoming an creative music biz entrepreneur. His online Summit session is on Sept. 11 at noon (EST). Info and registration here.  


– The application deadline for MMF Canada's BESPOKE music management mentorship program has been extended to Sept. 6. It aims to address the historical lack of representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour within the business and music management sectors of the Canadian music industry. Apply here.

– On Sept. 9, the Make Music MatterUnpluggedTogether series continues with a streamed performance by The Trews Acoustic Trio, plus a live Q&A with The Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair and a performance by Corey Hart. The event is in support of the Healing in Harmony program for trauma survivors. Upcoming shows feature Cone McCaslin (Sum 41) + Ian D’Sa (Billy Talent) + Blackbird (Sept. 23) and Grievous Angels (Oct. 21). Info and tix here


Ron Bushy, the drummer for US hard rock group Iron Butterfly, died on Aug. 29, at age 79. No cause of death has been reported.

Bushy was the only original member to appear on all six of the band’s albums, beginning with 1968’s Heavy through 1975’s Sun and Steel. He continued performing with various incarnations of the band for decades following their commercial peak.

He was the drummer on the group’s most famous track, 1968’s epic 17-minute rock opus In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, one featuring a lengthy drum solo. Sources: Rolling StoneBillboard

Bill (William Hundley) Emerson Jr., an acclaimed banjoist who founded two premier bluegrass bands, died on Aug. 21, of pneumonia. He was 83.

Emerson co-founded the Country Gentlemen in 1957, and the group performed for 47 years. Dozens of musicians passed through the outfit,  credited with greatly broadening the audience for bluegrass.


Throughout the ’60s, Mr. Emerson also worked with groups including the Stoneman Family and the Yates Brothers, but he achieved prominence while touring with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys, with whom he performed on the Grand Ol’ Opry. His instrumentals such as Theme Time and Sweet Dixie” recorded by Martin’s band, became touchstones for aspiring banjoists.

In 1967, he teamed with singer Cliff Waldron to form Emerson and Waldron, a group that brought the song Fox on the Run into the bluegrass canon in 1968, helping make it a bluegrass standard. In 1973, he was recruited by the Navy to organize the Country Current, the first first military band devoted to country and bluegrass music. His stint in the group lasted 20 years.

In later decades, Mr. Emerson recorded with leading figures in bluegrass including Del McCoury, Tony Rice and Tony Trischka. He started a new band, Sweet Dixie, in 2007. Source: Washington Post

Larry Harlow, a pianist, composer, and producer who played a key role in the development of salsa music in the US, died on Aug. 20, of heart failure, at the age of 82.

A rarity among top-tier salsa musicians for his Jewish, rather than Latino, heritage, Harlow was known within the music’s community as “El Judío Maravilloso” or “The Wonderful Jew.”


While studying Afro-Cuban music in Cuba during the 1950s, he also became a practitioner of the Santería faith. In the ensuing decades, he was a pioneer in enmeshing American jazz, rock, and funk with a range of Latin-American styles.

He was one of the salsa movement’s most prolific record producers, ultimately helming some 260 releases for its flagship label, Fania Records. 

Jazz Times states that “Harlow notably expanded salsa’s sonic palette. A multi-instrumentalist in his own right—playing flute, oboe, English horn, vibraphone, bass, violin, and percussion as well as piano—he experimented with several of them within the salsa framework and is credited with introducing the bata drum, a Yoruban instrument traditionally used in Santería rites, to the music. He also incorporated electric instruments.”

In later years, Harlow was instrumental in the creation of the Latin Grammy Awards, and in 2005 brought his aesthetic to the indie-rock world, collaborating with the band the Mars Volta on its album Frances the Mute. Source: JazzTimes

Ruth Guildoo Marx, a singer who sang backup for son Richard Marx after a Big Band, jingles career, died Aug. 24 of lung cancer, age 85.

Mrs. Marx’s honeyed voice was heard on many of the TV commercial jingles her husband Dick Marx composed for products that  included Doublemint gum, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Peter Pan peanut butter, Chicken of the Sea tuna, Ken-L Ration dog food and Virginia Slims cigarettes.

Mrs. Marx later went on the road with son Richard and appeared on his recordings, including the single Streets of Pain. Source: Chicago Sun-Times

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