Music News Digest, Sept. 21, 2020
Tenille Townes shines at the ACM Awards, The Sheepdogs (pictured) help Live Nation open Lake House, Gerry Atwell is posthumously honoured with the WCMA’s Heritage Award, and the semi-finalists for the Top of the Country Showcase are named. Also in the news are Canada’s Walk of Fame, MacKenzie Porter, the TSO, Shakura S’Aida, CIMA, Indie Week, Do Well By Hamilton, Ellis, U2, Honey Jam, Festival Franco-Ontarien, UIC, Edge, Reza Manbachi, Rebel, Music Canada, and farewell Stanley Crouch and Peter Starkie.
By Kerry Doole
Live Nation’s members-only venue Lake House, a restaurant, bar and patio built on the backstage rooftop of Toronto’s Budweiser Stage, was supposed to have its grand opening in May, but due to covid held a social-distanced soiree Sept. 17 with food, drink, and three acoustic songs from The Sheepdogs, who were then interviewed by Indie 88’s Carlin Burton. The rock band later played the OLG Play Stage drive-in on-site at Ontario Place, which was live-streamed for the guests. For membership inquiries, go here. (Karen Bliss)
– Canada’s Walk of Fame has announced its national call for submissions for the 2020 Community Hero Program, presented by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and Scotiabank. Now in its third year, the Community Hero Program recognizes a young Canadian under the age of 30 who is making an impactful change in their community. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a $10K donation to the charity or cause of their choice, and an invaluable mentorship opportunity with a fellow Canadian hero, to be announced. Canadians are being asked to nominate a deserving candidate by visiting canadaswalkoffame.com. Submissions will be accepted beginning today (Sept. 21) through to Oct. 30.
– The Western Canadian Music Alliance has announced award-winning musician and creative mentor Gerry Atwell as the 2020 recipient of the Heritage Award. This award is presented to a person who has made significant contributions to the music industry over the course of their career. Atwell was most known as a keyboard player and vocalist with bands such as the Juno-winning Eagle & Hawk, Ministers of Cool, Rockalypso, the Boogie Nights Band and Voice of Boom. He was a dedicated board member, mentor and facilitator for a long list of arts services, community and social justice organisations. All winners of the Western Canadian Music Awards will be announced via a live-streamed event on Sept. 25.
–One of Canadian country music’s brightest new stars, Tenille Townes, shone south of the border last week. At the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards, she won as New Female Artist of the Year, topping a category that included fellow Canuck Lindsay Ell. Townes also shared the award for Music Event of the Year, as part of a group of female artists supporting Miranda Lambert on Fooled Around and Fell in Love.
– SiriusXM's Top of the Country Showcase will be part of this year’s virtual Country Music Week 2020 experience. It features a live-stream by the eight semi-finalists participating in the third annual Top of the Country competition: Don Amero (Winnipeg, MB), Raquel Cole (Vernon, BC), Carolina East (South River, NL), Nate Hall (Toronto, ON), Brittany Kennell (Beaconsfield, QC), Kalsey Kulyk (Hudson Bay, SK), Tyler Joe Miller (Surrey, BC) and Kelly Prescott (Almonte, ON). The event also includes a headlining performance by chart-topping star MacKenzie Porter. The showcase can be viewed for free through the CCMA YouTube channel.
– As part of its commitment to perform for GTA audiences, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is collaborating with CityView Drive-In for three live performances this Oct. (7, 16 & 17). Close to 20 TSO musicians will be live on-stage performing audience favourites, while also displayed on massive LED screens and piped into patrons’ cars. This series marks the largest ensemble of TSO musicians performing together since the beginning of the pandemic. The Oct. 7 concert is entitled Kings of Ragtime, the Oct. 16 show includes Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Oct. 17's tribute to the First Ladies of Soul features superb vocalist Shakura S’Aida. Tickets ($80–$200 per car) are on sale now through Ticketmaster online and the TSO Patron Services phone line (416.598.3375).
– CIMA and Indie Week have partnered to present an online live mentorship program in October which will run for four weeks (eight sessions) with a focus on becoming “Export and Business Ready”. Dates are Oct. 6, 7, 13, 15, 20, 22 and 27. More info here
– The 10th instalment of the Indie Weekly series is entitled Power of Podcasting, and it explores the ways podcasting can help artists showcase their content and personality. It is on Sept. 22, at 3 pm EST. Ticket info here
– Today (Sept. 21), renowned Toronto-based artist development program Honey Jam hosts a media launch that will reveal plans for the non-profit org’s 25th-anniversary concert and celebration. Its official 2020 Showcase will be held at The El Mocambo on Oct. 1. Stay tuned.
– On Sept. 25, as part of the SHIFT 2020 fest, The Music Hall at New Vision in Hamilton will launch its Do Well by Hamilton campaign. This event will feature performances by Gareth Inkster, Shanika Maria Music, Ellis, and LTtheMonk in various spaces throughout the Music Hall filmed by local filmmaker Christoph Benfey. The evening will also launch the Do Well by Hamilton album, featuring works by 17 Hamilton artists, including Tom Wilson, Valerie Tryon, Hamilton Children's Choir, Steve Strongman, Adrean Farrugia and Sophia Perlman, Boris Brott and the National Academy Orchestra, LTtheMonk, Ian Thomas, Ellis, Monster Truck, and Kojo "Easy" Damptey.
– U2’s official YouTube Channel has been relaunched, with weekly releases of the band’s music videos and never before seen content on YouTube. Over the course of the next year and beyond, the band’s music video catalog will be remastered in HD and launched exclusively on YouTube in that format. The first phase of the relaunch will celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary of the band’s tenth studio album, the Grammy-winning All That You Can't Leave Behind; leading with the re-release of one of the album’s seminal tracks, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, remastered in 4K. It premiered last week.
– Festival Franco-Ontarien TekSavvy will hold an outdoor musical event in Ottawa. If pandemic regulations allow, up to 100 spectators will get to attend the 45th edition of this festival at Major's Hill Park. Ariane Moffatt and CIE perform on the Air Canada Main Stage on Sept. 25, with Isabelle Boulay headling an evening of country and folk acts on Sept. 26. Tickets for the webcast available here
– The newest addition to Toronto's Horseshoe Hootenanny live-stream music series is veteran Ontario garage rock band UIC. The group's performance on the famed stage of the Horseshoe Tavern is set for Oct. 24, and it serves as a launch party for an imminent album, FM Hill. Tix here. In 2018, Warner Music Canada reissued two early UIC albums, Our Garage and Live LikeNinety.
– Free-spirited Bronx band Edge has been around since 1974 but is only just now about to release a debut album, Keep Me Around. A key figure in bringing this to fruition is Toronto singer/songwriter Dan Bryk, a longtime fan of the group and its frontman Lee Feldman, whose solo career has a cult following. Now based in North Carolina, Bryk has reactivated his indie imprint, Urban Myth (Dan Bryk, Chris Warren, Luke Jackson, The Bicycles, Chris Staig) to put out the album, coming on Oct. 2. Here’s a sample.
– Acclaimed Iranian-Canadian composer and musician Reza Manbachi and his Najva Ensemble release the group’s debut album Passing Through the Dark on Sept. 25. A quartet version of the ensemble will give a live performance in celebration, online, from the Small World Centre in Toronto on Sept. 27 at 4 pm. Built around string instruments, both Western and Iranian, the album takes a philosophical look at a troubled time.
– Toronto public health officials are alerting patrons of Rebel, a popular waterfront nightclub and music venue, about a possible exposure to Covid-19. Four people have tested positive after visiting NOIR inside the Rebel complex 10 days ago. TPH says a follow-up inspection of the venue on Sept. 18 found it to be in compliance with all reopening protocols. Source: 680 News
– Presented by the Shawn Mendes Foundation, the 2020 Changemaker Award (and a $10K cash prize) is presented to a Toronto International Film Festival entry that tackles issues of social change. TIFF announced yesterday that the first Award winner is Black Bodies, a short film by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall.
– Checking out Music Canada’s list of gold and platinum certifications makes for interesting reading. Canadian artists reaching these milestones over the past month include James Barker Band (gold single for There’s a Drink For that, platinum single for Keep It Simple, and gold album for Game On ), The Trews ( gold album for Time Capsule), Ria Mae & Dan Talevski (gold single for Too Close), Lennon Stella (gold single for Summer Feelings), The Weeknd (seven times platinum single for Blinding Lights), Walk Off The Earth (gold single for I'll Be There), Gord Bamford (gold single for Is It Friday Yet), and Justin Bieber (quadruple platinum single for Intentions).
Stanley Crouch, the author best known for his critical writing in the world of jazz, died on Sept. 16, after years of health issues. He was 74.
Crouch became a staff writer for The Village Voice in 1979 and was there until 1988. He was published by numerous publications, including Harper’s, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. He was a founder of the Lincoln Jazz Center, along with Wynton Marsalis, an artist strongly championed by Crouch.
He was the recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant and named an NEA Jazz Master in 2019. He was an advisor and frequent presence in Ken Burns’ Jazz, and he wrote the liner notes for dozens of iconic jazz albums, including releases by Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, and Chick Corea.
His books include Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989, a biography of Charlie Parker called Kansas City Lightning, and the collection Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz. He wrote two novels and multiple plays. Sources: Pitchfork, New York Times
Peter Starkie, a founding member of Australian rock band Skyhooks, died on Sept. 13, at 72 after falling from a ladder. His brother, Bob, who was also a member of the group, confirmed the news.
Starkie formed Skyhooks in March 1973 on lead guitar but left later that year. In 1975, Starkie, on guitar, joined Joe Camilleri in Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons, a group that also became very popular in Australia.
Music promoter Michael Gudinski, who signed Skyhooks to his Mushroom Records label in the early 1970s, remembered Starkie as having a major impact on the music scene in Melbourne at the time.