Music News Digest, Sept. 24, 2020

There’s a strong Canadian connection to the upcoming John Lennon tribute concert (pictured), Post Malone heads the Billboard Music Awards noms, and CARAS names four new Board members. Also in the news are CIMA, Lori Yates, BreakOut West, TBS Talent Search, Leahy, Amanda Martinez, Sultans of String, Contact(less) East 2020, Laila Biali, Drake, Carla Collins, Victoria Anthony, Izabelle, and farewell Tommy DeVito, Juliette Greco, and Roy Head.

Music News Digest, Sept. 24, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Dear John - the 2nd annual John Lennon tribute concert in aid of War Child UK - will take place as an online event on Oct. 9, hosted from the Hard Rock Hotel in London. The concert stream will be live on Youtube at 8 pm BST. Put together by Blurred Vision frontman Sepp Osley, the Dear John concert is not only a celebration of the music, legacy, and 80th birthday of the Beatle legend, but a coming together of fans and artists from different generations and backgrounds

The evening will include performances of Lennon songs by/or tributes from KT Tunstall, Larkin Poe, Peter Gabriel, Richard Curtis, Maxi Jazz of Faithless, PP Arnold, Andy Fairweather Low, John Ilsley of Dire Straits, Graham Gouldman of 10cc, and more TBA. The lineup also has a strong Canadian component, via Blurred Vision, Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew, Gowan and Lindsay Ell. Of note: the now London-based Blurred Vision was officially formed in Toronto by Iranian-born brothers Sepp Osley and Sohl Osley, and Ben Riley and the group continues to work closely with ace Toronto producer Terry Brown (Rush, Blue Rodeo).


A video of the Blurred Video anthem Dear John (below) features tributes from Peter Gabriel, Donovan, Fish, Marc Almond, Paul Young, John Otway and many more as well as messages from fans around the globe. The concert will be streamed online internationally for free but audiences are being encouraged to donate whatever they can to the fundraiser. Full details of the event and the direct link to the streaming and donations can be found here. The event has quickly grabbed major media attention, including a Rolling Stone feature

– The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced the appointment of four new members joining the 2020-2021 Board of Directors. They are: Alexandra Bellamy: Managing Director, Head of Assurance and Advisory, CPP Investment; Sky Bridges: Chief Operating Officer, APTN; Helen Britton: President & CEO, Six Shooter Inc., and Miro Oballa: Partner, Taylor Oballa Murray Leyland LLP.


Post Malone received the highest number of nominations for the 2020 Billboard Music Awards with 16. Also on the list that was announced Tuesday are Drake (with five noms), and ShawnMendes and The Weeknd, with three nods apiece. The 2020 Awards will broadcast live from The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 14. It was originally scheduled for  April but was postponed due to the coronavirus.

–The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and MusicOntario will be holding their Annual General Meeting on Oct. 15, virtually on Zoom. Look out for more information and an official RSVP link coming soon.

– Music Biz LIVE: Onward & Upward! is a four-day virtual event that will focus on how the global music industry is working to overcome the disruptions and challenges of 2020. It runs Oct. 5- 8, and features keynote interviews and digital platform workshops. Info and registration here

– A reminder that a virtual version of BreakOut West, Western Canada's largest music industry event, is set to run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9. BOW features an industry and artist development conference, and showcases over 50 regional artists.


– The Toronto Blues Society (TBS) has announced the six finalists in this year’s edition of the annual Talent Search. The finalists are (in alphabetical order): Federico Luiu- Gail, Gunnis & The Dirty Roosters, Josh Ritchie, Madison Galloway, Mike Nagoda and the Spectrum Blues Band, and Shakey Trill. Finalists will appear in a showcase on Oct. 4 between 3-6 pm at Bar Twelve 16 (1603 Queensway) in Etobicoke. The event is free and open to public. All covid  health & safety measures will be in place. Now in its 25th year, the TBS Talent Search seeks, celebrates, showcases and incubates talented bluesmakers from across the region. The prize is a professional-development package including festival gigs, mentorship meetings, studio time, graphic design and more.


– Joining in the jubilant celebration of the amazing Emmys sweep by Schitt's Creek was Aaron Jensen. The Artistic Director Emeritus of SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival and Artistic Director of Countermeasure, he has been Musical Director for Schitt's Creek for the past four years. 

– A reminder that Contact(less)East 2020, Atlantic Presenters Association's virtual conference for those in the arts presenting industry, is happening Sept. 25-26. The digital conference will feature workshops, round-table discussions, and social activities for those in the presenting sector, all from the comfort of your home. More info here

– Over a career spanning more than two decades, Leahy has been recognized as one of Canada’s premier folk/roots groups. After a break from recording, the Juno-winning act returns with a new track, Good Water, the title cut of a new album due in 2021. It is being tipped as Leahy’s most ambitious recording to date, thanks in part to the production work of Grammy winner David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, Afro Celt Sound System). To celebrate the release of the single tomorrow (Sept. 25), Leahy has set up a Zoom chat with fans at 8 pm that day. Info here 

 – In honour of what would have been Leonard Cohen's 86th birthday, on Monday Juno winner, Laila Biali released a cover song and video of Cohen classic, Anthem. This was the third installment of Biali's Quarantunes video series.

– Sharing in a recent Emmy Awards win was Drake. That comes from his role as one of 13 executive producers of HBO teen drama TV series Euphoria, whose lead, Zendaya, won the Emmy for for Best Actress in a Drama Series.


– Comedy is returning to the newly re-opened El Mocambo in Toronto this week, with two shows (Sept. 23 and 24) by local funny gal Carla Collins. Tonight (Sept. 24), she's joined by Kenny Robinson (host of Yuk Yuk’s Nubian Show since 1995), Andrew Johnston, and Beverly Ellis. Collins will record a live comedy album at the shows.  A limited number of in-person tickets can be purchased here.  Tickets for the live-stream at Nugs.TV.

– Hamilton honkytonk heroine Lori Yates is celebrating a birthday in her favourite manner, by playing a real show. On Sept. 26, she and her ace band Hey Stella (David Baxter, Bazil Donovan and Michelle Josef) play in front of a small audience at Hamilton's The Cotton Factory, and the concert will be live-streamed via Steady Canoe. Tix here. Highly recommended. Lori's fave birthday saying?: "You're only young once, but you can be immature forever" 

– Billboard-charting and multiple Juno-nominated Toronto world music ensemble Sultans of String perform their first interactive live-stream concert, on Sept 27 at 3 pm EDT, via Zoom. Amanda Martinez is a special guest. Tickets ($10) here


– Amanda Martinez is part of another live-stream concert tonight (Sept. 24). Fall Fanfare is a three-part series of virtual events in support of Patronato Pro Niños, an organization supported by Amistad Canada that does work for children in San Miguel de Allende Mexico. Also performing is Bram Morrison (formerly of Sharon, Lois and Bram), and he and Martinez have also recorded the duet Somos el Barco for the show. Info and tickets here 

– Bob Dylan has returned with a brand new episode of Theme Time Radio, his first since 2009. The legendary series is taking over SiriusXM’s Deep Tracks as a limited-run pop-up channel. 

– BC pop songstress Victoria Anthony has a burgeoning hit on her hands with her current single Sleep. The track and video have amassed 700,000+ music streams and video views, and radio is beginning to take note. See why here. Anthony's first exposure to the masses came when she got to sing with her idol, P!NK, in front of 20K spectators at Rogers Arena in Vancouver in 2018. Her debut album comes out Oct. 23.

– Montreal pop/funk singer Izabelle has just released two videos in both French and English for the track Self-Talk Session, from her album, Version 2.0. The tune is currently charting on iHeartRadio's "Niky Radio" in Quebec. Some of the city's top players are featured on the album. She has a show in Trois-Rivieres tonight (Sept. 24), a live-stream concert on Oct. 9, and a gig in Drummondville on Oct. 24.


Tommy DeVito, a founding member of US pop group the Four Seasons, died on Sept. 21, aged 92, after contracting Covid-19. His death was announced by two other founding members of the group, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, who said he "would be missed by all who loved him".

DeVito teamed up with Valli in 1956 and four years later they formed the Four Seasons with Gaudio and Nick Massi. Their hits included Oh What a Night, Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry and Walk Like a Man.

DeVito, who supplied baritone vocals and lead guitar for the band, quit in 1970 saying he was tired of touring.

The Four Seasons was one of the most successful "doo-wop" bands of the 1960s and their story formed the inspiration for the award-winning musical Jersey Boys.

After breaking through in the '60s with pop hits, they had an unsuccessful attempt at psychedelic pop and then moved on to a more Motown sound - which eventually led to Valli enjoying a solo career.

DeVito was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Four Seasons were inducted into the hall in 1990. Nick Massi died in 2000 at the age of 73. Source: BBC News

– Juliette Gréco, a renowned French singer and actor, has died, at age 93. Her fabled career spanned eight decades.

Born in 1927, Gréco was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War Two but afterwards began performing in cellar clubs and cafes.

Dressed in black, she became a muse to philosophers and writers including Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Married three times, she also had a long affair with Miles Davis.

Gréco was also a celebrated actor, working with some of the cinema's greats, such as Jean Cocteau and Ingrid Bergman, Orson Welles and Ava Gardner.

She sang with Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens. Her haunting rendition of Sous le Ciel de Paris (Under Paris Skies) is considered one of the classics of the French chanson.

But she was loved internationally too, from Germany to Japan and beyond. In 1967, she sang in front of 60,000 people in Berlin and in 2005 released an album of songs in German. She only stopped performing aged 89 after a farewell tour. Source: BBC News

– Roy Head, a Texan singer best known for the '60s hit Treat Her Right, died on Sept. 21, age 79. No cause of death has been reported.

His moment of pop superstardom – the 1965 hit Treat Her Right – is documented. A wild slice of Gulf Coast R&B delivered by a manic, handsome, gritty-voiced country boy, the song reached No. 2 that year, kept from the top spot by a Beatles single. The song became a golden oldie, circulating for more than a half-century, even becoming a crucial part of Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Head’s sound mixed ’60s rock and soul and ’70s country music, and he went on to enjoy renown on the oldies circuit, where he was known as a hyper-energetic performer.

Toronto club owner Sam Grosso brought Head up to play at his Cadillac Lounge venue twice in the last decade, cementing a friendship with the singer. Source: Houston Chronicle 



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