Music News Digest, Sept. 28, 2020

William Prince (pictured) wins big at the WCMAs, Neon Dreams and Chantal Kreviazuk resume touring, and Rez Bluez turns 25. Also in the news are CIMA, Tucker Lane, Tory Lanez, the CCMA, Festival of Small Halls Ontario, Hot Docs, Downchild, Music PEI,  Michael Kiwanuka, Measha Brueggergosman, Jackie Washington, Steel River, Anthony Gomes, and farewell WS Holland and SP Balasubrahmanyam.

Music News Digest, Sept. 28, 2020

By Kerry Doole

On Friday, the Western Canadian Music Alliance announced the recipients of the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMAs) in both the Artistic and Industry categories. The winners were announced during a live-streamed broadcast on BreakOut West’s Facebook, one including performances by Krystle Dos Santos (R&B Artist of the Year) and The Mariachi Ghost (Global Artist of the Year and Visual Media Composer of the Year).  Honourees included Gerry Atwell, who was presented with the 2020 Heritage Award, and William Prince, who took home three awards, including Recording of the Year, which was accompanied by a $2K honourarium, courtesy of the Stingray Rising Star program. Of note: 2020 saw female/female-identifying artists take home 50% of the awards in the Artistic categories.


All of the WCMA winners will be celebrated on radio-waves across Canada, as Yangaroo DMDS will offer complimentary radio servicing to the national radio format list of each winners’ choice within the next 365 days. Check the list of winners here  

– Fresh from a Juno win as Breakthrough Group of the Year, Halifax duo Neon Dreams has announced a 10-date tour of Atlantic Canada promoting the release of a new album The Happiness of Tomorrow, out Nov. 13. Frank Kadillac and Adrian Morris are taking advantage of the comparatively Covid-safe Atlantic Bubble that enables them to perform for fans in person at the venues, making them one of the few bands touring in North America for the remainder of 2020. The dates start in Halifax on Nov. 13. closing out on Nov. 28, in Corner Brook, NL. Concert tix go on sale Sept. 29 here.

The new album will include the most recent ND releases Don’t Go Hating Me Now and Sick of Feeling Useless. The latter track is currently climbing the US alternative radio chart and went top 10 on US college radio. 


– Singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk is another Canadian artist returning to the road by embarking on a concert tour. She recently added 12 tour dates to her website, scheduled across British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She'll play two limited-capacity indoor shows in Sidney, BC on Monday and Tuesday, before heading to the other provinces several days later, with five Ontario shows booked before mid-October. Itinerary here. Source: CBC

– Toronto Blues Society is celebrating 25 years of Rez Bluez with a new pre-recorded live-stream series of eight concerts that started airing on Sept. 25, with a show by Murray Porter. They take place Friday nights at 8 pm ET from September throughout the fall, airing for free from Vancouver, Saskatchewan, Six Nations and Toronto on the TBS Facebook page.

“We’ve done 100+ shows now, since Jani Lauzon and myself first proposed the idea to the TBS Board of Directors to do an Indigenous showcase, and they agreed,” says show producer Elaine Bomberry, who hosts the series along with Lauzon and Diane Keye-Kohoko. “Rez Bluez provided a much-needed platform for Indigenous blues musicians to share their music with a wider audience...which eventually became a radio doc and TV show on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network”.  Other notable artists in the series include Digging Roots, Crystal Shawanda, Pura Fé, and George Leach. Facebook link here 


– The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) announced Friday London will be the host city for the CCMA's 2021 award ceremony. The last time London hosted was in 2016. The awards will broadcast live from Budweiser Gardens on private television and radio networks on Sept. 12, 2021, following a week-long series of country music events in the city. Those already named as performers include Canadian stars Dean Brody, Jade Eagleson, Lindsay Ell, The Reklaws, Hunter Brothers, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson and others. International acts will include Kane Brown, Sam Hunt, Breland and Tim McGraw. Tix will go on sale in the coming months. 


– A shooting incident in LA in July that involved Megan Thee Stallion and Canadian rap star Tory Lanez remains shrouded in mystery. MTS has blamed Lanez for injuries she suffered in the situation, but he is now protesting his innocence, via a surprise new album, Daystar (the rapper’s real name), released without advance notice on Sept. 24. A National Post story notes that "this is the first time he has addressed Megan’s allegations... And he does so in just about every incredibly defensive song, painting a new narrative in which he claims the pair had been dating and that when he began flirting with Kylie Jenner at her party, Megan grew so incensed she framed him. I ain’t do it,' he raps. 'Megan(’s) people trying to frame me for a shooting'.” Lanez is awaiting trial in Oct. on a weapons charge.  Source: National Post

– The re-imagined Festival of Small Halls Ontario has announced a lineup set to perform at four community venues across Eastern Ontario Oct. 9 to 31. The shows will feature very limited, distanced seating, following health guidelines and protocols. The impressive artists list includes Tom Wilson, Hawksley Workman, Tim Baker, Great Lake Swimmers, and NQ Arbuckle. Tix on sale here now.

– Saskatoon roots-rock band Tucker Lane is flying high with a positive response to a new single, Paper Wings, taken from an upcoming sophomore album. The group is headed by Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair, formerly of The Pursuit of Happiness and Universal Honey fame. A live-stream series, Campfire Sessions, debuts live on Facebook Sept. 29 at 7 pm CST.

– The famed Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake, ON, offers live music throughout Sept. and Oct. with approximately 40 concerts featuring music of early 20th-century composers like Duke Ellington, Dorothy Fields, and Cole Porter. Concerts will be in various outdoor venues including Shaw Festival’s Baillie Courtyard. Due to limited capacity, Friends of The Shaw will have the first available tickets. More info here.


– Toronto’s Hot Docs Cinema’s partnership series with The Royal Conservatory returns with an advanced virtual screening of one of the year’s most anticipated music docs, Billie. Crafted from a newly unvaulted treasure trove of unheard interviews, Billie is the story of the master jazz singer Billie Holiday. The exclusive advanced screening runs from now until Oct. 8, with the added bonus of a performance by Quisha Wint and FYI’s own Bill King. Tix here 

– After months of waiting to hit the road again due to the pandemic, Canadian blues giants The Legendary Downchild Blues Band return to live-action with a performance for 50 fans at the Empire Theatre in Belleville, ON on Oct. 16 at 8 pm (ET). The show will be streamed globally, as a live one day only pay-per-view concert to celebrate the international release of the band's new 50th Anniversary album. Tix now on sale here. Of note: Downchild will donate $1 for every ticket sold to the Jane Vasey Memorial Fund at her Alma Mater, Brandon University, in support of budding keyboard students.


– Music PEI has announced that the number of participants for its Golden Ticket Program has doubled, from three to six, with both emerging and established artists able to apply. The deadline to apply has been extended to Oct. 2. The submission deadline for the Taking Care of Business Program has also been extended to Oct. 2. More info here.

– English soul singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has won the 2020 Mercury Prize, for his third self-titled release, Kiwanuka. This is considered the UK music industry's most prestigious prize, rather equivalent to Canada's Polaris Music Prize.

– CIMA is facilitating a series of roundtable discussions on anti-Black racism in the Canadian music entertainment industry, presented with supporting partner ADVANCE, Canada’s new Black Music Business Collective. Breaking Down Racial Barriers is taking place in 10 zoom roundtable discussions, each Tuesday.  Episode 9 is entitled  Retention & Succession (Part 2) A Voice at the Table: Hiring, Professional Advancement & Promotion within the Music Entertainment Industry, and is on Sept. 29 at 6:00 pm. Register (free) here.

– The TD Toronto Jazz Festival has premiered a new song, Champions, from Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, a collaboration between the Toronto Star and the fest. The internationally acclaimed opera singer and concert artist co-wrote Champions with singer/songwriter Lennie Gallant, a fellow East Coast luminary, as a kind of mobilizing anthem in a troubled time.

– Midnight Shine’s Lonely Boy was named Best Music Video at the recent Toronto Independent Film Festival. Check out the full list of award winners here.

– The Toronto Blues Society's Pioneer Profile Series returns Sept. 30, highlighting Jackie Washington. Longtime collaborator and friend Ken Whiteley will be joined in conversation by former Hamilton Spectator journalist Graham Rockingham at 8 pm EST on the TBS Facebook Page, with a Q&A to follow. 

–  Armoured Car, the third album by Toronto rock band Steel River, was reissued (in a remastered form) last week on the Axe Records label. Released in 1980, this was the final record from the group. Two earlier albums, Weighin’ Heavy (1970) and A Better Road (1972), charting singles Ten Pound Note, Southbound Train and Mexican Lady, and extensive touring brought the band a North American following. Lead singer John Dudgeon passed away recently. Sample album cuts here.

– Hard-working Toronto bluesman Anthony Gomes releases a new album, Containment Blues,  on Oct. 16.  He has just released a video for one of its tracks, Make A Good Man (Wanna Be Bad).


WS “Fluke” Holland, the man who provided the backbeat for some of rock and roll’s most iconic artists and songs, has died on Sept. 23, age 85.

A native of Middle Tennessee, Holland played drums on Sun Records star Carl Perkins’ historic early recordings, including Blue Suede Shoes, Matchbox, and Honey Don’t.

He would become most identified with another Sun alumnus, Johnny Cash, playing behind the Man in Black for more than four decades and cementing his own status with his work on classic recordings including Ring of Fire, and the albums Live at Folsom Prison and Live at San Quentin.

Hailed by Cash as “The Father of the Drums,” Holland is credited as the first man to play a full drum set on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Holland would also appear, along with Cash, on Bob Dylan's 1969 LP, Nashville Skyline.

As a natural left-hander set up his drums in an unconventional manner -- his "accidental" career as a drummer was born, hence the nickname Fluke.

In the 1950s, he recorded with numerous Sun artists including Roy Orbison, Billy Lee Riley and Carl Mann. He joined Johnny Cash’s group in 1960. Although he was only supposed to be part of a two-week tour, he would spend the next 37 years at Cash’s side. 

Holland played in the various iterations of the band -- The Tennessee Three, The Great Eighties Eight, and The Johnny Cash Show Band – and road managed Cash until the singer's retirement from the stage in the late-‘90s.  Last year, Holland published a book about his years with Cash, entitled Behind The Man in Black: The WS Holland Story. Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

SP Balasubrahmanyam, a renowned Indian singer and Guinness world record holder for his more than 40,000 songs over 50 years, died on Sept. 25, aged 74, after a Covid-19 diagnosis.

From romantic hits to popular dance tracks, he sang some of Indian cinema's best-known numbers, spanning 16 languages. He began his career in Tamil and Telugu cinema in southern India - and became the first crossover singer who gained success in Bollywood.

He was a legendary "playback singer" - that is, his voice was pre-recorded for use in films in which actors would lip-sync to the songs. He sang for top composers of his time, including AR Rahman and Ilaiyaraaja. He was hailed as a singing sensation despite his marked southern accent and became the 'singing voice' for Bollywood superstars such as Salman Khan.

Working in four southern Indian language film industries kept Balasubrahmanyam busy through the 1970s until the end of the last decade. He became the highest-paid singer in southern India. Balasubrahmanyam hopped from one music studio to another, recording as many as three new songs every day for more than two decades.

He received two of India's top civilian honours, Padma Shri in 2001 and Padma Bhushan in 2011. Source: BBC News

Big Boi

Big Boi


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