Music News Digest, Dec. 21, 2023: Alex Henry Foster Aids Morocco, Music PEI Awards & More
Billboard Canada FYI's weekly roundup also includes news on Jason McCoy, Martin Kerr, Toronto's night economy and more.
The National Music Centre in Calgary and the CCMA will host a concert with Jason McCoy on Feb. 2, in celebration of his induction into the CanadianCountry Music Hall of Fame. McCoy is both a popular solo artist and frontman of The Road Hammers. Tickets for the show go on sale here on Jan. 8.
- On Dec. 19,
Music PEI announced the nominees for the 2024 Music PEI Awards. Leading the way with five noms is Noah Malcolm, while Inn Echo, Sirène et Matelot and Tara MacLean are up for awards in four categories each. Voting in the SaltWire Entertainer of the Year category is now open here , until Jan. 5. All winners will be announced during Music PEI Week 2024, March 6-10, in Charlottetown.
- Festival Passes for the 2024 East Coast Music Awards: Festival and Conference are on sale now until Jan. 31 at the Earlybird price of $99 (+ taxes & fees). Purchase passes and Award Show tix here.
- The OHSOTO’KINO Recording Bursary program is open to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists. Two submissions — one for contemporary music, one for traditional genres — will be awarded a one-week recording session at Studio Bell (in Calgary's NMC) to produce a commercial release. Applications are now open here for the 2024 Bursary program. The deadline is Jan. 7.
- On Jan. 17 (6 - 9 p.m.), the City of Toronto presents its first-ever Night Economy Town Hall, at Beanfield Centre, 105 Princes Blvd. Get updates from City of Toronto staff and network with industry and community members. Free with registration here.
- The Music Hall in Hamilton hosts this year’s 15th Annual JR DiGS Acoustic Christmas Concert on Dec. 23. This fundraising extravaganza that has become a holiday season highlight in the region, and last year's event raised an amazing $252.8K, distributed amongst 37 different local and regional charities (see a full list at jrdigs.com). Comedian/concert promoter DiGS likes to keep the full lineup under wraps to create suspense, but he teases Billboard Canada FYI by stating “I can say that this year’s concert will include three big name Canadian artists who have never played it before." Acoustic Christmas regulars include Tom Wilson, Tim Hicks, Max Kerman of The Arkells, The Dirty Nil, and The Trews, while out-of-town guests have included Randy Bachman, Sum 41, Jim Cuddy, Allan Doyle, Lowest Of The Low, July Talk, and many more. Check for tickets here.
- Montreal prog rock singer/songwriter Alex Henry Foster (AHF) has launched his Hope for Morocco campaign, an initiative spawned from the tragic earthquake that hit the southwest region of Morocco in September. Foster has spent time living in Tangier, and the country is dear to his heart. He is joining the quake relief efforts by designing a t-shirt, the profits of which will be divided between the Moroccan Red Cross, the High Atlas Foundation and Banque Alimentaire (Food Bank). You can also donate money through his online store. Find all the details here. Now recovered from heart surgery, Foster will announce a new album soon, plus summer 2024 concert dates.
- The Mariposa Folk Festival's popular annual ‘Evening of Blues & Gospel’ Show returns to the Orillia Opera House on Feb. 3. Curated by musical director Lance Anderson, the concert lineup also includes Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne, Jordan and Prakash John, Ronnie Douglas, and Michael Shand. Tickets here
- Edmonton singer/songwriter Martin Kerr has had a career breakthrough year in 2023. He signed with Terry McBride at Nettwerk and opened an arena tour for Dermot Kennedy which led to a deal with Paquin for future bookings. He is currently going viral with his seasonal tune "God Rest Ye Merry Billionaires," his updated take on a Xmas classic that addresses the topical issue of homelessness. Kerr recently told Edmonton CityNews that "so many people are going to be shivering, hungry on the streets this Christmas, and I think that deserves our attention." His song has already garnered several millions of views across social media platforms, and is a hit on Instagram.
- The new single from the Calgary-based Angela Wrigley Trio, "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?," is a holiday song for the after-Xmas days.
- On Saturday night, The Corktown in Hamilton and Lou Molinaro hosted an entertaining night of rock 'n roll courtesy of local punk heroes Forgotten Rebels and show openers from Detroit, Ricky Rat Pack. The latter impressed with a tight set of melodic garage rock, with all three members contributing vocals. Mainman Ricky Rat won fans by dedicating a song to the late Gord Lewis. Forgotten Rebels kicked things off with a fun take on Gary Glitter's "Hello Hello I'm Back Again," then delivered a high-energy set that naturally featured such Rebels classics as "I'm In Love With The System." The ever-engaging frontman Mickey DeSadist praised Ricky Rat Pack, noting that the two bands first played together in 1984. Veterans? Yes. Over the hill? Decidedly not.
- Rootsy singer/songwriter
Spencer Burton has announced three southern Ontario shows for March. He plays The Rivoli in Toronto, March 7, Rosewood Room in London, March 8, and Warehouse in St. Catharines on March 9. The gigs are in support of his upcoming album on Dine Alone, North Wind, coming Jan. 26. Ticket info here.