Music News Digest, Nov. 23, 2023

Billboard FYI's weekly roundup of music news.

SOCAN's Liam Russell (l) and James Barker

SOCAN's Liam Russell (l) and James Barker

Courtesy Photo

Awards news

SOCAN Creative Executive, Nashville and Los Angeles, Liam Russell recently presented two SOCAN No. 1 Song Awards to James Barker, co-writer of two chart-topping country songs by the James Barker Band: “Meet Your Mama” and “Over All Over Again.” More info here.

Industry news

- On Nov. 17, on what would have been the 85th birthday of Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot, Massey Hall, in collaboration with the Gordon Lightfoot Estate, announced a Celebrating Gordon Lightfoot event on May 23, 2024, at Massey Hall. The evening will feature two house bands, Blue Rodeo and the members of Gordon Lightfoot's longtime band, The Lightfoot Band (Rick Haynes, Barry Keane, Mike Heffernan and Carter Lancaster), joined by an all-star cast of performers, including Allison Russell, Aysanabee, Burton Cummings, William Prince, Meredith Moon, Sylvia Tyson, The Good Brothers, Tom Cochrane, and Caroline Wiles & Bob Doidge, with more to be announced.


Proceeds will support Massey Hall, a charitable not-for-profit. Lightfoot has a long and illustrious history with the storied venue, having graced its stage more than 170 times—more than any other artist in the Hall’s 130-year history. He was the last artist to perform before Massey Hall closed for renovations in 2018 and the first to appear after the re-opening. Tix go on sale today (Nov. 23) at 10 a.m. here or at 416-872-4255.

- On Dec. 2, at Collective Arts in Toronto, the Lovetown Records label will showcase its roster. The event will host performances from Sunshine Makers (featuring label co-founders Brent Jackson and Shayn Barnes), SHEBAD,and J3M. Tix here.

- There will be A Celebration of Life event for renowned music producer/audio engineer Peter J. Moore at Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square, Toronto, on Sat. Nov. 25, 4-6 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to


- Prolific Canadian music journalist David McPherson recently published (via Dundurn Press) a new book, 101 Fascinating Canadian Music Facts. On Nov. 29 ( 7 p.m.), at The Casbah Lounge in Hamilton, he discusses it in conversation with music promoter/artist manager Tim Des Islets.

The Toronto music community is still mourning the loss of singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer David Gavan Baxter. Two celebrations to honour Baxter will take place at TO roots music hub, Cameron House. On Dec. 9 (from 1-6), his longtime band Hey Stella present The Last Hurrah, with ace guest guitarists Kevin Breit, Nichol Robertson, Derek Downham, Champagne James Robertson, Ken Kelley, and more. Then, on Jan. 11 (from 2-8 p.m.) David’s Memorial Celebration features performances by: Justin Rutledge, Blake Manning, Treasa Levasseur, and more.

Artists news

- Acclaimed Toronto jazz artist and CBC host Laila Biali embarks on a trans-Canada Wintersongs & Holiday Classics tour, beginning on Nov. 30. She’ll feature her Wintersongs suite and familiar holiday fare with a band including award-winning multi-instrumentalist Jane Bunnett (Ontario + Western Canadian dates) and Jeff Goodspeed (Eastern dates), a string ensemble, and the addition of local youth choirs in select cities. The tour launches on Nov. 30 in Annapolis Royal, NS, and closes out at the NAC in Ottawa, Dec. 20. More details here.


- Since moving to Austin, Canadian honkytonk singer/songwriter Whitney Rose has made quite a splash on the scene there. After a rather long absence from the stage, she returns to the province of her birth, Prince Edward Island, for a holiday-themed concert on Dec. 6. Entitled A Real Rosie Christmas, it is set for Trailside Music Hall. Highly recommended. Tix here.

- The Violet Archers, solo project of Rheostatics’ Tim Vesely, have just released two new songs, “Animal Song" and "Nobody Knows." The former reunites Vesely with Sarah Harmer, who first collaborated on Rheostatics’ The Story of Harmelodia (1999). Since starting out in 2005, Violet Archers have released two albums. Vesely has kept busy recording and producing other artists in his role as in-house engineer/producer at Blue Rodeo’s Woodshed. More info here.


- Last week, CFMA-winning Toronto folk singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell released a new album, Lullabies. Recorded by Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) at his studio, it includes songs in English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, German, Japanese, and Welsh. Lapell wrote one original song in English, “Go To Sleep”, for the project. Check it out here.

- Flore Laurentienne, the project by Montreal composer, orchestrator and musician Mathieu David Gagnon, recently signed with Secret City Records and released a new song entitled “Au couchant." Next up is a residency from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MBAM), where the composer will work in a room featuring works by Jean Paul Riopelle, whom he selected for the depth of his art and its engagement with landscapes. A major concert at the MBAM’s Salle Bourgie will follow on March 23. Tickets are on sale now.

The Weeknd with Metro Boomin and Future
@metroboomin Instagram

The Weeknd with Metro Boomin and Future

Rb Hip Hop

The Weeknd Spotted at Kendrick Lamar's 'Pop Out' Concert in Los Angeles

Unlike former Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan, the Scarborough-born artist never got onstage, but he was in the audience of the show that featured Drake diss tracks 'Not Like Us' and 'Euphoria.'

Kendrick Lamar took over the internet last night (June. 19) with his "Pop Out" concert live-streamed on Prime Video from the Kia Forum in Los Angeles. If it wasn't clear Kendrick had won public opinion in his beef with Drake, it was when the stage united cultural figures from L.A. — from up-and-comers to legends like Dr. Dre, basketball stars like Russell Westbrook, even someone Drake name-dropped in one of his diss tracks, DJ Mustard — to dance along to the scathing "Not Like Us."

DeMar DeRozan, the beloved former Toronto Raptor who was once close enough to Drake that he spilled the beans on an upcoming mixtape joined fellow L.A.-born NBA player Westbrook onstage at the Forum during "Not Like Us."

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