Music News Digest: Vancouver and Kingston's Music City Strategies, July Talk & More
This first weekly roundup of the new year also includes Canadian music news on Hillside and Winterfolk festivals, a Hamilton holiday singalong and a Black Canadian history school tour from artist D.O. Gibson.
The popular Guelph-based festival Hillside has announced the lineup of its Hillside Inside event, running in the downtown core from Feb. 2-4. Notable names featured include Matt Andersen, NOBRO, Abigail Lapell and Minuscule. Tickets on sale here now.
- The Toronto folk/roots festival Winterfolk has been forced to cancel its Feb. 2024 edition due to a health issue of its Festival Director and Founder Brian Gladstone, who recently disclosed his diagnosis of leukemia. The fest's website explains that "Acknowledging the complexity of the decision, organizers intend to utilize this hiatus to collaborate closely with artists, sponsors, and the community, actively seeking valuable input and ideas to ensure that the 2025 edition surpasses the expectations of Winterfolk’s dedicated fan base."
- Vancouver has created a new music task force, one the Georgia Straightstates "is actually being charged with helping the City implement its music strategy, giving advice and insight into what the sector needs to thrive." A press release explains that the task force will help the City "celebrate the sound of Vancouver and the music of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and attracting and retaining artists, businesses, tourism opportunities and events that strengthen the local economy.”
- Kingston, Ontario is also moving forward with a music strategy and is establishing a music office. In a news story, Yahoo's Local Journalism Initiativereports that "At the last meeting before Christmas, Kingston city council approved funding for the establishment of the city's music strategy. $200,000 in funding will be allocated from the capital budget to establish a music office and support music programming in the city for the year, with the majority of funding covering the salary of the music officer and likely one staff member.
"The strategy hopes to improve living and working conditions for musicians and industry workers while also better leveraging Kingston's existing music scene as a piece of the city's tourism tapestry."
- The Hamilton Music Collective has announced an impressive lineup for its Winter 2024 Jazz Concert Series. The 13th annual series takes place at the HMC Centre for Performance and Education, with series tickets on sale now and individual tickets available from Jan. 8 here. Acclaimed bassist Dave Young (Oscar Peterson) launches the series with his quintet on Feb. 1, and Pat LaBarbera and friends will celebrate the classic bossa nova jazz record by Stan Getz and João Gilberto on Feb. 29. The Tim Clarke Quintet perform the music of Horace Silver on March 28, and the series closes on April 25 with Juno-winning vocalist Diana Panton, accompanied by Reg Schwager and Don Thompson. The concerts support the An Instrument For Every Child program.
- A second Memorial Celebration for Toronto roots music guitarist and producer David Baxter is set for The Cameron House, his hometown stomping ground, on Jan. 11, from 2 -8 p.m. Those performing will include Justin Rutledge, Blake Manning and Treasa Levasseur.
- The 15th annual JR DiGS Acoustic Christmas concert took place at The Music Hall in downtown Hamilton on Dec. 23, and it lived up to its reputation as one of the crucial dates on the city's concert calendar. Last year's event raised just over $250K for 37 local charities, and a similar outcome is expected from this one. Irrepressible comedian host DiGS kept the lineup under wraps, but, as expected, such local regulars as Tom Wilson, Tim Hicks, The Trews, The Arkells and Luke Bentham (The Dirty Nil) performed, alongside the likes of Dwayne Gretzky, Golden Feather, members of Sum 41 and first-time guests Scott Anderson (Finger 11) and new Hamilton resident Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies). The capacity crowd was in a singalong mood, joining in on Wilson's anthem "Shine," Finger Eleven's "One Thing," Crash Test Dummies' "Superman's Song," Hicks' "Stronger Beer," Arkells hits, and others. One fun evening.
- Toronto rapper and educator Duane “D.O.” Gibson will kick off his annual Black Canadian history "Songs of Freedom" school tour on Jan. 8. The tour will culminate in his third annual virtual Black 365 Conference on Feb. 13, in support of Black History Month, and expected to draw an audience of over 50K students nationwide. More information here. Gibson also releases a new EP, Songs of Freedom, on Feb. 9, produced by Beatchild and Saukrates.
- Given the group's stature, the recent release of a new EP from Toronto rock band July Talk is rather under the radar. That may be because Solstice is a covers album, featuring fresh takes on an eclectic assortment of tunes from Mclusky, James, FKA twigs, Wilco and Floyd Red Crow Westerman. The record is available here. Check out a cut here.
- Vancouver indie-rock band Hotel Mira has announced an extensive Canadian tour, beginning at Victoria's Capital Ballroom on Jan. 17, and closing out at Club Saw in Ottawa on Feb. 18. The trek will promote HM's latest album, I Am Not Myself, and Fake Shark is on board in support. Itinerary and tix at MODO LIVE.
- Toronto roots music troubadour John Borra is teaming up with Carolyn Mark, Hank Pine and Britt Hibbert for a tour of the B.C. coast this month. The trek begins at The Wise Hall in Vancouver on Jan. 17, closing out at Big Bad John's in Victoria on Jan. 28. A full itinerary here. Check dates here.