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Music News

Music News Digest: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Sizzle at Toronto's Budweiser Stage

Also featured this week: Ottawa's Capital Music Awards, Drake tops BET Awards noms, a star-studded tribute to Toronto indie stalwart Dave Bookman, a fiery new Art Bergmann track and the state-of-the-art future of Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre.

Neil Young

Neil Young

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Neil Young and Crazy Horse are touring North America extensively this summer (the Love Earth Tour), including many Canadian arena and festival dates. Judging by the show they delivered at Toronto's Budweiser Stage on Monday (May 20), fans of the Canadian rock legend are in for a serious treat. Aside from a three song solo segment including a crowd sing-along on "Heart of Gold," the concert concentrated on the full-on sonic assault of Young and his comrades (the rhythm section of 80-year-olds Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot and Micah Nelson on guitar).

The well-curated set list included such Young classics as "Cortez The Killer," "Powderfinger," "F &## Up," "Down By The River," "Like A Hurricane," "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," with the band adding to the original arrangements in intriguing ways. The guitar interplay of Young and Nelson was at times positively transcendent. Long may this genuine rock hero run. Check out his tour itinerary here.


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Awards news

Last week, the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition celebrated the 5th annual Capital Music Awards at the Bronson Centre Music Theatre. The Ottawa region's largest music industry gathering crowned winners across 13 categories and presented performances by Pony Girl, Amanda Rheaume, The Lionyls, J Morris, LeFLOFRANCO and Angelique Francis, who also hosted the event. Winners included Pony Girl, HannahVig, JOLY, The Commotions, N’Nerjie and Canadian Live Music Association head Erin Benjamin, honoured with the Community Impact award. See a list of winners here.

– Drake tops the list of the recently announced BET Awards nominations with seven, followed closely by Nicki Minaj with six and Victoria Monet with five. One of the categories featuring Drake is Music Video of the Year for "First Person Shooter,” a collaboration with J. Cole cited in Drake's current rap beef with Kendrick Lamar. The awards show will be held June 30 in Los Angeles.

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Festivals news

– The annual free three day It’s Your Festival in Hamilton launches June 29 at Gage Park with rock singer-songwriter Sass Jordan headlining that evening. The headliners for the next two nights are Big Sugar (Sunday) and The Jim Cuddy Band (Monday). The lineup on all four stages is all-Canadian.

–Applications for the 2024 Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase close at end of day, May 22. The winner gets a single release with Universal Music Canada, a slot on the 2025 edition of Canada's biggest country festival and Artist Strategy Sessions from RLive Management. Apply here

Industry news

– On May 16, the Oak View Group (OVG), described as “the largest developer of sports and live entertainment venues in the world,” officially broke ground on major renovations to transform FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton into a "state-of-the-art" venue. The $280 million renovation will transform the facility once known as Copps Coliseum into a modernized venue featuring premium seating, clubs, lounges and suites, enhanced acoustics, upgraded concourses, concession areas, artist lounges, production facilities, electrical and lighting upgrades and updated telecommunications infrastructure, wireless network, and video/network/security systems.

On hand for the launch event were Tim Leiweke, Chairman & CEO of Oak View Group, City of Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath, and Live Nation Canada Chairman Riley O’Connor. Live Nation joins OVG as a booking partner in bringing concerts and other live events to the arena. Estimated completion date of the project is fall 2025.

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– A pillar of the Toronto independent music scene, broadcaster and club booker Dave Bookman passed away too young five years ago. He is far from forgotten, as shown by the star-studded lineup of artists to appear at Left Of The Dial, a special Bookman tribute show and benefit for The Daily Bread Food Bank to be held on June 6 at The Garrison in Toronto. Those offering versions of Replacements songs include Ian Blurton, Charlotte Cornfield, John Borra, Georgia Harmer, Katie Cruel, Terra Lightfoot & Jon Auer, Stephen Stanley, Julian Taylor, Skye Wallace, NYSSA, Bry Webb and Dave Robinson. Admission is free with a monetary donation and/or non-perishable food item for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

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CIMA (Canadian Music Industry Association) has organized a business and showcase mission for Canadian Black music professionals to Atlanta, June 8-16. This mission focuses on expanding their careers with B2B and networking opportunities, a Canadian showcase (on June 13 at Vinyl) and creative collaborations for their artists and DJs. More info here.

Artists news

Weewerk Recordings has announced the 10th Anniversary of Art Bergmann's 2014 EP release Songs for The Underclass, and is marking the occasion with a new vinyl pressing and live date in Vancouver at The Rickshaw on July 26 (tickets here). Remixed by Chris Wardman and remastered by Greg Reely, the record was viewed as a comeback by Bergmann after a long absence from the scene.

He may now be an Order of Canada recipient, but Bergmann has refused to mellow. He now takes a courageous stance on the situation in Gaza via new track "Gazacide," with a press release stating he wrote it "in response to the sense of helplessness he felt at seeing coverage of the war in Gaza." The song was recorded with Dave Genn (54-40)and mixed by Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Patti Smith). It is available on iTunes and Bandcamp, with all sales to be donated to Gaza Relief.

– In recent years, Toronto singer-songwriter Monique Barry has been regularly releasing new tracks that are now being compiled on an album, HAAK, to come out on June 20. Barry describes the record as "a seven year journey through elements and emotions." Notable contributors include Juno-winning producer Michael Wojewoda (Brenaked Ladies, Rheostatics), Alisdair Jones and Dean Drouillard. Barry plays a record release show at Toronto's Painted Lady on June 20. Check out her material on Bandcamp.

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– On May 17, Montreal saxophonist-composer Gabriel Genest released a new album, As It Is on ODD SOUND, and he plays a release concert at La Sala Rosa in Montreal on May 23. Stream the new single "Kairos" here.

– After a five year absence, Montreal rock 'n rollers Les Breastfeeders have returned with a new cut, "Les pieds chez toi," out via Bonsound. The band is celebrating 25 years of playing together with multiple shows this year, including at Les Foufounes Électriques, Montreal, on June 22 as part of the Francos de Montréal, and at Le Festif de Baie-Saint-Paul on July 19.

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Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award

Music News

Allison Russell Named Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year

The Nashville-based musician from Montreal has been having a huge year, including her first Grammy and her first Hot 100 appearance. Accepting the award on June 19 at the iHeartRadio Canada studio, she talked about her LGBTQ+ advocacy work and the importance of playing with underrepresented musicians.

It was a special Juneteenth for Allison Russell.

Not only did she serve as the special Toronto opener for Sarah McLachlan on the Canadian icon’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy 30th anniversary tour, but she earned another big honour: Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

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