The Billboard Canada FYI Bulletin: CMW and CIMA Celebrate the Independent Music Industry

Also in this week's roundup of industry news: Larry LeBlanc is back in the saddle, celebrating outlaw country singer Dick Damron and a "revolutionary pop anthem."

AR Paisley

AR Paisley headlines the 2024 Indies award show at Canadian Music Week

Kishan Mistry

– Canadian-born rapper AR Paisley headlines this year’s Jim Beam Indies shindig at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on June 6. It’s part of the multi-day Canadian Music Week conference and allied music festival. Paisley is currently on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 as part of a collaboration with late Punjabi-Canadian artist Sidhu Moose Wala.

–Nominations are open for CIMA's 2024 Make It Music Awards that celebrate noteworthy achievements of those members of the indie music org. Formerly called CIMA’s Celebration & Awards Gala, the Make It Music Awards take place on the evening before the 2nd annual Make It Music Summit (April 24-25).


- Many, myself included, have wondered why Larry LeBlanc’s byline in Celebrity Access has been missing these last couple of months. He reappeared this week with another one of his ‘In the Hot Seat with’ feature interviews and with his reappearance came an email explaining his absence. It turns out he contracted Covid late last year, and then, in December, contracted bacterial pneumonia that put him in hospital for 10 days and caused him to lose 30 pounds. He’s slowly regaining his strength and says he’s recovered “probably 70%.”

Separately, he tells us that he’s co-written 15 songs with Acadian blues guitarist JP Leblanc and plans a trip to Nashville in April to record 10 of them with Colin Linden producing. And a hearty congrats to Larry and partner Anya Wilson on 40 years together. From all of us, welcome back fellow scribbler and good times going forward for the two of you.

– According to a Facebook post from Dave Balay, Bentley, AB’s self-styled outlaw country singer-songwriter and fine picker Dick Damron is in hospital and apparently not faring so well. He turns 90 next month. For those not familiar with the name, Damron was a prolific recording artist who charted 14 Top 10 singles in Canada and won numerous awards including an induction to the International Country Music Hall of Fame, in Beaumont, TX. In 1997, Quarry Press published his autobiography which spins a collection of wild, rollicking stories. Long out of print, it can still be found on sites such as and Abe’s Books.


– Iranian-born, UK-based musician and singer-songwriter Sepp Osley is gearing up for the release of his new single “Sing” – a song he describes as “a revolutionary pop anthem” celebrating the woman-led revolution in Iran. He has been on the front lines of a globally heard revolution in his country of birth for the past year, using his platform as an artist to do exactly as his new song states – “Sing” – for the freedom of his oppressed country and peace in a war-ravaged world. Sepp and brother Sohl earlier formed Blurred Vision in Toronto, but then moved their base to Britain.

Owen Riegling
Matt Berinato

Owen Riegling

Latest News

Owen Riegling Is Going on a Tour of Small Towns in Canada

The emerging Mildmay, Ontario country singer is forgoing big city venues to perform for free in twelve small-town bars around the country. As for bigger Canadian markets, Billy Idol, Deep Purple, Sean Paul and more have also announced new Canadian dates.

Canadian country singer Owen Riegling is buckling up for a unique summer tour. The emerging artist is honouring his small town roots — Riegling hails from Mildmay, Ontario — with free performances in 12 small-town bars across four provinces.

The term small-town is a bit loose here: several of the performances are actually in small-ish cities like Thunder Bay, Saskatoon and Sault Ste. Marie. But they're certainly in places that often get overlooked by touring acts, especially rapidly rising stars like Riegling.

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