Music News Digest, Nov. 8, 2017

Known as a musical visionary, Bjork is now also thinking outside the box in a business sense. She releases Utopia, her ninth studio album, on Nov. 24 (on One Little Indian), and is making it available for purchase using cryptocurrency.

– Canadian rock outfit Theory Of A Deadman is making significant moves in the US and at home with the single, "Rx (Medicate)." The track has claimed the #1 spot at Active Rock Radio in the US for multiple weeks and is currently #3 on Canada's Rock Radio chart. It has surpassed 13 million streams, adding over one million streams each week.

This It is the lead single from the band's new album, Wake Up Call (on Atlantic/604 Records). TOAD is currently toplining US tour dates and has announced 2018 Western Canada shows in Feb. and March. Itinerary here

– The Unison Holiday Schmoozefest is now firmly established as the must-attend Toronto music industry party of the season.  A benefit for the Unison Benevolent Fund, it is set for Dec. 11 (from 7 pm) at Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar.

Early Bird tickets are now on sale, and if you buy them before Nov. 15, you'll save $5 and be entered to win a free foursome entry for the Canadian Entertainment Charity Golf Classic at the Lionhead Golf Club in Brampton Ontario, sporting an approximate value of $1.5K. DJ for the evening will again be Brendan Canning, from Broken Social Scene, and the event gives you a chance to whisper holiday wishes in the ear of Santa Paul Mason. Tickets available here

– The winners of the recent CASBY Awards, hosted by 102.1 The Edge in Toronto, are Ascot Royals (Favourite New Artist), Hollerado (Favourite Sugar Beach Session), Arkells (Favourite New Song for "Knocking At The Door"), and Mother Mother (Favourite New Record for New Culture).

Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group are among the music companies that have assured employees this week that they will continue to cover contraception despite the Trump administration’s recent moves to repeal the requirement that employers do so for free.

Independents grossed over US$6B in sales in 2016, accounting for 38 percent of the global recorded music market, according to a new report from Worldwide Independent Network (WIN). A key distinction of the study -- compiled by Mark Mulligan of MIDiA Research using data from 660 respondents, including labels and distributors across 26 countries – is that its findings are based on rights ownership, not distribution as per IFPI's annual "Global Music Report."

Gord Downie squeezes in (at the back) in British artist Chris Barker’s updated Sgt. Pepper album cover montage of this year’s deceased. Subtle touches include the Mandalay Bay hotel in the background as a reminder of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting, a tree whipped by winds that references this year's deadly hurricanes, a roll of paper towels similar to those Pres. Trump insensitively tossed at San Juan hurricane victims, and the word "Brexit" floating in rising flood water.

Shawn Mendes’unplugged’ album, recorded during an MTV session in Sept., has just been released. Here’s his stripped-down version of his own song “Bad Reputation,” first appearing on the 2016 Live at Madison Garden LP. The kid has unmistakable talent, and this version is killer.

And apropos of nothing and included purely for your pleasure, Rodney Crowell’s short-lived The Notorious Cherry Bombs performing their 2004 one-and-only hit, “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.”

Van Morrison is back making records at a furious pace. Following his nostalgic R&B collection, Roll With the Punches, in Sept., comes the jazzy Versatile on Dec. 1. The new 16-song record includes songs made popular by Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, the Righteous Brothers, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole, alongside six new songs Morrison wrote for the album. Here’s the Belfast Cowboy in performance at Eden Project, a transformed clay quarry in Cornwall, England, earlier this year.

Pitchfork has re-published Invisible Hits columnist Tyler Wilcox’s collection of less obvious Joni Mitchell performances. Wilcox is famous for scouring the internet for the best (and strangest) bootlegs, rarities, outtakes, and live clips. Below, Mitchell is singing “Sugar Mountain” during a 1967 radio interview, before its release by its creator, Neil Young.

–  Nashville-based music-business company Big Loud has just announced the signing of US hat star Jake Owen to its Big Loud Records division. With this move, Owen is reunited with one of the founders of the Big Loud organization Joey Moi, who produced Owen's breakthrough album, Barefoot Blue Jean, which registered four consecutive #1 hits.

Producer/songwriter Moi (Nickelback, Dallas Smith, Florida Georgia Line) is Canadian, as is another co-founder of Big Loud, veteran artist manager Kevin “Chief” Zaruk. They are joined by award-winning songwriter Craig Wiseman and VP Seth England at the helm of the fast-rising company, one that is involved with song publishing, artist development, management, production, promotion, and capital investment.

– Hamilton blues singer/guitarist Tim Gibbons was recently selected to represent the Grand River Blues Society at the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. To help him get there, some Hammer pals, including publicity wizard Ellen Davidson and Cadillac Bill are helping to organise a fundraising benefit at The Casbah on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 11). Featured performers include Steve Strongman, Jesse O'Brien, Ginger St. James, SnowHeel Slim, Big Rude Jake, and Hell Bent Rockers.

–  Highly-rated singer/songwriter Kashka (aka Kat Burns) will play a solo show at Toronto's Monarch Tavern on Thursday (Nov. 9)  to raise funds for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Also on the bill are Lolaa, Regina Gently, and Rapport. Kashka, gigging to promote her new EP Relax, also plays Less Bar in Toronto on Nov. 16 and Good Sport in London, ON, on Nov. 19.

– The 11th annual Yardbird Festival of Canadian Jazz is now taking place in Edmonton, featuring 12 acts spread out over eight nights (Nov. 3-11) at the jazz club. Chilean-born Calgary saxophonist Oliver Miguel debuts his Latin jazz quintet Nov. 8, while trumpeter Lena Allemano shares a Nov. 10 bill with the all-star group The North, featuring Mike Murley and David Braid. On Nov. 11, Montreal pianist John Roney and Israeli-born reedman Tevet Sela perform as a duo, The River, on a bill with Toronto trumpeter Alexis Baro and his Afro-Cuban band Pueblo Nuevo. Check the yardbirdsuite.com  for details.

–  American hip-hop artist and producer blackbear was surprised by Universal Music Canada presenting him with a Platinum plaque (certified by Music Canada) for his track “do re mi.” The notable occasion was made before his set opening for Fall Out Boy at the Air Canada Centre.

– Canadian vocal stars The Tenors launch their North American holiday tour in LA on Nov. 18. The trek will get a boost when the trio makes a debut appearance on NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center tree lighting special taking place in NYC on Nov. 29 and airing live at 8 pm ET. The Tenors will perform two songs from their new seasonal confection, Christmas Together (now out on Universal Music Canada (UMC) and Decca/Verve Label Group in the US).

Catherine MacLellan's show of the songs and the stories of her father, songwriting giant Gene MacLellan, has been a hit on the East Coast. She is now bringing it to Ontario for five dates, beginning tonight (Nov. 8) at Hugh's Room Live in Toronto, and then in Ottawa, Port Hope, Guelph, and Peterborough. More details here. Catherine's latest album, If It’s Alright With You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan, came out on True North in June.

RIP

Robert Knight (born Robert Peebles), the original singer of “Everlasting Love,” died after suffering from a short illness, Nov. 5, at age 72. Knight first emerged onto the music scene in the Paramounts, a quintet that debuted in 1961 with the minor hit, “Free Me.”

While at university, Knight sang with vocal trio The Fairlanes, which eventually led to a solo recording deal with Rising Sons Records. His first release was “Everlasting Love,” written by Buzz Carson and Mac Gayden. The song peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and was a No. 1 UK hit in 1968 for Love Affair. Others covering the track include U2, Carl Carlton, and Gloria Estefan. After some minor hits in the '70s, Knight retired from music.

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