Music News Digest: December 18, 2017

Canada’s sweetheart music biz couple, Jennifer Walsh and Derrick Ross, tied the knot at a civil ceremony in Toronto on Dec. 14. She is Director for Apple’s App Store, iTunes and iBooks in Canada, and he is President of Slaight Music. We wish the couple the very best over the holiday season and forever after.

Daniel Caesar’s Freudian (Golden Child) is #1 on Now magazine’s list of Best Toronto albums of 2017, describing it (in part) as being “direct in sentiment, but rich and complex in its arrangements”. Jackie Shane and Alvvays land in 3rd and 4th place respectively.

– Country-music stalwart Brett Kissel says he’s done looking for a US breakthrough, but he’s got Garth Brooks in his corner and a bankable, interest-earning career at home here in Canada. Nick Krewen spins the story in The Star.

–  Once an important part of the PEI. music scene, the Close to the Coast music festival at Baba's Lounge in Charlottetown is being revived after eight years to honour its founder, the late Lloyd Doyle. The lineup includes Flush, Eyes for Telescopes, Haunted Hearts, The Sidewalks, and Elephant Rock.

A musical work recorded two kilometers underground is now available in digital mini-disc format. Fragments Noirs, by Sudbury-based composer Robert Lemay, has been published by Centretracks, a renowned label for contemporary classical music, according to a release from 5-Penny New Music Concerts. Composed of nine short fragments or musical commentaries, the composition was recorded by the saxophone duo Stereoscope in the SNOLAB neutrino observatory.

Taylor Swift’s 2018 tour includes two Canadian shows, at Rogers Centre Toronto, on Aug. 3-4.

SOCAN Foundation launches a gift of music charitable fund this week. The launch ties into the Foundation's 25th anniversary. In the quarter-century the charitable arm of SOCAN has awarded $25M to Canadian music initiatives spanning 6K grants to individuals and organizations supporting Canadian composers and songwriters in Canada. Details about the latest initiative can be found here.

– Montreal singer/songwriter Helena Deland makes her label debut on Luminelle Recordings. The new imprint is fronted by Chris Cantalini who founded the influential blog Gorilla vs. Bear out of Texas. Luminelle is a partnership with Fat Possum Records' House Arrest Distribution. Deland won strong notices last year with the release of her Drawing Room four-song EP.

– Sakamoto Ent. Live event VP Shawn Sakamoto tells IQ magazine that he would like to see Canadian content regulations introduced to the domestic live music sector, which he believes has suffered due to “monopolisation of the touring market by entities such as Live Nation”. He advocates Canadian artists being added to national tours by international performers in order to give them further exposure.

– Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts the inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival from Feb. 16-18.

– At 95, Dolf Hantelmann is closing the lid on his piano-tuning career. For the past 50 years the Edmonton resident has been making sure pianos produce the correct notes and, in the past 25 years, he has helped maintain the 100 or so pianos at MacEwan University’s Conservatory of Music. “I hear if a piano is out of tune and it bothers me,” the now-retired tuner tells Edmonton Journal scribbler, Juris Graney. Hantelmann said he would miss his job, but he might be convinced to bust out the piano tuning equipment for special requests. 

Variety has released its Best Albums Of 2017 list that fails to acknowledge any Canadian titles. Making the cut is Elwan by Tinariwen from North West Africa, featured in the clip below.

– Rocket Man’s career in music will be celebrated by a hit parade of artists at a special concert called "I'm Still Standing: A Grammy Salute," to be held Jan. 30 at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Among those named to perform Elton John’s music: Chris Martin, Keith Urban, Kesha, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town and Miley Cyrus.

Ever wonder what your favourite album is made of lyrically?

–  Erin Costelo spends 10 days in rural Nova Scotia, self-producing and recording her fifth studio album and then heads to Germany and Austria for concert dates through March. For the recording, she's teaming up with Amelia Curran to shoot an IndieGoGo-funded doc about the making of the album. More about the sessions and Costelo's future plans here.

– Newfoundland and Labrador is making its musical mark — two schools in St. John's have won two out of the six categories for this year's Canadian Music Class Challenge. The Canadian Music Class Challenge is CBC Music's salute to music education in this country.

–  Calgary Opera has hired a new general director, Keith Cerny,  previously the general director and CEO of The Dallas Opera. He takes up the position in January, replacing Bob McPhee, who  retired after 19 years at the helm of Calgary Opera.

–  Winnipeg modern rockers Sc Mira have announced a signing with US management and A&R notable Tom Sarig's new label, AntiFragile Music. Sarig has worked with Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, and Sigur Ros. The deal begins with Sc Mira's recently released EP, Keep Crawling, with a second EP due out in the new year. The band has teamed up with Crosley Radio to release live performance videos of all the songs from the Keep Crawling EP. Ralph James of APA Canada is Sc Mira's agent.


Jack Boyle, a legendary US concert promoter, has died at age 83. Based in Washington DC, Boyle founded Cellar Door Productions with partner Sam L’ Hommedieu, while establishing area venues like The Crazy Horse, The Bayou and The Cellar. It became one of the country’s major showcase rooms, hosting artists such as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, John Denver, Neil Young and Jackson Browne.

A 1971 Gordon Lightfoot show at Constitution Hall in DC saw Boyle plunge into concert promotion, with Cellar Door presenting shows along the Atlantic coast. Boyle sold Cellar Door and his real estate (including Nissan Pavilion) to SFX in 1998 for more than $100M and the title of SFX Music Division chief. There he worked with such top live executives as Arthur Fogel, Michael Cohl, and Ron Delsner. He retired from the business in '06. Source: Pollstar

Ralph Carney, an American singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, died on Dec. 16 at age 61. His career began as a founding member of the band Tin Huey, but is best known for his long association with Tom Waits, and, as a session and performing musician working with The B-52's, Elvis Costello, Jonathan Richman, Les Claypool, Stan Ridgway, Medeski Martin & Wood, Bill Laswell, and The Black Keys. He also released several solo albums, and was a member of the Oranj Symphonette.

Keely Smith (born Dorothy Keely), an American jazz singer, has died at age 89. Smith and her husband, trumpet star Louis Prima, were the most successful Las Vegas lounge act of the '50s, playing at the Sahara Hotel, with the Rat Pack often in attendance. The couple starred in the 1959 film Hey Boy! Hey Girl! and released a series of  successful albums on Capitol.

The pair divorced in 1961, and Smith found solo success. Her album with Nelson Riddle’s orchestrations, I Wish You Love, sold over a million copies and earned a Grammy nomination. The swing revival of the '90s boosted her career, and she received another Grammy nomination in '01 for the album, Keely Sings Sinatra. Smith has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Source: The Guardian

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