Music News Digest, March 30, 2023

Awards news

The Country Music Association of Ontario has announced the nominees for the 2023 CMAOntario Awards, and the list is headed by Josh Ross, Tebey, and Robyn Ottolini with five nods apiece, followed by Tim Hicks with four, and Karli June and Nate Haller with three nominations each. See the full list of nominees here. The 11th annual Awards take place on June 4, at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton. Hosted by Jason McCoy and Shannon Ella from Pure Country Radio and presented by Slaight Music, the Awards Show will close out the CMAOntario Festival & Awards Weekend June 2-4. Tickets are on sale now here.

– The SOCAN Foundation has announced Logan Staats as the recipient of this year’s TD Indigenous Songwriter Award. The acclaimed Mohawk artist from Six Nations of the Grand River (in Ontario) is being recognized for his song, Deadman. The Award was created to recognize and celebrate the artistic merit demonstrated by Indigenous songwriters of any genre, and this marks the fifth anniversary of the Award. Staats, winner of The Launch in 2018, will receive a cash prize of $10K in addition to career development opportunities and a performance opportunity in front of music industry professionals. 

Honourable Mention awards of $1K go to Aysanabee, Ila Barker, Kaeley Jade, Uncle Joe, and Twin Flames.  “Empowering Indigenous voices is essential, and we’re thankful for ongoing support from TD to celebrate Indigenous songwriters in Canada,” said Charlie Wall-Andrews, Executive Director of SOCAN Foundation. “The award is designed to celebrate merit in the craft of songwriting.” More info here 

Toronto Arts Foundation has announced Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, Hilario Durán and Joy Lapps as the finalists for the 2023 Muriel Sherrin Award. The award celebrates an artist or creator who has made a contribution to the cultural life of Toronto through outstanding achievement in music. The winner receives a $10K cash prize, while the finalists each receive $1K. The recipient of the award will be announced on April 17. More info here

Festivals news

– Coastal Jazz & Blues Society has added a new venue to Granville Island Jazz as part of this year’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The Revue Stage, located at 1601 Johnston St, hosts the Festival’s Innovation Series, presenting five nights of improvisational musicians and experimental jazz. Programming includes performances at 9 pm nightly from June 29 to July 2. Weekend performances are followed by an 11.30 pm late show. Tickets will be available here to the general public starting today (March 30). 

– NXNE has announced a new round of performers for its 2023 edition, set to run June 13-17. Notables include Fionn, Maky Lavender, Sunset Arcade, and Dali Van Gogh. More info here.

Industry news

– The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently released its 2023 Budget. The key takeaways for the music sector include $3.5M for the Cultural Economic Development Program and $13M for tourism marketing and advertising. Significant support was offered to the province’s film, television, and theatre industry, including increasing the All-Spend Film and Video Production Tax Credit to 40 percent and granting $1M for the Come From Away show debuting in Gander this summer. Source: APA 

– Alanis Morissette is one of the headliners of this year’s concert series at the annual RBC Canadian Open golf tournament. The seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter will close out the two-night concert series on June 10 at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto. Additional performers, including opening acts from RBC’s First Up with RBCxMusic program, will be announced at a later date. In previous years, artists Maroon 5, Flo Rida and The Glorious Sons performed at the event. 

– CIMA is heading back to Hamburg, Germany for Reeperbahn 2023, running Sept. 20-23, and the trade org is now accepting submissions to showcase at Canada House there. Apply here by June 16.  

– Hit Toronto rock band July Talk has announced its first feature documentary, July Talk: Love Lives Here. The film, by first-time director Brittany Farhat, will premiere at Hot Docs this May. Farhat documented the months of panic and epiphany in the leadup to July Talk’s lauded pandemic Drive-In Shows of 2020, and augmented with unreleased archival footage spanning a decade, follows the thoughtful group of artists to a crossroads of identity and circumstance. The film premieres at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto on May 3 (8.30 pm), with an encore screening on May 5 (9 pm) at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 

– The next online Indie Weekly session, on April 4, features singer/songwriter Scott Haggard, son of the legendary outlaw country star Merle Haggard. Free tix here.

– On April 1 at 7 pm, Greg Godovitz presents his Storytellers show, Up Close And Uncomfortable, at The Mule Spinner in Hamilton. The show features songs from the rock veteran’s sixty-year career including Fludd, Goddo, The Carpet Frogs and a solo album, alongside stories from his two published books Travels With My Amp and Up Close And Uncomfortable!  A guaranteed entertaining evening. Tix here

Artists news

– Award-winning East Coast singer-songwriter Tara MacLean (Shaye) is receiving plenty of attention for her just-published and very candid memoir, Song of the Sparrow, on HarperCollins. Such stars and peers as Jann Arden, Bryan Adams, Dido, and Lisa Ray have given the book a thumbs-up. Coinciding with its publication is a new album, Sparrow, that comes out tomorrow (March 31). The record comprises reworked earlier tunes as well as new material produced by Daniel Ledwell (Fortunate Ones, Good Lovelies, Jenn Grant). MacLean is now out promoting both the book and album with her Songs & Stories performances, with upcoming dates including Calgary, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, Charlottetown, and Halifax. Itinerary and tix here. MacLean has written and recorded six solo albums and two with Shaye, beginning with her solo debut on Nettwerk in 1996.

– After a very long absence from the scene, diamond-selling singer-songwriter Amanda Marshall has announced she’ll release a new original song collection, Heavy Lifting (Coalition Music) this summer, with the first single, I Hope She Cheats, out tomorrow (March 31). It will be promoted with 25 & Counting: The Heavy Lifting Tour,  a cross-Canada tour that kicks off on June 11 in Moncton, with stops across the country including performances at Toronto’s Massey Hall and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. Itinerary here. Marshall’s self-titled debut release has the distinction of being one of only 24 Canadian albums to achieve Diamond certification in Canada, with sales exceeding 1M copies domestically (and 6M internationally). A vinyl release of that album comes out on May 12.

– Now based in Nice, France, eloquent Canadian singer/songwriter Selina Martin is getting rave reviews for her new album, Time Spent Swimming, which debuted at #1 on the NACC chart. She has just crossed the Atlantic for some Canadian shows, starting tonight (March 30) at The Lido in Vancouver, followed by dates in Osoyoos, Penticton, and Duncan BC, and a hometown (early) show at The Dakota in Toronto on April 14. More details are here. Check out a recent TV interview and performance here.

– The term “supergroup” is not one to be used lightly, but in Canadian rock terms Ian Blurton’s Future Now definitely justifies the tag. Hard rock guitar hero Blurton has fronted the likes of Change of Heart, C’mon, Blurtonia, and more, and for this current project, he has recruited some killer players. Joining the rhythm section of Blue Rodeo drummer Glenn Milchem and versatile bassist Anna Ruddick (Randy Bachman, Lee Harvey Osmond) is guitarist Aaron Goldstein (City and Colour, Espanola), and they add fire and muscle to Blurton’s riffing and rugged vocals. Last Sat. night, the band took The Casbah in Hamilton by storm, with show promoter Lou Molinaro astutely noting that “it’s like seeing an arena rock band in a club.” Their classic sound incorporates many different styles of hard rock, with reference points ranging from Thin Lizzy to Iron Maiden to Kyuss, and the end result is loud and exhilarating. The good news is that IBFN has reportedly been recording plenty of new material. Also highly impressive in their opening slot was Bonnie Trash, an all-femme quartet who rocked out righteously on material from its recent album Malocchio

–  Oshawa guitar-driven outlaw rock n’ roll band The Standstills have released the official music video for their single, Motherlode. The track is off their 2022 album, Shockwave, from MNRK Music Group, and features Jesse Hughes from Eagles Of Death Metal. The video was filmed this past fall while the band was on tour with Three Days Grace. The group plays summer shows in the UK and Germany supporting EODM.

– Renowned PEI-based singer/songwriter Catherine MacLellan has announced she’ll be reprising her popular show The Songs Of Gene MacLellan this summer at Harbourfront Theatre in her hometown of Summerside. Dates are select Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. More info and tix here.

–  With over 60 international awards combined in the Roots and Blues genres, Canadian veterans Suzie Vinnick and Charlie A’Court have teamed up with Australian blues star Lloyd Spiegel on a joint album, A’Court, Spiegel and Vinnick. Ahead of its May release, the trio are taking the album on the road this spring in what they’ve dubbed their “International Roots ‘n’ Blues Kitchen Party” tour. The extensive trek begins tonight (March 30) in Meaford, ON, and runs to May 7. Check dates here.

–  Canadian rock band The Watchmen announce the Silent Radar Super Deluxe Anniversary Edition, set for release on April 14 via UMC. The digital-only album celebrates the 25th anniversary of Silent Radar with 46 specially curated tracks recorded at a time when the band was arguably at their peak.

-–  Sass Jordan has teamed up with Deko Entertainment to take a look back at the Rats’ tour with the upcoming release of Live in New York Ninety-Four, which was recorded at the South Street Seaport in NYC during that 1994 tour. The band at that time included the late great drummer Taylor Hawkins, and, in a press release, Jordan states that “As we hit the milestone that marks one year since Taylor left us, I wanted to do something to honour his memory–a recognition and appreciation for his glorious, big, beautiful energy–which lives on through this recording and in all of our hearts. That’s why we offer this now ….” Here’s the first single off the album. 

– Tomorrow (March 31, at 8 pm), Humber Music presents its 50th Anniversary Spring Showcase concert. Guests include Laila Biali (with Larnell Lewis and George Koller), The Humber 50th Anniversary Band, and the Carandang Pincente Jazz Orchestra. The concert is at Humber College, Lakeshore Campus, Auditorium 3199 Lakeshore Blvd West, Toronto.