Cover Story

Tanika Charles Endless Chain on a Soul Run

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The first thing you feel when you hear Tanika Charles talk about her music and performing is the passion in her voice. Tanika is filled with passion; about her songs, her music, her band, her loves, her life. Her passion, performance and songwriting combine the strength of her soul while showing her vulnerable side through her music.

‘’I was surrounded by music growing up. My Dad, Leonard, always had great records playing so I heard Spiro Jiro, George Benson, Chante Moore, George Duke, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and so many more. I always loved the soulful vocals of Patti LaBelle, Nina Simone and Etta James but the one that really was a huge influence on me was Paula Abdul. I am a dancer and a singer and so she really has it all.”

“My older brother Rudy is also a greatly multi-talented man; he can play any instrument so he inspired me as well.”

Tanika Charles has also appeared on television with a re-occurring guest spot on CBC Kids, and a torchy lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls, a much acclaimed drama series. Her music has been featured on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie Blue, The CW’s Seed and CTV’s Saving Hope. In 2017 Tanika made her theatrical debut with the touring production of Freedom Singer.

Stay Groovy and Have Mercy!

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Submitted by MERCY The Band (Ted Lalonde/Shelley Buffitt)

When Steve Clark introduced Chris “Travis” Townes, Pat Lalonde and Ted Lalonde to Shelley Buffitt and her daughter Alysha Carman in May 2016 to perform at a benefit concert in Marathon, Ontario in June, little did they know that nine months later they’d be Mercy The Band.

“Shortly after the June 2016 concert in Marathon, I became quite ill. Unfortunately, we had to cancel a couple of gigs that Steve booked for us in August and September, 2016. I also had to leave the Clay Williams “Canal Pursuit” marathon run, in which I was selected Crew Chief. I took the next few months to recover and in February 2017, I received a call from Chris “Travis” asking if I was able to perform for The 6th Annual Unplugged for Cancer Concert in Marathon in March,” explains Shelley. The group got together within days to start practicing and the performance went very well. On March 22nd they officially became Mercy The Band and began collaborating on original material. What followed was a recording session on April 29th at Pennock Studio in Thunder Bay, with Producer (Steve) Clark and Sound Engineer Bob Kovacs.

Eric Andersen Mingle With the Universe: The Worlds of Lord Byron

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Submitted by Don Graham

You’re Eric Andersen. You have iconic status, you have a Gold Membership card to the folk elite club with fellow members like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell. You were there when the great folk boom exploded. This is your time to bask in the golden light and soft glow of all you have accomplished in your music career. That’s what one would think.

But Eric Andersen has a different approach to it all. Not content to look back at his past, he keeps pushing himself onwards, always looking for something new and fresh to sink his creative artistry into. Perhaps deep down he is driven by the edict of the great poet Blake who said an artist has a duty to create. From the beginning with songs like ‘Thirsty Boots’, ‘I Shall Go Unbounded’, ‘Violets of Dawn’ and ‘Close the Door Lightly When You Go’ to the later years of ‘Blue River’, Eric secured a deep rooted place in Americana history. For six decades now Eric Andersen has been writing songs and making records and I’ll bet you if you told a young Eric in 1966 that he would still be making records (and relevant records, not reissues) 50 years later in 2016 he would be hard pressed to believe you. But that’s exactly what he’s doing. Lately, Eric has taken the words and works of some literary giants from the past and written music to accompany their poetry and prose to bring it into the 21st century. He managed to take the works of the great existentialist Albert Camus and make a haunting record that got rave reviews.

Cashbox Magazine Television Debuts with the Legendary Bobby Curtola

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Submitted by Don Graham

Last year, 2016, Cashbox Magazine Canada started the wheels turning on a new branch of the publication, Cashbox Canada Television. Cashbox CEO and Editor in Chief Sandy Graham, “I wanted to take Cashbox to a new dimension, take advantage of our digital capabilities and reach our growing audience in a different way. The idea of having video interviews seemed like the logical step and offered so many possibilities.”

In May, Canadian Music Week welcomes industry people from around the globe and Cashbox always has a booth at the event to help spread the word. Graham thought this would be the perfect chance to have some music luminaries all in one spot and have a great backdrop to film the interviews in. “I knew I could keep the budget down and be able to conduct interviews sequentially and not have the logistic problem of flying people in and setting up a venue to interview them in. We were lucky to have names like Andy Kim, Gord Deppe from the Spoons, Danny Marks, Eddie Kramer of Jimi Hendrix fame, and Julian Taylor to name a few in the house. Then while we were shooting we got lucky and Gordon Lightfoot came up to say hello and we managed to get him in a segment.” Cashbox had three interview hosts on hand. The legendary dreadlock VJ of Muchmusic Michael Williams, veteran scribe and music encyclopedia, the Louisiana man himself, Lenny Stoute and yours truly. I was humbled to be included in that trio of veterans.

Sounds of Home at Toronto’s Harbourfront 2017

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Harbourfront Centre’s 2017 summer season celebrates Canada’s cultural heritage with Sounds of Home, a sonic tribute to the strength of the diversity found across the land known as Turtle Island. The season kicks off on June 27 with Here in the 6ix: Celebrate Multiculturalism Day, a program offering a full day of free events reflecting Toronto’s rich cultural mosaic.

Four distinct weekend festivals in July form the core of a programming vision that gathers Canadian talent from coast-to-coast-to-coast for an array of evocative and entertaining events ranging from concerts, comedy shows, family activities, culinary events, and late-night afterparties. Audiences and visitors are invited to join us throughout the summer on Toronto’s waterfront to relax on our lakeside vista and enjoy these curated festivals, your favourite annual festivals, and season-long events, such as the Summer Music in the Garden classical music series, and our weekly Free Flicks outdoor film series and Dancing on the Pier events.

Here Comes the Sun!

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Submitted by Don Graham 

Every year around this time when winter has finally played itself out and summer is warming up for its annual residency, everything starts to change. The greens return, the sky becomes a deeper blue and the golden sun is once again the star of the show. And music on radio and playlists changes as well. Used to be you planned releases around the seasons and certain songs were held back as “great summer song” material. Some of these hits are still being played or covered today. Nothing says summer, even 60 years later like “Summertime Blues”, Lovin’ Spoonful’s “ Summer in the City”, and of course don’t we all feel better, practically or metaphorically, when it’s “ summertime and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high?”

Some of the following list is from last year’s informal poll and some are from today. Hopefully this will make you think of your favourite summer song.

BOYS OF SUMMER..DON HENLEY Incredible guitar theme by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Henley nails the lyrics. Feels like a hot summer night with windows down driving down the PCH.....watching the waves crash into the shore. - KEVIN MONTGOMERY NASHVILLE SINGER/SONGWRITER/ADVENTURER

The Road Hammers The Squeeze

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Submitted by Don Graham

The Hammers are back ! A new album and a new single from The Road Hammers, Canada’s premiere country rock band is about to explode onto the airwaves.

On May 12th, The Road Hammers, Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy and Chris Byrne, the highest selling Canadian country band in history released their fifth studio album The Squeeze. The new album is a huge step in the evolution of the band and the lead single “ Crazy About You” leads the charge with it’s mix of sentiment and grit. Strong vocals are a trademark of the Hammers and it’s never more evident than this track. “Crazy About You” should put the band back on the airwaves in a big way. A great blend of pop, classic rock and country with its theme of falling in love and staying in love. We caught up with Jason McCoy at his home to discuss the new reord and touring plans for the summer. “ We’re are really happy with how this record turned. The band keeps growing and getting better. This record is little bit different but we still have the edge the makes the Hammers sound what it is. And we had some great production work on it as well. We had Gavin Brown who produced Metric, Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies as well as Scott Baggett who worked with Alison Krauss, Buddy Guy, and Bonnie Raitt so there is some diversity there and definitely some pedigree there.”

Norbert Putnam Music Lessons Vol. 1

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Submitted by Don Graham

Norbert Putnam, bass player, arranger and record producer can now add author to his list of occupations. Actually more of a raconteur. The talented and well respected Putnam has a new book, Music Lessons Vol. 1, that just hit the shelves this month And oh the stories he can tell ! We asked Norbert from his home in Florence, Alabama, what prompted the writing of his memoirs? “My wife Sheryl and I were living in Hilton Head, North Carolina and going to these get togethers and parties with these moneyed people, non music folks, and they all wanted to talk about the music business and what I’d seen and done. They funny thing is most of them seemed more interested in the lesser known artists I had worked for and with. One night at an architect’s house they asked me about working with Jerry Jeff Walker. I explained that with Jerry Jeff we set up an actual bar in my studio. Then we’d sit around and drink and talk and then we’d record some. It was the atmosphere that Jerry Jeff was comfortable with. Well they loved the story and driving home Sheryl said ‘You need to write all these stories down, people enjoy hearing them.’ It took awhile to commit to it but we finally got there with volume 1 of the book.”

Come And Sing A Simple Song of Freedom

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

“ Come and sing a simple song of freedom, sing like you’ve never sung before. Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere, that we the people here don’t want a war.”

Those lyrics written by Bobby Darin are as relevant and true today as they were 48 years ago when Darin wrote them.

It’s true we’ve had wars since, the Gulf War and the Persian War and unrest in the Middle East but somehow, although we had military involved, it was never a threat in our own backyard. It always seemed far away. It’s a little different now. Now you have two unstable leaders with access to nuclear codes and  we can feel the breath of the threat on our necks. Nuclear war never seemed a possibility to me because level heads on both sides know that with each having the deadly weapons, nobody wins. But these are not level headed times.

While thinking about this situation my mind drifted to music and how we get messages to the world through song. I remembered a few years ago Don Graham had recorded the old Bobby Darin classic Simple Song of Freedom with former Burrito Brother and Rick Nelson guitarist, John Beland near Austin, Texas. It was a moving rendition at the time but the threat of war at home was distant. I gave it another listen and lines popped out that sounded like they were written today. “most of what you read is made of lies.”

Hugh’s Room Playing the Blues Again with David Rotundo

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Toronto blues harpist David Rotundo heard James Cotton perform at the El Mocambo in 1991. “He blew one note on the harmonica that hypnotized me...” The next day, Rotundo went out and bought a harmonica. “...and I’ve been playing the blues ever since.” Obsession with the blues led Rotundo on a diesel-fuelled roots tour of blues epicentres of the United States including – New Orleans, Clarksdale, Austin, Memphis and Chicago with little more than his wits and a bag full of harmonicas. “I wanted to hear and experience the real thing.” He returned to Canada with a visceral perception of the blues and a deep knowledge of blues history. After making the stories his own, he earned the right to tell them. Rotundo has developed his own language of the blues, honing the technique that gives the voice power and authenticity. Proof of his impact shows in the fact that he has been nominated for a Maple Blues Award for 11 consecutive years!

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