Cover Story

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!

Shades Introducing Boland

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Submitted by Don Graham

The debut album by Toronto hip hop/rap artist Boland has been a long time coming but the artist will be here for a long time .

The title of the project ‘Shades’ suits both the album and the artist. The album shows the many “shades” this young poet has observed and documented in his life and “shades” suits for his signature sunglasses.

‘Shades’ is the first complete album project for Boland and it shows the maturity and honesty that is now so evident in his music and his life. I have known Michael Boland since he was a young artist, have watched his development and seen his inherent creative ability blossom. His early love of all things Dylan has served him well. He has taken Dylan’s ability to put into rhyme and rhythm the thoughts of his generation and molded and honed it to make it his own. “I feel like I’m in a good place now and I have to say that sobriety is the key. Since I got sober everything is much clearer and I have the drive to do what I meant to do.”

Debbie Green Out of the Shadows

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Submitted by Don Graham

Debbie Green is not a household name but to the musical giants she influenced, taught and mentored she is a cornerstone to their careers and musical force to be revered and respected.

It’s best to go back to the beginning to get the full story on her influence on the folk music boom of the 50’s in America and beyond.

Deborah Green was born in New York City in 1940, her Dad was Vice President at Macy’s Department Store and her mother devoted a lot of her time and energy to charity work. Her life was middle class normal, growing next to a golf course on Staten Island. Her life changed when her parents split up when she was four years old.

She enrolled in The Putney School, a boarding school in Vermont. The school had a good music program and it was there that Debby showed her interest in music.

Doc Walker Weathervane

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Submitted by Don Graham

There are a few artists that I personally look forward to hearing new stuff from. Manitoba’s Doc Walker are near the top of that list. So when I caught wind of Weathervane, the boys new 9 nine song set, I was eager to hear what they had come up with this time. And as I had hoped, they didn’t disappoint. It seems every time I review a Doc Walker album it’s “their best to date.” No surprise Weathervane just moved into the “best yet” ranking.

A little background on the band, Doc Walker is Chris Thornsteinson and Dave Wasyliw, who have known each since childhood and started their first band together at a very young age. “Chris and I started playing together at about 12 years old, just playing instrumentals on our guitars. We always had a friendly competition going on. We pushed each other and if Chris got a red guitar, I got a red guitar. Stuff like that. Neither one of us sang but when Chris started to sing, I started to sing. We still push each other,” said Dave Wasyliw. Chris agreed, “Dave and I have been making music together since we were kids and always did challenge each other. Even to this day when I write something I want it to be up to Dave’s standards of what he thinks I’m capable of. It’s great to have that kind of respect for each other.”

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