Cover Story

Drake Jensen-When you Wish upon a Train

Cover, Nov 4, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute

“Right now the most important thing to me is getting 10,000 hits”. Nope, it’s not a drug dealer doing inventory, a masochist looking to break into the Guinness Book of Records or a record promoter flogging a dead horse single. It’s country interpreter Drake Jensen laying down the bottom line for expectations of his current single Little Toy Trains.

Jensen’s the much buzzed about new vocal interpreter on the Country scene whose debut album On My Way To Finding You continues to enjoy airplay. The Ottawa valley crooner has made a big impression not only with the voice but also with a consuming sense of mission.

The mission? In two words, preaching love, in all its scintillating manifestations. Love as sword to cut through the negativity, love as shield against the naysayers, love as universal balm. It’s the subtext to the debut album’s title and bound to be the engine driving album number two.

The hard-hustling Jensen is currently at work on that much-anticipated follow-up but still found time and inspiration to switch on the Little Toy Trains project.

“I have always had a soft spot for kids. I was bullied as a child and it was a long time before I was able to quit hiding and be the person I always was".

The Best of the Songs, Movies and Artists of Halloween

Cover, Oct 28, 2011

Story: Sandy Graham

The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556.

However, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English folk lore: "Certainly Samhain was a time for festive gatherings, and medieval Irish texts and later Irish, Welsh, and Scottish folklore use it as a setting for supernatural encounters, but there is no evidence that it was connected with the dead in pre-Christian times, or that pagan religious ceremonies were held.”

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror movies we all have known through the decades, as well as the songs, videos and even artists that all bring out the ‘scary’ this time of year. Similar to Christmas, there are songs that get played on radio every Halloween. Here are Cashbox Canada’s Top Songs, Movies and Artists that come back year after year (just like Freddy Kruger!).

Thriller: Michael Jackson

The Lamb Lies Down in Toronto

Cover, Oct 21, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

The year was 1993; Bill Clinton was the American president, a bomb went off at The World Trade Centre, Lorena Bobbit bobbed her hubby’s knob, the Toronto Blue Jays won its second World Series and The Late Show With David Letterman debuted. Also debuting that entertainment-packed year, a Montreal prog rock collective dedicated to the music of Genesis, calling themselves The Musical Box.

Named for a 1971 Genesis song about an old man reclaiming his youth, the Montreal outfit has since become one of rock music’s least likely success stories: a French-Canadian cover band playing progressive-rock epics to raving crowds across the globe.

The Musical Box came together in Montreal initally to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1973 album Selling England By The Pound

The original lineup was a seven-piece with a strong theatrical outlook, and plunged into using visual effects and costumes that were in the original Genesis shows of the 1970s. This kind of intimate meta connection to the original is a large part of what has placed The Musical Box apart from pretenders in the genre ever since.

The act was only meant to last a weekend; a group of Montreal prog-rockers doing  Selling England by the Pound at the Montreal Spectrum. Instead, it morphed into the longest one-of in rock history, becoming their ticket on a ride that has seen The Musical Box play to hundreds of thousands of  people around the world.

Recollections Of Gord Ward

Cover, Oct 14, 2011

By Sandy Graham


He didn’t have a hit record, he never made the charts, Gord Ward was not a household name. He played the ‘B’ rooms, did the bar circuit, sang some tunes and preached to whoever would listen about music, songs and artists he loved from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. All the local ‘hitmakers’ knew his name.


Call it nepotism, call it favoritism, call it respect or whatever you want to call it, but as the Editor and co-owner of Cashbox Canada, I decided to give Gord Ward the cover this week. A cover he would never get when he was alive, and sadly won’t get to see  now.  Gord Ward died on Friday, October 7, 2011, succumbing to the cancer he fought so bravely to beat. After a few years with this terrible disease, it finally got him. He was my friend.


Over 30 years ago, I created and owned Toronto’s first nostalgia nightclub, Route 66. We made a club work with a ‘saddle shoe’ string budget, and it was a huge success within its first few days of operation. At the height of disco, we offered music that came from another era, along with staff that danced, sang and dressed the part.


We also hired live music for the 5 nights of the week that we were open; rotating a few house bands like Dick and the Donuts, The Backbeats, Professor Piano and the Rockin’ Deltoids, The Frigidaires, The Bop Cats and Gord Ward and the Recollections. (Gord Ward and the Wardenaires at that time if my old rock ‘n’ roll memory serves me right.)

Justin Hines’ Days has come

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Story:Lenny Stoute

Justin Hines has such heavy cred as an activist and role model it’s easy to forget he’s also a working musician. Which is why he’s on the line from Massachusetts and pretty pumped. Current album, Days To Recall, marks his debut release in the US market, courtesy of the iconic Decca label (yes retro heads, they’re back) and dude’s on a promo tour working the album to radio. In the US media positive comparisons with Jason Mraz are popping up and that’s a good thing.


“I feel very honoured because Decca are very choosy about their artists and have a very solid reputation. They went to the trouble of coming up here (Toronto) to see me perform and I guess they liked what they saw. It’s just so amazing.


“ The radio tour is going really well. Many people are hearing me for the first time so it’s fresh. The songs are all very relatable and if there's a theme, it’s one of music as healer and that too is very relatable”.

Relatable is something Justin Hines knows loads about. This is the dude who turned a song, Say What You Will, into the launching pad for a campaign to help build schools and to further youth education in South Africa.

At the core of it all, the song’s very relatable lyrics, which inspired South African producer Bronwyn Nel, who felt Say What You Will would resonate profoundly with her community, to remix the song with the Seta/Siyaya Learner Choir and the Keynote Acapella Group.

Canada’s Walk of Fame Celebrating 14 Years !

Cover, Sept 30, 2011

By Bill Delingat


Most people, no matter where they are from have heard of and may have been one of the 10 million annual visitors to “the Hollywood Walk of Fame”; the  famous 15 blocks of more than 2,400 five-pointed stars embedded along Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The emblems symbolize five categories within the entertainment industry: motion pictures, broadcast television, music and audio recordings, broadcast radio and theatre /live performances.

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical Returns To Toronto

Cover, Sept 23, 2011

The 2009 Tony Award-winning revival HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, will play the The Royal Alexandra Theatre for a limited engagement December 13 to 31, 2011.  Tickets for HAIR will go on public sale, Monday, October 3, 2011.

With a score including such enduring musical numbers as “Let the Sun Shine In,” Aquarius,” “Hair” and “Good Morning Starshine,” HAIR depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the 60s and 70s that changed North America forever and resonated around the world. 

David MirvishDavid MirvishThe Toronto engagement of the North American Tour of HAIR is a homecoming of sorts.  HAIR had its Canadian Premiere at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in December 1969.  It was a homegrown production, featuring a cast of young Canadians who formed the Mississauga Tribe to perform the show.  The show was groundbreaking not just in subject matter but also because that it was the first theatrical production to play a record 53-week engagement in Toronto.

Explains David Mirvish: “When HAIR played the Royal Alex, nobody thought that a theatre show could attract a very large audience in Canada.  But HAIR filled the theatre for a year and launched the Canadian commercial theatre movement, offering a new avenue for young people who dreamed about working in the theatre.  The production told them it was indeed possible.  All of us in Canadian commercial theatre owe our careers to that production.”

HAMILTON ONT. HOSTS CCMA 2011 AWARDS

Cover Sept 16, 2011

Story: Courtesy Jason Keller 
Canadian Press

Perennial favourite Johnny Reid and rising star Dean Brody split the haul on Monday night at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

Each artist took home three trophies at the award show being held this year at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.

Johnny ReidJohnny ReidReid nabbed the fans' choice award, male artist of the year and the CMT video of the year honour with "Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World," a clip directed by Margaret Malandruccolo. The Scottish-born, Toronto-bred country crossover sensation came into the evening holding a leading six nominations, including album of the year, for his sixth studio album "A Place Called Love," which is certified double platinum in Canada.

But that honour went to Brody, a 36-year-old from Jaffray, B.C., for his heartfelt and autobiographical second album "Trail in Life."

"Every year I tell him 'one of these days, Dean, you're going to stand up there and take home not only a piece of glass but something much more than that,"' said Reid. "All the years and hard work ... to be recognized, it's wonderful."

Taking the World BY Storm – One Beat At A Time

Alyssa Rubino


By Bill Delingat


Cashbox first met Alyssa Rubino on 9.9.9, the date that marked the launch of D.K.O the new project of renowned reggae artist, Darrin Kenneth O’Brien a.k.a. SNOW.


The event had a spectrum of talent from all genres of music, the evening ending with a surprise performance by SNOW himself. The start of the event was just as surprising as a young female backed by an acoustic guitar took the stage while the bustle of bar life filled the room. Suddenly the buzz quieted down when Alyssa Rubino started to sing. The song was “Beautiful to Know” written by Rubino, Danny Rubino and Trust. The crowd showed their respect as the 11 year old singer and her accompanist left the stage. That’s right, 11 years old. On November 6th of that year she was slated to open for Canadian teen star Justin Beiber at his Toronto debut at the Koolhouse, but due to a heavy flu she had to cancel. Beiber has gone on to be the top earning teen star of last year with a whopping $ 55 million to show for it and our Alyssa fondly known as “Girl Wonder” hasn’t stopped either. We caught up with her camp for an update on what the now 13 year old singer is doing today.


Singing, School and Stardom? It’s all in a day’s work for Alyssa Rubino. She's unique,talented and an atypical 13 year-old. While her schoolmates spend their summer break at camp or on family vacations, Rubino has diligently attended dance and voice rehearsals to prepare for the hottest event in New York's Time Square until the New Year's Eve ball-dropping festivities.

And the Band Played On….

Cover Sept 2, 2011

By Sandy Graham

Those of you who read Cashbox will be wondering on my story this week – what does the Titanic have to do with the current music industry ? For those of you who know me personally you know I produce an event that is near and dear to my heart – The Beach Celtic Festival – in honour of my Scottish ancestry.

This year, we are welcoming a new display, the RMS Titanic, which was built in Belfast, Ireland and left from Glasgow, Scotland and therefore qualifies to be with us with its connection ‘from across the pond.’ As I had a few wee chats with George Watters,(who will  be bringing memorabilia to the Celtic Festival)  I remembered the fact that the huge controversy was what song the Titanic band was playing when the ship that ‘God alone could sink’ disappeared in the ocean on that fateful night nearly one hundred years ago.  Now, one hundred years later, one of the most talked about questions on the Titanic sinking, besides the iceberg warnings, lack of adequate lifeboats and sketchy behaviour of some of the passengers is …”What song was the band playing as the ship was swallowed up by the cold Atlantic waters?” Some reports emphatically state it was Autumn while others swear it was Nearer My God To Thee.

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