Juno Talk With Michael Williams

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I find the nominations of the 2013 Juno Awards a great cross section of Canadian music from last year.

This year  Leonard Cohen is nominated for three Junos including Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (which he shares with his co songwriter/producer Patrick Leonard), and the People’s Choice.  His son, Adam Cohen, is nominated for the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for his release “Like a Man”, also produced by Patrick Leonard.

Maestro is back 25 years after winning the very first Juno for Hip Hop in 1990, nominated for Rap Record of the Year. He is uniquely Canadian in his selection of music with Classified. His latest “Black Tuxedo” samples Blue Rodeo’s “Try”, one of the best soulful countries ever. Maestro has also sampled The Guess Who “These Eyes” and Gowan’s “Criminal Mind”. You could not be anymore Canadian.

The other rap nominees are producer Rich Kidd, Classified, and JD Era from the Wu Tang’s Canadian Label. Back also is former Swollen Member’s Mad Child. The glaring omission is that of  Drake’s absence in this category.

100 Mile House Brings Transatlantic Folk to Toronto

Derek Pulliam  Peter Stone Denise MacKay  Scott Zubot   Photo Credit  Al Bartholet.JPG

Submitted by Don Graham

Alberta trio 100 Mile House were in Toronto for the Annual Folk Alliance International Conference held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. Husband and wife team of native Albertan Denise McKay and transplanted Londoner Peter Stone and multi instrumentalist Scott Zubot did numerous showcases, live interviews and “meet and greets”.  I caught up with them at the very intimate Saturday afternoon showcase in the Alberta Room at the hotel.  Just a happy coincidence the name of the room happened to be the same as their home province.

There was no P.A , no stage and a packed room of very attentive music lovers, a tough gig at the best of times.  With Stone on guitar, Zubot on fiddle and mandolin and McKay playing drums on a suitcase, 100 Mile House showed why they are one of top up and coming acts to hit the scene.  The atmosphere was informal and the band showed that truly professional combination of being relaxed and polished.  The vocals were crisp and dynamic and the instrumental blend was superb. Stone’s performance of his award winning song, ”Better Still”,  was captivating and enthralling.

Ranchers for Peace-No fun Walking Around Black


Story:Lenny Stoute

On Feb. 26 2012 in Sanford, Florida a black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot dead during an altercation with white neighbourhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Evidence indicated that Zimmerman had set the altercation in motion. He was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and the case is currently before the Florida courts.

This incident outraged people across America and galvanized a songwriter thousands of miles away into speaking out in song.

Name’s Charles Duncan and with 17-year-old daughter Ray, makes up folk/roots rock outfit Ranchers For Peace.

“ I’ve been involved with civil rights for most of my career. I’m also old enough to remember the violence against the Civil Rights movement in the Sixties.

“ When I first head of the Trayvon Martin case I was shocked, outraged and deeply saddened. I really thought we'd gotten past the point where a black teenager could walk down the street without incident. It’s troubling because if we can’t get on the same page regarding basic civil rights, then we’re in a lot of trouble.

The single, “Walking Around Black” came together quickly, with Ray Duncan providing the urban flavour and tweaking the beats to come up with an appropriate sound.

“Once we got it down, we decided very quickly not to put it on the album we were working on. We didn’t want to profit from this tragedy in any way but we did want it to be heard, so we put it up as a free download.

The CMAO Announces Inaugural Awards Show

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Submitted by Anya Wilson Promotion & Publicity

The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) announced its inaugural Awards Show. The event will be held on Monday, May 27th, 2013, at Markham Theatre at 171 Town Centre Boulevard, Markham, Ontario. The CMAO has confirmed that multi-award winning celebrated singer-songwriter and recording artist from the Ottawa Valley, Charlie Major, will host the awards. Major has enjoyed many #1 singles including fan favourites such as ‘I Do It For The Money” and “The Other Side.”

Charlie MajorCharlie MajorAlso confirmed to perform at the concert and accompany the show’s performers are renowned top musicians The Western Swing Authority, a group of seasoned professionals whose bio includes multiple Canadian Country Music Awards, Juno nominations, as well has a résumé that spans from playing with Gordon Lightfoot, John Cowan. George Canyon, to Kellylee Evans.

The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) is an endeavor by a number of energetic individuals in the country music industry in Ontario and is the only Country Music Association that represents Ontario as a whole.

The Memories Worth Every Penny

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Submitted by Don Graham

As of February  4th,  2013 Canada will no longer produce the penny. Retailers will no longer be obliged to accept them and prices will be rounded up or down to the nearest round number.

The end of an era to be sure and the end of expressions and songs being current.  No more will we say “ a penny for  your thoughts”,  now I guess it’s  “ a nickel for your thoughts.”  “a penny saved is a penny earned. “  Gone!   A lucky penny? Sure, keep one for good luck , but you can’t spend it. As long as there have been trains people have been putting pennies on the railroad tracks to see them flattened. Penny candy?  Well that went years ago but you still can’t help but being nostalgic about it. How many of us had parents that said “ Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves.”

And the music!  “ Every  time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven”  by Bing Crosby from the movie of the same name. And the ‘Penny Song’ by the Monkees:
“Throw a penny from the window, watch an old man play a song
On a twenty-dollar violin he bought before the war,
Are there any requests?
I'll play them for a penny,”

John Fogarty said in ‘Down on the Corner’ - “ You don’t need a penny, just to hang around.”
Canadian country band The Wilkinsons’ had a hit with ‘26 Cents’ - “Here’s a penny for your thoughts, a quarter for the call…”

Godfather of Canadian DJ’s Robert Ouimet

The Limelight Montreal Disco.jpg

Submitted by Michael E. Williams

On my first night in Montreal in the fall of 1974, I was walking by the  Limelight at 1254 Stanley Street and stopped because the music was thumping. The bass could be felt from 3 stories up. The sidewalk vibrated from the music that was mixed in a way I never heard before. It was great from the outside and I couldn’t imagine what it was like inside but I could not get in. The sign said the DJ was Robert Ouimet.

Later as a Communications student and DJ at Loyola in Montreal, I listened to Robert Ouimet on the radio Saturday nights with “Live from the Limelight”. Everybody followed Robert Ouimet. He put Montreal on the International music map even before he was voted Billboard’s 1977 “DJ of the Year “. He was one of the first great International DJ/Producers/Artists/Remixers/Innovators and Taste Makers. He was directly responsible for the success of Donna Summers “I Feel Love”. From Montreal, Robert Ouimet changed the face of music and the world listened.

MW: When did you get into music?
RO: I was always into music. I am from St. Jerome, just north of Montreal. I was always entertaining my friends. I was the one who was always playing the records; that’s how I started. Nobody had a chance with me!

MW: what kind of records were you playing in the beginning?
RO: I was always into soul music from the 60’s and all the early stuff that came from England, The Who and Led Zeppelin.

Interview with Chloe Charles-Living for The Balance


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

On a warm and damp January afternoon, Chloe Charles is working away in a café with a serious noise level. Not the environment you’d expect the singer/songwriter’s sensitive pieces to be born in. But then again, the lady doesn’t care much for meeting expectations.

“ I’m definitely not the sensitive songwriter type. I actually work best with a lot of noise and activity around me.”That’s likely the result of growing up in a large musical family, which includes one Cynthia Lennon as stepmom.In her teens, Chloe’s father married into a musical dynasty when he became the husband of Cynthia and stepfather of Julian Lennon. Becoming Lennon’s stepsister provided Chloe with an uncommon picture of the world and the place of celebrity within it, while firming up a passion to create and follow her own muse.

Full credit, she rarely deals with this unless it’s brought up and it likely doesn’t have much to do with her music, except, as she has noted, to introduce her to the universality of music at a formative stage in her life.

MIDEM January 26 – 29 Cannes France

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The international music community, from over 70 countries, came together in Cannes for four days of intense networking, deal-making, learning and concerts at Midem 2013.

For the core music industry attending Midem, one of the key discussion points from collecting agencies including France’s SACEM and Germany’s GEMA, to label executives such as Beggars Group founder, Martin Mills and internationally-renowned artist and musician Jean-Michel Jarre, was the on-going relationship between the music industry, the internet giants and ISPs. Other highlights of the event included keynote addresses from senior executives representing American Express, Samsung, Ford and Chinese classical pianist and cultural icon Lang Lang, discussions involving the music community and major brands such as MINI, Nike, Red Bull, Heineken and The Coca-Cola Company on how best to work together, the Midemlab start-ups and app developers competition, the expanded Midem Marketing Competition and a packed programme of Midem Festival concerts.

“Following the changes we introduced in 2012, this year we have again focused on bringing together the core music business with the key players operating in the tech field, as well as leading brands and advertising agencies and, of course, the artists who create the music that we listen to,” noted Midem Director, Bruno Crolot

Woody’s ESP and Alter Ego Delivers The Music

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Submitted by Bill Delingat

How many times have you been in a conversation and someone asked “Hey, whatever happened to…?” If you were talking about music and some of your favourite hitmakers of the past, chances are they are playing the Conference and Convention Circuit.

Corporate conventions have become a multi-million dollar yearly industry, serving the new business sessions, awards ceremonies, the medical/scientific and educational world with new product launches, exhibits, seminars and speaker forums. Major hotels offer full services to the inbound attendees and facilities such as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre offers millions of square feet of display area and state of the art ballrooms for these sessions and special events.

The guests are wined and dined at the closing Gala Dinner while the hosting company’s speakers take the podium. You never know at some of these events who will appear, it could be Gladys Knight and the Pips, Blue Rodeo or even Stevie Wonder who  has rocked the house at some of these private functions. Unless you were invited you wouldn’t even know the stars were in town. One person that does know and is a common figure often seen rushing from the green room, backstage, up to the sound board or waiting for a limousine to arrive is Elwood Saracuse, better known as Woody.

ESP, Elwood Saracuse Productions is one of the top producers of corporate and private events, supplying Canadian and International Headliners from music, comedy, specialty artists and even Circus acts.

Tommy James Earns Million-Air Awards for 22 Million-Plus Song Plays

BMI’s Silvia Davi welcomes legendary Tommy James to the BMI New York offices. (Photo by Aelin Hu).jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Rock legend and longstanding BMI member Tommy James was surprised at BMI's headquarters in New York City's World Trade Center to receive five BMI Million-Air Awards. The awards recognize James's iconic place in music’s history with more than 22 million combined radio performances of his hit songs "Draggin' the Line," "Crimson and Clover," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," "Mony Mony" and "Tighter, Tighter."

The music of Tommy James is heard continuously, every day in every country in the world; on the radio, television or a film soundtrack. To date, James has sold over 100 million and has been awarded 23 gold singles plus nine gold and platinum albums.

Tommy James’ songs had become pop culture classics and were being covered by everyone from punk rockers (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) to country icons (Dolly Parton). In 1987, Tiffany and Billy Idol’s versions of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ and ‘Mony Mony’ respectively battled for the top spot on the pop charts for a solid month each eventually hitting # 1; it would be the first time in music history that two cover versions of songs by the same songwriter went to # 1 back to back.

As of 2011, over 300 artists have recorded a ‘Tommy tune’, among them Prince, R.E.M., Tom Jones, Cher, and Concrete Blonde, as well as artists who have performed his songs in concert including Bruce Springsteen and Kelly Clarkson.

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