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Story: Don Graham

Photo Credit:Morgan Sperry Sperry Photography

CURTIS GRAMBO is one of those country artists that is comfortable in his own skin, making choices and making music that he can sing not just from his lungs, but from his heart.

Grambo will be the first to tell you he learned to sing country music from the "Legends of County". Growing up in Crystal Springs, Saskatchewan, the Grambo home was no different than most prairie homes, in that music was a big part of their life. Curtis grew up listening to the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Charlie Pride and many styles of gospel music. 

At the age of five, Curtis began signing in church, and by the age of twelve, he had developed a substantial array of vocal talents. Curtis vividly remembers August 16th, 1977 as a day that changed his life forever. He arrived home to find his mother crying and he knew something was really wrong. When he asked her the reason she was crying, she stated, "Elvis Presley died." Curtis couldn't let this go. He thought that if his mom was such a huge fan, this guy had to be something special, and was amazed at how one man's music could have such an influence on so many people. Curtis was hooked!

Anne Janelle Tours to Support “Beauty Remains”


East coaster Anne Janelle takes an exciting new step with debut solo album, Beauty Remains. Cellist/singer Anne Janelle moves so gracefully between classical and contemporary styles, making it look easy. Throughout her years of training as a classical cellist Anne maintained a love of popular, jazz and folk styles. Her concert history includes performances with various Canadian orchestras, as well as pop artists such as Kanye West, Bruce Cockburn and Holly Cole. Anne has also flourished in contemporary music, experimenting deeply with free improvisation in both music and dance.

Lately, she has been spending much of her time in folk music circles. Since 2006 she has performed widely with ukulelist/songwriter James Hill; their acclaimed collaboration True Love Don't Weep won Traditional Album of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

The Folk Diary calls Anne "absolutely brilliant on the cello," but it's her songwriting that takes centre stage on Beauty Remains. "I've fallen in love with melody, harmony, and poetry along the way," says Anne, "and with songwriting I get to work with them all. It's a wonderfully compelling jigsaw puzzle."

Canadian Slacker Music Fest Boogie Throwdown. Or Whatever 2012


Story: Lenny Stoute/James Lizzard

Photo at right: Last Year’s Men

So when’s the last time you saw a dude smash the splinters out of his axe to end the set? If you were at The Silver Dollar as Saturday night slid into Sunday that was exactly what went down courtesy of young Geoff Schilling. The boy plays lead axe with South Carolina foursome Last Year’s Men who deal in a sound mashup of thrash and speedcore rock wedded to Southern Gothic. That no one else is doing this is for sure, the jaw-dropped crowd mesmerized as hollow-eyed singer Ben Carr intoned his dire tales of dirty deeds over an ominous drumbeat echoing from the piney woods. When the guitars erupt it’s like somebody took the lid off a boxful of vengeful spirits. Along with Carr and Schilling, Last Year’s Men are bassist Montgomery Morris and drummer Ian Rose and y’all should catch them when you can.

Know what else you don’t see much of anymore? The classic knee drop, that potentially career-ending move what separates the men from the kids. But if you stayed around after the LYM set at the Dollar, you witnessed not one but three full-on knee drops from The Mercy Now bassist/frontman Russ Fernandez. The homie hammerheads were showing off tracks from current EP, Love Battles a collection of their trademark crunchy rock riffs married to heavy and danceable rhythms just this side of a mosh. The by now mostly fans in the house got into it in a big way, a testament to this crew’s way with three chords and as many hooks per tune, with “ Need Some Money” close to a template.

Whitney Houston – Coming Home with Kim Burell

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Story: Michael Williams

It started in Victoria at his annual celebrity baseball game. David Foster spoke about his work with Whitney Houston and his engineer, David Reitzas, who did that incredible demo mix of I Will Always Love You for the Bodyguard soundtrack. I got to hear the track in advance and it rocked my soul.

Later that summer of (1992). I went to New York to do an interview with Whitney Houston on The Bodyguard film.  We spent about an hour together. She was full of fire and life for the future and had an interest in doing more film projects as a vehicle for her career.

Whitney had acquired the rights to remake Sparkle and had already started filming. Aaliyah was in the lead role with Whitney Houston playing the mother. Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash. The project went on hold till a deal was made with TD Jakes Film Company (he spoke at the memorial) and Jordan Sparks was chosen as the lead, supported by Whitney Houston, Michael Epps and Cee Lo Green. The new version is by Jump the Broom director Salim Akil.

Whitney’s personal story is a cross between Sparkle and Dreamgirls. In August 2012 I hope she is vindicated by a comeback film, her first and last production, Sparkle.

Des drapeaux Anglais sur la rue St-Jean dans le Vieux Québec!!

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Par Marc Durand

Qui l’aurait cru. On se dirige dans le Vieux Québec, on passe les arches de la Porte St-Jean.... et, tout juste à côté de magasin Archambault (autrefois Musique d’Auteuil) , deux très gros drapeaux britanniques vont au gré du vent. Scandale, on ose confronter la laine pure et dure du Vieux Québec avec ces symboles de l’occupation du passé.

Eh bien, c’est le ‘décor’ extérieur du Pub St-Alexandre, établi rue St-Jean depuis 1988. Un véritable Pub Anglais, implanté en plein centre du patrimoine Québécois. Après une visite en Europe, les Barré ont transformé la veille Taverne Coloniale (1946) en pub typique. Boiseries foncées, miroirs, plus de 200 bières dont 21 en fut... et plus de 40 ‘single malts’ sont à la carte.

On y sert des repas de style pub et on y accueilles des musiciens et groupes plusieurs soirs par semaine. Le blues et le jazz y sont à l’honneur, mais on y accueille aussi des groupes de rock (pas de métal) et des chanteurs francophones... on y fait quelquefois des lancements de disque.

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À l’été, un ‘black cab’ se retrouve stationné droit devant... question de prolonger le mirage britannique.

From Vancouver Canuck to Canuck Country Star – Chad Brownlee

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Story: Don Graham

West coast rising country star, Chad Brownlee, is living the dream or should I say “dreams?” The Kelowna B.C. native was the 6th round draft pick of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks in 2003. Every Canadian boy’s dream right? Well they say when one door closes another one opens, so when a series of hockey injuries sidelined Brownlee from the ice, he found the time and opportunity to pursue his other passion, country music. The similarities between life as a young hockey player and a young musician probably helped ease the transition in careers. I did an event years ago with a former NHLer who pointed out the similarities to me. Young hockey players and young musicians are both blessed with a talent but must spend countless hours of dedication perfecting that skill to take it the next level. Once they turn pro the similarities continue. Long bus rides, life on the road, entertaining crowds, some big, some small, the band and the team both develop a pack mentality and form lifelong bonds, performance oriented every night. And the list continues.

When asked if he minded the references to his hockey past he replied, “ Not at all! It’s part of my past and a part I’m very proud of!” Chad Brownlee, although blessed, has also worked hard at both hockey and music, and this dedication to his singing career will no doubt have him atop the country charts in no time and for a long time.


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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Tonya Kennedy’s latest single “EVERYTHING”, tells of her and Neil’s story of unconditional love and the intense emotion shared between them.  In this Anniversary Edit (Neil and Tonya will celebrate 10 years on April 4th) producer Rick Hutt offers a re-mix of the album version adding various instrumentation to bring to you this huge powerhouse love ballad.
“This is a really special song to me because it’s a song about how I feel about my husband and song writing partner.  It’s so personal and a little scary at the same time to be so exposed to the world…but I adore my fans and want them to see this personal side of me”, states Kennedy.

The great news – “EVERYTHING” was hand picked by a music placement company based in New York City to be shopped for Film & TV Placements.

Tonya Kennedy began her pursuit of music in 1999 where she became a powerful force in the world of pop rock, touring Ontario and various provinces. During that time, Tonya realized her passion was in the world of Country music and in 2005 entered a competition through Durham based KX96 Country Music Radio and was crowned the KX96 Super Star Search winner. Her grand prize was an opportunity to record and release a country song to Canadian Radio and that is where it all began to evolve for this sassy and classy singer.

Steele Invites You to Travel Down His Private Road


Story: Sandy Graham

Born & raised in the small town of Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, Steele started out fishing with his brother and father.  At the age of 18, Steele built a small fish n’ chips takeout that has since grown into one of Nova Scotia’s most renowned seafood restaurants and also has allowed him to pursue his passion – country music.
In 2001, his song “I’ll Be There” was elected by the United Nations as the theme song for International Year of the Volunteer.  The song was broadcast in seventeen languages throughout 104 countries, launching this new, refreshing artist on the music map.

A self taught pianist and guitarist, Steele writes all his own tunes. His music is honest, heartfelt and keeps with the great tradition of country music while infusing Southern Rock sounds and issues.  These lyrics will take you on a journey through his life and remind listeners of their own experiences.

The English and Scottish use of the nickname Steele defines it as a ‘hard worker who is considered strong and as durable as steel’, and this has been this young man’s nickname from a young age, showing he has the tenacity and strength to make it in the music industry. Steele is truly on the path to radio airplay and commercial success, and invites his fans to enjoy the ‘Private Road’ he is travelling on to get there.

The Wonderful Mundo of Jane Bunnett


Story: Lenny Stoute

Underneath all the Junos (5), Grammy noms (plentiful) and other awards too numerous to cite, Jane Bunnett remains a boundary pushing, hard blowin’ jazz babe. Which is probably why she continues to be hailed as one of the best soprano saxists in the world.

Have just dropped the dazzling, career-spanning Mundo album and coming off a clutch of well-received shows in the Toronto area in support, you’d think that would be the topic top of mind.
Not so much; for Jane, top of mind is always what’s next, but she graciously allows we should flip through some back pages. Biggest, brightest page is how Jane Bunnett became the most famous Canadian in the Cuban mind. In return, she’s the lady who put Cuban music in the minds of Canadian music fans and the word ‘Varadero’ in the minds of Canadian beach fans.
As with most of Bunnett’s adventures, this all came about casually, coming out of a chance meeting with music-minded folks.

“ We were out one night in 1982 at a club in Havana watching a local act and I met this bass player who invited me to go to the Conservatory to see the students play. This was at one in the morning and it turned into a jam, which I didn’t leave until around five in the morning. Only to be awoken at 9 to go hear the kids play. Not the best invitation when you’re hungover but there was no going back."

Bienvenue à la Belle Province

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Marc Durand

Que se passe t’il au Québec sur la scène musicale en 2012?

Cette chronique vous éclairera peut-être!!  Le Québec a toujours eu une industrie musicale un peu en marge de tout ce qui se faisait dans le reste de l’Amérique. Dans les années 80 et 90, un album Québécois pouvait vendre 300,000 copies et n’avoir aucun impact dans le reste du Canada. Bien que la situation n’est plus aussi florissante qu’il y a vingt ou trente ans,  comme un microclimat, l’industrie locale se démarque toujours des tendances nord américaines.

Je vais vous présenter diverses facettes le Québec d’aujourd’hui.

Parler des meilleurs vendeurs, des icônes qui ont marqué le showbiz local, les promoteurs et les grands évènements.

Parler de Pagliaro et de Coeur de Pirate, de Nanette, Roch Voisine, Marie Donald Tarlton (Donald K Donald) du Festival de Jazz du Festival Juste pour Rire.

Le showbiz Québécois est omniprésent sur la planète... on a qu’à penser au Cirque du Soleil et à Céline Dion.

Il fut un temps où le Québec était le tremplin pour les groupes d’Angleterre pour attaquer l’Amérique!! C’était l’époque de Genesis, Supertramp et plusieurs autres... Que s’est-il passé depuis cette glorieuse période?

Aujourd’hui on a Star Académie et une concentration radiophonique (Cogeco et Astral) qui aident ou nuisent au développement de la culture et de l’industrie?

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