Music Matters for May 13th 2011

Music Matters

They appear out of nowhere. They can strike so quickly, you will have one and not be aware of it until it is too late. They can be both pleasing and heinously irritating. They can drive you crazy because you can’t remember their names, and no one, no one, is immune. I am referring, of course, to the dreaded Ear Worm….

Judging from my own personal experience, Earworms are individually hand picked by your brain when it has nothing else to do. Theoretically then, they would occur more frequently in politicians, airline pilots, and drummers, or maybe left fielders, news anchors, or McDonald’s employees. Frequent or not, they do happen to everyone. You will find yourself humming along before you realize this little piece of music has attached itself to your spine and is on repeat in your head, an uninvited guest invading your personal space without so much as a “Hello, mind if I play over and over in your head until I make you drive into a tree?” or “Guess what song I’m from, you aren’t doing anything else.” Even if you luck out and it’s a fragment of a song you actually like, it can be as annoying as finding Ryan Seacrest in your bedroom rummaging through your sock drawer.

Is there anything more annoying than sitting in a funeral and having Who Let the Dogs Out pop into your head? How about Abba’s Fernando drilling a hole in your cranium  right after your head hits the pillow and you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep. 

Victoria Banks-The Write Gal For Country

Cover May 13, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute

Easing through Monday morning Nashville traffic on the way to work, Victoria Banks is breaking all manner of laws talking on her car phone. The fast-rising Ontario native is currently working nine to five like a Dolly Parton song in a large corporate office. Song writing office, that is, hoedown tunes and hurtin’ croons. Written down in the service of a major publishing house in the country music capital. It’s the kind of gig many a hustling songwriter would give someone else’s right arm for.

"Writing songs every day with the best in the business, with the best in recording and production studios right there, yes, it’s pretty incredible.

"I’d never imagined myself a big performer, it was always about the writing, the stories. I was already at that stage where songs were coming through at the most inconvenient times. I was driven, couldn’t rest until I wrote them down. Couldn’t stop until it was finished.

"Each song presents itself differently, Some just arrive and are the ones you get down quickest, others you sometimes fiddle with for years and still have that nagging feeling it isn’t finished and keep going back to it. Down here they have a saying about songs; it works or it’s work.

"A song’s finished when all of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. That can happen all at once or it can happen over time. Even when you’re not particularly tailoring a song for a specific artist, songs will come through that you know aren’t for you. 

Burton Cummings-Still Not Phoning It In.

Cover May 6, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

It’s not often an Order of Canada medal winner phones up to apologise for something that had nothing to do with him. Ok, never before. Especially when you consider this particular OC winner has sold millions of albums around the world and is responsible for penning such classic singles as ‘These Eyes’ and ‘American Woman’ and really doesn’t need the pixels.

Still and all, this little incident says loads about the class of the artist, the Order of Canada and the gracious Canadian-ness of it all. 

What followed was a 17-minute, information packed, down-home and open talk with Burton Cummings. Loosely structured around the upcoming tour, Cummings is such an enthusiastic wealth of information the digressions are often as much fun as the structured bits. Kinda like jazz. Which, like r’n’b was an influence on the very young Cummings.

“  When I was a kid, it didn’t get any whiter than growing up in Winnipeg. So I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to like black people. When I heard all this great music on the radio, black or white wasn’t an issue. I was into the sounds, the voices; when I heard Sam Cooke sing I can’t recall even thinking about what colour he was”.

For a taste of jazz influence on the later Cummings, check the flute solo on ‘Undun’. The Sam Cooke vibe surfaces on what many Aficionados rate as Cumming’s sweetest soul vocal, a relatively obscure track called ‘Broken”. 

Music Matters May 6, 2011

Music Matters

Music radio used to play music. By that I mean it didn’t matter if it was Marty Robbins or The Beatles, Louie Armstrong or Sam the Sham, Johnny Cash or Little Richard or Paul Simon or the Rolling Stones, EVERYBODY got some airtime, a chance to be heard. A chance for the public to ‘Voice their Choice’ and decide which songs would end up as hits…or misses, regardless of genre.

These days, even getting played on the radio depends on being genre specific. We have jazz, smooth jazz, classical, oldies, classic rock, new country and traditional country, and Spanish in the U.S and Francophone formats in Canada. But in order for new, contemporary popular music to have a chance to be heard, you’re looking at the dizzying and confusing scattershot pile of radio format genres that, quite frankly, make very little sense to me. Can somebody please explain the real difference between pop, rap, hip-hop, hip-hop rap, urban pop, urban dance, rhythmic, dance pop, pop rock, urban dance pop, and current hit? Is there an urban dance pop rap-hop hip-dance-beat-rock-pop-family-fun-happy-unicorn-hello-kitty format? There might as well be.

Rival SonsRival Sons


Aaron Walker & Big Chief Alfred Doucette.  Photo by Scott McWhinney.

Story:Lenny Stoute

On a rain swept New Orleans night Big Chief Alfred Doucette is rolling through the back streets in search of the club where the Mohawk Hunters are singing. It takes some finding, which makes this opening sequence apt metaphor for Aaron Walker’s 'Bury The Hatchet' 

The Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans have been a part of that city’s culture for hundreds of years, yet few visitors have ever seen one. That’s because the Chiefs don’t do Bourbon Street and its commercialized Mardi Gras. Their centuries old traditions are played out in the back streets and laneways where the community they serve live. For these are no maskers for a day and they throw no beads away and in ‘Bury the Hatchet’ Big Easy resident and award winning director Aaron Walker brings their story to vivid, pulsing, life.

The Mardi Gras Indians traditions are based on honouring the memories of the Choctaw Indians who sheltered runaway slaves in the bayous of Louisiana. For the descendants of those slaves it’s become a manifestation of grassroots New Orleans African-American culture.

Country Music of Ontario Host 1st Open Mic in Toronto

Cover April 29, 2011

By Sandy Graham

CMOA PHOTO Gallery here: cmao-open-mic-pics

In 1976, during an RPM Magazine function, The Academy of Country Music Entertainment was founded which would include the founding of Country Music Week. The very first awards for Canada were called the RPM Big Country Awards, and by 1982 the Association inaugurated its very own Canadian Country Music Awards. By 1986-1987, the Association’s name was officially changed to the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).

With a successful business model to follow, it was a natural progression that there would be an Association that would now develop and nurture the growing number of country music artists that are situated in Ontario.  The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) is an undertaking by a number of energetic individuals in the country music industry in Ontario. The goal of the Country Music Association of Ontario is to foster and support the growth and development of Country Music in Ontario, as well as its artists - singers - songwriters - musicians - bands – to promote the same to Canada and the World. When we speak of country music, we speak of its subs as well, such as folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and Canadiana. 

Kimberley Dunn Releases Ryan’s Song – A Tribute to Sgt. Ryan Russell

Kimberley Dunn

by Sandy Graham


On January 12, 2011, Toronto Police Officer, Sgt. Ryan Russell, tragically lost his life in the line of duty. This terrible tragedy inspired a song by family friend, Kimberley Dunn, who performed the song at Sgt. Russell’s funeral in fitting tribute to an officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As a city mourned the loss of one of its own; “Ryan’s Song” touched an entire nation.


Music Matters April 29, 2011

Music Matters

I was going to write about the effect of 19th century harpsichord music on the intellectual fashion choices being made by contemporary musical artists like Lady Ga Ga and Ted Nugent, when I suddenly realized that no one gives a horse’s patoot about such matters, me included. Right now, the only thing that everyone I know is concerning themselves with is next week’s election here in Canada. Who is going to govern our home and native land until we grow weary of their broken promises and shoddy decisions and force another election to replace our latest mistake. Will we get lucky with this latest spin of the wheel, or will the same people who vote for the winners on American Idol elect another Dull Thud?  Why do they even keep letting us vote people into power? Seriously, how often has the public ever been right? I have always thought we should draft our leaders. Find the most qualified human being for the job, call him or her on the phone, and say, “Hey, we just wanted to let you know you’re the Prime Minister now. Pack up you family and your stuff and move into 22 Sussex in Ottawa. The key is under the doormat.” Makes more sense to me than having us, the public (most of whom are too dozy to even get out of Jury duty) pick the ‘right choice’ to lead us down the garden path. Let’s face it, most of us don’t know squat about politics, the politicians, or how the government even works.

Music Matters April 21, 2011

Music Matters

I’m not much of a political animal. Never learned the game or played it well, which is why I’m not a household name or King of All Media. Further to the point, as much as all pursuits in life have a political bent to them, (from marriage to your job, to getting a decent deal on a used car), the Arts have had a very checkered past with actual politics, the ones that feature elected leaders and CEOs and the like, who are supposed to lead us, the Great Unwashed, around by our noses. It always seemed an odd footnote to me, seeing popular musical artists taking a photo op with the leader of a Nation, Religion, or Donald Trump, or vise versa. Odd as it may be, it happens all the time. When I saw this picture of Chad Kroeger and Stephen Harper (I like to think of them as The Burger King and Ken Doll) together, I wondered who was zoomin’ who. Is Chad working to convince Harper that his government should increase funding to the Arts, or that he is cool with the Harper Government’s existing laissez faire attitude towards artists because, hey, he doesn’t need any funding, or has Harper seized the moment because Chad is just so darn popular with the younger voters…and he isn’t.

Heather Ostertag Receives the Industry Builder Award at the East Coast Music Awards 2011.

Heather Ostertag

By Sandy Graham

photo by Natasha Slinko


East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) Awards was founded by Rob Cohn; initially named the Maritime Music Awards. Headquartered in Charlottetown, P.E.I., the Maritime Music Awards were staged for the first time in the Flamingo Café and Lounge in Halifax, N.S.,  April 10, 1989, to focus on the diversity of music and musicians in mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and to raise the standard of recording. The awards grew from a $1,000 to a $1-million CBC show televised nationally and internationally, winning two Gemini Awards and attracting international buyers. The awards were renamed when the East Coast Music Association was formed in 1991, the year Newfoundland was included. Membership in the association is open to musicians, artists, agents, managers, record companies, studios, the media and related industries. 


On Saturday, April 16th, 2011, East Coast Music Week recognized their own at the Industry Awards Brunch, at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown, PEI. This long standing component of the event has become a favourite amongst members and delegates alike. Highlighting 14 categories and 1 achievement award - the legendary Stompin' Tom Award – this brunch honors the tremendous contribution of the folks who work diligently behind the scenes to help to make the stars shine. 


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