November 2014

The Barr Brothers: Sleeping Operator

The Barr Brothers Sleeping Operator.jpg

Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The Barr Brothers have been around since 2011, and have been getting better every year with great harmonies, strong production and well crafted songs. They put out the one album then after three years they are back and better than ever.

‘Sleeping Operator’ is as good as if not better than the first CD, and is sure to please fans and new listeners as well.

Brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, harpist Sarah Page, and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial have carefully created a transcendental album that sets them aside in the usual stack we get here in the office at Cashbox Canada. “Love Ain’t Enough”, hits you right in the chest from the opening notes, and eases you into the other tracks that take on different genres as you progress.  “Half Crazy” has handclaps and interesting production, while “The Bear at the Window” is a bit more whimsical and softer. Sometimes the vocals remind me of early Springsteen, while the lyrics are very Dylan-esque.

The Barr Brothers have cool orchestration that involves angelic harp as well as strange and unusual instruments, which make this recording so unique. The African stringed instrument the ngoni is a lovely compliment to the bongos and then a fan-made instrument called a “cardboardium” is just one of the many sounds you will hear in this amazing CD.

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Proudly Canadian: Sloan


Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Sources: Wikipedia and website

Sloan is a Canadian, Toronto-based rock/power pop quartet, from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout their 20+ year tenure, Sloan has released 11LPs, two EPs, a live album, a Greatest hits album and more than thirtysingles. The band has received nine Juno Award nominations, winning one. The band is known for their sharing of songwriting from each member of the group and their unaltered line-up throughout their career.

Sloan was formed in 1991 when Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott met at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax; Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson joined soon after. According to Sloan's official website, the band is named after the nickname of their friend, Jason Larsen. Larsen was originally called Slow One by his French-speaking boss which, with the French accent, sounded more like "Sloan". The original agreement was that they could name the band after Larsen as long as he was on the cover of their first album. As a result, it is Larsen who appears on the cover of the Peppermint EP, which was released on the band's own label, Murderecords.

Later in 1992, Sloan released their full-length album Smeared on Geffen Records. In 1994 Geffen did not promote their second album, Twice Removed, due to artistic disputes, although it sold well in Canada. Spin named it one of the "Best Albums You Didn't Hear" in 1994. A 1996 reader poll by Canadian music magazine Chart! ranked it as the best Canadian album of all time, only two years after its release. The same poll in 2000 ranked the album third, behind Joni Mitchell's Blue and Neil Young's Harvest. However, the 2005 poll once again ranked the album first.

Northern Stars Shine in the Country!

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Submitted by Shelley Buffitt / GEL Canada

The Northern Ontario Country Music Association honoured musicians and performers at its 25th Annual Awards weekend on November 7-8-9th in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The weekend’s events were held at the Comfort Suites Conference Centre with an incredible 400 people in attendance.

Country music lovers arrived on buses from Timmins, Nipissing, Sudbury, Manitoulin and Temiskaming Districts to enjoy the three day gala. Many others made the drive themselves, all taking in the beauty of Northern Ontario.

NOCMA President Dave Patterson was delighted and impressed with the outpouring of support the organization and the artists received from the audiences over the course of the weekend. Patterson praised the NOCMA Representatives and how they outdid themselves with their assistance to the organization in bringing everyone together.

Friday night’s show featured Jim Owens from Branson, Missouri. Owens, known best for his # 1 Hit penned song, “Mississippi Woman, Louisiana Man” (recorded by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty) wowed the crowd with his jokes, enthusiasm, and fabulous country songs. Jim was also on hand to present Mike Case and Mike Dinelle with The Carole Patterson Memorial Award. Carole Patterson, Dave Patterson’s wife, passed away a year ago and was instrumental in the growth and success of the NOCMA.

Frank Mills I Love A Piano!

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Submitted by Bill King

Pianist/composer Frank Mills embarks on an 18-city western tour from Winkler, Manitoba – November 27 with the grand finale in Duncan, British, Columbia December 21, 2014.

Mills is the reigning king of piano pop. Frank writes songs every aspiring piano playing adult and young child loves to play. In fact, sales for his #1 hit, “Music Dancer” topped charts in 26 countries, garnered 24 gold records and has been recorded by Nashville’s Floyd Kramer and Richard Clayderman. Live, Mills is an engaging, charismatic storyteller with big history and a soft easy manner. It was in 1974 when DJ Dave “50,000” Watts in the Ottawa Valley flipped Frank’s single, “The Poet and Me” and started featuring ‘Music Box Dancer,” that got the hit rolling. The song reached #3 on Billboard charts in 1979. You know it had to be big when your song makes an episode of The Simpsons.

It was 1989 when I got the call to join Mills and touring company as second keyboardist to supply backing strings. The band included the superb jazz guitarist Ron Halldorson, drummer Gary De Boeck, John Hyde bass and music director Eric Friedenberg. A good portion of the tour extended from Halifax, Nova Scotia, up the coast, over to P.E.I - then off to Newfoundland, from St. John’s to Labrador City. As with any tour there are complications but what set this apart was the serene nature of the band. These were guys who read books and never flinched when the unpredictable arose. Through it all Mills stayed in good humour, a portrait of class and character. I called it the Sominex tour after the sleep prescription. Nothing riled this bunch.

Recently, I caught up with Frank 25 years later and tossed a few questions his way. 

Drake Jensen The Leader Of The Pack

Country Artist Drake Jensen.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

It was a tumultuous week in country music. Ty Herndon came out as being gay. Really? Didn’t we kind of know that? Wasn’t he busted in 1995 in Fort Worth, Texas for indecent exposure and soliciting an undercover cop ? Why is this news? And Billy Gilman also came out. Again, no surprise and yet it was a big story and now invitations to play at LGBT events and congratulatory pats on the back were the order of the day.  Even this isn’t newsworthy unless you compare it to Canadian country singer Drake Jensen’s coming out party.

No back slaps, no “good for you man” no offers of gigs but rather disdain and judgmental reprimands from the industry. And Jensen did this before his career was established unlike Herndon and Gilman who kept their secrets until after they had their success. “That’s what I dislike like most about this,” Jensen said from his home in Ottawa, Ontario. “These people who live a lie, not because of any moral strength but rather to establish their careers in the straight world and not run the risk of rejection because of their preferences. I chose to be true to myself rather than deceive the public and myself.”   But being gay is not what Jensen does - it’s who he is. There’s a lot more to him than his sexual orientation. “I’m a country singer first and being gay is not the story here. The story is my music.”