August 2015

Michelle Wright Signs New Management Deal

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canadian icon and treasure Michelle Wright has signed with the Thompson Entertainment Group for management. A multi-award winning artist, songwriter and author, Wright has toured internationally, charted singles in both the US and in Canada and in 2011 was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and is currently enjoying success at radio with her single "Laugh A Little" from the album Strong.

We spoke to Michelle from her home in Nashville. Tennessee. “I was managed by the same great man for 28 years. When Brian Ferriman retired after the passing of his wife and partner Sue last August  I was on my own professionally. I recently got to know Chuck Thompson of Thompson Entertainment Group. He reached out to me and said how he had always liked what I was doing and suggested we meet. He had looked after the Judds and managed Wynona so I knew he had good credentials. But more importantly he was a real straight shooter, with honesty and integrity being as important to him as it is to me. The single “Laugh a Little” is doing well for us and I sent Chuck a work mix of  a new song I’m working on and he was as excited as I was with  its potential. It’s something I wrote and I’m proud of it and to have someone with Chuck’s background in music get it was huge. I am thrilled with what lies ahead.

Straight Outta Compton – Straight into Box Office Millions!

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Submitted by Bill King

How do you assess a film that revisits and renews interest in a refurbished music that broke all rules and spoke directly of the conditions that imprisons millions of black Americans in their own neighbourhoods; the raging poverty, violence, criminality, police brutality, unemployment, substandard schools, economic inequality and hopelessness? Especially, when the originators of “gangsta rap” write, compose and film their own version of events leaving out the damage wrought on the women that intersect in their lives; the victimization, the survival executions and indiscriminate killings that tailed N.W.A’s rise to the top. Was it about art or class warfare? How do you survive these battles in contemporary times? The film suggests guns and verse?

As an honest depiction of inner city street life, Straight Outta Compton scores high marks. The music is always riveting from the booming bottom bass, smacking beats, cartoonish synth parts, and punctuated street rap. There’s nothing soft and easy about the message. The tongue lashings come terse and direct, profane and potent – a strange mix of self-defense and “suck and fuck,” slang.

Rap 2015 is about comfort; the money, the jewels, the cars, the estates, the easy “ho’s.” The genre is soft core porn – hard core degradation. Women don’t stand a chance, mostly props in an all male fantasy. 1986 rap was full scale strike-back indignation – flame throwing verse that could get you killed in your security lax palace or gunned down changing rides outside a night club.

Randy Lennox Appointed President, Entertainment Production and Broadcasting, Bell Media

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

On August 25 2015 Bell Media President Mary Ann Turcke announced today the appointment of Randy Lennox to the newly created position of President, Entertainment Production and Broadcasting, Bell Media, effective immediately.

A veteran entertainment executive with more than 25 years of industry experience, Lennox will oversee all of Bell Media’s English independent and in-house entertainment productions for conventional, specialty, pay television, and digital media, bringing the company’s production teams together under one leader. Lennox will also oversee all English and French radio and local television broadcasting and their associated digital assets. Reporting directly to Mary Ann Turcke, Lennox becomes a member of Bell Media’s Senior Leadership Team.

Randy Lennox is the leading executive in the Canadian music industry. While the business has endured a myriad of technological and marketplace challenges, he has consistently grown market share and revenue through talent acquisition and strategic alliances. As President and CEO of Universal Music, the country’s leading music company, he was responsible for more than 50% of domestic and international recording artists, who in total have won 178 JUNO Awards. Some of the Canadian talent he has signed or helped elevate to the international stage include Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Drake, Hedley, Diana Krall, Nickelback, The Tenors, The Tragically Hip, as well as Canada’s newest breakout star, The Weeknd, among others.

Proudly Canadian: Max Webster

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

In the 1960s in Sarnia, the band that would later form in Toronto as Max Webster started out with various names such as The Grass Company, The Quotations, Big Al's Band, ZOOOM. The band chose Max Webster in 1973 in Toronto and originally consisted of guitarist and vocalist Kim Mitchell, keyboardist Terry Watkinson, bassist Mike Tilka and drummer Paul Kersey. Mitchell and Pye Dubois would write the majority of their material, with Mitchell writing the music and Dubois writing lyrics. During his tenure with the band, Watkinson also wrote a significant amount of material, typically one to three songs per album.

Kersey left the band after their 1976 self-titled debut album, to be replaced by Gary McCracken. After recording and touring for their second album, High Class in Borrowed Shoes (1977), Tilka would follow suit and leave the band, being replaced by Dave Myles. Myles had previously played with Mitchell in a series of pre-Max Webster bands, all based in Mitchell's and Myles' hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.

Max Webster's third album, Mutiny Up My Sleeve (1978), was produced by the band and Terry Brown in collaboration with their ex-bassist Mike Tilka (who was now concentrating on a production career), and featured the Mitchell/Watkinson/McCracken/Myles line-up. This line-up would last through their fourth album, A Million Vacations, and a subsequent live album, Live Magnetic Air, both of which were issued in 1979.

Mike Evin: Life As a Lover

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Submitted by Lee Fraser

Sultry, sexy, smooth: this is how the album opens up, with simple hand claps and piano. Mike Evin’s smooth and friendly voice draws you into his reminiscences of past loves. Joined by guitar and synths, “Have I Ever Loved” carries the ache of searching for true love. Mike’s rich musical past, experiences in different cultures and sincere admiration of greats like Al Green and Bill Withers all come together and gives Evin the innate ability to compose songs that are instantly engrained.

The very next song shows the flip side of Evin’s writing style. From soulful and reflective, the mood switches to playful with the song “Shake Well”, a nod to nutritional supplement beverages. It’s difficult not to sway to this song, and producer Howie Beck has wisely left Evin’s commentary between verses and choruses, the oh yas and exuberant woos that indicate the enthusiasm of the performance.

The rest of the album provides more songs of searching for true love, scattered with fun songs about babies and dogs and grandmothers. Evin has led a life of grand experiences but he is also able to observe the simple things in life and put them into song in a way that makes us all nostalgic.