Cover Story

Sheldon Kagan Not In a Shy Way

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

If you are a Montrealer, or even just worked in the entertainment business in that glorious city, then the name Sheldon Kagan is one you will instantly recognize.

For 50 years plus, Kagan was known as one of Montreal’s leading event producers and entrepreneurs. From starting out as a 16-year-old kid doing high school DJ gigs to creating a niche for jazz shows to come through the city, to booking the likes of local bands to legendary greats, producing thousands of productions and taking the chances it takes to book live entertainment.

The company has produced over 75 major concerts bringing in artists such as Dionne Warwick, The Commodores, Loggins & Messina, Delaney & Bonnie, Billy Preston, Donovan, Artie Shaw, Miles Davis, George Benson, Ravi Shankar, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Buddy Rich and many more. At this stage in his life, Sheldon Kagan had decided that the time has come for him to retire. But he also decided to write a book about his five-decade career, which is both charming and nostalgic, with great personal stories and insights into the artists he worked with in his bookings and shows.

Gowan Still a Criminal Mind

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

At his Caesar’s Palace Coliseum concert on Friday, Sept 7, Larry Gowan was presented with a Certified Canadian Platinum Single award for a combined 80,000 physical, digital and stream equivalent units of his song “A Criminal Mind.”

Gowan was surprised by his label Linus Entertainment with the award, just as his band left the stage leaving him to perform the song solo. While the band and stage managers were in on the plot, Larry was genuinely surprised and delighted at the presentation. “It’s amazing to me because I didn’t think anyone bought records anymore!” he said upon returning for an encore. Linus Entertainment represents several Gowan albums including Strange Animal, Great Dirty World (which includes the song Moonlight Desires), and The Good Catches Up.

From the Strange Animal himself:
The Life and Times of Lawrence Gowan - in a nutshell
My large head introduced itself to planet Earth in 1956. It happened in Glasgow Scotland and has been happening daily ever since. Without my consent, as a child, I was brought to the tropic of Canada and settled among the unparalleled beauty of Scarborough. My marks in high-school were of a caliber that left me no option but to pursue the occupation of Rockstar.

Don McLean ‘Mr American Pie’ in the Botanical Gardens

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Don McLean is one of those rare characters, a true US music icon with a song-writing knack and a melodic thrust few can ever reach, let alone match. With a new album just out, ‘Botanical Gardens,’ he is relaxed, assured and happy to look back at his fifty years on the road, a modern troubadour who still loves the buzz of live performance.

I love being out there, on-stage, never knowing what might happen. I’m flying and I only hope everybody gets it and it goes well and is not a disaster. I don’t wear a harness. I’m like a wild horse,’ he says with evident relish.

With his latest release, ‘Botanical Gardens,’ the first in around eight years, McLean touches many of his usual bases - love, relationships and reflective compassion and concern. The title track was inspired by his time playing in Sydney, Australia, a few years ago when he discovered a wonderful public park full of exotic plants and trees a peaceful oasis, a mere stone’s throw from the city’s famous landmark Opera House. ‘I remember lots of colour, flowers, bulbs, palm trees, tropical plants all around. And I walked around there, juxtaposing my thoughts of New York – lacking colour at its worst - as I wandered. I’ve never truly liked New York City. I moved Upstate after college in around 1968.

Ry Cooder The Return of the Prodigal Son

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Submitted by Iain Patience

When one of the world’s most accomplished, admired and revered guitarists tells you that how he plays is: “………nothing special. It’s just music. All music’s the same, all that folk stuff. You just play what you know. You listen to the other guys and try to compliment them,” you know you’re dealing with a master of understatement. And with Ry Cooder, the humility continues in a similar vein as he looks back over half a century at the absolute peak of musical genius.

From his sideman work with the Rolling Stones – Cooder’s the stinging slide-picker on ‘Sister Morphine’ on the ‘Sticky Fingers’ album – in the 1960s to his remarkable emergence as a movie music score writer twenty years later, Cooder has always been a guy with a passion for music, performance and unexpected twists and turns. Always ready to play out his socio-political beliefs and hopes in musical form, Cooder never shuns controversy when he feels the time is right, or there’s a need to push back against convention or authority.

Take his work with the Buena Vista Social Club, for example, an album and a band that he championed at a considerable personal expense in the late 1980s when the USA operated an absolute embargo on all things Cuban. Cooder, in typically resourceful, committed mode, hooked up with a bunch of aging Cuban musicians and brought their sheer, shining brilliance to the global stage, picking up a Grammy in the process and a personal $25,000 fine for breaching the trade embargo back home Stateside.

Live at Heart Ready to Showcase over 200 Acts in Sweden

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

It all began in 2010 when Live at Heart’s founders Anders Damberg and Johannes Nilsson wanted to create a space for local, unsigned bands to play for larger audiences. In its first year, Live at Heart featured 102 different acts and hosted gigs on 10 different venues around Örebro.

Over the years, Live at Heart has evolved into a creative industry conference and showcase festival – attended by hundreds of artists, filmmakers and creative professionals from all over the world. The event has grown into one of the biggest of its kind in all of Scandinavia and is considered one of the best festivals in the world.

Live at Heart is a showcase festival, meaning that we are showcasing the stars of tomorrow and giving promising creative talents the opportunity to get discovered and boost their careers. More than 200 music acts and independent film screenings in the heart of Örebro.

Peter AstedtPeter AstedtThe talent is not just from Sweden, the artists are from all over the world, including Canada, a lineup that Peter Astedt has garnered from his many trips to CMW, MIDEM and SXSW over the years.

Carlos Santana Up Close and Personal

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Carlos Santana is, without doubt, one of the finest guitarists modern music has to offer. From his explosive appearance on the Woodstock stage fifty years ago, in 1969, through his work with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and the legendary blues duo of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Santana has remained a unique, instantly recognizable figure in both the blues and world music camps.

Now, with a new band behind him and an ambition and optimism that he believes is leading him back to his ‘blues roots,’ he is about to hit the road with a promise of Santana at his very best, a bluesman with a purpose and a genuine desire to take the music world by the scruff of its neck and deliver a promise that he believes will push him straight back into the spotlight where many would agree he clearly belongs.

Elvis Presley The Boy Who Would Be King

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January 6, 1935 - August 16, 1977
Submitted by Don Graham

On August 16, 1977, 41 years ago, we lost one of the most significant artists on human beings the world has ever known.  Elvis Presley. Although the anniversary of his death is not as universally recognized as years past his impact on the world has not diminished. In 2010 we wrote the story “The Boy Who Would Be King” and thought it appropriate to rerun it for your reading enjoyment. Elvis didn’t like being called the King and at one show where they held up a sign saying Elvis Is King. He asked them to take it down saying there is only one King and pointed heavenward. Hope you enjoy the read.

On January 8th, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, was born to Gladys and Vernon Presley, a baby boy. He would be named Elvis Aaron Presley, and one day would be known simply as…..The King.

Denis Element I’m Where a Memory (Can Die For a Night)

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Submitted by Don Graham

Cover Photo Credit Ash Photography Services

The recipe for this country music feel-good story includes; Nashville legend, Vern Gosdin aka The Voice, Beverly Gosdin, Vern’s widow, Dana Hudson, singer/songwriter and Denis Element, Canadian country singer/songwriter.

Together this combination of people all came together to create this great story. “This is what I’ve wanted to do all my life. I grew up with my Dad listening to George Jones, Hank Sr. and Merle. And of course, Vern Gosdin. It was three years ago that my wife, Pauline, began posting my videos on social media. Not long after I began to build a fan base that loved traditional country music and the loved my vocals. I posted a song by Vern Gosdin and shortly after Beverly Gosdin (Vern's widow), who is in Nashville, started messaging me." In the words of Beverly Gosdin,"I had connected with Canadian singer/songwriter Denis Element out of Hamilton, Ontario. I had seen Denis doing a version of Vern's song, I'm Where a Memory (Can Die for a Night). I invited Denis to record his version in Nashville, Tennessee. Dana Hudson sang so much that he invited him to also record "Check My Memory" (a song written years before by Hudson). Denis cut it with some of Nashville's greats on the session, including Scotty Sanders, Buddy Hyatt from Toto and the man himself, Brent Mason. This will be the follow-up single after "I'm Where a Memory (Can Die for a Night). I'm excited to see where this goes from here."

Rory Block A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith

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Cover Photo Credit: Sergio Kurhajec
Submitted by Sandy Graham

As a young teenager Rory Block — her full name is Aurora — grew up in New York’s Greenwich Village at the height of the “folk revival.” At 14, already an accomplished guitarist, she discovered the Delta blues — then part of the wide world of folk music. She vividly remembers hearing Mississippi John Hurt in 1963, and spending time with Son House, Fred McDowell and the Reverend Gary Davis.

Her first recordings (under the pseudonym Sunshine Kate) were made for Elektra Records, but she didn’t return to the studio until 1975 when she recorded for RCA Victor and Chrysalis before signing to Rounder Records, for whom she cut more than a dozen albums. She has also recorded for a number of other labels, in between endless tour schedules.

Along the way, she has won five W.C. Handy Awards (now known simply as Blues Awards) from the Blues Foundation, two for “Traditional Blues Female Artist,” and three for “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year.” She’s earned a gold record in Holland, and toured from one end of the United States to the other end of Canada, not to mention Poland and Norway and Italy and a half a dozen more European countries.

The Beaches Jazz Festival Celebrates 30 Years!

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

The Beaches International Jazz Festival is a 10-day music festival held each year in the lakeside Beaches community of Toronto in the month of July. Originally started in 1988, it is now one of Canada's largest free music festivals with nearly 800,000 attendees, throughout its 10-day span. The Festival takes place across a number of venues; stage concerts are held in several different parks within the area and also along a two-kilometre stretch of the Beach main street - Queen Street East.

Every year, the Festival brings in internationally acclaimed performers while also showcasing local talent, including “new generation” jazz musicians. The Festival now hires around 1000 artists per annum, including 50 bands for its “StreetFest” event along Queen Street East.

Now celebrating the 30th year of this amazing event, there is something for everyone visit www.beachesjazz.com to see the full schedule of events.

One of the most popular highlights of this event is the Streetfest, an incredible Mardi Gras feel where live music is booked on alternate sides of the street and the talent has become so eclectic it isn’t just limited to jazz anymore. It is truly a music festival and there is something for everyone.

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