Cover Story

Dick Damron Happy Birthday South of Two Borders

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canadian country music legend and Hall of Famer times three Dick Damron is still pickin’ and kickin’ south of two borders in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico. He is a charter member of three Hall of Fames; The International Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The pride of Bentley, Alberta, has been making Canada proud for seven decades and fondly remembers the early scuffling days in the 70’s. “I was touring Europe, Scotland, Germany and England, back in the day where musicians from my area thought a Far East Tour was going to Saskatchewan! We played a lot in Vegas is those days as well. Here I was a kid from Bentley playing in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in Bentley….no really, what happens in Bentley??”

Dick recorded his first record in 1958 at radio station CKRD in Red Deer, Alberta. “Gonna Have a Party” and “Rockin’ Baby”, original songs written by Damron. He pressed a thousand copies and released it to radio. He released the record on his own label and hit the usual roadblocks. ‘We don’t play Canadian records.’ “This confused me,” Damron said, “I’m a Canadian, they are a Canadian radio station and we’re in Canada!” Some things don’t change much! After a couple more releases on his own he signed with Quality Records who manufactured and released records on a national level. The first recordings for Quality were also original songs “Julie” and “That’s What I Call Living.”

Garage Rock Still Rockin’ It Out – The Sonics

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Submitted by Don Graham


Cover Photo Credit: Bobbi Barbarich

The Sonics formed in 1960 in Tacoma Washington, just 25 miles from Seattle where the grunge movement would start years later. Many of the grunge and punk rock bands would credit The Sonics with influencing their sound and style. Cashbox Canada caught up with Rob Lind, the sax/harp player and founding member to talk about the band and their upcoming tour and specifically their Toronto date ay the Danforth Music Hall.

“It’s interesting to know that we influenced people and that some people credit us with starting the grunge/punk movement. That was never our intention. We were influenced by Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, we just thought of ourselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band. Now granted we were in Tacoma, kinda like the working-class Liverpool to Seattle’s hip and slick London. My dad was a blue collar worker on the waterfront and our lifestyle and our music was more working class grind it out rock ‘n’ roll. Make no mistake, there were some fabulous musicians in Seattle but their style of music was a bit more jazz oriented and sophisticated than ours. Being a sax player I really noticed it. These guys were playing all this complicated jazz stuff and I was a straight rock n roll sax player. We were working class guys who just wanted to rock.”

Merle Haggard Singin’ Him Back Home

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Submitted by Don Graham

April 6th. Merle Haggard’s date of birth in 1937, date of his death in 2016 and in 2017 the date of a Nashville tribute concert honoring the country music legend.

Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard is set to take place on April 6 at 7 pm at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena; April 6 also would have been Haggard’s 80th birthday. The star studded event is being put together by Haggard’s family, Blackbird Presents and Willie Nelson, and Don Was, Ben Haggard and Buddy Cannon are serving as its musical directors. The tribute show will be taped for multi-platform distribution and some of the proceeds will benefit the TJ Martell Foundation.

“I am so very thankful for this tribute to my late husband, Merle Haggard,” Theresa Haggard says in a recent press release. “Please come join me and my family at this fantastic show that Merle would be so proud of.”

The concert will feature Willie Nelson, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesneyas well as performances from John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., the Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, Ben Haggard, John Anderson, Connie Smith and Bobby Bare. Additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Matt Andersen - Honest Man

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Submitted by Don Graham

Matt Andersen has paid his dues (probably some of yours and mine as well) and is now reaping the rewards of his labour with international recognition and a jammed packed tour schedule.

We caught up with Matt at his home in Nova Scotia on the eve of the beginning of his new live show schedule -The Honest Man Tour. “I feel really fortunate that I’m able to go out on these tours and enough people like my music and support me to make it all possible.” This tour is a solo tour and I asked Matt, who tours with his band as well, ,whether he preferred the band set up or the solo configuration he said “I like them both, neither one is better, just different. As a solo I can change things but I do that with the band anyway. It’s fun to not do the same thing every night. Plus the band is used to me hollering at them on stage.”

And Matt is set to embark on a tour that will see him in the northeast United States in February and March with Canadian gigs in March and April as well before heading to Europe in May and June and back to Canada in July. The boy is busy and enjoying every minute of it. “I feel very fortunate to be able to work as much as I do and be able to share the music with the people.”

Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne - Jumpin' & Boppin'!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham
Biography Credit: Sarah French Publicity

Hailed as "an artist bringing the piano back to the front ranks of contemporary blues," multiple-award winning blues, boogie-woogie and jazz pianist Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne is called "Blues Boss" for a reason. His musical career began as a child prodigy in the 1960s and has continued to flourish for over 50 years with Wayne at the forefront of modern day blues piano practitioners.

Born in Spokane, Washington, raised in New Orleans and now based in British Columbia, Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne has built a stellar reputation within Canada and abroad for his lively attire and energetic concert performances. The zoot suited Wayne will be returning to Russia, South America, and Europe later in 2016, where he regularly sells out 800 to 1000 seat venues and headlines many international concerts and festivals.

I Heard It In A Love Song

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Submitted by Don Graham

Valentine’s Day, the day we celebrate love, is around the corner. It’s time to talk about love songs. “ I heard it in a love song, can’t be wrong.” Thus spoke the Marshall Tucker Band. Jim Croce said “Everytime I try to tell you the words just come out wrong. So I’ll have to say I love you in a song.” And Paul McCartney said “You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs I look around me and I see it isn't so. Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs, what's wrong with that I'd like to know.” Well Sir Paul, nothing! Nothing is wrong with that.

Love songs have been around forever and are in every society in some form or other. Heck, even birds sing each other love songs. Love songs go back to the early troubadours singing airs to their romantic interests. Scottish poet and songwriter Robbie Burns sang of his love being like a red, red rose. The cowboys sang of love in The Red River Valley or Cowboy Love Song. Legend has it that sitting around the fire at night as they strummed guitars and sang after a hard day on the range, the cowboys would sing what they knew of the song and make up new verses that would be passed on at the next roundup. As the song moved from year to year and camp to camp more verses were added. I once heard it said there were over a hundred verses to the song.

One Night – Two Hearts With Lisa Hartt and Don Graham

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Veteran MuchMusic VeeJay Michael Williams Presents Sunday Night is fast becoming an established listening room featuring some of Ontario’s best musical offerings in a unique environment at Taste of Columbia El Salon in Oakville, Ontario.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, two legendary artists will come together for a two hour concert One Night – Two Hearts featuring Lisa Hartt and Don Graham.

Lisa Hartt began her career in Montreal, Quebec at the age of 15 when she was already working as a backing singer for Gino Vanelli. In the 1970’s, she formed the Lisa Hartt Band, who had a charting song with ‘Old Time Movie’ from her successful Starwatcher album, which lead to major touring and appearances. Lisa continues to pursue her songwriting and performing and will be offering the best of her love and life songs with this unique appearance with fellow artist Don Graham.

Denise Donlon - Can’t Stop the Girl!

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Submitted by Michael Williams

In the summer of 1980, I worked in Vancouver at Ted Thomas Quintessence Records on West 4th, home base for everything punk/ indie in Vancouver, from Doug and the Slugs first release "Too Bad" to the incredible, best band ever the Pointed Sticks.

There is freedom to the west coast that's truly Canadian, the legend of Joe Forte, the unofficial black lifeguard of English Bay ,the statue of Olympian Harry Jerome, to the Hendrix family who settled in Vancouver making Jimi's family and Al Hendrix is Canadian. (his father was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1919).

I love Canada and the west coast; so does Denise, it is where she began to shape who and what she wanted to be, could be, when she grew up.

We never met back then even though we had common friends (Doug Grover, Bryan Adams, Tom Lavin, Bob Rock.) We first met at MuchMusic on 99 Queen Street. On her first day she was given pieces of paper on an easel and told to make the rock news into a great show by John Martin. Not the last time he would challenge her; she was full of energy that jumped through the screen, as she found her way through the spontaneous combustion sometimes minefield called MuchMusic. Our job challenge by John and Moses was always to make something great out of nothing.

Denise made herself great!

MW: Why did you write the book now...is your work in the cultural industries over or taking a new turn?

Robbie Burns: The Rock Star

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Submitted by Don Graham

There’s little doubt that had Robbie Burns, the Ploughman Poet, been born a hundred years later he would have been a certified triple A rock star. The ladies’ man, the poet, the eternal romantic.

Burns was in fact regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic period, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that started in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, peaking from about 1800 to 1850. Whether his subject was a man or a mouse or even a louse, Scotland’s National Bard had that rare talent of putting himself into others peoples place and circumstances and found a way to express life's universal emotions.

Burns was capable of creating traditional ballads and romantic songs and humorous songs and poem. Robert Burns composed some of the world's most instantly recognizable lines of poetry and song lyrics. His “Auld Land Syne” is a staple around the world on New Year’s Eve. It IS because of Rabbie Burns that we promise,every Hogmanay, to 'tak a cup o' kindness' with the people and go into the new year with a proclamation of hope for the future.“

He wrote love songs that spoke to people’s hearts and the women loved him and his ability to flesh out the emotions of love. Like Kris Kristofferson did in the ‘70’s with his “I don’t want to be alone, so help me make it through the night “Burns did with “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose” with lines like “ My love is like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June. My love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune.”

Hugh’s Room Toronto On The Brink

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Submitted by Don Graham

One of the most iconic and loved listening rooms, Hugh’s Room in Toronto, has been on the brink of going under. But as long as there is hope people need to stop burying the body before it flatlines. At this writing, owner Richard Carson has NOT gone bankrupt as reported by some on social media, but has filed for insolvency. On January 8, Richard statement read: “To all our supporters – performers, audience, and staff – I am sincerely sorry to have to say that Hugh’s Room has reached a point of insolvency. More information will be available over the next few days as to how we can proceed from here, but at this time we are closing our doors until we can see what options are available to us.”

Richard opened Hugh’s Room in April 2001 and named it after his late brother Hugh.

With the late great Jesse Winchester as the first act to grace the stage. Since Jesse’s passing Bill McKettrick has organized a Jesse Winchester Tribute show there with one scheduled for this April. It’s still a large possibility as the room, although closed now, is working on a solution. On January 9, Hugh’s Room issued this statement, “We have received a tremendous amount of good will and support over the past few days and we’re working on finding ways where we may be able to garner that support. It certainly has given us some encouragement that we may be able to move forward and continue in the ways where many people – performers, audience, and staff – have been touched by the room over the past 17 years. It ain’t over folks!”

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