Cover Story

Oh Look! It’s Bill Wood and the Woodies!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Soft spoken and sweetly humble, Bill Wood is truly a musician’s musician. He still just loves music – playing it, writing it, singing it, performing it. “I was always a songwriter first. Then a musician. I started playing in a band in High School. After that I jumped in a van, hit the road, played covers, lived the dream for awhile.“ Eye Eye was part of that dream – formed out of the ashes of two groups and fronted by Bill Wood. They benefited by being in CBC’S  Rock Wars and winning Q 107’s Home Grown contest that had a record deal attached.  Eye Eye released three solid radio singles between 1986-1988 (X-Ray Eyes, Out on a Limb and Endless Night), two albums on Duke Street; the third and final CD never saw the light of day.

Slightly disillusioned with a fickle industry, Wood stepped away from recording and performing in the early 90’s to focus on raising his family and making a living. His experiences as a home renovator and woodworker has now led him full circle to be back on stage because he wants to be, not because he has to be.

The Attitude of Gratitude


Submitted by Sandy Graham

In these current times it is hard not to look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. For me, it was the wonderful upbringing I had with two amazing parents who loved each other and their children more than life itself that always brings me back to knowing the glass is half full.

Many of you who are close to me have gotten to know my parents even though they have long been gone from this earth. Their expressions, morals and stories are woven into my everyday life. As my brother Don always says, they would be amazed at the impact they have had on us.

So I have realized that gratitude is an attitude.

I am grateful for my Cashbox team : Mark Smith, Bill King, Gillian Fitzgibbon, Michael Williams, Glenda Fordham, Iain Patience,Lee Fraser, Lenny Stoute, Chris Wardman and Don Graham – I thank you for making this online magazine come out every week in celebration of music. Because of you,  we have created a place to promote Canadian talent and beyond.

I am grateful for the industry folks I get to work with all the time, Irene Carroll, Anya Wilson, Kathy Hahn, JSpencer Mussellam, Gerry Young, Shelley Buffitt,  the folks at CIMA and so many more.

Cashbox Canada’s Top Ten Christmas Songs

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The holiday season is always a time for the classic tunes to come back to radio and they are familiar to all of us :
Do They Know It’s Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, All I Want For Christmas, Blue Christmas, the list goes on and on.

But we are Cashbox Canada so we want to celebrate the Canadian talent who have put out the songs to celebrate the Christmas Season.


Here are our Top Ten Cashbox Canada’s Christmas Pick Hits !


10: Drake Jensen
Live Every Day (Like It Was Christmas Day)

9. Michelle Wright
I Know Santa’s Been Here

8. Marshall Dane
Christmas For Two

7. Bryan Adams
Christmas Time

6. Bobby Curtola
St. Nicholas Christmas

Ross Petty does Cinderella and She’s All the Better For It


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Talk about a fairytale life. Born in darkest Winnipeg, Ross Petty came off the blocks in a blazing run for the bright lights and has never looked back. The man has played Broadway, starred in London’s West End theatre which is the Brit Broadway, created a long running role on TV soap ‘All My Children,’ reared his lovable mug in numerous TV and movie roles and even voiced some of your fave cartoon characters in shows such as Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Pippi Longstocking and Free Willy. On top of all that, every night he gets to go home and sleep with real life ballerina and top shelf beauty Karen Kain. Dude, anything else we can get you?

In Toronto, Ross Petty is as Christmas as Santa, acquiring this lofty status from his annual pantomine productions of what he calls “Fractured Fairy Tale Musicals”. In the 19 years since he’s been doing it, Petty’s reworked childhood classics such as Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast and of course those perennial lovable men in tights, Robin Hood and Peter Pan.

Working out of the elegant Elgin Theatre since 1996, Ross Petty Productions’ shows are firmly in the old English pantomime tradition, incorporating many of that style’s elements: broad comedy, mandatory audience participatiion in the ritual booing of villans, saucy quips for the adults, satirising popular songs for the kiddies, nudge, nudge wink wink one-liners and a man in a dress, played by the great man himself.

Bobby Curtola Wishing You A Merry Christmas

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canada’s original teen idol has been making records for 6 decades and has charted records from the 60’s to the 90’s. But it’s been a while since Curtola has put something out there for public consumption that wasn’t part of his vast catalogue of hit records. “I was thinking this year at Christmas time how nice it be if I could wish my loyal fans and friends a happy holiday with a song. I was having a production meeting  with my friend and marketing director Sandy Graham (who owns Entertainment Music  Group) and brought up the idea. Sandy said she always enjoyed a song I’d recorded a few years ago but never sent to radio called ‘St. Nicholas Christmas’.  Sandy and her team put together a package that included the song and an autographed Christmas card, all selling for a low price of 10 dollars.”

Andy Kim Christmas Show Celebrates 10th Anniversary – An Inside Look

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Submitted by Mark Smith

It is that wonderful time of the year, when the shopping lights go up in stores and friends start teasing and poking fun at my apparent “Andy Kim Obsession”.

Is it an “Obsession”?

When asked to write this article, I was forced to have a serious think about my annual, unbridled excitement over the Andy Kim Christmas Show. I started to draft outlines, and draft outlines, and draft outlines, finding it very difficult to define this obsession. How do I start?

Draft 1
Andy Kim has penned more then 19 charting singles, including my personal favourite “Sugar Sugar”. As a kid, I would watch the Archies, delaying going to my swimming lessons until the shows final credits started. My weekend would be ruined if the episode did not feature the song. This may be a cute anecdote, but it is not a story.

Draft 2
Make a list of the songs and talk about him being one of Canada’s all time most successful songwriters: ‘Shoot ‘Em Baby”, “How’d We Ever Get This Way?”, “Sugar, Sugar”, “Rainbow Ride”, “Baby, I Love You”, “Rock Me Gently”.  No, been done.

Draft 3
Wrote his first hit at the age of 16? There is so much more.

Draft 4
Growing upin Montreal when it was the coolest, the age difference between his mother and father. Leaving Canada in his early teens to end up in the Brill Building? No, not that,

Draft 5
How did I meet Andy? In the 90’s, I owned a catering company, and at the Annual EMI Publishing BBQ, he came by the serving table, so I introduced myself. Next day, Andy had tracked me down and said, “I had to call and tell you that was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.” Getting an unscripted, spontaneous compliment from someone in the music industry is like expecting a tip at an open bar. I was pleasantly shocked.

Art Bergmann Comin’ In From the Cold With a Vengeance

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photos: Lenka Tupá

Just when the fat cats and chill operators think it’s safe to carry on grinding the proles, Art Bergmann’s back to put their greasy asses on notice. Or so it would be in a better world. Instead, one of Canrock’s most enduring iconoclasts must end a decade long self-imposed exile and get back to shaking the foundations. Fearing it’ll all fall on deaf ears. But DNA-driven to do it anyway.

The Vantown-born Bergmann was a seminal figure on the Canpunk scene in the late Seventies, playing in and shaping a number of bands, most notably Young Canadians. Even then though, his version of punk was more sharp, boring tool for getting to the heart of the matter, more Camus than Clockwork Orange. That kind of ‘tude brought him to the attention of avant-garde icon John Cale, who produced Art’s solo debut album Crawl With Me in 1988. Two years later he teamed with producer Chris Wardman to create  Sexual Roulette, his mainstream breakthrough which contained the rock radio hit "Bound for Vegas" and was the springboard to a deal with Polygram Records.

The year 1996 was for Bergmann a microcosm of the music business. Now a rising star at Sony Records, he scooped the Juno for Best Alternative Rock Album with What Fresh Hell Is This? Within months, the album’s sales while steady enough did not impress Sony, who dropped Art like a bad habit. After a year on the low down in Toronto, writing and raging he relocated to a ragtag farm on the outskirts of Calgary.

Barra MacNeils Keeping the Celtic Spirit

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Submitted by Bill King

Editor’s Note: 2014 marks over 27 years for the Cape Breton Island based family group, the Barra MacNeils, in an outstanding recording and touring career. This holiday season they are celebrating again with their yearly Christmas tour that takes them from the Pacific West to the Atlantic East coast. It all begins in British Columbia, taking in some dates in Ontario,then to the Atlantic East Coast to P.E.I.,New Brunswick and wrapping it up December 21st in Nova Scotia. The music, memories and magic that is the Barra MacNeils will be coming to Massey Hall on December 13, 2014 – one show only at 8 pm. For more on the tour visit:

Bill King: It was our 35th anniversary and we decide to celebrate in Cape Breton with stopovers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Prior to that, my partner Kristine and I were guests on Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition on CBC and made mention of our impending trip. That show carried to the far tip of Cape Breton Island where math teacher David Rasmussen and family overheard. Through a friend, they contact and invite us to spend a week with them in Bay St. Lawrence.

We flew to Halifax and spun our way down around Peggy’s Cove across the province to the base of Cape Breton Island, stopping to snap photographs along the way. We stayed in bed and breakfasts - no plan or time schedule.

Mimi O’Bonsawin New Music, Old Soul

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Submitted by Don Graham

Like a four leaf clover, Halley’s Comet or a blue moon, there are things in this world that come along infrequently and bring us joy when they do. A talent like Mimi O’Bonsawin is as rare as the above mentioned wonders. We get a lot of CD’s come across our desks at Cashbox Canada but every once in a while we get something with an off the chart wow factor. That was the case when the self titled Mimi album was first inserted into the office CD player here at Cashbox Canada.

Mimi O’Bonsawin is an old soul. The music she makes is on one hand familiar yet totally original and unique. Her voice belies her age (she’s a mere 20 years old) but the subject matter, tunes plus delivery suggests a much older, well-traveled woman but at times has the innocence of a child.

Mimi was born in Sudbury, Ontario  to Native Canadian/French Canadian parents when at a young age she became very interested in her native background, history and culture. “I was fascinated by the Native culture, so I decided to take courses to get more educated about it. It changed my life or should I say reaffirmed my purpose in life while influencing my songwriting.”  Mimi’s songs are not what you’d expect from a 20 year old but come from a place deep inside that truly reflects Mimi’s values and maturity.

Blue Room

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Submitted by Sandy Graham
Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Kelly

Eighteen years later and this band is still rockin’ the blues on the TO scene and beyond. Formed in 1996, Blue Room will celebrate their 20th Anniversary in 2016.  This is their fourth album and sure to join the other releases that have received international attention and radio airplay.

The core musicians of Blue Room are veteran live and studio players, featuring: Brian Neller's big, bluesy, passionate vocals; Fraser Lawrason’s solid bass lines and backing vocals; Paul Sanderson's soaring blues rock guitar; Norm Ryan's fluid and inspired saxophone; Pat Quinn's seasoned drum grooves. (Frank Watt started with the band and is a lifelong friend of all the musicians in the band and a musical colleague, but only Pat plays on this last CD)

Songwriting is shared by Brian Neller (vocals) and Paul Sanderson (guitarist) and this new offering will not disappoint fans who fell in love with Blue Room’s signature tune ‘Red Beans and Rice’.
Blue Room has a list of accomplishments that reads like a Juno nominee:
Finalists in the 1997 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search, runner-up in 1998, and second runner-up in 2000! Since 1997, the band has played in major blues venues around Toronto, including the Silver Dollar Room, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, and Chicago’s. Sharing the bill with the likes of John Hammond and Jully Black, BLUE ROOM has also played the JVC Jazz Festival, The Beaches International Jazz Festival, First Night Toronto at the SkyDome, and Lloyd’s Blues Music Festival, featuring B.B. King, and Buddy Guy.

The band’s CDs have garnered airplay on over 40 radio stations in Canada, including CBC, Q107, CJRT, and internationally on hit top 20 CHR radio station, Radio Kaleidoscope in France, and received a 5 star rating (the highest) on Radio Halo in Holland.

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