Cover Story

Sounds of Summer



Music is part of everything in life, we get married with a special song, there are break-up songs (and certainly make-up songs), we choose music for Christmas, funerals, and all other special occasions. Summer conjures up the best in Canadians, who suffer through long winters just to have three months of sunshine. Classics like  In the Summertime, (Mungo Jerry) Here Comes the Sun, (Beatles) Sunny Days, (Lighthouse) Sunshine Superman (Donovan) all get rotation once again when the thermometer rises.
We asked the Cashbox journalists  to write about one song that brings back summer memories for them and why. Surprising choices!

Sandy by Bruce Springsteen
An angst-earpiece of midsummer bittersweet teenage longings with Da Boss at his most poetic and evocative. Dude was never to hit the lyrical heights he reached here with lines like: “Sandy, the waitress under the boardwalk lost her desire for me/ I spoke with her last night she said she won’t set herself on fire for me anymore.”

Ooooh yeaah, can’t you just feel the throbbing teenage heat?

The summer feeling this song takes me back to is that all-consuming sense that anything is possible when you hit the streets or the boardwalk with your buds at the beginning of a warm summer night and you’re seventeen years old.

Julian Taylor He’s Never Gonna Give it Up

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

The sparkling and soulful leadoff single on Julian Taylor’s excellent Tech Noir album is  titled ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’ While on the obvious level it’s about skin-to-skin love, it also refers to Taylor’s hardworking, never give up approach to his career. The twin engines driving this are the urge for success and the desire to make music both pleasurable and positive. On the phone from his East Side digs, Taylor is happy that aspect of the music’s getting noticed.

“At the core it’s an album made for people who want to feel good, feel uplifted. That’s the feedback I’m getting from a wide age range of people and I’m glad it’s appealing to a wide spectrum of listeners. It’s satisfying because we were building a new sound for Tech Noir and didn’t know how it would be received.

“It wasn’t all smooth sailing. When we went into the studio, we weren’t even sure we could capture what we had on the demos. It wasn’t until about four days into the sessions that we began to get the feeling we were nailing it.”

George Strait The Cowboy Rides Away in Style

GeorgeStraight Cover June 13 2014

Submitted by Don Graham

George Strait, the King of the cowboys in country music, has completed the final concert of his final tour in style. Strait drew a record crowd of 105,000 fans at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. The number exceeded the stadium's official capacity by 5,000 and broke the previous record of 87,500 set by The Rolling Stones at The Louisiana Superdome in 1981.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be here tonight. It's just been on my mind since we started this tour two years ago, and finally it's here tonight," Strait said. "We broke a record for the most people, ever. Really? Why wouldn't we, huh?"  After the show Strait said “I knew it would be kind of emotional but I was still a little surprised to feel it that strongly, The first three or four shows in 2013 were the toughest, but every night it was in the back of my mind to take it all in, because I probably wouldn’t ever come back there again. It made me want to put on the best show we’ve ever done there. I hope we did that. I feel like we did.”

Max Layton A Leonard Cohen Approved Album

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Submitted by Don Graham
Cover Photo Credit 
Eric G. McBride

Max Layton, son of Canadian literary icon Irving Layton has a new CD  and although it’s not officially released until June 8th, it already has people talking.

One person that it has talking is a Canadian icon in the music and literary world, none other than Leonard Cohen.  In fact it was Cohen who taught a young Max how to play the guitar. “Leonard would bring his guitar to parties at my parents’ house in Cote St. Luc when I was nine or ten. That’s when I fell in love with the sound of it – and first met him. I remember him showing me how to play E minor ,the simplest two-finger chord, and me taking his guitar upstairs to my bedroom and cradling it in my arms and strumming it quietly while downstairs the partiers got louder. Leonard was a student at McGill and taught me guitar throughout the fall and winter of my 13th year. That would be 1959. My parents had separated by then and I was still living with my mother, Betty Sutherland, aka Boschka, who was an artist. Her painting is on the CD cover. Somehow she managed to buy me a guitar and she traded one of her paintings for the lessons, which consisted of Leonard teaching me chords and various finger-picking techniques. It took about an hour once a week to get downtown by bus, then a long climb carrying my guitar to the top of Mountain St. where Leonard had a bachelor apartment. I remember choking back tears when he told me he had taught me all he could.”

Dolly Parton Blue Smoke

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Submitted by Don Graham

Dolly Parton’s 42nd album release is fittingly titled ‘Blue Smoke’, fitting because it takes us back to where Dolly was born and bred and began pickin’ and writing her songs. She may live in Nashville now and maintain homes in Los Angeles and New York, but she grew up poor in a holler near Locust Ridge, about seven miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevierville, Tennessee, where a bronze Dolly statue graces the courthouse lawn.

The heart of that area is what the Cherokee Indians called Shakaney, or "Land of Blue Smoke," for the mist that shrouds its peaks and floats over its valleys. "I bought the old homestead in 1987 as a retreat, for family reunions, a place away from prying eyes. “

Parton  reached the pinnacle of her mainstream success in the 1980’s when she not only starred in the 1980 hit comedy 9 to 5, which marked her film debut, but she wrote and sang the title track and contributed  to its soundtrack. The title song proved to another #1 hit for Dolly and earned her an Academy Award Nomination. Parton starred in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982, which helped introduce a new generation to her song "I Will Always Love You." which would become a mega hit for Whitney Houston. The following year she scored another major smash with her duet with Kenny Rogers, "Islands in the Stream."

Tommy James & The Shondells: When Small Radio Ruled!

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Submitted by Bill King

When the car radio was king it ruled with an ironclad song. A concise two minutes and thirty seconds of aural pleasure. A message summed up in a catchy phrase and pinned to an infectious melody only the cleverest invent.

At one time there were specialists holed up in office buildings – a piano and ideas, as if a new campaign was being waged on behalf of chewing gum or fashion or ache cream.

Popular music arrived in the ‘50s just as World War II was backing away. A new generation was liberated from the soothing rhythms and mellow tones of dance bands that aided in mending injury, loss and great sorrow. The music tended to a nation heading back to work and gradually healing. The new sounds came from all directions. Most still influenced by American folk culture.

Pop music is about mass appeal - a smart hook – a pleasurable moment, steady backing rhythm and escapism from the demanding day ahead.

One of the most successful icons of the era, Tommy James still finds joy in those songs. The re-singing, celebrating and retelling to an audience whose perceived best moments were in their teens when all seemed possible, loving was less complicated. Passion burned at a temperature well above the Sun’s core and friends gathered to spill half-truths about outsiders.

Diane Warren A Warren Piece

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Submitted by Don Graham

Diane Warren is probably not a household name in most homes, although she admittedly is in mine as I am of the belief that the songwriters are the most import factor in recorded music. You could have the best singer in the world, the finest musicians, engineers and producers on the planet and the technological abilities to record amazing things BUT if you don’t have a song you got nuthin’. And although Diane Warren is not a household name, I doubt there are many households that haven’t heard  at least one of the enormous catalogue of recorded tunes this lady  has created.

Unless you lived in a cave for the last 15 or so years you have heard the classic “How Do I Live” that was a smash hit for Trisha Yearwood and Leanne Rimes with Yearwood’s version being featured in the Nicolas Cage movie Con Air. The song did not appear on the soundtrack album due to contractual complications.

BTW-Celebrating the Indies at CMW. Julian Taylor, Buddy Black, Chloe Charles, Shakura S’Aida, The Archers, King Khan and BBQ Show, Steve Rivers, Carli and Julie Kennedy, Born Ruffians and Billy J. White

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

It’s that blessed time of year again…no, it’s not! The CMW Holy Week is usually held in March but this year was changed to the more weather-friendly month of May. So far, that’s not by much, so all the more reason to spend your entire week avoiding the relentless winds by checking out as many of the umptillion bands on show in the city’s 60 venues as you can stomach. To help clarify/confuse your choices, here’s a random scattergun blast of acts you should know about.

The hard drinking, sharp-dressed Buddy Black has been writing music for nigh-seventeen years now. His songs are a raw, catchy, meticulously crafted, and meaningful cocktail of country rhythms played with roots- punk intensity, hyper-literate lyrics, and desperate, almost manic, vocal delivery.  Buddy's latest project is collaboration with broody-rock-n-roll-bastards, the Ghost Umbrellas. Sharing a similar go-go-go work ethic, and love of live performance, Buddy Black and the Ghost Umbrellas have quickly become a tight, integrated unit. With influences ranging from Zappa, to the Stones, to Tool, the guys have helped to give the driven, maniacal tunes a smoother tone which emphasizes Buddy's careful song craft while retaining a good measure of his characteristic grit. Mr. Black plays his second CMW gig tonight (Thursday May 8 - The Central 603 Markham St - 11pm) so consider yourself warned.

Canadian Music Week 2014


Submitted by Don Graham

Is that time of year again in Toronto. July brings the Beaches International Jazz Festival, September sees the Toronto International Film Festival ( TIFF) and in May it’s time for Canadian Music Week.

History has it that CMW was always in March but it was moved to May this year. It makes it a bit easier for the industry folks around the world to plan their schedule between MIDEM and SXSW.

Every year CMW has a musical superstar that has the WOW factor and attending this year is the legendary Quincy Jones. Jones is an American record producer, conductor, arranger, composer, television producer, film producer, instrumentalist magazine founder, record company executive, humanitarian, and jazz trumpeter. His career spans six decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991.

Mike Trudell Do Ya Wanna


Submitted by Don Graham
Photo Credits: Paul Kazulak Photography 

Canadian country singer/songwriter Mike Trudell is hitting radio this week, asking the musical question, Do Ya Wanna ?  The new single from the multi talented Trudell, produced by Nashville based fellow Canadian, Gil Grand, has just been released to radio and is being promoted heavily in his home and native land. “I’m really happy with this record and appreciate all the talent involved in making it, from Gil Grand to all the talented musicians who played on it and the encouragement I’m getting . I’m hoping this single will introduce us to a new fan base and connect with my existing fans and supporters.” Do Ya Wanna is the lead single from the new album Trudell has due out in the near future.“I waited a long time to do this record and I’m really pleased with the end result, from the songs to the production right down to the art work.  Can’t wait for you all to hear it and for me to start promoting it.”  This album has been awhile in the planning. After testing the waters earlier on Mike took a step back and  in a great display of wisdom turned away from opportunities thrown his way to organize  a musical career with proper direction and planning. He realized he needed a team around him and a product to sell that he was proud of and could support with live performances.

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