Cover Story

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.

Bands On The Run - It’s Gonna Get Loud

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Submitted by Don Graham

The Road Hammers, Doc Walker and Blackjack Billy on the same stage, on the same night? In 16 different cities?  In Canada?  Man, it is gonna get loud!  You don’t see this sort of lineup (three major bands touring together) very often. It’s not unusual to see solo acts sharing the bill but the band concept is a throwback to days of yore! Dick Clark and His Caravan of Stars in the 50’s and 60’s pioneered the concept. In the  70’s you could see combinations like Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After and Procol Harum together at The Fillmore East.  So being able to see two future Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame acts like the Road  Hammers and Doc Walker along with fast rising U.S stars Blackjack Billy is going to be one for the scrapbooks. Or today I guess it would be one for the memory sticks.

I had the opportunity to  sit down with some of the major players in this package show;  Jason McCoy of the Hammers, Chris Thornsteinson, Dave Wasyliw of Doc Walker and Noll Billings of Blackjack Billy over coffee in downtown Toronto to discuss the upcoming invasion of The Bands on the Run. Just having coffee with these guys is worth the price of admission. They were all pretty pumped about the possibilities to be had on this tour.

Victoria Banks The Road To Indigo


Submitted by Don Graham

Victoria Banks is living the dream in Nashville, Tennessee, writing songs and making a good living at it. It’s been a long, hard road to get to this point in her career but if you give it enough time the cream will always rise to the top. Sitting with Victoria at the Gibson Shop in Toronto she is a picture of calm and confidence in her craft but with enough of the creative insecurity that all great artists have. “ A lot of folks think of songwriting as just something you sit and do. You pick up a guitar and a pen sitting at your kitchen table and a song comes to you. But actually I go to the office everyday and spend 8 to 10 hours writing and labouring over ideas and melodies.

It’s a lot of work and I’ve put 10 years into working at my craft” Victoria  signed her first publishing deal in 1998 where  she was a staff songwriter for Fame Music and  from 2002 to 2007 she was a writer for Full Circle Music  and as of 2007 she is writing for Nashville's Sony/ATV Publishing.

Born in Port Carling, (Muskokas) Ontario, Victoria’s  self-produced debut CD When You Can Fly was released on the On Ramp/EMI Canadalabel in April 2009. The CD earned her  a 2010 Canadian Indie Award nomination and six nominations at the 2009 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs)  that included  Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, Single of the Year ("The Wheel"), Songwriter of the Year ("The Wheel"), Female Artist of the Year and Rising Star, making her  the most nominated female artist of 2009. The album's first single off the album "The Wheel," was a Top 20 song.

Victoria was named both Female Artist of the Year and Songwriter(s) of The Year at the 2010 CCMA Awards and was nominated in the Female Artist of the Year category again in 2011.

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