Cover Story

The Irish Are Among Us - In Celebration of St. Patrick!

Cover Feb 25, 2011

by Sandy Graham

When I asked (Toronto’s Irish Person of the Year) 2010 Hugo Straney how many people he thought were of Irish descent in the GTA, his answer was ‘More claim they have Irish ancestry in Canada than any other group in the world. I believe the statistic would be around 300,000 in Toronto alone.”

In 1847, over 100,000 Irish immigrants migrated to Canada in what would be the result of the infamous potato famine. Nearly 40,000 of these people passed through Toronto, which at the time had a population of just under 20,000. In the summer of 1847, 863 Irish people died in the fever sheds that were erected at what is now Toronto’s thriving theatre district at King Street West and John Street. In total 1,100 people lost their lives during this tragic time, many died trying to nurse the sick back to health.  Next time you walk the streets of downtown Toronto, look for the plaque erected in their memory.


Cover Feb 18, 2011

Heather Ostertag is a name that the Music Industry knows well. Ostertag is best known for holding the seat of president of FACTOR, but also sits on the Board of the CCMA, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, founder and Chair of the Panty Schmooze and proudly wears the prestigious Order of Canada. Heather Ostertag is an individual that is considered to be an inspiring values based leader.  She is also a passionate supporter and developer of Canadian culture, with a reputation that has demonstrated strong strategic and operational management execution skills – a dedicated people developer.   Achievement, creativity, results driven, tenacity, resilience, empathetic problem solver and persuader are some adjectives used to describe this indefatigable individual who is driven to succeed and excel at any undertaking she involves herself in. 

With her 30 plus years working in the arts, she has developed relationships with companies and individuals that all have unique and distinct skills. These positions have put her name firmly ensconced in the Canadian Music Industry and would lead her to her next incarnation of an already successful and illustrious career.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Heather Ostertag and getting to know more about the person behind the engine. 

Canadian Blast at MIDEM Saidah Baba Talibah Style!

Cover Feb 11, 2011

by Natasha Slinko

Saidah  - Happy & Fortunate

Baba  -  Born on Thursday 

Talibah – Seeker After Knowledge

 A unique and beautiful name for a strong, beautiful and talented artist.  Saidah Baba Talibah is the real deal and she totally rocked the house at Morrisons Irish Pub for the Canadian Blast show this January during the MIDEM 2011 Conference in Cannes, France.  Saidah has an energy about her that just pulls you in, makes you smile and then grin ear to ear, and then makes you want to just get up and dance.   She has a powerhouse of a voice that just doesn’t stop and a stage presence that connects with you in the most powerful of ways.  Backup by musicians  Alex McMaster - cello, Donna Grantis - guitar, Rob Teeham - Sousaphone, Roger Travassos - drums and Hill Kourkoutis - keys it was an incredible sound.  

2011 Juno Nominees Announced As the Big Show Returns to Toronto After A Decade On The Road.

Feb 4, 2011 Cover

Story: Sandy Graham

With the requisite pomp and circumstance, it was announced that Broken Social Scene, Hedley, Down With Webster and Johnny Reid will all be performing on the Drake-hosted 40th Juno Award show in the city on March 27. 


Shania Twain is confirmed to be on hand for induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and Neil Young has confirmed that he will be here to accept his Humanitarian Award. CARAS president/CEO Melanie Berry described this year’s event as “pretty exciting and pretty star-studded” following the announcement of nominees at a well-attended media scrum at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel yesterday.

Separately, FACTOR issued a statement announcing that 60 FACTOR supported artists received a stunning 69 nominations, including Caribou, Chilly Gonzales, Crystal Castles and Holy Fuck. The funding organization has had a long history supporting artists nominated for Juno and Country music awards but rarely gets acknowledged when artists take the stage to offer thanks to mums, cats, hairdressers et al.

Catl-Prodding the Blues

Cover January 28, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute
Photos: Alyssa Katherine Faoro

The term’ original' gets hurled around a lot and in most cases, it's totally undeserved. Then there's Catl, who went so far back into the roots of the blues they've come out the other side with something quite different.

How many bands can you name who mine the roots traditions of the Twenties, that point in American history when Afro-centric Delta blues was meeting up with Euro-centric Appalachian folk music to create this mutant wild child named country blues that would one day go all rock'n'roll on us? And who else is so elastic in their approach that one member showed up for some random guest shots and was asked to stay the night, every night.

Jamie 'catl' Fleming is the band's guiding light and beneath the laid-back stage persona is a man with a righteous plan. That it was sparked in a used records store sounds perfect for a band steeped in tradition.

"I was always in Rotate This, and I asked Pierre (Hallett) for a good springboard to country-blues-type stuff. He suggested Mississippi Fred McDowell, who just blew my mind. I just got right into that sound, Fred and guys like Furry Lewis, the kind of sound their recordings had, the way they played.

"In some songs it sound like Fred (McDowell) is playing three different guitars and I thought, damn I want to learn how to do that"

Fleming came out of the Toronto punk scene so when he decided to put his act together, it was natural he turned to another TPunk alumnus, drummer Johnny LaRue.

Cashbox Canada Goes To MIDEM 2011

Cover Jan 21, 2011

Story:Sandy Graham

Thursday January 20 2011:

Sitting  in the London Heathrow Airport it is 6:30 am here and we are waiting for the plane that takes us to Nice, France  at 10 am, then a short drive to Cannes where MIDEM will begin in the next few days.  It is almost surreal being here, surrounding by British accents and realizing it is you that actually has the accent. 

I will be reporting as often as I can from MIDEM, where the music industry comes to play every year in the South of France. Natasha Slinko joins me as well on behalf of EMG and will have her always present camera with her to send breathtaking shots of both the scenery and the music business at play. MIDEM – Where deals are made, friendships are started and reacquainting old friends meet again.

We will be at the Canada Stand with many other Canadian contingents,  and thanks to all the hard work of Kathy Hahn and the folks at CIRPA,  I am sure our booth once again will be one of the busiest at the Festival. 

Joey Cee

Cover January 14, 2011

Joey Cee

The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ !

by Sandy Graham


When you first talk to Joey Cee, you are expecting the typical music business veteran voice; the one that tells you he has been in this for decades and isn’t quite sure or happy with the direction it is all going with music these days. Almost a bit of the grand ennui. What you are not expecting is the high energy, excited dialogue and music memories that this guy talks about; laughing while telling you great stories of Canada’s music legends, producers and radio gurus that Cee worked with while building his JCO empire. I can’t imagine what he was like as a young lad, selling The ‘Telly’ (Toronto Telegram) or The Star on downtown street corners. The delightful part of talking to this walking music encyclopedia was how great his stories are and how happy he is to tell them.


‘When I was a kid, around Grade 6 or 7, I developed the competitive edge, I loved the sales part but I loved the fact you got rewards with sales,’ Cee reflects. ‘I always won the top sales for chocolate bars, school incentives, things like that. I realized even back then that everyone is a salesman of some sort. We are always selling ourselves. I just happen to have made a great career out of it.’


Justin Bieber- Teenage World Domination

Cover January 7, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

He’s the reigning Prince Of Pop, a singin’, dancin’ Beatle bob wearing sixteen year old teen dream, music’s logical successor to Michael Jackson. How did a sweet kid from Stratford Ontario get like that?

Justin Drew Bieber,  born March 1 1994, is the biggest star spawned on YouTube to date, so it’s fitting that his discovery was a random thing. Happened to the kid from Stratford,Ontario when So So Def marketing exec Scooter Braun clicked on a Bieber video by accident and unknowingly unleashed the next Pop Idol of The Universe.. A blown away Braun flew to Canada and persuaded Bieber’s mom to allow the kid to fly with him to meet with r’n’b star Usher at the company’s Atlanta offices.

In short order Bieber was inked to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint venture between Braun and Usher, followed by a recording contract with Island Records . The high speed pace here is indicative of what is to come for an artist who will write an autobiography before his sixteenth year is out.

The Worthy Dozen 2

Cover Dec 31, 2010

 Story:Cashbox Canada


Here we go with The Worthy Dozen Part Two.


In no particular order, except that they all deserve the attention, here’s the second  six pack of twelve hearing-worthy Canadian albums whose release may have flown under your personal radar. 


Happy New Year 2011.



Kate & Anna McGarrigle


Outside Music

This collection of rarities and B-sides offers a dozen songs Kate and Anna recorded between 1973 and 1990 but never previously released or released in alternate versions. Arriving shortly after Kate passed on, this recording stands as fitting testimony to the sterling contributions the McGarrigles have made to Canadian music.

The Worthy Dozen-Twelve Albums You May Have Missed But Shouldn’t

Cover Dec, 22, 2010

The Worthy Dozen-Twelve Albums You May Have Missed But Shouldn’t 

Story: Cashbox Canada


Even with all the gloom and doom emanating from the major and minor record companies, new music continues to be released in greater numbers than ever. Which means as sure as God made minor keys, that much worthwhile music gets buried under the torrent. Even with social networking and all, media attention and career breakthroughs come soonest to those allied with the major labels.


In no particular order, except that they all deserve the attention, here’s the first six pack of twelve hearing-worthy Canadian albums whose release may have flown under your personal radar.  The other six-pack arrives next week.


Don Graham

A Willing Heart  

Breakin’ Records


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