Cover Story

Matt Dusk Offers Old School Yule!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Every year we hear all the standard Christmas songs hit radio again; Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Bing Crosby with David Bowie, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Then we start receiving new product here at Cashbox Canada and we always enjoy the fresh offerings of new artists or at least their new Christmas albums.

But on this rare occasion when this new CD came in, it was a perfect combination of the old tunes offered by a young artist, Canadian icon Matt Dusk.

A Christmas album that embraces the festive swagger of the 1960’s, Old School Yule! is an up-tempo, cocktail party album that will have you feeling a little “Ring-a-Ding-Ding” while you croon along to “Fa-La-La-La-La”.

“It’s supposed to feel like a classic variety show,” says Dusk while on tour in America. “I wanted to record an album that you would have sitting on the turntable right next to your Bing Crosby Christmas records.”

If retro is what you’re looking for, Dusk’s new album has everything you need. The sixteen tracks contain many of the most popular holiday classics, from White Christmas to Jingle Bells. Along for the (sleigh) ride are some new songs and a few twists on some old favourites. The album also features an original holiday hit, Snowed In With You, penned by Dusk himself.

Freddie Hart From the Heart

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Submitted by Don Graham

Freddie Hart was born in the tiny town of Loachapoka, Alabama and moved to a sharecropping farm in Phenix City, Alabama when still an infant spending his childhood in nearby Phenix City, Alabama.

Freddie Hart has come full circle. In 2001, Hart was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. And a few years later, Phenix City declared a major east-west street Freddie Hart Parkway in his honor

Freddie has seen it all in country music and after 7 decades on the scene not only has he seen it all, he’s met them all. “I remember meeting Hank Williams at the James Robertson Hotel in Nashville, just up from the Ryman, in 1949. What a nice generous and talented man,” Freddie said from his home in California. “What really changed everything for me was when I met Lefty Frizzel in 1951 in Pheonix Arizona. He took me under his wing and took me on the road with him. He’d get me up on the stage to sing a couple. I had to sing covers cause I didn’t have any of my own, and I would introduce him on stage and then I went back to California with him.”

Steve Oriet Diggin On You

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Submitted by Don Graham

Probably the most competitive genre in country music these days is the young male artist. It is not for the faint of heart, only the talented and driven need apply. Steve Oriet is up to the task and has his eyes fixed firmly on the prize. He has formulated a plan and is methodically plotting his course and making the right moves.

Steve was born and raised in River Canard/Lasalle, Ontario and currently living in Windsor, Ontario, across the bridge from Detroit, USA, growing up listening to all genres of music; everything from rock, Motown, Rap and of course Country music. This talented man credits his father for being his biggest inspiration, balancing a solid business life with being a guitar player and singer on the side. Steve would listen to him play at weddings, churches and family gatherings, clearly deepening his appreciation and love of music. He is a big fan of Florida Georgia Line and would love to duet with fellow Canadian Shana Twain.

Tribe Royal Colours of the Sun

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Submitted by Don Graham

‘Wasting Time’ is the title of the current single by Tribe Royal, not a description of the band. If anything it’s the exact opposite.  This Ottawa based band is anything but wasting time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a new band that has a sound so unique that it’s hard to label them. The sound is retro but blended with a rawness and originality that stamps them with a current sounding musical offering. You know you want to listen to more of the tracks.

On their sophomore CD, “Colours of the Sun”,  there are shades of The Beatles, a little Lovin’ Spoonful and on the current single ‘Wasting Time’ some Green Day. Add some Everly Brothers-type harmonies spiced with some Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar sounds and you get the idea.

The band consists of Terry O’Brien, voice and guitar, Chris Kerwin, voice and guitar, bassist and vocalist Bram Al-Najjar and drummer Mike Giamberardino.  

In O’Brien’s words, “I love playing 60s-style pop songs that are done in under two minutes but I also love longer, jammier deep-feel stuff. With us, it really is a balance trying to get everything in there without compromise.”

The highlight for the band to date was a live performance was a billing on The Ottawa Bluesfest getting to share a stage with Canadian stalwart Sam Roberts. : That was definitely a fun gig for us!’, said Kerwin recently over lunch in Toronto. 

The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern A Complete History by David McPherson

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The Horseshoe Tavern, The Horseshoe, The ‘Shoe – all the names patrons have called this legendary, iconic building over the years.

Also iconic are the artists that have played there; it was a country haven in a town like TO that favored R&B clubs.

The continuing rumor that Hank Williams graced the stage when it really was Sneezy Waters and The Show He Never Gave.

Like the Queen Street strip that has been its home for seven decades, the Horseshoe Tavern continues to evolve. It remains as relevant today as it did when Jack Starr founded the country music club on the site of a former blacksmith shop, probably the reason it was called The Horseshoe Tavern. From country and rockabilly to rock ‘n’ roll, punk, alt/country, and back to roots music, the venerable live music venue has evolved with the times and trends — always keeping pace with the music.

Lest We Forget

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Submitted By Sandy Graham

Every year we mark November 11th as Remembrance Day – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marking the end of the Great War – WW1. As the years go by, the parade of soldiers get smaller and smaller and in our busy day to day lives, we need to be reminded of why we have the freedom we enjoy today.

I would really like to hear from you, the readers, about your family history and family memories of the war days that affected so many of our Canadian soldiers and families.

Here is a bit of our family history:
Recently, I received a box of treasures from my Aunt Sherry (Rondeau) who was married to my Uncle Murray Graham. (Our father’s brother) Uncle Murray served in the Army in WW2 and was a musician. Murray also went on to be the Musical Director for Max Bygraves in London, England, performing on Top of the Pops on the BBC. Years later, he would perform with Judy Garland. Comments from Murray in the treasure trove of notes stated, ‘Judy was so nice to all of us. She always wanted to make sure we were all well taken care of and happy’. A piece of history that I never knew about.

Also in the ‘box’ was some paperwork about my Dad’s Uncle – Herbert Graham. It gave us the information of the date he died along with his service number. My son, Graham Robertson, pursued it further and found this.

Jim Cressman and Invictus Entertainment Group The Gold Standard

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Submitted by Don Graham

The music business has changed significantly over the past twenty years, even over the last five to ten years. With the growth of the interweb and recording options and artists being able to reach their base on a daily basis, the roles of all parties have evolved and changed as well. The art of music management has taken on a need for different and more diversified skill sets. Enter Jim Cressman, the owner and president of multiple award-winning concert promoting firm, artist agency and music management firm – Invictus Entertainment Group. Cressman is also the president of Big Star Recordings a record label jointly ventured with Universal Music Group Canada.

Jim recognizes the shift and had this to say, “It's the best time to be in the business in history. Thanks to the Internet, artists have a direct line to build their own fanbase, following and consumers. Middlemen like myself have to work harder than ever to justify our existence, and that's a good thing. Anytime the industry is forced to raise their standards, and artists are more empowered, we end up with a stronger business.”

I have been watching Jim Cressman and his steady growth for a number of years and my respect for him and his business acumen grows daily. He is a man of great integrity and razor-sharp business sense.

Gord Downie 1964-2017

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Submitted by Don Graham

There are a handful of artists that by name alone are broadstroked with a red and white Canadian brush. Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray and Leonard Cohen to name a few are as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup.

Gord Downie, the lead singer and founder of the Tragically Hip, who passed away last week, also fits into that elite group. A statement released via the band's official Twitter account and posted on its website read as follows "Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by. Gord knew this day was coming -- his response was to spend this precious time as he always had -- making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss ... on the lips." He was only 53 years old.


Gord was born in Kingston, Ontario with an impassioned love of hockey and with Harry Sinden as his godfather he became a lifelong Boston Bruins fan. But music and songwriting was his calling and first love. The Tragically Hip was formed in 1984 and became one of Canada's most beloved groups with hits such as "Wheat Kings," "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead by a Century." Downie also released five solo albums from 2001 to 2016 and as much as Canada loved Downie, he loved his country back.

As The Years Go By Randy Ray and Mark Kearney

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The first thing that strikes you when talking to co-author Randy Ray is his enthusiasm about Canadian artists and how important doing this book was to his mission. Amazing he could stay that enthusiastic about the hard world of publishing, considering this is Book # 10 in his archives.

Ray first encountered Mark Kearney in 1977 when they were rookie reporters at the London Free Press in London, Ont. It was to be a kinship that would last decades and lead to their latest book, As The Years Go By, Conversations with Canada’s folk, pop and rock pioneers.

It all started for Randy Ray in 1967-68, when he went to High School in Scarborough, Ontario and eventually met the love of his life, Janis, who would be his future wife. They danced at the High School dances amidst the basketball nets and his destiny would be with this girl who stole his heart while he fell in love with the live music playing in the gym.

“I was a basement drummer when I was young. That and being a ‘CHUM Bug’ – 1050 Chum influenced me back in the day. So many great memories for me and the Chum charts influenced what 45’s we bought at the local store. That was the beginning of my lifelong romance with music.”

Ken TobiasKen Tobias

Giving Thanks for the Music

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Submitted by the Cashbox Team

Sandy Graham
Editor in Chief Cashbox Canada Magazine

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