Cover Story

Daniel Casavant Soul Reunion

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

When speaking to Daniel Casavant his charming accent and warmth immediately makes you feel his passion for his music. Born in Montreal, Quebec, this singer/songwriter has it all; a great look, musical talent and a flair for writing wonderful songs.

“I used to listen to the radio when I was a small child’, Casavant says. ‘All the British singers were a huge influence on me; The Bee Gees, The Beatles, anything and anyone that combined great lyrics with great harmonies. I wanted desperately to perform like they did, which was a very big dream for a French-speaking boy.’

But his persistence to embrace music started at the age of eight when he took up the acoustic guitar and starting composing his own tunes. By 15, Daniel then took on the piano and continued putting his lyrics to music. When in his teen years, he decided it was time to travel to experience firsthand the original roots of where this music all started, so he set off and hitchhiked to New Orleans and Nashville, and as a wandering troubadour does, he stopped along the way to play with local talents, playing jam sessions and honing his craft.

By the year 2000, he had spent enough time in the United States to gather his Americana experiences and meld them with his love of British music; weaving it into a musical mosaic of his own French Canadian heritage, which led him to his current sound which quite honestly can’t be compared to anyone.

Kevin Head ‘Live’

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

In this current age of auto tune and ‘we’ll fix it in the mix’ it is refreshing to hear a live album, recorded ‘off the floor’ with an audience enjoying a true singer/songwriter and talented musician offering all original tunes.

The opening track (Was That) ‘Your Heart or Mine’ has an infectious hook, all tied up in an offering of clichés (falling through the cracks, hidden up a sleeve, if it fits then wear it, howling at the moon, reading between the lines) a little reminiscent of Dr. Hook, with great piano offerings by Cam Schaefer.

‘What Can I Say’ shows off the vocal talents of Head, and is blues at its best, while ‘Cheap Talk & Jive’ has a cynical undertone, moving it along with strong percussion with such a quiet audience you forget it is a live recording.

One of the strongest songs on the CD, ‘The Arrow’ has Kevin Head going back to his early roots of folk days, playing the Montreal circuit. Loosely based on a personal experience, the storyline keeps you hooked to the whole song from start to finish. ‘Thanks Hank’ takes its place on this CD as the first song ever written by this Canadian songwriter; honouring Hank Williams and the influence he had on a young boy, wanting his own ‘big day’ in the music world.

Linda Ronstadt Travelling To The Sound of a Different Drum

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Submitted by Don Graham

Linda Ronstadt was the owner of one of purest, crystal clear voices of her generation. From country, to country rock, to folk, the American songbook classics, to high octane rock and roll, Linda owned it all. She even did an album of children’s lullabies and a beautiful Mexican album, sung entirely in Spanish.

Last week Ronstadt broke the news publicly that due to her contracting Parkinson’s disease, she will never sing again.  Wow, even just typing those words seems surreal.  The buzz in the industry has been about Ronstadt’s new book, 'Simple Dreams' due out in September 2013. A tell all memoir of her career spanning the 1960’s through 2000’s and everything in between, the highs the lows, the good the bad and the hits and misses. There is, of course, no mention of the fate she just learned about. How ironic is it that a beautiful voice like hers is quieted and all the auto-tuned, edited, non singers of today are still able to sing? There is no meritocracy in the world of music.

Hugo Straney Beach Celtic Festival Celt of the Year

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Submitted by Cashbox Magazine

The Beach Celtic Festival, the little festival that grew, is heading into year ten of operation and they are making it special in every way. And “in every way” includes the annual Beach Celt of the Year Award.

The Beach Celt of the Year is carefully selected each year from a list of eligible nominees. The candidate must be a Celt for starters, must be held in high esteem by the Celtic community and community at large. The candidate must have exemplary credentials in the world of goodwill and charity and must give back to the community.

This year’s nomination fits all those criteria and more. Ireland born but Canadian through and through, Hugh “Hugo” Straney is the epitome of Celtic class, hard working devoted family man, entertainer and Celtic Ambassador. He was named Irish Person of the Year in 2010 and has received many accolades for his support in the Irish Community. He will proudly carry the mantle of Beach Celt of the Year 2013 in various events during the year.

The Rascals Once Upon a Dream

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Submitted by Don Graham

That moment at a live theatre show when the lights go down and the announcer admonishes you about electronic devices and what you should do with them once the show starts is familiar to most of us. But how many times have you heard “If you have a cell phone or camera please leave them on. You can record, or take pictures or do whatever the F**k you want!!” Well that’s exactly how The Rascals show, Once Upon a Dream begins. It kind of set the mood and tempo for the evening. This is a rock ‘n’ roll show cleverly disguised as a play.

The Rascals new stage show, Once Upon a Dream, opened in Toronto on August 14, 2013 at The Royal Alexandra Theatre hosted by Mirvish Productions.

Cashbox and the Celtic Connection

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Submitted by Cashbox Magazine

The Beach Celtic Festival, Toronto’s only outdoor ceilidh, is marking it’s 10th Anniversary on September 7th and 8th at Kew Gardens in The Beach.

Cashbox Magazine COO and co-founder Sandy Graham created The Beach Celtic Festival in 2004 to honour her late mother, Jemima Sutherland Graham, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and immigrated to Canada when she was 12 years old. “ As kids growing up Mum was always reminding us of our Scottish heritage and teaching us the importance of Scottish traditions. She was a proud Canadian but never forgot her roots. It was important to her that we didn’t forget ours either”, Graham said in a recent sit down. “And I have instilled the same values in my two boys, Graham and Ian. Graham plays the pipes and Ian is a musician as well, like his great grandpa, Pipe Major Donald Sutherland, Mum’s Dad and his Great Uncle Murray Graham, a renowned piano player during the 1940’S and beyond.’

So what defines Celtic and what is a ceilidh ? (pronounced kalee). Celtic folks are Scottish, Irish and  Welsh  and a ceilidh is traditional Gaelic gathering , always involving music and dancing. “ Unlike some of the other “gatherings” or highland games, The Beach Celtic Festival is not a competition, there are no contests, just music, dancing and fun” Graham said. “ I think that sets us apart from the other events. There is also no cover charge as it is in a beautiful park and is free for all to enjoy.”

JJ Cale Call Me the Breeze

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Submitted by Don Graham

JJ Cale, singer-songwriter and producer, called by many the architect of the Tulsa Sound, has passed away. He succumbed to a heart attack  on  Friday July 26th, 2013 at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California.  He was 74.

Cale isn’t, and never was , a household name, although I guess that depends on the household. But some his songs remain in heavy rotation on the radio nearly 40 years later. Most folks have no idea that  Cale is their author. That was a role he had no problem with.

"No, it doesn't bother me," Cale said  in an interview posted on his website. "What's really nice is when you get a cheque in the mail."And for decades the cheques rolled in. The  artists who covered his music or credit  him as a direct influence reads like a who's who of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Mark Knopfler, The Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, Captain Beefheart and Bryan Ferry among many others.

It was Eric Clapton who perhaps forged the closest relationship with Cale. They were like brothers, musically and personally. Clapton also recorded Cale songs ‘Travelin' Light’ and ‘I'll Make Love To You Anytime’ and included the Cale composition ‘Angel’ on his most recent album, Old Sock. Other songs like ‘Layla’ didn't involve Cale directly, but clearly owe him a debt. The two also collaborated together on The Road to Escondido, which won the Grammy Award for best contemporary blues album in 2008.

Bobby Curtola – Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing !

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Submitted by Don Graham

Bobby Curtola continues to captivate concert fans and this summer is gearing up for full shows in Parry Sound and several other unconfirmed Ontario towns as well as Western Canada. Touring with his band, The Sensational Hot Rods, Curtola has a show that appeals to his loyal fan base and a legion of new ones.

“We try and keep the show fresh” Curtola said from his home in Las Vegas. “We know the folks come to hear the hits and we’re more than happy to sing them, love it actually, but we also want them leaving the venue saying what a great show it was.  Besides my hits, I do songs by my friends and peers of the era.I got to know Elvis first when we would pass each other in RCA’s Studio B in Nashville. I would be leaving and Elvis would be coming in to record at midnight.  Later in Vegas, where I was signed by the Hughes Corporation to a multi-million dollar performing contract, Elvis would sneak in to watch my show now and then.  That was huge for this Canadian kid.”

“Conway Twitty and I worked together and in fact while he was alive, he only gave the license to record ‘It’s Only Make Believe’ to myself and Elvis. Now of course with his passing the publishers allow everyone to record it.  I love to share some of the stories of the great acts I got to know and work with and take pride in knowing I was there.  I also am a firm believer in giving people what they paid to come and see and I  think our energy onstage is passed on to the audience.”

Country in the Woods: Putting “Country” in Cottage Country

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Submitted by Don Graham

Beautiful Parry Sound, Ontario is perhaps best known to Canadians as the birthplace of hockey legend and Canadian ambassador, Bobby Orr. But after this year,it will be on the map for another great reason. On July 26th, 27th and 28th, at the Foley Fairgrounds, a country music festival like no other will be cementing it’s place in local history. The first annual Country in the Woods Festival will take place over those three days featuring a 100% Canadian lineup. And lo and behold, Canada there IS enough amazing talent in this country to fill an entertainment bill without having any cross border acts. The three headliners for the three days are Jason McCoy, Doc Walker and Gil Grand, all seasoned acts with strings of hits in their catalogues.  The rest of the talent is emerging, up and coming talent that will fill the summer air with rockin’ country sounds for three days.

Foley Fairgrounds is located about 8 miles south of the town of Parry Sound in Seguin Township and is about 100 miles north of the city of Toronto, just a quick, easy drive up the 400 highway.  There is camping available on site and additional camping about 5 minutes away, and hotels are not far away if camping isn’t your style.  Foley Fairgrounds is a beautiful site and with its cleared and wooded areas will give the visitors a true taste of the picturesque Ontario countryside.

Beaches Jazz Festival Celebrates 25 Years

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Submitted by Don Graham

Summer’s Here and the Time is Right For Dancing in the Street ! We who live in this little piece of heaven known as The Beach in Toronto know it’s summer not just by the calendar, the warm sun and the crowded beach but by the annual arrival of The Beaches International Jazz Festival.

For 25 years the Beach has been opening its heart and closing down Queen Street East to make way for the Street fest portion of our version of Mardi Gras, as well the main stage events in both Woodbine Park and the original home of the BJF in Kew Gardens.

25 years is a long time and a lot has changed since 1989:

  • The average house price in Toronto in ’89 was about $275,000 - now in 2013 close to $500,000
  • Paula Abdul had a chart topper with ‘Straight Up’
  • The New Kids on the Block were ‘Hangin’ Tough’
  • Don Henley was singing about  ‘The End of the Innocence’

Tens of thousands of Chinese students take over Beijing’s Tianamen Square, a rally for democracy and in Canada in hockey, Calgary beat Montreal to win its first Stanley Cup and Toronto’s baseball Blue Jays won the American League East Division title for the first time in their 13 year history.

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