Cover Story

Heather Ballentine Music’s Favourite Pin Up Girl

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

From the first enthusiastic sentence from this talented and beautiful artist, she lets you know she is grateful for it all. For her amazing husband (she jokingly says she did it backwards – she is an American who married a Canadian and moved here to be a wife and settle down.) She had no idea this is her musical journey would truly begin.

Heather Ballentine is a country girl right down to her roots. Born in the small town of Alma, Arkansas, she grew up around spinach farming and and a Dad who was Mayor for over 18 years. ‘Dad was a military man and really disciplined. He taught me to go after my dreams and pursue everything with a passion. To follow my dreams.’

Turns out her Dad was also the guy who influenced her with music. ‘Growing up on real country and western music and mixing in a little rock ‘n’ roll I loved listening to Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson, and Buddy Holly.  I knew I wanted to play an instrument. My Dad used to always play in local bands so one night I picked up my Dad’s bass and held it – but it didn’t feel right but the other guy had a guitar. I picked it up and liked the feel of it right away. My Mom tried to get me to try piano but guitar just always felt right. I went on to learn mandolin as well. I actually wrote ‘Needle in a Haystack’ (co-written with Larry Bartley and Michael Peterson) on mandolin. I was blessed to learn my business sense from John Robert Ballentine – but I got my passion for music from him.

Jimmy Webb Still Within the Sound of His Voice

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Cover Photo Credit: Bob Barry
Submitted by Don Graham

There are certain names in the music business that when mentioned immediately bring to mind an image, a song, a story. The name Jimmy Webb conjures up all of the above. His songs are so much a part of the tapestry of the Americana fabric that ‘By The Time I Get to Phoenix’, ‘Galveston’, ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘MacArthur Park’ are already classics. ‘Up, Up and Away’, ‘Where’s The Playground Susie?’, ‘The Worst That Could Happen’, ‘Didn’t We’ are all up there as well. Jimmy Webb is right up there with the best, the Irving Berlins, Hoagy Carmichaels and Sammy Cahns.

Jimmy Webb was born in Oklahoma, moved to West Texas and ended up in Los Angeles, California where he arranged hymns for his Dad, a Baptist Minister's Church. “I listened to all the hits of the day, Elvis, Buddy and the Everly Brothers. I listened to the writing like Leiber and Stoller, who wrote those  Elvis classics;  Felice and Bouldeaux Bryant who wrote all the the Everly Brothers hits in the 50’s. Having a song recorded by the Everlys would be like having Elvis record one of my songs. And later on they did record a couple of my songs, ‘When Eddie Comes Home’ and ‘She Never Smiles Anymore’.

The 2015 Juno Awards Nominees Announced in Toronto

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

The nominations for the 2015 Junos were  announced from The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on January 27, 2015.
Currently scheduled to perform on THE 2015 JUNO AWARDS are Hedley, MAGIC!, and Shawn Mendes, with additional talent announcements to be made in the coming weeks. THE 2015 JUNO AWARDS airs Sunday, March 15 on CTV and CTV GO from Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre.

Jessie Tylre Williams - Her Time Has Come


Submitted by Don Graham

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a large family, Jessie Tylre Williams grew up listening to her mom playing traditional country records like Hank Williams Sr. and later on the crystal clear sounds of Dolly Parton. “Dolly was a huge influence on me. I loved the way she sang and the songs she wrote. She was from a big family, grew up dirt poor and still managed to rise above it all. I was from a big family, 8 kids, and we didn’t have a lot. So I figured if she could do it, there was a chance for me.”

Jessie played her music for awhile but started a successful business and put the music aside, but only for while. “Once you have a calling there really is nothing else you can do. Nothing you do will feel right or have the passion than what you’re born to do in your soul. Music, singing, writing songs and helping people through my music is what I was put here to do. That’s why my mantra is “healing the world, one song at a time.” I know I can’t literally heal the world but I can shine a light for some folks. I always believe where there’s life there’s hope.” And shine JTW does. She is probably one of the hardest working people in country music when it comes to social media and internet radio promotion. And it’s paying off in spades.

Dick Damron and The Famous Bear

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Submitted by Don Graham

Dick Damron is truly a Canadian treasure, one of the pioneers who mapped the road future acts would travel and wrote the book on Canadian country acts crossing borders. And although he has been a recording artist for 7 decades, recorded on vinyl, cassettes, 8 Tracks and CDs,  Dick isn’t just lying in the sun in Mexico resting on his laurels and telling war stories of the past. He’s a busy boy. He has been working on another book, working title ‘Last Days of a Crazy Old Man in Mexico’ and when we talked last week from his home in Mazatlan, Mexico, I asked how it was coming along.

Oh Look! It’s Bill Wood and the Woodies!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Soft spoken and sweetly humble, Bill Wood is truly a musician’s musician. He still just loves music – playing it, writing it, singing it, performing it. “I was always a songwriter first. Then a musician. I started playing in a band in High School. After that I jumped in a van, hit the road, played covers, lived the dream for awhile.“ Eye Eye was part of that dream – formed out of the ashes of two groups and fronted by Bill Wood. They benefited by being in CBC’S  Rock Wars and winning Q 107’s Home Grown contest that had a record deal attached.  Eye Eye released three solid radio singles between 1986-1988 (X-Ray Eyes, Out on a Limb and Endless Night), two albums on Duke Street; the third and final CD never saw the light of day.

Slightly disillusioned with a fickle industry, Wood stepped away from recording and performing in the early 90’s to focus on raising his family and making a living. His experiences as a home renovator and woodworker has now led him full circle to be back on stage because he wants to be, not because he has to be.

The Attitude of Gratitude


Submitted by Sandy Graham

In these current times it is hard not to look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. For me, it was the wonderful upbringing I had with two amazing parents who loved each other and their children more than life itself that always brings me back to knowing the glass is half full.

Many of you who are close to me have gotten to know my parents even though they have long been gone from this earth. Their expressions, morals and stories are woven into my everyday life. As my brother Don always says, they would be amazed at the impact they have had on us.

So I have realized that gratitude is an attitude.

I am grateful for my Cashbox team : Mark Smith, Bill King, Gillian Fitzgibbon, Michael Williams, Glenda Fordham, Iain Patience,Lee Fraser, Lenny Stoute, Chris Wardman and Don Graham – I thank you for making this online magazine come out every week in celebration of music. Because of you,  we have created a place to promote Canadian talent and beyond.

I am grateful for the industry folks I get to work with all the time, Irene Carroll, Anya Wilson, Kathy Hahn, JSpencer Mussellam, Gerry Young, Shelley Buffitt,  the folks at CIMA and so many more.

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.”

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