Where do you start with Rory Block? Something of an acoustic blues legend these days, she's a lady who has played with the greats, sat at their feet absorbing their multi-hued styles and tones while always striving to open new boxes with her sassy, savvy driving vocals and strident, percussive fretwork. For over fifty years, Block has thrown down the blues gauntlet, pushing herself to the limit at times, known for her bleeding, scarred and torn fingertips and her refusal to compromise her music in any way.
It's only fitting that she has most recently centred her focus on the old generation of pickers, the guys that influenced, inspired and instructed her in the music, legendary names that every blues-fan both knows and reveres. Guys who were her blues buddies, sharing their own evident love of the music with her, as she honed her craft and powered her way along the care-worn, blues highway.
Currently riding a well-deserved wave of popularity, Block's stunning, Stony Plain 'Mentor Series' of recent releases have not only reacquainted many with the traditional roots of the music but also showcased her own, startlingly colourful mastery of a range of different and divergent styles of playing. This is a lady who doesn't just play the blues - she pretty much is the blues incarnate.
Hailed by Rolling Stone as "one of the most compelling collectives of art-rock experimentalists in recent years, exploring a mix of high-concept musical odysseys that range from AM bubblegum to kaleidoscopic acid tests," Australian psychedelic seven-piece King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have expanded minds yet again with their latest song "Sleep Drifter".
"Sleep Drifter" is featured on the new album Flying Microtonal Banana, out February 24th via ATO Records. This album is King Gizzard's first-ever experience in microtonal tuning, which features intervals smaller than a semitone and not found in customary Western tuning octaves.
"Earlier this year we started experimenting with a custom microtonal guitar our friend Zak made for Stu," further explained drummer Eric Moore. "The guitar was modified to play in 24-TET tuning and could only be played with other microtonal instruments. We ended up giving everyone a budget of $200 to buy instruments and turn them microtonal. The record features the modified electric guitars, basses, keyboards and harmonica as well as a Turkish horn called a Zurna."
To say the King Gizzard crew is averse to comfort zones is an understatement.
Toronto singer/songwriter Luke Nicholson's new album Shape And Sound, out April 14 on Maggie's Room Records/Fontana North, displays once again the melodic gifts and poignant storytelling that has led him to be regarded as one of Canada's true songwriting craftsmen. The album also marks a sonic departure from Nicholson's previous work, drawing inspiration from the likes of The Lumineers and City & Colour.
Shape And Sound 's two-year journey following his previous release Frantic City not only led Nicholson to find his true artistic identity, it also encouraged him to firmly take the reins of his creative process. Nicholson worked closely with Marty Skrzypczyk, and between them they played every instrument while co-producing all the tracks from the beds up. Mixing was handled by Howie Beck, with Joao Carvalho applying his usual excellent mastering skills.
Legendary Australian rock band and agitators Midnight Oil today announced their first World Tour in over two decades including a stop in Toronto on May 20 at the Danforth Music Hall and in Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom on June 2. They also unveiled plans to release three archival box sets including a collection called "The Overflow Tank" which will contain more than 14 hours of previously unreleased and rare material.
"The Great Circle 2017" World Tour will see the group's classic lineup literally circle around our overheating planet for 6 months, starting and ending with gigs in Sydney. Appropriately for a band forged in their hometown's sweat-drenched beer barns, the tour will begin in mid-April with an intimate local pub gig (details to be announced closer to the date). Midnight Oil will then perform 30 gigs around the world during the northern summer, playing iconic venues from Sao Paulo's Espaço das Americas and the Wiltern in L.A. to London's Hammersmith Apollo and The Olympia in Paris. They will share festival stages with artists like Arcade Fire, Sting and The Pixies and finally return to New Zealand after 20 years. This long-awaited World Tour will climax with 18 special homecoming concerts through October and November, 2017.
Submitted by Lenny Stoute Photo at right: Kim Doolittle
The 15th Annual Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival, taking place in Toronto February 17-19, 2017, is set to present the best of urban, blues, rock, jazz, country, folk and roots music, and will feature returning favourite artists as well as fresh new talent. It’s an all-ages, mid-winter, weatherproof event that emulates a multi-stage rural summer festival. More than 100 artists will be performing at five venues and six stages over three days of the long Family Day weekend. For more information on the festival, schedule and for updates, please visit www.winterfolk.com .
Submitted by Lenny Stoute Photo at right: Chris Gostling
It's time again for DISCOVERIES, a showcase series that brings four artists together, have each one work to bring out as many family members, friends and fans as they are able and then the room fills up to give each of the four artists attention and support. This year's lineup: Ezra Jordan started piano lessons at five, and drums at nine. He shifted focus to singing and writing songs while studying music at the University of Guelph, and while playing keyboards in Warner Bros. artist Scott Helmans band. He continued his studies at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the Independent Artist Program. He is now working on writing and recording his first solo project, which is a blend of Alt. Pop and R&B. Ezra can currently be seen playing with his band in clubs around Toronto.
Ever since Murray began writing songs and performing them in his late teens before moving on to famed venues like The Riverboat in Toronto and The Bitter End in New York, his astonishing status in Canada and around the world as a sturdy and beloved musician has been long settled.
Back in the day, before Murray had actually recorded an album of his own, his riveting magnificent “Child’s Song” was already making the rounds after being recorded by American folk star Tom Rush. Live versions of his song “Honky Red” were performed by Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Bobby Neuwirth, adding to his growing and committed following. He received early song boosts from country music star George Hamilton IV.
Now, with his 19th (!!!) album, ”Love Can’t Tell Time,” Murray answers the question, what more can he bring to his legion of fans? “I guess the most notable thing about this record is the songs. They are a great collection of songs I love to play when I have no other agenda than just to enjoy playing music.”
A mix of original material and a fair old-kicking to some much-admired chestnuts Pick Yourself Up, Hey There and Come Fly With Me, Murray says, “They’ve been around for quite a while but they are my songs, in so much as I have made them my own. They’ve seen me through some dark times and helped me celebrate seeing the clouds from the other side.
Submitted by Lenny Stoute Photo at right: Gabrielle Giguère
Even though Begonia, aka Alexa Dirks, didn’t officially release a collection of music last year, 2016 was still a big one for the Winnipeg-based musician. Known for her voice in the JUNO Award winning, harmony-driven group Chic Gamine, Dirks was recently featured on CBC’s National Canada 150 New Year’s Eve broadcast, performing live with The Bros. Landreth. Also, NPR listed her as one of the Ten Canadian Artists You Need To Know, CBC Music called Begonia one of the Best New Bands of 2016, Line Of Best Fit included her in their 50 Best Deep Cuts of 2016 list, and “Juniper” reached #1 on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20.
The Randy Bachman documentary is set to put a spotlight on the music legend.
Bachman is a contemporary film about the man, who is often referred to as the ‘architect of Canadian Rock n’ Roll,’ Randy Bachman. Few artists can claim to have made a bigger impact on popular music which he has done through his list of unforgettable anthems turned pop-culture touchstones. Since his first hit in 1965 with "Shaking All Over," Bachman has sold over 40 million records and earned over 120 gold and platinum album/singles awards around the world for performing and producing, and his songwriting has garnered him the coveted #1 spot on radio playlists in over 20 countries. Randy Bachman is one of only two countrymen to have been inducted twice into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
The full-length documentary explores his global impact on popular music; Randy Bachman’s songwriting produced chart-topping hits for The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, including “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “American Woman,” “Let it Ride, “Taking Care of Business,” “Looking Out for #1,” “No Sugar Tonight” and “These Eyes,” tracks that have become pop-culture touchstones. Farpoint Films teams up with Paquin Entertainment Group on Bachman which is licensed to The Documentary Chanel and brings together an award-winning team including director John Barnard and Larry LeBlanc, widely recognized music industry journalist.
David Clayton-Thomas,former lead singer of the internationally recognized band Blood Sweat and Tears and Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame, and Canada’s Walk Of Fame inductee has released a Donald Trump tribute “Ode To The Donald”.
Thomas was born in England , grew up in Canada and became a huge success fronting a band from the United States so his opinion has some well traveled credibility.
With Blood Sweat and Tears, Clayton-Thomas headlined at major venues around the world: Royal Albert Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House the Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden and Caesar's Palace, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival and Woodstock. They were the first contemporary band to break through the Iron Curtain with the historic United States Department of Statesponsored tour of Eastern Europe in May and June 1970.