A Rare Human Being & Canadian Music Treasure – Dougie Richardson

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

It was the spring of 2004, I was listening to the playback of a track Chris Hall was producing. When I heard the sax solo, I immediately stopped and asked who was playing.  It was Dougie Richardson.

We had met before. I had heard him playing in the streets of Toronto, in clubs, at sessions with the multiple Juno Award winning Jazz Band, Kollage, and at the Motherlode reunion at the BlueNote Club with (Smitty) William D. Smith.

One afternoon, we were sitting in my studio and I decided to interview him. Years later, I found the tapes and here are some excerpts and insights into one of the greatest saxophonist, band leader, and session musician ever to come out of Kensington Market, Toronto, Canada.

MW: Let’s begin at the beginning, when did the music hit you and you knew you had to do it?
DR: I was 11 years old. When I started high school, I got into a music program because one of the social directors at the community centre said “Why don’t you guys start a band?”  We were on the verge of becoming juvenile delinquents so rather than see us all go to jail he suggested music. So we said ‘’yeah’’. When asked what I wanted to play I said saxophone. My mother could not afford an instrument so I went to the school and there weren’t any saxophones. They gave me a clarinet and one lesson a week. I thought it was great; it was better than nothing. My mother hated it and I agreed.

Robyn Ottolini The Face of the Future

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Submitted by Don Graham

There is lot of concern about the future of music in general and country music specifically but Robyn Ottolini, a 17 year old Canadian singer/songwriter, will go a long way to putting those concerns to rest. There seems to be a trend today for cookie cutter, manufactured young artists who are groomed to fit a mold, have songs hand-picked for them and an image cultivated for them by a team of experts. The finished “product”, with emphasis on the word “product” is then conveyed to the media and public hoping it will strike a chord. Problem is a lot of these acts can’t even play a chord and lack the honest and believable factor. Enter Robyn Ottolini. This young lady is the exact opposite of the aforementioned trend. Robyn writes her own songs, plays her own guitar (and piano) and is responsible for her own image and marketing. Don’t be fooled by her young age, her songwriting is at a mature level, well thought out and well crafted tunes, musically and lyrically, well beyond her 17 years.

Robyn Ottolini lives in Uxbridge, Ontario, a perfect locale for a young songwriter to spread her creative wings with the lush country side and fresh air, far enough away from the city to enjoy the rural life but close enough to be within easy commuting distance to stay in touch with her music affairs.

She is living her dream, starting off her recording career with the self penned ‘Ring Around the Roses’ and filming her first video to the same song.

A Shining Night for Anti-Bullying Scars That You Can’t See


Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo: Frankie Hart, Lisa Hartt, Bobby Cohen, Don Gaham, Zita DaSilva

On Thursday, November 15th, on the shores of Lake Ontario at the Balmy Beach Club in Toronto, a Bullying Awareness night titled ‘Scars That You Can’t See’ was front and centre. Singer/songwriter Don Graham put a call out to his friends and fellow performers to put on a show to aid a great cause, a bullying prevention concert/fundraiser. With the staff of the company that manages his career, Entertainment Music Group, Graham assembled a cast of singer/songwriter talent from different genres of music and put on a fine display of caring and human kindness. The talent ranged in age and diversity and musical styles with seasoned performers and up and coming stars of the future.

Lisa HarttLisa HarttThe evening was based on a Graham/DaSilva song ‘Scars That You Can’t See’ with a chorus of “ Sticks and stones may break their bones, but broken bones will heal…but the words we use when we abuse, leave scars that you can’t see.”

A candid conversation with Rick James Manager, Brother, Lawyer, Leroy James Johnson

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

MW: How did Rick get started?
L J: It was in Buffalo. Rick was a born talent from the time he was five years old banging on the pots and pans. His first performance was in Chicago, with the Buffalo Afro Society, as a percussionist .The difference between Rick and a lot of people was that Rick took music seriously. It was the only thing he was serious about and he stuck with it until he made it! He made it when he was 15-16 years old in Canada and he did not make in the States till he was almost thirty.

MW: when he came to Canada he was dodging the draft?
LJ: True. He signed up in the Navy at 15. Our mother said “get out of the house, take my son and make him a man’’. He went to the Great Lakes Training Center in Michigan. That lasted three weeks and he ran up to Toronto where he played with a number of bands. He was influenced by everything and everybody that was here in the 60’s and 70’s including Joni Mitchell, Mainline, Neil Young, Steppenwolf, the Mynah Birds…that is where he got his real music talent from. A lot of people don’t know that he learned so much in those years as a musician, performer and songwriter in Canada from the Canadian Musicians he was exposed to and played especially Neil Young in the Mynah Birds.

They Also Served………. From Rock and Roll to Lock and Load

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They Also Served From Rock 'n' Roll to Lock and Load
Submitted by Don Graham

More so in the United States than Canada, due to conscription, it wasn’t unusual for musical stars to become active members of the Armed Forces. From Tony Bennett to Elvis to Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson to Jimi Hendrix all the way to Shaggy in Desert Storm,they also served.

We hear a lot about famous athletes who served their country, sometimes interrupting booming careers to enlist and do their part, athletes like baseball’s Ted Williams and Bob Feller. And of course Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio. Boxing sent Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. There were many, many more. All were proud to do their patriotic duty.

The field of music also had its share of men who traded guitars for rifles and rhinestones for fatigues.

Tony Bennett aka Anthony Benedetto was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944, during the final stages of World War II. Upon his discharge from the Army and return to the States in 1946, Benedetto studied at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill.

War No More - The Remembrance Day Veteran's Day Jukebox

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Lee Vyborny is a great asset and personal treasure to Cashbox Canada and Cashbox Magazine USA and when we asked if he could create a music jukebox to honour November 11, he embraced it with his usual passion and musical  knowledge. The final result is a combination of WW11 songs, tunes that the Vietnam Vets listened to and anti-war protest songs that the 1960's generation made their own mantras.

Tropical Glen/Playa Cofi Jukebox is the creation of Lee Vyborny, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who now resides in a beautiful tropical area of Peurto Rico, and spends his time enjoying life and building great jukebox tributes for all to enjoy. (Cashbox Canada had an wonderful response to our summer jukebox songs)

Music has always been a major part of life, songs played at weddings, funerals, birthdays, dances, and most recently it was once again an integral part of President Obama's victory from the sounds of Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' to when he hit the stage as the re-elected President to the soulful vocals of Stevie Wonder's 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours'. War and it's songs are an integral part of music history. We hope we have put some of your favourites on the jukebox.

So log on and visit at This is all done through Lee Vyborny's love of music so drop him a donation to keep this great site going. For the industry folks out there, Lee submits to all Performance Agreements and Requisite Royalties via ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, & SoundExchange.

Imagine All The People Living Life in Peace (quote John Lennon)

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Submitted by Don Graham

Remembrance Day/Veterans Day every November brings back to the forefront the wars of our past and wars we continue to fight. And we remember  the brave men and women who fought and died and continue to fight for our freedoms.

Could John Lennon have imagined that over 40 years later people around the world would still be singing and listening to his song Give Peace a Chance? As John said of the song when interviewed in 1980,  “ Well, after being interviewed for weeks and weeks and weeks, night and day, with Yoko and me talking about peace from our beds, I had those words coming out of me mouth or Yoko's - wherever the hell they came from - and it became a song.”  “ It wasn't like 'You have to have peace!' Just give it a chance. We ain't giving any gospel here - just saying how about this version for a change? We think we have the right to have a say in the future. And we think the future is made in your mind. Lennon used the phrase "All we are saying is give peace a chance" during an interview on the first day of the bed-in. Over the next few days he worked up a melody and lyrics, and recorded the song during the final day of the event. The song was intentionally simple, with two chords and a chorus which anyone could join in on. The verses, meanwhile, were largely nonsense.

Music and the Name Hurricane Sandy

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Submitted by Sandy Graham
Photo: The Hollies

For many of us, we sat glued to the news, watching as what was touted 'the deadliest' storm to hit in decades, grow across the monitors of weather forecasts. New York City was closed down, Broadway dark for the first time, people who said they were going to 'brave it out' then begging for rescue, strange pictures of sharks swimming in suburbia. Photoshopped or not photoshopped? Seeing Atlantic City be swept away, I personally felt sadness thinking what would it be like in my neighbourhood if the beloved Boardwalk here in the Beach was suddenly a pile of wooden rubble? As my brother Don Graham mentioned, that Atlantic City landmark was where the famous 'Under the Boardwalk' song came from by the Drifters.

Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen

Past Present and Future for Crack of Dawn

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

In 1974, upon arriving in Montreal from Cleveland, I immediately sought out the soul music and music with soul. I found it in Montreal clubs and discos like Rockhead's Paradise, In Concert, and The Esquire Show Bar.

In the same year, CBS Records Canada headhunted producer Bob Gallo to become head of A&R. A musician, arranger and composer himself, Bob was impressive in his ability to spot and nurture talent. He wrote for and produced such legends as Otis Redding, James Brown, Ben E. King, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Big Mabel, The Rascals, The Drifters and Bo Diddley.

Bob Gallo was the right man for the job to beef up Canada’s soul music scene by signing Crack of Dawn, as the first Canadian Black Band to be signed to a major record deal.

In 1975, they released a well-received single produced by Bob Gallo, a song originally meant for Otis Redding called “The Key”. It was followed by “It’s Alright Feel that Feeling” and the album “Crack of Dawn”. The band broke up in 1977, reformed in 1981 for “Horizons” under Dwight Gabriel. Different band but great record and songs.

I stayed in contact with Glen Ricketts, the Harvey Brothers, and Trevor Daley always bugging them through the years about a Crack of Dawn Reunion. This Canada Day I got my wish. I was asked to host their reunion shows at Ontario Place and the Phoenix Club. I was honoured! The band was great, with Michael Dunston on vocals replacing Glen Ricketts.

Behind the Scene with Last Tango


Submitted by Sandy Graham

To be successful in the music industry, there is so much to do to make it so. Besides the fact that you need to have amazing product, you also need to hire the right people to promote your music. With a slogan that says 'breaking artists - making names' Last Tango Productions  is just that company.Yvonne Valnea, founder and whiz kid behind Last Tango is actually born and bred here. "I was born at St. Michael's Hospital in downtown TO. I have spent most of my life here, except for a few years when I went to live in Italy. I am happy here, I have raised my son here, I work here. TO is my home."

When asked how Valnea felt about the current way music is delivered and promoted to radio she said " I actually think it has evolved to be something quite amazing. I find music directors are more accessible now. It is all about building a relationship with them. Once they begin to trust your judgement (and product) it is a new version of the old way of promoting music. In the old days promo reps would go across the country, visiting stations, mom & pop stores, record stores. Now the social media is so up to date and so quick to deliver, you can promote yourself the same way, only online."

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