Features

Michelle Wright Answers the Call of the Hall!

Cover July 1, 2011

By Don Graham

Canada's country songbird and ambassador of all things good about Canadian entertainers, is poised to receive one of Canadian country music's highest honour. Michelle Wright will be inducted at the Gala Industry Event on Sun Sept 11 at the Hamilton Convention Centre into the CCMA Hall of Fame. On this historical occasion at the Canadian Country Music Association's annual event,  Michelle Wright will take her rightful place in Canadian music history.

In 1985, while performing in a Hamilton bar, Michelle was discovered by producer Brian Ferriman. Ferriman was so impressed with her deep alto voice that the pair signed a recording and management deal that has lasted 25 years, and now it is fitting that Hamilton is the place where she will be bestowed with this prestigious honour in the country music scene.

Speaking with Michelle from her home outside of Nashville, I could sense how centered and content she is with her life right now and how happy she is with the direction she has taken. Her reaction to the induction was simple and direct, "I don't think the reality of it will hit  me until the induction but it is truly an honour to be included in the list of such people and musical icons of Canadian talent."

Music Matters for June 24th 2011

Music Matters

Word of Mouth and How Radio and the Major Labels Sent Me to the Internet for Music

How much has the Internet changed things when it comes to music? As it turns out, not that much. What HAS changed are the ways middle men, lawyers, managers, agents, radio, and record companies can stop you from hearing what’s out there….

I had an epiphany this week thanks to NXNE. I realized that for all the hype, emails, Tweets, Facebook invites, and beer tickets, only one thing got me to get off my ass and go hear a band I had never heard of before.

Word of mouth.

Not just ANY word of mouth, but recommendations from friends and people I know who LOVE music and are prone to sharing their discoveries with like-minded people, of which I am one. “Hey, Bob, you have GOT to see these guys!”, will get my attention quicker than any amount of free beer tickets if it comes from someone I trust.

Why you’ll find me on the Internet and in the clubs…

Are you Friends Of Jack? You will be after you’ve heard them

Cover June 24, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute

They got oil underneath their fingernails
and a country song in their heart
and the men of Friends Of Jack
don’t give a flying fart
 
First time I ever heard of Friends Of Jack was through a photographer friend lives on Brine Street and known to hoist a few on St. John’s totally rockin’ George Street. He’s the source of the rhyme above, which he swears was chalked on the wall of a popular leaking spot in an alley off George.

Paul John who sings and plays guitar with Friends Of Jack says the story just might be true, given the band’s large and loud following in St.John’s.

The group initially formed in St.Alban’s Newfoundland, hometown for core members and brothers Daryl and Chad and cousin Paul, all last named John. Within the kitchen parties of that small community the siblings cut their musical teeth with lots of help from family members.
: You could say it’s in the blood”, says Paul, “ I grew up with my dad and uncle playing guitar in bands. I was kind of a late starter and when I started I was more into rock”.

Music Matters for June 17th 2011: NXNE First Impressions and an Open Letter to Brian Wilson

Music Matters

Once again, Toronto becomes ground zero for music, beer tickets, and late nights. Between CMW, Indie Week, The Beaches Jazz Festival, and now NXNE, it seems like we are not only the centre of the Music Universe, we are also its jukebox, program director, and Uber Fan.

Aaron Pritchett – Finally ‘In the Driver’s Seat’

Cover June 17, 2011

By Sandy Graham

Take a combination of humble and driven, then put those two characteristics together and you have Aaron Pritchett. Add in talented, handsome, great songwriter and a focused artist and you have the whole package for success. The combination of all of this, and the fact that Aaron Pritchett is completely in charge of his destiny at the moment makes the title of his new CD ‘In The Driver’s Seat’ make perfect sense. For the first time in Aaron’s career, he is calling the shots and making sure the fans get what they want.

I had the pleasure of chatting with this artist, and can honestly say it was such a wonderful conversation, it reminded me once again why I am in this business in the first place – it is all about the music.

“I didn’t start out as a country music fan. I was a rocker. My really early influences were the rock ‘n’ roll legends my parents used to play. Elvis, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Van Morrison, and one of my all time favourites, James Brown. I ‘graduated’ to rock in the 1980’s; the first record I bought was Loverboy, and I was heavily influenced by Canadian acts back then, especially Bryan Adams. (Pritchett’s new single ‘DRIVE’ was co-written by  Bryan Adams and British writer Phil Thornalley). I also loved Def Lepperd, AC/DC, bands like that;  they were all a big part of the rockier licks I use in my songs today. I grew to love country music because of the lyrics, the songs are all about true life experiences.”

Country Music Association of Ontario Announces New Board of Directors

Story by Natasha Slinko

Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) hosted their Annual General Meeting at the Victoria and Albert Pub in Scarborough Ontario this past Sunday.  After a short meet and greet, the CMAO moved forward with the agenda to elect the new blood for the board.

The CMAO is a very dedicated group of music industry professionals that founded and now serve on this board and it is through their hard work and dedication that the CMAO is what it is today.  In a short time they have built up a membership of over 400 and still counting and are fostering relations with all aspects the Canadian Country music world.

The goal of the Country Music Association of Ontario is to foster and support the growth and development of Country Music in Ontario, for managers, artists, singers, songwriters, musicians, bands  promoting the incredible talent we have here not only in Ontario, but across Canada. CMAO promotes the various genres of country music that encompasses country, folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and Canadiana.
The CMAO is happy to have now expanded the new Board of Directors to include music industry veterans who will bring their expertise and knowledge to the table to further the growth of this organization. The CMAO is dedicated to expanding it's membership to further enhance the networking and participation of the Canadian country music scene.  education and encouraging creativity and the unique contributions of the entire country music industry. 

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings-Send In The Queens

Cover June 10, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

A Time Zone mix-up has me calling the Man In The Black Fedora an hour early but Colin Linden is all graciousness in putting aside whatever he was into for a talk.

The Southern gentleman thing suits Linden like a well-worn pair of Levis. Not only has he been resident in Nashville going on 14 years but throughout the conversation, Linden heaps praise on all concerned in the making of the band's new album, Kings and Queens. It's not a false humility rather a genuine enthusiasm for making music.

"We still go at it strictly for the love of the song. It's never about what a song can do for us. It's always about how we can best serve the song, show it off at its best."

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings owes its genesis to this core idea. The band formed as a one-of vehicle to record an album, High Or Hurtin', The Songs of Willie P. Bennett, in celebration of the work of this unsung roots music hero. This was in 1996 and 15 years and six albums later, it's still about the songs.

Kings and Queens drops June 14 and threatens to propel the band into the serious spotlight. This lurks in the wings as the album features collaborations with some of the finest female singer/songwriters currently trodding the boards, among them Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Patti Scialfa, Holly Cole and Serena Ryder.

Music Matters for June 10th 2011: Moving Daze and NXNE

Music Matters

We’re in the middle of a monumental move from one place to another. It seems so easy on paper, but if you have ever moved you know it is anything but. True to the old axiom, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and this move has been a nightmare from start to finish…which it hasn’t.

Because of this move I am just able to squeeze out a few thoughts today. Otherwise, I’ll forget to grab the last few items from the old place, fail to remember where things are in the new place, and, I’m already so stressed out, I can’t remember where I put the pickle jar with all the nuts and bolts that hold our bed frame together. Maybe I’ll ask the kitties…as soon as they’re through exploring the new chimney and fireplace, which has made our 2 adventurers black and gray kitties instead of black and white kitties. There are little sooty paw prints all over our new home. Damn cats….

Dawson Reigns- Asks that you fasten your seatbelts and Enjoy The Ride

Cover June 3, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

Dawson Reigns. Is not the name of a shy guy. And who gets ahead in the music biz on shy? Especially when you're coming outa Cambridge, not exactly the centre of the media music universe. So how's a boy who won't wear a meat dress get noticed? Getting a wicked-sounding countrified new name is a good start.

" I wanted something that would make me stand out," explains the amiable singer from his Cambridge home. "We got the Dawson part first and then we tossed around words, looking for some kind of sound and then settled on 'Reigns'. It just sounded right and that's been my name for the last six years". The name change was in conjunction with the birth of Dawson Reigns the artist, marking the transition from cover band star to weaver of his own particular dreams.

" Playing in a cover band, you have to be able to play a lot of different songs. I knew all along I wanted my own voice to be heard, that I wanted to sing my own songs. It was good for me; the two years of playing covers helped me focus on arriving at my own sound. I have it now; it's the sound you hear on (debut album) Enjoy the Ride."

Music Matters for May 27th 2011 Classic Rock: Nostalgic Music or Genre?

Music Matters

Just how powerful is rock and roll? How did this music, over 60 years old, last so long and still acquire new fans every time someone hears it for the first time. From the late ‘40s and through the ‘50’s,‘60’s, and ‘70s to the present day, rock and roll refuses to roll over and die…even though radio and most record labels think (and say) it has.

There has always been too much music. Even a half a century ago, we could not have listened to all the music that was available and wouldn’t have even been aware of what we DID hear if it hadn’t been for radio.

Radio was the discoverer, the gatekeeper, and the church where we met almost every waking hour and listened attentively to hear our favourites and be turned on to songs and artists that we had never heard before. Radio stations were the Source, the mouth of the river that flowed through the air and out of our radios and into our ears, our hearts, our souls, and our loins. Radio was the church, the DJs were the preachers, and rock and roll was the testament, the sermon, and the faith by which we lived our lives.

Hallelujah!

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