Features

I Just Called Him Dad Don Graham

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Cover Photo Credit: Fiona Lawson Studio 22 Photography

Singer/songwriter Don Graham has written hundreds of songs in his long career about dozens of subjects. He’s written songs about good love, bad love, lost love, unrequited love, songs about war, about his friends, about his travels and his mother and sisters. But one topic has eluded him all these years, until now. “I could never write a song about my Dad. I tried. But I didn’t want a ‘punch in the shoulder, good ole boy hey Pops song and I didn’t want a song about ‘my old man’. Dad hated that term. I wanted to write something from my heart like I’d done for Mum. So I made a deal with myself to try every Father’s Day to write a dad song. I had zero success until this year. “

On Father’s Day 2017, Don sat down with his guitar and being true to his promise to himself started to try and write a Dad song. “I figured I’d at least try. I started to play and the first two lines came and I liked them! Then within an hour, I had the whole song. All I could think at the time was – finally! ”

With the song completed, Don never had any inclination to record it but thought he’d play it at a couple of live events, “ The reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” and soon started thinking about maybe doing something with it.

James Leblanc The Nature of the Beast

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Submitted by Don Graham

If you like your singer/songwriter records to be raw, pure and rich in honest pure emotion then James Leblanc’s new release 'Nature of the Beast' is a must have for your music library. James combines the social conscience and primal messages of Steve Earle, the flair of Townes Van Zandt and the poetry of Guy Clark while still keeping it distinctly James Leblanc.

Even if you haven’t heard the name James Leblanc you’ve heard his songs, having racked up sales of over 25 million records with artists recording his tunes. The best known so far would be “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” by Travis Tritt although with a song on the new Tim McGraw /Faith Hill album that could change. Songs by Jason Aldean, “Relentless” and Gary Allen “Learning How To Bend” add to the list.

'Nature of the Beast' is Leblanc’s first effort in a decade and was worth the wait. I was fortunate to meet James when I recorded recently in Muscles Shoals at the Nutthouse Studio and James was the session guitarist. And the Nutthouse is where James, a Shreveport Louisiana native living in the Shoals area, recorded 'Nature of the Beast' with fellow Louisiana native, Grammy Winner Jimmy Nutt along with Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bassist David Hood and James’ son Dylan and partner Angela Hacker. Of the 12 tracks, all but two written or co-written by LeBlanc with exceptions being “Answers” written by James’ son Dylan and “Beans” the old chestnut from Shel Silverstein.

Six Questions for Terry Gomes

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Terry Gomes is a University of Ottawa music graduate, having studied classical guitar and composition. He has released six recordings altogether. The last three marked a switch into instrumental music fusing World, Latin and Smooth Jazz genres. His newest and seventh recording, “The Tropical Dream”, is a concept album tracing the stages of a tropical vacation. Written while recovering from a slow-healing back injury, it pays homage to his childhood experiences growing up in a Guyanese culture, and to the memories of traveling with his family to the Caribbean.

Cashbox Canada recently had a chance to ask Terry Gomes some questions about his career and music.

Tell us about the concept/theme of the new album.

My new album, The Tropical Dream, is an instrumental concept album outlining a tropical vacation; the anticipation/excitement about the trip, the arrival, things experienced when you are there, and the inevitable return home to cold weather. Fusing elements of World, Caribbean, Latin and Jazz, it is intended to be listened to in the privacy of your own thoughts to experience the journey. It was never meant to be performed live with all of the distractions that can bring. I intentionally released it in mid-January, a time when many Canadians (myself included), are longing to head south.

Two biggest influences?

Levi Hart Have a Heart

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Submitted by Don Graham

We all have a road we’re destined to travel on to take us where we’re supposed to be. Sometimes that road has obstacles and detours that we have to deal with and then we can carry on to our destination. That’s exactly what happened to Levi Hart. The up and coming artist from Ottawa came from a large musical family, his Uncle Bob Webb is a Canadian Bluegrass mainstay and was well on his way with his band and his music including a slot as an opening act for Kid Rock.

“That was a strange one. I had entered a contest to open for Kid Rock. I had more or less forgotten all about it when I got the call that I had won and to get myself to Colorado for the show.” But he ran into a bit of a detour, a bump in the road that I will explain in a minute.

But in the beginning, Levi grew up surrounded by music and the bug really bit him when he saw one particular artist. “When I saw Garth Brooks I was immediately in awe. Watching him perform with such passion and intensity and having so much fun doing it was a real life-changer for me. This is what I wanted to do.”

We Were Sharks Release 82 second video ‘Ashley’

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

At just eighty-two seconds in length and loads of punk rock shenanigans, WE WERE SHARKS have released the raucous new video ‘Ashley,’ from their upcoming album Lost Touch. The album will be available February 23 through Victory Records, just as the Canadian six piece will wrap up their second tour behind the new record.

Watch ‘Ashley’ Now.

“Shooting the video for ‘Ashley’ was an absolute blast,” recalls vocalist Randy Frobel. “Dodging balls, Nerf darts, toilet paper and a few eggs for good measure, as an older loving couple wreak havoc on the neighborhood pranking everyone in sight. What more could you ask for? ‘Ashley’ is a teen angst love song about that bad girl who lives a few houses down. You know she’s trouble, but she’s everything you dream about.”

WE WERE SHARKS closed out 2017 touring with A Wilhelm Scream and label mates Carousel Kings, and will continue supporting Lost Touch beginning February 2 with help from Belmont, Boys Of Fall and Sink The Ship. "We’re excited to be back in the USA playing with some awesome bands in great towns,” exclaims Frobel. “Make sure to come out to a show if we are reaching your area to get a sneak peek at new songs from Lost Touch.”

Catching A Break Al Brake

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Submitted by Don Graham

Fort McMurray resident, Newfoundland native Al Brake has traveled halfway across this great country to be where he is supposed to be. The 11th of 11 children that includes 8 boys and 3 girls is “foot off the brake, pedal to the metal ready” for his moment in the spotlight. He is making all the right moves and feels like now is time. | Music has always been a huge part of my life, especially growing up in Newfoundland. Everybody plays music and it bonds together families and friends.”

Al Brake started playing guitar when he was about 8 yrs, drawn to the music from watching his brothers, sisters and parents. His Dad was an accomplished and great fiddle player, his mother was a great singer, with his brothers and sisters picking on one instrument or another, there was rarely a time when there wasn't music in their home. This soon moved out of the home as the family began performing at local Festivals and Garden parties. Al had his own band by the time he was 18 years old. He began writing his own material around 2008 and in 2010 began working on his songs in Nashville. In 2012 he traveled to Nashville to begin recording a full-length album which he finished at Metalworks Studio in Toronto.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from All Of Us at Cashbox Canada

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

As the year 2017 comes to an end, I am still amazed by the fact that I get to work with such an incredible staff at Cashbox Canada.

To my tireless Editor, Lenny Stoute, thank you for always sticking by me and being such a creative force every week.  His column BTW celebrates so many diversified artists and gives the indies a chance to shine. Lenny has an incredible background in journalism and I am grateful to have him.

To Don Graham, who somehow in between his own musical career as a recording artist, songwriter and performer, takes the time to do the personal interviews with fellow country artists and beyond to get some of the most memorable stories we have on CB. I truly believe his own career and background is what makes even the most wary artists feel comfortable in their interviews.

To Chris Wardman, my wizard of the web, who takes it upon himself to make Cashbox Canada work and continues to keep our archives available for all to go back and revisit. When you Google Chris Wardman it is quite the eye-opener to see his career; as a musician, a record label guy, a producer and so much more. I have such respect for Chris and what he does for us.

BTW - Soja, Grace Vonderkhun, Jerry Leger, Don Ross. Suzie Vinnick, Seasonal Concerts, Skydiggers, Typhoon

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

The 8-piece reggae supergroup SOJA has shared a music video for "Fire In The Sky" -a poignant highlight from new album Poetry in Motion, out now on ATO Records. Directed by Christopher Good (Grizzly Bear, Okkervil River), the striking clip was filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia near where the album was recorded.

Says lead singer Jacob Hemphill: "I wrote 'Fire In The Sky' outside the airport in Argentina after a band member lost a family member. The song is about how beautiful it is to be alive even though all of us at times question our purpose in being here, and can be terrified by the fact that we all must leave at some point. We're all connected, and there is a plan much bigger than any one of us. We're all this beautiful 'poetry in motion.' We're all 'fire in the sky.'"

Poetry In Motion has earned raves everywhere from Billboard, Salon, Paste + more, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard reggae charts week of release (their fourth #1 debut to date!). Recorded at Dave Matthews Band's studio in Charlottesville, VA, near where the band first got their start two decades ago, the new music digs deeper than ever into their message of finding peace - tackling everything from government corruption, immigrants, marriage, veteran's rights and beyond.

Our Lady Peace New Video For Nice To Meet You

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Our Lady Peace has released the brand-new video for their song, Nice To Meet YouFeaturing YouTube star, Matthew Santoro, the video is the third installment in the band’s miniseries for tracks featured on their new album, Somethingness, and explores a unique look into personal stories that happen every day, all around us, in a new light. Watch the first two “episodes” – Drop Me In The Water , and Hiding Place For Hearts – to see the story unfold.

“This was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my career. As a long time fan of OLP it was truly a privilege to be a part of the visuals for such amazing music,” says Santoro. Vocalist, Raine Maida adds, “The Somethingness series of videos explores the personal stories that happen every day, all around us. Matt did a great job at allowing us to view these though his lens.”

Barry Stagg From the Carolinas to Canada Barry Stagg’s Christmas Grace!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Going back to my Montreal roots, there are always artists that say in my memories, Gino Vanelli, Ken Tobias, Andy Kim, Pagliaro and of course Barry Stagg –one-half of the ever popular Green and Stagg.

Barry Stagg, singer/songwriter, musician, playwright and musical entrepreneur is a prime example of what tenacity and talent are all about when it comes to the love of music.

Born in Montreal, Quebec he graduated from Université de Montréal and started on his musical path with Tony Green to become Green and Stagg. The duo was signed to Gamma Records out of Montreal under the tutelage of manager Ben Kaye.(who also managed Celine Dion) Their debut single, "To Love Means To Be Free", became an instant hit when released in February 1970. The song won the Canadian Business Music Industry writing award.Green and Stagg rode the charts for the better part of the early '70s.

Signed to Gamma at the time, they were offered a deal with London Records which had a better reach for them on a distribution level so they made the decision to move to the ill-fated label, which went bankrupt not long after. Stagg would have success with a number of solo releases on RCA before starting his musical and magical journey from theatre to playwriting and scores.

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