Features

Robbie Burns: The Rock Star

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Submitted by Don Graham

There’s little doubt that had Robbie Burns, the Ploughman Poet, been born a hundred years later he would have been a certified triple A rock star. The ladies’ man, the poet, the eternal romantic.

Burns was in fact regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic period, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that started in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, peaking from about 1800 to 1850. Whether his subject was a man or a mouse or even a louse, Scotland’s National Bard had that rare talent of putting himself into others peoples place and circumstances and found a way to express life's universal emotions.

Burns was capable of creating traditional ballads and romantic songs and humorous songs and poem. Robert Burns composed some of the world's most instantly recognizable lines of poetry and song lyrics. His “Auld Land Syne” is a staple around the world on New Year’s Eve. It IS because of Rabbie Burns that we promise,every Hogmanay, to 'tak a cup o' kindness' with the people and go into the new year with a proclamation of hope for the future.“

He wrote love songs that spoke to people’s hearts and the women loved him and his ability to flesh out the emotions of love. Like Kris Kristofferson did in the ‘70’s with his “I don’t want to be alone, so help me make it through the night “Burns did with “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose” with lines like “ My love is like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June. My love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune.”

BTW-Austra, Jerry Leger, Jan Kudelka, Ron Hawkins, Winterfolk, Maple Blues Awards, Blackalicious

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Venues may come and go but Toronto's got live, if you want it.

"Our current climate leaves many feeling apathetic but despair can act as a compass - the less you can ignore, the more you have to act." This cryptic call to arms from cold wave artrock band Austra's guiding light Katie Stelmanis is at the core of upcoming album Future Politics, out Jan.6. Austra recently revealed the video for the album's title track and kicks off an extensive international tour on January 20 at The Mod Club with Lafawndah

Austra's third LP is the Canadian band's most ambitious to date and calls for radical hope: "a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia," says Stelmanis, who leads Austra with the support of Maya Postepski (Princess Century, TR/ST), Dorian Wolf, and Ryan Wonsiak.

Harris Institute Ranked Best for 5th Year

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo: John Harris Founder Harris Institute

For a 5th consecutive year, Toronto’s Harris Institute is ranked best private school in the 2017 ‘Media Arts Education Report’. Author Jim Lamarche says, “Harris Institute is the best school of its kind in Canada. Highly Recommended”.

Included in the Report Card’s top 10 schools areRyerson University’s School of Media, OCAD University, the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology (OIART), Metalworks Institute and Seneca College.In its 9th year with over 100,000 visitors from around the world, Lamarche’s Report is the quintessential source of comparative information on media arts education in Canada.

Harris Institute is the only school outside of the US in Billboard Magazine’smost recent “Top 11 Schools”. The college was previously featured in Mix Magazine’s “Audio Education’s Finest’ and Billboard’s “Schools That Rock”.

Harris graduates won or were nominated for 197 awards in the past two years, including Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, Juno and Canadian Screen Awards. The school’s Arts Management Program is the only college program in North America to achieve seven 0% Student Loan Default Rates and it’s Audio Production Program achieved a fifth 0% Default Rate in 2016.

Hugh’s Room Toronto On The Brink

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Submitted by Don Graham

One of the most iconic and loved listening rooms, Hugh’s Room in Toronto, has been on the brink of going under. But as long as there is hope people need to stop burying the body before it flatlines. At this writing, owner Richard Carson has NOT gone bankrupt as reported by some on social media, but has filed for insolvency. On January 8, Richard statement read: “To all our supporters – performers, audience, and staff – I am sincerely sorry to have to say that Hugh’s Room has reached a point of insolvency. More information will be available over the next few days as to how we can proceed from here, but at this time we are closing our doors until we can see what options are available to us.”

Richard opened Hugh’s Room in April 2001 and named it after his late brother Hugh.

With the late great Jesse Winchester as the first act to grace the stage. Since Jesse’s passing Bill McKettrick has organized a Jesse Winchester Tribute show there with one scheduled for this April. It’s still a large possibility as the room, although closed now, is working on a solution. On January 9, Hugh’s Room issued this statement, “We have received a tremendous amount of good will and support over the past few days and we’re working on finding ways where we may be able to garner that support. It certainly has given us some encouragement that we may be able to move forward and continue in the ways where many people – performers, audience, and staff – have been touched by the room over the past 17 years. It ain’t over folks!”

Michael Williams The Losses and the Gains of 2016

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Photo: Ethan McLaren, Xavier Lane, Michael Williams and Bobby Curtola
Photo Credit Bill King

2016 was covered by unexpected lose of the icons of our youth, Muhammad Ali I saw once at Cleveland Hopkins airport while leaving for California. It was a glance and smile that energized me for years.

David Bowie like Rush are part of the rather sophisticated musical DNA of Cleveland, Ohio and one of the many reason why the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland.
Cleveland is the musical sister city to Montreal, with exactly the same high musical I.Q.

WNCR started it with Billy Bass, Shauna,Doyle, Dennis Saunders, Jeff Gelb,Caroline, WMMS continued the musical legacy with Billy Bass at the helm as PD and Dennis Saunders as MD, both on air.

WMMS was the first station in America to play and present David Bowie; we broke Bowie, Lou Reed Hall and Oates, Mott the Hoople and Rush to the world. I was at the first two Bowie Concerts in Cleveland. Love shared and received.

Prince was always brilliant like Billy Bass, Mayor Carl B. Stokes and myself, we were Black and shared in that promise fulfilled, never denied. We had the possibility of being connected to everything that is, was and shall be.

Never coming from or being part of the culture of less with full license to be all that we could be!

Losing Prince still hurts!

A Christmas Story in June

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo: Danforth Greektown Fountain

The little village square in my hood has a small stage at one end, so the sound of live music providing counterpoint to the omnipresent traffic thunder, is often and welcome. 'Twas early summer, the city air still soft , the greenery new and full of promise, a fresh crop of toddlers duking it out with the pigeons for fountain space when I heard the subtly turbulent chromatics and cascading arpeggios of Debussy rushing like a springtime stream from a keyboard.  Behind the keys, an elfin brunette young woman just getting started on a set that referenced Brubeck, Fatha Hines, Oscar Peterson, some delicate etudes from Beethoven, Burton Cummings and Diana Krall, among the stuff I recognised.

Come break time, I'm right over there curious to hear what else she can do. So she played me some show tunes, some Elton John, and when I called out for New Orleans sounds, she dropped some Dr. John, some Professor Longhair and her Fats Domino medley had the rugrats rompin'. All layered with numerous to me, unknown pieces, some of which were gorgeous and celebratory in tone, with a persistent flow of challenge and struggles informing the dynamic.

My Christmas Memory

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Submitted by Don Graham

Every year we at Cashbox get to write a little vignette describing a favourite Christmas memory and every year I think I don’t have any more, I‘ve told them all.  But turns out that’s not true and the beauty is it forces me to travel back in time to various stages of  my life, looking for a new Christmas memory.

So I thought this year maybe I’d write about something that happened after my childhood, when I was an adult. Nah, that won’t work. All my real happy memories of Christmas are from when I was a young boy. Christmas was different then. It was commercial alright, but not to extent it is now. As kids we each got one “big” present and a bunch of little things like socks or gloves or a little book. Our stockings had an orange, always an orange, some nuts; walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans and such. And usually a little candy and chocolate. It really was more about family and all being together on that special day. My feeling and memory of is of a huge, full tree covered in long strands of tinsel, great big lights, not the puny little lights of today, big round, fragile Christmas balls of red, green, silver and blue. A beautiful angel that perched on top of the tree and angel hair scattered all around.

Living On In Our Hearts 2016

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Submitted by Don Graham

If anyone had told us at beginning of 2016 how many musical icons we would lose in the course of the year we’d be hard pressed to believe it. But it was a year like none I can remember for deaths in the musical community. By April it appeared to me that surely we couldn’t lose anymore. But the grim reaper kept coming. Some say it’s the age, that so many of the artists we grew up with were aging out, but that theory doesn’t hold water in all cases, there were some that were just too young to go.

The year started off in January with two giants of the industry passing within days of each other. The passing of mega star David Bowie was a shock and while we still reeling from that an even bigger shock hit us when Eagles co-founder and superstar Glenn Frey exited suddenly. Also in January rock pioneer with The Jefferson Airplane, Paul Katner left us. February started off on first of the month by claiming country crooner Jim Reeves and followed by taking country and early rock ‘n’ roll singer (Young Love) Sonny James. The month also took Lennie Baker, saxophonist for Sha Na Na. March saw country singer Joey Feek  succumb to her long public battle with cancer and Canadian legend Ray Griff who built a career for himself in Nashville passed away back in Canada. Frank Sinatra Junior joined his dad in the heavenly orchestra and one third of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Keith Emerson checked out. And the man responsible for the Beatles sound, Sir George Martin, left us.

BTW- Bernice, Melanie Peterson, Jen Lane, Ault Sisters, Saxsyndrum, Tasseomancy, Susan Aglukark, Psychic Mind, Donkey

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Not at all Christmassy but bright fun all the same is “St Lucia”, newest video from artpop crew Bernice, pairs soulful vocal melodies with playful sonic tripouts. Bernice vocalist/songwriter Robin Dann says artist Sonia Beckwith-Cole, who directed the “St Lucia” video, was the clear choice – “Her animation felt completely right to me, and I knew she would make something so beautiful for the song's world.”

“When I first heard the song I imagined pinks and blues, a lot of textures and water, water, water,” director/animator Sonia Beckwith-Cole says of her inspiration for the video. “The song talks about how as a woman you are connected to a lineage of women that are a part of you, and contribute to who you are, while somehow still being distant. The verses bring up these complicated feelings and the chorus brings us escape from these worries to be present in a moment of joy. The woman in my story starts out in a confused wandering state surrounded by dark, obscured imagery. When she finally dives off the edge of a waterfall the imagery becomes bright, colourful and full of movement and she finds solace with friends in the water.”

Proudly Canadian: Jack Scott

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Jack Scott (born Giovanni Domenico Scafone, Jr.), January 24, 1936, Windsor, Ontario, Canada is a Canadian American singer and songwriter. He was the first white rock and roll star to come out of Detroit, Michigan. He was inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011 and has been called "undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time."

Scott spent his early childhood in Windsor, Ontario (Canada), across the river from Detroit, Michigan (United States). When he was 10, Scott's family moved to Hazel Park, a Detroit suburb. He grew up listening to hillbilly music and was taught to play the guitar by his Mother Laura. As a teenager, he pursued a singing career and recorded as 'Jack Scott.' At the age of 18, he formed the Southern Drifters. After leading the band for three years, he signed to ABC-Paramount Records as a solo artist in 1957.

After recording two good-selling local hits for ABC-Paramount in 1957, he switched to the Carlton record label and had a double-sided national hit in 1958 with "Leroy" (#11) / "My True Love" (#3). The record sold over one million copies, earning Scott his first gold record. Later in 1958, "With Your Love" (#28) reached the Top 40. In all, six of 12 songs on his first album became hit singles. On most of these tracks, he was backed up by the vocal group, the Chantones.

He served in the United States Army during most of 1959, just after "Goodbye Baby" (#8) made the Top Ten. 1959 also saw him chart with "The Way I Walk" (#35).

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