BTW-Wes Carroll & Confabulation, PUP, Lexxicon, Jim Beard & John Herington, Sarah Slean & Hawksley Workman, DJ Ten, Taylor Abrahamse, Maja Bannerman, Die Antwood, Destroyer

Fri Feb 14
Wes Carroll

Must be the season, but this week we’re awash in heartfelt love songs and social evaluations. A BC artist now based in Toronto, Wes Carroll and his band Confabulation have released their second studio album Elephant in the Sea. Much like their critically liked debut Off Empire, this one features five vocal tunes and five instrumentals. Genre-wise it messes with modern jazz, hip hop, soul and balladry.

Guitarist, vocalist, rapper and songwriter Carroll honed his craft at Vancouver Island University’s jazz studies program (2014) and is currently doing a master's in jazz performance at the University of Toronto. He walks a virtual tight-rope delicately balancing detailed arrangements with the power of spontaneity. He creates topical songs about issues including social justice, surveillance, mental health, climate change and the requisite love songs. In five years, while maintaining its jazz base, the band has stretched out to include hip-hop grooves, soul and electronica.

A Festival Needs Curation! Bigger Is Not Better!

Fri Feb 14
Peter Åstedt

I just got an email from a band that has played one of the bigger showcase festivals in Europe. Before playing at that festival it was a mark that this artist was going somewhere. I met the booker from that festival last year at another festival who was talking about an act that really does well all over Europe and should easily make the lineup. The booker had a problem though that only around 20% was curated, the rest was bought up by export offices. So, it was hard to even get a band that should be on there.

And when I got the link of this artist today, I can really see it. This artist has no value right now. It is not interesting in any way for the festivals. And has no real leverage right now. A typical buy-in from an export office.

BTW-John Borra, Honey Harper, Nature Of, Marc Bolan, Tiny Fighter, Union Duke, Two Car Train, Ian Maksin & Zaria Band, Peter Hill and Pat Smith, Jessica Stuart w/ Andrea Kuzmich, Reuben & The Dark

Fri Feb 07
John Borra

Terrible thing to say about a punk icon I know but John Borra really has matured like a fine wine. Toronto singer/songwriter Borra releases Blue Wine, his first solo album since 2002, which finds the long-time pillar of the city's alternative music scene shifting back to recording under his own name after three albums with his band Rattlesnake Choir. The album's 11 tracks show strong form with his writing and performing powers; on one hand, it’s exactly the kind of album you’d expect from one of the most influential figures within Toronto’s roots-rock scene – raw, melodic, and bursting with heart and soul. On the other hand, Blue Wine displays maturity and lyrical sophistication of an experienced artist. 

Eden James His Time Has Come

Fri Feb 07
Black Book Eden James

There are many variables and components that go into making a hit artist. There is an element of luck of curse and timing that contribute to success after of course the main ingredient - talent. These include perseverance, patience, tenacity and surrounding yourself with the right people who share the vision.

Eden James is poised and ready to breakout after working tirelessly at his craft. The journey has seen James travel from Australia to London, England to his current location, New York City, USA.

“Growing up in Australia, I was drawn to the sound of the British bands and knew I had to go there to get the full effect of the music. So that was it, I packed up everything and moved to London, where I immediately felt at home and got immersed in the music and the scene. I was like a sponge and started really developing as a songwriter. Then it was off to New York City where I’ve been for over 9 years now. I’m  growing every day in my craft and my confidence here in The Big Apple.”

The Reason You Don’t Get Answers to Your Emails

Fri Feb 07
Peter Åstedt

We received an email at our festival office the other day. First, with the totally wrong name of the festival. Sure, that can happen in a ‘cut and paste’. Then the letter continues by asking questions that are obviously on our homepage, things like what are the festival dates, what kind of genre do we prefer, how much do we pay for each band. Why should I go through the process of answering questions like this for a band that we probably are not interested in booking based on them not doing their research? So, I just write back providing a link to where all the info around our application process is. And also informed them what our real name is this.

To be honest, I think we are pretty good at answering these emails. We actually get thousands of just emails from bands/bookers/pr people just sending out from different mailing lists not knowing where and to whom they are sending. It’s all part of the game, and that is why I guess 99% are just deleting the emails and don’t answer them. We try at least to give you the right info even though we know it’s just another mass mail out and time-consuming on our part.

BTW Bif Naked, The Deadnotes, Matt Zaddy, Pia Fraus, Amanda Rheaume, Tony Allen/Hugh Masekela, Geneviève Gigi Marentette, Lisa Fischer, Wild T, Mark Bragg, Matt Minglewood

Fri Jan 31
Bif Naked

Starting off this week with music for causes.

Gold and Platinum-selling

Canadian rock star, author, songwriter, manager, producer, and human and animal rights activist, yeah it’s Bif Naked and she’s got a brand new bag. It’s the launch of her new organic CBD boutique, MonaLisaHealing.com.

Touted as the ‘Renaissance of CBD’, the online e-com shop celebrated its North American debut throughout both Canada and the U.S. in the Fall of 2019.

“I finally followed my own advice,” Bif says of the passion-driven project developed with her longtime team at Her Royal Majesty’s Entertainment. She will discuss the premiere endeavour at Vancouver’s 2020 The Wellness Show this Saturday, February 1st and Sunday, February 2nd — each at 2:00 p.m. — for the panel “An Enlightening Discussion” (Saturday) and talk “Personally Taking Control & Managing Our Health Outcome” (Sunday).

You Can Always Trust Data

Fri Jan 31
Peter Åstedt

Last week Swedish radio took off their Digilist, the top list over most streamed songs. This came to be after a couple of weeks with rumours around cheating. Then an artist did an experiment and showed in a big newspaper how easy it was to buy 100 000 streams in a two week period.

To be honest, I don’t know why this has up right now. Already in 2013, I knew about some serious cheating done on both iTunes and Spotify. My guess is that this is because the cheating has escalated so much that even the majors are beaten in the game.

“You can trust data”, was Jay Frank's comment.  And was said during Billboard’s new prize, The Jay Frank Award, to honour a digital music pioneer. And I would have loved to have a discussion with Jay around this situation, I still miss those talks. We had them before, so I somehow know the answer. When the Bulgarian guy was cheating a couple of years ago, we had that discussion. Jay just laughed and said, “it’s like pointing a finger against a lonely guy with a handgun while you have twenty-five super big cannons shooting in the background.”

Rock Star & ‘Princess of Everything’ Bif Naked Launches International Organic CBD Brand, MonaLisa Healing

Fri Jan 31
Bif Naked Photo Credit Coco and Kensington Photography

Gold and Platinum-selling Canadian rock star — not to mention author, songwriter, manager, producer, and human and animal rights activist — Bif Naked has unveiled a new venture under her expansive wing with the launch of her new organic CBD boutique, MonaLisaHealing.com. Bif is available for phoners now and select in-person interviews in the Toronto area

Touted as the ‘Renaissance of CBD’, the online e-com shop celebrated its North American debut throughout both Canada and the U.S. in the Fall of 2019.

Specializing in premium organic, triple lab tested and verified all-hemp cannabidiol, MonaLisa Healing is set to extend their exclusive product line to the United Kingdom and Europe this February, and Australia and New Zealand in April. The store currently offers a range of 30mL CBD tinctures in varying potencies, ranging from 750mg - 3000mg for $79.99 - $199.99 CAD respectively.

BTW-Denise Leslie, Audra, American Television, Micah Barnes, Elk Run & Riot, China Crisis/Rational Youth, TD Black History Month, Jamila & The Other Heroes, Harry Manx, Howard Jones Acoustic Trio, Jon Bryant, The Blue Stones

Fri Jan 24
Denise Leslie

Kinda quirky, kinda dorky and all intriguing, Canadian artist Denise Leslie is on a mission “to bring the fun back to jazz” through fresh arrangements, unique musical interpretations, and magnetic charisma. She lays it all out on the Toronto-area vocalist’s debut solo album, One Fine Morning — and its premiere single, her take on Brit rockers Badfinger’s circa-1971 hit, “Day After Day” — both available now! Produced by award-winning producer and guitarist Bob McAlpine, One Fine Morning sits squarely at the ambitious intersection of jazz, R&B and rock, and features bassist Pat Collins, drummer Paul DeLong, pianist Don Baird, and horn players from Brass Transit and Lighthouse.

“This album is paying tribute to the music I cherished in my formative years,” Leslie shares of the release. “Particularly the 70s. The music of that time had a pureness,” she continues. “It was a time when music could really make a difference, and when melody was more integral to songwriting.”

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt Perform at Meridian Hall April 30

Fri Jan 24
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt Perform at Meridian Hall April 30

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, two of America’s premier singer-songwriters, join forces for an acoustic evening backed by nothing but their superb voices, first-rate guitar playing and charming reminiscences.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt will perform together at Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre) on Thursday, April 30 at 8 PM. 

Tickets go on public sale this Saturday, January 25 at 10 AM. Tickets can be purchased online at meridianhall.com, by calling 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754, and at select TO Live Box Offices.  Tickets range from $72.50 - $85.50 with limited Gold Circle at $99.50 (plus applicable fees and service charges).

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt’s previous Toronto appearances at Massey Hall (in 2008 and 2014) were both sold-out. These elegant, captivating meetings between cherished friends and collaborators make for dynamic song-and-story swaps that are difficult to resist.

The Algorithm Can’t Predict The Future!

Thu Jan 23
Peter Åstedt

Well, the tech guys want us to believe that the algorithm is that magic thing that can actually predict the future in the big data world. Maybe in a George Orwell future, it can, but I really don’t want to live there.

I got this idea for this text from a press release of another company doing a site with an algorithm that goes on the mood. In this case for sync placements. For me, this feels like 2010 when several companies did the same thing. If you really want that search engine to go top Spotify then find the people that just want mood playlists. And yes, sad playlists are the most popular right after workout playlists. The problem that is now occurring on Spotify is that the audience is not really listening to the music they just use it as background music on other things. It’s like the music in the ceiling of the supermarket. It’s there but no one cares what it is;  you are too busy shopping.

BTW-Extreme, River Drivers, Steel City Rovers, Humble, Jesse Cook, Ilja Alexander, Celeste, Dilly Dally, Rebecca Hennessey, Olivia Jean, Caveboy

Fri Jan 17
River Drivers

Gentle reader, please consider this a PSA. In light of the continued abuse, misuse and degradation of the words ‘amazing’ and ‘awesome’ at all levels of society, they will continue to be absent from this space. If you require tired hyperbole drained of all meaning in your reading material, have a nice day.

Extreme
Extreme

More Than Words: Extreme

We Need a New Top Chart

Fri Jan 17
Peter Åstedt

I’m utterly tired of explaining to idiots that you have millions of streams doesn’t make you a star, or even successful. In the old days, the counting of sales was a good measurement of how popular you were. That is NOT the same as streams. Streams can be anything. A bought physical thing is an action you must do and a lot of thresholds so in the end yes that can prove something. A stream is not even a person pressing a button it can be on a playlist that really no one is listening to is just a background in a store or even on a chine mobile farm. There is no investment from the fan in a stream. And that is why it can never prove any fanbase whatsoever.

So, bragging that you have a couple of million streams is stupid. If you want it to be more stupid those million streams are just on one platform.  The easiest trick is to compare an artist through different platforms. You want to get even more stupid those millions of streams were created before 2019 when you could easily cheat on several playlists.

Caardia Release Heartfelt Song and Video “Walking Away”

Fri Jan 10
Caardia

Caardia, Celia and Annie Siriopoulos, are sister songwriters from the GTA. Highlighted performances include CP24 Breakfast Weekend Television, The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery-annually, CBC Radio and The Rivoli.

They have been featured on CBC/Fresh Air, IndieCan/The Verge Channel on Sirius XM, Global News, CTV, Rogers TV, Girls' World Magazine, ALTo Magazine, Snapd, The Markham Economist, Pappas Post, Agape Greek Radio and other Greek media throughout Canada and the world.

They made it to the second round of the 2019 CBC Searchlight Competition, as they were part of the top 50 contestants selected by the judges from thousands across Canada.

Other performances include Taste of the Danforth, The Lindsmore, Supermarket, The Tennessee, Free Times Café, Brave TO, Pure Philanthropy, City of Markham events, East End Arts, Kick the Stigma/Michael Garron Hospital, and Salute to Olympic Athletes such as Andre De Grasse and much more. They are permanent performers on Main Street Unionville, especially in the summer and during Christmas.

BTW-Never Elected, Tombstones in Their Eyes, The Jab, Caveboy, Growler Choir, SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival, Long Winter, Elvis Birthday Tribute

Fri Jan 10
Never Elected

Happy New Year. 2020 is gonna need all the luck that comes its way. Setting the tone, Robert Zimmerman’s environmental scream ‘"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall".’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5al0HmR4t

Straight outa the Washington, DC swamp, the hard-hitting Never Elected have a new single “Wake Up” that will be out on November 15th. Energetic and engaging, it’s pure rock with a catchy flair. The grunge power crew is Altan Aydin– Guitar, Dr. T – Bass, AbelPaiva – Drums and Sujit Kumar– Madness of a percussive and vocal nature.

Check “Wake Uphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXq4F9B4UPg

Free Spirits Release Single “The Power of Our Love” From Debut Album 11.1

Fri Jan 10
Free Spirits 11.11

Multi-JUNO Award-winning Canadian Platinum-status producer, composer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Birkett has a newly minted project on his plate, just ahead of a notable career milestone this Spring. 

Free Spirits prides itself on being more than just what meets the ear; The Free Spirits are a musical collaboration shedding light on life, the world, and how artists can help be a positive force for truth and change, they say. 

Together, the duo — Chris Birkett on guitar, drums, bass, and keys, and Tallon on flute, keyboards and vocals — are unlocking sonic synchronicity with a debut album, 11:11, and its premiere single “The Power of Our Love.”

Crooner Micah Barnes Puts His Own Stamp on Classic “When In Rome (I Do As The Romans Do)”

Fri Jan 10
Micah Barnes Photo Credit Juan Palacio

Canadian jazz virtuoso Micah Barnes has transformed into a transcontinental tomcat with the release of his new single, “When In Rome (I Do as the Romans Do)” — available now!

“For the video, we got very lucky indeed,” Barnes says of the opportunity to shoot in the song’s subject city itself — Rome! “So for three days I pretended I was Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, sweltering in a suit as we shot in the warm Italian sunshine.

“For the song itself, ‘When In Rome’ has a real ‘swingers anthem’ to it, so I decided to give it a sexy, breezy, Bossa Nova feel with strings for that ‘International playboy’ approach,” Barnes continues, detailing his 2020 vision for the 60s-era Cy Coleman / Carolyn Leigh classic, in collaboration with his band — Michael Shand, Russ Boswell, Al Cross, with additional contribution from Rob Pitch and Don Breithaupt. “I hope folks will find the results deliciously naughty! 

“After all, ‘When In Rome’ is essentially a very smart and sophisticated ‘cheating’ song.

Watch ‘When In Rome’ here:
https://youtu.be/ORQA_6OdV08

Here Is The Secret How To Break!

Fri Jan 10
Peter Åstedt

No, there is no one that can totally fix your career. Stop looking! The time where an artist could just be on for the ride and do drugs and just have a party is no longer there. Yes, it was in the 80’s and 90’s mainly because you could write off things as tax defaults. Today that is no longer possible.

There is no secret label that can fix your career. You have to do the work yourself. The closest you get to someone to fix your career is the manager, but that person needs help to keep the wheels turning.

A band that I know was in this discussion. Their friends had been signed to one of the three majors. And my band thought it was cool as hell. I just told them that it won't make any difference. The band is totally unknown and the major can only operate on their local market. The chances that this will go further are so slim that I say they have a bigger chance that they get an offer to play on the mainstage of Sweden’s biggest festival. Still, the band thought it was a cool thing.

BTW-Partow, Sitar Fusion, Oblyx, Wayne Hussey, Morning Bells, Betty Moon, Jonathan Emile, Logan Ledger, Lynne Hanson

Fri Dec 20
Partow

The World at Hugh’s is a new series coming to Hugh’s Room Live that will feature some of the best music from around the planet. The host of CBC’s Big City Small World, Errol Nazareth, will be speaking to a few of the musicians on stage ahead of the performance. This intimate Q+A will be a perfect introduction to our World at Hugh’s. Errol will be taking the stage at 8PM along with his guests.

First up is Partow, Sunbeam in Persian. Partow is an international ensemble led by Iranian tar player and composer Padideh Ahrarnejad. Its roots are in Persian classical music but the sound encompasses diverse influences and draws its strength from the group’s members who come from Turkey, Greece, Peru and Brazil. Partow has recorded its first album, set to be released in early 2019. website: https://bit.ly/36tIsmL

Singer/Songwriter Mauve Releases a “Brand New” Video

Fri Dec 20
Mauve

Award-winning avant-garde electro-popstress Mauve has ushered in an electrifying “Brand New” era with the release of her newest video, available now! 

The Canadian singer/songwriter best known for infusing chill-bop pop tracks with distinctly infectious hints of tropical house and RnB, is quickly garnering recognition. Mauve was nominated for a 2018 Niagara Music Award for “Best New Artist” and her single “Come Around” won top honours at the 2019 InterContinental Music Awards for “Best of North America.” 

With tracks topping upwards of 450,000 streams across Spotify, she has also been featured by NBC-2, FOX40 News, ABC7 News, CBC Music, 107.3 Virgin Radio, Buzz Music LA, Talk About Pop Music, WFMZ-TV 69, Best Kept Montreal, Tinnitist, KOTV-TV CBS-6, IndieCan Radio on SiriusXM and many more.