Canadian Music Royalty Honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


Story: Don Graham
Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ontario, was the scene of a unique gathering on Monday June 18th, 2012.

Commemorative medals were presented to distinguished Ontario residents who have already been invested with the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario. All living Order of Canada and Order of Ontario recipients were invited.  It is unusual for these recipients to come together in one place said The Honourable Ontario Lt. Governor David Onley.

Lt. Governor Onley, Governor General David Johnson and other prominent Canadians presented the prestigious awards. CBC Anchor Peter Mansbridge hosted the gala and also received a medal.

Susan Aglukark, Molly Johnson, Ben Heppner and Gordon Lightfoot took the stage at Roy Thomson Hall Monday evening. The four musicians, all members of the Order of Canada, performed at a presentation of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to more than 600 people. The special medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.

Orillia’s Lightfoot was one of several who gave Lt. Governor Onley the idea for the gala. Lt. Governor Onley said he put the event together hastily, after presenting the first 25 Diamond Jubilee Medals on Feb. 6, at a gathering that brought together a remarkable group of people, including Gordon Lightfoot and actor Gorden Pinsent.

Diana Krall Goes the Standard Route

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Diana Krall’s new studio album Wallflower is slated for release this October 21, 2014 on the legendary Verve label. Wallflower is a collection of songs from the late 60’s to present day that inspired Krall in her early years.  Produced by 16-time Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster, the album finds Krall breaking new ground with her interpretations of some of the greatest pop songs of all time.

On Wallflower, Diana Krall showcases her considerable gifts as a vocalist in a bold and beautiful way. Krall sings a set of songs that include familiar popular classics like The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming” and the Eagles’ “Desperado,” favorite vintage songs by Krall’s musical heroes Bob Dylan (he inspired the album’s title track “Wallflower”) and Elton John (“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”). The album also features more recent gems like Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over”.

A special highlight will be a new composition from none other than Sir Paul McCartney, entitled “If I Take You Home Tonight”.  McCartney connected with Krall two years ago when she and her band assisted in the recording if “Kisses From the Bottom’, a recording of jazz classics.

The producer is none other than Canadian icon David Foster. A much anticipated release, Krall has not had a new offering since 2012 with the Glad Rag Doll CD, produced by American T Bone Burnett.

Ault Sisters Return to Jazz Bistro

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Last month the Ault Sisters performed for eager and very receptive audiences at Blue Mountain Village during Jazz On The Mountain At Blue, The Beaches International Jazz Festival Mainstage and the T&T Waterfront Night Market on Cherry Street. The youthful trio brought their sweet harmonies, which went straight into the ears and hearts of all present.

It may seem strange to call The Ault Sisters veterans, given that Amanda, Alicia and Alanna Ault are, respectively, just 22, 20 and 18. They have left novice status long behind, though, given that they released an acclaimed debut album, Christmas Feelings, back in 2006.They have studied music and performed extensively since then, diligently honing their craft and employing their prodigious vocal skills in a wide range of musical styles, with great distinction.The Ault Sisters are now turning to jazz, a genre in which their signature and sublimely seamless vocal harmonies can really shine.

The girls have learned so much over the last little while and you’ll hear vocal jazz at its best.  The Ault Sisters is a talented trio of siblings who put their trademark sweet sound and stunning tight vocal harmonies to good effect on a dazzling selection of jazz standards and other classic tunes. For this date the sisters are joined by four of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians – Robi Botos on piano, Justin Gray on bass, Ben Riley on drums and Nathan Hiltz on guitar.

Tommy Hunter Gets His Postage Due

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canada Post has issued five new stamps featuring  Canadian country music artists, including National treasure Tommy Hunter. Canada Post has had some rough press lately and they don’t always get it right. But this time they did. No one is more deserving of a stamp than Canadian country music’s ambassador, the Country Gentleman himself, London, Ontario’s Tommy Hunter. Tommy Hunter is to country music what Jean Beliveau is to hockey, pure class.  And the list of new stamp honourees includes two artists with ties to Hunter. Hank Snow was a singer/songwriter that a young Tommy admired and Shania Twain admired Tommy and appeared on his hit TV show long before her career got started.  The list is rounded out with k.d. Lang and Renee Martell. “All but one of the folks on the list, Renee Martell, appeared on my TV show. Shania wanted to be here for the unveiling but has commitments.”

The stamp with a picture of Tommy Hunter and his  black Martin guitar was unveiled at a ceremony in London Ontario  on July 31st. Tommy commented, “that Martin guitar was made for me, one of two, a black one and a kind of maroon one in Nazareth  by C.f. Martin,”

Canada Post says on its website “Our Canadian Country Artists series salutes five of this nation’s legendary country music stars,” adding “The Tommy Hunter Show ran for 27 years, making it the longest-running network country music show in the world.” The Hunter stamp was designed by Roy White of Subplot Design.

MuchMusic Suffers Major Job Cuts Due to Financial Strain

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Bell Media had plans to axe up to 120 jobs in advertising and subscription TV Services. They have started the downsizing by cutting 91 employees from its in-house production division, with channels such as MuchMusic suffering substantial layoffs.

A notice of layoff from Bell Media’s director of Human Resources, Catherine Foti, appears to show at least 32 positions linked to MuchMusic being eliminated. The Channels M3 (formerly MuchMoreMusic) and MTV suffered substantial losses, while CTV, Space and E! were also affected. A spokesperson for Bell Media confirmed that 72 unionized and 19 non-unionized positions were eliminated on Wednesday. According to a bulletin from Unifor, the union representing many of the staff who were “declared surplus,” MuchMusic (now known as Much) has lost “almost all of their original programming.” Among the positions cut are a director, a floor director, three camera operators, a dozen associate producers and a senior technical director.

In an interview last month, Bell Media president Kevin Crull said MuchMusic has been hamstrung by the fact that it is forced “to air 12 hours of music videos as a condition of license,” and he is hoping for some “flexibility” in those conditions. “Kids do not watch music videos on television. You're not going to wait for somebody to program a music video when you have a million available on Vevo,” Mr. Crull said on June 5. “And so that has hurt the channel.”

Stony Plain Records Reissues Tiger in Your Tank – Monkeyjunk

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Stony Plain Records announces a July 29 release date for Tiger in Your Tank, a reissue with two bonus tracks of the first album from multi-award winning Ottawa-based group, MonkeyJunk. Originally released in 2009 on the band’s own Beefy label imprint, Tiger in Your Tank went on to capture the blues world’s imagination, kick-starting the band’s international career and winning both the Blues Music Award as “Best Artist Debut” and the Canadian Indie Award for “Blues Album of the Year.”

The reissue version of Tiger in Your Tank has been remasteredand includes two new tracks especially recorded for it: “Lucky One” and “Pueblo,” both written by MonkeyJunk band members Steve Marriner, Tony D and Matt Sobb. MonkeyJunk is Canada’s most-acclaimed blues/roots music band and the trio tours regularly throughout Canada and at major festivals in North America and Europe.

Tiger in Your Tank follows last year’s critically-acclaimed CD, All Frequencies, and their 2011 label debut, To Behold, both of which garnered rave reviews and extensive radio airplay around the world. Comprised of Steve Marriner (vocals, harmonica, keyboards, baritone guitar), Tony D (lead guitar, background vocals) and Matt Sobb (drums, percussion, background vocals), MonkeyJunk plays a mix of swamp blues and funky roots rock ‘n’ roll. For the uninitiated, the band takes its name from a chance remark by legendary bluesman Son House: “I’m talkin’ ‘bout the blues. I ain’t talkin’ about monkey junk.”

Budweiser New Music Fest Barrie 2014

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Festival headliner Classified is set to perform live at Heritage Park on Saturday July 19th, with July Talk, One Bad Son, illScarlett, Indian Handcrafts, Peter Jackson and Golden Gate Graves as part of the Budweiser New Music Fest Barrie 2014, powered by Mady.

The 7th annual New Music Fest Barrie, will host over 40 live regional and national acts of various genres performing at multiple live music venues. Participating venues will each host three-four established and developing touring artists, collectively sharing multiple festival stages.  Festival venues include Heritage Park, The Fox, The Mansion Nightclub, Wild Wing Downtown, The British Arms & Sticky Fingers.

Limited Advance Tickets to the Saturday July 19th Headliner Concert featuring Classified, July Talk, One Bad Son, illScarlett and others are available at Tropical North Surf Shop downtown Barrie or online at www.NewMusicFest.ca   Interested attendees should note that last years’ headliner concert at Heritage Park had sold out and Classified’s last stop in Barrie (2013) had also sold out.

Festival Headliner Concert  
Artists: Classified, July Talk, One Bad Son, illScarlett, Indian Handcrafts, Peter Jackson and Golden Gate Graves.
Date: Saturday July 19, 2014
Event: All Ages/Licensed  
Venue: Heritage Park, Barrie, ON

Michael Williams Receives Harbourfront Legacy Award

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Ontario presented Legacy Awards on June 27 & June 19, 2014 to artists for their outstanding contribution to music in Canada and around the world.

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Harbourfront Centre recognized individuals who embody the idea of Legacy. Harbourfront Centre presented Legacy Awards to two of the original members of the Sugarhill Gang, Wonder Mike & Master Gee, MuchMusic’s Michael Williams, Maestro Fresh Wes, saxophonist Jim Galloway and folk-hero Gordon Lightfoot.

On Friday June 27th, Michael Williams was given a Legacy Award at the Studio Theatre, a much deserved accolade for his devotion and love of music.

Michael Williams is a Canadian television personality who may be best known for his work as a VJ at MuchMusic from 1984 to 1993. Born in Cleveland, Ohio,Williams moved to Montreal in the 70's to attend the Communications Arts School at Loyola (now Concordia University). Williams was part of MuchMusic's core opening team of VJ's alongside J.D. (John) Roberts, Erica Ehm and Christopher Ward At MuchMusic, Williams hosted various shows including Soul in the City, RapCity, Electric Circus, Pepsi Power Hour and The NewMusic.

Pink Floyd’s First Album in 20 Years

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Rock legends Pink Floyd are releasing their first album in two decades years this fall.

David Gilmour, the band's guitarist and singer, says the band plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the band's last album, ‘The Division Bell’, with a deluxe re-issue and  also plans to release some new music.

Author Polly Samson, Gilmour’s wife made  the news public on her Twitter page last week saying  "Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called ‘The Endless River’. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright's swansong and very beautiful."  Rick Wright was Pink Floyd's keyboard player who died in 2008 of an undisclosed form of cancer at age 65.

Pink  Floyd touring  singer Durga McBroom-Hudson continued the leak on his  Facebook .page "The recording did start during the Division Bell sessions (and yes, it was the side project originally titled 'The Big Spliff' ‘that Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason spoke about. Which is why there are Richard Wright tracks on it. But David and Nick have gone in and done a lot more since then," she wrote last week. "It was originally to be a completely instrumental recording, but I came in last December and sang on a few tracks. David then expanded on my backing vocals and has done a lead on at least one of them."

btw-Starring Jane Bunnett, Emilia, Beautiful Nothing,Andria Simone, LIRA. The Jessica Stuart Few, Kathleen Edwards, Constantines

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo: Beautiful Nothing

Toronto-based Andria Simone & Those Guys are on a major roll. They closed out June with a trip to Cognac, France to pick up an award as winner of the Hennessy artistry talent quest. During the week in France they opened for major European star Ben L’Oncle Soul and Monophonique as well as two or three other concerts, where they appeared on the same bills as Robert Plant, Taj Mahal, Lily Allen, Hiromi, Steven Seagal and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. Back in Toronto from Paris July 5 Andria and Those Guys will be met by two cars to drive them up to Jazz On The Mountain At Blue Mountain where they’ll open for The Commodores that evening.  July 9 finds the band in NYC to play the prestigious Rockwood Music Hall.

Back in the T.Dot, on July 19,it’s the main stage for the Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto’s East end. Come August 21 Andria Simone & Those Guys return to 3030 on Dundas Street West where they packed the room on their last show there, April 17. There won’t likely be many added summer dates , as the band have begun work on their as yet untitled sophomore album.

Alt-pop comers Beautiful Nothing will launch second single and video "Finer Things" any day now. The band is also set to play Festival of Friends in Hamilton on August 9th, with a string of live dates to follow.

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