Drake Jensen The Leader Of The Pack

Country Artist Drake Jensen.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

It was a tumultuous week in country music. Ty Herndon came out as being gay. Really? Didn’t we kind of know that? Wasn’t he busted in 1995 in Fort Worth, Texas for indecent exposure and soliciting an undercover cop ? Why is this news? And Billy Gilman also came out. Again, no surprise and yet it was a big story and now invitations to play at LGBT events and congratulatory pats on the back were the order of the day.  Even this isn’t newsworthy unless you compare it to Canadian country singer Drake Jensen’s coming out party.

No back slaps, no “good for you man” no offers of gigs but rather disdain and judgmental reprimands from the industry. And Jensen did this before his career was established unlike Herndon and Gilman who kept their secrets until after they had their success. “That’s what I dislike like most about this,” Jensen said from his home in Ottawa, Ontario. “These people who live a lie, not because of any moral strength but rather to establish their careers in the straight world and not run the risk of rejection because of their preferences. I chose to be true to myself rather than deceive the public and myself.”   But being gay is not what Jensen does - it’s who he is. There’s a lot more to him than his sexual orientation. “I’m a country singer first and being gay is not the story here. The story is my music.”

Danny Marks and Bobby Curtola Keepin’ It Alive at The Rex

Danny Marks and Bobby Curtola Enjoying the Love!.JPG

Submitted by Don Graham
Photo Credit: Lee Fraser

Toronto guitarist, singer, songwriter, radio host, tv host, first class entertainer and bluesologist Danny Marks is the keeper of the keys when it comes to the  live music of old, back when bands and performers did all the cover tunes of the day to keep the audiences happy and rockin’.

Canadian icon Bobby Curtola was one of the first Canadian singers to achieve international success with his 45’s like Fortune Teller, Three Rows Over and Corrina, Corrina. These are the types of songs the barbands would cover so what are the chances the original artist would grace a bar stage to sing his hits. Well that’s exactly what happened last Saturday afternoon when Bobby Curtola showed up Danny Marks’ regular Saturday afternoon gig at The Rex in downtown Toronto.

BTW-Starring badbadnotgood, Joel Miller, Atari Teenage Riot, Gordon Lightfoot, Tasha The Amazon, Oshawa Music Hall (Theory of a Dead Man, I Mother Earth, MonsterTruck), Rant Maggie Rant


Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo at right: badbadnotgood

Enfants terrible badbadnotgood, known for their critically-acclaimed self-released projects and often O.T.T. live shows have been celebrating the release of their Polaris Music Prize-listed new album III released earlier this year. The Toronto trio saw III debut at # 1 on the iTunes Jazz Chart and peak at # 2 on the Billboard Jazz Chart while it hitting # 1 on Earshot’s National Jazz Chart for eleven straight weeks and sixteen weeks in the top 5.

Known for bridging the gap between jazz and hip-hop, badbadnotgood will release a collaborative album with Ghostface Killah titled Sour Soul. Produced by Frank Dukes, its set for release February 2015 and follows up a 10-inch single released earlier this year. After rocking several houses in the US, UK and Europe this past summer, dudes are currently on the road for a year-end tour. Stops include Canadian performances in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo as well as US stops in New York, Washington and Cambridge.

badbadnotgood is a formally trained trio out of Humber College’s acclaimed jazz program cuttin’ a groove all their own. Since meeting at school in 2011, Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass) and Alex Sowinski (drums), have challenged the rulebook on improvised instrumental music and taken a fresh look at the jazz tradition by setting their sights on the future.

Jimmy Ruffin, Singer of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, Passes On in Las Vegas

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Jimmy Ruffin, the older brother of Temptations' lead singer David Ruffin and was most famous for the 1966 hit, "What Becomes Of the Broken Hearted," died late Monday at a Las Vegas Hospital. According to the Associated Press, he was 78. At press time, no cause of death was known.

For eons, it was believed that Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 5, 1939. Actually, though, he was born May 5, 1936 in Collinsville, Mississippi.

"Jimmy Ruffin was a rare type of man who left his mark on the music industry," said a statement from Philicia Ruffin and the Ruffin family. "My family in its entirety is extremely upset over his death. He will be truly missed. We will treasure the many fond and wonderful memories we all have of him."

"Jimmy was a phenomenal singer," Motown Records founder Barry Gordy told The Detroit News. "He was truly underrated because we were so fortunate to have his brother, David, as the lead singer of the Temptations, who got so much acclaim. 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted' was one of the greatest songs put out by Motown and was one of my favorites. Jimmy was a wonderful human being, quiet and unassuming, who touched many lives with his music, not just here in the states, but overseas as well."

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

BTW-Starring Devin Cuddy, 2 Bears, Dawn Pemberton, PUP, Isabel & the Uncommons, Neil Young, The Weather Station

Devin Cuddy.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo at right: Devin Cuddy

With the DNA of a rock’n’roll road dog in his genes, no surprise that Devin Cuddy’s all ready to take the band on its second cross-Canada tour this year, supporting current cookie Kitchen Knife. So it’s all stops in between Halifax to Vancouver on a tour that began on October 3. “It’s very important to us to bring this show to the doorsteps of Canadians everywhere”, says Devin Cuddy. “So come on out”.

Young Cuddy’s got something dif to offer in his rootsy country rock in that he passes on trends in favour of getting close to the sources of original rock’n’roll, honky tonk style country, barrelhouse piano, blues and jazz. So far it’s working out for the boy, having scored him a Juno nom for Roots / Traditional Album of the Year for his first record, Vol 1.Cuddy has said that Kitchen Knife was more of a ‘studio’ album that the debut, so checking how it translates live’ll be a bonus.

Tour Dates
November 13th - Minstrel Café, Kelowna BC
November 14th - Dream Café, Penticton BC
November 15th - The Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC
November 17th - The Blue Grotto, Kamloops BC
November 20th - The West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg MB
November 21st - Sawmill Café, Boisevan MB
November 22nd - Kenmor Theatre, Morden MB
November 27th - Mansion House, Kingston ON
November 28th - Zaphods, Ottawa ON
November 29th - Quai Des Brumes, Montreal PQ
December 4th - Pearl Company Theatre, Hamilton ON
December 5th - Tweedsmiur Pub, Tweed ON
December 6th - The Rivoli, Toronto ON

Mr. Acker Bilk (Stranger on the Shore) Passes on at 85

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Submitted Courtesy of Rob Durkee

Mr. Acker Bilk, whose clarinet helped propel him to world-wide fame with the 1962 instrumental hit, "Stranger On The Shore,"has passed away. He died Sunday (November 2, 2014) in Bath, Somerset, England, after a lengthy illness. He was 85.

According to and Wikipedia, Bernard Stanley Bilk was born January 28, 1929 in Pensford, Somerset, England. He changed his name to Acker, which is Somerset slang for "mate," after he learned to play the clarinet in the Army. His last concert was August of last year (2013).

Pamela Sutton, his manager for the past 45 years, said, "He'd been ill for some time. He was my great friend and his music was legendary."

What made Mr. Acker Bilk legendary was one 2:54-long instrumental. "Stranger On The Shore" was named the #1 song of 1962 by one major entertainment publication plus was the biggest selling single in England that year. It was Mr. Bilk's only Top 40 hit although he had at least three other minor chart hits.

Before the advent of rap performers, Mr. Acker Bilk was the answer to a question Casey Kasem would often answer on "American Top 40." Namely, "Have we ever had an act known as a Mister or Miss or Mrs. on the chart?" For many years, the answer was Mr. Acker Bilk and Miss Toni Fisher (of 1959's "The Big Hurt" fame).

Stranger on the Shore Acker Bilk

BTW-Starring-Rich Aucoin, Jerry Leger, Sultans of String, Miss Quincy and The Showdown, Melanie Brulee, Mimi

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Subterranean highway alien hives, basement cult hideouts, and BMX bikes everywhere - just a few things every good kid’s paranormal adventure movie needs and also the heart of Rich Aucoin’s new video for “Want To Believe.” Produced by Jason Levangie, directed by Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun), and starring Aucoin as Detective Wolfe, the video packs an epic storyline into three short minutes of reckless imagination. “Rich's track brought back memories of my youth,” says Eisener. “Going on adventures with friends and believing that we could find ghosts, monsters and aliens. Being an adult sucks, and you can get so caught up in grown up stuff you forget that it can be fun to just believe in the paranormal. Rich and I both grew up on movies like The Monster Squad, The Goonies, The Sandlot, and The Explorers, and we always knew if we were ever to going to make a music video together we had to create our own kids’ adventure.”

The video joins a list of acclaimed visuals from Aucoin’s sophomore album, Ephemeral. Following the release of the crowdsourced “Are You Experiencing” the animated video for “Yelling In Sleep”, directed by Canadian Joel MacKenzie, was awarded Best Music Video at Animation Block Party 2014 in Brooklyn.

Produced by Rich and his drummer, Joel Waddell, and mixed by some heavyweights including Mick Guzauski (Daft Punk / Random Access Memories). Inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, the lyrics explore the universal themes of the ephemerality of human existence, solitude and the importance of relationships.

The 10 tracks are energetic, contagious and have an intense narrative arc. The momentum just does not slack off on this relentlessly upbeat album, bashing out the bigass monster jams one after the other. Hitching the sounds to Aucoin’s insightful and more than a shade wistful lyrics end up delivering songs that make anyone in earshot wanna sing along.

Sunrise Records Getting Ready For Sunset!

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Submitted by Glenda Fordham

Since the late 90’s, I’ve been buying my music (and movies) from one store: Sunrise Records at 784 Yonge St, just south of Bloor in Toronto. Not only did they carry all the current hits but also all the hard-to-find albums from artists who were hit-makers way back when.  The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and they always had great recommendations especially for new Canadian artists. This is how I found out about down east troubadours Nudie and the Turks whose haunting “Who Was Handsome Ned” and the catchy “Dear Departed” are constantly in “press/play” mode in my home.

So you can imagine my disappointment upon learning that my Sunrise and the second downtown location were being closed by the company’s new owner. Aaw, come on, it’s not just us old fogeys who still buy hard-copies of albums  - with the resurgence of vinyl appreciation, especially by the younger generation of music fans, why now when records are becoming cool again? Why take away the habit that you’ve spent years pushing on us?

General Manager Stephen Yorke with sales assistants Kristie Callaghan and Maesy KitchingGeneral Manager Stephen Yorke with sales assistants Kristie Callaghan and Maesy KitchingI recently sat down with the store’s general manager, Stephen Yorke, and two of his staff, Maesy Kitching and Kristie Callaghan, to find out more about the planned November 15th closure.

Jack Bruce Passes Away at 71

Jack Bruce in Cream.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven Band just got a whole lot better as the legendary Jack Bruce leaves this earth and joins his many brothers in the great beyond. And no matter who’s playing bass in that band right now, they will gladly give the lead cord to Jack Bruce who many, including Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, thought “was probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been." Jack was born on 14 May 1943, in Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire,  Scotland and attended  14 different schools as his parents moved around a lot. He started playing the jazz bass while still a teen and studied cello and musical composition at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on a scholarship.  He gigged  with Jim McHarg's Scotsville Jazz Band to make a few pounds but The Academy disapproved of its students playing jazz. "They found out, and said 'you either stop, or leave college.' So I left college.”

In July 1966 Bruce, Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker founded Cream , the original power trio, and  they became superstars playing  a mixture of blues-rock and jazz influenced rock music. Jack Bruce was the lead singer on most of the tracks in the beginning. Bruce, with his Gibson EB-3 electric bass, became one of the most famous bassists in rock, winning musicians' polls and influencing the next generation of bassists such as Sting, Geddy Lee and Jeff Berlin to name just a few.  Bruce co-wrote most of Cream's single releases with lyricist Pete Brown including the hits, "Sunshine of Your Love", "White Room", and "I Feel Free". In 1968, Cream broke up.

BTW-Starring Kogging, Kenny Butterill, Port Juvee, Crystal Castles, Stars, Hey Rosetta, Elizabeth Shepherd.


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

The Rex hosted one helluva Dutch treat when Amsterdam quartet Kogging dropped by to show off new album ‘Sketches of Ordinary Life’. Kogging is Norbert Kögging, (composer/lyricist) vocals; Folkert Oosterbeek, (composer) piano; Tobias Nojboer, bass and Felix Schlarmann, drums, and they play a style of Eurojazz referencing American old school jazz circa the early Sixties.

Norbert’s an alumnus of the Banff Centre’s ‘Creative Music Winter Residency’ and used its facilities in 2011 to record debut album, Daydreaming. Norbert then took the opportunity to get Kogging on the road and tour across the country.  This was the start of a special relationship with Canada and since then, the band has returned to tour each year, so The Rex show was a big deal and their fans responded in numbers.

Kogging’s vocals play with hip-hop and be-bop flows with nods to Bobby McFerrin in the flow and the occasional step onto Michael Buble turf, in terms of phrasing. Kogging spent much of the set working from his mid-range but when he swung for the fence it was with a voice that could easily get him work in musical theatre. He describes his style as singer-songwriter jazz, which likely accounts for its intimacy and inclusiveness, which make songs like ‘Right From The Start’ very much like a short story. One that’s carried on a river of music from the cats behind Norbert, all of whom got their chance to shine solo wise and man, did they. Nojboer put on a stand-up bass clinic during ‘Fly Out’, drummer Schlarmann playfully hinted at the variety of styles he’s good with and pianist and co-founder Oosterbeek’s beautiful and cleverly arranged melodies lead the way to wonderful resolutions, especially on album opener ‘Prelude” and the trippy ‘Wajang Scenes’.

Kogging takes  ‘Sketches of Ordinary Life’ out West this weekend. y’all.

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