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Don Francks (1932 – 2016) Hanging with the Jazz Don!

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Submitted by Bill King

I used to bust Don’s chops and remind him – he danced with Fred Astaire. I’d play YouTube clips from Finian's Rainbow just to watch Francks dance and sing, “How Are Things in Glocca Morra,” then say – you can retire now – you were it; so hip and handsome and there you are in Panavision.

I met Francks in a waiting room at Mt. Sinai Hospital October 1972 – my partner Kristine was just steps and moments away from pushing big life outward - son Jesse. Francks was dressed in First Nation colors and sporting a big smile. We sat and chatted and began talking music. He was a jazz guy – be-bop hipster who spoke like a landlocked Greenpeace activist. Save the planet – save the children and play jazz flute.

I brought a notebook to record that very special moment. He asked to borrow it – removed a few colored felt pens and began drawing - then inscribed something about long-life and earth wishes for young Jesse. I was walking a fine line between hippie and indecision – never considering I’d crossed over, yet still looking the part and a bit suspect.

Through the years we’d occasionally cross paths – then late 1980’s Don called and tells me how much he likes the Jazz Report Magazine, at the time a jazz newsletter and could he contribute. He lent us photos from his hot jazz days, recalled bandstand episodes; addressed the record industry in not so complimentary words and sang the praises of the forgotten art of “hippterisim.”

UK Band Slydigs to Open for The Who in Canada

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada
Slydigs Photo Credit: Jack Slade Photography

Breakout UK four-piece rock band SLYDIGS announce debut North American tour dates opening for THE WHO in Canada and the U.S. starting April 26th in Toronto, Ontario and finishing in San Diego,California.

On the heels of an already successful European tour with Vintage Trouble at the end of 2015, garnering accolades for their 5-track EP “Down with Mockery”, the band are ready to introduce American and Canadian audiences to their mixture of 60’s British invasion, 70’s punk and 90’s guitar driven Britpop.

SLYDIGS’ brand of bluesy/hook-laden rock is showcased via “Light the Fuse”, a hard driving rock song that features lead singer Dean Fairhurst’s authentic vocal delivery. The single is featured in ROCK BAND 4 and the EP was helmed by producer/engineer George Shilling (Blur, Oasis, The Soup Dragons).

The band’s momentum can be traced to the buzz surrounding their live shows and the sold out gigs withVintage Trouble. While on tour, they performed a full concert for acclaimed German TV show Rockpalast, along with an exclusive acoustic version of forthcoming track “Catch a Fading Light.” Slydigs also supported THE WHO on multiple shows in the UK, including the sold-out London O2 Arena dates and the 2015 Hyde Park anniversary concert.

The Magic of George Martin

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Submitted by Pat Blythe

The news spread rapid fire. On March 8, 2016 "we" had lost another one. Announced by a "tweet" from Ringo Starr. (The word "tweet" makes it sounds almost insignificant, even trivial) However, there is nothing insignificant about Sir George Martin, or his passing....quietly, at home, in his sleep. Survived by Judy, his second wife of almost 50 years, and a proud father to four children, Alexis, Gregory, Lucie and Giles.

A private man. A distinguished man. A learned man. A man of many quiet talents who has left us a legacy of beautiful songs and exquisite moments. A man who "heard" what we did not.

A giant in the world of music, Sir George Martin towered above everyone. A note, a nuance, a sound....from sheer simplicity to the most complex, he worked his magic not only for the Beatles, but for countless others including Kate Bush, Robin Gibb, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Peter Sellers, Shirley Bassey, Sophia Loren, Elton John... The list is endless. Numerous titles follow his name....producer, musician (oboe and piano), arranger, conductor, composer. I'll include "magician".

Donald Quan: The Long Unwinding Road

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Submitted by Bill King

I always cherish that very unique early Thursday morning radio hour I get to spend with some of the most vibrant and creative folks in our country at CUIT 89.5 FM, on the campus of the University of Toronto. Every person is different – most stories compelling but a rare few are as fascinating and uplifting as the hour spent with film composer/pianist and violist Donald Quan. This was a rollercoaster ride with Quan out front.
Donald Quan is one of the most celebrated film composers in recent memory, a workaholic, an accomplished musician – and then one fateful day – lights out. Here’s what happened.

Bill King: Long time keeping your grand passion afloat – Musideum and now big changes.

Donald Quan: It’s been less a change of heart. Musideum was a project I could see an end in sight. It’s been around about ten years and I knew there was a time it would end. Basically, after ten years, I feel I’ve done everything I can with it in terms of how I first conceived it. It even had a long run as a show on CIUT 89.5 and that kind of wrapped up the whole Musideum arc – starting as a music store.

B.K: You recorded every performance?


Saskmusic Heads South To SXSW

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

SaskMusic and our artists are preparing to head south for another international market export event: the 30th Annual South by South West (SXSW) Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. “The world’s leading music industry event” offers attendees the opportunity to explore the future of the music industry during the day through important panels discussions, talks, trade show, gear expo and other activities. At night, the music festival showcases over 2200 artists, including over 500 international acts from 60+ countries.

SXSW’s innovative approach melds music, film, and interactive industries together into one enormous business and networking opportunity. With over 30,000 delegates to the music conference component alone – and millions attending the festival – it’s easy for an artist to get lost in the roar. To rise above the noise, SaskMusic partners with other Canadian music industry associations to present targeted events, with artists who have been selected by SXSW organizers as representing the best in Canadian talent.

Stephanie Martin to Debut New CD at Hugh’s Room

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Stephanie Martin celebrates the release of her second full length recording at Hugh’s Room. The disc features 12 new songs written by Martin and longtime collaborator and producer Chad Irschick. For this special concert, joining them onstage are Tom Szczesniak, Michael Francis, Brian Barlow, Eric St. Laurent, David MacDougall and some very special guests.

Stephanie Martin is a bilingual Canadian songwriter, singer and actor who has performed all over the world in award-winning theatrical productions and concert tours. In the theatre, she has played leading roles in Les Misérables, Napoleon and Schwartz’s, the musical among others. In studio, she sang the voice of Pocahontas in the French version of the Disney movie. On the concert scene, she has performed with symphony orchestras across North America, Europe and Asia.Her creative songwriting is inspired by a lifelong spiritual inquiry and a passionate conviction that music has an unparalleled unitive power. Her first recording of original songs shape, line and harmony was critically acclaimed and received widespread airplay.

Wynton Marsalis – 360 Jazz!

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Submitted by Bill King

9  time Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis is one of jazz’s most eloquent  spokespeople. Over the past 30 years, he has been one of the premiere  musicians responsible for creating a renewed interest in the art form. The New Orleans born trumpeter-composer gained fame as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in his early twenties and quickly established a solid career as a leader, recording in both the jazz and classical idioms.

With over 95 albums to his credit, Marsalis continues to pursue a demanding performing and recording schedule. He also serves as artistic director for New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and remains active as an educator. The program was birthed in 1987 and facilities – (JALC) Jazz at Lincoln Center is located at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY) opened in 2004 after several years under construction. There are three performance facilities – Rose Theater that seats 1,233 patrons, The Appel Room- 480, Dizzy Club Coca- Cola 140 – an intimate night spot, Ertigun Atrium with a reception area with a capacity of 500 and Irene Diamond Education Center.

Avery Raquel Life Lessons Live

Avery Raquel Photo Credit Pat Blythe "A Girl With a Camera"

Submitted by Don Graham
Photo Credit Pat Blythe - "A Girl With a Camera" 

A few weeks ago Cashbox Canada did a review of a fine album recorded by 14 year old jazz singer Avery Raquel. Last night ace publicist Jane Harbury invited us to a CD launch and live performance of Life Lessons at the cozy Jazz Bistro in downtown Toronto.
The venue is well set up for an intimate experience and our table was front and center so there were no distractions and we had an up close look at this rising young star.

Toronto personality Rudy Blair introduced Avery to the enthusiastic crowd and she joined her three piece band consisting of Joel Haynes on drums, Mike Pelletier,on stand up bass and Rob Fekete, piano, on stage to begin the show.

The petite singer looked confident and totally comfortable as the band kicked off with a song from her album  Life Lessons, “Accentuate The Positive.”  This was followed by great versions of “ Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing” from Stevie Wonder’s catalogue and rendition of “Que Sera Sera”, “Blackbird” and a haunting version of “Over The Rainbow” which Avery credits as the song that kick started her singing career. “My Dad called me down to  the basement to listen to a version of “Over The Rainbow “ he had found by Ray Charles. He said to try singing along with it and when I said I didn’t know that version he suggested I just try it and see what happens. We both kind of lit up and thought ‘Okay, this is fun and it works.”

Award Winning One-Man Band Steve Hill To Perform In Toronto March 10

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

When it comes to one-man bands, guitarist and singer extraordinaire Steve Hill has no limits. The truest definition of a one-man band; Hill performs standing up while singing and playing guitar, his feet playing bass drum, snare drum, hi-hats and with a drum stick fused to the head of his trusty guitar, any other percussion within reach. An overnight sensation 20 years in the making, Steve Hill is an ambitious and raucous force to be reckoned with on the Canadian and international blues-rock scene.

Following the success of his JUNO nominated Solo Recordings Volume 1, which also won album of the year at the International Blues Challenge in 2013, and JUNO Award winner Solo Recordings Volume 2, Steve Hill is set to release Solo Recordings Volume 3 with a performance at Hugh's Room in Toronto on March 10th. 

Solo Recordings Volume 3 features originals that are outright rockers (Damned, Dangerous, Rhythm All Over, Smoking Hot Machine, Can't Take It With You, Walkin’ Grave) to more acoustic-based melodic tracks (Slowly Slipping Away, Troubled Times, Emily) and three reimagined and rearranged covers (Still A Fool & A Rollin Stone, Rollin & Tumblin/ Stop Breaking Down, Going Down That Road Feeling Bad).

Solo Recordings Volume 3 shows an artist at the top of his game and proves why the Montreal Gazette called him “the meanest guitar player in Canada”.

Seventh Annual Big Hearts for Big Kids Benefit Concert Breaks Million Dollar Milestone

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada 

Award-winning Canadian country music sensation, Tenille, hosted her seventh annual Big Hearts For Big Kids fundraiser at the Entrec Centre in her hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Held on February 13, 2016, the event raised $225,000 and was hosted by country superstar Deric Ruttan. The evening included performances by Tenille as well as top Canadian country acts, including headliner Doc Walker, Jason Blaine, Michelle Wright, and The Bros Landreth.

This years event helped the charity break the million dollar milestone, with all proceeds going directly toSunrise House, a Grand Prairie-based, emergency youth shelter that serves a wide area of Northern Alberta. Canadian Tire is the sponsor to this year's event.

"It's incredible to watch this event continue to grow and make a huge impact on the youth in our community. The spirit in the room is my favourite thing to witness and I'm always blown away at the generosity. We really couldn't do this without the love and support of our amazing committee, volunteers, sponsors, artists, and everyone that comes and participates. And it is such an important cause- over 6,000 bed nights have been counted at the Sunrise House since Big Hearts For Big Kids started. They have a safe place to turn to because of the support from Grande Prairie and surrounding regions and that is pretty amazing, said Tenille"

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