Music News Digest, Nov. 22, 2021

Gathering to pay tribute to departing Warner Music Canada head Steve Kane and his wife, Debbie Rix, at Toronto’s famed Horseshoe Tavern on Friday night was a large chunk of the city’s music biz elite. They congregated in what seemed like the first large in-person gathering of the clan in almost two years, and the atmosphere was fittingly joyous and celebratory. The guest list was rather a Who’s Who of the Toronto music industry, with representatives from all sectors – record labels, managers, agents, publishers, club bookers, publicists, industry org execs, broadcasters, journalists, and, of course, musicians. Members of the latter group we spied included Barenaked Ladies Tyler Stewart and Kevin Hearn, Justin Rutledge, Stuart Cameron, Kim Stockwood, Kate Boothman, Neville Quinlan, and Charlie Angus. Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and Jimmy Bowskill played a three-song set that included the anthemic Lost Together, and Ron Sexsmith (currently working on his 10th album for Warner), Ron Hawkins, and newcomer Charmaine contributed a song apiece,

In his touching remarks after comments from CARAS head Allan Reid and Warner Music comrade Steve Coady, Kane reflected upon his long career, a lifetime love of music, and the importance of community, sentiments reaffirmed by Rix. Also speaking was Darcy Ataman, the founder and CEO of Make Music Matter, a music charity that has Kane on its board and was the recipient of donations from attendees. Warner Music Canada has honoured Kane with a seat at Massey Hall, and Reid presented him with an honorary Juno for his immense contributions. We wish Steve and Debbie (currently closing down her Toronto café/store Lucky Penny) all the best for some well-earned leisure time.

Drake and The Weeknd each won an American Music Award last night, as Favourite Male Hip-Hop Artist and Favourite Male R&B Artist respectively. The big winners on the night included BTS, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Bad Bunny, and Taylor Swift.  See the full winner’s list here

– Added to the list of performers for the the 2021 CCMA Awards are US country stars Walker Hayes, Thomas Rhett and recent 6-time CMA winner Chris Stapleton. They join previously announced performers Don Amero, Tenille Arts, Lindsay Ell, Tim Hicks, High Valley, Dustin Lynch, JoJo Mason, Tyler Joe Miller, Jess Moskaluke, Robyn Ottolini, MacKenzie Porter, The Reklaws, Sacha, Dallas Smith and Tenille Townes for the show, live-streaming exclusively on the Global TV App and Prime Video on Nov. 29 at 8 pm ET, with an encore presentation of the show airing Dec 3 at 9 pm. Named as presenters are members of the London Knights), The Washboard Union, Tim & The Glory Boys, Cheryl Hickey, Aaron Goodvin, Steven Lee Olsen, Ty Hunter, Corb Lund, Shawn Austin and Andrew Hyatt, who’ll share presenting duties with 2021 Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Patricia Conroy and Randy Stark. 

– MusicNL presents the 29th celebration of Music Celebration Week in St. John’s, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5. Tickets have officially gone on sale for the Artist Showcases at the Rock House on Dec. 1 & 2 at 8 pm, and the Awards Gala at Holy Heart Theatre on Dec. 4 at 8pm. More info here.  

– Last week, just two days into their first tour since the pandemic, acclaimed Toronto hard rock band METZ awoke in Santa Clarita, CA to find their trailer, filled with equipment and all of their merch, had been stolen. It’s a devastating blow, but the band is determined not to cancel any shows. In order to continue on tour as planned, they have to purchase an entire new set of backline, a massive expense on top of the loss already incurred, and a GoFundMe campaign to assist was set up here. It very rapidly met its fundraising golal, bringing in $28.5K (US). 

– The popular Calgary-based songwriters event Blue Jay Sessions will pop up in London, ON, later this week. Hosted at the Union Ten Distilling Co, Blue Jay Sessions: Cross Country will feature 30+ musicians from Nov. 26-28 in a variety of songwriters’ sessions, as well as an open mic event on Nov. 28. An impressive lineup of performers from across Canada includes Bobby Wills, Taylor-Rae, Mallory Johnson, Nice Horse, Aaron Goodvin, Justin Fancy, Doc Walker, Desiree Dorion, Tyler Lewis, Nicole Rayy, Alessia Cohle and Aaron Allen. Tix and info here.  The sessions are not officially affiliated with The 2021 CCMA Awards and Country Music Week 2021, also taking place in London, Nov. 26-29.

–Hatice Cengiz, the fiance of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi, has joined a chorus of voices calling on Justin Bieber to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 5, at the kingdom’s Formula One race. AP reports that “in an open letter published by The Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz urged the Canadian megastar to cancel his show in the Red Sea city of Jiddah to “send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.” Other F1 concert performers include rapper A$AP Rocky, DJs David Guetta and Tiesto and singer Jason Derulo.

– Saint Asonia, the rock outfit featuring former Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier and Staind guitarist/founding member Mike Mushok, have released an unexpected cover of The Weeknd’s smash hit Blinding Lights. “In this case, I just wanted to do something that people wouldn’t necessarily expect,” said Gontier in a press release. Saint Asonia released their sophomore effort, Flawed Design, on Spinefarm Records in 2019, and continue to work on new music, set to arrive in 2022. 

– Highly-respected roots rocker and producer Leeroy Stagger suffered a major setback when his recording studio was severely damaged in the BC floods. A GoFundMe campaign to support him while it is being rebuilt has been set up here. Definitely a worthy cause.

– Toronto-based art-rocker Harkness released an album, The Occasion, earlier this year. He was finally able to promote it via an industry and media showcase in Toronto earlier this month, to reportedly very positive response. Here’s the title track. More info here.

–  The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) has its 2021 Annual General Meeting on Nov. 24 (7 pm AST). The meeting will take place online via Zoom. Members interested in attending must RSVP here.

– The Toronto-based Upper Canada Choristers and their Latin ensemble Cantemos are presenting their fourth pandemic-era concert (the second with an in-person audience component) on Dec. 3 at Grace Church on-the-Hill, 300 Lonsdale Road, Toronto. The holiday-themed concert, From Darkness into Light, features Laurie Evan Fraser, her 35-voice mixed choir, Cantemos ensemble and pianist Hye Won Cecilia. Tix here and live-stream link here

– Public voting for the 2022 Maple Blues Awards closes Dec. 1. Cast your vote here. The awards are on Jan. 31 at Koerner Hall in Toronto. Tickets are on sale now here.


Sydney Keith Allison, a singer/songwriter, musician and actor who was a member of Paul Revere & The Raiders, died on Nov. 17, at age 79.

Keith Allison recorded and performed with acts such as Roy Orbison, Ringo Starr, Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Chuck Berry, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Monkees, Boyce & Hart, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, Rick Nelson, The Crickets, Johnny Rivers, and many more. He also appeared in many movies and TV shows as an actor and musician.

In 1964-65 Allison was a member of The Crickets along with his cousin drummer Jerry Allison. He was a member of Paul Revere & The Raiders from 1968 to 1975 on bass, guitar, organ, vocals and writing credits. Keith co-wrote with Mark Lindsay Freeborn Man” now a bluegrass classic.

He contributed to The Monkee’s self-titled debut, Headquarters, Head’ and co-wrote Aunties Municipal Court with fellow Texan Michael Nesmith on The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees. Allison played Guitar and Harmonica on Sonny & Cher’s The Beat Goes On. In 1967 Columbia Records signed and released the album Keith Allison In Action.

In 1971 Allison scored the film Where Does It Hurt? starring Peter Sellers, as well as writing and singing the title song. In 1974 and 1975 Keith toured with Johnny Rivers on bass and guitar. In 1976, he recorded Sail Away with Harry Nilsson and played on a Nilsson album produced by Steve Cropper.

From 1975 to 1978, Allison played guitar and was band leader for Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart, appearing on two of their albums, then played guitar and worked as musical director for Ringo Starr’s TV special Ringo. In 1980, he wrote and recorded four songs for the film The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, starring friend Dennis Quaid.

Allison continued composing and performing regularly, collaborating with Al Kooper, Johnny Rivers, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He also regularly played with the Los Angeles-based Waddy Wachtel Band.

In the 90’s Allison went on to act in several popular television shows such as Blossom, 7th Heaven, and The Wonder Years. In 2003 he played Captain James J. White in the film Gods and Generals, starring another friend Robert Duvall. 

In 2015, Allison was inducted as an Ambassador of the Buddy Holly Foundation along with Don Everly, presented by Jerry Allison.

In 2016, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, he played guitar and sang with The Crickets for their final performance. Sources: Wikipedia, Larry LeBlanc, The Hollywood Reporter

– Mick (Michael David) Rock, recognised as one of the best rock photographers of his generation, has died, at age 72. No cause of death has been reported.

A statement by Rock’s family in the early hours of the morning of Nov. 19 read: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock has made the Jungian journey to the other side.”

Adding: “Those who had the pleasure of existing in his orbit, know that Mick was always so much more than ‘The Man Who Shot the 70s.’ He was a photographic poet — a true force of nature who spent his days doing exactly what he loved, always in his own delightfully outrageous way.”

Rock made the most impact in the ’70s, with Far Out noting that “he helped to establish the entire rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic with his work snapping Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, and the likes.”

Mick Rock is often referred to as ‘The Man Who Shot the Seventies’, though he remained prolific over the following decades. He shot over 100 album covers, including iconic records by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, and The Ramones.

Rock created the abiding images of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era, shot the back sleeve for his 1973 album Pinups and directed videos for Space Oddity, Life on Mars, Jean Genie and John, I’m Only Dancing.

The pianist Mike Garson, a longtime collaborator with Bowie, called Rock “one of a kind, with such an eye for aesthetics and seizing the right moments … Mick gave so much to this planet and he adored David”.

London born, he resided in New York for most of his life. His recent subjects included Snoop Dogg, Father John Misty, Lenny Kravitz , Janelle Monaie, Jimmy Fallon, The Black Keys, Alicia Keys, Michael Buble, Daft Punk, Perry Farrell, Motley Crue, TV On The Radio, Pharrell, Josh Groban, Flaming Lips, Nas, Rufus Wainwright, Kings of Leon, R. Kelly, The Black Lips, and Queens of The Stone Age etc.

He was the chief photographer on the films The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. He recently shot special stills for the new TV version of Rocky Horror, featuring the transgender actress Laverne Cox as Frank n Furter. He also produced and directed the seminal music videos for Bowie: John, I’m Only Dancing, Jean Genie’, Space Oddity, and Life On Mars.

In 2016, he did a new edit of Life On Mars for Parlophone Records, as part of the promotion for the Bowie-Legacy collection.

In recent years he published a series of books, including his most recent offerings Transformer (with Lou Reed)  & EXPOSED. 

His publication The Rise of David Bowie 1972-1973 (Taschen) sold out just before Bowie’s death. It was Taschen’s fastest -ever selling limited edition publication. He is currently promoting the trade edition.

A documentary about his career, produced by Vice Films and Straight Up Films, called SHOT!’, was launched at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2016, and played many international festivals.

A classic quote from Mick in the London Times, who dubbed him ‘the music world’s top snapper’: “I’ve never felt like a voyeur, although I’ve certainly done plenty of looking! I work from the inside out. Like a cook I gather all the ingredients and keep mixing and stirring and tasting until the kind of effluvia starts to rise, then I’m off to the races. It’s an addictive kind of a feeling that I need a regular shot of otherwise I don’t feel right…”

Veteran Toronto music publicist Anya Wilson worked as Bowie’s publicist early on, and can rightfully take credit for introducing Mick Rock to David Bowie. Rock is quoted in The Rise of David Bowie as stating “David’s very attractive blond publicist, Anya Wilson, met me at Liverpool Street station in London and took me up to a gig in Birmingham. She brought me backstage to introduce me to David, and he let me take the first pictures I ever shot of him. And then I took some performance shots during the show. A day or two later I went out to his house in Beckenham and interviewed him.” 

Wilson tells FYI that “Mick and I were very close for the period of time he shot Bowie. I was the publicist and he was the photographer and we moved in tandem for the first while and then due to his talent and unique personality David took friendly ownership of him and had him do many informal sessions, including in that old haunted manor Haddon Hall, which are now classic.

“Mick also photographed events which our Mainman team attended so we had great photos taken by Mick which unfortunately were destroyed in a fire in his studio. He worked with many other Mainman acts including Mick Ronson. I have many of his promo shots still.”

“We later exchanged some texts and emails always assuring each other we were due to have a big chat on the phone. This more than anything makes me  regret I didn’t work harder to make this happen and how short life is.”

In 2018, Toronto art gallery owner Brian Liss curated a Mick Rock retrospective at his Liss Gallery. He tells FYI that “Mick and I met up in New York for the first time after trading several emails. We hit it off right away and after many laughs he confessed that he asked to meet me in person because he ‘wanted to make sure I wasn’t as dry as my emails and that he was delighted that I could go daft so quickly.'”

He was a great photographer, friend and human. Mick inspired me to be creative and to enjoy every minute that life gives us. He always had my back and inspired me to move forward with excellence and in good humour.” Sources: Anya Wilson, Brian Liss, Uncut, The Guardian

– Young Dolph (Adolph Robert Thornton Jr), a Memphis-based rapper,  was shot dead at Tennessee cookie shop on Nov 17.  He was 36.

The AP notes that “Young Dolph was widely admired in the hip-hop community for his authenticity and fierce independence.”, was shot and killed Wednesday inside a beloved local cookie shop in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, authorities said.

“The tragic shooting death of rap artist Young Dolph serves as another reminder of the pain that violent crime brings with it,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

Young Dolph pursued an independent approach to the music business, with his Paper Route Empire label retaining control over his music. “I just got another vision for it – strictly 100 per cent ownership,” he said in 2018 mini-documentary co-produced by his label, titled Turned Dirt Into Diamonds. “A lot of people, they can’t see what I see.”

“God bless Dolph,” tweeted Chance the Rapper. “Real independent Memphis rapper born in chicago. loved by millions of ppl.”

He released numerous mixtapes, starting with 2008′s Paper Route Campaign, and multiple studio albums, including his 2016 debut King of Memphis. He also collaborated on other mixtapes and albums with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and others.

Young Dolph had three albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with 2020′s Rich Slave peaking at No. 4. He was admired in Memphis as a torchbearer of the city’s rap legends, Three 6 Mafia.

Young Dolph had survived previous shootings. He was shot multiple times in Sept 2017 after a fight outside a Los Angeles hotel. Earlier that year, his SUV was shot at in Charlotte, North Carolina, more than 100 times. The incident was the inspiration for the song 100 Shots.  Sources: AP, Toronto Star

Kenneth Proto

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