GWNtertainment #6 by Jaimie Vernon

Well, here we are, half a dozen issues into our rebirth and we’re getting great feedback from the masses. Thank you for reading and thanks for the time you’ve taken to write to use with your new releases and news. The theme in this week’s issue seems to be a leaning toward synth-pop. A coincidence or are we on the verge of a 1980s synth renaissance? Check out the tunes in our Absolutely Indie section below and see for yourself. Anyway, it’s onward we go….

* World renowned rock photographer and friend of GWN, John Rowlands had two strokes last year and his recovery continues. John has taken historical photos of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and David Bowie. He has also taken photos of nearly every Canadian artist in the last 55 years. His photos currently grace every edition of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia. John is in need of financial aid and we encourage people to consider donating to this fundraiser. John needs more home visits from practitioners, weight loss meals with low sodium and no preservatives delivered to his house, clean-up tasks and much more. More importantly he needs the funds to help him recover well enough to keep his archive of more than 4 million Rock ‘n’ Roll photographs that represent Canada’s mark on rock history and its culture. A small donation or just sharing the fundraiser has proven to be helpful.

* Neil Young has announced that his January 22nd, 1971 concert at the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, Connecticut, will be released as a live album and movie. The ‘After the Gold Rush’ concert tour saw Young at Massey Hall in Toronto three days before this performance. Bootlegs of that show had floated through the fan network for years until Young released the recording officially in 2007. The Shakespeare Theater show, however, has only been available to fans in short song snippets as bootlegs. The 16mm film footage – the earliest to show Young playing solo – was shot by a German television crew and vaulted for the last 50 years. It prompted Young and producer John Hanlan to revisit the concert and make it available officially for the first time on March 26th. Young’s Shakey Pictures released a trailer for the project on February 12.

* Tune-in Tuesday, February 16th at 7pm EST, when Barry F. Smith will have Paul Dean, co-founder and guitarist of the band Loverboy on his ‘This House Of Musicians’ Radio Show. Bill talk to Paul about his success and 40 years with the band Loverboy.

* February 11 was the 50th Anniversary of the release of the song “Stay Awhile” by The Bells. The song would go on to reach #7 on the Billboard charts March 27, 1971, and would sell millions worldwide. It has also been covered by artists such as Billy Vaughn, the Ted Roderman Trombones, Sam Hui, and Cliff Edwards (former member of the Bells). Ken Tobias plays the song here and discusses the excitement of finding out that “Stay Awhile” was going to become a hit.

* Our friends over at Cashbox Magazine have added new programming to their Cashbox Radio stream. They’ve introduced ‘Cashbox Radio Chart Toppers’ hosted by Don Graham which will focus on the songs that were on the legendary Cashbox Charts – covering 12 months of hit records in designated years. This coming week features 1957. The show airs Sundays at 4pm EST.

* The band Spoons – Gordon Deppe and Sandy Horne – will be doing a live stream from the Oakville Centre For The Performing Arts on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 8pm EST. The band will be performing hits like “Romantic Traffic,” “Nova Heart,” “Tell No Lies,” “Arias & Symphonies,” and new material from their 2019 album ‘New Day New World.’ Tickets are $15.

* Torontonian musician turned Californian writer, Paul Myers, has a new book out that he edited with S.W. Lauden entitled ‘Go Further: More Literary Appreciations of Power Pop.’ It is a sequel to 2019’s ‘Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop’ where a knowledgeable crew of music writers offer up a critical analysis of the genre of Power Pop. Writers include Ira Robbins, Mary E. Donnelly, John Borack, Jordan Oakes, Butch Walker and 18 additional writers covering power pop iconography and artists such as Squeeze, Blondie, Bomp Records, The Replacements, Material Issue, Teenage Fanclub, The Ramones, The Archies, and so much more.

* YouTube channel Make Weird Music has posted a new interview with Rush’s Alex Lifeson. In the excerpt from the January interview, Lifeson discusses the experience of loss following the death of Rush’s drummer Neil Peart, and how it affected his creative work.

* The Tragically Hip announced February 9th that they are pursuing legal action against Mill Street Brewery in St. John’s. Mill Street, which is a subsidiary of Labatt, offers a beer called 100th Meridian Amber Lager. Though the Tragically Hip have a song by the same name, the group has stated emphatically that they have no connection to the beer or the brewing company. The legal action stems from the issue of Mill Street’s promotional campaign that implies that the beer is, in fact, endorsed by the band by posting photos on social media of the beer in proximity to Tragically Hip album covers and in one instance, offering a discount on the beer during the live broadcast of the band’s final concert in 2016. In an email to their fans, the band said, “We tried to sort it out with Mill Street for months but were unsuccessful. They didn’t take us seriously and were frankly disrespectful.”

Meanwhile, the band’s Rob Baker stated last week that there might be a future Hip album with archived and unreleased material coming. Baker, in an interview with ‘The Morning Show’ on CKWS stated, “Every time we went in to make a record, we’d usually put 11 or 12 songs on the record. We’d go in usually with 17 or 18 songs…They’re finished and sometimes they just don’t work out in the body of material, so that stuff just sat on the shelf.” The material is currently being digitized. No release date has been set.

* JUNO Award winners Brenda MacIntyre and Errol Starr Francis have teamed up and released a new reggae track of unity and understanding entitled “Together, We Can Stand Up.” During this pandemic the message is particularly directed to Canada’s forgotten, and those who are part of Canada’s Indigenous community. The song also features help from singers Colette Baron-Reid and Nenokaasi

* Current Fantasy is a project from the mastermind of Jeff Heisholt. Having spent the last 20 years on the road with The Trews, Peter Elkas, Terra Lightfoot, Skydiggers, and Burt Neilson Band, Jeff has returned to his solo synthesizer roots diving in head first. His latest track, released February 6, is “Rio” – a near 20 minute, life-off-the-floor improv.

And for the gearheads out there, Jeff does tutorials and run-throughs of his experiments on vintage keyboards everyday on Youtube.

* Check out the Wizard Brothers (Barry Greenfield and Mick Dalla-Vee) paying tribute to The Beatles with a video for their new song called “The Beautiful Band.”

* Craig Robertson released his single/video “Broken Wing” from the album ‘Simple Things’ on February 8. The album features guitar and lap steel from Andrew Barker, and harmonica from Ken Yoshioka.

* We’re a little late to the party on this one, but Calgary singer/guitarist Shaye Zadravec has released her debut album ‘Now and Then’ (following an EP last year entitled ‘Norway‘) on the Indelible Music imprint. It features 10 cover tunes including “Biloxi” by Jesse Winchester, “Skyway” by Paul Westerberg, “Night Drive” by Lynn Miles, “The Slider” by Roy Forbes, and two Ian Tyson songs among others.

* Musical everyman Rob Laidlaw (Lee Aaron, New Regime, Honeymoon Suite) has been flexing his solo chops. After posting a home-made live take of the song “Pretty Mess” awhile back there’s now an official single/video.

[Azuline Duo]
* Hamilton Guitarist Emma Rush and flutist Sara Traficante, known professionally as the Azuline Duo, have returned with their 15 song sophomore effort entitled ‘Fandangowhich is a hybrid of folk and classical music inspired by such composers as Canada’s Jeff McFadden, Brazil’s Chiquinha Gonzaga, England’s Gerald Garcia, and Spain’s Santiago De Murcia. With the lockdown in high gear, the duo has been unable to tour the world as they’ve been doing since their debut album in 2016. Instead, they regularly live stream socially distanced live performances. Here’s a piece they performed at the Music Hall in Hamilton in December.

* Kitchener’s Cheryl Lescom continues cranking out new music and 2021 sees her fronting the Mighty Duck Blues Band for their album ‘Duck Soup’ and the first single “Don’t Send Me No Valentine.”

* One of Andy Curran‘s post-Coney Hatch bands, Caramel, has finally found its way into the digital world. Andy says the 1997 self-titled Geffen Records release now features bonus material he dug up from his archives. He’s also posted a re-mastered version of the band’s first single/video “Lucy.”

* Rez Nation Records has just released the newest single from rapper DP (aka Prez) called “Sky Is the Limit.” After 10 years away from the business, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia rapper has returned in fine form. Also check out the earlier single “An Item.”

* Theatrical Monster Garage Pop band Douglas Von Irvin’s Carnival – featuring Von Irvin and the band’s “spiritual advisor,” Dr. Prycenstein (Dave Pryce) – has released its fifth single “Ultra Man.” The release follows the first four singles in 2020 of “Cave Man Rock,” “Vampire Lovers,” “Punk Rock Heart,” and “Monster Pool Party.” Along with “Ultra Man,” the songs will comprise the group’s debut EP, ‘Meet the Monsters,’ due this spring.

* Shari Ulrich has a new single/video for the song “These Lines” recorded at Monarch Studios in Vancouver during the production of her latest at ‘Back to the Shore.’ The song features Shari Ulrich (guitar, vocals), Cindy Fairbank (piano), Scott Smith (guitar), Rob Becker (bass), and Geoff Hicks (drums) with harmony vocals by Julia Graff & Kirby Barber.

* Toronto’s trap-soul hip hop artist Marcus Haran has released another new single/video, “Otherside,” from his 2018 breakthrough album ‘Marcus Haran: A True Story. A Soundscape to in-Difference’. The new song emphasizes themes of addiction, abuse, and mental health, and revisits Haran’s very real, very raw lyrical storytelling roots. Says Haran of the song, “Although addiction, abuse, and mental illness in general are topics addressed in ‘Otherside,’ I also wanted to highlight recovery through understanding that there are options. My hope for this video is, if someone recognizes the situation, they can get help — whether for someone they love, or for themselves.”

* Fucked Up has just released the 19-minute long “Year of the Horse Act 1” from the upcoming album of the same name over at their Bandcamp page. The release is the ninth in the band’s ongoing Zodiac Series which follows the designations of the Chinese calendar (Year of the Dog, Year of the Dragon, etc.).

Award-winning Huntsville, Ontario Country artist Alexis Taylor has released her latest single entitled “Getaway.” Produced by award-winning musician John Willis (Shania Twain, Taylor Swift, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan), the song follows last year’s trifecta of hit streamed songs “Just One Look (Wariner Remix),” “Cool With That,” and “Desperado” all of which will appear on her forthcoming EP.

* We leave you this week with another great cover tune. This synth-pop hit from the 1980s is performed by Jason Storfer and Johnny Maz. We offer you Strange Advance’s “She Controls Me.”

This issue was brought to you by Jack’s Used Keytar Shack! Send us your news, views, and all manner of CANADIAN musical releases to promote and wave a flag for. Join the GWN Facebook page and drop us a message:

Keep up the fight!
Jaimie Vernon, 2021


Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 41 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 24 years. He is also the author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and editor of “Sunny Days: The Skip Prokop Story.” Available through Amazon. 

One Response to “GWNtertainment #6 by Jaimie Vernon”

  1. marlene schuler Says:

    Very informative Jaimie. Insight into an industry I never took the time to look at. You are a busy man and I totally admire your stamina!

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