GWNtertainment #10 by Jaimie Vernon

We’re seeing the world slowly come alive again as lockdowns are lifted and the weather moving toward an inevitable spring. There are even artists planning to tour later in the year if all goes according to plan. There is optimism in the air and we all need a lot of that right now. The food and drink and music are flowing. Here is a whole bunch of the latter…

* Tad Campbell, lead singer for JUNO Award winning Vancouver band Idle Eyes, has received a 12-month conditional sentence to be served as community service after being found guilty of one count of sexual assault on a young girl in the 1990s. As reported in the Vancouver Sun: “Campbell will effectively be under house arrest for the first eight months of his sentence and must do 80 hours of community service. His conditions include that he not have contact with the victim. Campbell will then be on 18 months probation.”

* The 41 minute Rush documentary The Game of Snakes & Arrows Video Documentary has found its way onto YouTube. The behind-the-scenes production covering the making of Rush’s 2007 album ‘Snakes & Arrows’ was filmed and directed by the late Andrew MacNaughton.

* Canadian music everyman Brian Hetherman announced this week: “Extremely excited to let the world know that Curve Music will be reissuing the first two album Masterpieces by Scott B Sympathy. On May 7th we will be releasing Neil Yonge Street and Drinking With the Poet digitally for the first time ever, and also on CD and Vinyl as well. These are classic Canadian records, which helped usher in the North Americana sound, along with bands like Blue Rodeo, but haven’t been available in over 20 years.”

* The James Clark Institute will be back in April with their next album The Colour of Happy which was produced, once again, by Moe Berg. Keep up to date on the band’s website:

* Singer Micah Barnes is launching a Q & A for artists seeking to figure out the next steps in their career. The seminar is free of charge to help artists ‘Get Unstuck’ from the pandemic doldrums. Sign up from this website

* Fewer Canadian artists have generated as much animosity and hatred as Stratford native Justin Beiber, but the now adult Biebs has let it all roll off his back and just released a love letter to his favourite hockey team – the Toronto Maple Leafs – called “Hold On.”

* Saint John-based singer/songwriter and story-teller Brent Mason has just signed an exclusive publishing deal with the 428 Entertainment Group. Mason has a rich and extensive catalog of songs including 11 studio albums. “We are extremely excited to be working with such an extraordinarily gifted songwriter and artist,” Jeff Liberty of 428 Entertainment Group said. Producer Paul Milner adds, “We have a rare opportunity here to work with a world class singer songwriter who has influenced so many Canadian artists over the years, many of whom got their start at one of Brent’s legendary open mics.”

* Following the release of Andy Curran’s seminal ’90s act Caramel on digital platforms last month, he has announced that the rebranded version of the band’s album Double Wide Double High – under the name Leisureworld – is now available on streaming platforms as well.

* Have you got your Voivod beer yet? You should! [photo courtesy Sean Palmerston]

* The Nominees have been announced for the 50th annual JUNO Awards. Check out all the people up for this year’s coveted prizes including Julian Taylor for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year and Indigenous Album of the Year!

* With the lockdown lifted in many Canadian cities you can expect virtual streaming concerts to return to many live venues. Glass Tiger will be streaming from The El Mocambo on March 21 at 7:00 pm (GMT).

Meanwhile, The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto will host The Trews on April 3 performing as a full 5-piece again playing their first album – House of Ill Fame – in its entirety along with new material from their forthcoming record and fan favourites.

* GRAMMY Award-nominated vocalist, songwriter, and producer Malika Tirolien’s has released the new single “Grow.” The track is the fourth single from the Montreal-based artist’s newly released sophomore album, Higher. The 11-track LP is the second installment in her tetrology marking the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The musical journey began with 2014’s Sur La Voie Ensoleillée which hit Top 5 on the Canadian iTunes R & B/Soul charts.

* Elephants & Stars – featuring former Soap Opera/First Time front man and guitarist Manfred Sittmann have released the lead-off single “Ceasefire” to their forthcoming April 2021 album Dreamland.

* It’s a remix for the JUNO Award-nominated and chart-topping Canadian all-girl super group Girl Pow-R. The Toronto-based teen popsters have divvied up their mega-talents into three mini-groups, and released two hi-hat trap remixes for “Fun All Day” and “Friends Click.” The latter premiered in later February under the name The Squad featuring members Arielle, Cindy, Emma, and Ida-Maria.

* Southwestern Ontario act 9 Kinds of Crazy has released their new EP A Passage In D Minor. Available now on Spotify and iTunes.

* Crown Lands get their Rush-on with two new singles “Context: Fearless Pt.1” and “Right Way Back” – an homage to the Canadian Prog masters (and a little Yes thrown in for good measure) along with a near 8 minute video for the first of the two songs.

* Vanessa Grace is a 20 year old nurse from Windsor, Ontario pursuing a dream of connecting with people through her music. Her debut album is Within My Eyes. Download from her website:

* Vancouver’s Better Swells has a new 3-song EP out called Adrift. Check it out here:

* Montreal’s Martine Mai has released her next single “Try.”

* Call It Out! is a Toronto-based pop punk/alternative rock band with a new EP entitled …Anywhere But Here. The lead off single/video is “Dead Ends (Shadows)”

* Vancouver Island’s The Kerri Tales have released a new single/video “Mayhem.”

 * The Scott Howarth Band has just released its latest single called “Just Fine.” The track was produced by Shawn Moore and features Chris Cleave (guitar), Mitch Bennett (guitar), Mike Oliveira (bass), Rich Mikolajczuk (drums), Stuart Weinberg (banjo/steel), Chris Hurst (keys), and Ayden Jacobs (backing vocals)

* Winnipeg duo New Wales have a new track called “Full Grown.” This month’s proceeds from sales of the track will go to the Main Street Project in Winnipeg.

* Patrick Anthony has released a lyric video for his new single “Somewhere I Belong.”

* It’s love in the time of COVID for Kitchener/Waterloo LGBTQIA artist Joshua Sade James and his new single, “I’ll Wait For You.” “I originally wrote this song about four months into quarantine,” James recalls. “It took me less than two hours; all of those feelings were incredibly raw at the time, so I wasn’t surprised at how quickly it flowed. I’m in a long-distance relationship and once the borders closed, it became virtually impossible for us to meet — the only way was with the power of FaceTime. In a way, ‘I’ll Wait For You’ was written almost as a ‘swan song’ to my relationship since we didn’t — and still don’t — know when we will be able to see each other again.”

* The new single/video from The Caught (Trev Fury and Melvin Alan) is “I’m Caught Maria” from the 7-song EP In the Madness.

* Dan McLean Jr. follows up his cover of Squeeze’s “Tempted” with a bold cover of Tower of Power’s “You’re Still A Young Man.”

* Reid Jamieson continues his barrage of cover tunes with a cuddly version of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.”

* Alison Solo has also drilled down on Zeppelin with her live-off-the-floor version of “Going To California”

Glasgow-born Canadian Alec Fraser Jr. has been playing bass for fifty years in Canada and around the world with international artists such as Bo Diddley, The Drifters, Kim Wilson, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (Muddy Waters’ drummer), Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel), Ben. E King, Walter Trout, and Mel Brown as well as Canadian artists Ron Sexsmith, Jeff Healey, David Wilcox, Jack de Keyser, Morgan Davis, Randy Bachman, Steve Strongman, Danny Marks, Jerome Godboo, Rick Fines, Jimmy Bowskill, Powder Blues Band, Downchild Blues Band, Danny Brooks, and Ron Hynes. With that experience, it helped him earn the 2004 and 2009 ‘Maple Blues Bassist of the Year’ award as well as the ‘MBA Lifetime Achievement’ nomination for several years in a row. Alec Fraser Jr is also a producer and engineer whose production (and performing) work have won him 24 diverse awards ranging from JUNOs to the American Blues Foundation in the blues but also jazz, bluegrass, rock and roll, country, Celtic and reggae. Facebook and YouTube followers of Alec’s work will know him currently playing in a co-op band with guitarist Mike Daley which showcases Alec’s technique of playing seven drums attached to his upright bass using a brush between his fingers; a modified instrument of his own invention known as the Circus Bass.

To that end, Alec Fraser Jr. has just released his first solo album featuring the Circus Bass prominently entitled On The Wings Of The Wind. Says Fraser, “This first solo release is a result of the global pandemic, and having the time to write my own songs with the influences I’ve had from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also exciting for me to have musicians I’ve recorded play on my record.” Though Alec does most of the heavy musical lifting he has brought in the skill sets of Jimmy Bowskill, Maggie Fraser, Chris Bartos, Rich Roxborough, James McKie, and Gratia Leitch. The album is an intimate, gritty cross between the Celtic, the Acadian, and the blues, and never treads lightly on any of these influences. There’s a full investment in authenticity and execution. Alec’s whisky-soaked vocals are melodic and dynamic, and steer clear of the monochrome baritones of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, but recalls both artists primarily in the ability to tell cinematic stories like those in the songs “Terlingua Night” and “Grandma’s House” (co-produced by Big Ben Richardson). Alec Fraser’s production, which puts the listener in the room with the performers, is a stand out highlight to the entire 12 songs.  It’s evocative of a different era, and has an ancestral charm especially in Alec’s lyrical confessionals on “My Father’s Ashes,” “You Cannae Take It With You” (co-written with Maggie Fraser), and even the traditional adaptation of “Red Haired Girl” with new lyrics by Alec. This is log cabin music, campfire music, and trailblazing across a natural tundra or sailing the high seas music. When the world is ready to travel again, this album should go where you go.

This issue was brought to you by Corrado’s Edible Ice Elixir & Calorie Conquering Café. 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. 

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