GWNtertainment #14 – Jaimie Vernon

Aside from the banality and directionlessness of the pandemic lockdown, we continue to face the harsh reality of losing several music industry figures as the months progress in 2021.  Condolences to the families and friends of Evan C “Tadpole” Jones of Edmonton (and later Vancouver) punk band SNFU. We also send out our condolences to horn player, and live musician around Toronto Jim Lawlis. He was given a fitting New Orleans jazz-styled wake on Saturday April 24 in Toronto.  [photo by Nina Matthews Buckingham]

Finally, GWN was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of legendary music producer, engineer, inventor, and musician Bob Lanois – brother to producer Daniel and musician Jocelyn. Bob’s presence in Hamilton as co-founder of Grant Avenue Studio and internationally is unequalled. He had worked on albums by the likes of Jackie Washington, Joe Hall, The Original Sloth Band, David Essig, Willie P. Bennett, Raffi, Humber River Valley Boys, Denis LePage, The Dixie Flyers, Sylvia Tyson, Simply Saucer, The Neville Brothers, Luscious Jackson, and The Dave Rave Conspiracy. Bob had most recently appeared in an acting role in the new video single by The Trews called “I Wanna Play.” He passed shortly after its release. Condolences to family and friends for your loss.

* Congrats to Julian Taylor who has garnered his first Canadian Folk Music Award (CFMA) as ‘Solo Artist of the Year.’ After a 20-year career of making great music, Taylor is being recognized for his achievements including his most recent album The Ridge.

* For those who like streaming internet radio, rather than Spotify or iTunes, check out the 100% CanCon Maple Music Café. They have various shows catering to oldies by genre or new music. For example, the single “In Trouble” from Moroccan-Canadian singer-songwriter Satya, to the new album from Justin Beiber, Justice, to the new song/movie soundtrack from Yukon Blond, YGTT (You Got That Thing).

* Blue Light Studio has stepped up its previous 2020 ‘covid-pivot’ that they’ve gone 360 degrees! The Vancouver recording studio and live performance venue has added to its operations in recent months, including a 360-degree camera for live streamed concerts through Blue Light Sessions. Kicking off a series of free online 360 degree shows for Blue Light Sessions, are local artists Small Town Artillery (May 7), and Aza Nabuko (June 4). Further shows in the series are in the works for July 2nd and August 6th, with artists to be announced. Check out the Blue Light live channel.

* California singer-songwriter Bobby Byrnes gets mentioned here for releasing a new song that’s a tribute to Canada called “Chasing Rock and Roll” which was inspired by a Blue Rodeo album. It tells the tale of a van full of musicians crossing the US border into Canada to tour the troubadour passage way (i.e. Highway 401).

* Play Records founder and Canadian electronic dance music pioneer Melleefresh is celebrating 25 years helming her own label (she also ran Nepotism Records before that). As President and founder of the Play Records – where deadmau5 was discovered and first signed – Melleefresh has also collaborated with Dirty 30 (Alixander III), Billy Newton-Davis, Calvertron, Hoxton Whores, 40oz Profits, Gettoblasters, Jerome Robins, dj genderfluid, and more. She is an inimitable reference point for the cut-throat, competitive intersection that is music, business, and being a woman in the middle of it all. Congrats to her! Check out one of Melleefresh’s many collaborations with deadmau5.

* Canada’s Giant Tiger retail chain is celebrating 60 years in business with a fun live music simulcast featuring Gowan on May 7. Follow their Facebook page for updates and a link for the stream.

* Toronto’s Mark Malibu & The Wasagas will appear on an upcoming compilation called An Evening With Vincent Price. The 19-track compilation will be shipping on various coloured vinyl variations starting May 20.

* Paul Brandt makes his film debut in Beauty of Pursuit, and joins friend Paul Norris and legendary fly-fishing guide, Naoto Aoki, on a journey that is both a look into his consuming passion for fly fishing and an ode to his hometown of Calgary, which he dubs as the World’s Largest Fly Fishing Lodge.

* Singer-songwriter Emm Gryner (Trapper, David Bowie) has a new paperback release out – but this time it’s a memoir entitled The Healing Power of Singing.

* Hugh’s Room Live is proud to present a live stream to celebrate International Jazz Day featuring some of the best in the business to perform live on April 30th, 8pm. Jaymz Bee will emcee the event and its galaxy of performers including Kellylee Evans & Michael Shand, Sammy Jackson OKAN, Nathan Hiltz and Melissa Lauren, Drew Jurecka and Adrean Ferrugia, Eliana Cueves and Jeremy Ledbetter, Genevieve Marentette (voice) and George Koller. Tickets are $15 and available from Showpass.

* During the chaos of the first wave of the pandemic Coney Hatch reunited and recorded a live album there on October 3, 2020. It’s now available on vinyl.

* The true story about Canadian women used in a marijuana drug trial in 1972 is now a film entitled The Marijuana Conspiracy. Authentic to the era, the movie was filmed in Toronto and the soundtrack features two Lighthouse songs. PS – Geddy Lee’s daughter has a starring role.

* Russell Red Records has released the Holly Cole Temptation boxed set which contains 4 vinyl LPs at 45 RPM in a stylish package for $175.

* Claude Kent has let us know that the song “Better Man” by a collective called Inside the Silence, is a tribute to late Toronto musician Rude Van Steenes. By downloading the track for as little as $1.00, 50% will go directly to the Regent Park School of Music. Please donate today.

* Over 40 years have passed since the self-titled debut album by SAGA was released in 1978. They’re now looking back with The Best of SAGA. It’s a complete re-collection of four decades of Saga music, including 25 fan favourites, such as “Humble Stance,” “On The Loose,” and “The Flyer.”

* Ken Tizzard (Watchmen, Bone Decent, Thornley) has released his cover version of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” from his upcoming album All Together Now due May 18.

* Our friend Peter Foldy, who is perennially re-inventing himself and his music, has released another slow groove that hits on a topic familiar to everyone who’s ever fallen into and suffered unrequited love. It’s called “Friend Zone” and available on all digital services.

* The James Clark Institute has released a what will prove to be a power pop classic called “Next Best Thing.” The track was produced by Pursuit Of Happiness’ Moe Berg (who has a cameo in the video).

* The Great Fuss has a new single out entitled “Hairbrain” – a throwback to another era of rock. The Saskatchewan act launched in 2016 with members Pete Oldridge (Vox/bass), Erik Sample (Drums), Chris Valleau (Guitar), and Kat Jones (Keyboard).  In their own words, the band is a finely tuned cross breed of 60s British invasion and modern rock elements: think the Kinks had a baby with Spoon.

* Spirit Rock Records has announced the release of Canadian band Trains On Time‘s new single/video “Living In The Lowlands (Water)”.

* Wolfgrove continues cranking out songs in 2021, and has yet another new track called “Light It Up.”

* Top-10 charting Vancouver-based Songwriter of the Year-nominated folk-rocker Chris Ronald has a new single called “City Girl” from his fifth album release, the 11-track LP Light & Dark on Borealis Records. The album is steeped in British roots, poetic song craft, and a blend of folk and rock instantly reminiscent of 60s-era revivalists, and 70s-era singer-songwriters.

* If you ever wondered whatever happened to MuchMusic VJ and Warner/Attic Records recording artist Christopher Ward, he’s back with an upcoming new album called Same River Twice May 28 – interpreting songs he wrote for others including the massive #1 hit he co-wrote with David Tyson called “Black Velvet” for Alannah Myles. Check out his new version and read Alannah’s comment below the vid:

* Toronto-based pop-rock singer/songwriter Robert Corbett brings back the synth on his sixth single “Drive85.” Adding to his 50,000+ streams across digital platforms, “Drive85” lands on the heels of Corbett’s previous five single releases including his popular early-2021 song “Spring of 86.” The new track has already been added to ‘Best Workout Playlist 2021’ with over 17.5K Followers on Spotify!

* Betty Moon‘s new album ‘Cosmicoma’ is due from Evolver Music May 21. The first single will be “My Only One” was released April 16.

* Speaking of former MuchMusic VJ’s Sook-Yin Lee is back with an album penned and executed with the late Adam Litovitz entitled jooj two. The first single is called “Wrecking Heart.”

* The Damn Truth continues to snowball and woo more audiences around the world. Currently the UK has taken to them like a long lost musical child. The Montreal band’s third album, This Is Who We Are Now, was produced by Bob Rock. The release hits the streets May 7 on Montreal’s Spectra Musique label. Check out their BBC Radio 2 interview with Johnnie Walker and the teaser clip with producer Bob Rock.

* Singer, (formerly Streetlight Social), songwriter (Three Days Grace/ Deadset Society/ Reid Henry/ Streetlight Social), and producer Chris Millar’s new solo project is Little Courage. His first single is “Even Angels.”

* Singer-songwriter, producer, and session player Rob Laidlaw has yet another new track in 2021 called “First Time.” The song is accompanied by a beautiful sentimental video about weddings and the vows made between loving couples.

* Another new track from The New Yank Yorkies has been released called “Bring Back The Love.” It’s the latest from this Vancouver super-group featuring Geoff Gibbons (Vocals/Guitar), John Ellis (Guitars/Vocals/Producer), Jay Buettner (Guitars/Vocals), Rob Becker (Bass/Vocals), and Pat Steward (Drums/Vocals).

* Gino Gerussi is back with another new track in 2021, this time with a smooth adult contemporary feel on “Losing Myself” [check out the nod to Steely Dan’s “Peg” in the intro]

* What do you get when you team up Dale Harrison (Headstones), Kojo Ferguson (Vivian George), and Des Leahy & Maurice Raymond (both of The Blushing Bride) during a pandemic? You get 6FT Social Band. Check out the new single “Hurry It Up.”

Elephants and Stars, featuring two former Soap Opera/The First Time members – vocalist/songwriter Manfred Sittmann and bassist/backing vocalist Michael MacMillan – have released their debut EP ‘Dreamland.’ The second single – following March’s lead-off single “Ceasefire” – is “Car’s Running, Let’s Go”. Produced by Ian Blurton.

* The Barenaked Ladies continue their 30 year reign of pop earworms with their latest single “Flip.” The video finds the band as characters in a children’s animated flip-book.

* Hamilton-based band (by way of Antigonish) The Trews have not been sitting idle during the pandemic. They’ve been tinkering relentlessly on a new studio album and have put together the pre-immanent theme song for musicians (and fans) during the lockdown called “I Wanna Play.” The video made its debut April 15th and the theme and message has taken the media by storm. They’ve chosen to release an arena rock anthem – as seen clearly with their appearance at centre ice of Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre – at a time when nobody can see them play live – though they have announced a schedule of back-to-back performances at the Neat Cafe in Burnstown, Ontario in June. Until the lockdown eases, the band can voice their frustration with this happy, sing-a-long pop rock track. It should be noted that the late Bob Lanois appears in the video as the janitor.

This issue was brought to you by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Vagina Candles and India Pale Ale. 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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