GWNtertainment #16 by Jaimie Vernon

Hey! It’s the Sweet 16 issue of GWN. Hope you like what you’ve been reading so far. I fear that soon, when the world opens its doors again readership will drop slightly. I don’t blame you. We’ve all been itching to step away from our electronic devices for a very long time.

But have you wondered what it’s going to look like when they announce it’s safe to resume your life again? Extra – the gum makers – wondered just that. If you haven’t seen it yet, they’ve created an awesome commercial using Canadian singer Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” The commercial plays double duty as a timely tribute to the song’s late writer Jim Steinman as well.

* More exciting news for Brian Hetherman’s Curve Music. Curve and Sonic Envy have announced a new exclusive distribution agreement with Warner Music Canada for North America. Under the new deal, Warner Music Canada will take over distribution for both the Curve Music and Sonic Envy labels. Says, Brian: “Steve Kane and his team at Warner Music are sincerely some of best folks in the music business,” says Brian Hetherman, “Steve and I go back farther than either of us would probably care to admit and it’s truly an honour to be working with him again. Given that Warner Music released the very first Curve Music album by a band called Turn Off the Stars in the early 2000s, it seems like things have come full circle for both labels and we are back where we belong for the next 20 years.”

* Cleopatra Records in the U.S. have carved out a super successful niche market by packaging stalwart rock stars into various musical configurations for tribute albums over the last 20 years. They’ve got another hit on their hands with Still Wish You Were Here – A Tribute To Pink Floyd featuring appearances by Rick Wakeman, Joe Satriani, Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, Geoff Tate, Bootsy Collins, Steve Stevens, Rat Scabies, Todd Rundgren, Jah Wobble, Geoff Downes, Billy Sheehan, Patrick Moraz, Rod Argent, Steve Hackett, Steve Hillage, Mel Colling, Tony Levin, and two of our Canadian heroes – James LaBrie (of Dream Theater), and Rik Emmett. Says Rik, “(I) really enjoyed singing the vocal on the title track for this heavyweight-loaded Cleopatra Records project. Joe Satriani also played great guitar over solid drum work by Carmine Appice.  Hope you get to check it out.” Cleopatra’s pushing for various vinyl configurations.

* Those who remember a 1970s brother act called The Wade Brothers might be interested to see that one brother – Joel Wade – has made his way in the film and TV production business. He posted a note on FB this week saying, “Honored to be senior producer on PBS special ‘Tulsa: The Fire & the Forgotten’ airing May 31st at 8pm CST.”

* A Canadian who continues to make international roads his own is Lawrence Gowan who posted this week about the band he fronts. “Happy to announce our new Styx album Crash of the Crown will come into the world on June 18.” The title track has also been released as the first single, and sees Styx returning to their Prog roots with a little bit of Queen thrown in for good measure.

* We’ve seen so much death during the pandemic and the music industry has had its fair share of it as well. Toronto drummer Brentnol “Cabbage” McPherson (aka Bonny Brent) passed away in late April at the age of 68 from cancer. Brent made news after his passing though when his funeral ceremony was live streamed from Covenant Funeral Home in Scarborough, Ontario April 24. During the days of visitation leading up to the funeral, Brentnol was seated at his drum kit and greeted mourners as they walked in. At the funeral itself he lay in repose while religious rites and memoriams were read, and musicians played live. It was a very classy send-off for a man who was clearly well loved. RIP Mr. McPherson.

* Earlier this week the world found out that singer Phil Naro (real name Phillip Sampognaro) had also lost his battle with cancer. Though Phil has been known as an institution in the Canadian music scene – specifically from his home base in Ontario – he was born in Rochester, New York. He skyrocketed to an international music career as a member of the glam metal band Talas featuring bassist Billy Sheehan in the 1980’s. During this time, Phil also successfully balanced an in-demand solo career, performing with many of the top 80’s hard rock bands including, Yngwie Malmsteen, Anthrax, White Lion, Quiet Riot, and Iron Maiden. He would also pair his powerful voice on a number of recording projects with KISS founding member Peter Criss and later with Canadian rockers Coney Hatch. Phil also co-wrote and recorded several tracks with guitarist and founding member of The Rascals, Gene Cornish, and co-wrote three songs for Lee Aaron on 1989’s double platinum selling album Bodyrock. He will be greatly missed by friends and family. Take a look at this cover of The Outfield’s “Our Love” he made with Talas’ Mark Miller, Foreigner’s AD Zimmer, and his son James Naro. RIP Mr. Naro.

* The alumni of many Toronto bands from the 1970s and beyond were saddened to hear the loss of booking agent and music promoter Robbie Tustin this week whose Entertainment Centre office in Scarborough (and most recently the GM Music Group) was the launching point for many struggling bands chasing fame and stardom across the province. That includes this writer whose band Moving Targetz was booked throughout Southern Ontario during the early 1990s. RIP Mr. Tustin.

* Canada’s True North Records announces a June 25th release date for A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato, which features a lengthy list of friends and fans of the American band NRBQ‘s founding member/bassist saluting him with 14 versions of their own previously unreleased takes of Spampinato-penned songs. Sales will help with Spampinato’s financial assistance.

* With very little fanfare Bruce Cockburn has released four new songs in video form after working them up at the Yahiro Barn Studio in San Francisco in January and February this year. Cockburn’s uncertainty about the how and when he will have a new release convinced him to put the demo sessions up for the world to see now rather than later.

* Niagara guitarist Bryan McRae passed away peacefully on May 3 at the age of 66. He will be missed by family, friends, and band mates. Bryan was a self taught guitarist in many bands over the years. He also had a love for old cars – especially the 70’s models – as well as motorcycles. RIP Mr. McRae.

* British Columbia singer/songwriter and No.1 Roy Orbison tribute performer (under the name The Lonely) Michael Demers has passed away. RIP Mr. Demers.

* Montreal singer-songwriter Shakky Allyene has a new single out called “Love Me.”

* There’s a brand new Dark Orchard single available entitled “Ladies And Gentlemen” featuring one of Canada’s top jazz trumpeters, Steve McDade, and bassist Tom Griffiths. The project is the dream child of drummer/percussionist Jim Casson and available now on Bandcamp.

* Canadian folk musician Scott Cook is a modern version of a ‘wandering minstrel’ so it seems appropriate that his original song “Pass It Along” has wandered through the mouths of many musicians, culminating in a multi-artist music video put together by BC musician Bob Bossin, and contributed to by artists from around the world. The video, released for Earth Day, has seen over 15,000 views in its first week online, and is being shared by everyone from Gabor Maté to Folk Radio UK. The video features appearances/performances by Bob Bossin, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Qiu Xia He, Veda Hille, Connie Kaldor, Ben Mink, Joe Mock, Shelley Posen, Pharis & Jason Romero, and Peggy Seeger among a dozen more.

* Spoons have a new career retrospective CD out called Repeatable featuring material from their 40 year career and finally includes material from their Anthem Records releases. The 19 tracks are available on CD and as a digital download from Bandcamp.

* The Sheepdogs will have a new EP out on May 28th entitled No Simple Thing. The lead-off single is “Keep On Loving You.”

* Genre-defying singer/songwriter and spoken word artist Hamilton-based Elina Filice has returned with her third release of the year called “Everything About You.” This time, Filice enlists the help of friend and groove-master, Neolithic. The pair met while studying at BIMM Dublin, and have collaborated on projects and performances over the years. “This song is about when love gets hard,” Filice shares. “It’s realizing that love goes through seasons, and even the less shiny things about someone or a relationship are still your favourite parts. All of the imperfections make up a perfect whole.” Neolithic adds, “Even when they have their own things that might irritate you, or vice versa, it’s about taking in the little things that make their personality whole. It’s about the beauty that truly includes our perfect imperfections.”

* Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Female Country Artist of the Year, Leanne Pearson, wrote her latest track “Miles Away,” during a period of four months where she was forced to be away from her then-fiancé, Jordan, due to pandemic travel bans. “During a time of challenge and pain, I wanted to pour my heart and soul into the music I was creating. Out of struggle came an intimate beautiful song,” Leanne says. The video also features the lyrics signed for the hearing impaired.

* 1970s Canadian soul/R & B/funk act Crack of Dawn – who had a substantial chart hit with “It’s Alright (This Feeling)” in 1976 – have reunited and returned with a kick-ass groove single called “Gotta Find Away.” The track features Carl Harvey- Guitar (lead) / Alvin Jones- Saxophone & Flute  / Mark Daniels- Percussion / Rupert Harvey- Guitar (Rhythm), Background Vocals / Trevor Daily- Trombone / Charles Sinclair- Bass / Bela Hayman- Keyboards / Dennis Nieves- Background Vocals & Percussion / Carl Otway- Background Vocals Drums / Michael Dunston- Lead Vocals.

* PEI-based Vince the Messenger has just released the new song “Dead World” featuring Marquis & The Squid from the album Trustfall.

* Hamilton’s Edgar Breau has a new album out called Shadows of Ecstasy recorded at  iconic Grant Avenue Studio which was founded by Dan and Bob Lanois. The 11 songs – the first Breau songs recorded after the demise of Simply Saucer – are available for the first time in their intended format as an album. The material was newly mastered by Detroit studio wizard Jim Diamond with artwork of J.D. King.

* Jim Lamarche continues to produce emotionally vibrant electronic music for the eyes and ears. He collaborates on his latest track – “Plumeria” – with Faodail’s Callan Marchetti.

* Sons & Daughters is a new band out of Jasper, Alberta formed in the Fall of 2020. Their debut album is Across the Tracks and features the lead-off track “S.O.S. Patty.”

* 1990s rock monsters Crawl – who reunited a few years back – are still at it even in isolation. Check out their home recorded track “Dissatisfied.” Everyone recorded their parts in isolation across Southern Ontario (Mike in Whitby, Tom in Windsor, Scott in Vaughan and Stuart in Toronto). They pulled it all together in a video.

* Edmonton punk rockers Rogue Theory have released their new album Jumping The Shark! The lead-off single is “Morons On Parade.” The album is available on Bandcamp.

This issue was brought to you by Tim’s Convenience. It’s like Kim’s Convenience…but with less Kim.
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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