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Music News Digest, Oct. 14, 2021

The 2021 Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMAs) will be handed out tomorrow (Oct. 15), via live-stream on BreakOut West’s Facebook, starting at 6 pm Central Time (4pm PT / 5pm MT / 7pm ET). All winners of the 24 Artistic Award categories and six Industry Award categories will be revealed, along with a performance by 2021 double-nominee, Slow Leaves. A special pre-awards show program will air ahead of the live-stream, on CBC Radio One’s Up To Speed and CBC Listen. Four awards will be given out during that broadcast, airing from 3-6 pm CT. See the list of artistic nominees here, with industry nominees here.

– Music Nova Scotia has announced the All Together Now conference as part of NS Music Week 2021, Nov. 4-7 in Truro. This year’s annual will focus on community centred recovery, and growth. Delegates from the UK, the US, and Canada will participate.  Gain access to networking events, one-on-one meetings with international and domestic delegates, showcases, and more with the Delegate Pass, on sale now here

– ADVANCE is launching a new $150K Business Expansion grant, in partnership with the City of Toronto. This program will help a variety of Black-owned, not-for-profit businesses across Toronto expand and continue to serve and assist Black music professionals in their development. The  ADVANCE Business Expansion Grant will support entrepreneurs and local businesses at various levels of their journey, including emerging, elevating, and established. Deadline to submit here is Oct. 20. 

– Quebec star Coeur de pirate releases a new (and sixth) album, Impossible à aimer, tomorrow (Oct. 15). She has upcoming shows at Algonquin Commons Theatre, Ottawa (Oct. 26), The Danforth Music Hall – Toronto (Oct. 29), and The Aeolian – London (Nov. 1). More info here

– Famed Toronto rock venue the El Mocambo has been hosting live-streams, concerts and industry events in recent months, but it is terming Oct. 30 as its official reopening, and promising the return of major live music events. Headlining on that date is Our Lady Peace, expected to preview some material from upcoming album Spiritual Machines II. Tix go on sale today (Oct. 14) here

– Juno-winning singer/songwriter (and Order of Canada officer) Molly Johnson releases a holiday album, It’s A Snow Globe World, on October 29, via UMC, preceded by the single Don’t You Know It’s Christmas (streaming links here). The new project mixes original and cover tracks, was produced and engineered by John ‘Beetle’ Bailey and features Johnson’s three-piece band, comprising Davide DiRenzo (drums), Mike Downes (bass) and Robi Botos (piano) with a guest turn by Prince guitarist Donna Grantis. Johnson has a six-city concert tour of Quebec and Ontario set for Dec., including a Dec. 17 Massey Hall show. Details and tix here

– Platinum-selling hip-hop artist, songwriter and producer Classified has just published a candid autobiography, Off The Beat ‘N Path, via MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. A press releases states that the tome “chronicles his rise from a middle-class family in rural Nova Scotia to become one of the most influential and authentic voices of hip-hop music.”  

– NME reports that Alanis Morissette has postponed her previously rescheduled UK and European tour, The shows were originally due to take place in fall 2020, but were moved to Oct. 2021 and then Nov. due to the pandemic. Morissette has now announced that the gigs have again been postponed due to Covid travel restrictions.

– Noted/notorious Toronto rock bar the Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St. W.) turns 30 this year. 2021 also marks the 30th anniversary of Calgary punk band Chixdiggit, so it is fitting that the Bovine will host a three night stand of Chixdiggit shows, Nov. 4-6, with two different bands joining them each night. Details and tix here.

– On Oct. 28, the Canadian Music Therapy Fund presents Un-Done: Lyrics and Laughter, a fundraising event in support of music therapy and mental health support. This hybrid live-stream and in-person event (at Toronto’s Tranzac Club) features artists Simone Denny, and Kayla Diamond, and comedians Mike Mitchell, and Courtney Gilmore, with more TBA. CBC radio presenter Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe hosts. More info and tix here 

– The CCMA Awards are set to take place at Budweiser Gardens in London, ON, on Nov. 29, as part of Country Music Week 2021. Public access tickets to the Awards go on sale tomorrow (Oct. 15) here. The Week includes three-days of live music, starting on Nov. 26 at SiriusXM’s Top of the Country Finale concert, followed by shows at CCMA House, live from London Music Hall, Nov. 27 and 28. Both events will be free to attend* but subject to capacity restrictions. 

– Suzie Ungerleider, the roots artist previously known as Oh Susanna, has a Side Door Access live-stream set for Oct. 28 (6pm PT/9pm ET). Expect material from her acclaimed new album My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider. The show will be up for 48 hours. Tix here 

Toronto pop-rock quartet Jane’s Party performs at the Horseshoe Tavern on Oct. 29 and 30 with Ferraro and Drives The Common Man. Tix here 

– Montréal-based woodwinds player Beth McKenna releases a new album, Beyond Here, on Oct. 22, followed by a concert – in person and streamed online – at L’Astral in Montreal on Oct. 27. Tickets here

RIP

Paddy Moloney, founder and leader of famed Irish folk music group The Chieftains, died on Oct. 11, at age 83. 

Irish President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Moloney, a piper, tin whistle player and composer. Higgins stated that “Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uileann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally. He brought a love of Irish music not just to the diaspora, but to all those across the world who heard his music and appreciated it for its own sake as it transcended all musical boundaries. His legacy will remain with us in the music which he created and brought to the world.”

Irish Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said Moloney’s music was “a source of pride and inspiration for all of us”. “With the passing of Paddy Moloney, we have lost a giant of the national cultural landscape,” she said. “Through the Chieftains, he brought the joy of Irish music to a global audience. His music was a source of celebration and pride for all of us.”

The Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) said few could lay claim to the “level of impact Paddy Moloney had on the vibrancy of traditional music throughout the world”.

Born in 1938, Moloney grew up in a musical family in north County Dublin. His first instrument was a plastic tin whistle, according to The Chieftains’ official website. By age eight, he was learning to play the uilleann pipes under pipe master, Leo Rowsome.

The Chieftains grew out of informal groupings of highly accomplished musicians in Dublin, forming in 1962. A self-titled debut album was followed by The Chieftains 2 (1969), then The Chieftains 3 and so on, right up to number 10 in 1980. There was a turnover of band members, but, as The Guardian notes, “the central and dominating figure of Moloney ensured that the Chieftains’ winning style continued.”

Paste writer Geoffrey Himes noted that “It’s easy to forget how neglected Irish folk music had become in 1964, when The Chieftains released their first, eponymous album. Not only in Dublin and Galway, but also in the Irish diaspora towns of London, Boston and Melbourne, the old reels, jigs, waltzes and airs were rarely played for a paying audience—and even then, usually in diluted form. Music-hall pop music and nascent rock ‘n’ roll had pushed the folk tunes to the margins.

“Moloney would change all that. He would prove that The Chieftains and their music were substantial enough to be played by symphony orchestras, evocative enough to work as the scores for big-budget films, popular enough to be joined by Sting, Willie Nelson and The Rolling Stones, and universal enough to work in China and Spain. But none of this happened overnight.”

The band received six Grammys over their long career as well as a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 folk awards in 2002. Read more on Moloney’s career as leader of the international ambassadors for Celtic music here and here and here.

Moloney and The Chieftains had a major impact on Canadian folk and roots music, not just from their regular visits, but as a source of inspiration for Canadian artists over many decades. They boosted the careers of many of these artists by inviting them on tour and frequently collaborating with them.

Canadian musicians and music industry types quickly posted tributes and memories on social media, and FYI reached out to others for comment.

In an interview with FYI, Celtic and world music star Loreena McKennitt displayed real fondness in discussing Moloney. She recalls that “my first intersection with Paddy and The Chieftains came when they invited me to tour with them in Japan in 1995. That was amazing, with Paddy creating an incredible experience for the audience. I was very grateful for that opportunity.”

“My second occasion came when I was invited to record something with them in Dublin [a track on their 1999 album Tears Of Stone]. The last time came in 2019, when The Chieftains invited me to be part of their concert in Kitchener. I was so delighted to be part of that. They were reconnecting not just with the audience but with a cabal of artists.”

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McKennitt observes that “I think a big part of the fun for Paddy was being a grand maitre d, not just of their group but other artists – introducing them to the world and proselytizing for them, giving them greater exposure than they ever would have had. He was so generous with other musicians. What an absolute gift to the world.”

Veteran Toronto music publicist Jane Harbury worked with Moloney and The Chieftains for a decade while at BMG Canada, and is the proud owner of two gold record plaques from that period. She tells FYI that “The Chieftains were, quite simply, the Best. I used them as examples of how professional musicians should behave. They were ALWAYS on time for lobby calls – even for  5:30 am morning television performances.

“Paddy always said, “we Irish have the last laugh on the Scots since we play the Uillean Pipes (I think the word infers the elbow pumping) and the Scots have to use lung power to play!’ My heart goes out to his wife Rita and their children and of course to the rest of the Chieftains.”

Toronto concert promoter Rob Bennett worked extensively with Moloney and The Chieftains, and he tells FYI that “I promoted shows with The Chieftains from 1980 to 2012, all over Ontario (Toronto, London, Ottawa, Hamilton etc.). Paddy was the quintessential Irishman. He could charm anyone to do just about anything.  A joy to be around and a terrific band leader.”

“One his great legacies is how many non-Irish folks he introduced to the rich Irish musical traditions.  A special note to is how he gave so many Canadian musicians a boost at various points in their careers. I produced shows by The Chieftains when they had guest musicians like Ashley MacIsaac, Jesse Cook, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle. He paid great attention to our home grown talents and gave them all the opportunity to expose their talents to many who had not even heard of them yet.”

Toronto music promoter, publicist and journalist Richard Flohil tells FYI that “the first time The Chieftains played Toronto was at a high school, but a connection with their manager, Jo Lustig, led me to do their first major show here  at Massey Hall. After that I put together a  bunch of Canadian dates starting in Fredericton. By the time they got to Toronto (Massey Hall again) they were up to record what I think was their 7th album, The Chieftains Live!. I remember them coming off stage and muttering that they didn’t think they had got anything worth putting out — but in fact all but one of the tracks is from that Massey Hall show in 1977 (or maybe 1976).

“Paddy was a diminutive man, even shorter than Derek Bell, the harpist in the band. He was funny, appreciative of everything done to help the band, and both friendly and kind. He was the quintessential Irishman and long after more experienced promoters worked with the band, he was kind and generous and grateful when I met him on later occasions.” 

Canadian folk songsmith Jay Knutson (formerly of Spirit Of The West) posted this tribute on Facebook: “So sorry to hear of Paddy’s passing. He was a truly lovely human. I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with him at the Tonder Festival years back while playing with Connie Kaldor. We were performing right before The Chieftains, but Paddy, always sporting a smile and a good word, and always game to play a tune, sat in with us on his legendary tin whistle.

“Whether it was Sting, Mick Jagger or a couple of Canadian folkies from the Saskatchewan plains, he was equally kind and generous with his time and smile. RIP good Chieftain, the world will miss your sweet soul and wee tunes.”

Canadian music industry veteran Ian Menzies worked with Paddy Moloney in the late 90, as as A&R Manager for Wicklow, Moloney’s label with BMG.  In A Facebook tribute, Menzies called these years “some of my most memorable.  One of the things I am most proud of, was the making of a 1998 compilation featuring all Canadian Celtic artists collaborating with the mighty Chieftains. We also made a pretty cool video with Great Big Sea, who were a big part of the reason why the album (Fire in the Kitchen) went Gold in Canada. RIP Paddy. Your legacy is vast and is sure to last.”

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Menzies explained to FYI that “my role in the making of the Fire in the Kitchen album was essentially project coordinator. Involved in identifying the artists to collaborate with and then oversaw all the logistics, studio bookings, travel, the Great Big Sea video production, etc.. It was a weird and wonderful time!”

In its notes on that album, Amazon UK says “This recording happened more or less by accident, while the Chieftains were visiting Canada. At the time, there were ‘no plans to make a Chieftains recording as such,’ Paddy Moloney explains in a short introductory note. Canadian musicians came by to visit, and there was a prolonged kitchen party–with the tapes rolling. The Chieftains become accompanists and producers for some very talented fiddlers (the Leahy family, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster), vocalists (the Rankins, Great Big Sea, Laura Smith, Rita MacNeil, Mary Jane Lamond, the Barra MacNeils family, and the Ennis Sisters), and others.”

Another Chieftains fan turned collaborator and friend was Colin James. In a Facebook post, he recalled that famed publicist Charlie Comer “brought Paddy Moloney to my show at the Cat Club in New York. I had a chance to meet Paddy and talk to him about our shared love of Celtic music. I was really into Celtic music in my early teens and played mandolin and a bit of tin whistle. We had a lot of the Chieftains records around the house growing up and I was blown away to actually meet him.

“Years later, I got to play on a couple of their records (Another Country and Long Black Veil) and share the stage with them in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall, and in Vancouver at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Paddy was an encyclopedia for the genre and a cultural ambassador who bravely negotiated the Chieftains through years of records and collaborations. He was hilarious and quick to laugh, and even quicker to play a tune or two!”

In recent years, Toronto world music group Sultans of Strings collaborated with Moloney a number of times, including a guest appearance by Moloney on penny whistle on the tune Niel Gow‘s Lament For The Death Of His Second Wife, featured on 2018 SoS album Christmas Caravan SoS member Chris McKhool posted this tribute on Facebook: “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Paddy Moloney, an unbelievable musician and a true gentleman. He could rip your heart out with one note on the pennywhistle or the uilleann pipes. I will forever treasure our collaborations with Paddy, the highlights of my musical life.”

Cementing the close relationship Moloney and The Chieftains had with Canada was the fact that they were managed by a Canadian company, Macklam Feldman Management (MFM), for a long chunk of their career. Steve Macklam and Sam Feldman actually formed Macklam Feldman Management in 1995 when they partnered to manage The Chieftains.

In a statement to CelebrityAccess,  Steve Macklam observed that “Paddy was the quintessential wandering minstrel, an endlessly curious, irrepressibly creative force of nature. There really was no corner of the world, no manner music that he hadn’t held in his musical embrace. From the frozen wastes of Antarctica to the Great Wall of China, he was there, tin whistle in hand. Popes, Presidents, Pavarottis, you name it, he charmed them all. There are enough stories and memories to keep us all smiling a very, very long time.” 

Sources: Irish Examiner, Paste, Celebrity Access, The Guardian

– Dee Pop (born Dimitri Papadopoulos), American rock drummer best known as a member of Bush Tetras, died on Oct. 9 , at age 65. No cause of death has been reported.

The Village Sun reports that “he performed with an astounding array of artists over the past four decades, from punk royalty [including The Gun Club] to several generations of Downtown NYC experimentalists.”

Bush Tetras made a big splash with their first single, 1980’s Too Many Creeps. Recording more and touring widely, the Tetras disbanded in 1983, regrouped again in 1995, and then after another breakup three years later, reformed in 2005. During each dissolution, though, Pop remained highly active. He performed with The Clash, and was closely considered for full membership before Topper Headon’s return.

In addition, Pop was a co-leader of experimental band Radio I-Ching. At one stage, he hosted an avant-garde jazz series at famed rock club CBGBs. Sources: The Village Sun, Pitchfork

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