Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Edmonton's Cadence Weapon Wins 2021 Polaris Music Prize

Edmonton's Cadence Weapon won the 2021 Polaris Music Prize.

From the Polaris Prize news release:

Cadence Weapon has won the 2021 Polaris Music Prize for the album Parallel World.

This is Cadence Weapon’s first Polaris Music Prize win.

The Prize, which was presented by CBC Music, goes to the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit without regard to genre, sales history or label affiliation. It was determined by a Grand Jury of 11 music media professionals drawn from the greater Polaris jury pool of 199 writers, editors, broadcasters, DJs and personalities from across the country. This was the 16th edition of the Polaris Music Prize.

“If I won this, I wanted to announce that next year I’ll be using some of my resources to organize some voter registration events around the Toronto municipal election, as well as the Ontario provincial election because we need some changes to our leadership and we need to make things more equitable for people in this city to be able to vote. I also just want to take this time to mention that Justin Trudeau has worn Blackface so many times he can’t even remember how many times, and he was just given a third term. That’s exactly why I need to be making rap records that are political, that are about these subjects because that’s still a fact today,” said Cadence Weapon in his acceptance speech.

“Finally, this goes out to everybody in Edmonton and Alberta! I’m from Edmonton, 780, we’ve never been here before. I want to show everybody, all the young artists listening right now, and watching this, you don’t have to be from Toronto. Your experience is valuable. Your art matters. Coming from Edmonton, I don’t want you to forget that. The prairies got something to say. E-town.”

Cadence Weapon’s victory came with a $50,000 monetary reward. The nine other Short List nominees each received $3,000 courtesy of Slaight Music. Additionally, Play MPE awarded Cadence Weapon with a global music promotion distribution package for one release (single or album) worth up to $3,025 CAD. Play MPE will also gift all nine remaining Short List artists with distribution packages worth up to $1,000 CAD each.

Links: Cadence Weapon, More Cadence Weapon Stories, Videos above courtesy of Cadence Weapon

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Friday, September 24, 2021

The Band's 'Cahoots' Turns 50

Cahoots, the classic album from The Band turns 50 this year (2021). The world-famous group featured members from Norfolk and Six Nations. 'Life Is a Carnival' and 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' were the two major highlights from the incredible recording.


  • Released September 15, 1971
  • This was their last album of original material for years.
  • On Capitol Records
  • Guests: Allen Toussaint, Van Morrison
  • Produced by The Band
  • Peaked at 21 on the Billboard album charts
  • Gold certified
Guest review by musician George CW Douglas
Cahoots opens with the raucous “Life Is A Carnival” with it’s Allan Toussaint arranged horns it’s quite the party and wasn’t like anything else on the radio in the early 70’s.  I was lucky enough to get down to Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, three times before he passed and the horn section in his band, on the stage in his barn, was so great to hear live. 
It wasn’t until Danny Medakovic’s 2014 release of Jolley Cut, at The Casbah, that I got to see a great live horn section to rival that one!  All of the band, except Levon grew up within 100 miles of Hamilton: Robbie Robertson on Six Nations and Toronto, Richard Manuel in Stratford, Garth Hudson in London and Rick Danko near Simcoe.  Van Morrison was living in Woodstock (N.Y.) and was a frequent visitor to Big Pink at the time of Cahoots resulting in the song 4% Pantomime which was the other song Van sang in the Last Waltz...everyone remembers Caravan from the film, with him doing high kicks in that polyester onsie.   
The other stand out track for me on Cahoots is “When I Paint My Masterpiece”.  The Band’s version preceded Dylan’s by a few years and Levon sings “I got me a date with a pretty little girl from Greece” instead of Bob’s lyric “I got me a date with Botticelli’s niece.” 

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Happy International Country Music Day! Videos by Donny Lee, Elora Taylor, JP Riemens

Snooky Pryor's 100th Birthday

Yesterday (September 15, 2021) would have been American Blues legend Snooky Pryor's 100th birthday. Snooky performed with a number of local artists such as Mel Brown, Gary Kendall, John Lee and many others.

Biography highlights (from Wikipedia)
We asked a number of local artists about working with the legendary Bluesman.

Al Richardson (Mel Brown and the Homewreckers)

Snooky has an old-style approach, where he would drop beats at various places in a song, when he felt it. And he didn’t feel bound to do it in the same places from performance to performance, or take to take. This is very different from jazz-style improvisation which is much more about working within a pretty locked-down structure.

So here we were, just doing everything on ESP, and it went brilliantly. I think people often call it ‘flow’ and that’s exactly what we all had. Everything felt free but at the same time it like it was all inevitable. 

The only sad thing about it is that I’m probably one of the few people my age who got to come up in this traditional, apprenticeship kind of way, with guys like Snooky and (of course) Mel, who was already a generation younger than Snooky. I’m almost certainly one of the last who got to learn that way, and I’m eternally grateful that I did.

Jimmy Boudreau (Western Swing Authority

Andrew Galloway, owner of ElectroFi Records aked me to play on an album with Snooky.  Andrew introduced me to him on the sidewalk outside of the studio in Toronto.  Snooky shook my hand, looked me up and down, felt my bicep and said: 

"Yep.  He'll do!"

Mr. Pryor was a true gentleman.  Morally strong, never touched liquor.  Ever.  Some of my fondest memories in all my years playing drums come from my time with Mel Brown and Snooky Pryor.

Gary Kendall (Downchild)

Being able to meet Snooky Pryor, share his positive approach to life and play his deep blues was an extremely important part of my journey in the world of music. 

Click here for a 3 page story bout Gary's history with Snooky.

John Lee (Mel Brown and the Homewreckers)

Snooky was so much fun to play with.   The live recording we did at 'The Little Bighorn' really says it all.

Links: Kendall Wall Band, More Kendall Wall Stories, Morgan Davis, More Morgan Davis Stories, Video above courtesy of KendallWallBand

Links: Mel BrownMore Mel Brown StoriesVideo above courtesy of ElectroFiRecords

Links: Snooky PryorMore Snooky Pryor StoriesVideo above courtesy of Snooky Pryor - Topic, More 100th Birthdays

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Monday, September 13, 2021

CONGRATS! 2021 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Winners!

The Ancaster Fairgrounds were home to this year's Country Music Association of Ontario Awards ceremony on September 5, 2021.

Below is complete list of winners. Local acts are bolded. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Thursday, September 9, 2021

John Lennon's Imagine Turns 50 (including local covers)

John Lennon's classic album Imagine was released 50 years ago today (September 9, 2021).

Here are two local covers of the unforgettable title track.

And a song from the man himself

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Monday, September 6, 2021

Celebrate Back to School! Videos by Big Trouble Band, Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley, Ace Frehley

Links: Blueswinder (has former members of the Big Trouble Band), More Blueswinder Stories, Video above courtesy of Hamilton Blues Lovers

More Back to School Videos

Interested in going back to school for music? Check out our wonderful sponsor, Pick n Sticks. They have incredible music lessons.

For more (mostly adult) education, we recommend the St. Charles Centre (our blogger's day job) who offer high school credit courses, ESL, computer workshops, career programs and more, Also FREE language classes for elementary school children. 

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Friday, September 3, 2021

St. Catharines Drummer Glen Gratto Passes

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of St. Catharines drummer Glen Gratto. He passed away on August 31, 2021. Our condolences to his family,  friends and fans.

Here is Glen's obituary

Born in St Catharines April 8 1951 – August 31 2021

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share the news that the love of my life and best friend passed away peacefully in his sleep at home, as he wished.

Missing Glen more than ever is our daughter Missy (Lisa) & Jeff Phelps (affectionately known as “Phelpsman”). Grandfather “G Man” was the biggest fan of Luc, Nick, Carson, Bella & Walker Phelps.

He will be forever loved and missed by his sister Cory Bissell and her late husband Martin and their children Colin & Sarah, Devon & Casey.

Father of April Gratto-Gibbs (Nick), Jordan & Conner

Glen Gratto

Alex Gratto (Jessica)

Cassandra Gratto (Dalton), William & Alec

Loving son of the late Chester & Pearl Gratto, brother Larry and son-in-law Jeff Gibbs.

On February 9, 1964, Glen was mesmerized with Ringo Starr playing the drums on the Ed Sullivan show and announced “I can do that”. Glen played for The Kidds, Bull Rush, Madcats, Lee Aaron, Burnside Blues Band and Frank Soda just to name a few. You may have seen him in The Big Story of Small Potatoes with bandmates from the glory days.

Locally, Glen played with the Chris Anton Band and of course, The Glen Gratto Band.

Glen admired the musicians he played with, fondly reminisced, told stories and laughed about “the road”. He was a teacher and friend to many.

He loved Jazz, Afro/Cuban, Funk and Country music although “rock straight up” was his niche.

Garage rehearsals and Eller Stock are fond memories.

Glen was an avid, long suffering and forgiving fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He loved his Yankees just as much.

Hi sweet love “Pawco” will be missing his dad giving him sausage and eggs from the table and snuggling alongside him.

The “crows nest” will never be the same.

As per Glen’s wishes, there will be no service. Put on your favourite music – pour a drink and raise your glass to a life well lived.

Our family is grateful to Sally NP, RN’s Mychalina, Heather and Trevor, PSW Lindsay, Dr. Butera, Dr. Abonowara, Dr. J Roberts, Dr. Blewett and Dr. Lejnieks.

In lieu of flowers, if so desired, memorial donations may be made to The Lincoln County Humane Society.

To plant a tree in memory of Glen Gratto, please visit our Tribute Store.

Social Media Comments 

Jim Casson (Mighty Duck Blues Band, Downchild)

He was an amazing drummer who performed in many Niagara bands, most notably The Mad Cats.  He also recorded with Frank Soda and Lee Aaron.  Glen was our first soundman when the band started at The Duck.  A great guy, always with a smile and a fierce drummer.  Our condolences to his family and friends.

Frank Soda

I remember when I came to Toronto in the mid 70's with Thor,  drummer John Lechasseur (RIP), and Charlie Towers on bass. Glen was playing in a band called Bullrush, along with Brian Gagnon. They headlined a show in St. Catharines, which included Rush and Mahogany Rush. Later he played and recorded with the Madcats, who were on the same record label Quality Records, that I was on. For my 3rd album Saturday Night Getaway, I recruited Glen and Peter Crowley, with Michael Tilka producing. I toured extensively with Glen and Brian,  Doug Raymond and Lorraine Morgan. I will always remember his smile and all the laughs we had..an excellent drummer and friend that I will dearly miss.

Links: MadcatsVideo above courtesy of Bainmillions

Links: Lost Marbles Boogie BandVideo above courtesy of Bruce Andrews

Links: Glen Gratto, Video above courtesy of Doug Raymond

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