judging canadian idol's judges
The current rash of American Idol-type television talent shows are only as good as their opinionated judges. John Brunton, executive producer of CTV's Canadian Idol -- which begins airing in June -- knows it and made credibility the priority in selecting their music biz jury, namely singer/songwriter Sass Jordan, Tragically Hip manager Jake Gold, lawyer Zack Werner and urban music mover Farley Flex. Contrary to popular belief, the forthright Gold was not selected as the Canuck answer to American Idol dis-master Simon Cowell.
"It would've been a big mistake for us to look for another Simon per se," explains Brunton. "It would be, like, 'Get a Mike Myers type because we can't get Myers himself.'"
There are no plans yet for a spin-off series based on the judge auditions, but Brunton hasn't ruled it out.
"That would've made for a damn good show!" roars Brunton. "These are professional people, real competitors in the industry, so who we were talking to became an issue. I was so impressed with the group we had, I decided to choose four judges instead of three."
jazz fest feast
Without the JVC Jazz Festival returning to compete for big-name artists, this year's version of the Downtown Jazz Festival (June 20-29) boasts a much more impressive lineup of marquee acts, including Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, the Ray Charles Big Band, Joe Zawinul Syndicate, Dave Holland Big Band, Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Martial Solal and Dianne Reeves. While the main thrust is still trad jazz, there are encouraging signs -- namely appearances by the Cinematic Orchestra, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Beady Belle, Mighty Sam McClain and David Murray -- that the festival's scope is broadening. Check www.torontojazz.com for more information regarding dates, venues and tickets.
upcoming, greg macpherson
Sure, Dubya's indefensible "shock and awe" campaign might've inspired a slew of musicians to abandon trite romanticism for pointed political criticism, but for Winnipeg activist and singer-songwriter Greg MacPherson, socially conscious songwriting is an everyday occurrence.
"Artists and writers react, and good writing and good work come from being honest about the world as you see it," proclaims MacPherson, who's at the Tequila Lounge Friday (April 25).
He's a proud member of 'Peg collective label G7 Welcoming Committee, also home to whip-smart socialists the Weakerthans and local agit-hiphop outfit Warsawpack. MacPherson's most recent record, 2002's Good Times Coming Back Again, features phenomenally strong storytelling-songwriting delivered in a voice with a slightly rusty patina. The disc rocks considerably harder than his earlier work, which he claims is due mostly to the presence of his right-on band: guitarist Steve Bates and the Weakerthans' Jason Tait on drums. Friday's show should be a treat for anyone who digs spikey Springsteenish rock.
midnite blues party 2
As a follow-up to his critically lauded Midnite Blues Party (Electro-Fi) compilation of rare rockin' blues from the 60s, Toronto blues personality Eddy B has dug deeper into his vast archives to come up with another killer collection of raucous rarities, this time focusing on boogie, jump and uptown jive from the 40s and 50s for the just-released Volume Two. Evidently, losing his popular CIUT-FM blues show had an upside.
"Suddenly having a lot more time on my hands allowed me to go back through my collection and check what I had against the two volumes of the Blues Records discography. Each time I found a record that wasn't mentioned, I'd note it. The process took over a year, but it was worthwhile because that list became the basis of the Midnite Blues series."
Electro-Fi Records hosts a dual release party for the Midnite Blues Party: Volume Two disc and Harmonica Shah's great new Tell It To Your Landlord disc -- featuring a performance by the Detroit harp honker -- at the Silver Dollar Saturday (April 26). Don't miss it.