The LeBlanc Report: Music News North Of The Border

QUICK TAKES

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —

  • Rush is extending its “Snakes & Arrows World Tour” into 2008. The trio will perform in over 40 cities in North America, with stops in

    locales where they haven’t performed in over a decade, including Orlando, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Austin, Jacksonville and Winnipeg.

    Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart will also perform in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the first time.

  • Veteran Vancouver-based manager Bruce Allen will be the recipient of an Honour Roll Award to be presented by the Music Managers Forum

    Canada on March 5, 2008 during Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Allen oversees the careers of Michael Bublé, Bryan Adams, Martina McBride,

    Anne Murray as well as producer Bob Rock. Past clients include Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Loverboy (as co-manager).

  • In his Da Vine column in Tidings magazine (Dec./Jan.

    issue), renowned Canadian wine educator/consultant Gurvinder Bhatia pairs Canadian indie artists’ albums with indie wines. Among the artists

    with albums matched are Hawkley Workman, Luke Doucet, Justin Rutledge, Emm Gryner, Rachelle Van Zanten, Royal Wood, and Ann Vriend. Tidings

    is Canada's most widely distributed wine publication.

    Perhaps Bhatia might consider profiling those wines that Canadian musicians favour while touring Northern Ontario in February. It could

    include Thunderbird, Boone's Farm Apple Wine, and Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga.

    RANDOM CHUCKLE

    A spat involving Elmo Shropshire who, with his former wife Patsy, sang the 1979 novelty song "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” may be

    headed to court.

    A lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Fred Rappoport Co. of California, seeks at least $2 million in damages. It

    contends that Shropshire improperly interfered in a deal to sell musical trucks, bobblehead dolls, snow globes and cookie jars featuring

    characters from a 2000 animated TV program “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” based on the song, written by Randy Brooks. Shropshire was

    the voice of Grandpa as well as the narrator for the special.

    Shropshire says he is legally enforcing his rights to the song. “Rappoport can sell any characters he wants from the movie, but I own the

    copyright from the song. He can't use it without my permission."

    In 2002, Shropshire released the sequel "Grandpa's Gonna Sue the Pants Offa' Santa" in which Grandpa’s lawyers fight Santa in court.

    MOVERS AND SHAKERS

  • Paul Ski has been named CEO of the radio division of

    Rogers Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Rogers Communications. Rogers has a network of 51 commercial radio stations across Canada. Ski will

    replace Gary Miles who is retiring after two decades with Rogers. A year ago, Ski was appointed pres., CHUM Radio which has 35 commercial

    radio stations across Canada. He worked at CHUM for 35 years. He joined the company in 1972 at CFRA Ottawa and worked at its Halifax radio

    properties before moving to Vancouver in 1981 where he was VP/GM of CHUM Radio's Western Operations. He was later executive VP Radio, CHUM

    Limited, responsible for overseeing CHUM Radio properties nationally.

  • Ted Ellis has been named VP of programming and production for CMT Canada and Max Trax, and Anne Kane Jeffries has become. VP of

    marketing for CMT Canada and Max Trax.

    JOBS FOR FUTURE MOVERS AND SHAKES

  • Saskatchewan Recording Industry Assn. For an executive assistant and office co-coordinator. Handling general clerical functions and

    assisting with grant applications, appointments and bookings. Salary $30,500-$38,000 annually Submit resumes to: Noreen Neu, executive dir.,

    114-2001 Cornwall St, Regina SK, S4P 3X9. Fax: 306-347-7735. Email: resumes@saskmusic.org. Deadline for applications is Jan. 10, 2008.

  • Distribution Fusion 3 in Toronto. For an artist and media relations coordinator. To work with artist and media relations manager to

    increase presence of Fusion 3 artists and labels nationally. Send resume to Rebecca Webster at rebecca@fusion3.com. Deadline for submissions

    is Jan. 11, 2008.

    FINAL NOTE

    Perry White. morning host at 98.1 The Tide in St. Stephen and weekend announcer for CHSJ in Saint John, New Brunswick, was killed in a car

    crash on Highway 1 near St. George, New Brunswick on Dec. 9. “The Country Gentleman" had finished his morning show in St. Stephen and was

    traveling toward Saint John when his minivan crossed the centre line and crashed into an oncoming tractor-trailer carrying a modular home.

    Jim MacMullin, VP of Acadia Broadcasting, owner of both CHSJ and The Tide, called White’s death a significant loss to many New Brunswickers.

    "Perry was an incredibly huge talent, and one of the world’s most likable characters.”

    WILL THE LAST LABEL STANDING, PLEASE TURN OFF THE LIGHT

    Financial details of the transaction aren’t being disclosed

    but Linus Entertainment is taking over True North Records, the Canadian label that has long evoked comparisons with such heritage American

    imprints as Atlantic, Elektra, Rounder, and Verve.

    Under the deal announced Dec. 18, True North owner/founder Bernie Finkelstein, 63, is selling the Toronto-based label and will step down as

    president. He will remain, however, as chairman.

    Linus Entertainment president/CEO Geoff Kulawick will take over as CEO/president of True North as well as continue to operate Mississauga-

    based Linus Entertainment as a separate entity.

    “It’s a fantastic catalog with fantastic artists,” says Kulawick. “Combining the True North and Linus operations makes great business sense.

    We will run both labels out of one location and share staff resources. It gives us more trading leverage.”

    “It was clear to me that I needed to make a change,” says Finkelstein. “Certainly it was difficult. True North is my baby. To wake up

    thinking ‘It’s not mine anymore’ was an interesting feeling. But the time had come. It has been a wonderful trip.”

    For the deal Kulawick has undisclosed financial backing from Finkelstein Ottawa-based confidante Harvey Glatt, and a private investor, Mike

    Pilon from Courtice, Ont. Glatt has been involved in almost every aspect of the Canadian music industry, including retail, distribution, and

    artist management. In 1977, he was a key force in the creation of the Ottawa FM radio station, CHEZ, with Finkelstein as a minority

    shareholder.

    Finkelstein will continue to operate Finkelstein Management which has managed Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn since 1971 and also

    handles Canadian singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing, and the Canadian rock bands Hunter Valentine and the Golden Dogs.

    “I’m staying in the business,” declares Finkelstein. “We’re going to put together a tight, kick-ass management company.”

    Finkelstein remains chair of VideoFACT, the organization that funds videos for Canadian music artists; and he will continue to administer

    Cockburn's songs, published by Golden Mountain Music, which the two co-own. He has also been recently named to the board of the Radio

    Starmaker Fund, the private funding agency developed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

    With the True North transaction, there are shifts in personnel. Mark Kozar, dir. of financial administration, and Vee Popat, national

    promotions manager will remain with True North; Graham Stairs, and Noah Finkelstein will move to Finkelstein Management; and office manager

    Tiffany Ferguson will work now at VideoFact.

    Meanwhile, Sue McCallum, dir. of media relations & video promotion, and Dan Broome VP operations & administration have been left without

    jobs. As well, Elizabeth Blomme, dir. of publishing & licensing will retire.

    True North Records is a prime example of a small, independent imprint, recognized not only for a superior artist roster but also as a brand

    name. Over 37 years, it has been awarded 40 Juno Awards.

    Since debuting with Cockburn's self-titled first album in 1970, True North has released over 450 albums. Those include 130 of its own masters

    by pivotal Canadian acts such as Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Rough Trade, Barney Bentall, Gregory Hoskins, Randy Bachman, plus a current

    roster of Fearing, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Joel Kroeker, Catherine MacLellan, Hunter Valentine, the Golden Dogs, and jazz guitarist

    Michael Occhipinti.

    Ironically, in the late-80s, Finkelstein practically phased True North out to concentrate instead on his management division. In 1995, with

    only Cockburn and Fearing on the label’s roster, Finkelstein began reshaping True North. He switched Canadian distribution from Sony Music

    Entertainment (Canada), which had handled the label from its origins, to MCA (now Universal) Canada where it remains. True North also handles

    Canadian distribution of Cooking Vinyl, Fuel 2000, SCI Fidelity and Signature Sounds.

    Kulawick formed Linus after resigning as dir. of A&R at Virgin/EMI Music Canada in 2000. He signed a pressing and distribution deal with

    Warner Canada in 2001, and switched to Universal Music Canada in 2004.

    As dir. of A&R for six years at Virgin Music Canada, Kulawick had developed its eclectic domestic roster, which ranged from Toronto rapper

    Choclair to the Ontario-based Celtic family group, Leahy. In his earlier post as creative director at Warner/Chappell Music, Kulawick had

    signed urban acts Maestro, and Rupert Gayle; alternative rock bands the Tea Party and the Rheostatics; and Celtic rockers Spirit of the West.

    To date, Linus Entertainment has released albums by jazz chanteuse Sophie Milman, the Canadian Brass, Tuuli, By Divine Right, Harpoon

    Missile, and Not by Choice. It has also licensed recordings by Gordon Lightfoot, Downchild, Alannah Myles, Ron Sexsmith and Ashley MacIsaac.

    "I see an opportunity for an A&R driven and a small-to-medium artist development enterprise being able to develop artists and then license

    them internationally,” said Kulawick in 2002. “We'll build the company by being both a label and a publisher. Many (Canadian) independents

    aren't taking ownership. They are providing a service, really. I'm building assets, and a company with a value."

    Meanwhile, Finkelstein has one more project to keep him busy.

    “I’m going to take a serious kick at the can of trying to write a book,” he says. “It will be a memoir of being in the music industry since

    the 1960s, and being a Canadian.”

    THE FEDS AGAIN BLINK ON COPYRIGHT

    New copyright reform legislation in Canada, which had been

    expected to arrive in the House of Commons on Dec. 11, was delayed–twice.

    "A bill will not be tabled in the House until such time as myself and the minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official

    Languages are satisfied," Industry Minister Jim Prentice said in the House of Commons on Dec. 10.

    A spokesperson for the Minister's office then said there had been no date set for tabling the new copyright bill which the Conservatives had

    indicated in their Throne Speech in October would be introduced that week.

    However, according to sources, there was then considerable pressure from Washington to immediately put copyright reform legislation back on

    track. Sources indicated that with only an artificial amendment being made, the bill would be introduced in Parliament on Dec. 13.

    However, the Conservatives got cold feet again. Parliament has now taken a break until January after its Dec. 14th session.

    Washington and U.S. entertainment and media interests have long urged Canada to tighten legal and border protections against intellectual

    piracy, and to comply with the WIPO copyright and Internet treaties, to which Canada is a signatory.

    A storm of intense negative Internet-based activity, including blogs and a Facebook campaign overseen by Michael Geist, a professor of law at

    the University of Ottawa, put pressure on Prentice and the minority Conservatives to delay the bill.

    Geist first posted a YouTube video that lists 30 ways in which people could protest the legislation, and he also set up a Facebook group on

    Dec. 1 which now has more than 32,200 members opposing the legislation.

    Opposition politicians and advocates for freer Internet use of copyrights are fearful that the new legislation will mirror the U.S. Digital

    Millennium Copyright Act, and contain controversial anti-circumvention legislation (dealing with the use of technology that blocks users from

    gaining access to information without paying for it, and imposing stiff penalties on those breaking through the barriers).

    On Dec. 14, however, a coalition of Canadian music industry organizations expressed concern with the government's postponement of copyright

    reform legislation.

    The coalition includes: the American Federation of Musicians of United States and Canada (AFM Canada), Canadian Independent Record Production

    Assn. (CIRPA), Canadian Music Publishers Assn (CMPA), Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), Music Industries Association of Canada

    (MIAC), Music Managers Forum Canada (MMF), and the Retail Music Assn of Canada (RMAC).

    As well, Canadian libraries have since indicated that they have a fear that changes to the Copyright Act are being driven by American

    interests. They are urging the federal government to seek balance in any changes proposed to the Act.

    "This is a battle between Hollywood lobbyists versus the average Canadian," says Don Butcher, executive dir. of the Canadian Libraries

    Association.

    LACK FLY SEASON ALERT

    Like the summertime black fly season, the sixth season of “Canadian Idol” is nearing on CTV.

    The “Candian Idol” juggernaut hits the road Jan. 26. It will whistle stop through 10 Canadian cities, including….wait for this….. “a brand-

    new city never visited before.” (Hmmmm…. Meaford, Ontario or Humboldt Saskatchewan?).

    Those speculating on potential sites of this audition tour will have to wait until January 2 when the schedule is announced on CTV’s “eTalk

    Daily” program. Once again, singers will be allowed to audition with instruments, although tuba will again be discouraged.

    It is presumed that Farley Flex, Sass Jordan, Jake Gold and Zack Werner will be the judges again and that affable Ben Mulroney, fresh from

    his non-speaking supporting role in front of the House of Commons ethics committee, will again host.

    Break out the bug spray.

    FUTURE ROCK TRIVIA FACT: INDIE MUSIC FANS PREFER CAMELS

    Toronto hardcore punk band Fucked Up filed a lawsuit

    Dec. 17, along with Oakland, Calif.-based band Xiu Xiu, in Alameda County Superior Court in San Francisco against Rolling Stone magazine and

    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco over an illustrated insert which ran in the magazine's Nov. 15th anniversary issue, sandwiched between music-themed

    Camel cigarette ads.

    According to the two bands, the fold-out was really an ad for cigarettes intended to lure fans of independent music. They are alleging

    unauthorized use of the bands' names for commercial advantage and unfair business practices.

    "The 'Indie Rock Universe' feature … is not an advertisement," counters Rolling Stone spokesperson Mark Neschis. "It was conceived and

    created exclusively by the editorial department, without any review by or consultation with any advertiser."

    Fucked Up line-up consists of: 10,000 Marbles (lead guitar); Father Damian aka Pink Eyes (vocals); Slumpy aka Laundry aka Mustard Gas

    (bass); Concentration Camp aka Gulag (rhythm guitar); and Guinea Beat aka Mr. Jo (drums). The band has been together six years.

    LET’S GO to MEMPHIS IN THE MEANTIME

    The 2008 International Folk Alliance Conference will be held Feb. 20-24, 2008 at the Marriott Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. With over 2,000

    members worldwide, the organization includes record companies, publishers, presenters, agents, managers, music support services,

    manufacturers and artists that work in the folk music sector.

    To date, a list of invited Canadian artists for the 2008 conference includes:

    Ennis (St. John's)
    Duane Andrews (Carbonear, NL)
    Catherine MacLellan (Halifax)
    Joel Plaskett (Halifax)
    David Myles (Halifax)
    Rose Cousins (Halifax)
    Banshee (Moncton)
    Ryan Leblanc (St. Andrews, NB)
    Gadjii-Gadjo (Montreal)
    HuDost (Montreal)
    Rob Lutes (Montreal)
    Les Batinses (Quebec City)
    Blackie & the Rodeo Kings (Toronto)
    Jayme Stone Quartet (Toronto)
    Treasa Levasseur (Toronto)
    kobo town (Toronto)
    Kyrie Kristmanson (Ottawa)
    People Project (Ottawa)
    Sierra Noble (Winnipeg)
    Cara Luft (Winnipeg)
    Twilight Hotel (Winnipeg)
    Little Miss Higgins (Nokomis Sask.)
    Bill Bourne (Edmonton)
    The McDades (Edmonton)
    John Wort Hannam (Fort Macleod, AB.)
    Po'Girl (Vancouver)
    Wil (Vancouver Island BC)
    T Nile (Galiano Island BC)
    Kim Barlow (Whitehorse)
    Gordie Tentrees (Whitehorse)

    Journalist/broadcaster/researcher Larry LeBlanc has been a leading figure in Canadian music for four decades.

    He has been a regular music commentator on CTV’s “Canada A.M” for 35 years, and has been featured on numerous CBC-TV, CTV, YTV, Bravo! MuchMusic, MusiMax, and Newsworld programs in Canada; VH-1, and EEntertainment in the U.S.; and BBC in the U.K.

    Larry was a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record; and, most recently, the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard for 16 years.

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