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New Music you didn’t know you needed to hear… Or did you?

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4 minute read

Music to get you through.

Quarantine is no match for the power of music. What an unprecedented time in our history where LIVE ENTERTAINMENT  has come to a screeching halt. Sort of, I mean you can catch it Live Stream. While we are all grateful for such a platform where that can be a possibility, it simply can’t replace intimate in person Live Entertainment.

What are we left with? Well hey, thats up to us individually now isn’t it? WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, that I’m sure of. I remember just simply listening to my favourite music until my cassettes didn’t work anymore or they were eaten every friggin time I’d try to give it a whirl. Just the act of listening to music could take up hours and hours of my day. Back then I would have done anything to have the access to music that I have now. It’s instant now. Any music we want at our finger tips. I say we start a movement where we dedicate some mental health time to listening to music. Bring back the ‘lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling’ kind of listening to music days.

Not only is it unbelievably therapeutic but there is so much NEW MUSIC right now that is so good!

Heres three albums that are sure to keep you busy, you’ve probably got them on repeat anyways:

1. Eternity Now – Big Sugar 

Plain and simple, it’s hard to argue with the signature guitar and vocal sound of Gordie Johnson. Guys like me dream of attaining it daily. The energy Big Sugar produces on and off stage is remarkable. Rock n’ Roll fused with Reggae and Blues that lights a fire in your heart. This album is fresh and relevant. It’s always amazing to see how Big Sugar stays on top of the wave. Turn it up loud, grab a chair for the deck and take a little trip down the new Big Sugar highway that is ‘Eternity Now.’

2. Dog City – Matt Mays

Ooh wee! Matt Mays is one of the best songwriters we’ve been blessed with as Canadians. Matt has a way with words that will bypass everything and hit you right in the soul. This album is a simple raw record that Matt did himself during this quarantine time we’ve been told was the “new normal.” What a great concept on a record. Through the eyes of human kinds best friend. put the headphones on and take this one in with some fresh coffee and baileys. Or whatever…

3. Notes on a Conditional Form – The 1975

Not gonna lie… The 1975 was not an instant appreciation. I mean of course I respected their work etc. I just wasn’t into it. At first. After warming up to the indie weirdness that somehow has crossed into the mainstream I really started to enjoy them and found myself paying more and more attention to their music. Needless to say The 1975 is a trip all its own. Put this on and lay back on the couch, stare up and enjoy. So much to get lost in. Something different.

Jesse was born in the city of Lethbridge and raised to his teen years in the southern Alberta farming communities of Raymond and Fin Castle, AB. Jesse's early inspirations include the hypnotic sounds of big-name artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Black Crowes, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, City and Colour, Jack Johnson, Guns 'N' Roses, and Pink Floyd. Jesse is a Blues/Rock/folk/Indie performer who has done his fair share of "paying his dues" opening and touring with such acts as: The Lazys, One Bad Son, Doc Walker, The Odds, The Northern Pikes, The Grapes Of Wrath, Monster Truck, The Age Of Electric, The Wild, Holly McNarland, Econoline Crush, Coal Creek Boys, Wild T & The Spirit, Cara Luft, Carson Cole, Clayton Bellamy (of The Road Hammers), Tupelo Honey, Retrograde, The Smalls, and Mcquaig to name just a few. In 2015 Jesse was awarded the title "Master of Blues Folk Rock" for the 6th Annual Black American Music Awards. Jesse is known for his funky heavy jam style guitar. Big riffs, an impressive vocal sound all his own and the ability to captivate the crowd with ease. His fans have coined the term "no string solo" as he can be consistently found ripping strings off the guitar like they aren't supposed to be there in the first place.

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Alberta

Your event has been CANCELLED

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Your Event Has Been Cancelled

By Ilan Cooley

The live event industry is in serious trouble. It was the first sector to go dark due to the pandemic, and it is expected to be the last to be allowed back to work.

The people behind the scenes of your favourite events are the mavericks and risk takers you likely don’t know about. They create the events that make you smile until your face hurts, cheer until you lose your voice, and dance until you can’t stand up. They make the magic that fills your social feeds, and the moments that live in your memories.

You may have gotten an email saying “your event has been cancelled” – they lost their livelihood.

“People don’t understand how bullseye targeted this virus was at our industry,” says Jon Beckett, owner of Production World. “It was a 100% bullseye. You couldn’t hit it more dead centre. It’s not like it hurt us – it took it away. People don’t understand that until you talk to them about your industry.”

Production World Staff

Beckett’s company used to employ 50 people. Having lost more than 200 events so far, they have laid off 35 people. Their 25,000 square foot warehouse contains almost seven million dollars worth of staging, lighting and other production equipment.

“We have to house that inventory,” he says. “It is not like we can sell it.”

Similarly, Fort Saskatchewan based Superior Show Service has two separate warehouses full of rental items nobody currently needs, plus tax bills and insurance due. As a 35-year-old family-run event rental company, they cater to tradeshows and large events. Some of the 35 staff they laid off in March have been hired back after accessing relief programs, but with more than 80 events already cancelled, owner Chris Sisson worries about the future.

“It feels like the carpet kicked out from under you,” he says. “I’ve always been able to provide for a great number of families, not just my own, and today I have no idea how to provide for my own. I have been in this industry my entire life, and now I have no idea what to do. It is truly humbling and dumbfounding.”

Chris Sisson of Superior Show Service

Event promoter Mike Andersson prefers not to dwell on what has been lost, instead focusing on building something consumers will want to come back to when it is over. He knows how to manage complex logistics and bring large groups of people together. Even when faced with severe restrictions for events, his company, Trixstar, was busy creating pandemic proof event manifestos, and blue-sky concepts for safe gatherings.

“When everything came crashing down we were putting up material about what events look like after this, and showing some optimism,” he says. “It is important to get people together and to celebrate.” He admits there are good days and bad days. “It is a rollercoaster of emotions,” he says. “Obviously we feel terrible. It affects us, but it affects so many companies. From the security companies, to the ticketing companies, to the tent company, to the production company – all those people are affected.”

Event photographer Dale MacMillan also worries about the people behind the scenes. He has lost more than 100 days of shooting for professional sporting events, large music events, festivals and fairs, which makes up about 60% of his income, and he knows others are in the same situation.

Dale MacMilon takes event photos like this shot of Trixstar

“There’s a guy sitting out there with probably a quarter section of land and he’s probably got 5500 porta potties that are out at ten to 20 events throughout the month, and he is affected tremendously,” says MacMillan. “I see some of the guys that are usually in the business of trucking the machinery to set up the fairs and festivals that are delivering for Amazon now. I look at all of those people who work the booths to break plates. They are not working at all. How else is a guy who owns a plate breaking booth going to get any other business?”

Even artists like Clayton Bellamy are wondering how to pay their bills. As a successful singer/songwriter and member of Canada’s top country band, The Road Hammers, he wishes the gold records on his wall represented a decent living, but admits there is no money to be made without touring. With up to 90% of his income derived from live shows, and almost no revenue from music streaming, he says he will do whatever it takes to feed his family.

“Obviously I have kids and that comes first before anything,” he says. “The main thing to do is to find work.” He also knows lack of touring impacts others. “Our band employs a lot of people. It is not just me on the stage – it is the tour manager, and the person in the office answering the phones at the management company, and the manager. We help employ 50 people. If you think about the industry as a whole, there are a lot of people relying on that trickle-down.”

Clayton Bellamy

Beckett says the model for live events has changed forever.

“If we are going to collapse, then we are going to give it all we can. Right now, we are optimistic that we can somehow find ways to juggle.”

Production World is streaming virtual events to online audiences, and delivering reimagined AHS compliant live events with a mobile stage, video wall, and in-car audio for things like graduations, weddings, movies, drive in music events, and even funerals. They are retrofitting churches for virtual services, and recording content to deliver music and sermons to parishioners.

Sisson suggests his industry should collaborate with government and other industry professionals to develop a plan, like doing events by the hour to control occupancy counts, disinfecting surfaces, contact tracing and testing, and utilizing existing technologies like temperature checks and facial recognition.

“I will be ashamed of our industry if we cannot have something that is approved and a way to conduct ourselves by October,” he says. “At the end of the day there are a lot of livelihoods that need to get looked after.”

MacMillan says the advice his parents gave him to plan for a rainy day was valid. He will get creative with other revenue sources and try to take advantage of programs and subsidies.

“If it helps you along one more month, it is one more month that you can make it until things open up again.”

Bellamy tries to keep his mental health in check by maintaining a rigorous schedule of practicing, writing, and working on existing projects. He plans to finish a new record so he can hit the ground running when touring resumes.

“Right now, I have no income,” he says. “I don’t have a safety net. I don’t have a plan B.”

He says if people want to support their favourite artists they should buy music and merchandise directly, like and share posts and music on social media, and send a letter to the government to help change laws that impact fair pay for artists’ streaming rights.

A return to “normal” is a long way off, and no matter when life starts to feel unrestricted again the world will be altered, and things will be different. Behind the scenes, the event industry not just trying to reinvent itself, it is fighting for survival.

“People don’t think about the human side of it and all that goes into it and all the different companies that come together to produce an event,” says Anderson. “Nobody in the entertainment industry is making a dollar right now. Everyone has to figure out how to survive this, and survive it together. So, my optimism is, I think a lot of companies are going to survive this because they are working together. They are going to support each other once we come out the other side.”

On September 22nd Canadian event industry technicians, suppliers and venues from across the country will Light Up Live events in red to raise awareness for the live event industry – which is still dark.

www.ilancooley.com

Read more on Todayville.

 

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Alberta

Jann Arden’s messy alter-ego returns for second season of Calgary-set sitcom

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CALGARY — Real-world Jann Arden is handling the COVID-19 pandemic better than she thinks TV Jann Arden would.

“She would have been doing crowdfunding for herself,” the singer and actress said of her messy, self-involved alter-ego on the Calgary-set CTV sitcom “Jann,” which returns for its second season Monday.

“I think she would have been feeling very sorry for herself and making everybody around her realize just how terrible life was for her.”

For the actual Arden, the pandemic has been about rolling with the uncertainty and acknowledging her plans were not the only ones upended.

She was supposed to kick-off a 19-date cross-Canada tour in May and said it was “gut-wrenching” to have to put it on hold.

“There was a lot of fear and a lot of disappointment but you also realized very quickly how the whole planet was going through the same thing,” she told The Canadian Press from her home west of Calgary.

The first season of “Jann” ends with a different kind of uncertainty clouding the singer’s tour plans.

As she stands outside a “Burning Woman Tour” bus emblazoned with the face of her fictional nemesis Sarah McLachlan, viewers are left wondering whether she’ll board.

After all, her sister Max, played by Zoie Palmer, is on bed rest at the end of a high-risk pregnancy and her mother Nora, played by Deborah Grover, is showing early Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Jann — the character — is still something of a hot mess in Season 2.

Well-meaning grand gestures underscore a cringeworthy inability to read the room. The love she feels for her on-again, off-again girlfriend Cynthia is evident, but not always expressed in the most mature way.

“And I look terrible,” Arden said. “I look so unhinged for most of the second season that it really is hilarious.”

But she said the unpolished, ugly bits make it all the more satisfying when her character does pull it together.

“There’s always a payoff. People want to see you at your worst in order for the best to ring true.”

The second season’s first episode also shows McLachlan in a silly, less-than-glamorous light when the two get into a sloppy wrestling match.

In reality, Arden said she and McLachlan get along just fine.

She said McLachlan was a “good sport” during her guest appearance.

“Her part’s very physical and she was absolutely able to poke fun of herself.”

Other guest stars in Season 2 include k.d. lang as herself, Elisha Cuthbert as a mean school committee mom and Keshia Chante as an up-and-coming pop star.

Arden said Grover’s rendering of her TV mom will continue to be the show’s emotional ballast and bring out the most caring, loving qualities in other characters.

The singer’s real-life mother died in 2018 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s. She said she’s heard from “hundreds, if not thousands” of other people who have been through the same thing.

“I wanted to be in a position to teach people and to cheer them on.”

“Jann” has been renewed for a third season. Script-writing is underway and shooting is set to begin in January.

Arden said she has no worries about keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 in the controlled environment of a TV set.

Singing in front of thousands of fans is another matter. Arden said she hopes she can go on tour in April or May of 2021, but it’s no sure thing.

Her “Hits and other Gems” compilation that was supposed to drop at the same time as her tour this spring is instead being released next Friday. Arden’s new memoir, “If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging” is out Oct. 27.

As the pandemic drags into fall, Arden said she’s planning to read, write and spend time with friends.

“I think you just have to lean into it and be patient. Wear a mask, remain diligent and be kind to people,” she said.

“There’s a lot of whining and people feeling sorry for themselves. They need to get their heads up and out and onto their shoulders and look around them.”

“Jann” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CTV.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 17, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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