Nile Rodgers in Disco’s Revenge

Courtesy Photo



Also making industry headlines this week: former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell returns to Canadian Music Week, direct-to-fan music company Bandzoogle reports its numbers, Toronto new wave band Pukka Orchestra is back.



Former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell returns to Canadian Music Week (CMW) this year with keynote interviews that shine a spotlight on veteran L.A.-based concert promoter Bill Silva on June 4 and entertainment lawyer and author Donald Passman on 5th at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle hotel.

And here’s a fascinating interview clip with Mark Knopfler that was shot in Jan. of this year just before the Dire Straits’ founder sold off his 120 guitar and amp collection at a Christie’s auction that brought in over U.S.$11M.

– David Harris and Sam Sutherland have launched 86 Media House, a boutique production company and digital agency in Toronto. The launch project is Disco’s Revenge, partnered with Elevation Pics. It’s a disco doc with Paramount and Bell Media on board, and it’s premiering May 2 and 3 at Toronto’s Hot Docs Cinema. Executive producers include Nile Rodgers and Stanley Nelson. The two founders formerly led Universal Music Group’s internal agency and production arm in Toronto, producing several acclaimed film and TV titles.

– Congrats to Paul Sanderson, one of those annoyingly smart types who can seemingly do anything he puts his mind to and does it exceedingly well. The legal eagle is both celebrating the 40th of the Sanderson law practice, and the addition of son Jesse, which perhaps marks a first for a second gen lineage in a Canadian entertainment law practice.

Like Dad, who has a credible rep as a blues-rock guitarist and songwriter with four albums released with his band Blue Room, Jesse has a background in classical music and plays piano, sax, banjo and guitar. He’s also been licensed as an Attorney in Massachusetts since 2022. The family are damned brainiacs.

Outside of his law practice, Paul Sanderson is well known for authoring 4 editions of Musicians and the Law in Canada, a bible for anyone involved in the music biz here.

– Canadian based and owned web platform Bandzoogle has announced that in 2023 musicians made over $16.4M in commission-free revenue using the platform’s direct-to-fan sales tools, a 21% increase over 2022.

Breaking down the numbers, musicians sold over $8.8M in merch, including apparel, CDs and vinyl. Digital music posted a 28% increase year-on-year, raking in $1.7M.

– Gary Kendall’s storied career has won him an extraordinary nine Maple Blues Award trophies, recognizing his bass playing, his longstanding membership in the Toronto Blues fraternity and Downchild Blues Band. He’s also had an equally extraordinary career in umpteen blues-veined ensembles that have held a residency in a storied list of Toronto taverns. Squeezing out time before ramping up for the summer festival season with Downchild, the go-to blues bassist has set aside dates this month to play shows with The Kendall Trio, joined by guitarist Teddy Leonard and drummer Tyler Burgess at Castro’s in Toronto’s Queen East district and Oakville’s The Moonshine Cafe. Below, with the Maple Blues Band.

– Seemingly jinxed ‘80s Toronto new wave band Pukka Orchestra earned more of its share of success, earning a CASBY Award and a small but enduring number of radio hits such as “Might As Well Be On Mars” and “Cherry Beach Express,” but just as traction was heading them in the right direction, their record company went into receivership, and then vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Graeme Williamson developed a debilitating health issue. He died in 2020. Now, 20 years since a short-lived reunion, Canadian oldies reissue imprint Pacemaker has released an 11-track collection of updated, reworked, remixed and remastered tracks available through DSPs such as Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and Apple. Below, is the lyric video for “Every Man and Woman Is A Star” from the collection.

– Quirky 24-year-old Toronto doom siren Ari Hicks has won 90M+ followers on platforms such as TikTok, built on the back of a succession of smart videos and EPs. It looks as if she’s upping her game to include live shows, as per a new signing announcement from the Feldman Agency.

– Cape Breton roots-rocker Matt Minglewood has been a marquee name for almost half a century and on the road going on 60 years. He’s starting the new year with a series of east-coast theatre shows that are billed as a career retrospective, with St. John songbird Kylie Fox opening all the shows. All shows are produced by Fredericton-based promoter Joe Bamford who’s been Minglewood’s agent for the past 50 years.