Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Feature Article: Sarah Harmer - A New Wind

Sarah Harmer’s new album—her first in five years—kicks off with the unsettling sound of crackling distortion followed by some driving electric guitar. “A new wind will blow through everything,” Harmer sings, somewhat ominously, “through everything I know.” It’s the dramatic opening of a recording that represents a stark shift away from the celebrated singer-songwriter’s last studio release, I’m a Mountain. Where that Polaris Prize-nominated album was steeped in bittersweet bluegrass, Harmer’s new oh little fire is a defiantly rockier and, mostly, happier affair. “I’ve always loved rock music and repetitive guitars and I do think this album sounds like some of my work with Weeping Tile,” says...

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Feature Article: The Beatles - Band on a Run

They sat in a box for 30 years, intimate photographs of the Beatles taken during the group's retreat in India in early 1968. Toronto filmmaker Paul Saltzman, then a backpacking 24-year-old on a spiritual quest himself, had snapped the pictures at a transcendental meditation workshop in the Indian village of Rishikesh led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. After returning to Canada later that year, Saltzman sold some of the shots, along with an account of his "life-changing" experience, to Maclean's. But after that, he rarely thought about the photos, although he did return to the subcontinent many times.Then, two years ago, Devyani, Saltzman's teenage daughter from his marriage to film director D...

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Feature Article: Sarah McLachlan - Front and Centre Stage

Sarah McLachlan was lounging in her air-conditioned trailer, exhausted but exhilarated after a day spent fielding media questions and a night spent singing, strumming and strutting on stage. Mountain View, Calif., an hour's drive south of San Francisco, was the third stop on the Lilith Fair tour, the all-women's rock festival she conceived that features top female musicians and a travelling New Age caravan of booths and boutiques (see below). McLachlan was settling into the rhythm of a schedule that has her both headlining the 35-stop tour and acting as its chief spokeswoman. Kicking off her sandals and curling up on a couch, the 29-year-old Canadian performer reflected on the high profile t...

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Feature Article: Joni Mitchell - Lady of the Canyon

For Joni Mitchell, fame has been a fickle lover. In the 1970s, it lavished her with sold-out tours and numerous magazine covers. She was the poetic, soul-baring artist from Canada who had taken up residence in the hills of California, becoming rock's lady of the canyon. But before the decade was over, Mitchell also felt the sting of rejection. Her jazzier, more abstract albums left many critics mystified. With little or no radio airplay, they sold poorly. Mitchell responded by abandoning the tour circuit. And, despite her three strong albums in the 1980s, her work was still being unfavorably compared with her early successes. "The pop arena is a harsh world, really," says Mitchell. "It moves...

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Feature Article: Rush - Rock 'n' Roll Royalty

Geddy Lee visibly tenses up when he talks about the period when fans drove him and his family out of their east-end Toronto home. It was the late 1970s, and Lee’s band, Rush, was the undisputed champion of arena rock in Canada. He and his wife, Nancy Young, and their small son were leading a quiet life in the Beaches, a middle-class neighborhood, until Rush fans discovered where the band’s bassist-singer lived. From then on, recalls Lee, the family felt besieged as strangers peered through windows and demanded autographs, guitars and even, on occasion, money. Faced with constant intrusions, the Lees fled, settling in an affluent downtown Toronto area. And for more than a decade, the reluctan...

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Interview: Michael Bublé - A charmed life

Vancouver crooner Michael Bublé is leading a charmed life. Since launching his singing career, raised on his grandfather's love of the sounds of the Mills Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and others, he’s been swinging on a star. Discovered by Brian Mulroney, who introduced him to producer David Foster, Bublé has been hailed almost universally as the “new Sinatra.” With his relaxed, crowd-pleasing style, he has wooed audiences across North America and caused women to swoon at sold-out engagements throughout Europe and Asia. His taste for pop standards runs from Sinatra to more recent numbers by the Bee Gees. With just one studio album under his belt, his record sales have already top...

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Feature Article: The joie de vivre of La Bottine Souriante

The name of the Quebec group means "smiling boot," with the "smile" created by the flapping sole of a well-worn boot. And in La Bottine Souriante's native province, at least, it certainly fits. Over the course of 23 years, the group's members have worn out many pairs of boots and shoes -- both their own and those of their audience -- playing a happy, highly danceable blend of French-Canadian, Cajun and Celtic sounds. Now, with an international recording deal on the Virgin Music label, La Bottine Souriante is set to begin ruining footwear the world over. "We're a party band," singer-accordionist Yves Lambert says proudly after a boisterous show in a large Toronto beer hall that had many in th...

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Feature Article: Blasts from the Past - five veteran Canadian rockers recall their glory days

Canadian music passes a milestone this year as the Juno Awards turn 25. To celebrate the occasion, this year's event (CBC TV, Sunday, March 10) features the induction of five rock legends into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Zal Yanovsky (The Lovin' Spoonful), Denny Doherty (The Mamas and the Papas), John Kay (Steppenwolf), David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Domenic Troiano (Mandala, James Gang) all started their careers in Canada and pursued them south of the border. Yanovsky, Doherty and Troiano have since moved back, and Kay and Clayton-Thomas still have close ties to the country where they first got the beat. ZAL YANOVSKYThere is not a trace of The Lovin' Spoonful ...

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Feature Article: Our gal in Havana: Canada's Jane Bunnett celebrates Cuban sounds

She's been called "Havana Jane," and Canada's Jane Bunnett has certainly earned the title. The celebrated jazz flutist and soprano saxophonist has been a familiar face around the Cuban capital for years. Long before Ry Cooder made the Buena Vista Social Club a household name, Bunnett was sharing her passion for Latin music with North American audiences, taking Cuban artists on tour and featuring them on acclaimed albums of her own. But it wasn't until last November that the Toronto musician discovered the extent of her reputation as Canada's unofficial cultural ambassador. Bunnett had travelled back to Havana with her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, and a National Film Board crew, to realiz...

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The aboriginal beat

It seemed a blues night like any other: a smoky room, beer in abundance and a packed dance floor. But the event last month, sponsored by the Toronto Blues Society, had a unique twist. Titled Real Rez Blues, it was a showcase of U.S. and Canadian aboriginal performers, all with a penchant for the classic, 12-bar form. Five acts appeared before the mostly native crowd of more than 800, including headliner Murray Porter, one of native music's rising stars. A baritone reminiscent of rhythm-and-blues great Percy Sledge, Porter thrilled the audience with his gritty versions of B. B. King and Big Joe Turner tunes. But when he sang his own 1492 Who Found Who, about Christopher Columbus, the Mohawk m...

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