Canadian gets Grammy nom for historical album, a category not at the Junos

TORONTO -- Music journalist/historian Kevin Howes has been driving across Canada for the past 15 years or so in search of obscure vinyl records of the 1950s to 1980s.

See Full Article

Equipped with a flashlight, face mask and old compact car, the 41-year-old DJ from Richmond Hill, Ont., has scoured everything from flea markets to dusty barns in Hutterite communities and an abandoned hair salon -- all in the name of highlighting important fringe artists and learning about Canada's history.

His tireless work has resulted in his first Grammy Award nomination for best historical album for "Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985." He's nominated as the compilation producer alongside Greg Mindorff, the mastering engineer.

Howes said he's thrilled the Grammys are giving the artists a moment to finally shine, noting such a category doesn't exist at the Juno Awards in Canada.

"The Canadian music business is a little bit behind the times, I feel, unfortunately, in that capacity," said Howes.

"I hope that things like this can help to raise awareness because there's more than enough Canadian music that's brought back every year through reissues by companies around the world."

The nominated album has 34 newly remastered recordings -- from Arctic garage rock of the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, to Yup'ik folk from Alaska and country blues from the Wagmatcook First Nation reserve in Nova Scotia.

The 23 different artists and groups represent a variety of First Nations, Metis and Inuit. They include Willie Dunn, Willie Thrasher, John Angaiak and Lloyd Cheechoo.

"These artists were fairly marginalized outside of their native communities where they were celebrated," said Howes.

"So I started reaching out to the artists, first and foremost to thank them for their music, which had affected me deeply, and then to ask for context: 'How were these records made? Tell me more about your life."'

The project, which also has deluxe sets with archival photos, is intended to bridge generations, cultures and "errors of technology from the analogue into the digital age."

"The vinyl records themselves were pressed in such small numbers, they're literally extinct today and could be lost forever," said Howes.

"People have thrown them in the garbage and disposed of them over the years, or they have a lot of scratches and what have you. So we wanted to digitize them and preserve them for future generations so they can know a little bit about what was going on in those days."

Howes also wanted to let listeners know that some of these artists are still alive and very active in music. And his efforts worked.

Since the album came out a year ago, some of the artists have received concert bookings and been on CBC Radio's "q" program.

The album has also been profiled in Rolling Stone magazine, Mojo magazine and the Guardian newspaper.

"But it's been more of a struggle in Canada and unfortunately the Juno Awards do not have a category that can recognize such talent," said Howes.

Howes said when he discusses the issue with people in the industry, they posit that there aren't enough projects to merit such an award here.

And yet at this year's Grammys, there's also another historical album with Canadians behind it.

"The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11," featuring music of Bob Dylan and Toronto's the Band, was co-produced by Jan Haust and co-engineered by Peter Moore, both of Toronto.

Howes said he'd like to collaborate with the Junos, the CBC and Library and Archives Canada to help preserve material that "people in future generations should know about."

"If the stories aren't documented, if the music isn't digitized, it could be lost forever and I think that would be a crime."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Colombia mad over Wiz Khalifa's visit to Pablo Escobar tomb

    Entertainment CTV News
    BOGOTA - American rapper Wiz Khalifa is stirring controversy in the South American nation of Colombia, where he laid flowers and smoked what looks like a joint at the tomb of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Source
  • ‘It’s really not up to me’: Chris Evans not ready to give up Captain America [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Chris Evans might not be ready to hang up his Captain America shield just yet. A recent cover story in Esquire magazine hinted that after he shoots Avengers 3 and 4, he’s finished with the Marvel character. Source
  • Punk legend Johnny Rotten supports Trump, Brexit vote

    Entertainment CTV News
    FILE - In this June 30, 2013, file photo, John Lydon performs with his band PiL at the Glastonbury Music Festival at Glastonbury, England. Lydon, whose also known by his stage name, Johnny Rotten, told ITV's 'Good Morning Britain' on March 27, 2017, that he supports U.S. Source
  • Prosecutors fight Cosby bid to query 2,000 potential jurors

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's sex assault case in Pennsylvania objected Monday to defence efforts to prescreen as many as 2,000 potential jurors. They also said in a court filing that the jury should be selected weeks before the scheduled June 5 trial so jurors can prepare to be sequestered nearly 300 miles away from home. Source
  • Maud Lewis painting found in southern Ontario thrift shop to be auctioned

    Entertainment CBC News
    A painting by Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis has turned up in a southern Ontario thrift shop. Volunteers at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Centre in New Hamburg, Ont., southwest of Kitchener, came across the piece while sorting through donations. Source
  • Nelly Furtado back where she belongs [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    When The Ride - also the name of Nelly Furtado's first album in five years - got too fast, the singer had to jump off. The 38-year-old, whose last album was 2012's The Spirit Indestructible, says it was a necessary manoeuvre to find her muse again. Source
  • Nelly Furtado reshapes her music against the feedback of social media

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Nelly Furtado has endured the wrath of social media before, but she couldn't bear to read people's opinions on her new album's cover art. So instead of playing into the hands of Internet trolls, she disabled comments on her Instagram post and released it into the world, hoping for the best. Source
  • Student dies of cancer days after FaceTime with Beyonce

    Entertainment CTV News
    HOUSTON -- A Houston high school student has lost her battle with terminal cancer days after having a dream come true in a talk with Beyonce over a video chat. Alief Independent School District spokeswoman Kimberly Smith says senior Ebony Banks died late Saturday night. Source
  • Maud Lewis painting found in Ont. thrift shop bin to be auctioned

    Entertainment CTV News
    A painting by Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis has turned up in a southern Ontario thrift shop. Volunteers at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Centre in New Hamburg, Ont., southwest of Kitchener, came across the piece while sorting through donations. Source
  • The Handmaid's Tale lands Canadian broadcaster

    Entertainment CBC News
    A highly anticipated adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale has landed a Canadian broadcaster. The 10-episode first season of the Toronto-shot drama will debut on Bravo in a special two-hour premiere event on April 30, four days after it hits the streaming service Hulu in the U.S. Source