Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have been challenged to complete a NAFTA agreement with US President Donald Trump but key Canadian artists had no problems making inroads into the American Music market in 2018.
Aubrey Graham, known to his friends and fans as Drake certainly dominated the US R&B Rap charts with his latest album, `Scorpion’ chalking up over one billion streams during its first week of release. Three tracks (“Nice For What”, “In My Feeling” and “God’s Plan) went to No 1 in the Billboard charts and all 25 album tracks featured on Billboard’s Hot 100. And then there was that “God’s Plan” video where Drake runs around Miami dishing out a million dollars (too bad he didn’t do the same around the T.Dot!!)
And when he wasn’t feuding with Kanye West, Drake was touring North America with the Three Migos, although he did exhibit a penchant for skipping gigs whenever he felt like it. Drake may have been snubbed for the 2018 Grammys by Bruno Mars but all expectations are that he will clean up during the 2019 Grammys.
Another Canuck who is currently enjoying a great year is Pickering Ontario’s Shawn Mendes who is up for two Grammys for Best Pop Single and Best Pop Album (Self Titled). Mendes will launch a major North American tour in the new year and has September 6th date at Toronto’s Rogers Centre has already sold out.
Brampton Ontario’s Alessia Cara did clinch a 2018 Grammy as Most Promising Female Vocalist and her second album release; “The Pains Of Growing” has so far produced two hit singles; “Growing Pains” and “Trust My Lonely”. Cara capped off the year by providing the halftime entertainment at the CFL’s Grey Cup final Sunday, November 25th at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
In other Rap/R&B developments, Oshawa Ontario’s Daniel Caesar surprisingly beat out Drake for the Top R&B/Soul Canadian Juno Award with his `Freudian’ release while Halifax Nova Scotia’s Classified (Lucas Boyd) made his mark with his latest release; “Tomorrow Could Be A Day That Things Change” which he promoted with a national club tour which also featured Choclair and Maestro Fresh Wes.
The year saw the welcome return of Michael Buble who hosted the 2018 Juno Awards, was inducted into Canada’s Walk Of Fame and is also set to tour in support of his new album titled (Symbol) Love.
On The Pop/Rock side of things, The Trews (“Civilianaires”), Monster Truck (“True Rockers”), The Sheepdogs (“Changing Colours”) and The Arkells (“Rally Cry”) all toured to promote successful releases while Kingston’s Glorious Sons enjoyed a high profile club tour in support of their 2017 “Young Beauties & Fools” recording.
According to an announcement by guitarist, Alex Lifeson, Rush may have officially packed it in as a touring act but they keep on releasing past catalogue product including a 40th-anniversary “Hemispheres” release set for the new year
Vancouver’s Washboard Union asserted themselves as Canada’s top Country Music outfit winning Group Of The Year and Roots Group of The Year awards at The Canadian Country Music Awards staged in Hamilton and they continued to tour throughout the year in support of their “What We Are Made Of” release.
In other Country Music highlights, Paul Brandt returned to the spotlight with his The Journey YYC Vol 1 and The Journey BNA Vol 2 EP releases while both Meghan Patrick (“Walls Come Down”) and Lindsay Ell (“Criminal”) both enjoyed No 1 domestic Country singles. It was a year that Cambridge Ontario’s brother and sister duet, Stuart and Jenna Walker, known as The Reklaws claimed the CCMA’s Rising Star Award, released their “Long Live The Night “record and also impressed during their Grey Cup pre-game performance.
On the Blues side of things, Nanaimo BCs David Gogo released “19 Vultures”, Colin James debuted on Stony Plain Records with his “Miles To Go” release and April Wine’s frontman Myles Goodwyn released a much anticipated “Myles Goodwyn & Friends” blues record featuring a plethora of top blues players including David Wilcox, Jack DeKeyzer, Kenny (Blue Boss) Shepherd, Rick Derringer, Amos Garrett and Frank Marino.
Upcoming in 2019 is a long-anticipated ‘Never Surrender’ national Arena tour by Corey Hart who will debut a new release `Dreaming Time Again’ in May, Glass Tiger providing the opening spot. The Tigers also appeared with Johnny Reid on his 2018 tour and released “31” which featured a re-work of classic hits, as envisioned by Reid who also performed a new song “Wae Yer Family” with the band.
The year also marked a welcome return by Moe Berg and The Pursuit Of Happiness promoting the 30th anniversary of their “Love Junk” release, Montreal’s The Box released a new EP `Take Me Home” and Alan Doyle toured relentlessly in support of his `A Week At The Warehouse’ album and his hysterically funny new book; “A Newfoundlander In Canada – Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home”
Sadly, 2018 also marked the passing of Streetheart lead vocalist Kenny Shields who succumbed to a heart ailment July 21st in Winnipeg after taking ill during a performance July 1st in Sherwood Park Alberta. However, lead guitarist Jeff Neill has announced that the band will continue in 2019 with former Harlequin bassist Paul McNair assuming lead vocal duties.
On a personal note, 2018 was a bit of a medical challenge for yours truly, having faced two separate cancer battles but, hopefully, the worst Is behind me, and I can continue to push Music Express forward in the new year. Unfortunately, my sidekick, Ted Van Boort is facing some medical struggles of his own and has been forced to take a sabbatical from designing the magazine. However, Kitchener’s Joyce Domingo has stepped into the breach and she is now functioning as the magazine’s new Creative Director.