Autumn is typically a wind-down time for the music business, with summer festivals and major album releases usually in the rear-view mirror. Speaking of things in the past, a survey of coming shows and anticipated albums reveals a slew of farewell tours, posthumous releases and even a “concert” starring a deceased singer.
But while we wave goodbye to two of the greatest pop songwriters of their generation (Paul Simon and Elton John, both on final tours) or listen to previously unreleased music from late icons Prince and Tom Petty, let’s loosen the black shawls a little. The coming music calendar includes the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s opera, a salute to Canada’s country music queen Shania Twain and highly anticipated books from a pair of acclaimed Indigenous musicians.
There goes Rhymin’ Simon, and Captain Fantastic and Ozzy, too
Paul Simon finishes off what he has announced to be his final tour with two shows at Madison Square Garden (Sept. 20 and 21) and a finale at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in his hometown of Queens, N.Y., on Sept. 22. Simon, 76, will release his latest album, In the Blue Light, on Sept. 7.
Fellow septuagenarian Elton John will don sequins and sunglasses for the last time for a Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour that hits Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City in late September.
Also quitting the road is Ozzy Osbourne (who plays Toronto’s Budweiser Stage on Sept. 4). Mind you, the Black Sabbath madman’s supposed farewell jaunt is called No More Tours 2, so don’t be surprised if he rises again.
If a Polaris Music Prize falls in a forest, does anybody hear it?
Noticeably missing from the eclectic short list of 10 nominated albums for this year’s Polaris Prize are records by Neil Young, Gord Downie and the Grammy-winning Nova Scotia soprano Barbara Hannigan. Instead, those in contention for the $50,000 award are Alvvays, Jean-Michel Blais, Daniel Caesar, Jeremy Dutcher, Pierre Kwenders, Hubert Lenoir, Partner, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, U.S. Girls and Weaves. Despite the relative anonymity of some of the nominated artists, the gala ceremony (which happens in Toronto on Sept. 17) routinely features dynamite live performances by the musicians vying for the annual honour.
Shania Twain is still the one
Kicking off the Canadian Country Music Association’s yearly award-giving bash will be a tribute to Shania Twain, the Grammy-decorated singer from Timmins, Ont. The salute, broadcast live from Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre (Sept. 9 on CBC), will feature Jess Moskaluke, Kira Isabella and Madeline Merlo.
Rufus Wainwright’s new opera isn’t over until Ben Heppner says it is
History may have forgotten the love story of Roman emperor Hadrian and his young lover Antinous, but composer Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor have not. The world premiere opera Hadrian features a star-studded cast that includes a cameo appearance from Ben Heppner, the legendary Canadian tenor who comes out of his opera-performance retirement for this Canadian Opera Company production, directed by Peter Hinton. Seven performances commence on Oct. 13.
What do a former Beatle, an alliterative alt-rock band from Toronto and a deceased R&B icon all have in common?
Paul McCartney gave his fans an early summer viral-video treat on his Carpool Karaoke segment with the Late Late Show’s James Corden. The Cute Beatle stays in the public eye with Egypt Station, set to drop on Sept. 7.
Drawing big attention in the alt-rock scene is Dilly Dally, an electric quintet that follows up its critically acclaimed debut album, Sore, with Heaven, out Sept. 14.
One week later, Prince’s estate will release Piano & A Microphone ’83, a stripped-down live album recorded that year. In August, a treasure trove of Prince releases, dating from 1995 to 2010, were unleashed on streaming platforms for the first time.
Other fall releases of note include albums from Chilly Gonzales, Macy Gray, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall, Metric, Shad, Whitehorse, Colter Wall, Cat Power and a box set from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Be a good music fan: Support a singer-songwriter
Just because the season for festivals and amphitheatre shows is mostly over, it doesn’t mean live music goes into hibernation. Acclaimed Canadian troubadours Jennifer Castle and Tamara Lindeman (of the Weather Station) pair up for an eight-date Western tour that takes them from Winnipeg to Victoria, Oct. 10 to 18. They might cross paths with Great Lake Swimmers. An October tour in promotion of its latest album (The Waves, The Wake) takes the ethereal roots-rock troupe to venues from Saskatchewan to Sudbury.
Every day they write the book
Music memoirs and biographies are a dime a dozen, but lately singer-songwriters such as Ron Sexsmith and Kyp Harness have penned novels. On Sept. 25, Tanya Tagaq, the celebrated Inuit throat singer and Polaris-winning force of nature, releases Split Tooth, a book that finds her moving between “fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose,” according to her publisher Viking.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a straight biography, especially a good one. In that category is an authorized book on Buffy Sainte-Marie, by Andrea Warner, also due out on Sept. 25, published by Greystone.
Have Wilbury, will travel
Elvis Presley once called him the best singer in the world. He’s Roy Orbison, the tender-voiced Only the Lonely icon who died of a heart attack on Dec. 6, 1988. His remarkable instrument never seemed to age when he was alive, and it’s not about to start now. In Dreams: Roy Orbison in Concert – The Hologram Tour, an estate-approved 28-date run that pairs a 3-D representation of the onetime Travelling Wilburys member with live orchestration, plays Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Nov. 4, the lone Canadian date.