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T.O. Music Pix Newsletter #105: Apr. 9/10
Click here for information on subscribing and an index of past newsletters

In this issue:

1. Radio & Community: CIUT Fundraising
2. Billy Joe Shaver trial: Not Guiltyl
3. King Sunny Adé concert cancelled; other event notes



One thing that stood out clearly to me in reading all the tributes and stories about BBC broadcaster Charlie Gillett following his death last month, was evidence of he power and potential of radio.

Charlie was a radio host for almost 40 years, and had a number of programs covering a range of music reflecting his interests over the years, from American roots, rock & roll and R&B to African and other world music in more recent decades.

He was passionate about radio, and that passion helped account for the lengthy list of people who writing and speaking about the impact his programs had on them. It wasn't just the content of those shows that had that  impact, it was also the personality and character that came through on those live broadcasts. People bonded to the show.

His programs offered great -- and often surprising -- music, along with a hugely important human connection linking the studio and the people forming a community around the airwaves.

An ipod has its place, but it can't compete with radio's potential strengths.

But those strengths aren't apparent to me in most radio you'll find spinning the dial: there's little to connect us to the programmed broadcasts, slick and shallow voices, and formulaic music one finds on most stations.

Not co-incidentally, this piece is written during the midst of CIUT FM's semi-annual fundraising. That station is one of those that still do connect listeners, that offer personal and unique shows that can and do connect with the community around us.

For those who listen to and follow the kind of music this website and newsletter covers, CIUT is invaluable, whether bringing this music to the air every week, supporting excellent local artists, or broadcasting live concerts throughout the summer, including Afrofest, every year for the past 20+ years. (And just recently, they hosted live performances by Huun Huur Tu and Judy Collins).

Among the shows that bring great roots music to the air are Global Rhythms and Karibuni which together provide 5 hours of excellent world and African music every Sunday from 3-8pm. I've been listening to and supporting those shows for 20 years now, and hope you will too. (A great time to call 416 946-7800!) Note: This Sunday, Global Rhythms and Ken Stowar will host a live performance by Oysterband prior to their Hugh's Room show that night.

Without major ad revenues, stations like CIUT will only exist -- and they are a declining breed -- with local support, including public financial pledges.

Toronto would be a poorer place without community radio... radio that keeps the community going. Please think about helping real radio keep going. Fundraising continues through Tuesday, April 13.


Photo: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald

Congratulations to the great Texan singer and songwriter who this afternoon in Waco, Tex, was acquitted on a charge of aggravated assault stemming from a 2007 incident at a roadhouse outside Waco.  The facts were that Shaver, then 67, shot Billy Coker in the face. Shaver said Coker was coming at him with a knife, and acted in self-defence. (And for what it's worth, the offending weapon was a "tiny" gun, and fired in Billy Joe's right hand which is missing most of it's first three fingers!)

Shaver, recognized by most in the country music field as one of its greatest writers, has had more struggles in his life and career than most people would want to deal with. After finally achieving a small measure of long-deserved success in the 1990's he had to endure in a very few years the deaths of his grandmother (who had raised him), his mother, his wife (while on their third marriage), and finally his lead guitarist and only child, Eddy, of a heroin overdose.

Without trying to address the issues in the trial, it's clear that Billy is a man with a very good and warm heart, although he's also someone -- he's the first to admit -- to having had a rough and wild time earlier in his life, a fact that the prosecution used in the courtroom, citing passages from his autobiography, Honky Tonk Hero that recounted some of his rough and tumble youthful years. After the prosecutor used one more incident, Shaver told her "I wish I had a book on you, I tell you that", prompting an outburst of laughter in the courtroom, and the judge to expel one man from the audience. "I am sorry I said that," Shaver said, and the exiled spectator echoed, "I'm sorry I laughed"

The trial certainly had its moments, and those of us who are passionate followers of Billy Joe were able to follow most of the proceedings in almost-real time on a reporter's Twitter feed.


In the summation, Shaver's lawyer claimed that, "The defense to aggravated assault is self defense. It’s a God given right that is recognized by our law since time began.”

And the prosecutor characterized Shaver in words that ring very false: "Who has a history of being violent and mean and wanting to be an outlaw and writing a book about it? The defendant."

Shaver's lawyer countered with some Billy Joe's lyrics from "Live Forever". These lines were actually written by his late son Eddy, and were the ones quoted twice by Robert Duvall in the film Crazy Heart, (Duvall and Willie Nelson both attended to show their support for Billy Joe)

You fathers and you mothers
Be kind to one another
Raise your children right
Don’t let the darkness take them
Don’t let them be forsaken
Just lead them gently to the light."

Much publicity about the case centred on claims that shortly before shooting Coker, Billy Joe asked him "Where do you want it?" (That wasn't quite what he said, Shaver claimed). Inevitably, a song was written with that title, by Billy Joe's friend, Dale Watson. From the twitter feed:

I actually asked him ‘Why do you want to do this.’ For one reason or another someone turned it into ‘Where do you want it,’ ” he said.

“You’re still gonna write the song but,” with different lyrics, Toben [prosecutor] asked.

That comment caused an objection by Shaver and his lawyer and verbal outbursts by some of those in state District Judge Matt Johnson’s courtroom. One man was escorted from court for yelling “come on, woman.”

At one point, in discussing the bar where the shooting happened, Shaver recounted his knowledge of the places: "My mother was 18 years old. She was a honky tonk girl, sure enough. I know honky tonks". In fact, Billy's early song, "Honky Tonk Heroes" (the title song of a 1975 Waylon Jennings made up of songs by the then-unknown Shaver) was inspired by the honky tonk his mother worked in. These lines from the song came back to me today:

Woe is me, why can't I see
I'd best be leavin' well enough alone
Aw, them neon light nights, couldn't stay out of fights
They keep a hauntin' me in memories
There's one in every crowd for crying out loud
Why was it always turnin' out to be me?"

Some more on the trial and Billy Joe:


See event page for details on these and other shows

King Sunny Adé's April 13 Phoenix concert has been cancelled following the tragic death of two band members in a recent traffic accident in Nigeria. It appears later shows on the tour will go ahead. No word if he'll reschedule a Toronto appearance

Notes or reminders of some very notable shows:

Apr. 10: David Calzado y su Charanga Habanera at the Sound Academy
Cuba's most famous dance band with 17 musicians on stage Details, video etc. here.

Apr. 10-11: Elias Tebabel at Lambadina
First weekend of a new Ethiopian club in the location of the old Habesha Club 875 Bloor E. at Ossington

Apr. 12: Tom Russell at Hugh's Room
Texas singer-songwriter's songs have been recorded by a raft of musicians

Apr 17: Jane Bunnett & Cuban Piano Masters at
Featuring three generations of Cuban pianists: Hilario Duran, Elio Villafranca and Guillermo Rubalcaba along with Cuban percussion legend, Changuito

Apr. 23: Tribute to Tilhaun Gessesse at the Evangadi Restaurant
Francis Falceto, who assembled the superb Ethiopiques series of CD's (now over 20 volumes) called the late singer "the absolute and unequalled icon for an entire country". With many of Toronto's top Ethiopian and other musicians performing Gessesse's songs.

Proceeds from the to People to People Canada, a non profit organization that assists HIV/AIDS orphans in Ethiopia Presented by Batuki Music Society and AfroSonic Entertainment.

Apr. 23-24: Eliades Ochoa at the Royal Theatre
One of Cuba's top musicians, now best known as the guitarist of the Buena Vista Social Club

Apr. 29: Toronto Indo-Jazz Festival at the Lula
With Monsoon, Saawun & Tasa

May 4: Carolina Chocolate Drops at Hugh's Room
Old-time, Appalachian music: fiddle, banjo, bones, etc is not just white music.

May 5-28: Annual LulaWorld festival at the Lula Lounge. Detailed listings to be posted soon



John Leeson