Instruments

Remembering Neil Peart, whose jaw-dropping talent inspired a generation of musicians and wannabes

Nick Krewen Special to the Star January 11, 2020   He was closer to our hearts than we even realized. Make no mistake, the depth of anguish with which the music world  – especially Canadians – regards the unexpected passing of Neil Peart, 67,  on January 7 from glioblastoma, is immeasurable. Arguably the greatest and most influential drummer of his generation,  the Hamilton-born Peart – one third of progressive power…

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She’s been poor, homeless and a ‘doormat.’ Now she’s a four-time Grammy nominee bound for Toronto

Nick Krewen Special to the Star January 8, 2020 Fear is either a paralyzer or a galvanizer, and no one knows that situation better than four-time Grammy nominee Yola, the current purveyor of big-voiced country soul. After wrestling with self-doubt for decades – and finally winning the battle with the release of her critically acclaimed debut solo offering Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, U.K.-based singer and songwriter refers to it…


His father’s death taught him to stop trying so hard. Now Royal Wood is reaping the rewards.

By Nick Krewen Special to the Star November 30, 2019 On December 3, local singer and songwriter Royal Wood will be fulfilling a lifelong dream by headlining a show at Roy Thomson Hall. Actually, it’s a two-part aspiration, but he completed the first half a few years ago when he sold out Massey Hall. “It’s funny, I got shown a video a while back where I said I wanted to…


Maqueque new queens of Afro-Cuban jazz, with Jane Bunnett’s boost

Nick Krewen Special to the Star Nov 02, 2019 Like Hilario Duran, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and countless other Cuban musicians, pianist and composer Dánae Olano owes Toronto’s Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer a debt of gratitude. With the continuing Cold War between Cuba and the U.S. unlikely to thaw under their present regimes, musicians occupying the island  have found it nearly impossible to find career traction when restricted to staying within…


U.S. immigration crackdown inspires Jessie Reyez’s charged new music video

Nick Krewen Special to the Star Oct 07, 2019 In the visually compelling video for her latest song “Far Away,” Toronto’s Jessie Reyez pulls no punches when depicting immigrant persecution in Trump’s America. During the two-minute-and-50-second scenario directed by Peter Huang, Reyez’s character and her male love interest are dancing at a party that is suddenly stormed and tear-gassed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who end up…