Archive for December, 2013

This Week in Music History: December 30 to January 5

Posted on: December 31st, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch



For nearly half a century, Guy Lombardo was the sound of New Year’s Eve. He was born in London, Ontario, all the way back in 1902, and he formed his first orchestra with his brothers when he was still just a boy. By the time he was a young man, Lombardo was recording big-band tunes for some of the biggest record labels in the world. But it was in the late 1920s that he got the gig that would make him a legend: playing at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

Those shows at the Roosevelt would quickly become one of the most popular New Year’s traditions on the planet: broadcast both on CBS and NBC Radio, and then later on television, so that Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians became the soundtrack to the final night of every year for millions of people across the continent. Most famously, Lombardo, the son of Italian-Canadian immigrants, embraced a Scottish New Year’s Eve tradition by playing a melody written to accompany words by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. And so, it was thanks to Guy Lombardo that “Auld Lang Syne” became the most popular song played to mark the arrival of every new year.

Lombardo, who earned the nickname “Mr. New Year’s Eve,” played the New Year Eve’s broadcast every single year for essentially half of the 1900s, until he finally passed away in 1977. But His Royal Canadians continued on for a couple of years after that. Even today, in homes and restaurants and bars – and even at the celebration in Times Square itself – Lombardo’s recording of “Auld Lang Syne” rings out in the first few moments of every new year. It’s a fitting tribute to the Ontario musician who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978.




On New Year’s Eve in 1960, while Guy Lombardo was busy playing his usual gig in New York, another future Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee was having a big night a thousand kilometres away in Halifax.

That’s where folk musician Denny Doherty was playing a New Year’s Eve party, singing for the very first time with a couple of new bandmates. They called themselves The Colonials at first, but they soon changed their name to The Halifax Three. They were only together for a few years after that, but they managed to release two full-length albums, travelled all over the continent and eventually added another member from Toronto’s Yorkville folk scene: Zal Yanovsky. That, in the end, is what made The Halifax Three famous: it brought Doherty and Yanovsky together.

The pair ended up moving to Greenwich Village in New York City, where they formed a new band – The Mugwumps – with an up-and-coming folksinger by the name of Mama Cass. The Mugwumps didn’t last very long either, but when the group broke up, two new folk-pop bands rose from its ashes. Yanovsky became a founding member of The Lovin’ Spoonful, while Doherty and Cass went on to create The Mamas and The Papas. And so, by the end of the 1960s, two former members of The Halifax Three had become two of the most famous musicians in the world.


Boxing Day Mix

Posted on: December 26th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

Now that the rush of Christmas is done, it’s time to sit back, watch the kids play with their toys, maybe take a stab at that new book you got and consider whether or not to make another turkey sandwich. There’s probably some leftover pudding in the fridge, too; maybe that would be a better option? Yes, it’s these sorts of quandaries that plague the mind on Boxing Day, and mulling the options over can drive one to paralysis. That’s why it is absolutely vital to have an appropriate soundtrack for your thoughts. Here are a few down-tempo classics to help you on your way.



When I think of Boxing Day, it’s songs like this one that set the mood. Tommy Dorsey died nearly 30 years before I was even born, but his music still somehow brings me back to a special, imaginary time when things were simple, innocent and wholesome – much the way I feel Boxing Day should be. Avoid the malls – it’s a much better idea to stay in and listen to this song instead.



I don’t know what it is about the big bands at this time of year, but I just can’t get enough of them. I plan on spending Boxing Day in my housecoat, drifting about the house in a pleasant, semi-conscious food daze, and this is pretty much the perfect music for doing exactly that. It’s comforting, elegant and classic.



If anyone is fit to break up the big-band stuff, it’s Leonard Cohen, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s 1991 inductee. This song, which was first released on a tribute album in 1986 before making it onto Cohen’s 1988 studio album I’m Your Man in a slightly altered form, always reminds me of my parents, who played it a lot when I was a kid. So, as long as I’m getting nostalgic with the playlist here, this one needs a spot.



As long as we’re playing classics from the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, how can we overlook their 1978 inductee, the ineffable Oscar Peterson? Here he is live in Denmark in 1964, laying down one of his best-known compositions. It’s an essential track with which to revel in the glory of post-Christmas calm.



To switch things up from these down-tempo styles – and to keep the holiday spirit moving, so to speak – let’s end things off with this little number from the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s 1997 inductee Mr. Maynard Ferguson, who you may remember from our This Week in Music History post at the end of November. The man clearly knows how to have a good time, and we hope you have one too as we head into the new year. Happy holidays!

This Week in Music History: December 23 to 29

Posted on: December 24th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch



Reginald Fessenden might not be a household name, but he’s one of the most important Canadian inventors of all time. He was born in Quebec in 1866 – just as Canada was about to become a country – and by the time he was a teenager attending school in Ontario, it was obvious that he was unusually intelligent. It was the beginning of a life that would see him on the forefront of the new technologies that changed the world over the course of the next few decades.

Fessenden worked for Thomas Edison, helped to design one of the first big power plants at Niagara Falls and assisted with the legendary electrical display at the Chicago World’s Fair. He offered his services to the Canadian military during the First World War and developed new kinds of sonar for submarines, as well as for ships who wanted to detect icebergs and avoid the fate of the Titanic. By the time he passed away during the Great Depression, Fessenden had registered more than 500 patents. The places were he lived and worked are still remembered with plaques, and his home in Newton, Massachusetts, is officially recognized as a United States National Historic Landmark.

But it was Fessenden’s work in early radio transmissions that he’s best remembered for. By the late 1800s, some inventors were able to send wireless transmissions from one place to another using radio waves. It was, of course, a huge breakthrough. Fessenden quickly built on that early work, making even more advances. In 1900, he is thought to have sent the very first voice communication over radio waves. Just a few years later, he was the first person to send a message across the Atlantic Ocean and have a reply sent back. And on Christmas Eve of 1906, he sent the very first public radio broadcast in history.

It was a short program transmitted from his headquarters at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. He read a passage from the Bible, played a phonograph of a classical piece by Handel and performed a rendition of “O Holy Night” on the violin. People could pick up the signal from hundreds of kilometres away.

They say it may very well have been the first time music was ever played on the radio.



It was on another Christmas Eve, 44 years later, that Glenn Gould made his debut on CBC Radio. The Toronto pianist performed as part of a show titled “Sunday Morning Recital” in 1950. It would prove to be the beginning of the end of Gould’s live performances; he decided that he would much rather perform for a microphone than an audience.

“I detest audiences,” he would tell the CBC years later. “I think they’re a force of evil… I find it a very chilling fact; it seems to me the rule of mob law.”

By the mid-1960s, he had decided to give up on live performances altogether.

“I really thank God that I’m able to sit in the studio with enormous concentration and enjoyment, doing things many times if necessary… and taking – what is more important – a view of the work that I’m recording, which lets me in on the composing secrets.”

Gould would, however, remain a familiar presence on the CBC. He is now remembered with a statue outside of the Corporation’s headquarters in downtown Toronto, as well as in the name of their recording theatre on the ground floor: the Glenn Gould Studio.


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