This week in RCS Music News Weekly: James Gordon receives OAC grant for unique recording project at Royal City Studios, Apple invests $50 million to give musicians a better deal, and a few important words about emergency brakes and mental health. But first…

Royal G Symphony

Royal G Symphony Releases “Don’t Look Now”

ICYMI: Last week, Guelph alt-rock band Royal G Symphony released their second single, “Don’t Look Now.” Recorded at Royal City Studios by Eric Leigh Music, “Don’t Look Now” follows Royal G Symphony’s inaugural single, “Juno” (from the band’s 2020 five-song EP The King’s Highway).

Echoing the layered and dynamic style of bands like Porcupine Tree, Royal G Symphony also evokes the sound of the Hip when they were an unknown band playing bars and campus gigs in Kingston, ON.

Such comparisons, of course, only serve as a general reference point for anyone who has not heard of Royal G Symphony, whose distinct sound stands as an amalgam of the lives and experiences brought to the band by the individual members: Calum Kennelly (vocals), Michael Baldaro (guitar), Logan Kennelly (guitar), Nick Ceci (bass), and Darian Hirst (drums).

“We come from across Ontario with different lives, different stories, different idols, and posters on our walls,” writes the band. “Our Spotify playlists rarely intersect, and our ticket stubs are a musical mosaic, filled with some of Canada’s greatest names.” As such, Royal G Symphony creates music described as “diverse, dynamic, unique, and hinting at the past to render our sound unmistakably Canadian.”

Like most bands, Royal G Symphony looks forward to playing live again when restrictions lift. “COVID-19 has removed the personal connection that we crave from our music,” writes the band. “It has been a year since our final pre-pandemic shows. We miss the sweat, the reverb, and the energy of the live performance, but we have not been waiting quietly.” Restrictions have powered the band to create more music, and they can’t wait to share it with audiences.

Grab the Front Row for Upcoming Show Announcements

To stay in the loop about upcoming Royal G Symphony shows, subscribe to RCS Music News Weekly and/or follow Royal G Symphony on Facebook or Instagram. Or ask band members directly about upcoming shows.

In a time when community involvement and support has been integral to helping the music industry survive the pandemic, Royal G Symphony has been helping out at Royal City Studios to ensure rehearsal and recording facilities will be available for area musicians when the pandemic is done. So, you may meet band members working the front desk or helping you when you book into one of Royal City Studios’ rehearsal rooms.

James Gordon

James Gordon Receives OAC Grant for Unique Recording Project at RCS

Two days ago, singer/songwriter James Gordon (founding member of Tamarack and co-founder of Guelph’s annual Hillside Festival) announced receipt of an Ontario Arts Council grant for a unique recording project at Royal City Studios that will begin this month.

The project (described by Gordon as a hybrid literary concept) will be recorded at Royal City Studios’ recording studio and will provide employment for musicians, a recording engineer, and Royal City Studios, all of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The Project Will See Some of the Top Names in Canadian Music Walking Into RCS

As the most ambitious project to date for Gordon, who has released 40 albums in his long and varied career, the project will see some of the top names in Canadian music talent walking through the front doors of Royal City Studios to join Gordon in the recording studio:

  • Bass: Jeff Bird (The Cowboy Junkies)
  • Drums: Randall Coryell (Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder, Glass Tiger, Gwen Swick, and many more)
  • Guitar and organ: Geordie Gordon (U.S. Girls)
  • Fiddle: Anne Lindsay (featured performer with the Jim Cuddy Band, the Skydiggers, and John McDermott)
  • Singer/songwriter: Katherine Wheatley (Boreal)
  • Producer/engineer: Evan Gordon (Islands)

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the group cannot appear all at once in the recording studio as Gordon had hoped. Completed tracks will be mixed for the final recording, slated for completion by the end of the summer.

RCS Music News Weekly will provide updates in future issues.

For inquiries, contact James Gordon at

Apple - RCS Music News Weekly

Apple Invests $50 Million to Give Musicians a Better Deal

Yesterday, Apple invested $50 million into the independent music distribution platform UnitedMasters to support musicians getting a better deal for their music. As noted by TechCrunch: In a typical deal with a label, recording companies retain all audience and targeting data, as well as master recordings. “This limits an artist’s ability to be agile, taking advantage of new technologies to foster a community.” With UnitedMasters (launched in 2017 by former Interscope and Sony Music executive Steve Stoute), artists will be given full access to data and retain masters of their works.

In other words, at a time when we all need more good news, we thought you’d appreciate knowing this.

Ashley MacIsaac - RCS Music News Weekly

Ashley MacIsaac Looks to NFTs After GoFundMe Page Backfires

Last week, Juno Award-winning fiddler Ashley MacIsaac took down a GoFundMe page called Ashley MacIsaac – Stop the Noise. Humorously created to simply keep his name out there after the pandemic dried up gigs and forced the Canadian fiddling prodigy to file for bankruptcy, the page was created to encourage MacIsaac’s haters to donate money to keep him out of their town. The page wasn’t seriously intended to raise money (although one hater donated $5). Yet because the page flew in the opposite direction of the usual pleas for financial support, MacIsaac drew backlash—especially from those within the music industry. In a March 25th, 2021 interview with the Cape Breton Post, MacIsaac said, “I took it down to calm the wolves behind me.”

Music execs with no sense of humor? Is such a thing even possible?

With few live performance opportunities on the horizon, MacIsaac is looking ahead to a project that will involve non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which MacIsaac feels could be the next big thing for music. And others in the music business agree with him.

On March 30th, 2021, for example, the software company Color Star Technology announced it would be developing a business for the production, release, and promotion of NFTs through its subsidiary, Color China Entertainment, which has produced concerts for artists like Mariah Carey and Linkin Park. And other artists are following the same NFT lead, all driven by live performance revenue killed by COVID.

In other words…

NFTs - RCS Music News Weekly

Lucy Jinx Ready to Drop Another “Hot Pop Maze”

Toronto band Lucy Jinx recently announced a soon-to-be-released album, When They Win. Describing themselves as a “high-energy glam pop project” incorporating “glam rot, crunched epics, and scratched anthems in a hot pop maze,” the upcoming album promises to have “more hooks than a Velcro chinstrap,” which is saying something, considering that Lucy Jinx’s last album, Champions of Love, contains enough hooks to put most fishing shows to shame.

Johnny Lee - RCS Music News Weekly

Johnny Lee Rallies for Social Change in #StopAsianHate Music Video

In response to the staggering surge of anti-Asian sentiment and violence that stained 2020 and continues to blight 2021, Asian American artist Johnny Lee hopes his latest music video, “Tonight #StopAsianHate,” inspires people to stand together again. Spotlighting solidarity for AAPI, BLM, and LGBTQIA+ lives, the video calls for racial unity and social change. Joining Lee in his rally are notable AAPI personalities, including journalist Lisa Ling (CNN) and actors Simu Liu, Dante Basco, Kelly Hu, and Hayden Szeto.

In Case You Missed How Irresponsible Media Has Contributed to Asian Hate

In the early days of COVID-19, wearing masks was largely associated with Asian countries, due in no small part to the media. Although COVID-19 had affected more than 70 countries around the world by March of 2020 (clearly evidencing that the spread of COVID-19 could not be solely blamed on Asian people), a Vox story published on March 6th, 2020 noted how “numerous media outlets have associated the coronavirus with Asians, often using photography portraying Asians as the ‘face’ of the crisis.”

In one case, as reported by Vox, The New York Post used a picture of an Asian man wearing a mask in Queens in connection with a story about Manhattan’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, even though the case actually involved a Manhattan woman in her 30s who’d contracted the coronavirus from Iran.

New Vinyl Releases - RCS Music News Weekly

New Vinyl Releases

  • 2Pac’s Until the End of Time Slated for Re-Release as a Four-Album Set

Twenty years after its original release, UMe will re-release Tupac Shakur’s multi-platinum album Until the End of Time on July 23rd, 2021, as a four-album set on high-quality black vinyl. A special Estate pressing will also be released on bone vinyl, housed within a four-page LP folio book with previously unseen 2Pac photos and two special-edition lithograph cards only available at 2Pac’s official store.

  • UMe/Polydor Release Cream on Blue Vinyl

UMe/Polydor have released a limited-edition blue-vinyl pressing of Cream’s 1968 show at the Los Angeles Forum. Recorded during the band’s Goodbye Tour, the two-album set (taken from the 2020 full version of the Goodbye Tour 1968 on CD) is the first authorized release of the full concert on vinyl.

  • Steve Miller Releases Steve Miller

Steve Miller releases Steve Miller Band Live! Breaking New Ground – August 3, 1977 as a double black-vinyl set on May 14th, 2021. Recorded during the band’s August 1977 concert at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD, the vinyl release includes original liner notes by music journalist David Fricke (Senior Editor at Rolling Stone magazine). The album will also be available on CD and streaming platforms.

  • RAM Returns After 50 Years

Fifty years after its release, UMe will reissue Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 masterpiece RAM as a limited-edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing on May 14th, 2021. The only album to be credited to both Paul and Linda McCartney, RAM gave Paul McCartney his first post-Beatles American #1 single—the Grammy-winning “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.”

Royal City Studios

DYK: Royal City Studios Has Change Tables

Royal City Studios has change tables inside its fully accessible, gender neutral washrooms for parents who may be attending RCS events with babies or perhaps showing up to listen to their kids or friends rehearse. We felt this was important news to share (in case you were unaware) to emphasize that Royal City Studios is a respectful, inclusive, and fully accessible environment for the entire community.

mental health - RCS Music News Weekly

Emergency Brakes and Your Mental Health

Beginning Saturday, April 3rd, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., Ontario moves into a provincewide “emergency brake” order that stops short of a stay-at-home order but nonetheless has all the shades of lockdown. With the order comes a long list of what people and businesses can and can’t do, and RCS Music News Weekly certainly understands the order as further effort to contain the spread of COVID and its variants. Yet RCS Music News Weekly encourages everyone to remember that “emergency brakes” are only designed to protect physical health.

They do nothing to protect mental health because there is no “can and can’t” when it comes to who can be affected. So please keep careful stock of your mental health as we all move from one difficult situation to another.

Stay connected with people. Zoom-call with family. Remember that you can go outside for something as simple and restorative as a walk. And if the same four walls begin to feel like they’re closing in, please know that Royal City Studios’ rehearsal rooms and recording studio are open under COVID safety protocols to rehearse, record, or just jam.

Book online, call RCS at (226) 314-2177, email, or DM RCS on social.

Not a musician? Use a rehearsal space for whatever you need.

A rehearsal studio is simply a room with sound equipment, walls, and a door to ensure safe physical distancing, and RCS Music News Weekly has heard of people using rehearsal rooms during the pandemic for things like:

  • Dance
  • Photography
  • Podcast recording
  • Voiceover demos
  • DJ practice

It really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters—whether you choose to visit Royal City Studios or any local rehearsal/recording facility—is ensuring you take care to protect your mental health as much as you take care to protect your physical health.

RCS feels this message cannot be stressed enough, and to help ensure more people hear it, we encourage you to share this issue of RCS Music News Weekly with friends, family, or colleagues who may be feeling isolated and in need of connection.


Stay well. Stay awesome.