When Dustin Bentall was 12, he spent the summer with his parents at a cabin they bought in Cariboo Country, in British Columbia’s interior. There his father, veteran Canadian musician Barney Bentall, taught him the guitar part to the Tom Petty song “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Dustin loved it and played the song constantly. One day his dad took him into the city, stopping at a music store where Dustin got to try out the song on electric guitar, before proceeding on to his North Vancouver recording studio.

Recalls Dustin: “We arrived at the studio and my dad’s band was all there. He says to me, ‘Pick up that guitar and show the guys that song you know.’ I was pretty shy and hesitant at first. But I started playing and suddenly the entire band kicked in. Little did I know, but my dad had set this thing up. It was so much fun – I was over the moon. I had played the whole song with the Legendary Hearts backing me up.”

“I had an epiphany recently that it was time for me to embrace all the advantages I have, and that it would be stupid not to.” – Devin Cuddy

That was Dustin’s first taste of performance. His father never pushed it beyond that. After high school, music took a back seat to employment when Dustin worked for several years at a construction job. The turning point came with a car accident in 2004. “A friend and I miraculously survived a head-on collision,” says Dustin. “It got me writing songs and led me down the road of making my first album. Since then, I’ve never looked back.”

Dustin’s experience, although not the near-fatal car crash, is quite common with the offspring of well-known Canadian artists and SOCAN members. Most say their parents have been supportive of their musical interests, without ever pressuring them into careers. Some have sought parental input, while others have taken pains to remain independent. A few took to music at an early age, while most, like Dustin, only came around to it after pursuing school or other work experience.

Then there’s the case of Adam Cohen, son of Leonard Cohen. After releasing two albums under his own name and another with the band Low Millions, in which he studiously avoided similarities to his legendary singer-songwriter father, Adam finally accepted his musical DNA. His current album, Like a Man, is steeped in what he calls “the family business,” with songs strongly reminiscent of his dad’s style.

Like Adam, other sons and daughters of musical royalty have well-established careers. Rufus Wainwright and his sister, Martha Wainwright, have long since stepped out of the shadows cast by their parents, Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. Tal Bachman, son of Randy Bachman, scored a massive international hit with “She’s So High,” from his 1999 self-titled debut album, although he hasn’t released anything since his 2004 followup, Staring Down the Sun. Meanwhile Ariana Gillis, daughter of musician-producer David Gillis, is just 21 but has already released two albums and earned high praise, including kudos from Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin and veteran American rock critic Dave Marsh.

“At the end of the day, it’s just about the music,” – Dustin Bentall

Sisters Britt and Carly McKillip have never made any bones about their musical roots. Both of their parents are in the business: father Tom McKillip is a musician-producer, while mother Lynda McKillip is a songwriter. As country duo One More Girl, Britt and Carly called on their dad to produce their first album, 2009’s Big Sky, and turned to their mom for songwriting advice. The sisters began as child actors and each started piano lessons at the age of four. They insist it was never an easy ride.
“Nothing’s ever been handed to us on a silver platter,” says Carly. “In the early days, we felt that the McKillip name actually made it harder for us, because people were more judgmental and critical that there might be some nepotism involved, because of our parents.”

Similarly, Kandle Osborne found it hard to establish her own identity growing up in Vancouver, where her father’s reputation loomed large. Although her dad, 54-40 frontman Neil Osborne, was hugely supportive of her aspirations, few on the local scene viewed her as a credible budding artist. “I was just Neil’s daughter,” she says, “and this kid they’d seen growing up.”

After recording one album as the Blue Violets with her sister, Coral Osborne, and Louise Burns, Kandle headed to Montreal. She has since recorded a solo CD of six original songs, produced by her dad, and toured Ontario, Quebec and Europe. “It wasn’t until I moved to Quebec and got a whole new team around me that folks out west ended up listening to me for real,” says Kandle.
Does Kandle think that musical talent is a case of nature or nurture? “I don’t think it’s necessarily in your DNA,” she says. “It does have a lot to do with how you’re raised and who you’re raised by.” She adds, with a laugh: “I don’t know if I’d even play if I had been raised by lawyers.”

Devin Cuddy, son of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, agrees. “My love of jazz came as a direct result of my dad’s large CD collection,” says Devin, who admits that he resented being forced to take piano lessons as a child – until he discovered early jazz CDs and learned to play stride and boogie-woogie.
Devin, whose debut CD – a blend of country, blues and New Orleans sounds – comes out this fall, admits there was a time when he wasn’t so enamored of his dad’s line of work. “When I was in high school, I didn’t want everyone to associate me with my father,” he says. “But I was going through a bit of a punk phase then and rebelling against pretty much everything.”

That’s all changed. “I had an epiphany recently that it was time for me to embrace all the advantages I have,” says Devin, “and that it would be stupid not to.” He played piano on several tracks of his dad’s latest solo album, Skyscraper Soul, recorded his own album at the Blue Rodeo studio and has consulted the band’s manager, Susan de Cartier, for career advice.

Sam Cash has also taken full advantage of his parents’ connections. His 2011 debut album, Teenage Hunger, features such guests as Hayden, Serena Ryder and the Skydiggers’ Josh Finlayson. The son of musician and Member of Parliament Andrew Cash and manager Sandy Pandya, Sam says it all came about quite naturally. “I grew up in a very heavy music community, seeing my dad with members of the Skydiggers and other bands, while my mom was managing Hayden, Serena and Hawksley Workman,” he explains. “These people are like family to me.”

While his parents have been highly supportive, Sam insists they never forced him in a musical direction. “I actually think they were mildly terrified of me becoming a musician, because they know how difficult it is to make a living,” he admits. “They probably hoped I’d become a doctor or something.”

Advantages or not, each son and daughter of a star has to be able to deliver the goods. “At the end of the day, it’s just about the music,” says Dustin Bentall. “I’m thankful for all the opportunities my dad’s world has provided, but it’s still as much of a struggle for me as it is for anyone. I’m just trying to build my audience, one listener at a time.”

Translations prior to Fall 2013 are currently unavailable. 

En quelques années, le pianiste, percussionniste et compositeur d’origine cubaine Rafael Zaldivar s’est forgé une solide réputation en collaborant avec des grands noms du jazz d’ici et d’ailleurs. Sa démarche est instinctive mais également très rigoureuse et en fait un musicien unique en son genre.
Né au sein d’une famille d’intellectuels, Rafael baigne dans la musique depuis sa tendre enfance : « Deux de mes grands-parents étaient musiciens et ont été mes premiers professeurs dès l’âge de six ans. » Il bénéficie donc très jeune d’un environnement favorable au développement de son talent, lui qui fera, au-delà de ses études primaires en musique, des études musicales poussées en piano et percussions au Conservatoire de sa ville natale de Camaguey ainsi qu’à l’Institut supérieur des arts de la Havane et finalement à l’Université de Montréal et à McGill.

En plus du piano, il est formé aux percussions symphoniques et aux percussions traditionnelles cubaines, ce qui lui confère une vision rythmique très personnelle. Ses influences? « Depuis toujours, une de mes grandes influences au niveau du piano, c’est un membre de l’école nationaliste de musique cubaine : Ernesto Lecuona. » Lecuona était entre autres connu comme compositeur de zarzuelas, une forme de spectacle lyrique ou d’opérette. Zaldivar souligne également son grand intérêt pour le compositeur québécois François Morel en plus de mentionner plusieurs pianistes parmi lesquels Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum et Thelonious Monk.

« J’ai eu la chance de rapidement participer à plein de projets qui ont marqué ma carrière. C’est important de créer des liens avec d’autres musiciens. »

La musique occupe une place centrale dans la culture cubaine, permettant aussi aux musiciens d’aider leurs familles : « Dans mon pays d’origine, la musique est une façon de s’échapper du quotidien et parfois une possibilité de se sortir des difficultés financières. C’est un peu le monde à l’envers, à Cuba les professionnels éduqués ne gagnent pas nécessairement bien leur vie. »
Après deux tournées en Europe au sein de groupes de musique cubaine et la rencontre de différents musiciens de jazz américains venus donner des ateliers ou tout simplement jouer à La Havane, Rafael décide de s’orienter vers le jazz et commence à développer son propre projet. « Je me suis donné comme premier défi de connaître vraiment toute l’histoire du jazz. »

Rafael rencontre alors la violoniste québécoise Lisanne Tremblay, venue étudier la musique cubaine, qui deviendra par la suite son épouse. À son arrivée au Québec en 2003, il s’installe dans la région de Sherbrooke et s’inscrit dans un programme de francisation. Il trouve par la suite un premier emploi de professeur de piano dans une école du coin pour finalement venir s’installer à Montréal et compléter dans l’année suivante un baccalauréat en interprétation jazz à l’Université de Montréal.
Puis c’est la maîtrise à l’Université McGill et le début d’une série de collaborations toutes plus intéressantes les unes que les autres : « J’avais un plan, je voulais jouer avec les meilleurs musiciens d’ici. » C’est ainsi qu’il participe à une multitude de projets et partage la scène avec des incontournables tels que Rémi Bolduc, Yannick Rieu ou encore Jean-Pierre Zanella. « J’ai eu la chance de rapidement participer à plein de projets qui ont marqué ma carrière. C’est important de créer des liens avec d’autres musiciens. »

En plus de nombreuses autres reconnaissances, il remporte en 2009 le premier prix du Concours de la Relève Jazz en Rafale, ce qui l’amène à signer avec la prestigieuse maison Effendi avec laquelle il a fait paraître deux albums jusqu’à présent. Un excellent premier opus, Life Directions, sorti en 2010, sera suivi par le récent Drawing, sur lequel il bénéficie de la présence du saxophoniste Greg Osby. Les deux albums, dont la majorité des titres sont ses compositions originales, nous font découvrir son univers créatif.

« Dans mon cas, le processus de création se déroule sur plusieurs niveaux. Le premier niveau est intuitif, c’est là que l’inspiration entre en jeu et que je définis le thème ou le motif qui m’intéresse. Le second niveau est une démarche de recherche et d’organisation du son, et c’est en quelque sorte au troisième niveau que je combine les deux. » Sa discipline et son souci du détail sont indéniables et il ajoute : « Je vois la musique comme une science et le côté organisationnel est central pour moi. C’est pourquoi c’est cette étape qui est la plus longue. J’aime aller en profondeur des choses. »

Rafael Zaldivar s’impose comme un musicien à la démarche sérieuse et réfléchie mais qui ne manque pas non plus de spontanéité, lui qui dit aimer utiliser l’ensemble des outils qui s’offrent à lui.
Dès ce mois de septembre, Rafael devient professeur-assistant de piano jazz à l’Université Laval, en plus de poursuivre des recherches doctorales à l’Université McGill et d’avoir plusieurs concerts à son agenda, en lien avec ses différents projets. Pour plus de détails sur ses prochaines dates, consultez www.rafaelzaldivarmusic.com

In 2012, you’re sure to hear a lot more from Vancouver-based six-piece folk-pop band Good for Grapes. Formed while busking on a trip to Victoria in 2010, this gang of friends, fresh out of high school, has since become a real force, transitioning from street corners to large venues.

In just two short years, they’ve earned critical raves for their six-song eponymous EP, and won two national music competitions, the urMusic Battle of the Bands and Supernova’s “Band on the Run to the U.K.” In 2012, they embarked on their first cross-Canada tours, with audiences growing in every city, and signed with Watchdog Management (Mother Mother, Hedley).

“These last touring months have been wildly promising, and we’re seeing the results,” says guitarist/vocalist Daniel McBurnie. Good for Grapes is currently recording their first full-length album.