The 13th Annual Andy Kim Christmas Show

Andy Kim 2015 crop

The 13th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON (Canada), on 6 December 2017. Begun in 2005 by the singer-songwriter (“Rock Me Gently,” “Sugar, Sugar”) for whom it is named, the Andy Kim Christmas Show has become an annual Toronto tradition, with proceeds benefiting various charitable organizations. Several years ago, Kim began adding a second holiday show in his birth city of Montreal, QC; this year’s event will be held at the Corona Theatre on 16 December 2017.

Proceeds from the Toronto show to benefit The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Gifts of Light program.

Proceeds from the Montreal show to benefit Starlight Children’s Foundation.

To make a donation to either of these organizations, click on the link(s) above.

See also:

Andy Kim Facebook page

Edit 11/18/17—Andy Kim on The Morning Show, AM640, 15 November 2017 (audio only)

Edit 11/25/17—Andy Kim on The Stafford Show, 24 November 2017 (audio only)

Edit 11/25/17—Andy Kim discusses lineup for annual charity show on CP24 (video)

Highlights from a few past Andy Kim Christmas Shows

2008:

2009:

2010:

2011:

2013:

2014:

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Andy Kim To Be Inducted Into Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame

It's Decided

Andy Kim Announces 11th Annual Christmas Show, Is 2016 Inductee to Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame

The past couple of weeks have been busy but very exciting ones for Andy Kim. The Montreal-born singer has just wrapped up a tour of western Canada and is about to start gearing up for his next scheduled appearance, the 11th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (December 9 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto). On Thursday, October 29, Kim found time to sit down with Jeremy Dodge on CTV Morning Live in Saskatoon to discuss his storied career in music. In addition, Canadian Music Week has announced Andy Kim as 2016 inductee to the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame—a honor truly deserved.


Edit: 22 Nov 2015

Lineup for the 11th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (9 Dec 2015) has been announced. Artists include:

  • Tom Cochrane
    Barenaked Ladies
    Cowboy Junkies’ Michael and Margo Timmins
    The Trews
    Ron Sexsmith
    Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning
    Honeymoon Suite
    Kardinal Offishall
    Finger Eleven
    Tom Wilson
    Tomi Swick

In addition, the event is going to be live streamed on the Internet. All proceeds from the show will be donated to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation Gifts of Light.


Edit: 28 Nov 2015

The Andy Kim Christmas Show will also take place in Montreal at the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre on 12 December 2015. Lineup will include Ron Sexsmith, Kevin Drew, Sam Roberts Band, Brendan Canning, and Amy Millan among others. Click on one of the links above for ticket info.


Kim got his start as a teenager in the famed Brill Building in New York City, meeting songwriter-producer Jeff Barry and recording a number of singles and albums for Barry’s own Steed Records label, including “How’d We Ever Get This Way,” “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby” (which Kim recently re-recorded for his newest studio album, It’s Decided) and “So Good Together,” as well as remakes of the Ronettes hits “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You,” both Barry with Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector and the latter of which earned Kim his first gold record in 1969. That same year, the Andy Kim/Jeff Barry-composed “Sugar, Sugar” was released by The Archies and went on to reach #1 on the charts and become RIAA Record of the Year; it too went gold as did the band’s followup single, “Jingle Jangle,” also penned by the Barry/Kim team. In 1974, with Jeff Barry having dissolved Steed Records, Kim recorded the self-penned “Rock Me Gently” and released it on his own label, Ice Records. The success of the single in Canada led Capitol Records to sign him to a recording contract and release the record here in the States where it soared to the top of the charts and added another gold record to Kim’s collection.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Kim recorded under the name Baron Longfellow (a moniker bestowed upon him by his manager at the time, the late Gordon Mills) before reverting back to Andy Kim in the new millennium. In 2010, Kim’s first studio album in 20 years, Happen Again, was released; earlier this year, 2015, Kim released It’s Decided, produced by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and released on Drew’s Arts & Crafts label. A short documentary of the same name was filmed in Manhattan during Kim and Drew’s sojourn to the city last March to perform one of the album’s cuts, “Sister OK,” on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Click to read the announcement from Canadian Music Week

Read more about the 2016 Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame induction.

Andy Kim – It’s Decided (Short Documentary):

“Rock Me Gently” (live) – Andy Kim, 1974

“Sugar, Sugar” (live) – Baron Longfellow (aka Andy Kim), 1983

“Shoot ‘Em Up Baby” – Andy Kim (2015 version)

It’s Decided: Andy Kim Releases New Album

Andy Kim

Montreal native Andy Kim, who shot to fame in the late 1960s-early 70s with tunes such as “Baby, I Love You” (singer), “Sugar, Sugar” (composer), and “Rock Me Gently” (both), has just finalized work on his newest album. Written and produced with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, It’s Decided is scheduled to hit the streets in February 2015.

While just a teenager, Kim joined forces with legendary Brill Building songwriter and producer Jeff Barry. Signed to Barry’s label, Steed Records, Kim was a steady presence on the charts for several years, beginning in 1968 with his first Steed single, “How’d We Ever Get This Way.” More hits followed—remakes of The Ronettes’ “Baby, I Love You” (which earned Kim his first gold record) and “Be My Baby,” and originals such as “So Good Together,” “Rainbow Ride,” and “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby.” The latter has been re-recorded for Kim’s newest album, with a fantastic new arrangement; you can listen to this glorious new version by accessing the player below.

During his years with Barry, Kim collaborated with his producer and mentor on several tunes to be recorded not just by Kim but by other artists as well. One of these, “Sugar, Sugar,” by The Archies (studio singers Ron Dante and Toni Wine), sailed to the top of the charts, earning a gold record and becoming the RIAA Record of the Year for 1969. The band’s follow-up single, “Jingle Jangle,” also composed by the Barry/Kim team, didn’t do too badly either, hitting the Top Ten and garnering a second gold disc for the group. In 1974, Kim earned a second gold disc as a recording artist with the self-penned classic “Rock Me Gently.” After the success of this single and an eponymous LP released on Capitol Records, Kim laid low for a few years before re-emerging in 1980 under the name Baron Longfellow; “Amour,” his first single under his new moniker, enjoyed chart success in his native Canada.

Having returned to using the name Andy Kim in the 1990s, the singer teamed up with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson for the single “I Forgot to Mention” in 2004. Kim’s first album in 20 years, Happen Again, was released in 2010. Now, in conjunction with Kevin Drew and Arts & Crafts Productions, Kim is presenting his newest collection of contemporary music—which, if the track samples are any indication (and they are), promises to appeal to old and new fans alike. The beauty of Kim’s voice remains unchanged; time has not altered its clarity, strength, or captivating nuances. It’s Decided is available on Amazon.com as an MP3 album (release date 24 February 2015); preorder now and enjoy an immediate download of “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby.”

See also: Andy Kim artist page on Oldies Connection

Edit (26 January 2015): “Longest Time” by Andy Kim, from the forthcoming album It’s Decided

Ain’t It Good, Ain’t It Right: Ode to a Classic

Andy Kim 1974

Forty years ago today (September 28), Andy Kim‘s enduring classic, “Rock Me Gently,” hit the top of the U.S. charts. Of course, back then the song wasn’t yet a classic, enduring or otherwise. The track had just been recorded a few months earlier, and the single was released in June, when it began its steady climb to the #1 position. For disc jockeys and program directors, it was little more than business as usual; records hit the streets, get included on radio playlists and loaded into jukeboxes, garner radio play, are purchased at retail outlets, and (hopefully) ascend the charts, with the lucky ones going all the way to the pinnacle. An everyday occurrence and nothing to get worked up over. For Andy, however, the process was nothing short of a miracle.

When Andy Kim finished composing “Rock Me Gently” in February of 1974, he knew he had come up with a winner. He could feel it in his very heart, through which the melody and lyrics had flowed with sublime ease during a ten-minute session on guitar. So convinced was he that this was the song that would mark his return to the music charts that he carefully put his guitar down and proceeded to do a hand-spring across his living room, followed by a return hand-spring back to his instrument and the window through which he’d been gazing as the poetry residing in his soul was made manifest. It was the sort of moment we all live for, when everything comes together and the less athletically inclined among us pump our fists in the air—”YES!” A moment of joy when our grins all but split our faces in two, and we feel at one with the Universe. For some people, this happens only a handful of times in a lifetime.

Yet Andy’s euphoria was quickly followed by a strong dose of reality: He had been without a record label since the previous year, and if his new creation was to see the light of day, he had to get that little dilemma solved. And fast. Though only in his twenties, he knew that time waits for no man; all we have is the present in which to act. This was a life and work ethic to which Andy held fast. He had had a run of success as a songwriter and recording artist on Jeff Barry’s Steed Records from 1968 to 1971, recording eleven singles and three albums for the label. Five of those singles, including his first effort, “How’d We Ever Get This Way,” hit the national Top Forty; his remake of “Baby, I Love You,” which has come to be as identified with Andy as with the group that originated it, The Ronettes, made the Top Ten and earned Andy his first gold record. After Jeff Barry discontinued Steed Records and relocated from New York to California, Andy was signed to Uni and recorded an eponymous album for the label, in 1973. The Montreal-born singer of Lebanese extraction was accustomed to moving forward; he hadn’t become a successful singer/songwriter by resting on his laurels or sitting on his ass. There was work to be done, arrangements to be made, music to record. Details such as booking a studio and finding a record company willing to press and release this new creation of his had to be seen to, as well as getting all of the promotional ducks in a row. Andy enlisted the help of his older brother, Joe, to help with the business end of his chosen profession; then he raided his piggy bank for the funds needed for studio time. The record wasn’t going to cut itself.

Andy Kim, 1970s

For a time it looked as if the record wasn’t going to be cut at all. But Andy was nothing if not resourceful, and he decided to bring Muhammad to the mountain, so to speak, by founding his own label, Ice Records—a fitting name for a Canadian-based company—and proceeding with the studio work on pure faith. After getting the track laid down to his satisfaction and with the remaining session time down to minutes, Andy made the decision that, rather than his recording another song as a “B” side for “Rock Me Gently,” its flip would be the instrumental backing track (which would be entitled “Rock Me Gently [Part II]”). Actually, the decision was made for Andy by his newly svelte piggy bank, which vetoed the idea of paying for another session.

Andy had done all he could. Things were now in the hands of the gods … who came through with flying colors when the folks at Capitol Records heard “Rock Me Gently” and decided to sign Andy to a record deal and to release the single, with its instrumental counterpart on the B side. Andy was on his way, and the song itself was on its way to attaining hit status.

The rest is musical history. “Rock Me Gently” began a steady climb to the top of the (U.S.) charts and would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 28, 1974. It would go on to hit the #2 spot on the U.K. Singles Chart two weeks later, on October 12, 1974, and subsequently garner a second gold disc for Andy (which was intercepted and informally presented to him by John Lennon at the Capitol Records building!). In the years since, the song has stood the test of time and become a pop standard. It remains in constant rotation on classic rock radio stations and is probably being played somewhere on the planet at just about any given moment. It’s even been used in commercials. And, in 2012, Andy Kim himself good-naturedly recorded a parody of the song, entitled “Mock Me Gently,” for Toronto radio station CHBM-FM (Boom 97.3)’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.

Andy Kim - Gold Record

“Rock Me Gently” came into being at the perfect time. First of all, it’s a wonderful dance tune, so it’s fitting that it became a hit as disco was emerging as a musical genre. Second, and perhaps more important for reasons of longevity, the song is classy; it makes perfect sense that it became a classic. “Rock Me Gently” is both romantic and sexy, without being blatantly sexual or using explicit lyrics of any sort; the physical intimacies are hinted at rather than baldly spelled out, with whatever may have been taking place between the sheets laying between the lines. It’s the perfect song for amorous couples to listen to during romantic nights in front of the fireplace, and in fact the track has shown up on more than one CD compilation of love songs. It’s safe to say that Andy Kim’s financial investment has paid off many times over—and his personal and emotional investment continues to pay off, with  multiple generations of music lovers reaping the dividends. Thanks to the dream and vision of Andy Kim, “Rock Me Gently” has become part of the world’s DNA.

Videos

Andy Kim – “Rock Me Gently” (official video):

Live Performance of “Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim on Top of the Pops (UK, October 1974):

TV Commercial for Jif Cleaner (UK):

2008 Jeep Liberty “Pouring In” Commercial feat. “Rock Me Gently” (US, 2007):

Andy Kim (with Blair Packham) performing “Mock Me Gently” for Boom 97.3 FM’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest (Toronto, 2012):

Distinguished Artists: Interview with Andy Kim (2009):

“Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies: Still sweet after 45 years

Sugar, Sugar - The Archies

It was forty-five years ago today—September 20, 1969—when The Archies‘ “Sugar, Sugar” reached #1 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. This was a remarkable feat for a group that had never toured or made personal appearances, mainly because the band was, well, animated. Yet this animated band managed to not only hit the top spot on the charts but to remain there for a solid four weeks, with “Sugar, Sugar” ultimately becoming the #1 song of the year and garnering a gold record from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

“Sugar, Sugar” was actually The Archies’ third single, preceded by “Bang Shang a-Lang” and “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O.).” Like the latter tune, “Sugar” was composed by producer Jeff Barry and Andy Kim; and, as with all of The Archies’ recordings*, the lead vocals were provided by session singer Ron Dante (who, incidentally, went on to have an enormously successful career as a producer himself, working with Barry Manilow and Cher among others). Ron was kind enough to provide some details of the session, which he modestly referred to as “just another Archies session at RCA Studio C in New York.”

Ron Dante:

Jeff Barry and Andy Kim were working on the Sugar, Sugar track when I arrived to do vocals. Jeff was working with the band to get just the right feel for the song. Andy [played] guitar for the band to show them just the right tempo and pocket. Jeff worked especially long on the bass part with Chuck Rainey and it turned out to be perfect. … My good friend Ron Frangipane played the keyboards.

Of course, with studio time being a precious commodity—running just a minute over could result in being charged for another session—decisions needed to be quick, and allowances had to be made for slight mishaps. Ron continues:

Andy broke his guitar pick and had to use a matchbook instead. That’s the sound of the guitar that everyone loved.

Now that the backing track was laid down, it was time for Ron to begin work on the vocals:

I remember working a little longer than usual on the lead vocal. I had in my mind Donovan’s sound and it worked. I doubled tracked my voice and did a solo one with a harmony in the middle verses.

Singer-songwriter Toni Wine (who currently tours with Tony Orlando as a member of his band) provided female vocals for The Archies for the first two years of the group’s existence. On “Sugar, Sugar,” it’s Toni who sings the line “I’m gonna make your life so sweet.” Her voice was a perfect complement to Ron’s:

Toni Wine and I then did background voices. She had this wonderful street type of sound that blended with my voice so the backgrounds really took off. Jeff did a quick mix as he sat at the board and as usual it sound[ed] like a hit.

Which, of course, it was. “Sugar, Sugar” went on to be covered by many other artists, including Wilson Pickett, Tina Turner, Bob Marley, Jonathan King (under the name Sakkarin), Gladys Knight & The Pips, Micky Dolenz** (in 2012)—and even the song’s co-composer, Canadian singer Andy Kim, who recorded it in the early 1980s under the name Baron Longfellow. The original track by The Archies has not been absent from the airwaves since its 1969 release; it’s an enduring classic that has been featured in several TV shows and films, including The Simpsons, Cake Boss, From the Earth to the Moon, Now and Then, and Bee Movie. It has also been used in commercials and even greeting cards.

That “Sugar, Sugar” enjoyed such enormous success, reaching #1 during the psychedelic era (and a bare month after the festival at Woodstock) is a testament to its awesomeness. Or, putting it another way, good music is good music. The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” had just the right ingredients: A catchy tune, great hook, solid production, wonderful musicianship by studio veterans (in addition to those mentioned by Ron above, musicians on the session included Gary Chester on drums and Dave Appell on guitar), and fantastic vocals. “Sugar, Sugar” has become part of the planet’s DNA; regardless of age, millions of people are familiar with the song and can even sing along. Billboard has listed the Archies’ recording as #73 on its All-Time Top 100 Songs.

Thanks to the collective efforts of music supervisor Don Kirshner (1934-2011), producer Jeff Barry, Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Toni Wine, and a talented group of A-list session musicians, mankind was blessed with an upbeat tune that will endure for generations. Or, putting it another way, the world is a much sweeter place because of the events on a single day in 1969 at RCA’s Studio C.

Notes:

*Ron Dante sang lead on every Archies recording except the 1971 single “Love is Living In You,” for which lead vocals were provided by songwriter Bob Levine; why this track was released as an Archies record remains a mystery to this day. [This note was edited on 11/8/14 to change the name of the singer; it was originally thought that composer Richie Adams sang lead on “Love is Living In You,” but a comment on a YouTube video by Mr. Levine cleared up the confusion!]

**Although the rumor has persisted for years that “Sugar, Sugar” was offered to The Monkees before The Archies,  its songwriters have both refuted this claim: Jeff Barry stated in an interview that he did not remember this being the case, while Andy Kim has said that the song was written specifically with The Archies in mind.

Videos:

The Archies: Official video for “Sugar, Sugar”

Ron Dante: Video from c. 1971, featuring The Archies’ lead singer performing the song in triplicate

Andy Kim: Performing “Sugar, Sugar” as Baron Longfellow in 1983

The Simpsons: Brief clip of Homer Simpson singing along with The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”

A little Halloween fun: “Sugar, Sugar” Babies

Discuss: Has Archie Comics Gone Too Far?

Life With Archie #36

The following is from another one of my blogs (Laura Pinto, Writer and Author). This post can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link below the text. I would love to hear your opinion—what do YOU think? By deciding to kill off the (adult) character of Archie Andrews, has Archie Comics gone too far?

~~~~~~

Most people who haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past couple of days have heard the news about Archie Comics’ plan to kill off its namesake and flagship character, Archie Andrews, in a forthcoming issue of Life With Archie: The Married Life. For those not familiar with the series, Life With Archie: The Married Life, which debuted in 2010, is a comic magazine with two discrete story arcs, both of which take place in the future when the former teenagers from Riverdale are in their twenties. In one, Archie is married to Veronica Lodge; in the other, Betty Cooper is the lucky bride. This phenomenon, which is explained away as parallel universes, had its genesis in Archie #600-605, a six-part “fantasy” storyline which began in October of 2009. (This feature was followed by an epilogue in Archie #606 in which Archie is, once again, a high-school student in the present day.) Life With Archie: The Married Life was first published in August of 2010, with a frequency of ten (10) issues per year.

Read more here:

via Laura Pinto, Writer and Author: Has Archie Comics Gone Too Far?.

Kevin Drew and Andy Kim collaborate on new album

Andy Kim and Kevin Drew

An interview with Kevin Drew and Andy Kim, two musicians from different eras in Canadian music, is more than a conversation about their working relationship and their new records. It’s more like group therapy with two men who love each other deeply. Andy Kim, 61, is a Canadian pop icon (Sugar Sugar, Rock Me Gently) old enough to be Kevin Drew’s father. Despite selling millions of records, he’s spent more than half his 45-year career in silence, considering himself “irrelevant.” His 2010 comeback album Happen Again was his first in more than 25 years. It did not, in fact, make it happen again. Drew, 37, is the bandleader of Broken Social Scene, the rock group whose expansive sound—and large lineup, which included Feist and members of Stars and Metric—put Toronto on the international music map.

Read more:

via Kevin Drew and Andy Kim collaborate on new album.

and Q&A: In conversation with Arts and Crafts founder Kevin Drew