Monday, August 31, 2009

Listening to Ben Sures

Each time I listen to this album I like it more and more. Recently I got to listen to it on a drive back from Welland....good travelling music.
The first cut reminds me of Paul Simon "Dancer" and of course I love "If I Had a Ray Gun", isn't the cover art cool?
"Not on the Town" with Little Miss Higgins, "Til I Learned to Cook for You"...I could go on and on and would....but eventually my literary skills would be exhausted. He does get a lot of airplay on CBC, that much I know and I certainly enjoyed hearing him at the Edmonton Folk Fest.
Instead just get this CD from this Edmonton based singer/songwriter - that my friend Richard called the "pocket Leonard Cohen"...however, Ben is not in any way as morose and he is possibly insulted by that comparison. Suffice to say that he is comparable as a talented writer and I'm not sure how he feels about Buddhism.
(Full disclosure - he is the beau of Richard's indispensible assistant Shauna...) for more info...or check out

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Raw Aura

Thanks for the heads up from "Raw in Toronto" about this new - and I'm talking opened last Monday new - raw restaurant in Port Credit. I liked the funky table tops (cross sections of tree trunks) and warm vibe from this new spot in Mississauga. The music selection - some kind of hard driving alternative stuff - not so much. I was expecting more of a New Age soundscape or world music - something a little more gentle shall we say. I sampled the Pizza with marinara sauce - tender and delicious crust made from srouted buckwheat and vegetables and a creamy cashew "cheese", and I believe dehydrated parsnip slices and kale - all ingredients are organic you will be happy to know. Also sampled the Lasagna which had creamy elements but also a bite from the marinara sauce I believe. To finish: Pumpkin Pie...yum. The menu is extensive with a good selection of salads, appetizers, entrees and juices. Obviously word is spreading because they were pretty busy both with in house and takeout orders. It's very close to the Port Credit Go in case you were interested... Visit

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blunt Object at Tranzac

Tonight at there! The music of Carla Bley performed by some very fine young Toronto musicians under the direction of Robin Jessome. Th-th-that's all folks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Super to Sublime

Just for fun, I went down to the Ex last night as the Canadian National Exhibition is known - a country fair to the nth degree which has been happening in Toronto for decades and is the signal of the end of summer and back to school for the kids. I wandered through the games, eyeing the plush toys on offer and of course watched people on the midway rides - some of which made my stomach do sommersaults just observing. The real reason for heading down was to see those canine wonders - The President's Choice SuperDogs. The dogs were raring to go as you could hear them barking away while the emcee went through the pre-show. There was a Jack Russell (pretty fast on those wee legs), sheepdog, border collie, bulldog, Westie, and even a pair of very well trained Rottweilers - plus an assortment of purebreds and Heinz 57s. "So You Think You Can Dance" - dog version involved a few contestants weaving through a series of flags and being "marked" by a guest judge - a young lady named Sarah for speed, not missing a flag and style... And of course, the obligatory races with one side of the venue being pitted against the other...a lot of fun. And now for the Sublime... I visited Odile Chocolat which is on Dundas (between Euclid and Palmerston). Odile herself, and her charming Parisian tones welcomed me into this tiny boutique and kindly offered two sample of her lavender concoctions - a caramel and a truffle. Delicieux! How can I resist anyone who offers me chocolate? Made from 54% Callebaut chocolate her truffles contain such delightful flavours as cardamom (The Bollywood), Poire William; rum, orange and spices (Caribbean) and of all things wild mushroom (she has a Canadiana series) ! I'm going to have to try that one. Of course, next time. I purchased the Bollywood pair and the Romance - rose, champagne and black pepper.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Terrific Tomatoes, Tears with Laughter...

Hello, tomatoes! More are becoming red each day thanks to the recent spell of heat that we had...mmmmm... I can't say I ever get tired of fresh tomatoes or peaches and it's always miraculous to think these juicy marvels come from teeny seeds! And now to movies.... I finally got around (courtesy of the Toronto Public Library) to watching Bonnie Hunt's directorial debut "Return to Me". I am a huge fan of hers and love, love, love her talk show. Bonnie wrote the screenplay for this charmer along with Don Lake and of course has a role as Minnie Driver's friend and comic foil. A few Hunt family members and friends have also made their way into the cast - her sister, her mom (!), sidekick Holly - playing a particularly obnoxious blind date for David Duchovny, Don Lake (ditto for Driver), David Alan Grier and the beloved Carroll O'Connor. David's character loses his wife in a car accident, Minnie is waiting for a heart transplant...and of course, whose heart does she receive? Unknown to either of them is the special bond they have in common - so when they meet and fall in love complications ensue. I found the movie enchanting - I am such a sucker for romance and an element of magical, full confession I had the biggest crush - along with thousands of other women on David - thanks to "X Files".... Great tunes including Frank Sinatra and of course Dino - who sings the title tune and a wonderful supporting cast. No jazz to report at the moment other than that the ever popular "Sound of Toronto" jazz series from Jazz FM 91 is now on sale...lots of great performers on tap! I am going to a live to air interview in a couple of weeks to see a certain movie star handsome crooner...more details later...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Make a Wish


I am hoping this works - it's kind of fun having the expectation... Off to a "Moon over Mumbai" party tonight - Bollywood theme so I will use my teal and pink satin skirt/dress as sari and load on the jewellery - Indian food - my fave!! Tomorrow off to hear the divine Whitney Barris at Gate 403, 5 - 8 p.m. There's lots of jazz around town - Nancy Walker is at Chalkers tonight, Joel Haynes at the Rex....check it out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Le Boeuf Bros and Mike Ruby chez le Rex

After nearly falling asleep while reading a self help book I decided to get up off the couch and head down to the Rex. Fun set from these American brothers - Remy on Alto and Pascal on keyboards with our own Mike on tenor and the phenomenal Adam Arruda (also T.O's own) on drums. Lots of original tunes and at one point the audience got to bat around a red balloon...almost shades of the Jazz 4 Kids event I went to this afternoon. I found Adam's playing really compelling - he continues to grow and shine through his studies at the Brubeck Institute - has he graduated? I must note that everyone looked polished as well in spite of the Bikram Yoga session that is normally The Rex on a summer evening... Tomorrow some Frishberg a la Ilana Waldston at Trane.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Julie and Julia

Speaking of food - I almost forgot in avoiding the heat yesterday went to see this movie - which I have been anxious about since reading Julie Powell's book (she and I have a mutual David Strathairn fixation)... I really enjoyed it - I like Amy in whatever she does - adorable and Meryl - the woman is the acting goddess - plus, that skin! Luminous. AND there is Stanley Tucci - another of my crushes...and sigh, Paris!

Home-grown tomatoes, home-grown tomatoes

"What would life be without home-grown tomatoes? Only two things that money can't buy and that's true love and home-grown tomatoes.. (With credit to Guy Clark who wrote that great and very true tune). Harvested a few from the garden this morning along with kale and lettuce. The tomatoes were lovely chopped up with some basil, olive oil, a bit of garlic, touch of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt - over fresh pasta from Moncton Farm - a purveyor of bread and pasta from grains they grow, grind and process (and sell at our local farmer's markets). Hot as blazes here today so the gardening was done this morning. Right now I am hiding my delicate Celtic skin from the sun's harsh rays. I am enjoying the aromatic and silky body creme made by Malie - Pikake - a Hawaiian jasmine and typing with fingers adorned with "Hen Party" from Butter London - both purchased at the well stocked and friendly Lux Boutique on 124th street in Edmonton. Thanks for the suggestions. So many products and not enough funds - I also got a sample of a coconut body cream from 100 per cent pure which is divine.... I am so mad that I can't watch "Mad Men" tonight - don't get AMC - stupid Canadian networks not carrying it...grrrr!! I will have to make do with "Merlin" I guess - which is also fun. I'm going to try and cover "Jazz 4 Kids" at the station on Wednesday and catch the very witty and talented Ilana Waldston at Trane on Thursday - she's doing a tribute to one of my favourite songwriters - Dave Frishberg.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More photos from Edmonton

The soon to be retired Yardbird Suite logo (check out the blog posting on Jazz FM) - the new one is retro and fab.
I got a tour from Paul Wilde, President....

This is part of the interior - things have been shuffled due to the Fringe Fest taking over for a couple of tables.

Many exciting developments to happen in this space to improve on its' already stellar reputation.

My friend Richard's cozy and flower filled deck...

Vegetable garden with monster spaghetti squash - which he cooked and we ate with some tomatoes, feta, cheddar, butter, mint..mmm.

I also made a sorrel soup...

Sweetpeas, snapdragons, sunflowers, salpiglosis, godetia....he is a magician with plants...and the very best of friends.

Photos from Edmonton

A few pictures I snapped on my trip - mostly Folk Fest. This is the hill in front of mainstage on Wednesday night - tons of music fans!
My lovely friend Helen - office manager, pianist, teacher, accompanist, excellent cook, great sense of adventure, kind....gee does this sound like a personal ad? She keeps everything cool, calm and collected.
Sarah MacLachlin

Scottish group Breabach in the Backstage area, rehearsing...

Looking towards downtown...

A wonderful singer/songwriter Chuck Brodsky who sang a poignant tune called "Lili's Braids" - those same braids hang in the Holocaust museum in Israel....he was on one of the "workshop" stages.

The gentleman in black is Ben Sures - whom I've written about before - enjoyed listening to his album " Field Guide to Loneliness" - it also has great cover art...which is a lost art in itself.

This lady is the ethereal, exquisite Eivor - one of my favourite people at the Fest...

Can't wait to listen to her album...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rod Stewart

Yes, you read that right...Mr. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" himself....and many audience members did judging from the shrieks and at one point even the pair of periwinkle panties thrown onstage... Prepared with earplugs, I really enjoyed myself in spite of the decibel level. A nice gift perk, due to my friend Richard's connections. Resplendent in a raspberry sharkskin jacket, stovepipe pants and sparkling gold shoes, Rod strutted out on the all white stage which displayed at it's centre - the Celtic football club logo. Although he is not as spry as he used to be he puts on a great show, complete with sexy backup singers in matching raspberry dresses (sequined on top) reminiscent of Motown or 60's girl groups - and Rod did reference that era with a few Sam Cooke numbers - "Twistin the Night Away" among them. He also had a pretty good looking band dressed natch in sharkskin suits for the males and a striped silver and black mini for his leggy blonde sax player and a more discreet but snug black number on his violinist/mandolin player. A couple of changes of clothes - next up was a silver sharkskin jacket and then a white shirt and what I think were leather pants made to look like jeans - still the rocker. He deftly kicked a number of soccer balls during one number and obviously appeared to be enjoying himself. Included were of course" Maggie May" , "You're in my Heart" and "Tonight's the Night". During the O'Jay's "Love Train" an actual love train or chain of people was weaving around the main floor - who remained standing throughout most of the show I might add. Highlights included the contributions of the backup singers - great voices all and especially on the Tina Turner nod "Proud Mary"... Fun stuff.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Folk Fest - Sunday.....last day

Always a bittersweet time - great music but the festival winds down on this day a highlight for me was getting to go onstage with everyone at the end of the night to perform "Four Strong Winds" - a longtime tradition with audience participation. Yesterday morning after a brief shower which gave way to typical Alberta sunshine I took in "Next Gen" - a workshop led by Danny Michel (who I seem to have this weird habit of nearly colliding with on several occasions). A little bleary eyed and raspy voiced the group of performers nonetheless gave it their best effort. Danny joked that when he heard the title of the workshop he thought "Star Trek". Also onstage were Johnny Flynn sporting a very Canadian looking red plaid shirt, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, and Joel Plaskett who created an impromptu tune for the occasion " Don't Make Me Sing at 11 a.m." Johnny Flynn also commented that he didn't know if anyone had been to a British music festival but everyone there is a lot more angry...95% more angry..and said it was his responsibility to "bring it down". He certainly writes very poetic and evocative lyrics. Since we goddesses have to smell and look good I paid a visit to the Crafts tent and bought some deliciously scented (reminiscent of Turkish delight) soap called "Love" and get this - the company is called Goddess Temple Aromatherapy....appropriate, non? They make exquisite bath salts with various essential oil concoctions and have quotations from Doreen Virtue and Louise Hay - "Joy", "Muscle Soak", "Peace", "Love", "Relax".... check out www. I also bought a lovely little notebook cover with Japanese stitching - I will have to take a photo of that...the seamstress was a wealth of information - my pattern meant "strength". The Japanese created these patterns some 500 years ago. It will make my reporting duties that much more special... In spite of all these wonderful touchy feely experiences - there was a sour note - terrible customer service at the Ramada near the city airport. We were trying to check in and the clerk was not listening to my friend - they couldn't find a reservation for him through Folk Fest and kept saying they didn't have anything RIGHT NOW - instead of saying.....we don't have anything right now, when do you need the room and we can send someone from housekeeping to prepare.... Several phone calls later....problem solved - the room they gave us looked like it was prepared hours ago!! Either that or it magically materialized... Now the Folk Fest has done business there for 30 YEARS!! A lesson in customer service seems to be the order of the day...Contrast that with the nearby Starbucks experience where they were very cheerful and accomodating...sheesh. Back at site I listened to some of Hanggai from Mongolia - very wild - at points like thrash metal meets Mongolian folk music! A big crowd pleaser as was the opening act Idan Raichel a melange of people and musical styles with Israeli, Middle Eastern and Ethiopian influences - I think the Ashkenaz festival would be a good fit for them - with a message of peace and harmony - how Folk Fest.... Tonight is of all things Rod Stewart! Yes, Rod Stewart...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Folk Fest - Day 3

First off, my apologies for the lack of photo illumination of the performers I am seeing..I forgot a necessary component to attach myself to a power source and don't want to run the battery down trying to load photos...I am using my friend Richard's computer! I promise actual pictures later... I didn't realize I was a Rodney Crowell fan until last night - I really enjoyed his set on the Main Stage. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit - Johnny is a multi-instrumentalist and only 25 - his CDs were all sold out in the records tent. That apparently is something artists don't realize - how very well their recordings sell! Folk, like jazz of course is difficult to find in your average record store. Jill Barber sat in front of me - resplendent in a sleeveless polka dot dress, matching earrings and cute heels. Loudon Wainwright was a few chairs away in my row in the backstage area. Patty Griffin (who was after Johnny on the bill) watched Iron and Wine (actually just James Beam) from the side of the stage. She was luminous and I was ecstatic to hear "To the Top of the World" - her song, recorded by the Dixie Chicks on "Home". Methinks Mr. Beam is very popular with the younger set, particularly female - that sensitive guy, literate guy thing.... I also chatted with Alan Finkel from the Winnipeg Folk Festival - one of the sister festivals and an institution in its' own right. He was having a good time - says the two festivals are different, like comparing apples and oranges - for one the fact that Edmonton's happens in the city and Winnipeg's outside - where there is camping (more a throwback to 60's era folkfests) and there is a large contingent of American patrons, and some different programming. Really we are all just one big family...and every festival is unique and special. The hill was rocking for the last act of the evening - the energetic Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I'm sure she gets this all the time - but the woman is a dynamo, she puts, as they say in sports, 110 percent or likely 150 percent into her show. She even called some audience members up to help her out including one young man who really got into things... For me the workshop stages though are the heart and soul of the festival - a chance to get more up close and personal. I took in "MegaTunes" with Danny Michel, Jill Barber, Fred Eaglesmith and Loudon Wainwright III (I nearly collided with Danny in the kitchen area at lunch) - I always love to hear Danny - he is superb if you get the chance. Next, a bit of Pine Leaf Boys and Breabach and some shade...then onto Ben Sures who had a quartet - he said he is used to performing solo but the addition of bass, mandolin and voice was fun. My favourite tune of his was "I Used to have a Ray Gun"....also lovely" Man on the Verge of Tears". We shall call him the "pocket Leonard Cohen"....except far less morose but funny and self deprecating - he introduced his tune " "Till I Learned to Cook for You" as his love of cooking causing his previous girlfriends to gain weight and their method of weight loss he thinks was leaving him... Biggest and most delightful performance for me of the day? Eivor - a Faroese songstress I was expecting to be more acoustic - but she was actually very Kate Bush-like - techno, ethereal. She s described in the program as being like "if a mermaid sang". Gorgeous voice - soaring and crystalline - of course I bought the CD!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Folk Fest - Day 2

Washing floors, dishes, breaking down boxes, answering phones, picking up Vietnamese food for lunch...such is the glamourous life of the Jazz Goddess....
A recap of my musical adventures: last night was Boz Scaggs (whom I've had a huge crush on since I was a teenager - and he didn't disappoint). As the closing act he pulled out such hits as "Jojo", "Love Looked What You've Done to Me" and of course "Lido Shuffle" I was dancing in my seat backstage and many people crammed the dance area at the base of the hill. Steve Earle proved why he is such a beloved singer/songwriter and earlier Kathleen Edwards and Breabach charmed the crowd.
My Wednesday night experience was first of all exhilarating - with 5 minutes training, cashier in the Records tent - crazy busy - but good for the Festival. I heard Tracy Chapman - who sounded incredible and later Sarah McLachlin, looking radiant if a bit chilled in jeans, a fitted leather jacket and cozy raspberry fluffy scarf. She opened with one of my favourites "Building a Mystery" which coincidentally was playing on the Airporter bus radio to Pearson! "Born Innocent" , "Aidy" and an audience participation poll for a Joni Mitchell tune - "River" over "Blue". Encore "Better than Ice Cream" with obligatory audience sing along of course.
If you've never been the Folk Festival is an amazing experience - 30 years strong which is made possible by a really, really hard working staff and battalion of volunteers - some 2,200. It's an wonderful group of people many of whom have been giving their time and energy for years.
Special mention to my host Richard Stuart - who does a miraculous job as administrator of making sure i is dotted and t crossed, supplies delivered, patrons happy, funding in place, public informed...fires put out... etc. etc. etc.. 
For me, as it used to be, it's a time to encounter everyone I know in Edmonton and experience the magic of seeing the hillside lit up with candles.
Pictures to come...
Also a posting about a great new artist, winner of the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting competion, Ben Sures.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crazy times at Folk Fest

Well, a  brief update I am down at the Folk Fest office and helping to answer phones...which are ringing off the hook....exciting stuff.
That's all...later...

In Edmonton...finally

Thanks to a 3 1/2 hour delay at Pearson due to thunderstorms...or red alerts as the captain kept telling us....we stayed on the tarmac until there was enough of a window to finally depart Toronto. Good thing I had snacks and water and some fun entertainment to choose from....I watched "I Love you, Man" which is very funny and several episodes of "Breaking Bad" which I have heard great reviews of...but don't get this on cable...riveting in a car accident kind of way. I toured the Folk Festival site all ready to go for tomorrow evening and then had a great bubble tea at a little shop in Strathcona..."Dream Tea" - taro and coconut with lychee jelly and tapioca "bubbles" mmmmm.... More to come....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dahlen, Dahlias...darling....

Sugar overdose? Well, it is it at least organic...

This is the wonderful Sienna Dahlen performing a set of mostly her own music at Tequila Bookworm.

Ethereal, atmospheric...more art song but beautiful nonetheless.

With her are on violin are Jaren Freeman-Fox and visiting from Lugano, Switzerland on guitar Roberto Pianca (via New York)

Seen at the scene: Chris Gale (whose bad had the next set) Ben Dietschi, Nathan Hiltz, newlyweds Sophia Perlman and Adrean Farrugia. Sophia was also at Louisa LaBarbera's fab jewellery sale/open house/shmooze on Friday...I picked up some Majorca pearl drops - simple and classic and fun turquoise and cream earrings...shaped like a tiny ship's wheel.

These beauties...which are actually a deep burgundy are from my local farmer's market..where there is a cornucopia (love that word) of produce these days....cherries, raspberries, peaches, greens, beans, and all kinds of other colourful and nutritious items - it's very easy to eat the rainbow as they say.

I love dahlias and any big showy flower: peonies, gerbera daisies, stargazer lilies...I admired many fine flowered yards on my way home yesterday between Ossington and Shaw...

For lunch? Fresh corn! I personally am enjoying the summer, not finding it cool at all...but very comfortable and just right...not too hot, not too cold...

Only 3 more sleeps til my Western journey...