Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jazz on the wing....

Check out the Firefly Cabaret at Hugh's Room tomorrow night - it features vocalists Kellylee Evans, Shannon Butcher, Chantelle Wilson, Elizabeth Shepherd and a couple of gents in there - not counting the house band - Tyler Yarema and Johnny Favourite and a cast of thousands - including one Jaymz Bee - future mayor of Toronto as it's a fundraiser for Camp Quality - sending kids with cancer for clean air, fun and laughter.

Visit or for more details.....I'm guessing it's SRO for this fine event....

I was chatting with Chris Butcher this afternoon and there will be a post on the "Heavyweights Brass Band" coming up on the Jazz FM blog shortly....

Tomorrow it's "Cocktails for Two" at the Spice Route or more likely two hundred since it's a social for the U of A Alumni (of which I'm one)....having walked by this place in my neighbourhood I'm looking forward to checking out the interior.....

Melissa Stylianou is in town - and I'm going to worship this Greek goddes at the Rex this Saturday for the 9:45 show....

And on Friday, I will return to my usual haunt, Azure to visit with Dan Bodanis and the's been too long! Plus the Slocan Ramblers Bluegrass Band is at Graffiti's in Kensington...yee haw.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Perils of blogging

Check out Danny Fong - a student at Humber College, from Saskatchewan - very cool. Thanks to friends of my brother Colin's for turning me on to this young man - check out all his videos on You Tube.

Part of what I love about blogging is the opportunity of expressing myself - however, there is always the potential dark side - someone may take offense at what you write. I always strive to be positive and supportive and remind readers that my views are my own and subjective - what I like you may not like but I always appreciate the talent and hard work that goes into someone's recording or performance. A friend of mine forwarded me an example of the perils of the blogosphere - the review of a theatre performance in Edmonton at the Fringe - which I did not find negative or "snarky" and "pretentious" that was the criticism of the theatre company's artistic director who proceeded to slag the blogger and cast aspersions shall we say - most upsetting to me as he was one of my favourite actors when I lived in Edmonton.

I hope to never ever be in this position but when you put yourself out there well....there may be more to the story than I know - I just found the reaction to be extreme to say the least and certainly did nothing to further themselves in the public's view. The blogger mainly writes about the food scene - check it out for yourself...

On a food note, today I have made the "Chocolate Zucchini Spice Cake" - in a bundt pan with Chocolate Ganache from Jae Steele's "Ripe from Around Here"....yummm

Exciting news - a new veg restaurant in the former Full Moon space - I was distressed to see it closed and missed the many fine meals prepared and served by Ken and his family. I understand from the new owners they expect to open their newly renovated "Greens Vegetarian" next month....hooray!! Thank you Full Moon for many a pleasurable dining and take out experience...all the best!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Thanks to intern Jesse Corrigan - I was given the heads up on exciting developments with this stellar band of musicians - which includes founder and trumpeter David Buchbinder, pianist Hilario Duran, Mark Kelso and bassist Roberto Occhipinti - Roberto is producing their upcoming album - slated for release in January 2011.

An incredible fusion of influences from Arabic, Roma,  Sephardic, Cuban and North African the next incarnation features vocals for the first time - vocalist and Juno Maryem Tollar to be exact will add Ladino inspired flavour to the group.

The group is scheduled to perform at the upcoming Ashkenaz festival - be sure to catch this award winning collection of musicians, producers, composers and educators.

Visit for more info....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catching up with some "Jazzology" grads

Although the summer has flown by, it was time for me to get back into the jazz groove so to speak and head to Gate 403 last night. Courtney Quebec Desloges on pianos and vocals, Martin Kuwawi on guitar and Andrew Pacheco on bass - 3 grads and Yorkians....

I was delighted to see in the audience vocalist man about town Ori Dagan and "Jazzology" grads Ben Young and the every effervescent Danica Leigh - who tells me she is pursuing a Master's degree at York in the fall...I hope to hear her sing again soon as she is delightful and very very promising - she positively glows.

Celebrity sighting of the day: Don McKellar at Ella's Uncle yesterday morning. Swoon - yes, I have a thing for the intellectual and artistic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I got hooked on this great HBO series on Air Canada - hmmm either this means I need to get this channel or catch up on DVDs...much like my "Mad Men" addiction....

Besides great characters and stories set in the birthplace of jazz - New Orleans, post Katrina - it also features the trials and tribulations of jazz
 musicians of that storied city. Plus there is Steve Zahn...whom I adore....

And now children the jazz roundup...speaking of New Orleans style - check out the Heavyweights Brass Band beginning their monthly house gig at the Painted Lady on Ossington this Thursday, starting around 9ish - I have blogged about these talented up and comers before - brass band with several twists - including covers of....wait for it...."Bad Romance" ...uh huh, that's right - Lady Gaga....among other pop faves. Thanks to Chris Butcher for the tip...

Tomorrow night - chanteuses galore - Courtney Quebec Desloges and her group at Gate 403 from 5 - 8 p.m. and the ever witty and talented Ilana Waldston with perpetually youthful Reg Schwager and the lovely Ross McIntyre at Ten Feet Tall starting at 8 p.m.  One of my favourites Melissa Lauren is at Chalkers on Wednesday, opening for Girls Night Out and also at Just Thai on Church Street on Friday and at Ten Feet Tall from 3:30 - 6:30 on Sunday....there may be a little ukelele in the mix....

At the Rex, from the U S of A, the luscious LeBoeuf Brothers....late show 9:30...that's sounds a little risque doesn't it? Although I'm sure it's pretty G  rated for GREAT. They have proven a treat when they have visited our fair burg on previous occasions.

For tromboneophiles there is the Toronto Trombone Collective at the Tranzac on Friday from 7:30 - 9:30 featuring Nathan Dell Vandenburg's compositions among others.

Upcoming - a feature on Odessa/Havana as I was contacted by one Jesse Corrigan about their upcoming appearance at Ashkenaz and new album...stay tuned.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pampered Princess

I am coming to grips more with Ivy's passing and am entertaining the possibility of a new cat or cats...time will tell....I still have my moments. As a diversion, a show and tell of my purchases (from the Crafts tent) and primping while in Edmonton....

Above is sideways image of my Folk Fest with blue sparkly image....and above is my octopus pendant/necklace from Mystic Glass Creations - they had seahorses, jellyfish and all kinds of beautiful and amazing glasswork - jewellery, belt buckles, including a small globe which looks like a sea anenome (sp?) encased inside - they are on Vancouver Island and drove all the way to Edmonton - met them in the Folk Fest office with their small children - a little blond haired girl in a cute teal sundress made by her grandma.

This beautiful bag is by Rimanchik out of Montreal - loved the taspestry part of it and many were admiring it afterwards....

The earrings by Bejewelled and Ponderosa designs - Edmonton based designers - I liked teh simple Celtic swirl on the silver ones - reminded me of designs I saw in a Celtic site in Portugal. Next to them beautiful vintage Swarovski crystals.

I also got more bath salts from Goddess Temple Aromatherapy...divine, plus a scent I am drawn to - body lotion in Love - contains some rose geranium...wonder what that indicates about me...

I had a fabulous facial at "Focus on You", Richard's facial place with Sothys products - I will have to track those down here in T.O. My esthetician Elizabeth gave me some samples to tide me over - I wonder why more places don't have their extra comfy tables/chairs - curved and with armrests - I had to  remind myself to stay awake....many clients apparently don't!

Thanks to a tip from Box Office staffer Jacelyn I went to "Happy Feet" for a mani/pedi - and the staff were as predicted wonderful and gave a great and cheerful  service - great prices too. You can even get reflexology treatments - I'm definitely going to have to check them out when I go back. They're at 104 Ave and 121 Street - North side...The staff were working on "designs" in their in between clients time - creating daisy patterns....

While we are talking indulgences check out Duchess Bakery on 124 Street - a couple of blocks north of  104 Avenue - the ultimate patisserie - great coffee and tea and incredible pastries - the classics - brioche, macarons, croissants and everything sous le sol. It's a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and is furnished with care and style for your pause cafe. There are also numerous samples - in house made marshmallows etc. etc. In fact, I am told that if you live in the neighbourhood - resistance is futile.

Friday, August 13, 2010

For the Love of Ivy

Although we knew the day was coming - she was over 20 years old - which is about 98 in people years it's never ever easy.

Weirdly it was like she was waiting for me to return from Edmonton before saying goodbye. She was very cuddly on Wednesday night and Thursday morning - ate her breakfast and then became listless as the day progressed, having trouble standing culminating in a couple of unearthly howls in the evening - which resulted in a trip to the vet.

With great care and much sadness we made the decision to prevent further suffering - a variety of tests and blood samples couldn't guarantee they would help her, the vet advised and after talking with him we noticed her getting further away from consciousness and her breathing becoming laboured.

Ivy was a character from the get go - a feisty little ball of fluff with bright blue eyes - born in an artist's studio at Harcourt House in Edmonton - with her three siblings, she was a beautiful cat. Her quirks included hanging off the screen door when she wanted in, climbing up our pant legs - hence her name "Ivy", eating through a plastic covered Angel Food Cake while we heard the rustling sounds when we were drifting off to sleep - loved playing and running through the house at high speed, skidding like a cartoon cat as she hit the landing on the way downstairs, leaping out at a boy walking down the street in her sideways "Hallowe'en" cat stance - causing not fear but hilarity in her "victim", hissing at the raccoons when we lived in Mississauga, cuddling in bed with her in the mornings and of course her vocalisings - more like "mrap" than meow.

Thank you for all the love and joy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Folk Fest Finale

Yet another great day and evening on Sunday the last day of Folk Fest...Te Vaka and their great South Seas sounds and visuals....check out the dancers, visceral drum beats and some more "modern" tunes - they also entertained at the volunteer party later....a lovely evening shot of the sky from the backstage area....and below a lovely dancer from Te Vaka.

The delightful duo of Aterciopelados - Columbian superstars with a social conscience was a major crowd pleaser for the Latin contingent in the audience. They also tossed out frisbees - made of recycled materials and each one with a unique artisan sweet.

Four Men and A Dog got all the dancers up and bopping along to their Celtic rhythms and someone I wasn't expecting to like - Jakob Dylan really, really drew me in...perhaps it's those hypnotic eyes - maybe some genetic charisma from Mr. Bob? Finally it was time for the legendary John Prine who definitely didn't disappoint - it was interesting watching singer/songwriters Dan Wilson and Chris Tupper listening reverently in the backstage area.

Dan Wilson at his concert and Lunch at Allen's

which features Murray McLaughlin, Ian Thomas (sounds exactly like his brother Dave and is also funny) Cindy Church and Marc Jordan. Again -  more Dailey and Vincent, their bass vocalist Christian is second from the right - and a hottie, I might the way Dan Wilson had one of the most exquisite lines I have ever heard in a song "I opened up to you like wings on a warm day"....folk artists are amazing....

With a twist to Folk Fest tradition - before the usual "Four Strong Winds" - with the composer himself onstage -  Ian Tyson,  Melanie recalled a certain festival of some 40 odd years ago with "Candles in the Rain" sing along (that's Woodstock for you young folks).

It's with some sadness I leave Edmonton today and return to Toronto - part of what makes the city and the festival great is the genuine warmth of people here - thanks to all the incredibly hard working staff and volunteers who make this miracle of music happen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Musical Magic

Well, it was a gorgeous summer day yesterday in Edmonton and that day was filled with great music.  This was the first workshop I took in with Natacha Atlas and her beautiful Arabic influenced sounds...she and her musicians were sharing the stage with Genticorum from Quebec - they were incroyable.

Want to know what the food is like in the kitchen - always a marvelous variety of choice and it's delicious - yesterday there was a curry, (always a hot dish), many salads, veggies and dessert....the kitchen crews work very very hard and it's much appreciated.

I also fit in some shopping in the Crafts tent with many amazing vendors - I will take photos of those later - 2 pairs of earrings, a gorgeous bag made by Quebec artisans, bath products from "Goddess" - hee hee - I know their stuff is great because I bought some last year - relaxing and aromatic bath salts, soaps, body lotions....some beautiful cards by a local artist - watercolour effect with whimsical images of fairies and flowers.

I enjoyed seeing a Raffle ticket vendor belly dancing to Natacha while doing her duties.....

The major highlight for me was seeing Dailey and Vincent on the mainstage last night - I was totally blown away - I love it when someone exceeds my expectations - they fleshed out their duo with not only other musicians and singers including a handsome young man with a major "basso profundo" - perfect for their Statler Brothers tribute - the crowd ate it up. They are not only great musicians but consummate entertainers...

There was also Sarah Harmer and up and comer from Seattle Brandi Carlile - loved to site again momentarily....

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pics - Jill Hennessey and Richard's Garden

This is my dear friend and host's lovely display of godetia - amazing. It's very green in Edmonton this summer due to a lot of rain.

Tonight it's Levon Helm and his band and Calexico on the mainstage plus some smaller concerts which I will check out and also the Crafts tent - I've got my eye on some glass jewellery with sea themes - seahorses, octopi, jellyfish...and lots of other great merchandise....the food has been the usual great standard - last night pureed beans and roasted tofu and mushroom skewers with miso gravy and a variety of salads and veggies...

And here is Jill Hennessey being interviewed for CBC radio as well as performing a few numbers....looking very cool.

Beloved Ben

A little report on the fly here from Edmonton Folk Fest - well, no surprise but the hill erupted in applause when Ben Harper took the stage last night - he was charming, appreciative, talkative - everything the legendarily taciturn Mr. Morrison was not. He commented about how great a time he was having in Edmonton and the beautiful candles in the darkness - could he take the crowd with him?

He did many crowd pleasing favourites of course finishing with "Morning Yearning". I saw him graciously posing with many a fan in the backstage area - a class act all around and an incredible guitarist. He even fleshed out his band with a local trio of string players on cello, viola and violin.

Kate Rusby earlier was her usual charming self - always enraptures me with her lovely voice and bubbly repartee - plus she has a great band which includes hubby Damian O'Kane.

Caught a little interview with Jill Hennessey at the CBC stage - looking very relaxed and tanned - looking forward to hearing more of her on the workshop stages this weekend.

Gotta dash! Tonight Calexico and some mini stages - one of whom is Natacha Atlas' Middle Eastern flavoured music.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Not precipitation but the tribute to the Beatles band last night at the Canon Theatre. Gorgeous venue by the way - can't believe it's the first time I've been in it...very ornate and historic. All ages - the appeal of the Fab Four is ongoing and universal - they were a phenomenon after all.

Yes, I was up dancing with little encouragement to "Twist and Shout" and waving my hands to "Hey Jude" later in the show - the fellow playing Paul was incredible - especially on "I Saw Her Standing There" ,"Yesterday" and "Hey Jude".....the fellow playing John gave me goosebumps on "This Boy".  They did an encore of course - hey, they do have quite the catalogue to choose from...wonder if they change up the set list for each show? Kudos to the performers. The bonus of course is that you can actually hear the music, which judging from accounts of concerts by the actual Beatles - was pretty impossible with all the screaming.

Enjoyed the period ads from the 60s - reminded me of "Mad Men" of course - Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble enjoying a smoke! Getting a pair of nylons in a box of laundry soap, hair straightening products....

Today is Sorrel Soup, Cold Rice with Lemon and Basil, Summer Succotash and "Cheesecake" with Summer Fruit - most recipes from Alicia Silverstone's book "The Kind Diet" - the Cold Rice in particular is very addictive, ditto the Peanut Butter Cups....I have guests....

A visit to the market this morning was an embarassment of riches. Two more sleeps until the Edmonton Folk Festival...I will of course let you know about Van Morrison.....