Monday, March 31, 2008

Habitat Downloads

Last year John O'Regan, front man for the D'urbervilles and sometimes David Bowie impersonator and Sylvie Smith formerly of the Barmitzvah Brothers(current whereabouts unknown) got together. They made an EP and played some shows under the name Habitat and were, for a little while, big, mega rock stars (in Guelph). Habitat is no more, but digital is forever and you can now download some songs from them in the podsafe downloads bit of In case you're wondering the sound is a bit like if the Postal Service was better (but sadly shorter lived).

The Cheap Speakers Need a Female Rythm Guitar

Toronto band the Cheap Speakers is looking for someone to play rhythm guitar for the summer (and maybe longer): Natalia Manzocco is departing the band, at least for a bit and they need someone who can fill in on 'Rhythm Guitar, Vocals and Hand Claps': The basic job description reads like this:
"Our ideal candidate for a our new guitar player would be female (for the vocals) and more importantly full of energy and enthusiasm.  There are no Debbie Downers in The Cheap Speakers.  We have two, long, fun-filled, focused rehearsals a week that we hold with near religious regularity (for musicians that is) on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.  That is in addition to whatever shows we have booked.  So there is definitely a significant investment of time involved.  We play meat and potatoes, unpretentious, garagesque rock and roll."
You can read more about the band, and hear a few of their tunes on their Myspace If you're interested in the job you can contact them through myspace or drop me a note at and I'll pass it along.

Photo shamelessly ripped off from Beth Hamill / Thanks Beth!

DareArts: Daring to Dream

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

Marilyn Field remembers her first taste of the arts.

"I used to sneak out at night, over to the farmer's field across the road and dance," recalls the former teacher, "because I could sense I was dancing with my mother in the sky."

It was through that childhood experience that she came to know the power of the arts, and the role it can play in helping one to deal with tragedy -in her case, the death of her mother from breast cancer.

Field is President of the DareArts Foundation, a charitable organization that assists low-income, at-risk youth in exposure to the arts. The organization reaches 7,500 students from 35 schools across the GTA, and includes aboriginal youth in its programming.

Through grades four to eight, participants are exposed to a mix of theatre, dance, opera, and ballet, and have the opportunity to explore their own creativity as well.

Companies like Soulpepper, the Canadian Opera Company, and the National Ballet (to name but a few) help DareArts in exposing kids to the sort of art they wouldn't normally get the chance to see or participate in.

"From my experience as a schoolteacher in Scarborough," she explains, "I knew we needed stronger arts education. I was shocked when I had to create maps to show kids how to find Front and Yonge streets in the city of Toronto -it shocked me into starting DareArts."

April 2nd marks the 2008 DareArts Cultural Leadership Awards, which recognizes figures who expose youth to arts and culture outlets. This year's recipients include Soulpepper Artistic Director Albert Schultz and Canadian boxer George Chuvallo.

Field says the awards are about "Canadians who have done something that parallels DareArts' aims in terms of youth and children bettering world."

For those who might raise in eyebrow to a boxer being chosen to receive an arts award, Field offers a passionate explanation.

"Culture can be on a wider scale," she says, "it's more than a paint brush -culture itself is broader than that."

"What I respect about (Chuvallo) is that he's gone beyond his own tragedies - he's using his fame and accomplishments to now reach out and help those who have lost their way, to find that path. It's the perfect parallel with us -that is, what do you need to replace those negative activities? The arts are a perfect activity to replace them. Whether it's the arts or creativity, it can come in sports as well as in arts, as well as in science -whatever passion one has."

Schultz, however, with his extensive resume of arts involvement, is the obvious cultural choice.

"It was absolutely a no-brainer to choose him," she says, "(Soulpepper) have always been very open to having DareArts be part of their outreach program, even in younger years. They seem to be steering more to older teens, but it's so nice for us to be able to have a group like (them) who we can lead our children towards."

According to Field, both school administrators and parents have noticed a difference in students who participated.

Julian Sale, the Vice-President of DareArts, concurs.

When he began photographing participants for brochures, he says " I really saw how DareArts was making a real change in their lives."

Sale, who is retired from Agfa, volunteers his own photographic experience for DareArts participants.

"We use photography to help see the world differently," he explains, "Most are inner-city kids. They think the city is boring. We challenge them, and they say at the end, they will never see the city or the world the same again. It's opened up a whole new world for them that is rich in colours and textures, and patterns -and relationships. Something as simple as photo can have a huge impact."

John Hastings, School Trustee in Etobicoke North, currently offers DareArts programs for roughly 40 kids in his area.

"The students are offered the opportunity to see things they probably wouldn't, given their parents are involved in three or four jobs in the city," he says, "and given we have a low-income demographic here. Instead of sitting in front of televisions or playing software games, growing up hanging around malls and apartment buildings, we want them get out and do things. I definitely see the value of DareArts in setting that up."

As Sale explains, "the aim of DareArts is not to create artists or not to create people who are going to take a career in the artistic or cultural field", but, as he notes, there are exceptions.

One particular past participant "had a real artistic flair to him that even he didn't know about."

Through a combination of luck and talent, found himself in a Canadian Opera Company production of Verdi's Falstaff.

"He will definitely have a career in the artistic-cultural field -that's an opportunity he never would have even realized, one that he wasn't even initially interested in."

"Kids at this age are absolutely bursting with creative energy," Sale says, "If they don't have a good, positive outlet for that, it comes out in a negative way. We already have enough negative leaders out there to spear them the wrong way. Our biggest challenge now is raising funds fast enough to expand the program, and getting word out there more will help us do that."

Expanding DareArts across Canada is something Marilyn Field aims to do.

"The program is set up so it's a template that can be dropped in to larger communities first, then altered for smaller communities. All it takes is having the right people in the other communities ready to pick up the template and run with it, and also corporations that are brave enough to support this on a national level."

In addition to Schultz and Chuvallo receiving honours, six students selected from the program this year will also receive awards.

"It's been hard to choose," Field admits, "there have been so many through the program. The six are good spokespersons -they get a scholarship for further education, and they have a chance to tell their story. These are six people who have a sense of leadership and accomplishment, simply by leading their own lives, being strong enough to stand up to negative forces, and following the goals they set for themselves."

"These kids have discovered they can do something," explains Field passionately, "it's not just a matter of 'let's go play', but they worked to accomplish something, and in a short enough period of time that's measurable for them emotionally. I cannot ask for anything better than that -that sense of self, that sense of, 'if I can do this, what else can I do? if I can do this, what dreams can I have for my whole life?' It helps kids to know there is a broader world within their access -and they dare themselves to seek that broader world."

Dare to dream big is the message. DareArts, it seems, is the medium.

The DareArts Cultural Leadership Awards takes place April 2nd at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District.

For more information, go to

Sunday, March 30, 2008

People Get All Democratic About the CBC

One of the good things the Internet does is allow people to find others of like mind and organize activity. Nearly everyone in Canada has an opinion on the CBC and what it should do, or what has been done with it. This is a good thing. The people, after all, own the CBC and have an important voice when it comes to the operation of the National public broadcaster. Listening to this voice will be especially important if the CBC wants public support for the implementation of the recommendations of the Heritage Committee.

Until recently though people had a hard time actually organizing themselves to talk to the CBC. There might be a great many people across the country with a shared opinion, but they rarely were able to make themselves heard. So, I think it's a good sign that there has been a recent flurry of activity, primarily Facebook related, aimed at expressing public opinion to the CBC.

  • Save Classical Music at the CBC(9,415 Members) has sprung up in response to announced changes to CBC Radio 2

  • Save the CBC Radio Orchestra!(2,357 Members) is obviously related to the first group I mentioned and is fighting for, obviously, saving the CBC Orchestra from it's announced disbandment

  • Support East Coast Music! Demand the ECMA awards show back on CBC! (1,166 Members) Fairly self explanatory, they'd like the ECMA's back on CBC Television.

  • Save jPod Now (1828 Members) is trying to bring jPod back to the airwaves next fall.

  • Lastly the group Fuse (1 member - don't take that as an indication, I just made it like 5 minutes ago) exists to not only celebrate the wonderful radio program but also to lobby the CBC to make it into a podcast.
  • Yes, there are alot more groups related to the CBC tons of them but I won't try to list them all here - if you are a fan of the CBC, of any of it's programs, of specific parts of it like CBC News, or Radio 3 - do a search, there is probably something there for you, and if there isn't...make a new one! Whatever you decide to do though let the folks at CBC know how you feel, about their programming and direction. It is your national public broadcaster and they can't possibly 'do what you want' if you don't tell them what you want.

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Bell Wants to Choose Your Web Sites For You

    Not to be too cynical, but it seems almost pointless to write a post about Bell Canada's latest bit of corporate evil. It is a company that is known, to everyone who has ever been a customer, for high prices, poor customer service and infinite b.s. hidden in the fine print. What's scarier is they seem to know that this is their reputation and they don't seem to care.

    Now, in addition to overcharging you for your internet, they want to decide what you can and can't do online. If Canada had a government that actually cared about the public good, or censorship this would be illegal and if we lived in a just society Bell would be broken down into tiny pieces and sold off with the proceeds going to charity. (Seriously, not trying to sound cynical - these are just realities.)

    This video will help explain the situation and what, exactly, bell is up to now.

    Many of the claims in this video are supported by a CBC Marketplace video on the subject:

    Several calls for action have been issued since Bell announced it's new policy including this one by the Council of Canadians. You can also find more information and links by visiting this facebook group or this one. If you are unfamiliar with the general issues surrounding Net Neutrality you can find out more by reading and you can keep up with the latest developments on this and other important issues related to the internet, media and free speech at

    At the Summit with Laura Barrett

    Last night I made it out to the Kalimba Summit at the Tranzac. It was presented by Wavelength from whom I've shamelessly stolen the picture at left.

    Before I get into the evening overall I want to plug, yet again, Laura Barrett. Actually I'd like to explain why it is I keep plugging Laura. First and most obviously I like what she does. But beyond liking what she does, Laura is rapidly becoming Toronto's anti-pop star. She has none of the qualities that the mass media tends to look for in it's pop stars yet keeps adding to her loyal following.

    Her music is very much her own - it is derivative of nothing else. When you hear one of Laura's songs you know right away who it is - without any fear whatsoever that it might be someone else who just sounds like her.

    She doesn't look like a pop star, she doesn't act like a pop star and there is no 'attitude' at all. I wouldn't describe her as shy and she's certainly confident but she is friendly, and humble and unassuming. When she talks about her music there is no pretense, no complex descriptions of what she was trying to achieve. If you ask her why she chose the kalimba as an instrument she will tell you that she 'fell in love with it', when she introduces her songs she starts with 'this is a song about ____': Everything she says about her work is simple and honest - not dressed up in elaborate language to try to make it sound like more than it is.

    So, I want to see Laura succeed because she is talented and deserves it. But I also want to see her succeed because she is the antithesis of what the mainstream media sees as a pop star and because of what her success would say about Toronto and about Canada. She seems well on her way. I'm constantly pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of new fans and advocates she is finding.

    Beyond Laura, the Kalimba summit was educational, in a good way. It turns out that the Kalimba - which I hadn't really heard of a few years ago has some deep roots even in North America and each of the other performers - Nifty , Njacko Backo, and Kahil El'Zabar brought their own approach and stylings to the instrument. Had I picked up a Kalimba a few years ago, and looked at it I never would have believed what a diverse instrument it is.

    It is an interesting time in music. For most of the 80s and 90s it seemed every new band was some combination of vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and percussion. For several years now, especially in Canada, performers have been experimenting with different combinations - mixing it up and adding a variety of instruments to the mix. It is exciting to think of some of the sounds we may hear if artists begin reaching beyond the European/North American tradition and looking in other parts of the world for new sounds to add to the mix.

    The Kalimba summit was billed as a one time only event. If you missed it and would like to see them hold a second one, or perhaps something similar with other non-European instruments included you should get in touch with Wavelength by emailing howdy (at) and letting them know.

    Laura with CBC Radio 3's Grant Lawrence at SXSW

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    RVT: The Imponderables - Mushmouth

    Here's more from the Imponderables with music from "Tom, Mallaigh, and Emmet Ashton" and help from their friends Lauren Ash and Aurora Brown. More from the imponderables can be found at the Rivoli on the first Tuesday of every month at (more fun than a bag of soup) through their Facebook Group or by sneaking up to Eric Toth's house late at night and peeking through the window.

    Art in Regina: Nicole Ooms

    Art is hard, this is pretty common knowledge. Making a living at art is next to impossible - ask anyone who's tried. It is, I suppose, somewhat easier if you live in a city with a sizable market and appetite for art - Paris, New York, London..or in Canada Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver

    What this all adds up to is that it is respectably difficult to make a living in art when you live in Regina, Saskatchewan. That being said, my friend Nicole Ooms is giving it a shot : She is doing some spectacular art and photography which you will likely never see unless you happen to turn up in the right place, at the right time during your next trip to Regina OR you go have a look in her new Facebook Fan Page - which, obviously, I think you should do!

    Best Record Store in Canada

    CBC Radio 3 is currently holding a competition to find the Best Record Store in Canada. Voting is open and the list is long - from Taz Records in Halifax to Phonopolis in Montreal; From Soundscapes in Toronto to Zulu Records in Vancouver. You can find the full list here.

    Next week the list will be reduced to 20, the week after that 10 and then the winner will be announced.

    So vote early, vote often and - if you don't really go to record stores, or you don't really have a favorite then just take my word for it and vote for Soundscapes in Toronto!

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Re: Action April 5

    On April 5 at the Hangman Gallery, 756 Queen Street West University of Toronto professor and visual artist Adrian Blackwell will introduce Re: Action, an examination of gentrification.

    The event will provide an "opportunity for local artists and photographers to share their work that illustrates all viewpoints surrounding the changing Toronto landscape and where low-income individuals and artists fit within revitalized downtown areas."

    It is hosted by the Centennial College Corporate Communication and Public Relations graduate students. With all proceeds going to Sketch: working arts for street involved and homeless youth.

    For more on Re:Action visit the web site at, or the facebook event page. An interview with the staff or Re:Action is also available on the Furturereale podcast at

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Laura Barrett "Most Luminous Performer"

    Soundcheck Magazine has named Laura Barrett the "Most Luminous Performer" at SXSW
    " Laura Barrett isn't a pop goddess, nor does she aspire to be. She doesn't glitz herself up in slinky clothes and exaggerated makeup, because she doesn't need to. What she is, she is to such a degree that her music speaks for itself: an honest-to-god, dyed-in-the-wool artist. Most of her songs consist only of her voice and the kalimba, although a few are accompanied by the banjo or kazoo. But in that simplicity lies a wealth of unique and captivating melodies, inventive and sometimes subversive songwriting, and the refreshing spark of sincere and unpretentious creativity. Her performance at the Paper Bag Showcase on Wednesday didn't need to be dressed up in any kind of theatrical trappings; her wit, warmth, and down-to-earth personality were bright enough to leave a lasting impression throughout the festival."
    I couldn't agree with the above sentiments more. Laura's EP 'Earth Sciences' has just been re-released and her first full length album (due later this year). Unless the album is a complete departure from her work to date, or the judges have a complete nervous breakdown and give the award to Nickleback - Laura's album is assured a Polaris nomination.

    p.s. If you're on facebook, be sure to join Deception Island Optimists Club

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    CBC Releases First Program via BitTorrent

    The CBC, yesterday, became the first North American broadcaster to release a prime time program on Bittorrent. The program Canada's Next Great Prime Minister (kind of a political Canadian Idol) aired last night and the bittorrent's to download it are now available at
    "We're very aware that the broadcasting environment is changing," said Tessa Sproule, executive in charge of digital programming for factual entertainment at CBC Television. "We want to explore new ways to do what we do."
    This is really good news for the future of media. It is another step in the move from traditional top down media toward a wider, more democratic media where the means of transmission is neutral and allows anyone with ideas to be a content creator.

    In related news there is a new version of Miro available. Miro, for those who don't know, is like television - for people with a computer and a brain.

    Free Rock Plaza Central show in Peterborough

    Because of some mistake or other in booking the upcoming Peterborough Rock Plaza Central show has been moved to April 5 but it will now be free - which is a pretty good price and might even make it worth it to go to Peterborough, even if you're not there normally.

    If you can't catch that one there are also shows coming:

    March 27 in Guelph at the E-bar with "the Ghost is Dancing"
    April 10 in Toronto at Sneaky Dee's with Jetplanes of Abraham
    April 11 in Kingston, Ontario at the Queen Street United Church with Jetplanes of Abraham

    April 12 in Ottawa at Barrymore's with Jetplanes of Abraham
    April 17 in Montral at Salsa Rossa with Miracle Fortress

    Rock Plaza Central - "SexyBack" cover

    Friday, March 21, 2008

    Will Currie and the Country French Sign to Murder Records

    Just for background purposes Will Currie and the Country French have been on my favourites list for a few years now. They were one of the first bands to be included in the podsafe downloads part of I never understood why it was taking so long for people to take an interest in the band. Will is, in my opinion, the closest thing Canada has to Ben Folds (except for when Ben is here on tour).

    So today I'm listening to the CBC Radio 3 podcast and I find out, not only that Sloan has relaunched Murder Records but that the first people that they signed (other than themselves) were Will Currie and the Country French (and Pony da Look).

    So to the Country French: Congradulations! You absolutely deserve it. To everyone else (I've been saying this for a few years now but) seriously, go see them while you can still get tickets (and see them in a small venue).

    Will Currie and the Country French - Surprising Me

    The Toronto Free Gallery and Creative Activism

    Last night's opening of the New Toronto Free Gallery space and Creative Activism couldn't have been more of a success: Literally I don't think you could have fit more people in the building (and the beer ran out about 10).

    It included work from the Urban Repair Squad, the Movement Movement, exhibits on the absurd failure that amalgamation has been for Toronto, on going car free and more.

    The full list of artists (as listed on the event invite) includes
    Jennifer Delos Reyes, Yvonne Bambrick, February Group, Maxime Hourani, Deborah Margo, Barbara Menely, Dave Meslin, Markus Miessen & Patricia Reed, The Movement Movement, October Group, Darren O’Donnell & Natalie De Vito, Planning Action, Resident Rising, Neighbourhood Action and East Scarborough Storefront, Kerri Lynn Reeves, Auriane Sokoloski, Streets Are For People!, Nick Tobier, Urban Repair Squad and Elinor Whidden.
    It was great to see such a huge turnout in a part of Toronto not normally associated with culture. If Queen West keeps filling up with high priced condos designed to attract people who want to be close to art and culture (and simultaneously drive it away) maybe the Bloor/Landsdown area can absorb some of the refugees.

    If you'd still like to attend Creative Activism runs until April 19.

    To keep up with coming events at the Toronto Free Gallery visit their website at or join their facebook group. You can also find pics of the renovation of the space at

    for more photos see Flickr

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Superfantastic Video Blog

    I've been negligent. The Superfantastics have actually been Videoblogging again for awhile now and, again, rather than just post them all I've added the feed to the main (front page) page.

    The Superfantastics - Oh! How You Used to Know Me Well

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Live Music At Work?

    Did you know that CBC Radio 3 has a library of concerts and sessions you can listen to online? For example, the most recent 5 are Basia Bulat, Grand Analog, Christine Fellows, the Stills and the Constantines - all recorded at SXSW last week. They also have an A to Z listing of live music at the top of the page: That means that when you go to work tomorrow, you could turn off the Lite Rock/Easy Listening they play plug the speakers into your computer, fill the water cooler with beer and have a much better job!

    I'd suggest starting with the Henri Faberge and the Adorables Session followed perhaps by a bit of Holy Fuck.

    Creative Activism Tomrrow On Bloor

    Tomorrow night in Toronto there will be a reception and party with DJs Dorian & Dorian to celebrate the opening of Toronto Free Gallery's new space located at 1277 Bloor Street West just East of Lansdowne.

    Creative Activism Is:
    A new form of creative activism has surfaced within urban centres across the world. No longer interested in marching with signs and negotiating with bureaucratic structures, this new wave fosters stewardship for one's neighborhood and community. People are
    taking their issues to the streets and engaging in interventions.

    United by the cause of individual and collective self-determination their new form is engaging in creative interventions to make our cities livable places. By taking it to our streets they are directing their energy towards collaboratively building new visions for livable cities—they are taking civic improvement into their own hands.

    People are: painting their own bike lanes—where before there were none, guerrilla gardening in orphaned spaces, mapping surveillance free walks in downtown areas. Some artists, activists, architects, urban planners and other creatives have stopped asking for policy changes from their governments and are creating change through social engagement and intervention.

    The goal of this exhibition is to begin creating an archive of this changing movement, to inspire new projects and to create a broader awareness for creative activism. -Curated by Heather Haynes

    The whole thing starts tomorrow (Thursday, March 20 at 8 pm) at the Toronto Free Gallery, 1277 Blor Street West. For details visit

    The Facebook event page is here.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    The Return of the Diableros

    It was only a month ago that Pete Charmichael announced the departure of 3/5ths of the Diableros. While everyone hoped for the best, and Pete said they'd be back, losing 3/5ths of a band is never a good thing...

    But, Pete didn't lie. The Diableros are on the way back!! Mike Duffield and Keith Hamilton of the Postage Stamps and Craig Gloster of Fjord Rowboat have stepped in to replace Ian Worang, Matt Ruba and Phoebe Lee. New dates are not far off - stay tuned.

    Black Halos Robbed in Montreal

    The epidemic of gear theft coninues this time it's the Black Halos and Montreal (again). According to the Black Halos Myspace Blog on Sunday night theives stole their Van, Trailer, all of their gear, merch and CDs. Below is the info in it's entirity:
    Black Halos Gear, Merch and CD`s all stolen

    Black Halos Gear, Merch and CD..s all stolen

    Last night in Montreal our van and trailer was stolen with all our our gear, merch and CD..s. None of these items are insured.

    Below is a list of gear that was stolen. PLEASE WATCH FOR ANY OF THESE ITEMS on the internet or at pawn shops.



    Ludwig 4 piece drum set Red Glitter Metal Flake

    24 inch Bass drum w/ Black Halos front head logo
    14 inch Rack Tom
    18 inch Floor Tom
    14 x 6.5 inch Dunnett custom metal snare drum (personally autgoraphed by Dunnett on inside of shell)
    DW 5000 double chain drum pedal
    3 Pearl strait cymbal stands
    1 Pearl high hat stand
    24 inch Paiste 2002 Ride Cymbal
    14 inch Zildjen Z series high hats
    18 inch Zildjen A series Rock Crash
    19 inch Zildjen A series Rock Crash
    16 inch Zildjen A series Rock Crash
    Yamaha snare stand
    Pearl rack tom mount stand

    All drums are in hard shell black cases all with yellow Black Halos logo on them


    two guitars in red/silver aluminum road case. guitar one: 1960 Gibson
    les paul( sunburst finish). it has been re- finished on the backside
    of the neck by the head-stock. it's dis-colored there.
    guitar two: white, Sparrow rat-rod ( looks like a les paul). has a
    black pic guard and has the black halos logo lettering on the
    body.skull and wings on the back of body.
    one,Bogner guitar head. 100 watt model ( the Ecstasy) black , with no handle.
    one, Fender 4/10 deville guitar amp. black/silver
    one orange tool box full of guitar cords/ guitar strings/ three
    guitar effect's pedals.
    pedals from orange box: 1.) vox wah-wah ( silver/blk)
    2.) boss, super distortion (yellow)
    3.) custom red/black distortion
    pedal. (turbo tube screamer)
    one suitcase with guitar effects pedal board. pedal 1.) bogner foot controller

    2.) boss tuner (white/black

    3.) morley a/b amp switch

    4.) boss super phaser (green)

    5.) digitech wah pedal ( red/black)
    two guitar stands, one holds 3 guitar/ the other holds 5.


    1 Black Custom made Sparrow primitive 335 Electric Hollowbody guitar. No Serial Number
    name ....Vanessa.... painted on headstock . Silver Skull and Wings Art work on front of guitar.
    Silver Black Halos Logo painted on back of guitar.

    1 Black Custom made Sparrow primitive 335 Electric Hollowbody guitar. No Serial Number
    Blue with Purple Detailed graphic artwork.

    1 modified Peavey 100 watt Classic Guitar Amplifier Head. See Band Manifest for Serial Number
    Tweed in Colour with Leapard Print Fabric on Front. Various stickers and Tape.

    1 Black Scuba zip off BackPack.
    Contains the following guitar items.

    1 Blue MXR 10 band EQ guitar effect box.See Band Manifest for Serial Numbers
    hardwired powercord attached had pink tape on it

    1 modified Blue MXR 10 band EQ guitar effect box. Serial number not available.
    no powercord attached. switch installed. had pink tape on it.

    1 white Boss TU-2 guitar tuner. See Band Manifest for serial number.

    3 black 18 ft guitar cords
    1 black 2 ft gtr cord
    1 tweed 18 ft guitar cord
    2 blue 6 inch guitar cords
    1 black 3 ft speaker cord
    approximately 7-10 packs Ernie Ball Guitar Strings
    1 pack of 50 sparrow guitar pics

    1 Black 4x12 Trayner Guitar Speaker Cabinet


    Fender Precision Bass. Sunburst finish with black pickguard.
    SKB Fender hardshell case.

    Rickenbacker 4003 Bass. Jet Glo (Black) finish with black Pickguardian
    custom pickup cover.
    Rickenbacker hardshell case.

    Gallien-Krueger 800RB bass head.

    Traynor TC810 bass cabinet

    Proco Turbo Rat distortion pedal

    Boss TU-2 Cromatic Tuner

    Black bag with pedals also had items below.
    2 Yorkville 20" patch cords (angled end)
    1 Yorkville 10" patch cord
    2 packs medium L&M bass strings.



    (604) 781-2075

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Music Gallery relaunches website

    Toronto's Music Gallery has relaunched it's site with a more comprehensive calendar section and news section.

    The Music Gallery, in addition to being a unique and intimate venue, with great acoustics is "Toronto's Center for Creative Music." From the 'About' section of the site:
    "The Music Gallery is a centre for promoting and presenting innovation and experimentation in all forms of music, and for encouraging cross-pollination between genres, disciplines and audience."
    Upcoming events at the Music Gallery include :
  • NEXUS Percussion with guest pianists Midori Koga + Lydia Wong

  • Images Festival: Light Trap by Greg Pope & Knurl

  • Vonegut A musical salute to author Kurt Vonnegut

  • Common Chorts (Recent works from two leading Czech composers

  • The Ad Hoc / Ensemble — feat. Jesse Zubot, Christine Duncan, Jean Martin + others

  • Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble

  • Stars of the Lid with guests Christopher Willits and Ken Reaume

  • You do not have to be a member to attend Music Gallery events but memberships start at just $30.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    At the Music Gallery This Saturday

    The Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra has scored a nice review from John Terauds at the Toronto Star:
    There are performers around the world who demolish conventional wisdom by proving there doesn't have to be a chasm between classical and pop, and you can write and perform intelligently without resorting to sonic abstraction. Toronto's Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra is a shining example of that approach in this 12-track debut.
    If you haven't gotten a chance yet you can check them out at the Music Gallery this Saturday.
    The Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra + Rob MacDonald
    @ The Music Gallery (197 John St.)
    Saturday March 15, 8:00 p.m.
    You can give the PRO a listen and get more details on the Music Gallery and other upcoming shows at

    Calgary MultiArts Variety Show #4 is coming on March 22nd

    Passing this on from Laurie Fuhr


    EVENT: Calgary MultiArts Variety Show #4

    WHAT: Another fast-paced variety show including
    bands, poets, theatre, comedy, and
    independent short films brought together
    for a cause; and, a celebration of Calgary's

    WHY: In support of Inn from the Cold Charity and
    Single Onion Poetry

    WHEN: March 22 2008, 8:00 p.m.

    WHERE: The Soda, 211-12 Ave SW

    COST: $8 at the door


    Musk Cup (improv jazz feat. Chris Dadge & friends)
    Gutterawl (rock)

    Lara T, Kirk Miles, Bronwyn Haslam, Wakefield Brewster

    Swallow a Bicycle Performance Troupe

    Stand Up Comedy:
    Col Cseke

    Independent Short Films:
    Created or Curated by Garth Whelan

    MCs: J.J. Powell & Laurie Fuhr

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008


    Normally I don't delve into international politics on this blog. I should also say that as much as I believe that China should remove itself from Tibet I don't see how that will happen. China is now fully a military and economic superpower and the global economy generally and most countries individually are dependent on the Chinese economy. All of this makes it difficult to 'send a message' to a country that normally seems not the least concerned about international opinion. With all of that said, I saw something walking down Queen Street today.

    Please Help CHEV Radio; Sign Our Petition

    Please help CHEV Radio by signing our petition to the CRTC

    The Town of Markham, Ontario, is one of the most diverse communities in Canada. With many unique cultural backgrounds, the town deserves an outlet that brings all these cultures together. The best way to do that is through community radio. Since 2004, CHEV Radio has been the voice of Markham; broadcasting sports, entertainment and community programming. CHEV’s website ( also has local news stories, community events, podcasts, weather forecasts and traffic updates.

    Currently an internet-radio station, CHEV Radio has sent an application to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for an AM frequency. Unfortunately, the CRTC has been hesitant in giving CHEV a frequency. The reasons for this are unknown. However, CHEV’s tireless staff have been working hard for the past two years adhering to the CRTC’s requirements.

    The residents of Markham deserve a community radio station. The Town of Markham needs CHEV Radio. By signing this petition, we are showing the CRTC that there is a need for a community radio station in Markham. CHEV Radio will bring Markham’s diverse residents together and celebrate their diversity. Therefore, it is time for the CRTC to grant an AM frequency to CHEV Radio.

    To sign the petition, please click here.

    Thank you for your support. Please feel free to forward this message to your friends, co-workers, and family.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Superfantastics, Julie Dorion Tour

    After dropping by to visit Toronto for Canadian Music Week, the Superfantastics and Julie Dorion are going to stop home for a bit before visiting the West.

    In March the Superfantastics at the Seahorse Cafe in Halifax on the 14th (10 pm), then at George's Roadhouse in Sacville on 15th (10 pm) and at the Capital in Fredrickton, NB on the 16th (10 pm)

    After that they will be joining Julie Dorion for a Western Tour:

  • March 26, 8 pm - Edmonton, Alberta at the Velvet Underground

  • March 27, 8 pm - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at Louis

  • March 28, 8 pm - Regina, Saskatchewan at the Exchange

  • April 1, 8 pm - Red Deer, Alberta at the Vat

  • April 3, 8 pm - Canmore, Alberta at the Canmore Hotel

  • April 4, 8 pm - Calgary, Alberta location To Be Announced

  • April 7, 8 pm - Kelowna, British Columbia at Doc Willoughbys

  • April 8, 7 pm - Vancouver, British Columbia at St. James Hall

  • April 9, 8 pm - Cumberland, British Columbia at Joe's Garage

  • April 11, 7 pm - Tofino, British Columbia at the Tofino Legion

  • Superfantastics - Tonight, Tonite

    Superfantastics on Facebook

    Julie Dorion - Me and My Friend

    Bruce McDonald - Broken Social Scene Reunite

    Bruce McDonald's film the Tracey Fragments was undoubtedly the best film of 2007, it didn't win Best Picture anywhere due to a taste defeceit amoung people who give awards, but it was by far the best film. Amoung the brilliant ascpects of the film is a score by Broken Social Scene.

    Now, according to Exclaim Bruce McDonald is preparing a documentary on Broken Social Scene member Brendan Canning:
    McDonald is now helming the doc designed to coincide with the release of the multi-instrumentalist's solo effort Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning, which is due for a late June release on Arts & Crafts. The Canadian filmmaker has been tailing Canning around recording material for the doc while the musician and band members tour overseas in Europe, Mexico and Asia.

    Brendan Canning - Hit a Wall

    Did the Leafs Kill jPod, Can Kam Fong save it?

    The blog Fan IQ is speculating that it is the Toronto Maple Leafs that are responsible for Killing the CBC programs jPod, MVP and Intelligence.
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has axed the shows MVP, JPod and Intelligence because with the Leafs not likely to make the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, the public broadcaster's arts and entertainment division is going to take a $10-million hit. Somewhat ironic in all of this is that MVP is a nighttime NHL soap. So the Leafs are even killing hockey TV shows. Way to go, guys.

    Meanwhile a campaign is being mounted by Raugi Yu (a.k.a. Kam Fong of jPod) to save jPod. It seems he is peppering every positive blog post on jPod, including my own with the following message:
    Hi all, Raugi Yu here. I play Kam Fong on jPod. Okay, so you have heard that jPod has not been picked up for a second season by CBC. I got the call a couple of days ago about it.

    At first I was upset and disappointed and immediately thought of the great times and experiences I had shooting jPod and how much I would take from that…There was one problem though…I kept wondering why. Why not have a season 2? I started to hear what others were saying. I heard anger, resentment and frustration. So many of you my friends along with thousands, yes thousands, of strangers have expressed outrage over the cancellation of jPod.

    I got angry too.

    One may think that, "Sure, I'd be angry too if I lost a steady gig like that". Well that's not what I'm angry about. Gigs come and go. It is no huge hardship for me to go back to auditioning and booking and living my life as an actor. It is my passion. No. It angers me that the CBC our nation's television station (yes I know among other things) chooses to cancel a show that is so cutting edge, fun, smart and CANADIAN. So many viewers have gleaned joy from watching jPod week after week. We look forward to it; I dare say we yearn for it.

    I'd like to go down swinging. Many of you, who know me well, know that I am quite a loner and I don't ask for help often even when I need it. I guess I'm asking now.

    I'm a pretty chilled out go with the flow kind of guy, but I recognize that there are times in my life when I've got to fight. In surveying the land I recognize that I need a lot of help.

    If you feel you can, please call CBC at: 1-866-306-4636, choose option 1 for English programming and choose option 1 again for the "Attendant" then ask for "Audience Services". Audience Services will answer and at that point tell them how you feel about jPod being cancelled and how you would like to see a season 2.

    E-mail them at

    I alone can reach out to all of you and if all of you can reach even 2 people and we get that people ball rolling…we could possibly be jamming up some phone lines at CBC. Am I being na├»ve and hopeful? I hope so; it feels better than lying down and taking it.

    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all of you for watching the show and for all the great things you've all been saying about it.

    Longevity and persistence is the key. Phone or e-mail, if you can do it everyday.

    I send my love to you all and just to be clear, that love stays whether you phone, e-mail, write or not.

    Thank you all!
    Raugi Yu
    A.K.A Kam Fong

    Brand New Old Stuff: CBC Archives Revamp

    The CBC Online Archives have relaunched with a new look and feel. So far the Archives contain an impressive 12,000 Audio and Video clips - including this one on a new computer network called the internet.

    Personally I would still like to see these files all become downloadable, transportable and embeddable but while we wait: If you need to do some research or if you want to remember the things you wax nostalgic about or even wax nostalgic about things you don't really remember, check out the CBC Archives.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Laura Barrett Interview on Radio 3

    Laura Barrett has a bit of a Q & A up on the CBC Radio 3 blog about her 'new' EP Earth Sciences. She explains bits and pieces of where things like "Deception Island Optimist Club" and "Robot Ponies". So if you're curious definitely worth a read.

    If you're beyond being curios you can also join her new Facebook group (that I'm not sure she knows about) the Deception Island Optimists Club.

    For those of you headed for the warmer climes of Austin, you can see Laura at SXSW at Emo's (Jr. Stage) on March 12th (day show) and later that eve at Habana Calle 6.

    She will be back in Toronto for the Kilamba Summit at the Tranzac on March 28.

    Delightful Diva

    The term "diva" has all sorts of negative connotations that bring to mind imperious, self-absorbed superstars, with the voices of angels but the personalities of gargoyles.

    Andrea Jones-Sojola, currently one of the rotating divas in the touring production of 3 Mo' Divas, now at the Winter Garden Theatre, laughs at the image.

    "It's had bad connotations in the past, like your divas like Kathleen Battle or Maria Callas", she says, naming two famous operatic figures, "but we're the friendly divas, we're the kind of divas that are going to 'bring it'. We say the show has class, sass, and style, and that's where our diva personalities come from, not the nasty self-absorbed diva."

    Jones-Sojola has performed in numerous operas both in North America and abroad, and won First Place in both the National Opera Association Voice Competition and the Pro Arts Society of Philadelphia. She has also had the privilege of performing in the Kentucky Opera's production of Muhammad Ali: Outside the Ring as Lonnie (Ali¹s wife), singing for no less than Ali himself.

    Her music CV reads like a "how to" of high art achievement, but 3 Mo' Divas is, she says, the most unique singing experience she's had in her career.

    "It covers the gamut," she says, referring to the range and history of Marion J. Caffrey's work, "you can look in our eyes as we sing and see this history -and when you hear the music as an audience member, you go back to the time you remember hearing that song, or hearing your mother sing it, or hearing it on the radio. So it's our job as a performer to kind of take the audience member down memory lane."

    Jones-Sojola performs a variety of different pieces throughout 3 Mo' Divas, including Daddy's Son from the musical Ragtime, the gospel song City Called Heaven, plus the well-known Puccini aria O Mio Babbino Caro.

    While those pieces don't requiring great technical adjustment, one piece presented a whole different challenge.

    "The one I never thought I'd sing is the jazz standard, Solitude," she says with a laugh, "I've never done jazz in my life!"

    She does have a history with the genre -it just doesn't involve singing.

    "As a child, my parents used to play jazz on the radio in the car and I used to complain, 'Please turn that elevator music off', and my parents would say, 'We're trying to expose you to something different'. Now here it is, coming back to me, twenty years later!"

    3 Mo' Divas has helped her in expanding her own range, and not just in terms of singing either.

    Asked about challenges and surprises, Jones-Sojola says moving onstage has provided a bit of a learning curve.

    "Opera is usually just a park-and-bark situation," she explains, "so we've had to do a few little step touches here and turns there -you don't normally do that in with a classical background -but it's been good, it's opened me up and let me be a little more loose, which is good."

    "We, as trained singers, can really do anything once we learn how to sing -it's like, wow, we can do any style of music. Our job is to be as true as we can to each genre. It's powerful, this show, especially now that we have a female leader of the band."

    Jones-Sojola calls Musical Director Anastasia Victory " the fourth diva", exclaiming that "she's an amazing Russian woman -fierce beyond words! I've never seen anything like it. It makes a difference to have a woman leading the band. It really is all about girl power in the show!"

    That, she says, and a rediscovery of roots.

    "It's really an honour to be able to sing this type of music. It's purely American music, and it's great to be able to sing something I know all these famous people sang in the twenties and thirties. I feel more connected to my culture. Being African-American, it feels like, wow, this is a show that is about my people."

    3 Mo' Divas runs at the the Winter Garden Theatre through March 16th.
    For more information, go to

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Godot not in the details

    Soheil Parsa believes in the value of simplicity.

    The artistic director of Modern Times Stage Company, as well as the director of the current production of Waiting for Godot at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, calls simplicity "an achievement."

    How so?

    "You start with a big idea and more props, with more elements of set," he explains, following a matinee performance, "but the process tells me, 'you don't need this prop, you don't need this costume', and I think that's what works with Beckett: to keep it simple."

    Discussing the famous play in which two tramps wait for a chap who never shows up, Parsa notes that "(it's) one of the most challenging I've directed, though it doesn't look like it when you start," he smiles, "You think it's manageable - 'oh, I can do this' -and then you realize how precise Beckett is, that what works really is simplicity."

    Samuel Beckett's work is a noted example of the style known as Theatre of the Absurd, in that it doesn't follow a conventional narrative, relies heavily on repetition, and has little or no momentum.

    And yet Waiting for Godot is considered by many to be the finest theatrical piece of the twentieth century. Almost everyone has had to write an essay on it in high school or university, and reams of books have been devoted to deconstructing Beckett's language, characters, and the mysterious figure who never shows.

    "Godot is absolutely a very intellectual piece, a philosophy piece," says Parsa firmly, "so as a director, I do my homework. But I do the intellectualization at home, and as soon as I walk into the hall, it's one-hundred-percent intuitive."

    This intuitive response is part of Parsa's approach to theatre.

    Born in Iran, the theatre artist came to Canada in 1984 and, upon founding Modern Times Stage Company, directed a series of well-received pieces, including avant-garde works such as The Balcony by Jean Genet, and Ionesco's The Chairs. His love of Western theatre, particularly Absurdist styles, didn't begin when he moved, however.

    "I was brought up in a very Western way, before the revolution. Iran was a westernized country, and Tehran especially, was very westernized. Theatre school mixed up combinations of Western styles and Iranian styles, so when I lived in Iran, I read translations of Beckett, and studied and researched different styles and traditions -Chinese, Russian, Japanese styles of theatre, plus Beckett and Brecht."

    Parsa says he doesn't feel pressure to insert culturally-specific details to his productions, "because in a way I don't have a singular identity anymore. My background is an aspect of my identity -I've been searching for the identity with others through theatre."

    The name "Modern Times", he says, comes from the Charlie Chaplin film, a work and figure he cites as a primary influence.

    "(Chaplin) was an exceptional artist and exceptional human being ... I am still fascinated by the film and his work. The humanist aspect of Chaplin is the main thing, but he was a comedian that transcended comedy. His sole concern was the state of humanity, in all things. He asks what happens when we are indoctrinated by technology, the indifference created, and asks what's happening to us. And his elegant style of comedy, I love too."

    The multi Dora Award-winning director eagerly points out the interesting connection between the famous "Little Tramp" and the craggy Irishman who wrote Godot.

    "One of the first directors (of Godot) was a friend of Beckett's, and suggested for the parts of Gogo and Didi, that the best casting would be Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Beckett said, 'You're damn right'."

    It certainly doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to see the famous silent film stars slip comfortably into the clown/mime-related aspects of the work, what with the popular image of Vladmir and Estragon in bowler hats, and tramp outfits, engaged in vaudeville-style comedy.

    "Although Beckett is very language-based, at the same time there's a lot of non-verbal elements in it. He was especially influenced by the genre of cinema from that time -the hats, the look, everything -and insists over and over again about the state of humanity and cruelty of life, but not necessarily in a heavy way."

    Parsa says work created out of hardship need not be played on one sole sad note.

    "That's what the comedian is for," he explains, "To touch on a bleak subject matter, and treat it darkly, it gets really dense, it's not interesting to watch, it's too much. The question is, how to find a lighter spirit for this type of bleak concept, because at the same time, life is funny too, it's ridiculous."

    This element of the ridiculous showed itself when Parsa took two of his productions back to Iran.

    "When I was doing Macbeth in Toronto and Montreal, again, many elements of the style weren't recognizable to critics and the Canadian public, and they called it 'very Persian', but when I went to Iran, everybody was asking me about the same elements, and saying, 'that's not Persian!'"

    He lets out a laugh that echoes through the open concrete/wood lobby of the Young Centre.

    "But that's a good sign -it means I haven't imitated or bought into that idea," he says, referring to culturally-specific works.

    "I'm interested in the theatrical exploration of traditions like Persian or Japanese, but I use it as a springboard for something new."

    His eagerness to explore new ground as organically and respectfully as possible still leaves room for many connections as well.

    "Omar Khayyam is an interesting comparison," he notes thoughtfully, "He was a thousand years before Beckett, but is asking the same things: what are we? why are we here? There is the question of the concept of time too: what is today and tomorrow and yesterday? It's not the same for me as for you."

    He sees resonance, too, in contemporary events and ones occurring at the time of Godot's inception.

    "I don't see a major difference between now and fifty years ago -overall it's the same. We are still killing each other, still waiting, still creating chaos. In the mid-twentieth century, people waited for a saviour: they created Hitler. He was called a saviour by some. Look at Saddam Hussein -same thing: he ran a nation, then they took him out of a mousehole at the end. These characters are waiting for Godot -their perceived saviour -and then Lucky and Pozzo come. One day you're on top of the world, the next you are Lucky, or you're Pozzo, you're blind, and this is what it is, what the twentieth century is: an anticipation of a saviour, but at the end, there's no saviour, no hero."

    All things considered, the lack of a saviour could be a good thing.

    "Well Beckett didn't want one," he notes, "and it cannot be academically supported, but 'gogo-didi' becomes "Godot" for me -they're so phonetically close. So in a sense, you are your own saviour, you can't look for anyone else."

    Still, Parsa sees a theme of humanity running through Beckett's work, one that is just as strong and noticeable, and crosses as many divides, as his hero Charlie Chaplin's, does.

    "For me, it's the universality of (Beckett's) work -his subject matter is human beings. It's not American human beings, not Middle Eastern human beings, not those of the Far East. It's human beings everywhere."

    "His concern," he says emphatically, "is the state of humanity,"

    Waiting for Godot runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts through March 22nd.

    For more information, go to

    Saturday, March 08, 2008

    CBC axes Intelligence, jPod, MVP

    According to the Globe and Mail the CBC is axing the contentious Chris Haddock program Intelligence for next season along with MVP and (my personal favorite recent CBC show) jPod. No announcement has been made about what will replace any of them.

    It should be noted that Intelligence is apparently being re-created for Fox television in the states.

    New programs the Border and Sophie along with Rick Mercer Report, Little Mosque on the Prarie, This Hour Has 22 minutes, Air Farce Live, Marketplace, the Fifth Estate and the Nature of Things will all be returning next season.

    Use Your Imagination

    Finding connection in the messy days of March is a challenge.

    There's a dirty order to the snowbanks lining Toronto streets, exacerbating the isolation winter brings. People are packed away under layers of sweaters, riding alone in cars, subways, and streetcars; they're lost in their i-pods, glued to their Blackberries, stuck to television screens. Roads and sidewalks separate people, people separate themselves, and pretty soon one looks in the mirror to find a pale, puffy stranger in need of Greens Plus and a case of Prozac.

    Yet there is an alternative to all this "in the bleak midwinter" stuff. Toronto's lively arts scene is full of inspiration and wonder, as evidenced in Soulpepper Theatre Company's current production of As You Like It.

    Lest you feel tempted to emit a yuck-Shakespeare groan, be aware that this isn't a production full of big wigs, tight bodices, pointy shoes, grave tones or that most tiresome of classical performance habits, U-S-A-ing, otherwise known as Urgent-Shakespeare-Acting. Far from it.

    As You Like It, now on at the Young Centre, is chock-a-block with fresh-faced members of the Soulpepper Academy -so fresh, in fact, that one wonders if they were kept in a hyperbaric chamber since July. The casting and presentation give much-needed jolts of youth, joy, and vitality to one of Shakespeare's most complex and layered works.

    This is a production that is deeply satisfying in its simplicity: accessible but never patronizing, intelligent but never impenetrable.

    Instead of imposing large ideas or hokey concepts, Soulpepper Artistic Director Albert Schultz directs As You Like It with a deft and knowing hand, allowing the poetry of Shakespeare's words to reveal and illuminate. He inherently understands that the Bard requires no gimmickry or interference, that characters and their dilemmas can -and do -speak for themselves.

    In place of a recognizable period and locale, there is a mixed bag of visual and aural references to chew on. But far from being confusing, these elements, used in tandem with a consistent palette of colours and sound effects, combine in challenging the audience to use their own imaginations, much in the same way Shakespeare would have done with his own audience.

    The story is simple enough, with Rosalind, daughter of Duke Senior, banished by her usurping uncle, and fleeing with cousin Celia to the Forest of Arden, where both meet love and life experience, and encounter a sense of community their court existence had deprived them of.

    The dualism of the plot can, of course bewilder: Rosalind pretends to be a man, but then acts as a woman, in order to court her beloved Orlando, even as Rosalind, as a man, is wooed by another woman. Then there's the terrible twos: two sets of brothers share a terrible animosity, there are two (very different) fools, there are two country girls, and there are two sets of two weddings. That's a lot for any audience to keep track of, let alone one director.

    Yet Schultz keeps things flowing, choosing lights, props, and staging that emphasize a sensitive balance between intimacy and openness. The stage of the Baillie Theatre is refreshingly uncluttered, and Lorenzo Savoini's clean design goes a long way to telling a story that has implications far past the mythic forest of Shakespeare's imagining.

    The stark, white, geometric precision and hard angles that characterize the world of Duke Frederick are replaced with pungent, cushiony scarlets and the rich, billowing browns of forest life. Fraying red ropes hang like random umbilical cords, whispering a confirmation of sustenance and shelter. There is a natural balance to life here, which reminds the audience of the essentially dualistic nature of the play.

    Thus, dualism is acknowledged, both inventively and economically. Something as simple as a cooking pot in Arden becomes an instrument of torture in the Duke's court. Bare, cold walls become soft, satiny moss. Dualism even extends to casting, with Mike Ross doubling as Oliver (angry brother to the smitten Orlando), and Amiens, the chief musician who serenades Celia (an effervescent Jennifer Villaverde) at a moment when she needs it most.

    The importance -indeed, necessity -of creativity (again, between the characters, audience and performers) is underlined repeatedly. The mask of a wrestler near the play's start bares an unmistakable resemblance to Strongbad (an online cartoon character), adding a nice element of playfulness. A babbling brook (the edges and stepping stones of which are indicated with rope) that divides the stage for many of the Arden scenes acts as a reminder of what the play's characters -and perhaps audience -seek: purity, cleansing, redemption.

    Music is another element that creates a sense of community between performers and audience. But instead of tinkling Elizabethan tunes or peppy modern pop, composer Mike Ross has opted for a Celtic-Appalachian sound. It's Bill-the-Quill-meets-Bron-Yr-Aur-Stomp, and it works well in complementing the clear, elegant aesthetic of the production, while never robbing it of joyful vivacity.

    Making the most of this joy is Sarah Wilson, who infuses her Rosalind with youthful zeal. Despite the gravitas of being one of Shakespeare's greatest female parts, here she is presented precisely for what she is: a young woman on the edge of adulthood.

    It's fascinating to watch Wilson as she explores her character's feminine identity through that of her male alias, Ganymede. Particularly charming are the scenes with Michael Blake's enthusiastically love-crazed Orlando. We see the two frequently navigate between awkwardness, openness, vulnerability, hurt and adoration, and we recognize every single moment on that bumpy road to love.

    Diego Matamoros brings a wry, dry, eminently-watchable energy to the role of the famously-melancholy Jaques. Not so much melancholy here as too smart and self-aware by half, his combination of weariness, wit, and honesty is particularly effective when placed with the altogether hilarious, kinetic energy of Oliver Dennis' Touchstone. You don't have to be familiar with Soulpepper's history to sense the casting genius in having these two talented actors, in these particular roles, verbally sparring and playing off one another's energy.

    Whether it's Jaques outrageously swaying to Amiens' music like a hillbilly Bob Dylan, or Touchstone wielding his staff like a badly-dressed Gandalf, there is always a constant balance being maintained, here, as in every scene of As You Like It: a balance between smart and silly, anger and forgiveness, love and indifference.

    All of this is underlined in the final scene, with the four couples joined in marriage, as red leaves slowly fall around them, marking a transition both without and within, that is as natural as it is poetic.

    As You Like It underlines the great need for maintaining balance within a creative environment that fosters, nurtures, and encourages growth. If that sounds complicated, it isn't. Schultz makes it clear -in the most simple and timeless of ways - that As You Like It is every bit as applicable in its call for connection in 2008 Toronto as it was in 1599 London.

    This is Shakespeare presented clearly, with much imagination and love. It's a welcome respite from the dirty details of winter, and worth a trip, with toque, Totes, and TTC, down to the snowy lanes of the Distillery District.

    Arden awaits.

    As You Like It runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts through April 19th.
    For more information, go to

    Admin: New Stuff

    So for the last month or so I've been incredibly busy with the kind of work that pays and haven't had a ton of time (you may have noticed the drop off in posting) however I'm doing my best to keep up and is certainly not going anywhere. Anyway - a few new additions to the stuff.

    New in CanCasts

  • Big Ideas

  • the Gaelic Hour

  • New in CanBlogs

  • Hungry Hungry Hilly

  • New in Toronto

  • Rebuilding Queen Street West

  • Hungry Hungry Hilly

  • New Facebook Links

  • Triple Sensation

  • Deception Island Optimists Club (Laura Barrett)

  • Spankhaus: The Facebook Coalition

  • CBC Radio 3 TV

  • Make Nardwuar the Human Serviette the host of the 2009 Juno Awards

  • (fan page)

  • the Blood Lines (fan page)

  • Immaculate Machine (fan page)

  • Rock Plaza Central (fan page)

  • Woodhands (fan page)

  • Kara Keith and Your Dignity (fan page)

  • CBC News (fan page)
  • Friday, March 07, 2008

    A Rose-y Start

    There are two interesting, and very different, portraits of history that are now gracing Toronto stages.

    The first, Stuff Happens, opened Tuesday night at the Berkeley, and details the drama leading up to the 2003 Iraq war. David Hare's main players are major world figures, and the sizeable cast, with minimal set and corporate costumes, does a good job of bringing to life the intransigence and absurdity that lead to one of the most tragic events in recent memory.

    By contrast, Rose, the inaugural production by the newly-formed Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, features one unknown woman, alone, on a simply-designed and lit stage, detailing her life through the most tumultuous and dramatic events of the 20th century. She says she "stinks" of the last century, in fact, and, at the end of her life, is reflecting on her experiences in tones sometimes angry, sometimes sentimental, but never trite or maudlin. Martin Sherman has crafted a character who is by turns wise, witty, forgetful, loving, brave, scared, and unflinchingly human.

    Rose is brilliantly, lovingly brought to life by the inimitable Lally Cadeau, a woman who has built a solid reputation for delivering memorable female characters on stage as well as television. Here she renders the memories and reminiscences of a frail, shtetl-born, Holocaust-survived, American-emigre Jewish woman as a palette of varying emotions and reactions. She uses these memories like brush strokes on a ready canvas: with great subtlety, wit, and restraint to colour in a human life.

    And what a life it is. While such a piece could easily become a litany of boring chronological details played with overwrought emotion and predictable emoting, Cadeau shows herself to be a capable storyteller, while at the same time, never falling into the trap of sentimentality. When she talks about losing her first husband and child, we feel it; when she speaks about the trials of being aboard the Exodus, we believe her, and when she finally reveals the reason she is sitting shiva, we understand entirely.

    Diana LeBlanc's subtle, classy direction embellishes Cadeau's performance in the best way: by letting her sole cast member's star shine brightly. There are no tricks or attempts to manipulate. Soft sound effects and beautiful warm lighting add the right touches, at the right times.

    By the end of Rose, you feel that you've not only had a great history lesson through the eyes of a true survivor, but a close embrace that hits at both epic and intimate levels. This is a wonderful start for the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company. Here's to more great stories, big and small.

    Rose runs at the Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts through March 29th.

    For more information, go to

    Stuff Happens...

    Stuff Happens is an angry, potent, fast piece of theatre that convincingly explores the players and events leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by US forces.

    Key players in this David Hare-penned piece are Presidents, Prime Ministers, and other politicos whose influence, motives, personality, and histories all intertwine to give a theoretical look into the highest halls of power.

    Barry Flatman gives a wonderfully convincing portrait of George W. Bush, playing him as a man who glibly gallops around world politics while never immersing himself in any one thing. So long as he can go back to the ranch, sing, barbeque, and do puzzles, he's happy.

    Yanna MacIntosh is a wonderfully slinky Condoleeza Rice, playing up those elegant-but-not-quite-trustworthy qualities the general public has come to know her for. David Fox is crusty, angry, and perfectly out-of-touch as Donald Rumsfeld, portraying him as a fossil well past his expiry date. As General Colin Powell, Nigel Shawn Williams gives us a man who is at odds with his conscience, his past, his present, his country and his President. His interactions within and without the halls of power allows for much of the dramatic tension and fascinating characterization of the piece to shine through.

    The casting of Stuff Happens (the title taken from one of Rumsfeld's famous speeches on Iraq) couldn't be more perfect, with Andrew Gillies giving a standout performance as a frustrated, floundering Tony Blair; here is a man who knows he could lose the support of his country and Parliament, and yet desperately wants to believe he is doing the right thing.

    Joel Greenberg's direction is sharp and angular, as simple, clean, and efficient as a corporate executive -and the image carries through, as each cast member is dressed, for the most part, in grey uniforms of suits, ties, skirts and jackets. Many with rotating roles (Sarah Orenstein as Joyce Rumsfeld, a suffering Palestinian,a Journalist, and a narrator, for instance) need only a shawl and/or a shift in body language, lighting, and accent to convey a myriad of emotions and experiences.

    Stuff Happens may be Hare's angry polemic on the insanity of the War of Terror, but for Studio 180, the company producing this current piece, it is also a tour-de-force of fantastic acting and sharp directing coming together.

    If you love your theatre on the emotional, sentimental side, you might find this isn't for you.

    If, however, smart, challenging theatre that explores the historical and political contexts of the time is your thing, run -don't walk -to see Stuff Happens.

    Stuff Happens is playing at The Berkeley Street Theatre (Downstairs) now through March 29th.

    For more information, to go

    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Last Republic of Safety EP: Succession

    Republic of Safety, as a unit, is gone but in what I'm pretty sure will be the last post to their myspace blog it was announced that you can now get their 'new' EP - this was previously only available at their last show at Sneaky Dees. The only way it is available is through mail order, and the only instructions given are to "email: jonnydovercourt AT and you will receive prompt instructions." Since you won't be able to see "Relics from the Republic" at the ROM for another..oh I'd give it 1500 years - I'd jump on this!

    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    sweet Sinfonia

    It might be a bit late for Valentine's Day, but Sinfonia Toronto is still feeling lovey-dovey with their 'Con Amore' concert, taking place Friday at Grace Church on the HIll.

    Toronto's best-kept chamber music-secret will be playing a concert featuring the works of Mozart, Bach Canadian Ernest MacMillan, as well as a little-heard instrumental work by operatic great Verdi.
    With such a widely varied program, one has to wonder about the dots connecting such wildly diverse pieces.

    Mary-Elizabeth Brown is Concermaster of Sinfonia Toronto and an accomplished violinst who will be performing Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor.

    She says Artistic Director and conductor Nurhan Arman "does a brilliant job of putting together well-balanced programs. (The pieces) are very much audience-friendly, very accessible. You don't have to be a really educated classical listener to go."

    "It's a looking-toward-the-spring," Arman comments, "The Mozart is so lively and the Bach is one of the masterpieces of the Baroque period."

    As to the interesting addition of Verdi, Nurhan notes, " it's not often performed. Somehow, it gets neglected -but then, it's very difficult as well."

    The Bach Concerto in which Brown will be a featured soloist holds special memories for the player.

    "I played it for first time when I was ten or eleven. Coming back to it as an adult is a really interesting experience. In the interim -roughly fourteen or fifteen years -I've had the chance to work with some really accomplished Baroque specialists and accomplished modern violinists."

    Brown notes the piece presents "some interesting challenges. It's fun to be able to find a balance between Baroque performance practise and modern violin-playing. I'm learning to find a way to play that pays respect and homage to the origins of the music but also takes into consideration we are in the twenty-first century, playing a modern instrument."

    "I have a feeling it will be a terrific performance," Arman says with enthusiasm, "Mary-Beth is an intelligent musician and outstanding player but also she is very..."

    He trails off, laughing.

    "For one thing, she has a rock and roll background!", he exclaims gleefully, "did she tell you that? She plays in a rock band!"

    Certainly it's no surprise, considering that Brown already has a resume that reads like an encyclopaedia of musical accomplishment: a Master's of Music (from Universite de Montreal), award and grant recipient from, among a large list, the University of Toronto, the City of London, and the American Suzuki Foundation, soloing in masterclasses with Lorand Fenyes and Pinchas Zuckerman (to name a few), playing under conductors Lorin Maazel, Benjamin Zander, and Placido Domingo (again, just a partial list), and working with the Orford Quartet, the Gryphon Trio -plus many more.

    Arman laughs, figuring the rock and roll addition is a natural addition.

    "She's really a stage person," he notes in somewhat evuncular tones, "she feels comfortable onstage and with me, with her colleagues in the orchestra. It's all about communicating, and the audience feels that -they feel it the moment the electricity arrives."

    This "electric" quality reaches across musical experience, background, race, and that other barrier some might view with suspicion.

    "Good music is good music regardless of age," Brown says firmly when asked about traditional attitudes in the classical-music-world toward someone of her age and experience, "sometimes being young is a wonderful asset, because there's so much you can learn. Being able to work with conductors of all different nationalities, every different background, at such a young age... it's influenced my growth as a musician. I take away countless lessons through every project and every orchestra."

    Arman notes the narrow box classical music often gets placed in popular culture, that "media tries to portray it as a museum thing".

    "But," he notes, "we are of course a museum, in a way, and we are proud to be part of it. Masterpieces that are written are part of our civilization, but we still have to be relvant to today's music, so (Sinfonia Toronto) always performs work that is homemade. For instance, this concert on Friday has a piece written in Toronto by Sir Ernest MacMillan. It's based on Canadian folk songs -French Canadian folk songs -and it remains relevant."

    Brown notes the smaller size of the Chamber music group makes works "more accessible for an audience. The Sinfonia Toronto audience is very warm, very supportive, and they have a chance to experience a really wide range of repertoire. This particular Chamber orchestra combination really runs the entire gamut -from early (music) to recently composed."

    She pauses, lost in thoughts of small-versus-large orchestra comparisons.

    "I think that in some ways, while it may not have the massive impact of a full symphony orchestra, there's an impact that comes from the individual energy of the symphony players. There is this incredible energy that gets exchanged with just fourteen or fifteen of us onstage."

    In her first season as Concertmaster, Brown says she's learned a lot from the group, and from her conductor.

    "It's been a wonderful season so far. I feel incredibly lucky to be there, because my colleagues are just fantastic and Nurhan is a wonderful conductor to work with. He has this wonderful balance of the insight that comes with a really great musical grounding -and a really terrific background - combined with the patience it takes to fine-tune things. And he has a very clear concept in his own mind of what he's going after. I've learned a lot from him."

    Arman says there is a close relationship between musicians in such a small group.

    "We all depend on each other. It's a totally different form of artistic creativity in a group like this because we work on every note within the time limits we have. Everything has to be there. In a 100-piece orchestra, if someone drops a few notes, nobody will notice. If we do it, everyone will know."

    "So," he says carefully, "everybody has to be playing like a soloist."

    Sinfonia Toronto perform at Grace-Church On the Hill Friday, March 7th at 8pm.

    For more information, including special student rates, go to, or check their Myspace and Facebook pages.