Monthly Archives: October 2015

Bruce Lawes- On a Cloud

AWARD-WINNING ARTIST BRUCE K. LAWES LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE WITH GREAT PRINT GIVE-AWAY

Congratulations to Bruce K. Lawes who has just launched a gorgeous new website via the US-based Fine Art Studio Online (FASO), artists’ web template company.  http://bklawesart.com/

I’ve worked with Bruce over the past 2 years and have witnessed his portfolio expand with commissioned portraits of beloved horses, commemorative Civil War scenes and historic re-imagining, canvases capturing African endangered species, stunning fall and winter landscapes….but this little cowgirl is always pulled towards his horses – the shaggy mustangs, the fancy dressage steeds, and the craggy rugged western range themes. the-power-of-one close-encounters

marmot-basin-on-high master-of-his-domain a-pryor-engagement paint-over-timeI asked Bruce to share his experience using FASO to launch his new website with my readers as I know there are a lot of painters and sculptors out there whose own sites need a serious upgrade in order to compete in the highly volatile art markets around the world, and here is what he said…..

Your new site looks absolutely stunning, Bruce – can you tell me about FASO and how easy it was to use/upload (as a non-tech person)?  I’m very pleased with the new website as I feel it’s easy to navigate and shows the art in my portfolio very well, and it offers e-commerce for my prints. FASO is dedicated to artists’ websites and truly assists the artist to showcase an exceptional representation of their work with ease and at a very reasonable price. The initial setup is a long process of uploading image after image, however, the individual process is made so easy to upload and place in each collection. If you have any problems FASO’s superb customer service techs are not only prompt, knowledgeable and courteous, they are available almost 24/7!shades-of-blues-and-graysHow important is it for artists to have a site that looks current and “responsive” (readable on smartphones & tablets as well as computers) and offers interactive elements like sales and newsletters?  For any artist, their website is paramount to their success. The ability to carry around your portfolio on your cell phone is invaluable. I’ve had many situations in casual settings where an opportunity to show potential collectors/buyers your work presents itself and out comes the cell phone. You never know who may be interested at any time. For those who know my work, the ability the website has to send out my monthly newsletter allows me to share my journey with my collectors on a more personal level. In fact, if you sign up to receive my e-newsletter “Bruce’s Monthly Palette”, you could be eligible to win a Limited Edition print of your choice valued at US$195.00. Each month, I will randomly pick a name from the list of subscribers and that lucky person will receive a print as a special thank you for joining my online gallery. Below are just a few of the Limited Edition prints from which you may choose.12113537_10156151524280154_2167750672140814310_oSince uploading all the pictures and text content, how much more can you do with your new site than before?  The new site not only allows me to do all that I’ve already mentioned but also the ability to merge with my Facebook and other social media networks plus enter monthly FASO art contests where winners are introduced to FASO’s email list of over 50,000 art enthusiasts! Overall I could not be happier.custer-before-the-storm

As Bruce says, FASO is a great website creation & promotional service for artists of any level and having worked with Bruce on his new website, I, too, can recommend their ease of use and their patient, caring customer service (great for non-techies like myself). So if you’re an artist looking to create a more competitive sexy site, you MUST visit http://faso.com/

And don’t forget to visit Bruce’s website and sign up for his monthly e-newsletter…you could be the next WINNER of a Limited Edition print. FYI: Bruce does not share your contact info with 3rd parties.

http://bklawesart.com/

20151027_191853

“EAT TO THE BEAT” FUNDRAISING GALA FEEDS THE SOUL AS WELL AS THE TUMMY!

Thanks to my friend and PR colleague, Peter Ashworth, I attended last night’s “Eat to the Beat” fundraiser benefitting the Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support organization here in Toronto at the prestigious Roy Thomson Hall.img284Hundreds of hungry guests strolled around the circular outer hall, indulging in some of the yummiest treats created by the city’s leading female chefs, accompanied by all manner of liquid refreshments including one of my favourites…below20151027_194810

Upon entering the grand hall, my BFF Erena and I were greeted by a bustiered kick-line of charming volunteers from the Willow organization. They were outfitted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Eat to the Beat and as you can see in this quickee video, all were bedecked in festive accoutrements…LOL

What a great way to start the evening. Congrats to all the energetic, hard-working volunteers! 20151027_185754So Erena (in B&W striped jacket below) and I pressed on and started our safari into the gourmet jungle. Calories be damned!20151027_201504 20151027_193512So many charming chefs who proudly shared their best dishes with us all…20151027_190544 20151027_192934 20151027_190300

20151027_191144 20151027_190955Lamb was a popular meat last night which, of course, made this Downunder lady very happy. It’s no joke when we Aussies boast that Australia was built on the back of a sheep. Yummm.

In between gobbling up the samples, we ran into media friend Christine Bentley (host of “What She Said” on SiriusXM)20151027_193940….and more fabulous funny friends from Willow & event sponsor Scotiabank who worked the room like pro’s!20151027_194534In case you were wondering…yes, there were lots of handsome gentlemen there, too, including reps from Hockley Beer, Pr. Edward County wineries, Ace Bakery and the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts!20151027_190451 20151027_191432 20151027_200306 20151027_201154Lots of delicious desserts were on offer, too, and being the dedicated chocoholic that I am, I headed straight for the Succulent Chocolates table (below).  You have to taste their chocky-wokkies…wow, talk about a party in your mouth!!20151027_194319These sour cherry/mascarpone blintzes were amazing, too.20151027_191929So many food stations, not enough tummy space! So glad I wore elastic waisted pants…LOL20151027_190511 20151027_200023 20151027_195938 20151027_192904

20151027_190424Apart from all the festive foods and drinkies consumed, we mustn’t lose sight of the night’s mission to raise awareness and $s for the Willow organization. All of us with family, friends or our own selves living with cancer are so grateful to Willow for providing an amazing network of support services. THANK YOU!
It was so nice to see such an enthusiastic crowd coming out to support the event….20151027_191848 20151027_200844

…just enough time left to enjoy a few more naughty nibbles at the dessert stations….20151027_191521

20151027_200439..and thank goodness for Starbucks and their smiling crew (below) who helped cleanse my palette with a nice strong cuppa coffee.20151027_190045I managed to snap two of my favorite ladies, Erena (below left) with Lynne (below right) from KMH Labs on Edward Street20151027_203442And here he is, the one and only Peter Ashworth (below) who worked so hard with his lovely associate Ashley to bring in the media to cover this important soiree.20151027_203751Please visit  www.willow.org  if you need any support or information. And if you would like to like to donate to their cause, it’s certainly not too late.20151027_204007

20151025_143831

KENSINGTON MARKET (TORONTO) – LAST “PEDESTRIAN SUNDAY” OF THE YEAR

Today, the sun was out and so was half of Toronto (it seemed) on the streets of Kensington Market to celebrate the last “pedestrian Sunday” and to support the art fair featuring local artists and craftspeople.20151025_132739My bestie, Erena, and I wandered down Augusta Ave where we saw lots of vendors and all the regular stores were decked out in their finest Halloween decorations. Best place to find groovy costumes for trick-or-treating!20151025_134254 20151025_142559 20151025_142811 20151025_143737Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was one of the thousands of starving artists, actors or musicians who shopped, dined and partied in Kensington Mkt. This was the first period of vintage clothing crazes Toronto went thru and Kensington was the coolest neighbourhood where all the second hand and vintage togs were affordable….Courage My Love, Exile, Black Market….all my old haunts for buying clothing, shoes, jewellery. Nice to visit and see some of my old fave places still there and thriving. Nice to see the old House of Spice still there although it seems they’re more into incense than actual spices. Used to buy my curry powder there.20151025_143629 20151025_143818 20151025_135110But today was all about the artisans and street performers. We met the delightfully bright and cheery Whitney French (poetrybusker.tumblr.com) who was typing instant custom poetry and prose on her portable typewriter. 20151025_133803 20151025_133800

20151025_133810Before heading over to the art fair, Erena and I just HAD to go grab some Turkish Delight…the best in the city…from a little spice and nut store on Bladwin St. They have THE best rose-flavoured fresh TD (see below)20151025_134633 20151025_134648…and as we walked away I noticed their next door neighbours. Their signage made me laugh – “hustlin’ since 1965″!20151025_134904Round the corner at the art fair, I met the lady at the BB Tresors handmade jewellery booth. I really liked the bracelets which reminded me of the California-based Satya line…but hers were half Satya’s price. Wow.  Check out the Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bbtresors20151025_140715

20151025_140851 20151025_140725Along the next aisle was a real cute art/ceramics booth (below)20151025_141151…then I met Marcella Valentino of inch x inch. What super cool handcrafted jewellery designs (below). Loved the big pendants made from metal washers or oversized crystals.  www.inchxinchxmv.etsy.com20151025_141411 20151025_141453 20151025_141456One of the artists I had already scoped out online was Ralph Alfonso of BBAM! Gallery in Montreal, a rock’n’roll photographer whose pictures showcase the great bands of the 70s and 80’s and who was himself a music manager (The Diodes). http://www.bbamgallery.com/ Here’s Ralph (below left) surveying the scene.20151025_141912 20151025_141922

20151025_141940Here’s a cool way to light your home. Veggie lamps. Yes, artist Masa Lizdek creates plaster molds of vegetables & fruit, then handcrafts them into stunning porcelain lamps (below) under the designer name Ripe – check ’em out at www.masalizdek.com/artdownload IMG_7165 IMG_7177Erena and I were hungry and thirsty so we went looking for some nibblies…we shoulda grabbed some Rasta Pasta but the line up was too long!20151025_142622And of course, I wanted to ride the pony (below) but couldn’t find an actual pony anywhere!20151025_143018No idea what this was supposed to be (below), but that’s half the fun of Kensington Market – finding all the wacky characters and street art. I thought Lady Gaga had arrived with a giant eyeball or albino boob. I dunno – what do you see?20151025_144827So much to see, hear, smell, taste, touch….I needed a whole month of Sundays but will certainly make another visit soon during the week. Here are a few more photos and a couple of videos I shot – enjoy!20151025_135253 20151025_143625 20151025_134050

img283

ORT TORONTO GALA CELEBRATES ONGOING INT’L EDUCATION WORK + HONOURS CONTRIBUTIONS TO ART WORLD

Last night, ORT Toronto hosted its annual fundraising gala “Unfinished Business of the 20th Century – Restitution of Looted Art” at the Design Exchange in Toronto with a dinner and dessert reception plus a silent art auction. Thanks to my friend and PR colleague, Danielle Iversen who publicized the gala, I was invited to attend and help celebrate this year’s Honourees including Paul E. Bain (pictured below) partner at Dickinson Wright LLP, who was honoured for his work protecting artists’ rights and his dedication to several not-for-profit art organizations.20151018_212655…as well as Honourees for the ORT Recognition AwardJanis & Kenny Finkelstein, for their many years of dedication and support to the organization (below).20151018_195434Then the evening’s MC, Michael B. Miller (below) introduced the Keynote Speaker for this year’s gala…..20151018_194232….Donald S. Burris, one of the men behind the “Woman in Gold” case where a Nazi-appropriated Gustav Klimt masterpiece was returned to its rightful owner decades after the theft. Mr. Burris is a senior partner in the L.A. firm Burris, Schoenberg & Walden LLP, and he spoke about that case (recently told in the Helen Mirren/Ryan Reynolds feature film “The Woman in Gold”) and his pursuit of other art works stolen by the Nazis in World War II.  Talk about a fascinating presentation and what a riveting brush with history I experienced.

20151018_202708

20151018_204044

20151018_205126Mr. Burris spoke at great length about the numerous trials, the international legal wrangling and ultimate triumph that brought the Klimt portrait of Ms. Altmann’s aunt back to the family, as well as comments regarding the other recent movie “The Monuments Men” which sadly did not tell the full true story of the Allies’ attempt to rescue and protect the greatest artworks in Europe’s private Jewish family collections.

Although the speech was a sobering reminder to all what happened seven+ decades ago, the evening was full of promise and positive celebrations for ORT Toronto which is an arm of World ORT, founded in 1880, the largest non-denominational, non-governmental organization providing “Education for Life” each year to over 300,000 disadvantaged students in 60 countries. The name is an acronym based on its original Russian name. ORTThrough its International Cooperation programs, ORT supports non-sectarian economic and social development in under-developed parts of the world, with vocational training and the provision of technical assistance.  ORT operates a global network of schools, colleges, training centres and programmes in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the CIS and Baltic States, Israel, Latin America, North America and Western Europe. ORT schools are highly regarded and are open to all children regardless of religious backgrounds.  http://www.ort-toronto.org/

ORT Executive Director, Lindy Meshwork says: “In these challenging times, we believe the key to a better world lies in education.  Since 1880 ORT has been providing the necessary skills and training to succeed, providing hope and the opportunity for a brighter future for students around the world.”
Exec. Dir. Lindy Meshwork with Danielle

Exec. Dir. Lindy Meshwork with event publicist Danielle

The evening also featured a delicious buffet dinner with a dessert reception after the awards presentations. There was a silent auction featuring artworks by renowned painters & photographers to help raise funds for ORT Toronto. Here are some candid photos of the guests, honourees and VIPs …and mazel tov to all for a fantastic night!

Harry & Esther Goodman enjoyed the festivities

Harry & Esther Goodman enjoyed the festivities

Danielle (left) joined my table for dinner and schmoozing.

Danielle (left) joined my table for dinner and schmoozing with Rochelle Covent (right)

Mr. Burris was enthusiastically  congratulated on his speech

Mr. Burris was enthusiastically congratulated on his speech

I ran into media colleague Georgina Bencsik at the buffet

I ran into media colleague Georgina Bencsik at the buffet

More media enjoying the dinner incl. Jody Glaser (above R)

More media enjoying the dinner incl. Jody Glaser (above R) with his wife Katherine

20151018_214232

L-R: Philip Strathy, Danielle, Sam Wales & Michael Miller

L-R: Philip Strathy, Danielle, Sam Wales & Michael Miller

A successful fundraiser & awards gala = good reason to kick up their heels!

Harry, Danielle & Sam kick up their heels

ABOUT THE EVENT:
GALA MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Michael B. Miller, Partner, Dickinson Wright, LLP
HONOURARY CO-CHAIRS: Carrie Katz + Ellen Miller
TRIBUTE COMMITTEE: Madeline Avedon, Rose Baum, Jeanne Beker, Joyce Chapnick, Justice Sandra Chapnik, Hedy Frisch, Edie Glazer, Julianna Greenspan, Marlene Hait,
Elise Kalles, Barbara Kingstone, Michelle Maderer, Laura Walsh & Israel Mida, Tom Mihalik,, Aviva Morgenstern, Harriet Morton, Marlene & Martin Rochwerg, Irene Reingold, Mary Richmond, Serafima Roll, Dorothy Cohen Shoichet, Elise Sieradzki, Justice Gertrude Speigel, Bella Tal, Sam Wales, Florence Weinstock, Liora Yakubowicz
ORT Canada – Charitable Number: 118834910 RR0001
Co- Presidents: Carrie Katz, Jacob Kincler & Arthur Silber
ORT Toronto
President: Janis Finkelstein,  Past President: Florence Weinstock
Executive Director: Lindy Meshwork
Director of Admin: Roni Maderer
Sponsored by BMO, Tom Mihalik: Tom’s Place and Janis & Kenny Finkelstein
20151018_175201
20151017_150354

GOATS AND HORSIES AND MODELS, OH MY!

Several weeks ago, my friends Carcia and Telly Campbell of ItsMusicFashionLife.com web-magazine asked me to suggest a rustic, farm location for their upcoming fashion shoot and without missing a beat, I suggested the new Haute Goat farm in Newtonville, just ouside of Port Hope. So yesterday, we packed the clothes, accessories and photographer/creative director Aleyah Solomon (co-founder of the brand new HereandThere magazine) into the car and headed east through the the glorious fall colours to meet the models, and the goats and horses owned by Debbie and Shain of hautegoat.com20151017_111333 20151017_111241As soon as we pulled into the farm driveway, we realized the shoot would be stunning – the farm house was perched high overlooking the rolling hills and woodlands around Clarington County (see below).20151017_121311 20151017_132815We were soon joined by gorgeous models Tara and Taylor, along with make-up and hairstylist Alexandre and photo assistant Candace….and set to work rounding up the 4-legged livestock  who turned out to be fabulous models, too.20151017_134930 20151017_135046 20151017_121618The wee goats (above) were such hams! Many tried to pull focus from Tara’s posing…bleating and bah’ing making us all laugh so hard.  When Taylor came out in his winter fashions (below), the goats fell in love with him, following him around, nuzzling and begging his attention. We now call him the “goat whisperer”!20151017_150532 20151017_150640 20151017_145955Above, Aleyah was laughing so hard at the goats swarming Taylor sometimes it was difficult to shoot. Debbie (the goat mum) joined in the hilarity. Carcia (below with Taylor) enjoyed a cuddle with one of the baby goats while sister Telly (centre, 2nd pic) quickly snapped shots between pats.20151017_150721 20151017_150749Carcia’s and Telly’s bestest selfie ever!20151017_150238

20151017_150804…and above, Eden, one of the wranglers at Haute Goat, posed with one of our favourite goats, Yoda, as the models went inside to change for their next look. Below, Jack the farm’s guard dog got into the modelling act, too, and loved Aleyah’s impromptu ukulele concert on the lawn!20151017_135738 20151017_135806Next, it was time to cowboy-up. Tara and Taylor got their city-meets-country looks on and Shain and Debbie’s Icelandic horses got into the act, too.20151017_155315 20151017_155634 20151017_155653Alexandre and Taylor had fun taking horsie selfies!20151017_155007And I had quite the “Legends of the Fall” moment snapping this shot of Taylor (below) who looked so like Brad Pitt as “Tristan” dontcha think?20151017_160205I was thrilled to be invited on an ATV ride through the woods behind the farm while more photos were being taken so I jumped at that opportunity…have you ever tried taking photos while riding on an ATV? Naaah, too shaky, but when I got back to the farmhouse, I relaxed in the huge kitchen and snapped a few pics of the decor as well as the awesome goats milk treats Haute Goat produces and sells: soaps, body creams, lip balm, caramel corn, fudge….you can guess what came home with me!20151017_143337 20151017_162821 20151017_162847 20151017_162851 20151017_162857 20151017_162902None of us wanted to leave the Haute Goat farm last night but the big city lights beckoned us home.  Here are a few more parting shots of the lovely farm and wee beasties.20151017_150055 20151017_181851 20151017_142200

20151017_133007

20151017_121610 20151017_150259Don’t forget to check out ItsMusicFashionLife.com for the upcoming photo essay, as well as HauteGoat.com for more product info and sales of their handcrafted skin care and edible treats, esp. now you’ve met the goat workers who make it all!

IMG_6322_edited

TALKIN’ MUSIC WITH LAURA ROCK

Move over all you insipid little girls with guitars…here’s the real deal: hard rockin’ singer/songwriter LAURA ROCK is heading back into the studio to record her 3rd album in as many years.1011097_570786989681039_626053128_nI met this talented lady a few years ago when she was launching her first solo album of pedal-to-the-metal, hard-driving contemporary rock music and she won me over completely upon first listening…I got hooked on her ballsy songs. But this lady is not just your typical “rock chick”; Laura is all heart and can frequently be found mentoring and encouraging young emerging artists, sharing her stories of performing live in clubs of varying sizes, recording studio protocols to dealing with dodgy club owners. This lady has been there, done that, written the songs…and she’s happy to impart her knowledge and expertise with those just coming up through the ranks.

Earlier this summer, Laura performed to a packed house at Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe, proving once again that Rock’s Not Dead…. which just so happens to be the name of her current album and lead single! As she heads back into the studio, I sat down with her and asked a few questions…..

IMG_2559Where were you raised and has that influenced your music or performance style?
I originate from Newfoundland..let me count the ways that my home town of St. John’s has influenced me both musically & performance style!  Musically, growing up I was blessed with some great folk-rockers along with many other genres.  Newfoundlanders are know for being friendly and outgoing. Our storytelling abilities and sense of humor shines through – in the way we speak and in my case, write lyrics and sing.  The term “front person” comes to mind.  People say that my Newfie hospitality and genuine love for what I do translates well to stage.

Who were your musical influences?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. Don’t make me choose!! I mean it’s massive, there are MANY. Areosmith! Areosmith!! Areosmith!!! Did I say Steven Tyler? LOL!! Can’t forget AC/DC & OMG! Can you say Sammy Hager? Also Tom Cochrane,Kim Mitchell, Colin James, The Guess Who, Nikki Sixx, Eddie Veder, Dave Matthews, Matthew Good, Jane’s Addiction, MatchBox Twenty/Rob Thomas, Heart, Lita Ford, Holly Woods, Sass Jordan, Melissa Etheridge, Biff Naked , Allanah Myles, Holly McNarland, Mae Moore. And I can’t not mention my fellow Newfs Kim Stockwood, Ron Hynes, Great Big Sea, plus Hey Rosetta, Belinda Metz, Buffy Ste Marie, Joni Mitchell, Ricki Lee Jones, Joan Osborne, Pink, Chantal Kreviazuk, Van Halen, But seriously I could go on and on and on and….1907491_851190768307325_4821469725654246649_nDo you play any instruments and how do you compose?
My instrument is my voice.  Regarding composing, well I can hack a guitar but I’m not all that great.  For the most part, I am a lyricist. It all comes to me in waves…it feels like it’s channeled from somewhere else, I swear! I often hear guitar riffs or drum beats in my head but I am absolutely blessed to work with a fantastic producer, Brian Gagnon, who helps interrupt my ideas.  Sometimes I go in with the lyrics and he creates the music – sometime I add some musical ideas or sometimes he has the music and my lyrics are created afterwards. Sometimes it’s a simultaneous process.

Who has been your guiding light in the industry?
Wow, good question.  I think I have always followed my own heart, but one “guiding light” in particular was the late great Nik Beat of CIUT’s Howl! radio show.  Nik’s incredible belief in me and my music lead me to L.A. and many other places. He introduced me to so many talented people in Toronto that I otherwise would never have known.

Remind me of your previous albums and the hit singles off each…and haven’t you won some pretty awesome awards, too?
My first album was called Law of Attraction, which was released in late 2011 and my current album, Rock’s Not Dead was released towards the end of 2014.LoA_front_cover_450x385I’m happy to say that my music is played on many internet stations across Canada, the US and the UK – as I say: “all the web’s a stage”.  Regarding awards, well, I’m proud to mention that I was nominated for 6 HMMA awards in L.A.  (Hollywood In Media Awards) which has resulted in some amazing opportunities and business introductions for me. I was nominated for the following songs:
November 2014 Lightning
July 2013 Law of Attraction
Mar 2013 98.5
Jan 2013 Get Your Rock On
July 2012 Blindsided
June 2012 Light My Fuse

You’ve played some pretty great venues over the past few years….
I’ve played many venues in Toronto as both a cover band artist and as a original project.  Sadly, a lot of clubs have shut down in this city but more recently I played the legendary El Mocambo before it was sold and closed, and in June we did our official CD Launch for Rocks Not Dead at the Hard Rock Cafe.IMG_2608Can you tease us with a little news about your next album?
I’m heading back into the studio to work on my third album but I’m still promoting Rock’s Not Dead which I sadly had to put on hold due to the death of my mother, father & best fiend all in a very short span of time last year. But you know what they say….what doesn’t kill you makes you write more music!   So this next album is about love, loss, and the key phrase…Bait & Switch! 11412264_1594586234156065_8810531013978382576_oYou spend a lot of time mentoring emerging young artists, sharing knowledge about the business of making music. For you, what is the most rewarding aspect of that?
The most rewarding aspect of that is simply watching them grow as an artist.  After speaking with them about several subjects, particularly “critical opinions” – as you know, we live in a society that always has something to say about whatever we do. I always like to let young artists know that there will always be a critical opinion and I offer ways on how to deal with it, how to protect your creative ego.  Once they overcome this, they soar….that’s the fun part to watch.

In a city the size of Toronto where there are a lot of performance stages, why aren’t we seeing more accessible multi-genre music stars rising from the ranks? In other words, how easy/hard is it for young performers to play on a main stage AND make money?
The music landscape has changed drastically – it’s not just localized to the city you live in.  With access to the web, you are your own record company, your own manager, and this is the concept I try to instill in to younger artists. You can make money in the music industry if you’re motivated enough to put in time and effort into your art.  The simple fact is, if you love what you do, there are going to be hurdles in the way and you will have to compromise, especially when it comes to the financial part of the business.  Having said that, I think no one should play for free…know you’re worth and stick to it.10457525_10152983333693098_7303762277621657028_nAny ideas how we, the fans, can help improve the music scene and support the artists?
You can do this simply by buying their music online or showing up at live venues. At the end of the day, the music business is a business and everyone needs to make a living.

So what’s in the future for Laura Rock?
Music is a way of life for me, it’s not a destination…I try to live in the moment for the most part, because I feel so good making music…it’s like heaven on earth.  But having said that, I do aspire to write for other artists or help/mentor those who need a little guidance.  I love films so having one of my songs in a movie soundtrack would be the biggest dream come true!bg_lrock_splash

You can learn more about Laura Rock, buy her music and keep up with news on her new album and upcoming shows by visiting: http://lrockmusic.com/

DSC_6263 - Version 6

THE BABY DEBUTS TO FULL HOUSE….AND A STANDING OVATION!

Award-winning writer/director Dan Spurgeon‘s hilarious homage to 70’s grindhouse movies, THE BABY, debuted live on stage at the Storefront Theatre tonight and if the enthusiastic preview audience is any indication, the play’s gonna be a BIG HIT!20151015_212740The talented cast of local actors bring “high camp” to a whole new level, delivering lines in a manner Benny Hill would envy! New York actor Frank Blocker (below) reprises the role of Mama he made famous in LA when the play premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2013, winning numerous awards as well as critical acclaim. 20151009_222104Jeanie Calleja sparkles as the seemingly good-hearted social worker, Ms. Gentry, but things turn decidedly dark when she meets Baby (below) and the whole Wadsworth family. Jeff Dingle‘s portrayal of Baby the man-child is sweet, hysterically funny and poignant, and he chews up the scenery…including the carpet, the stuffed toys…even his hotsie-totsie babysitter, played by Olivia Marshman!

Photo: John Gundy

Photo: John Gundy

Photo: John Gundy

Photo: John Gundy

Baby’s sisters are over-the-top, wildly funny and played to perfection by Alicia Richardson as Alba, the ultimate wicked yet sexy villainess (below left) and Claire Burns (below right) as Germaine…think Ellie-May Clampett meets Ann Margaret!20151009_213835Winner of Best of Hollywood Fringeand “Top 10 LA Theatre Production” honours in 2013

What the LA Critics said about The Baby:
“Gleefully perverse with a delicious campiness!”  Paul Birchall, LA Weekly
“The most fun I’ve had at a play in a long time!”  Andrew Moore, Mad Theatrics
and my favourite…..   “That was fuckin’ funny!”  Ron Jeremy, adult film legend

But don’t take their word for it….come enjoy this raucous, vulgar, naughty, high camp entertainment yourself.
THE BABY runs now until Nov. 1, 2015 at The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Showtimes: Tues. thru Sat. @ 8pm & Sun. @ 2pm
Tickets: $20-$25 available from www.thebabyliveonstage.com or at the theatre box office.logoCongratulations to the cast and crew…take your well-deserved bows!20151015_212736

2014 Anne Yarymowich, George Brown College Chef School

TORONTO’S CULINARY “EAT TO THE BEAT” FUNDRAISER CELEBRATES 20 YEARS

Thanks to my friend & colleague Peter Ashworth of Ashworth Associates Public Relations, I’d like to share information about this year’s annual EAT TO THE BEAT fundraising event later this month.

Sixty top female chefs lend their support to make the 20th Anniversary of Willow’s Eat to the Beat an evening not to be missed.  The event takes place Tuesday, October 27, 2015 @ 7 pm at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street, Toronto) and benefits Willow Breast & Hereditary Support, a not-for-profit organization that offers free peer support to anyone coping with breast cancer. Tickets are $175 (with a tax receipt) and include all food and beverages.  For tickets or to see the line-up of chefs to date as well as beverage participants, please visit www.eattothebeat.ca or call 416.778.6314 x 236.

catering 3“Willow’s role in a person’s journey with breast cancer and other hereditary forms of cancer is undeniably important in making sure caring and compassionate support and valuable information is there when they need it most,” states Karen Malone, Executive Director of Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support.  “Proceeds raised from Eat to the Beat go directly to our programs and services that Willow offers which are vital in ensuring that women and their families are supported throughout every stage of the individual’s diagnosis and treatment.”

Guests will have access to 60 female chefs who are donating their time and talent for the event and will tantalize guests by personally preparing their delectable specialties on-site.  Mouthwatering sweet and savory delicacies, premium beers, wines and spirits will prove irresistible temptations for Toronto’s foodies and Willow supporters and will be set up around Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby. catering 5 “Celebrating 20 years is a significant milestone in the history of Eat to the Beat and we are so grateful to our participating chefs, sponsors and supporters who have helped to make Eat to the Beat Toronto’s must-attend culinary event and fundraiser over the years,” says Barbara Track, Eat to the Beat Co-Chair.  catering 4 catering catering 6“Our participating chefs, many of whom have been with us from our early days, are planning exquisite culinary treats to commemorate our 20th anniversary of women helping women in support of Willow,” adds Cathy Park, who is co-chairing Eat to the Beat.

Started 20 years ago by Lisa and Abby Slater, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.7 million for Willow. In keeping with tradition and adding a bit of sass with class, the event will also feature breast cancer survivors modelling original food-inspired corsets that they have created.

Again, for tickets & information on all the generous talented chefs, please visit  www.eattothebeat.cacatering 2

 

small-RockyHorror-02C

UPCOMING FUNDRAISER FOR CANADIAN STAR SCAMMED OUT OF LIFE SAVINGS

Back in the 80’s I was a big part of the Canadian comedy industry, running the Funny Business agency for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto and helping build Yuks into the biggest chain of comedy clubs across North America, booking revolutionary acts like Sam Kinison, Emo Phillips and Steven Wright. When I struck out on my own in late 1985, I took several “freelance” comedians and prop acts with me, booking them across the country and into the States…and I even landed one of ’em on the couch with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. 

One of my favourite local acts was Glenn Ottaway (pictured below), a comic magician who worked clean (or not) depending on the audience. Glenn always “showed up” – he could perform as an MC or a headliner. He travelled anywhere I asked and was kind enough to work for whatever budget I had been given for shows…we all made money and with Glenn, I knew my reputation would remain in tact with club owners or corporate event bookers. Careers move in different directions and by the end of the 90’s, I was out of the comedy business – it didn’t seem funny any more….too many pee-pee kaa-kaa jokes and the Comedy Network on TV had sanitized or infantilized comedy in Canada. Not so much the yuks, it was more like the blechs!glennmicLast week I heard about a benefit to help Glenn…was he sick, was he disabled…WTF? Count me in, let me help. Then I found out that Glenn and business partner David Merry (another previous performer for my comedy agency) had been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars on a theatre purchase deal and Glenn was in trouble. I immediately reached out to offer my blog space as a media outlet so below are Glenn’s comments and responses to my questions, plus a brief comment from the upcoming benefit’s producer and fellow comedy guy, Matt Disero.

Young Glenn Ottaway performing his early prestidigitation tricks.

Young Glenn Ottaway performing his early prestidigitation tricks.

When and what prompted you to want to purchase your own theatre (and where is that venue located)?
I have always enjoyed live theatre. From mid-way through high school I would get a great deal of satisfaction from being involved with plays. I did 1 play where I was on stage, one play where I was stage manager and 1 play which I had written. I found it very creative on al kinds of levels. When I decided to be a performer, I knew there were many struggling and starving actors so I went the way of a variety performer. I learned early on that I could work for pre-schoolers right through to stags (different shows of course). I figured, if nothing else I would be able to survive on birthday parties. I worked just about anywhere one could imagine.

After 30 years on the road and in front of audiences I felt it was time to move on. During my career I was lucky enough to perform in a show called “A Little Night Magic” on Lombard Street in downtown Toronto. When it was obvious that show was closing, I started to do stand up (with a touch of magic) for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret (back then a true force in the Canadian comedy scene – GF). But I was tiring of the road and wanted to do something else. I met a man in my (then) hometown of Whitby. He owned Class Act Dinner Theatre (104 Consumers Drive) and after working a couple of freelance shows there I was hired as the Production Manager which meant I was responsible for selecting plays, directing (or finding a director) for plays. This was late in 2004. I could do the theatre gig, and still squeeze in some stand-up on the road.IMG_2337As the theatre gig got more demanding, I let the comedy slip away.  As a Production Manager, my jobs list grew. I would open each show, do a little comedy and push upcoming shows. I really enjoyed the job (which sometimes fogs your observance to what is going on around you).  In 2010 the boss tried his hand at bringing in his first big talent, Tim Allen. He asked to borrow some money (for 6 weeks) from me to help with the performance fee deposit for Tim. Tim played 3 or 4 venues throughout southern Ontario, but sadly all of the venues lost money – Tim was no longer a draw. The boss asked to extend the loan because he was running for mayor. It was a close race, but he lost. It became clear to me then, that my money was in jeopardy. We met about it and he offered me a piece of the theatre in repayment. I knew the place was making some good money, so it sounded like a sound retirement fund.

What made you decide to do business with this person – did he appear to be legit and trustworthy (and why)?
His name is Clayton Varcoe – known to everyone as “Rocky.” He’d been good to me for the first 6 years (it was my first ever “day” job). I trusted him. It’s that simple. Anyone who has ever had to deal with con men know how good they are.  With this 20/20 hindsight, I now realize that he has a lot of problems – I understand now his actions are that of a sociopath – he has no conscience and feels no guilt. He lies, cheats and steals. But at the time, though, I trusted in him.

When did you first realize this was not a good business decision?
I was never a good businessman. Excuses of “it wasn’t a good year” and “expenses are way up” were offered. I fell for it the first couple of years. I still trusted him, and considered him a friend – and a friend would never screw another friend, right?

You were partnering with comic magician and writer David Merry on this opportunity – what insights did he share with you as the negotiations “proceeded”?
Rocky said he wanted to step back from the business, and eventually turn it over to me, but that I would need a partner. I started approaching people I thought I could work with. I have always respected David (pictured below) and knew he was much more business savvy than was I. I spoke with him at a BBQ he invited me to at his home. It was there that I brought up the subject. He was excited about it, and I set up the meeting between him and Rocky. The three of us met with the final offer being made: David would have just under 1/3 of the business. Rocky’s father-in-law would have 10%, Rocky would maintain just under 30% and hold 15% of my share because I didn’t have enough money for a 30% share. Rocky explained how he ran the business, he allegedly kept 2 sets of books. Part of the agreement was that Rocky would keep one legit set of books and not shuffle money between different venues to “hide” profits. I don’t want to say anymore about David’s involvement, because I have been feeling a lot of guilt over this, even though David doesn’t blame me. I blame me.

Above - David Merry (in white) performing for CTV Ottawa Morning Show

Above – David Merry (in white) performing for CTV Ottawa Morning Show

When and how did you put the brakes on?
David brought in some very talented people to perform. He was to handle the comedy shows. He brought in a very popular person (whom the theatre could never afford, but David used his influence as a friend to get a great discount) The person was to play 3 theatres and the profits would be split 3 ways (David, Rocky and myself). At the end of the run, Rocky pocketed everything….over twenty grand! That was the beginning of the end. David was first to go (get thrown out) during a show David brought in featuring a huge American TV star. Later in court, Rocky lied about the cost of the show. I stuck around because, frankly, I was in debt and needed the money, but I was working with David as a mole. I tried to screw up a number of deals Rocky was working on, including a deal with the owner of the biggest comedy chain in Canada.

Once you learned you and David had been “scammed”, what steps did you take to recoup your $s?
David took him to court and won handily because every time Rocky opened his mouth, he lied. David’s lawyer was ready for it and was ready with the truth. Rocky was fined twice for contempt of court. I couldn’t afford a lawyer, and I know I will never get any of the money back, so I tried to shame him publicly through social media. I’ve also wrote a book with lots of first-person witness accounts of his alleged law-breaking activities – he has threatened me, my sister, mutual friends and David. I have been physically threatened and threatened with lawsuits – I wish he would sue me for defamation and slander because I have proof of everything I have shared.

How has Varcoe responded – what action, if any, did he take to remedy the situation?
Nothing…he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. He has sent denial emails using other people’s accounts, and posted on Facebook using his wife’s identity.  But his business track records speaks for itself: the most renowned and respected playwrights’ agency in the world is currently preparing a lawsuit against him for non-payment of royalties.

How does your situation with him stand now?
Although I haven’t given up (nor ever will) I’ve decided to play it down a little for now as my legal and financial resources are basically zero. Karma’s a bitch so I’m letting her have a go at him now!Glenn at the Bear and FirkinApril 17 - 5, 2015What do you hope this upcoming fundraiser achieves – fundraising for your survival, raising the public’s awareness of such scammers, a cautionary tale for all?
Well, I am in financial trouble right now and this will help out a lot. I suffered a concussion a couple of years ago and I still have some memory issues, so while I would like to get back on the stage, it is too early to tell. I am actually quite humbled by the benefit show, but I am very thankful to all the wonderful friends who are willing to help out. If nothing else, this will be the best comedy show Toronto has ever seen and who knows, maybe Tim Allen will show up…LOL! I am also hoping the media attention will shine a light on this s.o.b. so the authorities will finally investigate his fraudulent activities to protect others.
………………………………………………………………………………

So many of the country’s top comedic talents have signed on to appear Mon. Nov. 9th at Toronto’s Revue Theatre including Comedy Aces founder Glen Foster, media personality Mike Bullard, the hysterically funny Mini Holmes, and many others including, of course, David Merry. All the details on tickets, time, venue, etc. are available at  www.therockyhorror.com

The show’s producer and all-round funny guy himself, Matt Disero (pictured below) kindly shared this with me:

I would like to say that EVERY SINGLE ACT I asked to be on this show said yes in 10 seconds flat.  I even asked a couple of people who I’m not fond of and who are not fond of me, they still said yes right away. Everyone is donating their time as a favour to me, to help out Glenn.  That speaks volumes about Glenn and his stature in the community, and about Glenn as a person.  The comedy world is full of back stabbing, lying awfulness most of the time, but I do love that when someone needs a bit of help everyone generally circles the wagons to help.   This is my first time producing a show of any kind, hell I can barely produce my OWN shows, so I was very thrilled to get help from the likes of Raining Creative, one of Toronto’s top ad firms.  I’m good friends with the president of that company and he’s a magic fan.  Again, within seconds he said yes to doing all the promotional items and pre-press for the show… mostly because he’s a fan of Glenn’s work. They moved back a promotional job for U2 and Coldplay to get the posters done for me and give advice about Eventbrite Ticketing and making that work.

Glenn’s right, this will be the best comedy variety show Toronto has ever seen…. I should probably take myself off it and put in another act, but what the hell, someone has to lower the bar. LOL!DiseroCanadasWalkofFameI came up with the benefit show idea in part because there’s been one before for a couple of acts who were in dire health, so I knew that was something doable, and the same night I was thinking about it I was on the phone with Jeff Evason who also suggest we do something, it was Jeff who came up with the name for the show, I think.  There was alcohol…… from there it was just a matter of renting the theatre, and getting things together. In the end, it’s an honour to be able to help out a guy who I’ve learned so much from. Just watching Glenn work at A Little Night Magic over the years taught me valuable lessons that I still apply today to my corporate and public performing work.  Getting to perform on that show when I was so young (I started there when I was 17 ) was the best training I could imagine.  I truly got to watch the best acts in the country who had mastered what I wanted to do for a living.  I watched them night after night, whether I was working the show that evening or not.  Far and away Glenn was the best of them.  Strong magic, hilariously funny, ridiculously smooth and collected onstage, and razor sharp dealing with audience volunteers. I always admired his ability to seem so loose and off the cuff and still have well paced and constructed routines in the background. It’s a bar I still work to rise to even today when I’m creating a piece for my show.  As you might imagine, after years of benefitting from watching one of the masters work, it’s hardly a chore to pay back a little and help him out when he needs it.
Matthew Disero
www.mattdisero.com

I have not approached Mr. Varcoe for comment – there are too many Rocky Varcoes out there in the world anyway, and I’ve met my fill of them. Sadly there are no organizations, unions or government departments that offer assistance to performers/artists needing help getting paid. Have you ever attempted to use Small Claims Court? They give you a judgement but don’t give you any assistance in actually extracting those funds owed. But Glenn qualifies for HUGE Claims Court but no such court exists in this country. We’re gonna look after our own now…but we could sure use YOUR help so please log onto the website and buy a ticket.
Thank you for supporting Canadian artists.   Glenda 

20151011_144747

LUMAS GALLERY OPENS IN OLD FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LOCATION, YORKVILLE.

How exciting – the Lumas Limited Edition Gallery has just opened in Yorkville (Toronto) in the ground floor retail space created in the condos taking over the old Four Seasons Hotel lot at the corner of Avenue Rd and Yorkville Ave. The internationally acclaimed gallery offers stunning photographs of curated works by the world’s leading artists (over 200 artists are represented) and the Toronto location has just opened. With nearly 40 galleries located in cities such as Berlin, London, Paris, New York and now Toronto, local condo and homeowners can add renowned works to their walls in large or small format photos. Come walk through the showrooms with me….20151011_144103 20151011_143808 20151011_143816 20151011_143942You must visit in person to get the full effect of this incredible Damien Hirst piece (below)…it’s 3D and jumps out from the wall. So scary…so beautiful. My photo does not do it justice.20151011_143954

20151011_143952The Vogue Collection features popular photographs by the magazine’s top photographic artists…20151011_143800…and some of the display rooms look like condo showrooms, set with fabulous on-trend furniture, lighting and wall colours.20151011_143855

20151011_144029

20151011_144044There are numerous “miniatures” (below) suitable for smaller condos or apartments, and very affordable, too. 20151011_144055

20151011_144158 20151011_144320I recommend you drop in soon, spend some time strolling thru the rooms and chatting with the gallery/store associates who can recommend pieces that will fit your home and your wallet. Lumas Limited Edition Gallery, 159 Yorkville Ave, Toronto  T: 416-928-9200 www.lumas.com20151011_144420 20151011_144115 20151011_144147