Here’s the ultimate “rock concert” – if you like gorgeous gems and baubles, then this is the show for you.Big thank you to Salim Moorani, Founder of The Gem Expo, for inviting me to come out to the spring show which opened today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King W in Toronto – show runs tomorrow, Saturday Mar.17th 10am-6pm and Sunday Mar.18th 10am-5pm. www.thegemexpo.com Salim greeted me at the door along with his charming wife and daughter (below) and then let me wander the aisles, meeting up with vendors and gem ambassadors.I was pleased to run into the lovely folks from Sonatona Natural Gemstones & Minerals (below) who I met last year…they’re always ready with a smile and willing to share their extensive knowledge about their precious and semi-precious stones. www.stores.ebay.com/sonatona Lots of ready made jewellery as well as loose gems for crafters and home bead-makers…. One new vendor I was delighted to meet was Deb from Karibu Beads, featuring hand-made Kazuri Beads from Kenya. The story of these beads is fascinating so I encourage you to visit www.karibubeads.com to learn more. Here are just some of the gorgeous colourful beads I saw…. The Gem Expo also features some stunning glass work, too, including these giant “crystal balls” and some spooky stone skulls. Groovy, baby! How about some fossils? Check out these prehistoric shark teeth…yikes!Meet another new vendor, Ryan Desantos of Laya Skye Jewelry (below). He brings in handcrafted designs from Bali and I particularly liked the amazing “floating” rings that are all sterling silver with a rotating element so you can fiddle away and calm your nerves with them. One of them almost fit…I was soooo tempted. His new website is currently under construction but do check it out next month: www.LayaSkyeJewelry.com More fabulous bling…..what’s a girl to do?! Lots to see and buy so come on down this weekend – most vendors take credit cards and Debit cards/Interac, plus there are cash machines in the hotel.
Happy new year and what better way to celebrate a new beginning than to attend an exciting new theatrical presentation that features 7 different genres of dance such as Ballet, Ballroom, Latin, Tap & Burlesque, elements of circus arts including Lyra & Pole performances, musical interludes with beautiful operatic vocalists and of course the magic of Figure Skating. Introducing….the SHIVER SHOW! The brainchild of two outstanding Canadian women entertainment entrepreneurs, the Shiver Show started simultaneously and separately in the minds of KulKat Entertainment Founder Kristina Kulikova with her partner Anton Azanov, former World Ballroom & Latin Champion (picture below), and Chantal Fry, Founder of Glisse on Ice Shows. Seeing each other’s work online, Chantal & Kristina decided to share their ideas about a grand theatrical presentation over coffee… and so Shiver Show was born. From a small joint project, the idea grew into this unique large scale production debuting next month in Toronto.I recently spoke with Kristina about the show and she graciously shared her thoughts on this this truly one of a kind production:
Kristina, where did the inspiration for Shiver Show come from? It has always been a personal dream of mine to create a theater show that showcases the incredible performance talent that we have in this great city and give them the opportunity to truly shine- I can honestly say that the dancers themselves were the real inspiration. I wanted to create something unique, something eye catching and unexpected, which is where the chance meeting with Chantal came in at exactly the right time! Putting ice on the theater stage and incorporating over 7 genres of professional dance was the gem I was looking for. Finding the perfect venue and partnering with the incredibly creative and passionate Ballroom/Latin choreographer/performer and coach Anton Azanov fueled that idea and essentially made it a reality! Chantal Fry, the founder of Glisse on Ice, has created a spectacle on “artificial ice” for the show – how difficult is it to choreograph ballroom dance, flamenco, tap, aerial, pole & burlesque dance and integrate it with figure skating onto the restrictive stage of Glenn Gould Studio? We all fell deeply in love with all of the elements Glenn Gould Studio had to offer including their sophisticated lobby and reception area, incredible acoustics, and most of all the non-traditional no-curtain seamless stage which allows the audience to feel closer to the performers and truly enveloped in the show. From there – getting creative with best use of spacing was easy. Led by inspiration and the 2 brilliant minds of Anton & Chantal (pictured below), we divided the stage essentially in half to give the required surface to both the dancers and skaters in order to showcase their skills. It took 3-4 iterations of different positioning to get the set up just right, and we are very excited for the final product!The beautiful aspect to this show is also that each act showcased can be booked separately for various corporate functions, events, festivals, etc so aside from being a theatrical production, the acts are gorgeous on their own accord. We have already received requests to perform the full show program at dance schools, theater schools and festivals, so it is definitely something that can be taken out of the theater setting and still look marvelous.Requests for booking any of the talent involved in the show or separate acts, performances or demonstrations, can be arranged through me at KulKat Entertainment (for the dancers, circus arts & singers) www.kulkat.ca or Chantal Fry of Glisse on Ice (for the figure skaters) www.glisseonice.comShow times: Fri & Sat Feb 9 & 10 @ 7:30pm (doors open 6:45pm) plus Sat. matinee @ 4pm (doors open 3:15pm)
For group discount on tickets, use promo code: SHIVERGROUP (for groups of 10+)
Full details and tickets: www.shivershow.ca
Thanks to Barry Finn, publisher of THE RIDER newspaper (www.therider.com), I made a flying visit to this year’s ROYAL WINTER FAIR in Toronto armed with my cellphone camera and a media pass!
Just arriving was a lovely surprise…look how pretty the boulevard in front of the Enercare Centre looks (below)I met up with Barry at the media office then headed straight for the Ontario Equestrian booth to drop of copies of the current issue of The Rider. Here’s Barry delivering newspapers to Saskia Samaroo, the organization’s administrative coordinator who laughed at me when I asked her to “strike a pose”!And then Barry corralled Saskia & Brandon Hall, OE’s marketing & communications coordinator, to show off their new logo. www.ontarioequestrian.caBelow – Barry met up with horsewoman and tack shop owner, Laurence Authier, of Laurastackroom.com who will soon be moving to Ontario (from Quebec) to train for eventing competitions. Good luck, Laura!Over the years, I’ve attended many Royal Winter Fairs, sometimes working in the Australian Shop booth to help promote my home country and sell Aussie clothing and accessories to the horse and cattle folks. Owner John Keating always reminds me of “Mantracker”…what do you think?In the Spirit of the Horse exhibit, I found these kids enjoying a ride on mechanical horses – personally, I would prefer a real pony ride but at least these beasties don’t get tired or upset with screaming, kicking kiddies…LOL!
And check out this friendly horsey who was right into the patting and cuddles. The kids adored him!
Me? Well, I just love my chooks! That’s what Aussies call chickens and these little red hens were so cute to watch. I felt kinda bad for them, not being able to run around and peck at worms and bugs, but it seems they were pretty contented hens…
And speaking of contented critters, check out these lovely heifers…. This year, there were a number of fine artists in the Heritage Court and I ran into one of my faves, Kari Serrao, surrounded by her fabulous (and very elegant) beasties.And don’t you just love the little piggy top right corner? Such an adorable wee face… Kari does pet portraits, too, so check out her site: www.kariserrao.com
Across from Kari I found this comfy cozy display…hello, Santa – I want one of these cushions please. Do you remember seeing the news about “goat yoga”? The lovely folks from Haute Goat brought in the Dwarf Nigerian goats for the yoga session last week. Here’s their booth inside featuring all their goat-milk products. You can also stay at their farm B&B outside of Port Hope, just 50 minutes east of Toronto www.hautegoat.com Below, co-owner Shain was busy today selling products and sharing the Haute Goat story with visitors. OMG…what the heck are these? Giant pumpkins…wow!And here’s the butter carving display (below) – it used to be a major event at the show in previous years, with massive carvings being displayed in giant “storefront” type windows around the equestrian ring. Now, just a few smaller carvings in a refrigerated trailer. How sad. They also used to crown the annual Butter Queen but I think she, too, has gone the way of the dodo. As I left The Royal, the cityscape looked beautiful but oh my, how all those new condos and office towers have dwarfed the once-proud CN Tower now. Thanks again to Barry for his media pass, and to all the folks I met today. Hurry on down to the fair to check out all the animals (I didn’t go into the barns as I forgot to take my allergy pills) but there are horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, bunnies and even a llama or two – the show closes on Nov. 12th. Details & directions: www.royalfair.org
Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only showcase of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa. Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus bar & food service. Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca There’s a special promotion valid until Sept. 5th – tickets are $45 per person in advance then $65 online and at the door after Sept. 5th.
I recently spoke with David Forbes, the vocalist from Southern Fried who shared his thoughts on performing the music of two of the greatest southern blues/rock bands ever: Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band.
David, what first inspired you to perform southern rock classics from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Bros? When I was about 14, an older cousin introduced me to Lynyrd Skynyrd music and eventually The Allman Brothers Band. I felt a real connection to this music.Are you the founder of the band or did you start playing in collaboration with one or more band members to get things rolling? I had been playing drums and doing lead vocals for about a dozen years when I made a decision to start a Southern Rock tribute and then I recruited a friend, Chris Bishop, to play bass and help me to get the band going. I was to front the band so I could focus on vocal performance. Chris was the one to come up with the name “Southern Fried” which was taken from a K-tel album of Southern Rock tunes.Was this musical genre your first passion or were you a closet country & western fan? I was already a big fan of KISS, Rush and Alice Cooper but I then started to gravitate towards some more blues-oriented music.
What has been the weirdest, wildest or most memorable gig you’ve played? Playing at Q107’s Million Vacations Party March 2011 where we opened for The Georgia Satellites and played in front of 3,500 people. That is one of my favorite gigs so far!Have you ever met any of the band members from Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Bros, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them? I have, in fact, met Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes (pictured below), both formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. I asked both of them if they would sign my guitar for me which they were kind enough to oblige. Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars? At the present time, we‘re booked for a private function at The Balmy Beach Club at the end of September and we should announcing a date soon for The Edge in Ajax with Steve Boyle.
You can follow Southern Fried on Facebook.com/Southern-Fried
Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca $45 pp (valid until Sept.5) then $65 pp
Way back in the late 70’s, I first met Sandy Graham (pictured below) who was running a fabulous nightclub called Route 66 on Jarvis St down near Dundas.Route 66 was a 50’s theme bar and dance club, sorta like Arnold’s on Happy Days but with a big dance floor instead of diner booths. Sandy held court there nightly, leading the talented waiters/dancers out on the dancefloor, getting the crowd up on their feet doing the triple swing, the stroll and even the hand-jive. During this time, I was running a similar club, Ollie’s, located inside the entertainment complex called The Ports of Call (or The Ports for short) up at Yonge & Summerhill. Instead of rivals, we became fast friends.
Skip ahead a few decades(!) and Sandy is still entertaining crowds but this time she is sharing her Celtic heritage and presenting an annual family-friendly festival as a tribute to her late mother who was an accomplished highland dancer and true-blue Scottish lass. So welcome to the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival! www.thecelticfestival.comEach September, Sandy hosts this 2-day party for Toronto’s Scots, Irish, English and Welsh descendants with lots of great musical entertainment, dancing, a vendors village where you can pick up all sorts of treats and treasures, and a great community spirit. I’m so pleased to help her promote this year’s event and I asked her to share her thoughts on putting on such a show…..
How did you come up with the idea for a festival celebrating Celtic heritage and culture in Toronto?My Mum (pictured below) passed away in Montreal on June 30, 2001 and because the next day was July 1st (Canada Day) we could not get to her in the funeral home until after the long weekend. I took a walk and ended up in Kew Gardens where the 48th Highlanders of Canada were performing and that was it. I knew I had to do a celebration in that park. It took a few more years and then September 2003 the Beach Celtic Festival was ‘born’.
After 14 years, how has the event grown/changed since you first launched this unique outdoor ceilidh? Originally, the Beach Celtic Festival was only supposed to be a one-off event, a celebration of life for my Mum. It was so successful that first year that we decided to keep going. It stayed as a one day event until 6 years ago and has now grown into a two day event. It is now embraced by the neighbourhood and beyond. It’s lovely to get emails from all over the world asking us about the Celtic festival.You are also hosting a fundraising event at The Duke tavern on Queen St East this Tuesday night (Aug. 22) – how expensive is it to produce a 2-day family festival in Kew Gardens? And do you receive any government funding or corporate sponsorship to underwrite these expenses? The Beach Celtic Festival costs close to $10,000 to produce which includes permits, insurance, portable toilets, stage and sound requirements, expenses and publicity. We do not receive government funding and Kew Gardens is a public park and so it cannot have a gate entrance fee. I don’t think people realize how expensive it is and unfortunately there are restrictions to sponsorship as well.
Do your local Beach neighbourhood businesses support or contribute to this event that draws thousands of people to the area each year? The Beach residents are very supportive of this event and I get asked on the street all the time about when it is and what they can expect this year. I think the businesses appreciate that we don’t host a lot of competitive vendors i.e. coffee, food, clothing etc. and that our vendors are very strictly Celtic in theme and flavour. I always say that it is a tough rent on Queen Street East and if we can all bring more people into the Beach to spend money and enjoy our little Brigadoon for the weekend then that is all good.Over the years, what has been the most fulfilling experience you’ve enjoyed as producer of the Beach Celtic Festival? There are times during the Celtic that I just stand on the gazebo and look around at the park and realize these are the same trees, the same baseball diamond, the same park my Dad ran around in as a little boy so it has come full circle. There is something magical to see the park full of people enjoying the Celtic ways and hearing all the accents. Smiles galore.Any other comments you’d like to share? Although the Beach Celtic Festival is my ‘baby’, it truly would not happen without all the love and support I get from everyone involved in the yearly production. Everyone rallies around to push it through year after year and I am eternally grateful for those people. From friends, family, talent and the Celtic Team (including yourself, Glenda) there is great comfort in knowing the Celtic Festival will be around long after I am gone as it is safe in the next generation’s hands. I also wish to extend a welcome to all nationalities to come experience some of the music, ways and wares of the Celtic Community. So watch the skies over Kew Gardens for flying dragons…better still, come on down and bring the kids, bring granny, bring your BFF. The Beach Celtic Festival is FREE!
Saturday Sept. 9 & Sunday Sept. 10 (9am-6pm)
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in Toronto
Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only line-up of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa. Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus full bar and food service. And tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca (but watch for upcoming special promo codes for early-birds and group discounts).
This looks to be a fantastic night for fans of hard-driving rock, blues and southern rock so get your dancin’ shoes on and head out to Oshawa for this packed night of music and memories.
I recently spoke with the various bands and Blair Briceland, the vocalist from Thunderstruck shared his thoughts on performing the music of one of the most iconic hard rock bands in the world, AC/DCBlair, please tell me a little about Thunderstruck the band. The power of Thunderstruck mirrors the pure strength, energy, and sound, of a live AC/DC show. We formed in 2001 and have been touring for almost 16 years – we perform as detailed impersonations of each band member which includes the authentic guitars, amps, drums, and the trademark school boy outfit. This is a fun part-time group as we all work throughout the week; in fact, 4 of us own our own companies. Back in 2015, we were chosen to back up Dave Evans, the original singer for AC/DC, on his first Canadian tour!!! Thunderstruck is: Vocals: Blair Briceland, Lead Guitar: Rich Trevor, Rhythm Guitar: Chris Newman, Bass Guitar: Pete Stewart and on Drums: Niall Mellors.
What first inspired you to sing and perform like AC/DC? When I was in a top 40 band in the 80’s, I was playing bass guitar and was the only one who could sing AC/DC. That’s when I decided to perform as a tribute band, giving fans an up-close experience in clubs.
The band has over 20yrs of combined experience playing rock – what keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans? We have a good product…and we like each other. Most importantly, we have fun with it.Have you ever met any of the AC/DC band members, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them? None of us have ever met the band…yet!
Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars? A New Year’s Eve concert is in the works for the Niagara Falls area so watch for posters and promos.I can’t wait to see Thunderstruck in person, as well as the other bands on the concert line-up. And if you’ve never seen Kenny Robinson (below) MC a show before…you’re in for a helluva lot of laughs – the guy is a rock star himself!
Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca
Make sure you have your tickets for this Saturday’s special concert starring 4-time Maple Blues Award-winning singer ANGEL FORREST at The Opera House, 735 Queen St East in Toronto, with special guest roots/blues singer/songwriter Rob Lutes who will be joined by longtime accompanist, acclaimed Quebec guitarist Rob MacDonald.With a career spanning 3 decades and recipient of the Maple Blues Award for Female Vocalist of the Year four consecutive years (2013- 2016), the Quebec-based blues belter will perform songs from her 2016 album, Angel’s 11, and other original award-winning tunes.I’ve been singing all kinds of music – folk, rock, country – but the blues fits me well. I love the freedom of the blues, you know no rules – you feel it…you sing it… you share it. – Angel Forrest
Combining masterful song writing with her partner and on-stage collaborator, Denis Coulombe, Angel has also proven her worth as a tunesmith with songs ranging from blues to rock to jazz. There is no question that Angel Forrest is one of the most powerful singers on the contemporary blues scene today. The strength of her performances, her distinctive voice and fiery personality has allowed her to conquer the hearts of thousands of fans around the world.
ANGEL FORREST – with special guest Rob Lutes
Saturday June 10 @ 9pm (doors open 8pm)
THE OPERA HOUSE, 735 Queen St. E., Toronto
Tkts: $27.00 Available at the door or in advance from www.TicketFly.com
25+ large paintings were hung at the Art Square Gallery last night – Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is getting ready for his Thursday (June 8, 6-9pm) opening reception of his solo show “Spontaneous Levitation” so I spent some time with him as he measured and moved, then measured again all his spectacular works.I snapped a few pics of close-up details (see below) from several of his paintings which illustrate the textural quality of his work with raised dots of paint with multiple colours – very hard to achieve and extremely time-consuming. And I love some of the mythical creatures and people who dance across the canvases…. And who doesn’t love galloping giraffes (below) in a windswept land and seascape?As Johny was busy up the ladder, a young man came in obviously intrigued with what was going on…he was soon chatting with Johny about the paintings and the stories behind each one. Hopefully you are also intrigued and will join Johny at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) this Thursday Jun.8th 6-9pm. Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so if you can’t make it this week, you have another week to catch these wild and provocative paintings.
Each year, Toronto hosts a special weekend called “Doors Open” where we can visit beautiful buildings around the city that are normally closed to the public such as offices, law courts, architectural treasures and places of worship. I’m fortunate to live next door to one very special building: St Paul’s Anglican church which is one of the largest parish churches in N. America. When I entered, the organist was practicing – take a listen here…
During today’s special tour, visitors got to see some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows in Canada, many depicting heroic WWI stories and in fact, one of the windows was made from the glass fragments found around some 70 destroyed churches and buildings in Belgium, France and Italy. Around the walls of the massive interior were many plaques and memorials dedicated to past parishioners who had lost their lives fighting in Europe…. …and the incredible wooden carvings of angels were breathtaking…Not a lot of people ever look up when they visit such venues but I always do (you never know what cool things you can spy up above) and I’m so glad I did…check out these awesome state-of-the-art fans in this video. They look old-school to fit in but are actually brand new….
The marble altar (above) shows the Last Supper – it’s so beautiful and is flanked on either side by historic figures from the first World War. There is just one female depicted in the carvings and statuary…Florence Nightingale! I found another beautiful window behind the altar screen (below). I could have stood there for an hour enjoying all the intricacies in this little window and the marble carvings in front….Next month marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of St Paul’s and to commemorate the occasion, a special craft lager has been created, the St Paul’s CLXXV, which will be available in 6-packs for a limited time only following their June 11th anniversary service. Considering the church’s reputation for warm hospitality and sharing food and drink, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!
What a fun, wild’n’crazy night we enjoyed at the groovy Jinks Art Factory (cafe & tattoo parlour) in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood as photographic artist, writer and pop-culturist DONNA LYPCHUK opened her solo show Mystical Toronto: The Oculis of Donna Lypchuk for this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. So many friends and fellow artists showed up to make the night a great success for Donna who held court at this fun schmooze-fest – below Donna (2nd from L) welcomes some old friends.The venue, Jinks Art Factory, is a charming neighbourhood social hub for artists, writers, bon vivants and miscellaneous wastrels who enjoy the hospitality of Sarah and Jen, the owners and hostesses for last night’s soiree (pictured below with Donna in the centre).Jinks Arts Factory offers delicious coffees and edible treats in the cafe up front and has a comfortable tattoo parlour in the back where you can acquire your own personal art. Below – the ladies are their own best walking promo for their ink skills.Donna’s photos were simply and effectively displayed, featuring various sizes of prints on metallic paper giving the images an iridescent quality… …and her guests loved ’em! Donna was happy…just an hour into the opening party, she had the red dots out and applied them to several photos. Congrats to the buyers – smart choices!As the night progressed, lots of bo-ho chic guests showed up and the energy in the cafe ramped up… …and our happy smiling barista worked hard ensuring all were well “lubricated” with celebratory drinkies! Loved meeting these three “cheeky monkeys” – longtime friends of Donna’s…thanks for playing along for this photo, ladies.The party eventually moved out to the sidewalk …. …where Donna enjoyed more warm camaraderie with new arrivals.
Back inside Jinks, I tried my hand at snapping some “photographic art” – below, I spied the mid-century modern furnishings and a gorgeous cappuccino machine. And I had a blast resting my bum on this fab wooden bench from Playdead Cult, a decorative art, clothing and home furnishings store located on the next block along Queen St West.By 8pm, lots more people arrived to see the photos taken of various locations and hidden spots around the city… Congratulations to Donna for her successful CONTACT launch party….(below, Donna “works it” with this photographer!)….and big thanks to Sarah and Jen of Jinks who are also hosting a neighbourhood BBQ tomorrow, Sat. May 13 (12-4pm) as part of the Spring into Parkdale street party. Mystical Toronto: The Oculis of Donna Lypchuk runs until May 31st at Jinks Arts Factory, 1664 Queen St West (near Roncesvalles). Photos are all available for sale: prices range from $25 – $60 and sizes range 8″x 10″ to 11″x 17″. Come out and support local artists…and coffee shops!