Category Archives: Events

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ST. PAUL’S ANGLICAN CHURCH ON BLOOR ST. EAST UNVEILS “When I Was a Stranger” SCULPTURE BY TIM SCHMALZ

I have really nice next-door neighbours – I overlook St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor St East and today I joined the staff, Board of Trustees and members of the congregation as they unveiled the beautiful bronze sculpture by leading Canadian artist Tim Schmalz, called “When I Was a Stranger”. Here, let Pastor Barry Parker do the honours….

20161013_110700 20161013_105652As Pastor Barry suggested, come visit, sit a spell and take a selfie with Jesus!

Artist Tim Schmalz is an accomplished sculptor and has undertaken many religious commissions which you can see on his website: www.sculpturebytps.com Below, Tim explains more about his work for St. Paul’s

And below, Bishop Peter Fenty (Bishop for York-Simcoe and the Diocese of Toronto) offers up a prayer

Immediately after the speeches, visitors started sharing their selfies, like this lady here…20161013_110740….and there were lots of photos being snapped for the Church newspaper and local media….20161013_111036 20161013_111050 20161013_111341(0) 20161013_111505The gentleman who modelled for the face of Jesus came by to lend support & congratulate Tim (below left)20161013_111257And this is the result…the serene face of Jesus, bowed in humility, full of warmth and love. 20161013_111248Inside the church lobby, there was also a display of paintings by local artists Ruthia Pak Regis and Matt Wood…..nice to pop in and warm up a bit.20161013_110821 20161013_110843 20161013_110855Thank you to Exec. Pastor Joyce Badley for her kind invitation to join the celebration today, and to Assoc. Priest Sandra Seaborn for sharing additional information about the event & other church activities.

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TORONTO’S URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES DUAL ARTIST SHOW FOR OCTOBER

Throughout October, URBAN GALLERY is pleased to showcase two Toronto artists whose journeys into distant landscapes where light and shadow ignite the senses allow the viewer to experience life with heightened awareness and inspiration. This wonderment helps to reveal the genuine beauty of living life in the moment.  Last night, the gallery hosted an opening party where both artists welcomed friends, family and potential new art collectors to their show.  VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHTruns from October 6 to October 29, 2016, featuring Annie Mandlsohn (Painting, Sculpture & Mixed Media) and Robert J. Brodey (Photography)20161006_174000 20161006_182228For over 30 years, Annie Mandlsohn (pictured below with a gallery visitor) has exhibited her artwork across Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A.) from Concordia University in Montreal specializing in visual arts and music, and also holds a Master in Environmental Studies Degree (M.E.S.) from York University in Toronto.20161006_173911Annie has lived and worked in urban, rural and remote areas of the country, and has travelled across Canada, USA, Europe and Japan. Her love of faraway places, often where tourists do not go, leads her to experience various cultures and adventures she encounters, finding unique journeys guided by an inner compass. The beauty of nature and the spirit and power of landscapes are reflected in her work (samples of which are pictured below)20161006_173806 20161006_173427 20161006_174131 20161006_174015VISTA TRAIL framed Pastel 19x16 MOUNTAIN LAKE Collage Indian and Nepalese paper abalone beads 24X34 MandlsohnI got a chance to chat briefly with Annie before losing her to a crowd of art fans!

Robert Brodey is a Toronto-based writer and photographer whose longing for new places has sent him travelling around the world, writing and shooting for the likes of Street Kids International, Outpost Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The Houston Chronicle. Below are a few of Robert’s stunning portraits and landscapes featured in this current show…20161006_17103620161006_171045 20161006_171139I have always been attracted to movement and change.  I love the element of surprise, the contrasts, and the rush that comes when all the senses light up. For me, what is distant holds a degree of mystery and stokes the fire of imagination and curiosity. I need to experience it.  In that way, travelling is a conscious seeking — for different cultures, different landscapes, and, yes, sometimes even different light.     Robert J. Brodey

Here, let Robert tell you more about his work himself……

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns in front of Annie's artwork

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns posed in front of Annie’s artwork

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie's fans/collectors

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie’s fans/collectors

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery's artist receptions!

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery’s artist receptions!

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

20161006_182328VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHT2 runs from Oct.6 to Oct.29 at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto  For gallery hours, visit: www.urbangallery.caUG-Letterhead-BC

 

 

 

 

 

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TORONTO FUNNY MAN CELEBRATES COMEDY MILESTONE & SUPPORTS INDUSTRY WITH UNIQUE WEBSITE

Back in the 80’s when I managed Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Klub in Toronto (and was the agent for all the comedians), one of my chores was booking and running the Monday “Amateur Night” shows.  So many comedians who are now well-known came thru my office door back them, many more were hopelessly untalented or those who did show promise just never got the breaks. One Monday night regular always stuck in my mind – David ReubenRuby_1 Dec 2012Back the early 80’s, Dave was trying to find his comic voice and develop his stage personae. Every Monday morning, I would get his phone call asking for a spot and I would give him his 5 minutes to try out new material and work the not-always-kind amateur night audiences. He may not have been the funniest guy on stage back then, but he certainly was the most polite and pleasant person to deal with – no ego, no “fronting”, no entitlement attitude.  He soon became my favourite.  In the late 80’s, I lost track of Dave after I had left Yuk Yuk’s and started my own comedy agency & promotions company, but in the early 2000’s, I heard that he had started The Comedy Greenroom, a website offering all sorts of valuable gigging information for comedians as well as promoting shows to the general public. What a great idea!  He also became a regular performer and producer of Ein-Stein’s Happy Hour comedy showcase on Sunday nights at the popular University of Toronto hangout. I recently caught up with Dave and asked him about the upcoming milestone for the weekly comedy series as well as how his career has gone over the past 30 years since we worked together.

What prompted you to start The Comedy Green Room website?
Having started comedy in 1983, well before the Internet, I compiled a list of comedy venues in Canada, the USA and internationally. Being fascinated with technology I took some courses in HTML and learned the basics of web design. Let me stress the basics! Always one to help his fellow comics I decided to start a comedy website with a list of comedy clubs, festivals and performers. The name The Comedy Green Room came about because my favourite times in comedy are hanging out in the “Green Room” backstage before and after shows.CGR_logo 2007[2]What information does it offer comedy fans and comedy professionals?
www.thecomedygreenroom.com offers comedy fans info up and coming comics as well as professional comedians around the globe. Many of today’s comedy stars were on the site before they became house hold names.  For professionals, the site offers info on comedy clubs, festivals and open mic rooms. The monthly newsletter is sent to comics and comedy fans in Canada, the USA and Internationally.

Over the years, you’ve done stand-up comedy yourself as well as acted as a talent scout for new comedy stars; do you prefer performing yourself or being the person who brings the stars to the public’s attention?
Performing is my first love and always will be. As they say in the movie Punchline! “Comedy is my Mistress” and I have sacrificed so much chasing this dream my whole adult life. This past September 7th marked 33 years of battling the comedy addiction!  But in reality, I wanted to be a stand-up comic since I was 5 years old and saw my first stand-up comedian on the Ed Sullivan Show on a small black and white TV. Nothing beats the immediate gratification of having an audience laugh in a live setting.  And since starting The Comedy Green Room, I have taken on a mentor roll myself to many of Canada’s young comics. Many have gone on to great success in Canada and the USA. This gives me great pleasure and pride; I guess maybe I should have been a teacher which was an idea I had in University until I got sidetracked by life,ruby-dec_2010The Hogtown Comedy Festival [2002-2006] started by myself, Arie Kizel, and OJ Kness was a labour of love that showcased up and coming Canadian comics, helping launch their careers. The Toronto Comedy Guild [2001 to 2005] run by myself and Steve Rivers gave young comics a chance to perform in bars across Toronto. They made $20 for the night which gave them bus fare and some self-esteem.  Ein-Stein’s Comedy night has been running since 1996 and was started by Arie and the venue’s owner OJ. I started performing there in 2000 then started producing the show in 2003 after both Arie and OJ asked me to help out due to family obligations.
It’s a weekly show that I book, promote and sometimes host. I’ve help hundreds if not thousands of young comics by giving them a venue to start out in and explore comedy. The only thing asked of them is to be polite to the bar staff, show up on time, and get off stage after their allotted time.  Sometimes easier said than done!

Who has been your most exciting connection/addition to the site (and why)?
The most exciting connection was when Jennifer Lee Pryor called me about a year before Richard passed away and said that Richard loved the site, wanted to be on it and wanted to meet me. I walked around for two weeks 3 feet off the ground.  The Pryor’s allowed me to use a photo of Richard from his 1972 appearance on the Tonight Show which you will find on the home page of The Comedy Green Room.  We were making preparations for a fundraiser for Richard and a meeting with him about the time he passed away.pryorThe second most exciting thing was being invited to Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk Nebraska to be an adviser on the Johnny Carson Comedy Festival. I got to tour the Johnny Carson Museum, visit his childhood home and the auditorium named after him. A great thrill for the kid who would sneak downstairs to watch the monologue and the comic on The Tonight Show every night at 11:30pm.
The third most exciting thing was the ability of The Comedy Green Room to bring stand- up comic Paul Adams and father [comedy writer for Bob Hope] Charlie Adams of the UK to Toronto for The HogTown Comedy Festival. Paul ended up living in Toronto for 18 months.

The comedy industry in Canada isn’t necessarily a funny business as there are some pretty nasty characters out there with personal agendas that go beyond entertaining the masses.  Have you encountered any of these negative beings and how have they impacted your career? Or have they just made you stronger and more determined?
I have been a fighter since I was born as a preemie at 4lbs. Many people say I am the toughest person they know.
Comedy has been an up-hill battle for me from the moment I stepped on the stage at the original Yuk Yuk’s on Bay Street in Toronto in 1983. I was the crowd favourite on Monday night’s CHUM104 amateur night and became a cult figure filling the room to capacity weekly. However, Mark Breslin, founder of Yuk Yuk’s did not think I was funny. In fact, he said, “You have no talent, you’re a terrible writer but the audience love you.” I was advised to give up stand-up comedy. My response was – see you next week! But the next weeks piled up and I was buried on Amateur Night for 10 agonizing years until the management of Yuk Yuk’s agreed to give me a showcase. Again, I was slapped in the face by being put on 15th out of 15, but I killed that night and have the tape to prove it. But Mr. Breslin again said I was not good enough to be on his regular shows at Yuk Yuk’s.
I left Yuk Yuk’s that night in1993 and have never performed on their stage again. I worked on my act and writing for 7 years (shades of Dangerfield) and came back as “Ruby, the Darkest Mind in Comedy” in 2000. But this time I was determined to do it my way and most importantly have fun. All the good things in my career have happened because of my attitude of having fun and being nice to other comics.
I have made peace in my mind about the 10 years of not being wanted by Yuk Yuk’s, but, in my mind I was the one comic in the Canadian comedy boom of the 1980’s who was not given a chance. Yet, I was the hardest working and toughest of the group.  Sometimes it hurts that I have been shunned by people & organizations in the Canadian comedy community such as the Canadian Comedy Awards, Just For Laugh’s, critic Glenn Sumi, Absolute Comedy, The Humber Comedy School to name a few. But, I guess when you are your own man these things happen.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve fought ageism in comedy as many young comics will not put me on their shows because they feel I am too old. Yet, I am the favourite comic of Ein-Stein’s where the audience is a University of Toronto crowd. I have killed at college and multi-cultural shows – I am everyone’s crazy uncle who says the wrong thing.

Who have been your biggest influences and supporters?
Kenny Robinson (pictured below) has been my biggest supporter and booster in the Canadian comedy scene since we met 33 years ago. He has fought for me to be his opening act many times and went against other comics to defend my right to be in this business. Kenny has also argued for me with bookers and club owners. He was the only Canadian comic who agreed to be on www.thecomedygreenroom.com when I started the site on New Year’s Eve 2000. Everyone else I approached said it was a stupid idea or they were afraid to be on the site because it might hurt their career.KennyThe late great Sam Kinison (below) was also a great supporter of mine. When he saw my act he said to throw it out and start from scratch and find a unique voice. Best advice I ever got.SamHappy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein’s Bier Halle in Toronto is s celebrating a big anniversary later this month – how many years have you been running the site and promoting live shows?
The weekly event has been running since the fall of 1996 and was started by Arie Kizel and the owner of Ein-Stein’s, OJ Kness. For many years, it was the only Sunday night open mic in Toronto. I first performed at Ein-Stein’s in 2000 and came on board as the producer in 2003.EinsteinsAny advice for stand-up comedy up-and-comers….?
Work hard, perform, write, be polite and do not burn bridges.

And how do we buy tickets to the big anniversary show?
In keeping with the history of Ein-Stein’s there is NO COVER to get in and seating is first come first served. We ask that a donation be made to The Foundation for Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Children www.nibdinkids.com because laughter is the best medicine!
Happy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein 20th Anniversary Show – Sunday Oct. 16th 8pm
Host Mr. Ronnie Edwards: Performers include Terry Clement, Darryl Purvis, Blair Streeter,  Mike McGregor, Monty Scott, Dean Young, Tyler, Morrison, Darren Frost,. Dave Patterson, Dave Sokolowski, Adrian Sawyer, Pat MacDonald, Jennifer McAuliffe, Caitlin Langelier,  Sarah Ashby, Dena Jackson, Patricia Severn, The Nat Turner Revue……and many more surprise guests.Happy Hour_imageEin-Stein’s, 229 College Street, Toronto. No cover but we encourage donations that will benefit www.nibdinkids.com

 

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NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER & STAR OMONI OBOLI ATTENDS CITY TO CITY PRESS CONFERENCE @ TIFF16

Yesterday, Nollywood’s finest converged on the TIFF Bell Lightbox – HQ for the annual Toronto Int’l film Festival – where a panel of filmmakers representing Nigeria’s sizzling movie industry spoke about their films being showcased at TIFF this year, as well as the challenges involved in attracting international audiences and distributors.20160913_115247Award-winning writer~director~producer and actor, Omoni Oboli, arrived for her official portrait and a digital interview prior to joining her panel colleagues. Here she’s greeted by event security – 2 of Toronto’s finest – and she couldn’t resists grabbing a quick selfie!20160913_114614She was then escorted into the studio & green room for her official portrait.. Below,I caught her coming out of the photo booth…can’t wait to see the gorgeous portrait on the TIFF website.20160913_115909She met up with the other panelists (below) before being led into the studio that was packed with international film journalists and news outlets!

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Olumide Iyanda

Olumide Iyanda

Moderated by TIFF creative director Cameron Bailey, the panel introduced themselves and their films, then took questions from the media. I was able to grab a few screen-caps via the green room monitor, as did other publicists.

20160913_134449 20160913_135957 20160913_13502620160913_140546After the press conference, the filmmakers enjoyed an ad hoc networking session in the greenroom where they were greeted by Toronto’s favourite son of Nigeria Masai Ujiri – the President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.  Here Omoni spent some time with Mr. Ujiri sharing tweets and Instagram posts.20160913_142959 20160913_143008 20160913_143107We managed to grab a quick interview for Omoni with CBC Television (Canada’s national broadcaster)20160913_144839 20160913_144926Then more friends to greet and important contacts to be made!20160913_130430(0)20160913_12090420160913_144549Thank you to all the friendly and professional staff and volunteers who guided Omoni and myself thru the press conference process. TIFF is truly a world-class festival that treats its guests with such warmth and respect.

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ALEXIS BARO BURNS UP THE LULA LOUNGE STAGE FOR CD LAUNCH!

Wow, what a night! Mother Nature threw down her mic and a ton of rain on the city, but inside Lula Lounge, Afro-Cuban trumpeter ALEXIS BARO and his Pueblo Nuevo Project band tore up the stage with two sets of hot hot hot Latin jazz.20160907_201439Launching his brand new CD, SUGAR RUSH, Alexis entertained a near-capacity house with new tunes as well as many of his previous hits. In fact, to celebrate the recent release of the official video for “Eres” from his Guilty Pleasure album, Alexis was joined on stage by Cuban hip-hop artist TELMARY (below) for the first ever live performance of their song. The crowd went crazy!20160907_220330Alexis and Telmary were interviewed by AfroGlobal Television (below) …..20160907_212110….and even Snap’d newspaper (below) came out to shoot the crowd enjoying the show20160907_203500A truly memorable concert…the fans left with smiles on their faces and copies of the Sugar Rush CD in their hands! You can get your own copy or download via Alexis’ website: www.alexisbaro.comAlexis_Baro_CD_FRONT cd insideYou can also catch Alexis performing tomorrow at The Rex (9:45pm) and Saturday at The Pilot (3pm), two of Toronto’s finest live jazz venues.

Big THANK YOU to the fabulous folks at Lula Lounge – one of the best teams to work with for live music presentation and promotion. www.lula.ca/  Just look how beautiful this venue looks even without people

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Cuban rapper TELMARY to join ALEXIS BARO on stage @ Lula Lounge Sept. 7th

As he launches his brand new album, Sugar Rush, next Wednesday night Afro-Cuban jazz trumpeter ALEXIS BARO is thrilled to present renowned Cuban rapper TELMARY who will join him on stage at Toronto’s Lula Lounge to perform his hit Eres (from his previous Guilty Pleasure CD). This will mark the first time Alexis has performed song live with Telmary. Check out their sultry video here:

Telmary rose to prominence in 1999 with seminal Cuban rappers Free Hole Negro. Then she joined Interactivo in 2002 and spent five years touring with the likes of Yusa, Vivanco and Del Rio and Carcassés. It was with Interactivo that Telmary developed her distinctive rapping-crooning delivery, and this collaboration helped the 26-member supergroup score an historic double win (Best Debut Album and Best Fusion Album) at the 2005 Cubadisco awards. Telmary has also played and toured with fellow Cubans Gema & Pavel, Pío Leyva, X Alfonso and Kelvis Ochoa.telmary-5_2In addition to recording and touring Telmary has started appearing in films. She played herself in both German Kral’s Musica Cubana (2004) produced by Wim Wenders’ and Benito Zambrano’s Habana Blues (2005) – just to confirm that her kind of larger-than-life talent and personality need no embellishment for the big screen.telmary-4_2

Sugar Rush was partly inspired by my last few trips back home visiting old friends and having the opportunity to perform again with some of my old schoolmates who are now touring around the world with some of the biggest names in Cuban music. It made me realize that the musical spirit is still alive in my home city of Centro Habana, and that my neighbourhood, Pueblo Nuevo, is still an inspiration to many writers and home to many musicians. By going back to my roots with this album, I’m able to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to every afternoon, and salute those who spread the Cuban sound all around the world. Alexis Baro   

www.alexisbaro.com

ALEXIS BARO & Pueblo Nuevo Project /Sugar Rush CD release

Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St West, Toronto

Wed. Sept. 7th Doors open @ 7pm, Show @ 8:00pm

Tickets: $15 ea.  Available from: www.lula.ca/events

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TORONTO’S AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ TRUMPETER/COMPOSER ALEXIS BARO TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM SEPT.7

The week after Labour Day is always a very busy period – it marks the opening of the annual Toronto International Film Festival and this year, Wednesday September 7th it also marks the date for the release of “Sugar Rush”, the new album from Toronto-based composer & trumpeter ALEXIS BARO, who celebrates the occasion with a concert at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St West, Toronto).  Released on the G-THREE label,“Sugar Rush” showcases Baro’s vibrant Cuban roots in every original track. “The entire idea…” Baro explains, “is to pay tribute to my ‘hood and the music around me that I grew up with, influenced by my environment and perspective.”posterThe award-winning Afro-Cuban artist has performed and recorded with a variety of artists David Foster, Paquito d’Rivera, Paul Shaffer, Andrea Bocelli, Omara Portuondo, Joey DeFrancesco, Gino Vannelli, Wayne Newton and Tom Jones.  He has been the opening act for Herbie Hancock and has led his own groups on tour across Canada, Europe and the West Indies._MG_1130“Sugar Rush was partly inspired by my last few trips back home visiting old friends and having the opportunity to perform again with some of my old schoolmates who are now touring around the world with some of the biggest names in Cuban music. It made me realize that the musical spirit is still alive in my home city of Centro Habana, and that my neighbourhood, Pueblo Nuevo, is still an inspiration to many writers and home to many musicians. By going back to my roots with this album, I’m able to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to every afternoon, and salute those who spread the Cuban sound all around the world.  

The neighbourhood of Pueblo Nuevo is in the centre of Havana and home to many of the most popular and accomplished Cuban musicians. “It’s surrounded by some of the most dangerous ‘hoods in the city and it’s this mix of social characteristics that makes Pueblo Nuevo a very interesting place to grew up and appreciate music from many perspectives.”  Alexis Baro   www.alexisbaro.comcd insideAll tracks on Sugar Rush were written by Alexis Baro (Sigueme was written with Yoser Rodroguez) and the album was recorded at Phase One & GMP Studios, Toronto and engineered by John “Beetle” Bailey & Josh Bowman. Alexis surrounded himself with some of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians who made up the Pueblo Nuevo Project including Jeremy Ledbetter (Keys), Roberto Riveron (Bass), Ahmed Mitchel (Drums) Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (Bata Drums), Jeff King (Tenor Sax), Adrean Farrugia, Yoser Rodriguez (Bass)…and others.20160812_202816Baro’s passion for his home and music makes for some very exciting listening – the music transports you to the streets of Havana, filled with hot Afro-Cuban jazz riffs and melodies.  14040029_10157485285130651_8990524417047283623_nTickets are $15 per person, available in advance from Lula Lounge: www.lula.ca/events/2016/sep/alexisbaro.html
Guarantee your seat and table with dinner reservations, too.lula-lounge-logo lmac logo crop 2014

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Mini Holmes presents…A Star-Studded Benefit for comedian KEVIN McGRATH this Tues. Aug.16

Anyone who has ever visited a comedy club will know how hard comedians work and as Rodney Dangerfield used to say… “I can’t get no respect”. Well, this Tuesday Aug. 16th many of Canada’s top comics will be paying respect to fellow funny man, Kevin McGrath (pictured below), with a special benefit show at Cherry Colas Rock’n’Roll Cabaret in Toronto raising funds to help support Kevin as he goes through painful rehab after a horrendous car accident that left him with numerous broken bones and serious internal injuries. Kevin will be in hospital for the next few months followed by several months in the rehab hospital.kvimghs001Benefit producer Mini Holmes, a very funny lady and media personality herself, told me “This is close to our hearts because we all love Kevin and also because we know as comics this could have been any of us. We are all on the road gigging nightly.” MiniKevin McGrath has kept Canadians laughing since the early 1980’s. He got his start with The McGrath Brothers, a comedy music act that featured impressions of The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and many more  he began performing solo stand-up comedy when the McGrath Brothers disbanded. Kevin has appeared on CTV, Global Television, The Comedy Network, CBC, and has appeared in every major city in Canada. Kevin’s comedy is fueled by his obvious love for his wife, his fear of flying, a reluctance to engage in anything involving strenuous activity, and his undying love for music.

Hosted by Mike Bullard, the show will feature comedians who came up thru the ranks with Kevin including Mike Wilmot, Derek Edwards, Mike MacDonald and Simon Rakoff. Mini will also perform a set just to add a little estrogen to the manly mix up on stage! All of these generous performers are donating their time and talent so all $s from ticket sales will go to Kevin.

Mike Bullard

Mike Bullard

Mike Wilmot

Mike Wilmot

Derek Edwards

Derek Edwards

Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald

Simon Rakoff with name

Cherry Colas Rock N Roll Cabaret, 200 Bathurst Street (just N. of Queen)
Tuesday August 16th   9:00pm.
$15 in advance / $20 at the door 

Tickets can be purchased via Facebook event page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/151586161942592/

As their original agent back in the 80’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in Canada, I love these guys and really hope you will come out and show ’em a little love AND cash for Kevin.

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TORONTO’S SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS TO PRESENT ACTOR/PLAYWRIGHT WALLACE SHAWN’S PROVOCATIVE “AUNT DAN & LEMON” THIS SEPTEMBER

Toronto-based SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS is thrilled to bring actor/playwright Wallace Shawn’s dark, provocative and polarizing play AUNT DAN & LEMON to local audiences for the first time in nearly 3 decades when they raise the curtain at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace on September 14th for a 2 week run.Aunt D & l posterAunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse named Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities. Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents’ friend “Aunt Dan,” an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl. The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house on the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas-even if they lead to murder. A forceful play exposing the banality of society’s evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.

Director DAN SPURGEON recently told me… Although the play premiered over thirty years ago and has seen prominent revivals both in New York and the West End, its messages may be more relevant now than ever before. The Trump candidacy and the Brexit vote have revealed a disturbing trend towards racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism, and Shawn’s script brilliantly examines how such abhorrent mindsets can come from even the most benign sources and banal experiences. Considering it hasn’t been seen in Toronto since Tarragon Theatre’s Dora-nominated 1987 production, the time is absolutely right for revisiting this intelligent, uncanny and frightening work.

The world premiere of Aunt Dan & Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England on August 27, 1985. Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride – pictured below) played Lemon’s father plus various ensemble roles in this original production. Wallace ShawnThis production opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater on October 21, 1985 with Academy Award winning actress Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously – below) portraying Aunt Lemon. linda huntNearly 20 years later, the play received a New York revival off-Broadway in 2004 at the Acorn Theatre with TV’s Kristen Johnston (Third Rock From the Sun & Sex in the City) playing Aunt Dan and Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Blood Ties) playing Lemon (pictured below L & R respectively)Kristen & LiliDirector Spurgeon went on to explain…. One of the most interesting things about this play is the playwright’s forcing the audience out of their comfort zone, by refusing to acknowledge the standard storytelling tropes we’re used to – there is no hero or villain, no separation of “the good guys” from “the bad guys.” The main conflict occurs between the playwright and a complacent audience, with the revelation of uncomfortable truths and questions about the modern world.

So mark your calendars for when Aunt Dan & Lemon confronts and challenges Toronto audiences once again.  All performances at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace theatre. Ticket information and times will be posted closer to opening. Follow Shadowtime Prods. on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/shadowtimeprodns

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AFRO-CUBAN TRUMPETER ALEXIS BARO PACKED THE HOUSE @ POETRY JAZZ CAFE

Last night, I was thrilled to be part of the capacity audience at Kensington Market’s Poetry Jazz Cafe (224 Augusta Ave) as Toronto-based Afro-Cuban trumpeter ALEXIS BARO and his band killed it on stage as part of this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

Performing music from his recent album, Guilty Pleasure, Alexis was joined by drummer extraordinaire Amhed MitchelJeremy Ledbetter on keys and Yoser Rodrigues on bass.  He also teased us with several new compositions from his upcoming Alexis Baro & Pueblo Nuevo Jazz Project that pays tribute to his Cuban musical roots – his new CD, Sugar Rush, due for release this coming September.

Alexis has performed and recorded with many celebrated artists including David Foster, Pacquito D’Riviera, Paul Shaffer, Andreas Bocelli, Omara Portunda, Joey DeFrancisco, Gino Vanelli, Wayne Newton and Tom Jones.  He has been the opening act for Herbie Hancock and has led his own groups on tour across Canada, Europe and the West Indies.

His Guilty Pleasure album is a collection of laid back, soulful original compositions touching on a variety of genres including Latin, Afro-Cuban and Contemporary Jazz, and features Cuban female rapper Telmary and Dwayne Morgan. Congratulations to Alexis – Guilty Pleasure was recently named the Gold Medal Award winner at the Global Music Awards.  You can purchase the album via iTune dowload or via www.alexisbaro.com

The venue, Poetry Jazz Cafe, located in the heart of Toronto’s Kensington Market, is a cosy showroom entered via an enclosed front foyer filled with comfy chairs and couches. Out back is an open-air patio with candlelit tables surrounded by shrubery that offers a discreet area for conversation or a romantic date night. Run by the charming Sean Pascalle and his welcoming staff, it’s a great new find for Toronto’s live music fans and I recommend you check it out in person. www.poetryjazzcafe.com  (you can find lots of photos and news on their Facebook page, linked via the website). 20160702_221644I sat at the bar with Alexis’ wife, Tracey (below) who kept me informed on the story of each tune and joined me in cheering along with the rest of the enthusiastic crowd as the band took their bows.20160702_230841The bar itself is decorated by some pretty cool posters and giant photos of legendary jazz figures such as Miles Davis (‘natch), Nina Simone, Stachmo…and over the bar, Sean has installed a giant tv screen – last night it was showing a famous Cuban animated feature to complimented the live music.20160702_225041I was really moved when Alexis picked up his flugelhorn and performed this gorgeous smooth jazz number….

Watch for the release of Alexis’ new album in September – I’ll post an event page on Facebook to promote the concert in Toronto. In the meantime, visit his website www.alexisbaro.com for more music and videos.20160702_220944 20160702_21592120160702_221626