Category Archives: Special Events

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CANADA’S FIRST LADY OF THE GUITAR HOSTS TORONTO CHRISTMAS CONCERT

Over the past 35yrs, I’ve had the honour of attending concerts by (and even actually working with) some of the great music icons – Marvin Gaye, Mel Torme, Rod Stewart, Yanni, 60’s legends Connie Francis & Paul Anka, country stars Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Clint Black…even my teenage super-crush, The Monkees. This past Saturday night, thanks to an invitation from Grammy-nominated and int’l multiple award-winning Canadian flutist & composer, Ron Korb, I was front and centre for a rare concert by LIONA BOYD, songwriter and classical guitarist extraordinaire! 20171125_214912…and she was in fine form! Here’s Liona with her protege, singer & guitarist Andrew Dolson (above centre) and Ron Korb (right).
Held in the spectacular St. Paul’s Trinity concert hall (below), the Mississauga Children’s Choir opened the show with some beautiful festive songs. Liona is a patron of the choir and it was a lovely start to the night.20171125_18544620171125_193110Sadly, we were instructed not to take any photos during the show, but the 2 sets included some of Ms. Boyd’s greatest hits from previous albums including her Christmas album, A Winter Fantasy, as well as music from her most recent release, No Remedy for Love.winter No+Remedy+for+Love+ALBUM+coverShe was accompanied by Ron on several numbers; he also performed solos from his previous albums. Ron Korb is one of Canada’s pre-eminent recording artists and composers who travels the world playing with some of the greatest symphony orchestras, performing for royalty and international heads of state. To learn more about Ron and hear his music, please visit his website: www.ronkorb.com

As soon as the concert finished and the artists took their bows, the audience was permitted a photo session which, being in the front row, allowed me close-up access to Ms. Boyd and her fellow musicians. Bravo! This was followed by an autograph session where CDs and books were available for sale (great Christmas pressies for music lovers)…20171125_220328 20171125_220534 20171125_220715Earlier this fall, I reviewed Ms. Boyd’s latest memoir, also titled No Remedy for Love, for The Rider newspaper and below is an extract. A great read with lots of juicy stories about Liona’s exciting life on stage and her personal tragedies and triumphs off stage. I definitely recommend the book…not just for music lovers or fans, it is a fabulous story that takes us inside the world of showbiz.

NO REMEDY FOR LOVE
A memoir by Liona Boyd
Dundurn Press (248 pages) $35.00 hardcover
She released her first memoir, In My Own Key, in 1998 which thrilled fans and became a bestseller; now Canada’s classical guitar icon, LIONA BOYD, strikes all the right chords once again with her recently published 2nd memoir, No Remedy for Love. The “First Lady of the Guitar” shares her loves, both romantic and musical, and offers great insight into the heart and mind of a consummate artist. She has performed around the world, sold millions of albums, won five Juno awards, serenaded heads of state and, for eight years, dated Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
We follow the journey of Boyd’s reinvention of her career after a six year period when she couldn’t play guitar due to suffering with the painful Musician’s Focal Dystonia, and we feel her pain when she suffers a serious fall and is alone, screaming for help that she thinks will never come, and are intrigued by her stories of longtime pen-pal Prince Phillip, a friendship that has lasted over 30 years. Her anecdotes are peppered with the names of close personal celebrity friends without any pretension, and the book features charming photos of Liona with Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Hawkins, Julio Iglesias, Leonard Cohen, Dan Hill and Pierre Trudeau. At the back of the book, you’ll find selected lyrics to many of Liona’s songs as well as album titles and song listings of her most recent recordings. The perfect gift for the music lover and proud Canadian on your Christmas list!9781459739925 (1)To learn more about Liona Boyd, her tour schedule and music/book sales, please visit: www.lionaboyd.com

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URBAN GALLERY UNVEILS “LAND ON FIRE” – NOVEMBER’S SOLO SHOW BY MARY LYNNE ATKINSON

This past Saturday, Urban Gallery (www.urbangallery.ca) in Toronto launched their solo art show for November, LAND ON FIRE, featuring stunning abstract landscape paintings by MARY LYNNE ATKINSON, pictured below with her “Night Sky” 36×48 acrylic on panel painting. The show runs through to November 25th.

20171104_142315Mary Lynne was thrilled to greet friends & family, and within minutes of the doors being open, one of her smaller pieces sold (the one to the right of the group below, titled “Solitude” with the little red dot on the name tag). That was one of my favourite pieces and I had my eye on it myself. But as the saying goes – you snooze, you lose!20171104_140115 20171104_141705Above, Mary Lynne chats with a gallery visitor about the two pieces to the right, “Wind” (upper) and “Firedance” (lower) both of which are 19×19 oil & resin on 16 gauge steel. Look at the close-up details of these two (below)…I love the texture.20171104_134400 20171104_134355I spoke briefly with Mary Lynne before the gallery got crowded – here’s what she had to say about her inspirations for these works….

ARTIST STATEMENT:   Land on Fire is inspired by waves as patterns in time and space. Formations that look like ocean waves in their immensity, silence and immutability draw me in. My paintings are rooted in the ‘tangible’ of the physical world. They are also inspired by questions surrounding our human relationship to Earth. My challenge as an artist is to draw the connections between both the tangible and the intangible.

By moving into a landscape through colour and gesture, painting becomes a meditation on space expanding and time evolving. The vast, silent, unforgiving spaces challenge me to express my ideas and emotions of timelessness. Each painting has its own silence. ~ Mary Lynne Atkinson 

ABOUT THE ARTIST:   Mary Lynne Atkinson is a mid-career visual artist living in Midhurst, Ontario. She holds a B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University and a graduate diploma in Studio Process Advancement from the Haliburton School of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely in Europe, notably in the Carousel du Louvre, Paris, 2012 and 2013. She was awarded a Bronze Medal, Paris, June 2014, by the Societé des Arts, Lettres, Sciences. Her paintings have been exhibited in numerous curated shows including the Miami Art Basel and S Space Gallery, New York, NY.  Atkinson continues to exhibit extensively in Ontario, and her paintings are collected nationally and internationally.

Fellow artist Erik Chong and his wife Jeannette dropped in to view Mary Lynne’s work (below)…20171104_142117(0)…as did so many other fans of great Canadian art (below)20171104_142248 20171104_142332Here are some other fine examples of her work on display at Urban Gallery…20171104_131244 20171104_131239 20171104_131204 20171104_131157…and this 8×10 framed mixed media on panel titled “Amethyst Mountain” (pictured below) has also peaked my interest. Maybe I should add this to my Santa list?20171104_131133Land on Fire runs throughout the month of November at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto. For gallery hours and directions: www.urbangallery.ca

And congratulations to Urban Gallery for being named runner-up in the Best Independent Art Gallery category in this year’s NOW Readers’ Choice Awards!!  Nominated 2 years in a row, bravo Urban!Readers choice_runner up

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ARTIST ROMI SAMUELS OPENS HER SOLO SHOW @ GALLERY 1313 IN TORONTO

Last night was one of the most enjoyable opening receptions for an art show I’ve attended in some time. South African-born, now Toronto resident ROMI SAMUELS launched her solo show THE LION, THE WATCH AND THE WARDROBE at Toronto’s Gallery 1313 with a gallery full of family, friends and art lovers as well as representatives from the South African Consulate.20171026_175241The main gallery showroom looked more like a safari with giant canvases of elephants, lions, giraffes, baboons and even a hungry looking crocodile (below, Romi’s husband Frank was busy on social media while being stalked by the giant croc…watch out!)20171026_173709The paintings reflect Romi’s childhood experiences in South Africa – can you imagine looking out your window and seeing elephants roaming outside?20171026_17572620171026_172536Guests seemed in awe of the giant B&W canvases and it’s easy to see why…20171026_181950 20171026_175044 20171026_175101Before the doors opened, I managed to corral the Samuels family for a photo – below LtoR: husband Frank, Romi, daughters  Hannah and Adina (son Josh arrived later in the evening)20171026_173738Romi’s proud sister Vivienne couldn’t stop smiling all night! Here she is (below R) giving her artist sister a great big hug!20171026_203443… and another friend, Elizabeth Greisman from the JCC (below L), also offered her congratulations.20171026_202455(0)As well as the wild beasties, there is a smaller gallery at the back that features some smaller, more intimate portraits of things found in Romi’s closet.  The stunning painting of lace gloves (below, centre) was sold – this was one of my personal favourites so I’m happy the gloves have found a new forever home.20171026_175007 20171026_175002One of the high points of the evening was when guest Mr. Goce Tasevski presented Romi with a bouquet of pink roses….such a lovely moment I was fortunate to catch with my camera20171026_185941In fact, there were quite a few floral tributes given to Romi, and her sister Vivienne even brought cake. Yum, her lemon poppyseed cake was deelish!  Daughter Hannah is quite the culinary expert, too, and she catered the whole affair. Hannah is my new BFF – she made the most amazing chocolate truffles. I would have taken pics of those, too, but we all gobbled them up so quickly, there was nothing left to photograph…LOL!

Being Thursday night, I immediately flipped thru the pages of NOW Magazine to see if I’d managed to get Romi listed…wow, even better – her show was listed under their “Must See” column. Woohoo!20171026_181439So 9pm came around and as the guests departed I managed to grab an exhausted but happy Romi for a quick video interview to get her reaction to the evening’s celebration.

Her show runs until Nov. 5th at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West, Toronto  www.g1313.org  and if you would like to learn more about Romi herself, visit her website at: www.romispaintings.weebly.com The Lion, the Watch  - JPEG

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SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN ARTIST HERDS WILD BEASTS INTO GALLERY 1313 FOR SOLO SHOW OCT.25-NOV.5

South African born and raised, and now Toronto resident Romi Samuels’ solo show “The Lion, the Watch and the Wardrobe” runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 5 at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West in Toronto with an opening reception on Thurs. Oct. 26 (6-9pm) .  Romi’s floor-to-ceiling canvases illustrate the wild beasties that surrounded her family home in South Africa, painted in bold strokes of black and white. She also brings together a collection of colourful “portraits” of items found in her wardrobe, many of which belonged to her artist mother, plus a very special family heirloom – a pocket watch.

Her work features distortions, thick paint and strong colours. Her creative inspirations include the great South African painters Irma Stern, Wolf Kibel, and Maggie Laubser who were strongly influenced by the teachings of the German expressionists. To learn more about Romi please visit her website at www.romispaintings.weebly.comThe Lion, the Watch  - JPEGI recently had the opportunity of chatting with Romi when I asked her about her early artistic influences and her childhood in South Africa which has obviously informed many of the paintings in her upcoming show.

How did you become interested in painting?   My first introduction to the art world was as a newborn.  I have been told that my mother parked my stroller under the grapevine while she set-up still life paintings and give art classes on our patio.  Growing up, there were always paintbrushes in our house, palette knives, coloured pastels, twisted tubes of paints, batik dyes, lino boards, linseed oil, art books, not to mention the sketch books which were given to me even before I knew how to write – I still have a childish pencil drawing of my family relaxing in a train compartment, which I did when I was about 7 years old.  There were also outings to art galleries and of course my mother’s beautiful paintings (see below) which covered the walls in our home, and I always hoped that one day, like her, I would be able to decorate my own house with my paintings.20170911_142217What was the first subject of your painting?  Now that I think about it I am amazed to remember that my first painting which I did in nursery school was of a crocodile with its mouth wide open (probably inspired by one of our many trips to the Kruger Park – a huge game reserve in South Africa, almost the size of a small country).  And now, some 45 years later, I have, in my current show, a painting of a crocodile in that exact pose (see below).  My first oil painting which I did much later, was a still life with various objects including an African clay pot with a traditional Ndebele motif. So Africa has always featured in some way in my paintings and even now, living in Canada it continues to work its way into my art.Croc - croppedHow did your early years in South Africa influence your work?  As a child my most exciting holidays were our family trips to the Kruger Park. I have vivid memories of waking up at the crack of dawn, hopping into the car with a delicious picnic lunch, hoping to be the first out of the camp gates onto the dust roads looking for game.  I remember how we would suddenly stop the car at the slightest hint of movement and I’ll never forget the excitement of joining a whole row of cars, straining to see what all the fuss was about, or sitting for hours at a waterhole waiting for a thirsty animal to come and drink.  And then there was the thrill of eventually spotting a lion in the distance or of being dangerously close to an elephant crossing the road. So yes, these amazing images of the African bushveld have been subjects of my paintings since childhood.Two lionesses - croppedIn a previous series of paintings, I focused on the people’s struggle for survival in post-Apartheid South Africa which I did on large canvases. These paintings are of ragged children in the veld, mothers with babies on their backs begging for money, craftsmen, construction workers and security guards slaving for a meager wage.20170911_142232On a more personal level, some of my “Wardrobe” pictures also include sentimental items which travelled with me to Canada. So even though I have been living in Canada for 17 years, my paintings still reflect the bittersweet nostalgia of the ex-pat.Gloved hands - cropped Handbarg - cropped Pocketwatch - cropped Red tie - croppedDo you have a favourite medium in which to create?  For many years oils were my favourite, but now, I have also begun to enjoy acrylics mainly because they dry so quickly!  I’ve also started working with collage and mixed media which add a lot of interesting texture to my work.  For quick drawings, ink is one of my favourite mediums – I especially like the combination of a gentle washes and hard lines.20170911_142416What do you hope gallery visitors leave with after attending your upcoming show.   Firstly, because my paintings are so large and imposing, I hope to share that experience of being in such close proximity to the magnificent African fauna. Also, because my paintings are more expressive than literal, I want to communicate their intense emotion to which we as human beings can relate. I also hope that gallery visitors will see that even my “Wardrobe” paintings are not just still-lives, but rather expressions of the personalities behind them.  So basically, my intention is that that people will come away identifying on an emotional level with my paintings or responding to them emotionally or even just realizing that as human beings everything we see or create is influenced by our own emotional responses.20170911_144923What is next for Romi?  I never know in advance what I am going to paint. I usually start off playing around with something which develops into an idea and then becomes a body of work.  So my next series will be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you. [laughs]

Opening reception takes place on Thursday Oct. 26th (6-9pm) at Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St West, Toronto. For gallery hours & directions: www.g1313.org   Light (kosher) refreshments will be served so if you would like to attend and meet Romi, kindly RSVP to FordhamPR@rogers.com  Space is limited so email me a.s.a.p.

Although it’s not in this show, here is one of my fave Romi paintings – I just love chickens and Romi painted some of the hens that used to run around her childhood nanny’s property back home in S.A.20170911_141930

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ARTIST CHRIS MARIN OPENS HER “PASSAGES” SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY in TORONTO

URBAN GALLERY hosted the opening reception for artist CHRIS MARIN’s solo exhibition “PASSAGES” last night and Chris welcomed family and friends as she unveiled a series of intuitive paintings that are both intriguing and powerful.  Her works utilize a bold colour palette and viewers can interpret their own vision as to each painting’s subject or meaning – it was interesting to hear several gallery guests air vastly differing interpretations of one particular painting! Anyway, let’s ask Chris to us about about her work herself…

Artist’s Statement:  One brush stroke leads to the next. When I begin a non-objective painting, I do not know where I will go. It’s a liberating, intuitive way to paint and to live. In “Passages” I invite the viewer to take his or her own steps through the paintings. Chris Marin, 2017.20171005_174612Chris became intrigued by art after learning intuitive watercolour painting from Dorothy Clarke McClure in 1993. Over time, Chris expanded her interests to include collage, printmaking, acrylic painting and applying transparent underglazes to her pottery.  One of her paintings is on the cover of “What About My Kids?” a book written to help families coping with breast cancer. Chris’s painting “Home Again” is the image in the Port Medway Lighthouse calendar for February 2018, and “My Favourite Things” was used for the IWK children’s hospital fundraising raffle this year. She contributes regularly to the IWK and Elderdog shows, and her paintings can be seen at the Riverbank, Mill Village, and Port Grocer, Port Medway, Nova Scotia. They also hang in law offices and private collections.

Chris’s story, The Edge of Risk is included in the book, Outside of Ordinary: Women’s Travel Stories.  And her Nova Scotia treetops studio was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Studio Magazine. The majority of Chris’s paintings arise from the subconscious, whether she is pouring watercolours or sitting at her easel applying paint, simply responding to what she has just done with no end result in mind.

Here are just a few of Chris’s paintings that caused a stir with gallery visitors…20171005_164303 20171005_164333 20171005_164341And as the guests arrived, Chris was eager to greet them and show them around…20171005_174648 20171005_180035 20171005_174610Chris gave an interview to arts journalist Mark Hasan of KQEQ.com (below)20171005_172043…and here she is (below) with gallery curator and fellow artist, Allen Shugar…..20171005_165335…and with her friends (below)20171005_165832Below, Drew from Snap’d newspaper came out to take photos, too.20171005_180243Chris’s guests thoroughly enjoyed the reception and Urban Gallery hopes to see red dots going up alongside a number of paintings that created quite the buzz with the opening night crowd.20171005_180207 20171005_18053020171005_174800Gallery owner, Calvin Hambrook (below L) was also busy welcoming guests…20171005_172102 20171005_174928…and this sumptuous and artful refreshments spread was courtesy of UrbanSource Catering  (urbancatering.com)20171005_170438 Chris’s show runs throughout the month of October (closes Sat. Oct. 28) so please visit and support another talented Canadian artist. Directions and gallery hours: www.urbangallery.ca20171005_164527 20171005_164249 20171005_165404

with former Toronto Mayor, David Miller

MEDIA PERSONALITY IEDEN WALL LAUNCHES NEW BOOK OF POETRY & PROVERBS

I recently had the pleasure of meeting IEDEN WALL, Toronto tv host, writer/producer, motivational speaker and now…. author!  Ieden (pron. Eden) has just published a book of poetry and proverbs, the result of  years spent discovering life, love and career, meeting the challenges of creating a productive and authentic life.Ieden-HeadShot-Glenda“Being on my own at age 15 opened up a very unique lens through which I viewed the world. By sharing my poetic lyrics and pearls of wisdom, I have been able to impart many life lessons that I learned the hard way. I hope those reading The Wisdom of Wall will be empowered to survive the many pitfalls and speed bumps of life without suffering the way I did. And that makes me feel great.”  – Ieden Wall (pictured above)

In his book, The Wisdom of Wall, Ieden engages a wide range of topics such as human existence, social and political unrest, love, romance, spirituality, religion and much more. He explores the world and the human condition with a sharp wit, an acute sense of irony and a mysterious sixth sense.  In this book of poetry and proverbs, we find a complex mind in search for identity, lost memories, purpose and transcendence amid a dizzying gust of existential curiosity.

I sat down with the author and asked him about his inspiration for the book and what drives him to create:

What first inspired you to start writing your thoughts down in rhyme?  Strange though it sounds, I was inspired by the genius of Leonard Cohen and then Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Even at 15 years-old, I was so moved by their depth and creativity. I was on my own so young and the raw, brokenness of Cohen captured my imagination.

Having experienced a challenging life as a teenager and young adult, how do you think sharing your wisdom and poetic insights will help others surmount their own obstacles in life, relationships or careers?  Too much wisdom can be a heavy burden, but my wish is that readers will find that special message that connects with them at just the right time and makes all the difference. The truth is a great liberator and there are many truths in my book, from cover to cover.

What advice were you given as a youngster that has stuck with you over the years?  Don’t be afraid to share what is most precious to you. Good art and great art is separated by the many depths of honesty and revelation.

To date, you’ve had a successful career in broadcasting as well as motivational speaking – how difficult is it to sit down and write in a solitary environment? Writing in a solitary environment was cathartic, in the deepest sense. I am a walking paradox. Enigmatic to myself and others. [smile] On one hand I love interactive performance art like broadcasting and stand-up comedy. On the other hand, I adore the soulful isolation that gives birth to honest, raw poetry.

How relevant do you feel poetry is in today’s world? I believe it depends on the poet. I suppose poetry about the inner beauty of butter churning is not so relevant to our high-tech generation [laughs] but the deepest matters of the heart are always in high demand — even more so now as technology pushes us into our brains and away from our hearts.HolySpark

I hear you may be considering collaborating with musicians to create recordings of your spoken word accompanied by original music – any favourite artists on your “wish list”?  Well I’m currently trying to lure Garth Brooks away from his 60 bedroom, 25 bathroom shack in Montana and back into the recording studio. He would do a fabulous job with my poem called “No Love to be Won”.

Any advice to would-be poets/authors looking to take that first step in putting pen to paper?  Be honest. Be brave. Be yourself. Enjoy the process and detach from the outcome.

Wall has already garnered kudos and thumbs-up for his literary work from fans such as …

“A Canadian poet with a distinct charm and remarkable grace.”   –  Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Newsweek

“Wall’s ability to fuse absurd humour with the poignancy of humanity is brilliant.”  – former Mayor of Toronto, David Miller

“The Wisdom of Wall is 200 pages of grace, charm and an agile wit. Wall does something that few poets have been able to do here in Canada – he delivers deep, profound messages, with the punch of a comedian and the rhythm of a master lyricist.”    – comedy legend & Founder of Yuk Yuk’s Mark Breslin

with Mark Breslin

with Mark Breslin

“There is nobody out there quite like him. So much soul under Wall’s veneer of wry humour.” – John Terauds, The Toronto Star

“A wonderfully wise and thoughtful read.”   filmmaker Robert Lantos

SPECIAL BOOK SIGNING EVENT
The author will be selling & signing copies of  The Wisdom of Wall on Saturday October 14  (8pm to 9:30pm) at the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel (VIP screening Room, 3rd Floor) located at 188 University Avenue, Toronto. Live music and video segments will accompany the readings.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to me at FordhamPR@rogers.com – space is limited so email soon.SLTO-Hotel-LogoThe book will also be available for sale online at EdenTV.ca or Amazon.com on October 15th.  Published by Cosmic Landscape Publishing.

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EXPERIENCE THE MUSIC OF STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AT THIS SATURDAY’S TRIBUTE BAND FEST IN OSHAWA

Award-winning singer/songwriter and record producer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, was one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of blues music in the 1980s. This talented artist was taken from us way too soon in 1990 when the helicopter he was riding in from one gig to another crashed killing all on-board. With an extensive catalogue of recorded works and live performances, we’re at least left with great memories…and these are brought to life by David Ryan (pictured below), front man for THE SRV EXPERIENCE, one of the best tribute bands playing across Canada today.DSC_3710 cropThe band is part of a 5-group concert performing this Saturday September 16th in Oshawa when Sunrise Concerts presents the 1st Annual Durham Rock Tribute Festival (see below for details & tkt info).  I managed to grab Dave for a quick chat in between gigs and here’s what he told me:

What first inspired you to sing and play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan? I saw him with Double Trouble at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo in the 1983 video and I was hooked!

Was blues/rock guitar your first passion or were you a closet disco lover?  I really like heavier rock from bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Van Halen…

What keeps you and your band on the road and performing for the fans?  My passion for the music – I enjoy playing challenging music and SRV’s was difficult to master and very intense.20140621_SBRF_0931 CROPApart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, where can fans come see/hear you in the coming months?  We have a show booked at The Blue Goose in Etobicoke on September 22nd.

Are you on social media or have a website your fans can follow?  Yeah, you can check us out at
www.srvexperience.com and we’re also on Facebook.

If you’re a fan of great rock or blues, you’ll love the line-up for this Saturday’s concert: Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd & Allman brothers), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood), Bon Jovi Forever and The SRV Experience. Your MC for the show is the incomparable, award-winning comedian Kenny Robinson.

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 
This Saturday Sept. 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL IN TORONTO

Last weekend, Kew Gardens in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, was packed with fans of all things Celtic as founder SANDY GRAHAM presented the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival.  With an exciting vendor village full of Celt-themed treasures and a performance roster of award-winning musical and dance artists, thousands of festival visitors enjoyed 2 days of sunshine and free family fun, celebrating their Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English ancestry and the contributions those early immigrants made to building Toronto into a world class city.20170909_113015Created as a tribute to her late mother, Sandy has built the annual Festival into a local tradition and she has gained support from local businesses and politicians.

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 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. Sandy Graham

Here are some of the booths enjoyed by Festival visitors:  first up www.duncanscelticstonework.com20170909_121650

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Duncan MacDonald of  Celtic Stoneworks

20170909_113219..and here’s some beautiful silver and gem jewellery (below) from www.CelticFair.ca20170909_114247 20170909_114308Next up, how about some deelish infused jams & honey from The Art of Nova Scotia20170909_114020 20170909_114056 20170909_114120I found some lovely fragrant incense sticks (Dragon’s Blood…oh my!) from the Karmic Crystals & Sunshine Glass ladies. I also spied some cute fairies, too!20170909_113636 20170909_113703Sprucewood Shortbreads were also there (below), selling their yummy cookies  www.sprucewoodcookies.com20170909_114420 20170909_114511And for those with a bigger appetite, the All Smoked Up BBQ truck was on hand to satisfy everyone’s hunger pangs!20170909_114536Sandy and the Festival team presented an exciting silent auction to help raise funds to cover the costs of producing the Festival…look at all the cool stuff on offer this year (below). Jays’ fans had the opportunity to bid on a personally autographed photo from team legend Kelly Gruber!20170909_11461220170909_114615This year, Sandy welcomed new vendor Jeannie B and her stunning photographic chalkboards. Great ideas for Christmas, birthday or new home gifts! www.jeannieb.com20170909_115018 20170909_115300 20170909_114952…and also Laura from Designs by Nature Gems who brought some stunning handcrafted jewellery to her booth. www.designsbynaturegems.com20170909_114706 20170909_114752You could learn Gaelic and the history of the language around the world from the www.gaelicsocietytoronto.com20170909_115416…and you could also learn about the history of Cornwall, mainland England’s farthest western county (below) from the www.torontocornishassociation.org20170909_115439Another newbie to the Festival this year was Olga from www.SaltnMustard.com who brought her handcrafted infused salts and artisinal mustards (oh, yummm!)20170909_115746 20170909_115752 20170909_115842For those who got a little chilly later in the day, there were warm blankets, jackets and shawls available, too….20170909_114401 20170909_114207…and for those wanting a little bit o’ home in their Toronto home…lots of beautiful watercolours and prints20170909_113851I really did want to take a peek…but the lads from Men in Kilts must have heard and headed for the trees…LOL!20170909_115912The folks from Simply British Foods brought boxes of potato crisps for hungry nibblers….20170909_120051 20170909_120057…and if you wanted to show your allegiance to the Celts, you could pick up all sorts of fun custom pins from Press My Button (below)20170909_115710Here are the bonny lasses from the Bold Step Dancers, under the direction of Meghan Bold, who got the crowds up on their own feet. (you can follow them on Facebook.com/Bold-Step-Dance-Studio-Scottish-Highland-and-Canadian-Step-Dancing )Bold Step DancersThese charming youngsters (below) from the Butler-Fearon-O’Connor School of Irish Dance provided some great traditional dance entertainment.20170909_120221

And here’s the team that helped present this fun family event – Founder and producer extraordinaire Sandy (2nd from left) and her musician brother Don (3rd from left) are joined by some of the generous volunteers for a photo opp with Snapd Beach/Danforth newspaper.20170909_121033Musical performers included Don Graham, Lisa Hartt, Syd Simkins, Caledon County, Erin’s Malore and Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost whose founder, Stephen Lamb, was presented with the 2017 “Celt of the Year” award for his support and contributions to the Celtic community in Toronto.

So mark your calendars for the weekend after Labour Day next year when the Beach Celtic Festival marks it’s 15th anniversary – it’s sure to be one big happy ceilidh!  www.thecelticfestival.com 20170909_115653 20170909_120125 as-celticdragon

 

 

Kenny

CANADIAN COMEDY LEGEND, KENNY ROBINSON, TO HOST ROCK TRIBUTE BAND FESTIVAL IN OSHAWA

Back in the 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret and its talent agency, Funny Business, one of my favourite comedians was Kenny Robinson. Kenny always showed up and delivered a killer set and was one of the most reliable MC’s we had on the roster.  No matter how big or humble the gig was, whoever the audience was, Kenny would have ’em rolling in the aisles!  And a few years ago, I was privileged to watch as Kenny was presented with the “Phil Hartman Award” for his contribution to the Canadian comedy industry at the annual Canadian Comedy Awards in Ottawa.Kenny 2Next Saturday, Sept. 16th, Kenny is the host of a unique concert featuring 5 of Canada’s top rock tribute bands and I know that only Kenny can keep things rolling and on time for the 1st Annual Durham Rock Tribute Festival (details below).

His irreverent, socially conscience, intelligent, opinionated and profane style of comedy has made Kenny a fixture and favourite with comedy clubs, festivals, radio, and television audiences for 3 decades.  Raunchy, energetic, sharp-witted, and sharp dressed, Robinson is a one of a kind act. Not for the weak of heart or narrow minded, Kenny assaults your sensibilities and funny bone with unspoken truths.  His episode of the CBC’s Comics has been referred by the Toronto Star as “One of the few episodes that still stand with the test of time” and many Canada’s brightest young comics have claimed Kenny as a mentor and influence. 17457914_10154980646416271_3297041097344781726_nI asked Kenny a few quick questions for this blog and he obliged with the following….

You’ve hosted a lot of music and comedy concerts over the years – do you remember the first one you MC’d and/or the show your hosted with the biggest stars?  My first gig opening for a band was with Tommy Tutone…(867-5309…Jenny Jenny) at the El Mocambo. Later I would host for Jim Carrey, Bo Diddley, and Peaches and Herb.18057020_10155068379351271_2914880231838205834_nHow important is the job of the MC when you have a lot of performers in the line-up?  As the host, my job is to keep the show moving…keep the crowd entertained and informed. On the 16th, I will have five bands and five hours of no holds barred rock and roll on such a tight schedule that VIA rail would envy!!

You’ve been the star of your own TV comedy specials and headlined many live shows in comedy clubs or concert halls: what do you prefer – TV or live?  I love TV and performing live.  TV exposes me to a larger audience and usually pays better…but live gigs give me the thrill and challenge of improvising or trying previously untested material – I’m like a jazz musician that way.

Do you have any musical preferences? With the 5 tribute bands performing on the show you’re hosting in Oshawa, do you have any favourite genres or are you a closet disco king?  I’m basically a blues junkie, so Bad to the Bone and The SRV Experience will be the highlights of the night for me…no disrespect to the Skynyrd boys, haa haa!

Where can your fans see you next?  Folks can catch me the last Sunday of each month hosting Kenny Robinson and his Nubian Show at the downtown Toronto Yuk Yuk’s, and for the 420 crowd, at the Green Leaf Vapour Lounge in Brampton where it’s not unusual for me to drop two long sets.

Do you have a website or social media networks? Folks can check me out on Facebook, or my much neglected website http://www.kennyrobinson.com/contact.html17554206_10154989207221271_4898851077302236969_nKenny’s hosted The Gemini Awards and was twice nominated for his writing and performance in his ground breaking one hour special “Thick and Thin” on the CBC.  Kenny has earned accolades as the creator/writer/producer and host of the edgy late night series “After Hours with Kenny Robinson” on The Comedy Network.

As an actor Kenny has appeared in such films as “Third Miracle” with Ed Harris, “Down To Earth” with Chris Rock, Clement Virgo’s “Love Comes Down”, and David Sutherland’s “Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones.”  Robinson has appeared on the CBC’s “Royal Canadian Air Farce”, Showtime’s “Soul Food”, and has a wide fan base from his re-occurring roles as “Jelly Bean” on PAX series “Doc”, starring Billy Ray Cyrus, and as “Mickey” on the teen fave “Radio Free Roscoe” on the “Noggin” Network. 17554420_10154989217981271_2719326215689466989_nCome see/hear Kenny work his comedy magic as he rides shotgun on this incredible line-up of bands next Saturday night.

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 

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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“Untamed Things” @ Arta Gallery in Distillery District, Toronto

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself discussing legendary Group of Seven Canadian artist Tom Thomson – first with northern Ontario artist Pauline Langmaid, then with author and Thomson expert Barry Brodie. This evening, I think I topped it all off by attending Arta Gallery‘s new exhibition titled “Untamed Things” which features stunning Thomson-inspired paintings by 11 acclaimed painters from across Ontario who retraced Thomson’s footsteps through Algonquin Park as inspiration for their own artistic explorations.20170908_180925Here are some examples of their work which remains on display until Sept. 19th.20170908_175000 20170908_175421I introduced myself to several of the artists who were on hand to meet-n-greet the appreciative gallery guests…. here’s Peter Taylor (below)  www.petertaylorpaintings.com20170908_175146..and here’s the very jovial Paul Nabuurs (below) www.paulnabuurs.com20170908_175814(0)I then met Andrew Peycha (below)….www.andrewpeycha.com20170908_180215….along with Mark Berens (below)….www.markberensart.com20170908_180243and Bryan Wall (below) whose work really resonated with me. Wish I’d had lots of moolah on me as I would have loved to grab one of his smaller pieces (2nd pic)  www.bryanwall.ca20170908_18050920170908_175230So many beautiful paintings of all sizes suitable for any downtown loft, condo, home or corporate office.20170908_181219 20170908_181556I definitely recommend you visit Arta Gallery , 14 Distillery Lane (in the historic Distillery District) downtown Toronto. Visit their website for hours and directions: www.artagallery.caexhibition_image_428

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