Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tricia_Lee

Director/writer TRICIA LEE is ready for her own close-up at this year’s Toronto Int’l Film Festival

Back in October of 2013, I was thrilled to work with Canadian writer/director TRICIA LEE, promoting her horror feature film Silent Retreat which made its World Premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival that year. The film did very well with both audiences and critics and since then, Lee has been on an upward career trajectory.

The accomplished and versatile filmmaker earned her US Green Card as an “artist of extraordinary ability” with Canadian and British citizenship, and has directed 11 shorts and 3 award-winning features since starting out in 2004. And she directed newly-minted superhero star Simu Liu in her 2017 short film Meeting Mommy.

Tricia has been recognized as one of Hollywood’s Top New Writers on the 2020 Black List, CAPE List, Young & Hungry List, Athena List, and the BitchList.  Her script pitch for Good Chance was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship semi-finalist, Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition grand prize winner, Cinequest Best Feature Screenplay winner, WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Features winner, Sundance Lab second-rounder and selected for the prestigious Producers Guild of America Power of Diversity Master Workshop. Attached are Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, Janet Yang (Joy Luck Club) as producers and Kheng Tan Hua (Crazy Rich Asians, Kung Fu Series) as lead actress – BRAVO, TRICIA!
Currently, Tricia’s script for her next feature titled IDOL is part of this year’s “Breaking Through the Lens” program at the Toronto International Film Festival that just opened on September 9th so I was excited to chat with Tricia about that and her other achievements since we worked together in 2013.TIFF
Tricia, you’ve worked consistently and successfully for more than a decade, creating some of the most innovative and exciting genre films why is becoming a finalist in this years Breaking Through the Lens TIFF so important to you personally and for your career?   Looking back on my career, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come, but also how far I still want to go.  In order to continue a long-lasting career, I have to keep innovating and creating new projects and telling new stories.  Breaking Through the Lens choosing my new project, IDOL, to be showcased during TIFF is this project’s first walk outside!  The opportunity to share the pitch with financiers and distributors is a great way to share this script with people who can potentially help make the film.  I want to take my career to the next level and I hope that we can bring this film to the screen and touch, move and inspire people.

For a number of years, you were one of only a few female directors working in the horror genre what attracted you to horror stories and did you have a different perspective that your male counterparts?  What I love about genre, is that we can speak about deeper issues through metaphor.  With entertainment, I always want to hide the pill in peanut butter, as they say.  Is that how you get dogs to eat medicine? I thought peanut butter was bad for dogs, or maybe that’s chocolate… anyways…
I don’t know that my perspective was more female than my male counterparts.  My perspective is simply… my perspective.  It comes from the intersection of who I am, how I grew up, where I’m from, how my parents treated me, the significant others I’ve chosen, etc.  And also what I wanted to talk about at that time in my life.   My second feature Silent Retreat, which pre-dated the #MeToo movement, was about women being silenced.  I wanted to make a film about women standing up and using their voices.  And I collaborated with a male, Corey Brown, to make that film.  That film was a combination our creative perspectives.

You’ve spent a great deal of time undertaking shadowing mentorshipsfrom Jeff Woolnough on SyFys The Expanse, Erik Canuel, producing director on CBSRansom, Peter DeLuise on Freeforms Shadowhunters and most recently, the highly-regarded powerhouse – Nancy Meyers on the Walmart BoxOscars® commercial. How has this benefited you as a story-teller as well as working with actors?  This career is all about learning.  I think life is about learning.  I am so grateful for having been given the opportunities to watch these talented, experienced directors work.  Everyone has a different style and approach, and in my own directing, I get to take tidbits from each shadowing experience to create my own process. IMG_7986.1I’m a person who makes a lot of lists, so I literally write down my process and anytime I learn something new from one of my mentors, I add it to my list.  Being a director, I don’t get to practice my craft every day, so these lists help me remember what I’ve learned for when I do have the chance to get on set and work the directing muscle.  Also, I practice working with actors to implement what I’ve learned.  I work actors on their auditions, break down the beats, give them direction and help shape a performance.IMG_7121You have also worked on more family-friendly projects like Meeting Mommy starring Simu Liu (Marvels latest superhero Shang-Chi) and have been developing diverse and inclusive projects what are your immediate goals and/or future projects?  Layered, vulnerable dramas that are heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, with a sprinkle of comedy is where my natural intuition lies.  I only started writing about 4 years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles.  I asked myself, would I rather go through the pain of reading scripts or the pain of writing scripts.  And I just found that people weren’t writing the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell.  So I took on the pain of writing! And I’m glad, because it has been a way for me to explore my own voice I have been developing more stories that star Asian characters and have taken a deep look within myself to put my truth onto the page.  I want to make films that give a voice to under-represented communities, not because it’s the fad right now, but because it breaks my heart that someone can hate or commit violence against someone else just because they are different.  I will never run for president, so this is my way of reaching people, to touch, unite and inspire them and create powerful change in our culture.  I want to tell stories that resonate deeply with audiences and unforgettably pierce their hearts.
Immediate goals are to secure financing for my scripts IDOL, a music biopic about William Hung (from American Idol – see below) and GOOD CHANCE (starring Kheng Tan Hua from Crazy Rich Asians) which was on the 2020 Black List.william hungYou and your husband Mark own a number of condos that you operate as AirBnBs, plus youve previously worked as a piano teacher and an experiential marketer.is there anything else you want to try, apart from making movies?  No. Film is my life.  I will not retire from this career.  All the other things I’ve done in my life were side gigs, which allowed me the freedom and time to make my films.  I took part-time flexible jobs so that I never had to ask for vacation or permission to make my films.  When I was on set, I would just tell them that I couldn’t work that month.  I have a crazy resume, but it has always been towards one goal: being a filmmaker.

Any advice youd like to offer to aspiring filmmakers, especial women, and on the various career paths they can take to achieve success, life balance and happiness?  Honestly, I’m not great at life balance.  I definitely focus on career too much and am working on finding balance myself.  I find that the scripts and movies that I’ve made that resonate with people the most are the ones where I dig into myself and tell my truth.  I encourage all of you to take the time to sit with yourself.  Think about why is it you want to make this film, what do you want to say with it, how do you want the audience to feel when they walk out?  And make sure that every scene wraps around that nugget.  When you put something of yourself on the page, it shines through.  Those are the films that pierce people’s hearts and will help you take the next step in your career.  It can be slow and long, or it can be a quick rise to the top.  But never give up if telling stories through this medium is really what you want to do.DSC_0014Thanks for sharing your insights and advice, Tricia, and I can’t wait to see how your script faired at TIFF this year. Looking forward to seeing Idol when it hits cinema screens and the festival circuit. You can all follow Tricia on all her social media platforms linked on her website: www.tricialeedirector.com

 

Forver First Love Poster (9)

AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE ROMANCE MOVIE COMING TO CDN & US THEATRES AND STREAMING SERVICES, BRINGING DOWN UNDER LOVE UP NORTH!

I frequently complain about the lack of Aussie films being available online or even making into our cinemas in North America – not sure who negotiates all the distribution deals (esp. with tv content) but we Aussies abroad will soon be able to enjoy a new romantic adventure movie when FOREVER FIRST LOVE hits screens in September.

Set against the beauty of a baroque Filipino town, Forever First Love is a modern romantic drama. “The story follows international photographer Paul who finds his first love, Anna, in a one-in-a–million chance meeting in a crowded Filipino market. The travelers spend the day exploring the beauty of the 16th century town and whilst passions reignite, their principles on relationships, religion, and morality clash. Paul’s long held nostalgia for his dream girl is tested,” says Brisbane based writer and director, LUKE MAYZE (pictured below, directing the leading lady).  “The film is an exploration of the dynamics of gender roles in modern relationships and balances this generation’s reluctance to commit with the desperate need for connection.”Luke with Carlotta (2)This is the first feature film for Mayze, a multi-award winner who has found international success with numerous short film projects (Silver Stiletto, Prep Rules, Weight Of Sunken Treasure and It’s A Treat). The film is also the debut feature film for emerging Brisbane producers, Carmel Savage and Janelle Rayner. They secured funding for the film from private investors, shooting in the Philippines and Queensland and producing the film locally.  The film premiered in Latin America at the end of 2020 and has fast become an underground favourite.  Cinematographer, Shing Fung Cheung, won an Australian Cinematography Award for the production.

“Despite the difficulties of distribution due to COVID, we’re thrilled that the film has attracted a global audience with people seeking a style of escapism different from ordinary cinema,” Luke added. “Since the film’s release in Latin America, we’ve received an outpouring of  messages from across the globe in support of Forever First Love.

The film stars Australian actor STEVEN ROOKE (The Chronicles of Narnia, Australia Day, Wanted) alongside Italian actress CARLOTTA MORELLI (Tracy Ullman Show, Lip Service, Fratelli di Sangue), who auditioned for the role in London and rehearsed in a series of skype video calls before flying across the world to meet the production team. The stars only met in person a few days before filming commenced, with critical praise for their on-screen chemistry.IMG_5547When I first learnt about this new film, I reached out to Luke for more insights into his film and he kindly shared the following:

The story of Forever First Love is written from Paul’s point of view. Paul is an international photographer, who has followed his passion to the Philippines to capture that perfect image. In the chaos and heat of a crowded market, his first love, Anna appears in his lens. Paul convinces Anna to go on an adventure with him and together they explore exotic locations, share confessions and experience a night of passion that neither could have anticipated. But in the harsh reality of the morning after, Paul comes to realize that living his life through a lens will never be enough. Street Love (1)I am indebted to the talented and professional teams of people in the Philippines and Australia who made this adventure unforgettable and am proud to share Forever First Love as my debut feature film as both Writer and Director. I’ve taken inspiration from filmmakers such as Peter Weir, Alexander Payne and Steven Spielberg throughout my career and wanted to create a story that delves into our fundamental desire for human connection and attachment to the past. Forever First Love explores themes around love, identity, culture and the complexity of relationships when stereotypes and assumptions collide. I hope the film starts a dialogue around the perception of traditional love and the changing gender roles in modern relationships.IMG_5714 (1) IMG_5591 (1)

MY BRIEF REVIEW:   Written and directed by Luke Mayze, Forever First Love is the tender story of a rediscovered first love set against the chaos of an urban centre in the Philippines. Australian photographer Paul suddenly sees Anna, his teenage sweetheart, walk into his lens as he snaps the vibrant street scenes. He pursues her through the market where they finally meet and realize the passion is still there…at least for the duration of her stay in the city.

Mayze has written nuanced tender dialogue between the two characters, yet has imbued the leading lady, played by Carlotta Morelli, with a sense of maturity and empowerment, perfectly in control of her emotions. In a reversal of standard male/female roles, Paul, played to perfection by Steven Rooke, is overwhelmed by his feelings for Anna – still worshiping her or, at least the idea of her, as his beloved one and only. Both actors light up the screen; their verbal exchanges are both fiery and impassioned, challenging each other to view their present romantic predicament realistically while examining their past youthful entanglements; viewers may find themselves subconsciously taking sides, especially as the story reaches its conclusion.

With glorious cinematography by award-winning Shing-Fung Cheung and a masterful soundtrack that underscores each scene’s emotions by Peter Spierig, this is a film for those who appreciate human interaction without use of guns, blown-up buildings, car chases…it’s a very human story that requires no props or fancy CGI – it’s all heart and soul. Luke Mayze has spent many years creating award-winning shorts and as his debut feature film, Forever First Love promises future success for this multi-talented Australian filmmaker. His insightful and very intimate script hints that maybe he himself has experienced and survived such a love? Just wondering…..

CONGRATULATIONS to Luke, Carmel and Janelle, and the entire cast and crew.  I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety. Forever First Love hits US and Canadian screens the second week of September thanks to Galloping Entertainment & distributors Vertical Entertainment. You may also view the film via your favourite streaming platforms: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google, FandangoNOW, Microsoft,  Redbox On Demand, Vudu, DirecTV, Comcast X1 and AT&T U-Verse. And tell the producers what you think of their film on social media: www.facebook.com/foreverfirstlovemovie

gallery_xlarge (5)

Mystery Road tv series 1 (the making of) courtesy of FilmInk magazine (2016)

Due to issues with a certain social media platform, news links from Aussie media cannot be uploaded in Australia so I’m hoping to help my Down Under friends by circumventing the system (hopefully) with embedded media links in my blog. Let’s see if this works….fingers crossed!  Let’s see if this link works….

https://www.filmink.com.au/rewind-the-making-of-mystery-road/

107834510_1733632220134151_2154462556231394432_o

Hopefully I’ve now found a solution for news sharing Down Under….and along Mystery Road!

DSC02624seaside

GRAMMY-NOMINATED RECORDING ARTIST RON KORB MISSES TOURING & MEETING HIS FANS DURING PANDEMIC

Like all musicians across Canada, Toronto’s Grammy-nominated flautist and composer, RON KORB, has been dealing with not just the loss of income from live concerts, international touring and recording sessions, but also missing his personal meet-n-greets with fans who flock to his live shows both here in Canada and around the world (pictured below).  His most recent project was playing on the film soundtrack for the historic WWII drama & top grossing film for 2020, The Eight Hundred, which was in the cinemas at the end of 2020 for 2 weeks when half-capacity audience screenings were allowed before we went back into Covid lock-down (watch for it when it’s released on VoD or digitally).fnas 2I recently chatted with Ron online and asked him to share his thoughts and observations on how Covid has impacted his life and career, and to talk about his research project addressing the state of Canadian digital streaming and rights, and how it impacts musicians and fans…wall (2)Ron, as a professional musician, how has Covid impacted your ability to reach your fans and sell your music?  Covid has been devastating to the music community and affected every area of activity. In addition to all live performance being cancelled many other sources of income such as teaching, composition engagements and recording projects have decreased. Now the only way to reach fans is through Social Media which really isn’t the same.

Obviously touring is off the table, have you created or participated in any online concerts or have plans to do so?  Yes, I have participated in some online concerts and events like the MY EARTH SONGS (below) virtual concert in support of UNICEF along with some Grammy winners, The Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Virtual Event, The Beaches Jazz Festival and I guest hosted an online radio show.Earth SOngsHow is your award-winning World Café album doing? Its the perfect listening choice for those stuck at home during quarantine, with energetic danceable tunes as well as smooth relaxing pieces, too.  Thanks for saying that. World Café continues to get enthusiastic feedback. It is time to encourage my fans to listen to my music via streaming sites as that is the main income source for music during the pandemic.  Listen to World Café here:  https://open.spotify.com/album/7F9humDpfXkAuhlLramJzQ b_W1sic2l6ZSIsIm1lZGl1bSJdXQ==For even more joyful and soothing music with unique instrumental accompaniment, your Grammy-nominated Asia Beauty (2016) is still available for purchase via your website, yes? As are all your other albums…?  Yes, all my albums are available through www.ronkorb.com and the Asia Beauty CD has a beautiful reissue. My CD distributer went bankrupt and record stores didn’t pay me. Now with CD Baby closing its store, my own website and Amazon are the only outlets for my physical product. The advantage of ordering from my site is that the albums can be autographed if the customer wishes.  Listen to Asia Beauty here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2UMUxYkRKZcz7sTBR1sv7958thgrammyYou recently formed the CANADIAN DIGITAL MUSIC COLLECTIVE, an organization and research project to help Canadian music creators increase their visibility online. Members are encouraged to post information about music streaming, online music promotion and changes in the music business. How did this come about and why the need?  Streaming is 80% of the music market these days but it’s very difficult to be discovered because 40,000 new songs are being added to the music platforms every day. Many of my fellow Canadian musicians produce great music but they remain largely unnoticed. We are funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the goal of our research is to find methods to help Canada’s music creators get discovered online and receive the royalties they deserve.130006745_10158649074400552_6752103679655064319_oDoes the CDMC offer workshops or webinars?  Yes, since September we have already done 3 webinars and will do a final one in February before submitting our report. The workshops have been great and we have really learned a lot about the ever-changing digital world. It’s interesting that before we started this research project, I had certain suppositions about what were the problems and solutions when it came to streaming. After engaging with the other CDMC members I realize there are a multitude of options, very few easy answers and a lot of hard work and diligence to be successful in the digital sphere.  Any Canadian artist can join at  https://cdmc.mailchimpsites.com/  and our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/719764478662299

Whats the best way for fans to keep in touch?   Anyone who wants to check out my music can explore these outlets:
YouTube Channel:  Flute Traveller https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Vbx5qQ6qW-LCf8NmGHmHw
Apple Music https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ron-korb/29541142
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/4Xjxonsw8YU2tX5MR7n0r8
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ronkorb.longdi
Twitter: @ronkorb
Instagram: @ronkorbmusic

Thanks, Ron, and hopefully by end of this year, you’ll be performing live again in front of your legions of fans here and abroad…and doing all those great media interviews (below, Ron with Nancy and Valentino at CIUT-FM’s Howl! radio show)CIUT

logo

THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP IN TORONTO BRINGS “DOWN UNDER” FASHIONS & ACCESSORIES TO N. AMERICAN SHOPPERS

Many years ago, when jones’ing for a little taste of home, I found THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP at one of the big expos in Toronto and ever since then, I’ve been a fan as well as a customer.  Owner, JOHN KEATING (pictured below) has been carefully curating his catalogue of coats, jackets, hats and all sorts of other accessories and treats for the North American market for 40yrs and this year, due to Covid, has taken sales online.johnI recently spoke with John about the challenges of taking his business from the popular in-person sales booths at agricultural and downtown shows and expos, and he assured me that his Aussie products are still available and people can call to place orders, allowing him to chat with each purchaser and find exactly what they want or need. Contact details are at the end of this story.  I recently asked John a few questions about THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP and he kindly shared his story with me….

What inspired you to import the Australian-style clothing and accessories?  We were very inspired by the success of the Australian tourism campaigns in North America in the 80’s, probably due to the influx of Aussie films and the overwhelming popularity of Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). It was very evident that people had become intrigued and aware of the practicality, quality and style of the authentic Aussie oilskin clothing which was well-suited to the N. American lifestyle and outdoor pastimes.croc dundeeWhen/where did you first open the Australian Shop as a bricks-and-mortar location and how do you manage sales now that you’re an online only store?  Our Australian clothing business started some 40 years ago, primarily frequenting various shows and exhibitions including provincial Highland Games, Border Collie dog shows, sheep shows, horse shows, The British Show, the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows International Equestrian Show and the Canadian National Exhibition. Now, due to Covid, 2020 has seen a loss of public events so we’ve focused more on online sales which are progressing favourably.duooverlandDid movies like Crocodile Dundee and The Man From Snowy River (pictured below) from the 80’s help boost sales?  Sales were tremendously boosted once the Australian “new wave” of films hit North America. The Australian theme of the Canadian National Exhibition (the country’s annual expo of products and fun-fair held in Toronto) also did much to feature Down Under fashions, foods, lifestyles and tourism. They certainly highlighted the Akubra hats and oilskin coats.snowy river movieApart from clothing and hats, do you sell any other Aussie products? Currently, we have a great carry-all bag which is great for weekends or even daily work chores and laptops. Plus we are very proud to offer Aboriginal crafts such as boomerangs and didgeridoos, although we don’t offer lessons for those! One of the most famous and esteemed didge players is Indigenous musician David Hudson so you can search YouTube for his performances as well as lessons.7502-BRN-ONE_1-B (2)

didges

Do you sell and ship across Canada AND the U.S.?  Yes, we ship across Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas. Everything is based on weight and size of package. During Covid, deliveries may be slower than usual so if you’re buying as gifts, please allow enough time to arrive for that special day.

What do your find are the most popular items?  Our oilskin coats, jackets and vests are always the big sellers. The world-famous Akubra hats worn by many Aussie outback folks are always in demand, too.cowboy coat and hathats_akubra_snowyYour customers are not just horsey or farm folks, right? Urbanites who love the outdoor lifestyle also order from you and I guess dog-walkers are also frequent customers?  The outback or drover coats and jackets are always in style – something about the rugged image of the Aussie mate, be it a man or woman, is always an attractive factor. Businessmen and women can also be seen in downtown centres around the world in the fashionable and durable oilskin coats.

What’s so special about Australian oilskin clothing?  The oilskin material is produced in Australia. This increases the quality of the clothing. It’s a material that wears very well, is rain resistant and offers protection from the wind as well.  For many years, we sold the clothing at the annual Canadian National Exhibition and Royal Winter Fair here in Toronto as well as major dog and horse shows and rural exhibitions across Canada – we even journeyed to Scandinavia to showcase our clothing.short oilskin jktIf you’d like to learn more about The Australian Shop and see John’s full catalogue, visit the website: www.australian-shop.ca and you can follow the Facebook account: www.facebook.com/australianshopto  and Instagram:  @australianshopto

Thank you for supporting a Canadian small business!

1033BL_MAIN_WEB

That’s not a hat, mate…THAT’s a hat!

20200222_142311

EXCITING NEW CONFERENCE/MEETING CENTRE OPENS IN STUNNING JAMAICAN RESORT

Welcome to Ocean Coral Spring Resort & Conference Centre in Trelawny, Jamaica – just 45mins East of Montego Bay. Can you imagine holding your corporate events or team building exercises where this is your view each morning? Ah, Paradise… what a perfect location for motivating work and play!20200220_064308As part of it’s brand new resort on Jamaica’s sunny north coast, the Ocean Hotels int’l group has created a full-service, fully equipped Conference Centre that can accommodate up to 800 visitors in its main showroom which can also be divided into 2, 3 or 4 separate spaces, depending on the client’s needs. It will offer full A/V services, catering and furnishings. Additional local event suppliers and support businesses can be coordinated thru the resorts’ professional events office. The beautifully appointed accommodations feature all the luxury mod cons and the staff are charming, friendly and most efficient. And the resort has its own private beach with palapas, loungers and beach towels available for guests. Here’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Tanesha Clarke, to tell you all about this unique location for your upcoming meetings….

Thank you for sharing all this information, Tanesha, it was a pleasure experiencing the resort and all its facilities first-hand.  20200222_145612The resort itself opened in December and its imposing conference centre is undergoing the final tweaking and decorating stages, and should be open and ready to present your events by late Spring  (2020). Between or after meetings and business activities, there are multiple dining venues and activities for you to enjoy as a group, or just relax on your own…20200220_151117 20200222_142041 20200224_06412520200222_141936 20200222_142052If you’d like to learn more about Coral Ocean Spring Resort & Conference Centre, visit their resort website: www.hoteloceancoralspring.net
or contact Tanesha directly to receive the corporate events information package (and ask for the wedding package, too, if you’re planning a destination wedding):
Tel: (876) 615-8100 Ext. 9150
Mountain Spring Bay – Coral Spring Trelawny Jamaica
Email: tanesha.clarke@oceanhotels.net  20200219_162509Your rum cocktail is waiting for you in the lobby bar (above). Come check your group in today!

 

9781459739239

RIP-ROARING TALES OF A LIFE SURROUNDED BY MUSIC AND DARING ADVENTURES!

SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs
An adventure through the 1970s

Book launch party at The Rivoli on Queen West, Toronto, this coming Sunday Sept. 10 @ 8pm

When I heard that tv personality and music media insider Kim Clarke Champniss was writing his autobiography covering his childhood and teen years in England and his 70’s adventures in Canada, I knew I would be reading much about my own history…but with just a few geographical differences. I was born at the end of 1953, a few months before Kim came into the world, so we were both exposed to the same popular music of the Brits and American rock-and-roll in the mid to late 50’s. But while Kim experienced the whole mods’n’rockers evolution in person, I would only hear about it from far off Australia to where my parents had emigrated in ’59. Unfortunately my family would end up way out in the bush, cut off from any form of entertainment other than 4 radio stations and two television channels that only broadcast from 11am until 10pm. Kim, as he tells it in his book, was right there at ground zero in London for the changing social moods and music styles, going from bovver boys to The Beatles. So it was with a touch of envy that I turned the first page…..

Champniss writes like Jackson Pollack painted: bold colourful strokes with trickles of familiar music history, lobbing in droplets of names that suddenly come back to me – Régine, Slade, Lyons tearooms and Marc Bolan. Then once the reader arrives with Champniss in Canada’s far north, his descriptions of living and working for the Hudson’s Bay Co in the isolated, snow-bound Eskimo Point during the early 70’s will have you pulling a blanket up around your ears – so cold, so windy and wild you can almost feel the biting gusts of Arctic air whirl around you.

The pages turn easily as the reader follows Kim’s journey back to civilization (Winnipeg?) then several road trips across the States and through Canada, with the music of the time playing in your head: glam rock, Motown hits then disco. His brief 1975 return to England plugged Champniss into the emerging sounds of new pop and rock music along with an increased social and political awareness – these were also the days of random IRA bombings and economic unrest as the European Common Market developed. Upon returning to Canada, Champniss soon found his calling as a DJ, working in top nightclubs around Vancouver and he enthusiastically shares his memories of the dawn of the disco era.

Apparently, our lives had intersected in Perth, Western Australia, my childhood home and Kim’s home for a short time in the mid-70s while waiting for entrance into the University of Western Australia (my alma mater). He and his (by now) wife Lily even lived close to where my family had once resided, the beachside town of Cottesloe. But Oz didn’t work out as expected and they soon returned to Canada’s west coast where Kim immersed himself even more in the music scene.  Rock, pop and soul would be joined by punk and new wave, and reading through the artists’ names Champniss notes, the clubs, the cities that gave rise to the new music, gives readers of a certain age that warm feeling of remembrance that sends one off to the basement to pull out the old vinyl and dust off the ancient turntable.

This book definitely leaves the reader wanting more…and fortunately, there is a lot more as Champniss ends this story just before he heads to Toronto to join the new music and video tv station that we came to know as MuchMusic.SONY DSCNot only is this an autobiography with exciting adventures we can relive with the writer, it is a great music history lesson to be shared with younger readers. I first met Kim when he had arrived in Toronto from Vancouver whilst hanging out at renowned music publicist Richard Flohill’s apartment in Cabbagetown. I remember thinking what a bright, energetic young man Kim was, full of music trivia and fascinating stories of his many adventures around the world. I cannot wait for the next chapter when I know he’ll have some great tales to share.

 

SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs
An adventure through the 1970s
Published by Dundurn Press
200 pages, 29 illustrations, black & white
Available in Paperback $23.99 ISBN: 9781459739239
Or  eBook $11.99  ISBN: 9781459739253

Kim Clarke Champniss (a.k.a. KCC) is an award-winning broadcaster who was a popular VJ on MuchMusic and special assignment reporter for The NewMusic. KCC is also the author of The Republic of Rock ’n’ Roll. He lives in Toronto.

ABOUT THE BOOK
A true story of an adventurous pop-loving teenager who, in the early 1970s, went from London’s discotheques to the Canadian sub-arctic to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. His job? Buying furs and helping run the trading post in the settlement of Arviat (then known as Eskimo Point), Northwest Territories (population: 750).  That young man was Kim Clarke Champniss, who would later become a VJ on MuchMusic. His extraordinary adventures unfolded in a chain of On the Road experiences across Canada. His mind-boggling journey, from London, to the far Canadian North, to the spotlight, is the stuff of music and TV legends. Kim brings his incredible knowledge of music and pop culture and the history of disco music, weaving them into this wild story of his exciting and uniquely crazy 1970s.

IMG_6322_edited

TALKIN’ MUSIC WITH LAURA ROCK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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