What a glorious night that was! Last Sunday evening, Ali Hughes took her Hugh’s Room audience for an emotional ride with her reinterpreted songs from the late Canadian legend Leonard Cohen‘s repertoire.
Throughout her performance, her sexy sultry voice hung out on every note, laying it down then soaring again into the next stanza….and looking around the showroom, every face was turned towards the stage, eyes wide with mouths to match. I sat at the back of the room listening to the gasps of recognition as Ali introduced one classic Cohen after another, each with a new emotional and musical “translation”….it truly was a transformational moment.
Ali also brought with her the newly released 4-track EP (Tea & Oranges) from the show, recorded back home in Oz with her band, Ali & the Thieves. Her version of Suzanne will bring tears to any hardened fan’s eyes and I’m happy to tell you that the final track on the CD is, in fact, Suzanne. Check her website for purchase & download details (see end of article).After the show, Ali met with her Toronto fans and signed copies of the EP….Hopefully she’ll return to Toronto soon for another Leonard Cohen Koans concert but she hinted she was working on her next project which is another unique interpretation of pop-culture classics…this time by Lou Reed. In the interim, she takes the Cohen show to the 2019 San Francisco Leonard Cohen Fest (presented by Noise Pop and hosted by Conspiracy of Beards) Nov 8, 9 & 10 at Cafe du Nord & Swedish American Hall, in S.F. In October she will be presenting performances of Leonard Cohen Koans in London and New York with her long-time collaborator Daryl Wallis, plus performances with NYC collaboration, Sunday Swoon (with Adam Armstrong and Curtis J).
Visit her website for news of Ali’s upcoming shows, social media & music: www.bigsbabs.com
Happy Victoria Day weekend! How many of us really understand the relevance of this national holiday other than marking the time to open the cottage, stock up on beer and gather the family for a giant BBQ? Thanks to Reader’s Digest and OCanada.com, here are a few facts about Her Maj and why we celebrate her.
Despite being dead since 1901, Britain’s second-longest-reigning monarch is more popular than ever with a hit TV series (Victoria) and a recent major film about her life (Victoria & Abdul). The woman who became queen at 18 years of age, and ruled for 63 years, has never really been forgotten. In the 118 years since her death, she has cropped up as a central character in dozens of films and as a minor character in everything from episodes of Monty Python to Dr. Who. The seemingly endless fascination with Victoria may even have planted the seeds for today’s worldwide obsession with the Royal Family.Canadians are particularly well acquainted with Victoria. We’ve been celebrating her birthday since 1845. The Victoria Day holiday – called everything from May Two-Four Weekend to Firecracker Day – is the unofficial kick-off to summer in Canada. It’s a federal holiday in this country, and a provincial one in six provinces and all three territories. Despite her enduring fame, Victoria’s birthday is not a holiday in Britain. Except for a small part of Scotland, where Victoria Day is often combined with another holiday, Canada is the only country that marks the event on a grand scale.Schools, parks, counties, roads, everywhere you look in our country, you’ll find variations of her name or royal title. Not one, but two provincial capitals, Regina and Victoria (pictured below), can thank the Queen for their names, and there are hundreds of Queen Streets dotted all around the country. Even her family got in on the name game: the province of Alberta is named after the Queen’s daughter Princess Louise Alberta, and Prince Edward Island was a tribute to Victoria’s late father. Queen Victoria may have been one of the longest reigning monarchs, but she was also one of the luckiest. On at least eight occasions, most of them while riding in her open carriage, would-be assassins tried to kill her. She also had a stalker. A man by the name of Edward Jones broke into the royal residence at Buckingham Palace several times, and was eventually caught—but not before he sat on her throne and stole her underwear!So get out there, enjoy whatever sunshine you can find and thank Her Majesty Queen Victoria for the welcome time off…and hang on to your knickers!!
Today, October 13th, marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and China. Yesterday, I was honoured to attend the opening of a one-week cultural exhibition of contemporary paintings illustrating the famed 300 poems from the Tang Dynasty at the Robarts Library, Uni. of Toronto, thanks to the kind invitation from Justin Poy (The Justin Poy Agency), one of organizers along with the Inst. of Traditional Chinese Painting Creation & Research. ABOVE LtoR: Jack Leong, Andre Schmid, Consul Jingjing Sai, Larry Alford, Justin Poy, Jerry Shi, Binghuang Shi
Justin, along with local dignitaries and visiting Chinese representatives, introduced the special celebratory installation of stunning traditional watercolour and ink illustrations created by 130 of China’s leading contemporary artists including Xiang Li, Hong Biao Liu, Hui Zhong Ren and Dong Fang Wang.The poems of romance, longing & passion were written in an ancient language and are extremely difficult to translate into English, something Justin, along with his Chinese collaborators, is trying to remedy with an upcoming book, perhaps in time for the 49th anniversary next year. The beauty of the scrolls is undeniable and regardless of my lack of understanding of the language, the subjects exuded the thoughts and feelings behind each poem. This delicate painting (below) in the softest of pastels and pinks caught my eye and I returned to it over and over again. I would love to know the meaning of the poem it illustrates as it obviously resonated with me on a subliminal level.So many beautiful scrolls decorated the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library on the 8th Floor so I hope you can visit over the next week and see for yourself.EXPRESSIONS OF CHINA runs Oct. 12-19 at the Robarts Library (U of Toronto), 130 St George Street. Supported by the Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association. For more information contact: 647-821-7050.