Tag Archives: El Mocambo

head shot

Fabulous funny lady CARLA COLLINS tickles funny bones, meditates on life & laughter, and soothes our souls

I remember the night of the Oscars many years ago when one of Canada’s leading TV networks sent beautiful Toronto comedienne CARLA COLLINS down to L.A. to cover the red carpet arrivals and do interviews with the stars. OMG, I’ll never forget that vision of her in a bizarre, wild orange sparkly frock tossing out bon mots and kudos to the stars, drawing them into her microphone and asking them hysterical questions about their nominated roles, their lives and loves…and whatever else came into her head – a wacky stream of consciousness. She was brilliant! Totally unafraid to meet to BIG named stars head-on, kinder than Joan Rivers but just as “intimate” with her enquiries, Carla charmed everyone that night and I knew it was only a matter of time that she herself would walk among the showbiz giants…on 6″ stilettos and with even bigger hair!

Working her magic in west coast comedy clubs, hosting corporate events & awards nights, special guesting at swanky soirees – years later Carla has forged a successful comedy career as well as becoming a best-selling author, launched a brilliant interactive program that merges laughter with meditation and yoga principles, and now back on home turf in Canada, she’s hosting a brand new webcast series (which should go live with a studio audience once Covid quarantining is over) staged at the legendary El Mocambo nightclub in downtown Toronto.

I recently caught up with my fellow blonde goddess and posed a few scintillating questions I thought my readers would enjoy….th (1)It’s been a long time since your first stand-up gig at The Rivoli in Toronto – do you remember your excitement or fears when you first set foot on the stage? And did you think it would lead to such a successful career in comedy for you?  For the longest time I was absolutely terrified of doing stand-up and had a crushing nerve problem where I couldn’t even eat for days leading up to going on stage. I only dabbled in comedy a couple of times a year when I was working fulltime on TV and radio.  Although comedy was my first love, I was terrified before every show. Now I could jump up and do 45 minutes at a garage sale! I can’t wait to make people laugh and I certainly never imagined it would become my greatest high and healthiest escape. Like every other comedian right now, I’m practically doing a tight 5 in the Whole Foods parking lot against everyone’s will.   The Rivoli was the mecca of comedy – I’m so sad to hear it has closed and so honoured to have had the opportunity to perform there a few times.

Your stand-up comedy has attracted a huge following in the States and whenever you’ve come home to Canada for special appearances you pack the theatres – do you find any difference in the audiences?  Audiences can vary a little from place to place, city to city. If I were to make a general, sweeping, certain to offend someone observation it’s that US audiences tend to be a tad more effusive and more prone to standing ovations and Canadian audiences seem to prefer more intellectual humour at times. Having said that, depending on the town or region, that statement can be totally flipped. At the moment I would kill for any type of audience, even though my Chihuahua, three kittens and UPS driver have been a great crowd during lockdown.15C4588F-D0F0-4D61-B70A-CBE938F0D1FE

Have you had any really weird experiences while doing your shows? Any men’s underwear thrown on stage, mothers claiming you seduced their sons or maybe some ugly streakers?   One time in Long Beach, California, a very drunken woman slurred and heckled throughout my set. That wouldn’t be remotely unusual except for the fact that I was performing at an AA meeting and the Ziplock bag full of vodka that fell out of her purse was frowned upon by the organizers. Last year in Calgary a former hockey player and his girlfriend bought me many, many drinks after I headlined a show. I had to excuse myself and retire to my room as I was beyond tipsy only to find a $1,500 tip in my purse! I was a bit of a legend the following night as the other comedians and wait staff had witnessed the event. Pretty sure I naively escaped an Albertan three-way!headshot2In one of your many film appearances, the diamond heist adventure Bitch Slap, you got to work with both Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and Xena (Lucy Lawless) – how was that experience and did you manage to score any super powers of your own?   Well I was only in one scene so I didn’t get to work with either one on set. I did meet Kevin at the premiere and I already knew Lucy through a mutual friend. She’s absolute perfection and is one of my girl crushes. Pretty sure everyone adores Xena/Lucy. The only super power I emerged with was my ability to overact even in the tiniest of roles and my ability to kill off husbands. Metaphorically.bitchslapA few years ago, you created a fun online chat show, Carla Collins Comes Clean, set in your actual bathtub where you told us about all sorts of hilarious things that happened to you. How did you come up with the crazy concept and did you ever invite any special guests to the tub?   We had so much fun doing that web series and we still have a season 2 that needs to find its way out into the wild. It was directed by Tom Moser who has won multiple Emmys in animation. My then producer, Penny Edminston, and I thought it would be funny for me to just rant away in a bathtub as that is my natural habitat and form of cheap therapy. I would straight up be doing prison time if I wasn’t allowed to take baths. We were tickled by the twist ending of reversing the camera and showing some poor pizza delivery man, nun, B list celebrity, etc… fully-dressed in the tub with me and forced to hear my bullshit. There is interest in remaking the show this coming year so expect to see more of me, as it were. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I’m interested to learn about how you’re exploring your spiritual side by launching the innovative Comedic Meditation program, hosted online now (thanks, Covid you bitch!). Please tell me about the healing effects of humour and how you have merged guided meditations with laughs and smiles.   Currently, Comedic Meditation is my favourite child! I think I have often combined my love of comedy and spirituality including performing stand-up at the Kabbalah Center in LA and my humorous self-help book “Angels, Vampires and Douche Bags”.8179923._UY630_SR1200,630_ (2) I’ve been spiritual all my life and have practiced yoga and meditated for almost 20 years now. Everyone in Los Angeles claims to be a guru and I just wanted to take the intimidation, preciousness and woo woo out of meditation. It’s simply focusing on your breath. The marriage isn’t as unconventional as it may seem at first. Starting off with 20 to 30 minutes of stand-up allows everyone to release endorphins and get out of their own heads and both meditation and laughter produce the same gamma brainwave. People are finding that they are able to relax more deeply and more quickly after some giggles (and sometimes a few drinks) Also, although no one thinks Zoom comedy shows are ideal, the meditation portion may work even better delivered online as people can relax comfortably in their own home without feeling judged and without having to drive home…or wear pants.   I’ve been fortunate to do a few corporate comedic meditations this month for a few organizations which I loved.  Thanks to several sponsors like our title sponsor, The Michael Stuart Webb Team, you can sample a show right now at no cost by visiting www.comedicmeditation.com Figure we all need to chuckle and chill during these mad times.9584DC8C-8DFF-4DBA-8F02-C07769F0FD8D meditationMore recently, you returned to the stage here in Toronto at the legendary El Mocambo nightclub presenting a unique talkshow-style webcast called Carla Collins Rox the Elmo – do tell…how did this happen and who will you be chatting with?  Pretty sure masks and podcasts have both become mandatory! I had a wonderful experience playing the Elmo for two shows in September during that brief but glorious window when venues were quasi-open. I had quarantined with Elmo Owner and former Dragon’s Den star Michael Wekerle and his family and we became fast friends. Michael Stuart Webb (whom I refer to as my gay fiancé!) and I had already partnered on Comedic Meditation and he was launching his new media group so the three of us joined forces to produce a pandemic panacea podcast/web series. Carla Collins Rox the Elmo is the perfect three-way of comedy, music and spirituality where mental health meets metal health with the iconic venue as the beautiful backdrop.logo IMG_5293 with KennyWe just wrapped season one with some exceptional guests partaking in no-holds barred, intimate interviews. Many also treat us to mini concerts you won’t see anywhere else. Season one includes candid chats with actor Dean McDermott, Canadian music icon Gowan, comedian Kenny Robinson (pictured above, with Carla), Olympic skating queen Elizabeth Manley, recording legend Kim Mitchell, singer/songwriter Gordon Deppe, the list goes on.  Naturally there’s a lot of laughter and great music but also a lot of raw emotion and honesty. I’m very proud of this show and hope everyone will check it out on my YouTube channel and/or iTunes and Spotify.IMG_5378The Covid lock-down, isolation and quarantining has not dampened your sense of humour and certainly hasn’t curtailed your creativity. How many webisodes are you planning at the Elmo and then what’s next for Carla Collins? Any more books in the works?  We’re planning more webisodes in the new year when we are able and I’m also going to release a new comedy album from my two shows in the fall at the El Mocambo (maybe even a TV special!).  I am working on a new book: the world’s first motivational/self-help coffee book featuring the beautiful fashion designs and photography of my dear friend Jorge Del Busto called Stairs: A 30 Day Step by Step Guide to being Fab AF.  It features various photos of me on a staircase with some hilarious and hopefully helpful hints of being even more fabulous than you already are 😊 I’ve been billing myself as the world’s most immature mature model. Funny fact: I was just signed to a modelling agency in LA. Now I’ll be spending the entire holiday season phoning up my exes and letting them know that they didn’t know it, but they were bangin’ a model!Facetune_20-11-2020-19-10-45 IMG_4986Carla, is there anything else you’d like to add, any shout-outs or messages to your fans?  Just wanna send everyone lots of love and laughs right now. Stay safe and healthy. If you can, during lockdown, adopt a pet. Or an accent.

Watch for webisodes of Carla Collins Rox the Elmo now on YouTube!76E97749-7719-4666-A45F-9BB83EF87B94

DSC_3686

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

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/