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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

“SOUTHERN FRIED” BRINGS THE MUSIC OF SKYNYRD & ALLMAN BROS. TO OSHAWA TRIBUTE BAND FEST. SEPT. 16

Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only showcase of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa.  Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus bar & food service. Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca There’s a special promotion valid until Sept. 5th – tickets are $45 per person in advance then $65 online and at the door after Sept. 5th.

This promises to be a fantastic night for fans of hard-driving rock, blues and southern rock so head out to Oshawa for this packed night of music and memories.crowds

I recently spoke with David Forbes, the vocalist from Southern Fried who shared his thoughts on performing the music of two of the greatest southern blues/rock bands ever: Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band.

David, what first inspired you to perform southern rock classics from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Bros?  When I was about 14, an older cousin introduced me to Lynyrd Skynyrd music and eventually The Allman Brothers Band.  I felt a real connection to this music.Are you the founder of the band or did you start playing in collaboration with one or more band members to get things rolling?  I had been playing drums and doing lead vocals for about a dozen years when I made a decision to start a Southern Rock tribute and then I recruited a friend, Chris Bishop, to play bass and help me to get the band going. I was to front the band so I could focus on vocal performance. Chris was the one to come up with the name “Southern Fried” which was taken from a K-tel album of Southern Rock tunes.SF GF 4Was this musical genre your first passion or were you a closet country & western fan?  I was already a big fan of KISS, Rush and Alice Cooper but I then started to gravitate towards some more blues-oriented music.

What has been the weirdest, wildest or most memorable gig you’ve played?  Playing at Q107’s Million Vacations Party March 2011 where we opened for The Georgia Satellites and played in front of 3,500 people.  That is one of my favorite gigs so far!Have you ever met any of the band members from Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Bros, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them?  I have, in fact, met Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes (pictured below), both formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. I asked both of them if they would sign my guitar for me which they were kind enough to oblige.      10393827_865928660100574_7458428394532123684_n Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars? At the present time, we‘re booked for a private function at The Balmy Beach Club at the end of September and we should announcing a date soon for The Edge in Ajax with Steve Boyle.

You can follow Southern Fried on Facebook.com/Southern-Fried

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  $45 pp (valid until Sept.5) then $65 pp

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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MUSIC FANS TO ENJOY A NIGHT OF ROCK LEGEND TRIBUTES IN OSHAWA

Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only line-up of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa.  Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus full bar and food service. And tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca (but watch for upcoming special promo codes for early-birds and group discounts).

This looks to be a fantastic night for fans of hard-driving rock, blues and southern rock so get your dancin’ shoes on and head out to Oshawa for this packed night of music and memories.

I recently spoke with the various bands and Blair Briceland, the vocalist from Thunderstruck shared his thoughts on performing the music of one of the most iconic hard rock bands in the world, AC/DC2678E4393C824D72A775264435F62395Blair, please tell me a little about Thunderstruck the band.  The power of Thunderstruck mirrors the pure strength, energy, and sound, of a live AC/DC show.  We formed in 2001 and have been touring for almost 16 years – we perform as detailed impersonations of each band member which includes the authentic guitars, amps, drums, and the trademark school boy outfit. This is a fun part-time group as we all work throughout the week; in fact, 4 of us own our own companies. Back in 2015, we were chosen to back up Dave Evans, the original singer for AC/DC, on his first Canadian tour!!! 384085AE83F74A348103ACF6652E90D1Thunderstruck is: Vocals: Blair Briceland, Lead Guitar: Rich Trevor, Rhythm Guitar: Chris Newman, Bass Guitar: Pete Stewart and on Drums: Niall Mellors.

What first inspired you to sing and perform like AC/DC?  When I was in a top 40 band in the 80’s, I was playing bass guitar and was the only one who could sing AC/DC. That’s when I decided to perform as a tribute band, giving fans an up-close experience in clubs.

The band has over 20yrs of combined experience playing rock – what keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans?  We have a good product…and we like each other. Most importantly, we have fun with it.A667E8289ADA426D9DAD5420C3ABF9FBHave you ever met any of the AC/DC band members, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them?  None of us have ever met the band…yet!

Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars?   A New Year’s Eve concert is in the works for the Niagara Falls area so watch for posters and promos.42072EF861A54887899F4383D12EF9C2I can’t wait to see Thunderstruck in person, as well as the other bands on the concert line-up. And if you’ve never seen Kenny Robinson (below) MC a show before…you’re in for a helluva lot of laughs – the guy is a rock star himself! Kenny

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

laffing 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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