Tag Archives: live music

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A NIGHT OF ROCK LEGENDS PRESENTED BY BEST TRIBUTE BANDS IN CANADA

Rockers, and bluesmen and guitarists, oh my! What an amazing line-up of talented musicians I witnessed this past Saturday out in Oshawa for the first annual Durham Rock Tribute Band Festival presented by Sunrise Concerts and sponsored by local radio station CKDO-FM.

The roster included some of the best musicians I’ve seen play live, let alone their tribute material performed to perfection. The fans showed their appreciation with loud applause, screams and the occasional rebel yell after each hit and the bands gave back even more energy. So, now please meet my newest fave bands….

First on stage was SOUTHERN FRIED who performed the hits of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.

Then we had THE SRV EXPERIENCE with Dave Ryan out front channeling the virtuoso guitar playing of Stevie Ray Vaughan…

Then Gator James and his band BAD TO THE BONE brought George Thorogood to the festival stage….

One of my fave 80’s bands, Bon Jovi, was manifested by BON JOVI FOREVER and lots of ladies quickly hit the dancefloor…

To close the evening, AC/DC’s best interpreters THUNDERSTRUCK hit the stage and blew the roof off. For me, my Aussie connection to AC/DC made this a very special performance [Angus Young’s brother, George, was a founding member of legendary 60’s Oz band, The Easybeats…and I still have my 45’s from back them].

Big thanks to MC for the night KENNY ROBINSON (pictured below) who did a heroic job of keeping the show flowing – so tough for a comedian to work to a crowd seated waaaay back behind the dancefloor, but Kenny was in good humour all night (and got me home to Toronto by 3am!)20170916_190158Congratulations to local promoter George Kotsopoulos (pictured below left, with Kenny in the lobby of Gen’l Sikorski Hall) for staging this festival.20170916_191905And a nice thank-you to the lovely ladies from TicketPro.ca who started everyone’s night off with big smiles and a friendly welcome!20170916_205100(0)Thanks again to all the great musicians who contributed to a successful first-time festival…see you all next year!20170916_181643 20170916_181649 20170916_193826 20170916_210044 20170916_232550 20170917_001501

 

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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

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“BAD TO THE BONE” FRONTMAN GATOR JAMES PROUD TO PAY TRIBUTE TO BLUES LEGEND GEORGE THOROGOOD

BAD TO THE BONE was formed in the summer of 1993 by singer/guitarist Gator James and has been going strong ever since. Based in Oshawa, Ontario, this band is the only authentic George Thorogood to tribute band playing across North American, and they continue to attract and entertain audiences from coast to coast. The band has shared stages with many well-known recording artists over the years, for example: April Wine, Kim Mitchell, David Wilcox, Georgia Satellites, Sass Jordan, and many others.

On Saturday September 16th, they join other great tribute bands [The SRV Experience, Thunderstruck, Bon Jovi Forever and Southern Fried] along with host Kenny Robinson, the award-winning comedian and tv personality, t0 play Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival presented by Sunrise Concerts (details below).  I recently chatted with Bad to the Bone frontman and founder Gator James about life on the road portraying the rock/blues icon….BTTB 2017 PosterWhat first inspired you to sing/play guitar like George Thorogood?  I was doing “I Drink Alone” with a band I was touring with in the 80’s and when I came off the road and decided to put together a tribute band, one of the other members said my playing style and voice sounded a lot like him. So, we learned a few more songs and it really clicked.

Was rock/blues your first passion or were you a closet disco lover?   I’ve played many styles of music from classic rock to jazz, rhythm and blues to progressive rock. I always gravitated to music that makes you feel like moving and Thorogood fit the bill for me.

What keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans?   The feeling we get when we rock our audience and turn new fans onto George Thorogood.BTTB Pic 3Have you ever met George, and if so, what was your first comment/question to him?  I contacted Thorogood’s manager when I was forming the band and told him I would like to meet George to have him authenticate my poster when he was in Toronto. His manager told me George doesn’t like tributes so he said George probably would not comply. A few years later I got invited by a sound tech friend of mine to help him with staging at Toronto’s Government nightclub when George was playing there and I hung out with his guitar tech all day. I watched sound check and was even able to offer help as a stagehand during his show….. but was unable to get to him due to security. But at least he does know about us.

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?   All our festival shows are done for the summer and we only have a couple of club dates as I am busy with my other band The Gator James Band. But we’re definitely waiting on calls for more Bad to the Bone dates.

You can follow Gator and the band via their website: badtothebone.ca  and their Facebook Group Page.

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

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR NEXT MONTH’S “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL”

Last week, one of Toronto’s favourite watering holes, The Duke on Queen St East, played host to a special fundraising concert benefiting this year’s 14th Annual Beach Celtic Festival (Sept. 9/10) and festival founder SANDY GRAHAM was thrilled to welcome an exciting line-up of Celtic dancers and musicians to the stage.

MC  & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured musicians to take their bows.

MC & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured performers to take their bows.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers and that of the prize donors for the silent auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to help underwrite the costs for producing the annual festival celebrating the contributions made to Toronto’s history and growth by Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English immigrants.

Led by Meghan Bold, the lovely ladies from the Bold Steps Dance Studio entertained with traditional dances and clogging – the excited crowd clapped along in time.

Apart from MC’ing the evening, singer/songwriter Don Graham opened the night with some great tunes….20170822_195838…and he was followed shortly by roots musician Syd Simkins (below)…20170822_203237….and award-winning artist Lisa Hartt (below)20170822_205652The auction tables were pretty busy throughout the night, offering all sorts of treasures and treats.20170822_183041 20170822_183938MPP Arthur Potts (below) dropped by to wish Sandy and the Festival volunteers well…and shared a few funny stories with the audience. He and Sandy go waaaay back and she was delighted to pose for pictures with him.20170822_194407 20170822_195102Music insider and columnist for Cashbox Canada e-magazine (Sandy is publisher of this long-running music magazine), Lenny Stout (below, left) helped sell 50-50 draw tickets with Festival volunteer Fiona Lawson (right). 20170822_203358…they also helped Don with the draw. And the winner is…. Zita DaSilva who was obviously very excited about the result!20170822_220328Sandy was pleased to welcome reporter Courtney from Snapd newspaper (below left) to the event where she snapped lots of pictures of the performers including Brooke and Steve from Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.20170822_211243 20170822_213338Stephen Lamb (Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost) was, in fact, presented with the “Beach Celt of the Year” award honouring his contributions to the Celtic community and continued support of the Festival. Steve was later joined by Sandy and MPP Potts for photo opps.20170822_212210 20170822_195122

It truly was a grand night and the artists and audience all paid tribute to Sandy Graham for creating such a unique family-friendly annual event.  You can learn more at www.thecelticfestival.com

BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL
Sat/Sun September 9 & 10 and it’s FREE!
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in the Beach, Toronto

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“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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MEET SANDY GRAHAM, FOUNDER OF THE ANNUAL “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL” IN TORONTO

Way back in the late 70’s, I first met Sandy Graham (pictured below) who was running a fabulous nightclub called Route 66 on Jarvis St down near Dundas.sandyRoute 66 was a 50’s theme bar and dance club, sorta like Arnold’s on Happy Days but with a big dance floor instead of diner booths. Sandy held court there nightly, leading the talented waiters/dancers out on the dancefloor, getting the crowd up on their feet doing the triple swing, the stroll and even the hand-jive. During this time, I was running a similar club, Ollie’s, located inside the entertainment complex called The Ports of Call (or The Ports for short) up at Yonge & Summerhill. Instead of rivals, we became fast friends.

Skip ahead a few decades(!) and Sandy is still entertaining crowds but this time she is sharing her Celtic heritage and presenting an annual family-friendly festival as a tribute to her late mother who was an accomplished highland dancer and true-blue Scottish lass. So welcome to the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival!  www.thecelticfestival.comPosterEach September, Sandy hosts this 2-day party for Toronto’s Scots, Irish, English and Welsh descendants with lots of great musical entertainment, dancing, a vendors village where you can pick up all sorts of treats and treasures, and a great community spirit. I’m so pleased to help her promote this year’s event and I asked her to share her thoughts on putting on such a show…..

How did you come up with the idea for a festival celebrating Celtic heritage and culture in Toronto?My Mum (pictured below) passed away in Montreal on June 30, 2001 and because the next day was July 1st (Canada Day) we could not get to her in the funeral home until after the long weekend. I took a walk and ended up in Kew Gardens where the 48th Highlanders of Canada were performing and that was it. I knew I had to do a celebration in that park. It took a few more years and then September 2003 the Beach Celtic Festival was ‘born’.

Jemima Sutherland (L)

Jemima Sutherland (L)

BCF 9 MUMAfter 14 years, how has the event grown/changed since you first launched this unique outdoor ceilidh?    Originally, the Beach Celtic Festival was only supposed to be a one-off event, a celebration of life for my Mum. It was so successful that first year that we decided to keep going. It stayed as a one day event until 6 years ago and has now grown into a two day event. It is now embraced by the neighbourhood and beyond. It’s lovely to get emails from all over the world asking us about the Celtic festival.BCF 10 The CrowdBCF PIPERSYou are also hosting a fundraising event at The Duke tavern on Queen St East this Tuesday night (Aug. 22) – how expensive is it to produce a 2-day family festival in Kew Gardens?  And do you receive any government funding or corporate sponsorship to underwrite these expenses? The Beach Celtic Festival costs close to $10,000 to produce which includes permits, insurance, portable toilets, stage and sound requirements, expenses and publicity. We do not receive government funding and Kew Gardens is a public park and so it cannot have a gate entrance fee. I don’t think people realize how expensive it is and unfortunately there are restrictions to sponsorship as well.

Do your local Beach neighbourhood businesses support or contribute to this event that draws thousands of people to the area each year?  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 very 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.20140906_17155820140906_171621Over the years, what has been the most fulfilling experience you’ve enjoyed as producer of the Beach Celtic Festival?  There are times during the Celtic that I just stand on the gazebo and look around at the park and realize these are the same trees, the same baseball diamond, the same park my Dad ran around in as a little boy so it has come full circle. There is something magical to see the park full of people enjoying the Celtic ways and hearing all the accents. Smiles galore.BCF 7 Wee Ones DancingAny other comments you’d like to share?  Although the Beach Celtic Festival is my ‘baby’, it truly would not happen without all the love and support I get from everyone involved in the yearly production. Everyone rallies around to push it through year after year and I am eternally grateful for those people. From friends, family, talent and the Celtic Team (including yourself, Glenda) there is great comfort in knowing the Celtic Festival will be around long after I am gone as it is safe in the next generation’s hands. I also wish to extend a welcome to all nationalities to come experience some of the music, ways and wares of the Celtic Community.BCF 8 'Braveheart' BCF  Wee OneSo watch the skies over Kew Gardens for flying dragons…better still, come on down and bring the kids, bring granny, bring your BFF. The Beach Celtic Festival is FREE!

Saturday Sept. 9 & Sunday Sept. 10 (9am-6pm)

Kew Gardens,  Queen St East in Toronto

www.thecelticfestival.com

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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

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ALEXIS BARO BURNS UP THE LULA LOUNGE STAGE FOR CD LAUNCH!

Wow, what a night! Mother Nature threw down her mic and a ton of rain on the city, but inside Lula Lounge, Afro-Cuban trumpeter ALEXIS BARO and his Pueblo Nuevo Project band tore up the stage with two sets of hot hot hot Latin jazz.20160907_201439Launching his brand new CD, SUGAR RUSH, Alexis entertained a near-capacity house with new tunes as well as many of his previous hits. In fact, to celebrate the recent release of the official video for “Eres” from his Guilty Pleasure album, Alexis was joined on stage by Cuban hip-hop artist TELMARY (below) for the first ever live performance of their song. The crowd went crazy!20160907_220330Alexis and Telmary were interviewed by AfroGlobal Television (below) …..20160907_212110….and even Snap’d newspaper (below) came out to shoot the crowd enjoying the show20160907_203500A truly memorable concert…the fans left with smiles on their faces and copies of the Sugar Rush CD in their hands! You can get your own copy or download via Alexis’ website: www.alexisbaro.comAlexis_Baro_CD_FRONT cd insideYou can also catch Alexis performing tomorrow at The Rex (9:45pm) and Saturday at The Pilot (3pm), two of Toronto’s finest live jazz venues.

Big THANK YOU to the fabulous folks at Lula Lounge – one of the best teams to work with for live music presentation and promotion. www.lula.ca/  Just look how beautiful this venue looks even without people

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TORONTO’S AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ TRUMPETER/COMPOSER ALEXIS BARO TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM SEPT.7

The week after Labour Day is always a very busy period – it marks the opening of the annual Toronto International Film Festival and this year, Wednesday September 7th it also marks the date for the release of “Sugar Rush”, the new album from Toronto-based composer & trumpeter ALEXIS BARO, who celebrates the occasion with a concert at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St West, Toronto).  Released on the G-THREE label,“Sugar Rush” showcases Baro’s vibrant Cuban roots in every original track. “The entire idea…” Baro explains, “is to pay tribute to my ‘hood and the music around me that I grew up with, influenced by my environment and perspective.”posterThe award-winning Afro-Cuban artist has performed and recorded with a variety of artists David Foster, Paquito d’Rivera, Paul Shaffer, Andrea Bocelli, Omara Portuondo, Joey DeFrancesco, Gino Vannelli, Wayne Newton and Tom Jones.  He has been the opening act for Herbie Hancock and has led his own groups on tour across Canada, Europe and the West Indies._MG_1130“Sugar Rush was partly inspired by my last few trips back home visiting old friends and having the opportunity to perform again with some of my old schoolmates who are now touring around the world with some of the biggest names in Cuban music. It made me realize that the musical spirit is still alive in my home city of Centro Habana, and that my neighbourhood, Pueblo Nuevo, is still an inspiration to many writers and home to many musicians. By going back to my roots with this album, I’m able to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to every afternoon, and salute those who spread the Cuban sound all around the world.  

The neighbourhood of Pueblo Nuevo is in the centre of Havana and home to many of the most popular and accomplished Cuban musicians. “It’s surrounded by some of the most dangerous ‘hoods in the city and it’s this mix of social characteristics that makes Pueblo Nuevo a very interesting place to grew up and appreciate music from many perspectives.”  Alexis Baro   www.alexisbaro.comcd insideAll tracks on Sugar Rush were written by Alexis Baro (Sigueme was written with Yoser Rodroguez) and the album was recorded at Phase One & GMP Studios, Toronto and engineered by John “Beetle” Bailey & Josh Bowman. Alexis surrounded himself with some of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians who made up the Pueblo Nuevo Project including Jeremy Ledbetter (Keys), Roberto Riveron (Bass), Ahmed Mitchel (Drums) Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (Bata Drums), Jeff King (Tenor Sax), Adrean Farrugia, Yoser Rodriguez (Bass)…and others.20160812_202816Baro’s passion for his home and music makes for some very exciting listening – the music transports you to the streets of Havana, filled with hot Afro-Cuban jazz riffs and melodies.  14040029_10157485285130651_8990524417047283623_nTickets are $15 per person, available in advance from Lula Lounge: www.lula.ca/events/2016/sep/alexisbaro.html
Guarantee your seat and table with dinner reservations, too.lula-lounge-logo lmac logo crop 2014

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NATURAL LIVING WELLNESS CENTRE OPENS IN TORONTO with special appearance by GRAMMY-NOMINATED FLUTIST/COMPOSER RON KORB

I had the opportunity to attend the opening of the NATURAL LIVING WELLNESS CENTRE, Toronto’s newest pain management and natural wellness centre located at 200 Spadina Ave (between Queen W & Dundas W Streets). The Centre’s principal owner KEVIN HALL (pictured below L with massage therapist Andrew Foster RMT, ART, CST) invited his good friend and international award-winning recording artist RON KORB to come play for the guests so the flutist/composer obliged with excerpts from his brilliant Grammy-nominated album Asia Beauty.20160607_20085520160607_194526The Centre focuses on education as much as treatment, and aims to empower clients/patients with access to research, publications and seminars, and partners with allied organizations, doctors and other pain clinics across the country.  The beautifully appointed, loft-style offices offer 2,300 sq. feet of space dedicated to treatments, classes and consultation rooms, along with a well-stocked boutique carrying a wide variety of products for mind, body and spirit.20160607_191807 20160607_192037 20160607_192057But no smiling buddhas or incense sticks here – you’ll see clean urban design featuring exposed brick, dark wood floors, stylish lighting, elegant wall tiling and state-of-the-art equipment and fixtures. Services provided include: Chiropractic, RMT & Occupational therapy, music & art therapy, chronic pain support, cannabis education, hypnotherapy, integrative wellness services and products, group classes (yoga, nutrition, mindfulness) and guest speakers, plus a full teaching kitchen for those (like me!) who need a good kickstart to preparing & eating healthy food choices. Below, Kevin introduces everyone to the Centre and Ron’s performance….20160607_194223

….then I managed to wrangle Kevin’s very busy colleagues Lauri-Anne and Jessica (below L to R) into posing for a quick pic with Ron in between topping up the catering platters and greeting guests!20160607_192200Thank you to Ron for his invitation, and a big thanks to Kevin, Lauri-Anne and Jessica for your warm hospitality – I look forward to sharing your story as you grow the business. www.natural-livingcentre.com20160607_201219(0)