Tag Archives: music

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LEGENDARY ROCKER CAROLE POPE JOINS CHURCH OF TREES & ROB PREUSS FOR BRAND NEW SINGLE (released JAN 15)

Ottawa synthpop band Church of Trees has hooked up with legendary Rough Trade vocalist, Carole Pope, on a new single WORLD’S A BITCH. The single captures the global angst over the COVID pandemic and the desperate need for vaccine distribution. The JUNO award-winning Pope, who pushed the boundaries of sexuality and sexual politics both in Rough Trade songs and on stage, says “I think the song encapsulates how we’re all feeling about being locked down…and you can dance to it!”2021 Carole Pope & Bernard  FrazerWow! How great is it to see one of Canada’s iconic, game-changing artists stepping up when we need someone, anyone, to kick the collective arses of those national and provincial “leaders” who have been caught napping when it comes to vaccination roll-outs? Thanks to former Spoons/Honeymoon Suite keyboardist Rob Preuss (pictured below) who was working separately with both Pope and Church of Trees, he suggested that Trees’ frontman Bernard Frazer write something that might suit Carole’s voice. Frazer says, “I leapt at the chance. I’ve been a Rough Trade fan since the 70’s, and Carole’s voice has always resonated with me. So, to write for such a legend was a dream come true.”Rob-Preuss promo picI reached out to Bernard to ask him about the new single, hoping that Carole would also add her voice to the interview, and voila! This is what they had to say….

As professional musicians, how has Covid impacted your ability to stay connected with your fans and allow you to showcase/sell your music?
BF: Multi-member projects, like ours, aren’t able to physically get together to play things like Facebook Live events. So, unless you’re willing to compromise Covid protocols (which we’re not), you can’t get together to rehearse no less play a virtual gig. In that respect, it has been a big pain in the rear! However, we have been incredibly active producing new music and making it available digitally. So, we are able to connect with fans in that way. (Bernard Frazer, pictured below)BERNARD FRAZER Promo pic 2021 BCP: It’s difficult, we made a couple of socially distanced videos. One with BNL- I also released a couple of singles and have one more I’m working on. This really impacted my plans for Attitude, a musical I wrote with Kate Rigg which was supposed be workshopped at Buddies In Bad Times theatre. Because of that we’ve gone virtual and I’ve created a GofundMe page so fans can contribute and get involved in the creative process.

Obviously, touring is off the table until the pandemic is under control, so have either of you created or participated in any online concerts or have plans to do so?
BF: When things lifted a bit in the late summer, we were just starting to re-group so we could rehearse, but then the second wave started to rear its ugly head. So, we thought better of it.  If there is an opportunity, say after we get our vaccinations, we will definitely start rehearsing for some type of performance. We are itching to play live again.
CP: I had to cancel and postpone several live dates. We were part of NAC’s Canada Performs series and Tim Welch, my guitar player, and I have done one curated performance for a fan’s wedding and we’d like to do more. Since we couldn’t be inside, we shot a stealth video at the CNE grandstand. Carole1Now the world has access to music without setting foot in a record store (sadly) or having to purchase hardcopy CDs, vinyl, etc. has that opened up new markets/audiences to you as well as creative collaborations with int’l artists?
BF: Definitely. As synthpop artists, we have found a large, worldwide, “family” of synth-based artists who not only promote each other, but collaborate, as well. We’ve done several collaborations with Rob Preuss, who is now in New York City, as well as the electro-band Graflex from Manchester, UK. We are looking at future collaborations with an artist in the Netherlands, another in B.C., and a great electro-duo from Colorado. We have also discovered a fantastic group of internet and terrestrial radio stations and radio shows that solely promote electronic music. We now get played around the world, from the UK, France, and Germany, to the Netherlands, Japan, South Africa and Australia!
CP: I’ve been collaborating with people in Canada and the US for the past few years. I’m not great at promoting my work – I just want to make art, but am inspired by the connections Bernard has made. I will try to work my music more this year.Carole2.byLedaResurreccionjpegThere are so many opportunities to stream your music – which platforms do you prefer and where can fans find Church of Trees and Carole Pope?
BF: Church of Trees prefers churchoftrees.bandcamp.com because it enables the artist to recoup a reasonable percentage of sales (downloads and CD sales). But we also respect the fact that so many people prefer on-demand/playlist driven music. So, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and Google Play are great too.
CP: I’m on Bandcamp but do better on other streaming sites like iTunes and Spotify etc. I also sell merch on Teespring.com and my own website.

Carole, back in the late 70s & early 80s, you were instrumental in bringing excitement, danger and sexuality to live performance – in your opinion how do today’s music stars measure up with their sexualized performances? Do you think they overuse it to the point that the music/lyrics are only secondary?
CP: Some singers are unconsciously sexy like St Vincent and Billie Eilish, but a lot of artists throw it in your face and it’s like yeah whatever.  There’s some really bad factory manufactured cookie cutter shit out there. And don’t get me started on the lyrics. I find a lot of supposedly sexy songs forgettable and insipid. I’m a huge fan of my gurl Peaches who’s a great lyricist and very sexy performer who pokes fun at sexuality. I know I’m not mentioning any guys but I think they broke the sex mold when George Michael and Bowie (the most beautiful man ever) passed.

And Carole, other than this impressive collaboration with Church of Trees (and Rob Preuss & Jordon Zadorozny), are there any artists with whom you’d like to record/write?
CP:  I’ve worked with Peaches, Nona Hendryx, Dusty Springfield, Alain Johannes, Hawksley Workman and Rufus Wainwright, and tried to collaborate with Dave Gilmore on a Pink Floyd album (which didn’t happen) but would love to work with Bjork, Radiohead and St Vincent. A woman can dream.

Bernard, you’ve been guiding Church of Trees’ musical journey from its formation in 2017 to the upcoming EP “Pause” – can you tell me who were your early music influences? I hear perhaps a little early Brit synth/pop like Howard Jones or Thomas Dolby, and was wondering if you ever listened to Japanese pop/classic genius Ryuichi Sakamoto?
BF: I love Ryuichi Sakamoto. I listened to Yellow Magic Orchestra quite a lot in the 80s, and have followed Sakamoto’s solo career, including his film scores, over the years. I loved his scores for The Last Emperor and The Revenant. David Bowie is, perhaps, my all-time fave artist. I have listened to everything he has release, from the 1960s (Konrads, King Bees, Manish Boys) through to Blackstar. Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, OMD, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Soft Cell, Japan, and Gary Numan are all massive influences, as well.

 And finally, Carole, I was intrigued to learn of your upcoming (and very personal) theatrical project “Attitude: The Musical” based on the life of your brother, Howard (pictured below), a New York-based musician who died of AIDS in 1996. Will you be performing in the stage version or on the soundtrack album?  Or will you remain behind the scenes as writer/producer working with the director?
CP: Attitude is ever evolving so I might show up in the stage production but mostly I’m going to work behind the scenes. I haven’t thought about singing on the sound track but thanks for the idea.AttitudejpegWORLD’S A BITCH is available at: www.churchoftrees.bandcamp.com  … and all streaming services.

Follow Carole Pope at  IG: @carole_pope   Twitter: @carolepope   www.carolepope.com
Follow Church of Trees at   IG: @church_of_trees   Twitter: @churchoftrees   www.churchoftrees.com

A note of trivia: Back in the late 70s, Carole was my next door neighbour in Cabbagetown and I would frequently see superstar visitors walking up her path. I’d often sit on my tiny front porch with a cup of tea and wave across the flower beds. She and her Rough Trade partner, Kevin Staples, were the quietest, most polite neighbours you could ask for. Meanwhile, my house was ground zero for wild gatherings that included Second City & SCTV cast members, celebrity photographers, musicians – usually the band Songship which featured Catherine O’Hara’s sister Mary Margaret as lead singer (the band’s drummer Bruce Moffatt was one of my room-mates), and I occasionally played host to legendary skater and artist Toller Cranston who lived a few blocks away.

If you wanna learn (or remember) what it was like in Toronto back in the 70s and early 80s, pick up a copy of Carole’s tell-almost-all autobiography, Anti Diva.book

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LEONARD COHEN KOANS – 1 night only with Australia’s ALI HUGHES, presented by JANE SIBERRY

I’m thrilled to announce that Australian vocalist/recording artist ALI HUGHES is bringing her inspiring celebration of the spirit, music and poetry of one of the greatest songwriters of the modern age to Toronto for a 1-night only performance:  LEONARD COHEN KOANS, presented by Jane Siberry, takes the stage at Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St West, Toronto, on Sunday June 2nd (8:30pm)

This passionate, sensuous vocalist “more than embodies the energy that one expects from an evening celebrating Cohen”, her startling range and remarkable ability to hold the stage meeting this exceptionally well-crafted curation of Cohen’s poetry, prose and song – Avalanche, Chelsea Hotel #2, and the beloved Suzanne – to offer a stirring meditation on the legend and his legacy.AliHughes-Triad1128181(42)__.jpgPart-concert and part-homage, these exciting and original interpretations explore Cohen’s music through jazz, gospel and rock genres, cracking wide open the incredible musicality in his work. Intertwined with excerpts of poetry and prose, and delivered through the lens of his Zen Buddhist spirituality LEONARD COHEN KOANS weaves a new pathway into your experience of this glorious Poet of the Holy Sinners. Accompanied by masterful Toronto pianist ADREAN FARRUGIA, this electrifying, vigorous 90min narrative concert is Cohen like you’ve never heard before. Inspiring, passionate, intimate and sincere, Leonard Cohen Koans gives you another chance to savour the creative spirit with which he so exquisitely courted the world.

I recently spoke with Ali back home in Sydney, Australia, about the show and her career highlights as she prepares her 4-track EP featuring songs from the show (available for purchase on show night)…..

What is your musical background or training – were you a singer/performer during childhood or teens? I don’t have formal music training, as such – I learnt to sing via my parents’ record collection!  The Andrews Sisters taught me how to harmonize, Tina Turner taught me rhythm, Bette Midler taught me emotional range, Annie Lennox taught me vibrato control and Aretha taught me to sing out!!arethaI went to drama school in my mid-20s and in my graduating year met my creative collaborator, Daryl Wallis – he is an incredible musician and artistic mind – when we started playing shows together, I was always surrounded by highly skilled, older musicians. That environment really allowed my intuitive musicality to develop.
You’ve performed in Canada before – when/where might we have seen you?  You might have seen me singing backing vocals on tour with Jane Siberry sometime over the last few years; or at Ori Dragan’s lovely 120Diner with my collaborator Daryl Wallis and Toronto locals John Alcorn, Bucky Berger and Terry Wilkins. Daryl and I also played an awesome house concert in The Annexe (hoping to do it again!!) and were super lucky to play in Northern Ontario on the magical Manitoulin Island.ALI_2710So why Leonard Cohen? What was the inspiration for this amazing project?  Actually, this show was built for a project-based unit of university study.  A theatre director friend of mine had suggested I do an interpretation of Suzanne. I sat on it for a long time… waiting for the way in.  In January 2010, I did a creative intensive as part of some further theatre training at university. It was a super intense, incredibly challenging course, held in a remote area, led by a small older woman who had the energy of a dragon and the presence of a Zen master. Every day pushed the students closer to breaking through our self imposed artistic limitations, and every evening ended in an exhilarated exhaustion and deep sleep. One night when I was super exhausted and almost asleep, I started hearing beautiful chords in my mind and realized they were the way into an arrangement of Suzanne! I made notes, called Daryl straight away and we started working on the arrangement as soon as I returned to Sydney. We played the arrangement at a show the following week and I knew something else was coming.LeonardI had the opportunity to do another unit of study with that same teacher. I made the proposal to create a show using only the words and works of one artist (none of my own personal patter, so to speak) and started devouring Cohen’s work. Researching his Zen Buddhist spiritual practice offered an entirely new way for us to conceptualize celebrating his work. The result is a unique experience of Cohen’s work which is accessible to Cohen devotees and newcomers, practitioners and non-practitioners of meditation, and people who just want to hear some really great music.
You’ve sung back-up with some pretty amazing artists (k.d. lang, Suzanne Vega, Rufus Wainwright) so why step into the spotlight now? What was the push that propelled you to take charge up front?  Being up front isn’t really new to me, I’ve always sung lead on projects at the same time as doing backing vocals on others. I love doing both. I love blending with another voice as a backing vocalist. When you’re really connecting energetically and vocally with someone, you feel you’re moving together like a murmuration of starlings.  And leading a room is an altogether different feeling – but has a similar sensibility to it in that, for me, its about opening oneself in order for the music resonate with the audience in all the ways it needs to.
A previous musical collaborator and Canadian icon, Jane Siberry, is presenting your concert – how cool is that? Did she approach you or visa versa?  Ah, my gosh, it’s the coolest. Jane is extraordinary – she is a close friend and such a huge supporter of this show; she saw an opportunity for us to work together in Toronto and she made it happen.Jane-SiberryOf all Cohen’s songs, are there one or two that you can relate to on an emotional level or that inspire you intellectually?  One or two?? Ha! Ok, I’ll try to keep it at one or two. Suzanne – I have a deep resonance with that song. My favourite line, ‘you know that she’s half crazy – that’s why you want to be there’. and, of course, Dance Me to the End of Love – there’s nothing I can say.
What can Toronto audiences expect to see/hear at the Leonard Cohen Koans show?  Audiences can expect to see a tall Australian woman singing some beautifully and dynamically arranged interpretations of Cohen favourites, including Chelsea Hotel #2, Sisters of Mercy, Suzanne and Famous Blue Raincoat, and some less well known tunes like The Guests and The Butcher, interwoven with a little spoken word and some story telling.  Jane Siberry will be performing as our very special guest opening act, and will also be moderating an artist Q&A session with me at the end of the show so make sure you stay for that.on stageAnything you’d like to share with those Leonard Cohen fans considering buying a ticket?  I am so happy you’re thinking of joining us at Hugh’s Room, and I really hope you decide to come along. We are excited to be just moments from releasing a 4 track EP, titled ‘TEA & ORANGES’. It’s our first recording of tunes from the show – you can find information about the EP, Leonard Cohen Koans, and also about Daryl and myself at www.bigsbabs.com or by connecting with us via our Facebook band page, Ali & the Thieves.

Inspiring, passionate, intimate and sincere, LEONARD COHEN KOANS gives you another chance to savour the creative spirit with which he so exquisitely courted the world.

WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
Heart-stopping” (www.theatermania.com)
Spine-tingling” (SX Magazine)
“… Hands down the best I’ve ever heard!” (nytheater.com).
“…  Sensual, enigmatic… intense warmth, startling range.”  -Veronica Hanlon, SX Magazine
“… Exceptionally well-crafted…3 1/2 stars out of 4 “ – Michael Giltz, Huffington Post NYC

Get your tickets now for Sunday June 2nd from www.HughsRoomLive.com  $40 Advance/$45 at doorposter

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JOIN CIUT 89.5FM RADIO SPRING MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN WITH THE HOSTS OF “HOWL!”

Over the past three decades, I’ve had the privilege of working with the hosts of CIUT radio’s “Howl!” spoken word/music show (Tuesdays, live at 10-11pm) who have interviewed numerous clients of mine, supported events I’ve promoted and I’ve even appeared on-air myself chatting about life as an arts publicist.  Howl! is one of the few live media platforms available to local Toronto artists to promote their creations and performances, and as CIUT 89.5FM is holding it’s annual Spring membership drive May 8-14, I would like to encourage all my readers/followers to kindly support this amazing grassroots radio station.CIUT-30th-HelveticaNeueCondensed-WhiteOnBlackNancy Bullis and Valentino Assenza share hosting duties, alternating on-air duties each week. They have welcomed poets, authors, musicians, actors, theatre folk, songwriters – all sorts of entertainers who add to our city’s cultural landscape. Please join them Tues. May 9th between 10pm and 11pm and call-in or log on to the CIUT website to donate (details at end of this story)

Above - Valentino, Nancy & studio engineer Robert

Above L to R – Valentino, Nancy & studio engineer Robert

“It is an honour, a privilege and a sheer joy to prepare for and interview writers and artists in Canada of all genres to showcase their work on HOWL,” Nancy told me. “The radio is a great place for them to introduce new work and CIUT 89.5FM provides for this opportunity. A conduit is available here for, as you say, Glenda, “the grassroots promotions & media opps for emerging artists via HOWL!” Exactly! I think that society would be a dismal place without music, poetry, spoken word and the other arts to help us understand who we are and for artists of all kinds to express themselves. I’m a big believer in Kurt Vonnegut’s “canary in the coal mine theory of the arts.” It truly is my pleasure to be part of HOWL, CIUT 89.5FM since December 1999.” 

And Valentino added….  “For me, life is about words, and so I make HOWL! about words too.  Whether it’s a series of them that make up a novel or a cool poem, sound lyrics in a song, HOWL! is about words, and how powerful they are, and I like to expose the people that transcend words through their art.”

20150623_223457Above, Nancy interviews Grammy-nominated flutist and composer Ron Korb prior to his departure for LA and the Grammy red carpet. And below, she’s with Cuban jazz trumpeter and composer Alexis Baro whose CD launch was the following weekend.20160719_215957Before Nancy and Valentino took the helm at Howl!, the show was the sole domain of legendary poet, artist and musician Nik Beat (pictured below).  I remember working closely with Nik back when the CIUT studios were located in an old Edwardian house on St. George St…up 2 flights of rickety stairs, into the rafters.  Nik was one of the first people in the city to support poetry and spoken word performers and he and I just clicked when we first met at one of my Scribes & Muses! (or S&M for short…LOL) performances back in the late 80’s. I headed up an artists’ collective of writers, poets, musicians who performed live around the city – Nik was the only media host who gave us on-air time. Needless to say, I am indebted to Nik and Howl!/CIUT for the successes that came from those early days.NikSo to honour Nik and all those artists he helped over the years, and for Nancy & Valentino’s ongoing weekly showcase, please reach out and support the station which supports the artists. Thank you.

CIUT 89.5 FM SPRING 2017 MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
Presenting the Sound of Your City for 30 years
On Air Campaign Runs May 8-14
Your contributions and support have kept CIUT thriving for 30 years and we want to continue to be the sound of your city for another 30 + years!
Donations can be made right now by simply clicking on the Donation button on the website www.ciut.fm
Phone lines are open 6am-2am 416-946-7800 OR 1-888-204-8976
Show your support on this 30th anniversary because we can’t do it without you!
GOAL: $60,000 Total so far: $2,700

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NICEST GUY IN CANADIAN SHOWBIZ CELEBRATES 5th ANNIVERSARY AS ARTISTIC DIR. @ PEMBROKE’S FESTIVAL HALL

With so many live music and entertainment venues closing on an almost weekly basis across the country, Pembroke’s 600-seat FESTIVAL HALL is steadily building audience attendance and presenting line-ups that include music legends, current hit-makers, orchestral recitals and outrageous comedy shows that are the envy of show promoters in major cities. And the person largely responsible for this outstanding achievement is Artistic Director (and my dear friend) RICK WHARTON who celebrates 5 years at the helm next month, April 2017.b&wAfter starting his showbiz career as a comedian at Yuk Yuk’s and Second City, Rick created his popular television character “The Conspiracy Guy” on SPACE: The Imagination Station. Rick then spent 20 years in the Canadian music industry, working with Universal Music where he began as the liaison between record company, radio and retail – he helped maximize profile and value of the company’s music catalogue; marketed, tracked and promoted influential recording artists including The Tragically Hip, U2, Guns’n’Roses, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Rik Emmett, Alanis, Pursuit of Happiness, Michael W. Smith and others. He was quickly promoted to Head of Promotion in Ontario. Independently, he has also helped develop and manage the careers of many musicians as well as handled production and marketing duties.

with Alanis Morissette

with Alanis Morissette

Flanked by Aerosmith

Flanked by Aerosmith

Stepping into the role of Artistic Director at Festival Hall in 2012, he spearheaded the revival of the Hall by attracting big name performers from all music genres, comedians, classical recording artists, as well as celebrity guest speakers and supporting local theatrical groups. Some of the artists to grace the stage under his direction include:  Gord Downie, Matt Dusk, Rik Emmett, Randy Bachman, John McDermott, Gowan, Michael Burgess, Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, Lunch at Allen’s, Sab and the Family Band, Malcom Burn and The Spoons , The Barra McNeils . Country stars Marty Stuart, April Verch and Corb Lund. Comedians Gerry Dee, Glenn Foster, Ron James, Derek Edwards, Carla Collins, Mary Walsh, the comic ensemble Women Full Clothed, as well as hosting the Canadian Comedy Awards’ Funniest Person In The Valley show.  He has also opened the doors to many theatrical events and Festival Hall is now home to local theatre groups.

I want people to experience the wonder of what the theatre offers. The magic of taking you away from life’s problems for a little while theatre can change and affect lives for the better.   Rick Wharton

Pembroke-Festival-Hall-Interior-1-1024x684Pembroke’s Festival Hall Centre for the Arts (above) is the largest performing arts centre in the Ottawa Valley. Through theatre, music, dance, storytelling, comedy, visual arts and educational programming, Festival Hall fosters artistic and historic awareness.   Since 2012, the hall has hosted over 55,000 theatre patrons for hundreds of productions that reflect the rich cultural diversity of the region. It’s also home to the Streetlight Theatre Company, Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, Kiwanis Music Festival, UTurn, and the Sears Drama Festival.

Rick and I go way back to the early 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto – he was a frequent performer there. When I left to open my own talent & media relations agency in 1986, I would often run in to him backstage at the various concerts and tours I worked. One of my fave photos is this one (below) where Rick unexpectedly “photo bombed” me when posing with Monkee Davy Jones. Hey hey, it's Davy Jones with GlendaRick has often worked with leading comedians such as Rick Mercer and the late great Robin Williams (below)
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wharton and williams…and he’s remained close friends with Canadian guitar god, Rik Emmett (below) with whom he’s worked on numerous tours and celebrity appearances.rikemmettCONGRATULATIONS, Rick, on reaching this milestone anniversary at Festival Hall…and thank you for supporting so many Canadian artists as well as securing the big name acts for your stage. Bravo, Spudman, and wishing you many more years as the impresario of Pembroke!spaceDuring Rick’s fifth anniversary month, Festival Hall presents the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra’s We Got Rhythm on Saturday Apr. 8th, int’l recording star John McDermott (Raised on Songs and Stories) on Friday Apr.28th and Whiskey Jack performing Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom on Saturday Apr.22nd. See www.festhall.ca for details of these and other April concerts.