Tag Archives: Toronto concerts

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CANADIAN MUSIC ICON MICHAEL WILLIAMS TO MC NEXT MONDAY’S “HEART & VISION” AWARDS CONCERT

I’ve known and worked with Michael Williams since the early 80’s when MuchMusic launched it’s all music TV channel across Canada. Michael was one of the founding veejays for Canada’s answer to MTV, covering live concerts and festivals and interviewing just about every living music legend we know. He’s pleased to be MC’ing the annual Heart & Vision Awards Concert, next Monday May 11 at the Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto. This year’s award recipients are Lt. General Romeo Dallaire and Dr. Mary Jo Leddy  (ticket information at end of story)

Michael Williams Fall 1986Before the internet made us all so easily accessible, Michael became a household name across the country for hosting the popular Soul in the City series for MuchMusic (80’s thru 90’s), which was syndicated in 19 European countries and Japan, as well as The Power Hour and Electric Circus, also on the MuchMusic TV network. Michael has interviewed politicians, newsmakers and international recording artists and filmmakers including Stevie Wonder, Whitney Huston, Quincy Jones, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi, Queen, Metallica, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, and Mark Wahlberg. (Below, with Quincy Jones, with young country star Hunter Hayes, with Nile Rodgers & Quincy Jones and with Oscar & Grammy winning composer/singer Paul Williams)

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Paul Williams and MWNow a dynamic, talented music producer and host of talk radio and music-related radio and television programs, Michael appears frequently on Toronto’s tv news networks and radio, sitting in as guest host for Newstalk1010 radio talk shows. Michael is also a much-in-demand host and MC for fundraisers and galas, and has introduced such world luminaries as the Dalai Llama and Lt.-General Romeo Dallaire.  He has assisted in the audio mix of Living Color, Ice T and Burton Cummings live to air concerts, co-hosted the World Music Video Awards and the Much Music Video Awards and been a Presenter at the Juno Awards.

As owner of Michael Williams Productions Inc. (1993-Present), he has:

  • Created, produced and hosted the College of Musical Knowledge for 94.7 the Wave, Soul on the Beach for Cool 96 FM, Nassau, Bahamas, and Beach Network, ON
  • Wrote, produced and hosted Live at the Pearl Company for Cable 14 Hamilton
  • Co-producer, writer and voice for ten film shorts, Millennium Promise Project
  • Voiced 24 x one-minute shorts for Black History Month for Rogers national TV network
  • Co-hosted Cookin’ with Guests on Jazz FM
  • Guest lecturer, Centre for Creative Communications, Centennial College, and Faculty of Music, York University
  • Designed, developed, produced and delivered Music Business Overview, an introduction to the history of the music business from sheet music to DVD, International Academy of Design & Technology
  • Produced the symphony, Afroadia, performed by the Brampton Symphony Orchestra
  • Author of a weekly column Soul Session published in Canadian Music Network Magazine
  • Hosted Urban Music Seminar at Canadian Music Week for two consecutive years

Michael recently spoke during Black History Month (2015) with long-time pal and collaborator, Spider Jones (pictured below)

MW,Spider JonesJoin Michael on Monday May 11th (7:30pm) as the Toronto United Church Council presents the HEART & VISION AWARDS CONCERT – there are still some tickets available for concert only and the concert & reception:  https://www.facebook.com/events/658101637629824/

If you would like to book Michael to host your fundraising event or concert, please contact me at FordhamPR@rogers.com

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OH WHAT A THRILL! The Mavericks deliver a new album & new tour

Twenty one years ago, I found myself sitting nervously in a Toronto hotel room waiting to interview a new band that had been tearing up the country music charts with an album that I loved. I could sing all the lyrics to every track, and I had the worst crush on their lead singer. The door opened…my heart pounded…and in walked The Mavericks, sadly, sans their brilliant vocalist Raul Malo who was resting his throat prior to their concert that night. Intellectually I understood, emotionally I was crushed, but after a few minutes of joking with drummer Paul Deakin and their then guitarist Robert Reynolds about their hit album  Oh What a Thrill, I was soon at ease and having a blast interviewing these two Mavs.

Skip ahead two decades and here I am again interviewing the band, this time for Cashbox Canada magazine. Paul Deakin and keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden talked about their new album, MONO, and their April 24th concert in Toronto. Now, with numerous music awards including Grammys under their belts, I was wondering how life and the music industry had treated the guys – read my interview here:  http://bit.ly/1bodHT0

Mono Cover Art SmallSo here we are on Friday night April 24th, at the Phoenix Nightclub in Toronto – my photographer Gabriella Luchetta weighed down with an array of cameras and me carrying a ton of memories of great Mavericks concerts and recordings. Sadly, the club promoters did not think things through….the audience was mature so you don’t expect 50 and 60 year olds to stand for 4 hours on a concrete floor – but the Phoenix did. Fortunately, the head of security responded positively to my plea for seating (I still have a bum knee from a winter ice slip-n-fall) and led me to the special section for those of us with “challenges” which, as you can see below, was quite delightful!

DSC08546Not to worry, my focus was the stage so I turned my back on this horrible sight and ignored the constant tinny thunks as empties were hurled into the bin alongside my chair!

First up, the opening act and oh boy, what a fantastic artist we got. The Whitney Rose Band marched onto the stage and kept us entertained for about half an hour with some sizzling country tunes. The talented and pretty young Canadian country music artist Whitney Rose (below) held the audience in the palm of her hand, performing tracks off her new album Heartbreaker of the Year, produced by Maverick’s leader Raul Malo. She apologized profusely to those in the front row for the shortness of her skirt, adding a cheeky “you’re welcome” to those wolf-whistlers further back!  www.whitneyrosemusic.com

??????????????????????????????? 20150424_203007The Mavericks then took the stage and spent the next two and a half hours driving us all crazy with hit after hit, new tunes off MONO and even some Patsy Cline and Neil Young covers, too.20150424_231829The energy from the band was infectious, especially when keyboardist Jerry stepped away from the keys and danced across the stage to audience cheers (below). Macho guitarist Eddie Perez strutted and posed with a little wink-wink to the audience, and drummer Paul twirled his sticks wildly in time with the back-up musicians (horn section, accordion, upright bass).

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???????????????????????????????But it was Raul Malo who everyone wanted to see and hear. Malo’s voice – tinged with more than a hint of Roy Orbison’s bright falsetto – is phenomenal; he’s been called one of the greatest voices in popular music by many music journalists and critics.  And when he stood alone at centre stage singing The Mav’s early hit, “Oh What a Thrill” followed by  Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”, the entire audience swayed in unison with many a tear-filled eye fixed on Malo.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????The Mavericks ended their show with a frenetic series of rock, New Orleans voodoo boogie, Tex-Mex and dance tunes filled with solos for each band member, and the crowd was well and truly spent. The audience of silver foxes was partying like it was 1999 – arthritis be damned!  The new CD, Mono, sold like hotcakes and everyone was grabbing t-shirts, bandannas and pins from the merchandise sales table. For more information about The Mavericks and their new album, Mono, please visit their website:  www.themavericksband.com.

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??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????I loved being there with The Mavericks.  Then sad concert was over….hope they come back real soon.

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Another story/concert review will appear in the May issue of www.TheRider.com 

Micah barnes concert

MICAH BARNES intro’s “NEW YORK STORIES” CD WITH CONCERT MAY 3RD

Am always thrilled when old friends do exciting new things and my friend, the extraordinary singer/musician MICAH BARNES is launching his latest CD, New York Stories, with a special concert this coming Sunday May 3rd at 7:30pm at the Glenn Gould Studio250 Front St. West in Toronto. Micah will be joined by musicians Daniel Barnes, Russ Boswell and Michael Shand, and his very special guest artist, Jackie Richardson.

Micah barnes concert 1Influenced by the musical sights and sounds of The Big Apple, the title track has already hit #1 on the iTunes Jazz chart and earned Micah the 2014 Indie award for best Jazz Artist in Toronto. New York Stories is being hailed as Micah’s finest work to date and an instant classic. The new CD will be available for purchase at the concert and Micah will be holding a meet and greet afterwards to sign copies.

micahbarnes_album coverConcert tickets are available here: http://bit.ly/1OwgBHA but be quick, they’re selling like NYC hotcakes!

And follow Micah on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/micahbarnesmusic  or his website: www.micahbarnes.com

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HEART & VISION AWARDS CONCERT takes place May 11th in Toronto

Do you know about Toronto’s annual HEART & VISION AWARDS? I didn’t until last year when my friends at UrbanSource Catering asked me to attend and blog about the fabulous concert and awards presented by the Toronto United Church Council (TUCC) – Urban was catering the post-concert reception.

20140512_184414(0) 20140512_212142In 2014, awards were presented to Shirley Douglas  and Jackie Richardson for their humanitarianism and commitment to social justice, and the concert was both moving and rousing with songs, speeches and lots of love being shared amongst the audience in the pews of the Metropolitan United Church on Queen St East in Toronto. I had the pleasure of chatting with some of the Church dignitaries, ministers, guests and, of course, the wonderful ladies who were honoured.   Pictured below: Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson being serenaded by her daughter, Kim (2014).

IMG_3425 IMG_3476This year, I’m privileged to undertake the publicity and promotions for the Heart & Vision Awards taking place May 11th, this time honouring Lt. General Roméo Dallaire and Dr. Mary Jo Leddy (pictured below). I recently spoke with Jim Patterson, TUCC’s Director, Resource Development and one of the event organizers.

?????????????? Mary-Jo-Leddy-2Jim, tell me what the Heart & Vision Awards are all about and how long they have been presented?  The Toronto United Church Council’s annual Heart & Vision Awards Concert celebrates a commitment to social justice and recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to social justice initiatives in Canada and internationally. They have been presented annually since 2009 and funds raised support Council’s work with children and youth and its work with social ministries in the GTA and south central Ontario.

The evening’s format is a concert.  It has gained a reputation as being an evening of stellar music with performances from some of the leading lights of Toronto’s music scene.  The reception is renowned for the sumptuous food catered by UrbanSource Catering.

20140512_212918 20140512_214936Who are some your previous recipients, and why? Previous recipients include Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson (2014), and in 2013 we honoured Margaret Atwood and the Hon. William G. Davis – below

IMG_8081 IMG_8043Maude Barlow and the Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes (2012) – below

IMG_0423-2…the Very Reverend Dr. Lois Wilson (below ctr) and Gordon Lightfoot (below right) in 2011….

Heart & Vision -20….as well as Dr. Cathy Crowe and the Hon. David McDonald (2010), and Rev. Gordon Winch and Norman Jewison (2009).

Our Heart and Vision recipients are political and church figures, popular musicians, film stars and directors, social and environmental activists, and writers.  Each has made a significant contribution to society’s quest for social and environmental justice.  For some the social justice connection is obvious – Cathy Crowe, for example, works as a street nurse and advocates for better care for homeless people and Brent Hawkes is a minister at Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church and a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights. Others, such as Gordon Lightfoot, Margaret Atwood, or Norman Jewison, have used their creative talent to highlight important social issues and inspire us to deeper empathy for others and respect for the natural world.

This year, you have two deserving recipients for the Heart & Vision Awards: Lt. Gen’l Roméo Dallaire and Dr. Mary Jo Leddy. Can you share the selection process and why these two humanitarians were chosen for 2015? Potential recipients are nominated by Council board members and other close friends of Council.  Each year a small committee chooses the recipients from the list of nominees.  For example, last year we honoured two women in the arts community (Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson) and the year before the recipients were recognized for their contributions to environmentalism (Margaret Atwood and the Hon. William G. Davis). Lieutenant-General Dallaire and Dr. Leddy are both advocates for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Lieutenant-General Dallaire is known for his work on genocide prevention, mental health and war-affected children and Dr. Leddy for her care and advocacy for refugees and the defense of their rights.

The Toronto United Church Council has coordinated the Community Relief Fund for over 120 years – how have the needs changed and how has the Church supported the communities involved?  The Toronto United Church Council is an historic and unique organization within The United Church of Canada. It was founded in 1892 as the Methodist Social Union, with a mandate to address social problems in the city. The “Union” – now the “Council” – oversaw mission and relief work in the city and its suburbs. It founded, owned, and operated the Victor Home for Women, now the Massey Centre (pictured below), where young women becoming mothers receive practical support. Similarly, the Council organized and managed the work of the Fred Victor Mission, which has provided food, shelter, and medical care to those in need since 1894.

massey centreBoth those organizations have become independent corporations with continuing Council support for their property and program requirements. During the depression, Council trucks distributed food and clothing to churches and missions to pass along to those in need. And early on, Council became involved in fresh-air camping programs for youth (pictured below).

campingToday, the Council continues to partner with and support social ministry endeavours of the United Church. Affordable housing projects such as Hillcrest Lodge in Orillia, community ministries like the Malvern Community Outreach Ministry, and social service ministries including the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, are in partnership with Council. In addition, Council partners with non-church organizations including Alpha Centre for men recovering from addiction and the Toronto Distress Centre.

Throughout this long history of ministry work, Council’s Community Relief Fund* has provided a conduit for individuals and congregations to share in the mission of partner agencies, missions, and congregations doing outreach in their local communities. From providing funding for appliances for food banks to bedding for women’s shelters, from setting up out-of-the-cold programs to providing venues for a hot meal program, the Fund has been there to help.

As Council’s oldest established fund, the Community Relief Fund continues to play an important role in shaping the ministry of Toronto United Church Council.  The Fund’s work demonstrates Council’s commitment to investing in social ministries that represent a breakthrough in local delivery of services rather than a breakdown.  In fact, since 1892, the Community Relief Fund has placed a very high value on investing its financial aid in projects and programs that promise solutions to some of society’s big problems.

Recently, much of the Fund’s energy has been invested in the work of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre in Regent Park.  That organization’s 40 Oaks project represents such a huge leap in the level of community service it provides to the homeless that Council was delighted to provide property, grants and financing to help ensure the success of the project.

What can attendees expect to see/hear at this year’s Awards concert Monday evening, May 11th?Attendees can expect an evening of soulful music featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers, Thom Allison and Jennie Such (pictured below). Musical Director Jason Jestadt has been coordinating the musical element of the evening since 2009 and each year the music is stellar.  Attendees will hear from the award recipients, Lieutenant-General Dallaire and Dr. Leddy.

Elmer_Iseler_Singers_Koerner_Photo_Bo_Huang Thom Allison Headshot headshotAnd a big thank you to all the enthusiastic volunteers (below) who dedicate time and energy to producing the concert each year, making sure all the technical and hospitality activities run smoothly. Bravo, team H&V!

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How can people get involved or support the Community Relief Fund if they can’t attend the concert?  Donations to the Community Relief Fund can be mailed to:
Toronto United Church Council
24-30 Wertheim Court
Richmond Hill, ON  L4B 1B9

*The Community Relief Fund makes grants to churches and to church corporations to help them renovate their premises to facilitate better delivery of social services to the communities they serve.

If you would like to attend this year’s Heart & Vision Awards Concert, Monday May 11th at the Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St East, Toronto. (Doors open 7:00pm), please visit  http://on.fb.me/1xTVDe7 for ticketing information, or visit the TUCC website: http://tucc.ca/

Thank you for supporting this outstanding philanthropic event that benefits all of us in the City of Toronto.

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