Tag Archives: Toronto

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AUSSIE CHANTEUSE ALI HUGHES to unveil “TEA AND ORANGES” EP @ LEONARD COHEN KOANS CONCERT SUNDAY JUNE 2, HUGH’S ROOM

Just in time for her upcoming concert at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, ALI HUGHES will be bringing her live recording of 4 songs from her highly successful 90 minute tribute concert LEONARD COHEN KOANS  with her so Toronto audiences will be able to enjoy her voice and arrangements of Cohen’s legendary ballads long after she returns home Down Under. I spoke with her last week and asked about the recordings….

You’ve just completed recording your new EP, TEA AND ORANGES, containing 4 tracks from your Leonard Cohen Koans project – tell us about the experience of working in-studio on your own project? It was wonderful – the musicians on the album have been playing this show with us for a long time. Bassist Michael Galeazzi has played with Daryl and me since the inception of the show, backing vocalist Gerard Carroll joined in 2011, and Michael Quigley (Quigs) started playing drums and percussion with us in 2016. There’s a kind of shorthand when you play with people for a long time and we recorded the entire EP in 5 hours!

recordings are done!

recordings are done!

I wanted the recording to carry the vibe of our live show, and so we recorded live in one room together with Sean Carey at Church Street Studios in Camperdown, Sydney. That’s the way it used to be back in the day – big bands, everything….I LOVE that, and Sean helped make that happen. I hope you’ll come see & hear for yourselves at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on June 2nd

Sean Carey

Sean Carey

Our arrangements are quite dynamic which made for a few obstacles, but everyone was on their A-game. I had a quick listen with Sean in the booth after the recording session – he’d just given a quick general mix and I couldn’t believe how he made it work so beautifully. And I must give a huge shout out to Sean Carey and the team at Church Street Studios for their recent Emmy Award win – they won in the category of outstanding sound mixing on a preschool animation on Beat Bugs.

Engineer Sean Carey and assistant Matt getting the bass mic'd for Michael Galeazzi

Engineer Sean Carey and assistant Matt getting the bass mic’d for Michael Galeazzi

The musicians who recorded with you – have you worked with them before and what did they bring to the recording sessions?   Yes, we’ve played together for a long time; they’re all incredible musicians with many other beautiful projects. I love playing with them, and I’m so lucky they always say yes when I call :>)  Every time we play Leonard Cohen Koans we find a new depth, especially in Suzanne where we open out into quite a free rave in the second half. This recording was no different – the sensitivity and the boldness of these musicians is extraordinary.
Michael Galeazzi is a member of the ARIA* award winning Karma County and played on Indigenous Australian legend Jimmy Little’s ARIA award winning album, Messenger. He and Michael Quigley have a super long history together playing in APRA nominated jazz outfit Java Quartet and Quigs is involved with Australian/Japanese experimental project Enough to Escape; Gerard Carroll is a highly talented vocalist and actor with a long theatre credit list including on the Australian cast of Once directed by Tony Award winning director John Tiffany, as well as recording and touring with Keegan Joyce on Snow on Higher Ground; and the spectacular Daryl Wallis‘ vastly varied career includes playing piano for Barrie Kosky’s Women of Troy as well as being an integral player in CIRCA’s regional Australian piano based verbatim storytelling show, Reclaimed Pianos.
*Australian Recording Industry Association music awards

Michael Galeazzi

Michael Galeazzi

Gerard Carroll

Gerard Carroll

Michael Quigley

Michael Quigley

Did you have a personal hand in the production process or did you relinquish full control to your producer/engineer?   Daryl and I had a very strong vision for the recording, and Sean’s sensitivity and clarity helped to enhance it beyond what I thought was possible.

Ali's long-time collaborator Daryl Willis

Ali’s long-time collaborator Daryl Wallis

Why “Tea and Oranges” – where did that title come from?   The reference to ‘tea & oranges’ is from the first verse of SUZANNE – he’s observing and feeling at the same time, and his description of her feeding him tea & oranges is one of the divine in the ordinary….exquisite.

Will “Tea and Oranges” be available for sale at your Toronto performance, June 2nd?    Yes! CDs will be on sale for $15 and I’ll be around after the show to say hi and autograph copies.cd coverLEONARD COHEN KOANS – presented by Jane Siberry
Sunday June 2 @ 8:30pm
HUGH’S ROOM, 2261 Dundas St West, Toronto
www.hughsroomlive.com
Tkts: $40 advance / $45 at the doorToronto poster

Toronto poster

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

SOFT LIGHT IN THE GLOAMING by Lori Ryerson for OFF THE BEATEN PATH April 2019 at URBAN GALLERY

LORI RYERSON’s solo show “OFF THE BEATEN PATH” runs thru April 27 at URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Yesterday, Saturday April 13th, Urban Gallery’s artist of the month LORI RYERSON (pictured below) hosted a meet-the-artist event after her big launch reception last week. Lori Ryerson Photo Portrait 2018Those fans who couldn’t make it for the grand opening of her show “Off the Beaten Path” poured into the gallery and another photographic artwork was quickly sold…red dot firmly affixed to one of my personal favourites, “Tears of a Peacock” (below)20190413_150833Most of the photographs featured in Lori’s show illustrate the remoteness and emptiness of spaces in far off lands…Sea to Sky-393 SKYFIRE by Lori Ryerson for OFF THE BEATEN PATH April 2019 at URBAN GALLERY The House with the Red Roof-145My photography is usually the result of serendipity. I look for an alignment of things that convey a story, for the narrative in abandoned urban landscapes. I try to capture what silence looks like. These are the stories I tell through my lens. – Lori Ryerson, 2019

Here’s Lori to tell you about the show in her own words:

Lori enjoyed sharing her inspirations and travel stories with gallery visitors….20190413_123713…and Lori’s sister, Lisa, dropped in to wish her well with the show (below)20190413_144824…as did her fellow artists and friends20190413_152508Over the years, Lori has amassed a huge portfolio of photographs, many of which have been compiled into books that her fans appreciate and stand in line to purchase at her shows…20190319_133415 20190319_133545 20190319_133459Off the Beaten Path runs until April 27th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto (just 1 blk E of Parliament). Gallery hours and directions: www.urbangallery.ca

If you’d like to learn more about the artist, follow her on social media or visit her website: www.focalocity.ca20190403_125949(0) 20190403_125915

 

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DISCOVERING NEW TALENT & OLD FRIENDS @ THIS YEAR’S “ARTIST PROJECT”

I spent the afternoon cruising the aisles of this year’s ARTIST PROJECT Contemporary Art Fair taking place this weekend in the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place, Toronto. Thanks to Nancy Bennett for the comp ticket, I made a beeline for her booth #939 (I started at the back of the hall, saw her first, then worked back towards the front for an easy getaway!).

Here’s Nancy (at R), busy as always in her booth welcoming visitors including fellow artist Libby Sims (far L)…20190222_120005 20190222_120835 20190222_120928…really liked her latest piece (above) titled Ferry Trails, inspired by the chilly waters of Lake Ontario in front of her downtown condo, with all the wake trails from the harbour ferries. Check out more of Nancy’s work at: www.nancybennett.ca

Further along the aisles, I stopped to admire the gorgeous photographs of the white horses of the Carmargue (France) by Robert Postma (below)  See more of his herd at www.robertpostmaphotography.com20190222_114632Ilinca Ghibu (below) brought an early spring to Toronto with her beautiful & delicate florals. www.ilincaghibu.com20190222_113738Here’s the delightfully quirky Zoey Zoric who is showcasing her “hands” series this year.  www.zzfineart.com20190222_115432AreYouHereLast year, I purchased one of Mirek Bialy‘s stunning acrylic and copper works similar to those below, and this year he’s back with some new creations incorporating specially treated dried fruit & plants as well as pyramids.  www.mirekbialy.com20190222_121903 20190222_121950Mark Gleberzon was busy chatting with booth visitors so I shot around him so as not to interrupt…I’ve been a longtime fan of Mark’s work, his sense of humour and the way he tweaks our artsy-fartsy sensibilities.  Long live Barbie!  www.mjggallery.com 20190222_122124 20190222_122134Opposite Mark’s booth, I wandered over and introduced myself to west coast artist Sherri Rogers whose colourful cityscapes feature street artists’ work. www.sherrirogers.com 20190222_124832Another longtime fave of mine is Morgan Sheardown (below) who was busy chatting with visiting art students…he’s the perfect mentor as he’s achieved so much success thanks to his great marketing skills as well as artistic talents. www.morgansheardown.com20190222_130123Ellen Cameron is another accomplished equine photographic artist – just look at these gorgeous portraits, you can almost hear them whinnying! www.ellencameron.com20190222_130403 20190222_130416Victor Molev is adorable as well as talented…his unique surreal paintings bring out the childlike wonderment in all of us. He’s got an open house studio event March 16 (10am-5pm) in Richmond Hill so visit his website for details and to see more of his extraordinary work.  www.victor-molev.pixels.com 20190222_122338I made an instant new friend when I walked into Linda Simopoulos‘ booth.  Such a warm, open and talented individual and boy, does she have a story to tell. Anyway, I fell in love with the piece below (second photo) and I hope to welcome it to its new home soon! If you go to the show, tell her I sent you and do check out her website: www.lindasimopoulos.com 20190222_123726 20190222_123445Another new artist I discovered is Dalia Elcharbini whose work is more bling’d out than Cardi B!! Gold leaf adorns her large format portraits and if you look closely, you’ll marvel at the intricacy and sensitivity of her work. Tell her I sent you if you visit the show, and her website is: www.daliaelcharbini.com. (It may not be terribly PC to say so but she’s as cute as a button, too!).20190222_130827More fabulous photography, this time from Lori Ryerson (below) who has a solo show coming up in April at Urban Gallery (www.urbangallery.ca) in Toronto. Here Lori explores the beauty of remote locales such as these from Iceland.  For more information, www.focalocity.ca 20190222_140443My big discovery this year is Steven Hasegawa – this was his first time at the Artist Project but I’m sure it won’t be his last. This Japanese Canadian artist is inspired by the Samurai helmets and armour of ancient Japan, and his work really resonated with my own personal obsession with all things Japanese.  His large format colourful paintings are quite extraordinary and I hope to interview Steven for my arts blog, FlyontheGalleryWall.ca soon.  Visit his online gallery at: www.stevenhasegawa.art 20190222_143306 20190222_143324 20190222_143302Finally, what’s an art expo without a visit to the booth of Kate Taylor?! Kate has an exciting new project coming up – to learn more, visit www.Creative-Adventures.ca  In the meantime, you can view her work in person at the show or at: www.katetaylorstudio.com 20190222_14361320190222_143621Lots more to see and experience so I encourage you to visit The Artist Project 2019.
www.theartistproject.com
@ArtistProjectTO

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INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED FLAUTIST/COMPOSER RON KORB DEBUTS 20th SOLO ALBUM IN TORONTO

Last night (Wed. Oct.17), Grammy-nominated and internationally acclaimed RON KORB delivered a sizzling show from the stage of Toronto’s Jazz Bistro, introducing tracks from his latest solo album, WORLD CAFE, showcasing Latin-themed original instrumentals. Ron was joined on stage by world-renowned musicians who also played on the album: Bill Bridges, Bill Evans, Steve Lucas and Larry Crowe, with special guests Hilario Duran (piano) and Joseph Macerollo (accordion).

That same day, nomination ballots for this year’s Grammy Awards were also distributed to academy members around the world and all fingers are crossed that Ron receives another Grammy nod like his previous album, Asia Beauty.
In World Café, Ron takes us to sunny Spain, the island of Cuba, and the alluring lands of South America where he merges a rhythm from one region with a melody inspired by another. World Café represents a meeting place where people from many cultures can intermingle, laugh and make friends in a relaxed space – much like his own multicultural Toronto where this album was recorded.world cafe final cover   small-450px-72dpiback cover World cafe SMALLThe packed audience at Jazz Bistro swayed to the rhythms and there was a lot of chair dancin’ during the two sets;  the show must have blown up on social media based on all the phone cameras held high to catch the action….like this beautiful accordion solo from Joseph Macerollo…

The evening was hosted by the always-charming Miss Ziggy Lorenc (Zoomer Media) who many in the crowd remembered from her Citytv days – Ziggy now hosts a nightly show during the week on Zoomer Radio AM640 called Stardust and Midnight Blue. Here she is (below, L) with friend Barbara (R) and on stage MC’ing the show.20181017_193227 20181017_205555As for many of Ron’s albums, the cover and accompanying 24-pg full colour booklet was designed by his talented wife, Jade, seen here (below, R) with fans. 20181017_185417 not for publicThis next brief video was hard to shoot – all I wanted to do was dance!! So please pardon my cha-cha-cha moves and enjoy another brief taste of World Café here:

Ron’s final set resulted in multiple encores and lots of CD sales with some audience members purchasing multiple copies as presents for friends and family! 20181017_215339To learn more about Ron, listen to World Café and previous albums, visit www.ronkorb.com or you can download World Café from Spotify, iTunes or Amazon. Thank you for supporting Canadian musical artists.

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GRAMMY NOMINATED RON KORB RELEASES 20th SOLO ALBUM “WORLD CAFE” WITH OCT. 17TH CONCERT IN TORONTO

Three years ago, internationally acclaimed flutist & composer Ron Korb‘s album “Asia Beauty” was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age Album category. Ron has just released his latest album, “WORLD CAFE”, this time with a distinct Latin flavour, and it has been receiving a lot of attention from international music media as well as fans, and is rising quickly on various music charts. back cover World cafe  smallRon’s previous albums have garnered critical and popular acclaim from around the world; he’s shared many musical journeys, from the wonders and mysteries of Japan and China, to the infectious joy and tender melancholy of Celtic song and dance. For his World Café album, he takes us to sunny Spain, the island of Cuba and the alluring lands of South America. He explores how things sound when crossing a rhythm from one region with a melody inspired by another. All the music is played by living, breathing musicians (no computer generated tunes here!) including renowned award-winning jazz, world and Latin musicians Hilario Duran and Johannes Linstead, with an emphasis on using acoustic instruments.

Here’s a quick taste of World Café …..

I recently sat down and chatted with Ron (fittingly, in a cafe) and asked him a few questions about his music….

With a personal collection of 250 flutes, your reputation as the “king of flutes” is well earned – which instruments did you play on this latest album?  In World Café, the main instrument is my concert flute but I also used some Asian bamboo flutes and the ocarina on some tracks. I was also able to experiment with the Ellis-Korb flute mouthpieces that I’ve been developing with California flute maker Geoffrey Ellis. With the different cuts and various hardwoods we used, I could tailor the sound for each piece. It has been a long 6 year project creating the holy grail of embouchure designs and now Geoffrey and I are very excited about what we‘ve achieved together.DSC02624seasideYour previous album for which you received a Grammy nomination, Asia Beauty, explored Asian musical themes. What made you choose to record this latest album in the Latin style?  World Café has been very well received but it has taken everyone by surprise, especially listeners who have just discovered my music in recent years. Older fans know I’ve already written and performed tunes like Casco Viejo, La Sirena, Desert Night and Dark Eyes. Even back in my student days I often would write tunes that had a Spanish flavour. Latin music is the rhythm of the heart and I had been looking forward to making an upbeat album with a Latin theme for many years. Now when I look at the finished physical CD I can hardly believe it is finally manifested. It’s like a dream come true and I’m very happy with the production and the way it sounds.not for publicHow did you created the music for this album?  For the last decade I have been writing songs with pen and paper. I have books of manuscript paper full of hand written sketches and ideas. When I’m away from home and an idea pops into my head I will just sing the melody or beat box the rhythm on to my phone and transcribe it later. After the musical phrases have had time to ferment, I revisit them and discard the less than brilliant sketches and focus on the melodies that have real magic. Some songs come together very quickly and others take years to find the right contrasting section.  It’s always possible to finish off a song quickly but to write something really special takes a lot of time and effort.

It must be very rewarding to hear the completed album – what was the most enjoyable part of recording World Café?  I would say the most rewarding aspect about making World Café is collaborating with the musicians. It is amazing to hear the songs come alive when you workshop it with a band. In the past, I used midi and computer software quite a lot but since doing my Ron Korb Live album in Quebec in 2004, I gradually transitioned to being completely acoustic. It’s far more expensive to work that way but I prefer the result. Working with legendary Cuban pianist Hilario Duran and guitarist Johannes Linstead was a particular highlight. When I wrote the song Hilario, I didn’t really think that he would record it. Again, this is like another dream come true. After I contacted him, Hilario invited me to his place and I showed him the song. He immediately liked it and suggested some Cuban players to join us on the recording. It was really a thrill to work with such authentic players.

Being so musical, you must play other instruments – which ones?  Concert flute, bass flute, penny whistle, low whistle, shinobue, dizi, xun, bawu, Cambodian pie pook, ocarina. I play piano just enough for composing and songwriting. I also have sung backing and some lead vocals professionally.VIL0_XIw

On October 17th, Ron will be presenting World Café to a live audience for the first time. Performing at Jazz Cafe in Toronto, Ron will be joined on stage by an exciting group of musicians including Bill Evans (L) and Hilario Duran (C) pictured below with Ron.Bill Evans and Hilario DuranWorld Café represents a meeting place where people from many cultures can intermingle, laugh and make friends in a relaxed space – much like Ron’s own multicultural Toronto where this album was recorded.  The album is available thru Ron’s website or via Amazon.ca, iTunes, Spotify & Tidal. Listen online or purchase the gorgeous full-colour hardcover 24pg CD package designed by Ron’s talented wife and photographer, Jade. These will be available at the event, too. Perfect as gifts, as well as for yourself. .

Tickets to the concert as well as Ron’s complete discography are available at: www.ronkorb.com  dRIXZvJw

RON KORB presents WORLD CAFÉ

Wednesday Oct. 17th at 8pm (doors open 7pm)

JAZZ BISTRO, 251 Victoria St, Toronto

Cover: $15 advance from www.ronkorb.com   or $20 at the door

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS OPENING RECEPTION FOR GRACE DAM’s SOLO SHOW “SEX LOVE LIES”

Toronto-based artist GRACE DAM (pictured below) has been a frequent exhibitor at URBAN GALLERY – her landscapes have garnered high praise in a number of previous group & solo shows, and in SEX LOVE LIES, Grace explores her figurative as well as abstract inspirations with a series of large canvases on show at the gallery until September 29th (400 Queen St East, Toronto).20180906_165439Grace graduated from Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto with a degree in Fine Arts, minor in Photography. Her time is split between Toronto, where she researches and produces works, and the rugged Rocky Mountains in Western Canada where gigantic peaks, serene lakes and wildlife provide refuge and inspiration to her.  She paints everything and anything that moves her; most of her works convey messages, be they personal, social or political, her views imply quietly.   20180906_16400820180906_164059One of the most complex things in life is the interaction or connection to others around us. Something we can observe but never quite control. My figurative works reflect aspects of the complication in the communication between human beings. Certain looks, even a smile or a passing raising of the eyebrows can imprint in our memory that precise moment like a never fading recorded tape. ~ Grace DamTHE COMFORTABLE SOFA oil on canvas by Grace Dam 20180906_164048My personal favourite has to be “The Paper” 48″ x 48″ oil on canvas (pictured below with the artist) illustrating the angst and pain felt by the man upon reading the message on the paper. Grace’s treatment of the sweater and pants fabrics is quite wonderful…you can almost reach out and feel the textures….20180906_165424Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering was artful and very much in keeping with Grace’s work.20180906_165747 20180906_165811I encourage you to visit the gallery in person to enjoy the provocative figurative canvases as well as the boldly coloured abstracts…..20180906_164328 20180906_164845 20180906_165933_001The exhibition runs until September 29th – details, gallery hours & directions: www.urbangallery.ca20180906_165615

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NEW TORONTO-BASED WEB SERIES OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES WITH PARTY DURING TIFF

With the ever-increasing popularity of web-based TV series and entertainment content (watch out cable tv providers, you’re days are numbered!), I’ve been following several young producers/directors/writers who have answered the siren call to create online films and serials. One such multi-tasker is CALEB OLIVIERI (pictured below in red in full directorial action) whose first series, UNAPOLOGY, offers tales from this city (Toronto), focusing on a number of families, singles, couples and how they navigate thru life and, in one case, the impact of early onset Alzheimer’s. UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_30Under the umbrella of his Wait, What? production company, Caleb has produced quality programming for multi-generational viewers showcased via the YouTube platform, and the first 6 episodes will officially be launched on Monday Sept. 10th with a cast and crew celebratory soiree during the height of Toronto Int’l Film Fest activities. Hopefully, members of the world’s entertainment media will drop by for a quick schmooze and meet Caleb and his enthusiastic production team. You can learn more via the series Fcbk page: www.facebook.com/unapologyseries

I recently spoke with Caleb to learn how Unapology came into being…

Caleb, what was the inspiration for the theme/storylines for UNAPOLOGY?  The storyline(s) grew organically out of my own experiences … alternative living arrangement and employment situation. A close relative with early Alzheimer’s inspired me to write about the reality of living with the disease. From the lack of affordable housing to despicable and exploitative behaviours of some of my employers I didn’t have to dig deep to find the grist.

Being a young filmmaker, how difficult was it to raise funding, secure equipment and locations as well as attract good actors?  Finding good actors in Toronto is easy enough and I was lucky enough to have some good connections with friends and colleagues with equipment and basically “free” use of locations. Fundraising on the other hand has always been a grind.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_53 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_42With every film school grad pitching projects to major TV networks in Canada and the US, you created the series specifically for web-based content. Why/how did you decide on this route to take to make your presence known in the crowded TV production arena?  Originally it was written and produced as a pilot for a 22 min. series but I broke it down into 6 mini episodes for online use. With a web series I’m much less confined by edicts from networks which are often limiting when it comes to content and structure. A web based series lets the viewer make up their own mind as to what they want to watch and when … a quick episode on the subway ride home … a visit to the loo?IMG_8292 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_28 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_41As writer & director (as well as producer), how difficult was it to change “hats” throughout the shoot? Did Caleb the producer ever have to give notes (or argue with) Caleb the director?  Most of the time the writer and producer are at odds with one another because Caleb the producer can’t give Caleb the writer what he wants due to budget constraints. Caleb the director usually plays the middle man who tries to satisfy the needs of both the writer and producer without sacrificing the story or vision of the project.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_24 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_55Did you study writing or production at university or film school, and if so how did you find that experience?  I’ve worked in the industry for most of my life, mostly as an actor. I would have loved the opportunity to study writing for film and tv post secondary but the reality for most actors in Canada is you do a lot of pavement pounding, auditioning and co-ops and if you have to pay the rent, that leaves little time for school.

You have a special invitation-only party coming up during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival to officially launch the UNAPOLOGY online series – this must be exciting for you and your team. How important is it to attract international media & industry attention for your web-series and will you be promoting to online audiences outside of Canada?  We are stoked to be able to promote our series during the upcoming TIFF season but more so to be simply promoting it finally. Any attention at this point is good attention for my crew and my cast, and while local attention would be great, finding an international audience is absolutely the way to go in 2018 onward.

Any advice to give other writers or producers wanting to create for online entertainment platforms?  Be persistent, hold on to your vision and find your Fairy Web-Mother or Father…LOLUnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_01

Check out Unapology’s YouTube promo videos here:

I strongly recommend watching this new series and thank you in advance for supporting emerging Canadian filmmakers and webTV producers. Congratulations to Caleb and his talented cast and crew.

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GO WILD! Toronto’s Urban Gallery unveils July’s group show “Wild in the City”

Yesterday, Saturday July 7, URBAN GALLERY 400 Queen St East in Toronto was packed with guests to celebrate the opening of their month-long group show, Wild in the City. Featured artists include Erik Chong, Libby Sims and Osvaldo Napoli who were in attendance, plus works from Lindsey MacKay who was unable to attend in person – she resides in Fredericton, NB. Take a virtual walk thru the gallery with me now…

The gallery filled up quickly once the doors opened at 2pm and lots of ooo’s and aaah’s were heard as visitors discovered the stunning and provocative paintings and sculptures.  Erick Chong (below) has exhibited at Urban several times over the past 4 or 5 years and for this show, he brought a whole new style and theme to the show.20180707_133652Erik has several videos showcasing his unique style and technique – get to know this artist here:

I’ve followed Libby Sims‘ work for sometime – she creates beautiful abstract florals in bold colours and strokes, along with other subjects and shapes. A mature artist, Libby has studied abroad and has developed her distinct style that is instantly recognizable. 20180707_134058 20180707_131749Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli (below) is another mature artist although he is relatively new to the mainstream Toronto arts scene.  His wire sculptures and large format multi-medium artworks create quite the statement and Ozzie’s fans turned out in force to see his latest work.20180707_13374520180707_131707The fourth artist feature in Wild in the CityLindsey MacKay, was unable to attend in person – she resides on the East Coast. But her art spoke loudly for her, featuring people, places and activities found around the city. I personally love the wild eyed seagull featured in her “You Lookin’ at Me?” painting (below).20180707_131836And I like Lindsey’s “In the Moment” painting (below) – reminds me of Toronto’s “Salsa on St Clair” – this weekend’s annual street fair of dancing and Latin culture.20180707_131840So many interesting and thought-provoking images to enjoy, I hope you get a chance to drop by Urban Gallery this month to see Wild in the City yourself.  For gallery hours and directions, visit:  www.urbangallery.ca

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COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER ENJOYS INDIAN-STYLE FEAST @ TORONTO’S LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR

Comedian Glen Foster and I go way back…waaaaaay back to when Yuk Yuk’s ruled the Toronto entertainment scene and Canada was enjoying it’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in the 1980’s. Over the years, Glen (pictured below) has performed at comedy festivals, had his own TV specials, headlined shows in the biggest clubs around the country and has made thousands of people laugh, especially as “That Canadian Guy”, a personae perfected and showcased on stage and on the air.Head_shot_0089Now co-host of the hilarious “Hump Dump Live” radio show on Funny820-AM (Wednesdays noon to 1pm) along with fellow comedian and writer Lawrence Morgenstern, Glen recently joined me for lunch at Leela Indian Food Bar in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood – Leela is one of the radio show’s advertisers so why not see/taste what everyone has been talking about: deelish authentic Indian cuisine served in a modest yet hipster-friendly environment located at 3108 Dundas St West.

Providing the perfect balance of quality, taste and presentation of dhaba-style Indian food, Leela’s takes you on a journey through the old streets of India’s big cities and small villages where the aroma of spices welcomes you and the mouthwatering flavors keep you engaged with the authentic Indian preparations as well as innovative Indo-Canadian cuisine.  A bit of a mouthful description but Glen easily polished off  kale & spinach pakoras, vegetarian samosas, butter chicken and lamb biryani….

…but did leave enough to take home to share with his family for dinner!20180621_134749Leela has comfortable seating (pictured below) and an extensive menu offering vegetarian and Gluten-free choices, with prompt home delivery service, too. Easy access for those with strollers or wheelchairs (washrooms, too)20180409_14161620180409_141721You can learn more about Glen and Lawrence via their show website http://www.humpdumplive.com/ and watch for Glen performing live at Toronto’s leading comedy clubs.0110And if you’d like to taste the scrumptious dishes that Leela serves (and customizes for your preferred level of “heat” and spice) check out their online menu at www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca or just drop in to the restaurant at 3108 Dundas St West (just W of Quebec Ave) 7 days a week.dishes 15777