Category Archives: Music

G2R BRINGS GENESIS MUSIC TO LIFE FOR TORONTO FANS @ HUGH’S ROOM GIG MARCH 10

I recently browsed the upcoming concert schedule for Toronto venues and next month, Hugh’s Room is presenting G2R (details at end of story), who play the music of Genesis, one of my favourite bands I listened to in the 70’s & 80’s.

GenesisI was always a huge Peter Gabriel fan but must admit I always prefered his solo work (Shock the Monkey, Biko, Sledgehammer), and that cheeky-monkey Phil Collins always made me smile whether he was on the drums or on screen with his movie career. When I read about G2R, I knew I had to reach out to them and learn more so I connected with band spokesman and keyboard player, Doug Chase (pictured below) who told me more about the accomplished Canadian musicians who make up G2R and their journey through Genesis’ musical history and repertoire.

IMG_1560Doug, what inspired the formation of your band, G2R and why the name?  I think individually we have all wanted to do this very amazing and difficult music and then it kind of happened by accident. G2R is short for Genesis to Revelation which was the first Genesis album and has a ‘beginning to end’ connotation which fits with us doing all eras of Genesis music. We didn’t want to use ‘Genesis to Revelation” because it might confuse listeners into thinking we were just doing music from that first album.

How did all the players come together – were you all friends or previous bandmates? Three of us met at an audition. And it took us a while to find the right singer and drummer;  we lucked into finding a top notch drummer in John Walker and then we met vocalist James Hastings. A lot of people can do Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins decently, but not many can do them well. James does them both brilliantly.

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IMG_1509How long have you been performing as G2R?  We’ve been putting this together for about 5 years but finally playing for the past two years. Our music is a tribute to Genesis and we play it with the utmost professionalism and dedication to honour the music.

Who are your audiences? Are they boomers or younger, prog-rock fans? It’s more boomers than anything, but people of all ages enjoy our music for sure. Genesis is a bit more niche than bands like The Beatles or Queen, so the kids haven’t found their music quite as easily. But once they do, you won’t find many people who don’t enjoy Genesis music. That’s the great thing about Genesis – they explored so many avenues so they’re bound to connect with just about everyone on some level.

20141108_203857Who do you prefer: Gabriel or Collins…or another era? We like all eras of the band but with one commonality – where the music has depth. ‘Selling England By The Pound’ was concise and had great melodies and beautiful arrangements, as did ‘A Trick Of The Tail’, ‘Duke’ and ‘We Can’t Dance’. Genesis was never afraid to venture into new directions, but every album still maintained an utmost dedication to being true to themselves and their music at that time. We enjoy playing ‘Second Home By The Sea’ as much as ‘In The Cage’. Some of our audiences prefer the Gabriel era while others prefer the Collins era but we play music from both eras – eventually everyone hears music they love.

Gabriel CollinsWhat songs are most requested by your fans? Fans love hearing ‘Carpet Crawlers’, ‘In the Cage’, ‘Mama’ and ‘Watcher of the Skies’.

Where have you previously played and what upcoming shows can your fans attendWe’ve played theatres like The Blackforest Inn in Waterloo, The Jazz Room and others and had dates set up for The Shenkman Centre in Ottawa, The Rialto in Montreal and places in Quebec City and Cape Breton…..until Brian May of Queen called up our guitarist Bob Wegner and asked him to come do We Will Rock You in Europe for a few months. So Bob is now in rehearsals for We Will Rock You down in warm sunny Florida and our original Spring tour has been postponed.  But it’s the upcoming show at Hugh’s Room in Toronto that is uppermost in our minds right now….we want to rock Toronto!  Please visit our website for news of performance dates later this year once Bob returns. G2R official website: http://g2r.ca/

G2R is:
James Hastings, vocals
Bob Wegner, guitar
Tom Nagy, bass
John Walker, drums
Doug Chase, keyboards
(full bios on the G2R website)

G2R plays Hugh’s Room in Toronto on Tuesday March 10th. Tkts $25 in advance or $27.50 at the door.
Details here:  http://hughsroom.com/2015/01/genesis-to-revelation-g2r/

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SUNNY THOMPSON GIVES BRAVURA PERFORMANCE IN “MARILYN: FOREVER BLONDE”

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson diamonds - photo by Howard PetrellaGentlemen may prefer blondes, but this blonde prefers Sunny Thompson and her re-imagining of the life of the legendary blonde bombshell in her one-woman show Marilyn: Forever Blonde that runs now thru Sunday Feb 15th at the equally beautiful Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street (just N. of Queen), Toronto.

The American singer/actress brings years of Monroe research to the stage with this theatrical tour de force that takes us from the bubbly ingenue Norma Jean up her ladder-climb to success and subsequent fall from grace that never gets maudlin or self-indulgent. I never caught Sunny acting – she WAS Marilyn. Thompson inhabited the character and took her time narrating Marilyn’s life story with a few wink-wink nudge-nudge moments when justifying the road Marilyn took to reach the top….detours and potholes and all.  She seduces us with tales of her many lovers, husbands and betrayers.

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson blue robe -  photo by Howard PetrellaThe seamier side of her later life is not dwelt upon too harshly; yes, we “meet” Jack and Bobby Kennedy and a few other bad good guys, but as Marilyn drifts away from us on stage, the audience feels protective and carries her gently into Hollywood folk lore upon waves of applause.

The numerous costume changes were done modestly on stage behind a back-lit screen that teased us with Marilyn’s/Sunny’s gorgeous bod, and the dresses…oh those dresses…were dripping in “diamonds” and jewels that shimmered as she shimmied across the stage, speaking and singing in that breathy voice we remember so well.

sunnyThe two-act musical play, written & produced by Sunny’s husband, Greg Thompson, has toured the world for the past 7 years and I encourage you to grab your tickets a.s.a.p. for the 4-day run at the Winter Garden. The experience with leave you breathless…and humming the tunes that should bring back a few memories. Songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Some Like it Hot, Let’s Make Love and of course, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, are all included, some sung a capella, others with recorded music, and even Ol’ Blue Eyes makes an audio appearance, too.

After the show, we attended a brief reception to celebrate opening night and I ran into some old friends, including the incomparable Micah Barnes (below with handsome actor/bartender David).

20150211_222900Sunny made it out of the dressing room and kindly signed autographs and posed for photos with her adoring fans (below), much like Marilyn did.

20150211_222953 20150211_223034 20150211_223048As we left, I took a few shots of the theatre itself…if you’ve never been to the Winter Garden, you can take a tour during the day – definitely worth a trip. And the theatre has a ghost, too. Wonder what she thought of Marilyn tonight?

20150211_223400 20150211_223448 20150211_223459Big thanks to Flip Publicity for the great seats for opening night. And finally, one more bravo and a big standing O to Sunny Thompson who you can follow via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunnythompsona

Sunny Thompson as Marilyn in Marilyn Forever Blonde - photo by Howard PetrellaStudio shots courtesy of Howard Petrella.

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CANADA’S ORIGINAL POP IDOL BOBBY CURTOLA GUESTS ON “DAYTIME TORONTO” TV SHOW

20141209_115313(0)What fun going back to my old stomping grounds up at Rogers TV studios on York Mills Road, Toronto. I previously worked there as station publicist and community relations coordinator, and it was nice to bump into many of my old colleagues. Today, I had the pleasure of taking Canadian music legend Bobby Curtola (pictured above) in to tape a guest spot on the Daytime Toronto TV show which will air tomorrow, Wed. December 10th @ 10am and 3pm on Channel 10 in Toronto (big thanks to producer Liz Stembridge for fitting us in to the tight pre-Christmas schedule).  Bobby is promoting his special Christmas single, St. Nicholas Christmas, which was just released and available online with net proceeds benefiting this year’s Christmas Wish campaign. http://www.bobbycurtola.com

Bobby Curtola Christmas Single CoverCurtola has always cherished Christmas and all the love and goodwill that come with it:  The Christmas Season has always been a time that is very special to me. It’s a time for family and friends and especially for cherishing those who live on in our book of memories. Be kind to one another and remember the greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Bobby’s business manager, Sandy Graham, and I were thrilled to learn that Bobby still had fans at Rogers…in fact, Anne Jablonicky, one of the production crew, came bounding out to tell Bobby that her mum was also a HUGE fan and was looking fwd to watching tomorrow’s show. Bobby gave Anne a special gift for her mother and I took a nice photo of them together (below)

20141209_120643My old colleague Colin Baird (below right) who directs shows and handles all the studio volunteers and interns, came out to say hello to the music icon and I managed to snap the guys figuring out which way to the studio.

20141209_120247I also snapped Bobby with another legend – the late Ted Rogers (below), Founder of the TV network and cablesystems mega-corp.

20141209_115334Bobby was interviewed by the charming host of Daytime Toronto, Val Cole (below), and Bobby even got her up and singing along with him during his performance segment. Val was so good, she could actually tour with him!

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20141209_133030 20141209_133130For those too young to remember Canada’s golden era of rock’n’roll and popular music in the 60’s when Bobby ruled the radio airwaves along with Paul Anka, here are the cliff notes:

Fortune Teller, Three Rows Over, Don’t You Sweetheart Me, and Corinna, Corinna are just a few of the Top Ten singles the Canadian icon scored on the charts during the 1960’s… and he’s still going strong on the live corporate circuit. Bobby Curtola has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, The Coca Cola Hall of Fame (Las Vegas, NV), has been given the Queen’s Jubilee Award twice. He has also had the Order of Canada bestowed upon him. With 25 gold records, and numerous chart singles, it is a testimony to his talent that he is still actively performing and recording, drawing multi-generational fans from around the world.  Known for his innovation, wealth of talent and his immense humanitarianism, Bobby Curtola is truly Canada’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Legend.

CurtolamaniaOTHER AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • One of the first Canadian artists to receive the RPM Gold Leaf Award in 1966 for Top Male Vocalist (now known as the Juno Award)
  • Inducted into The RPM Magazine Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame by Walt Grealis
  • Toronto made April 26, 1996 Bobby Curtola Day
  • Awarded the keys to the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary, Edmonton and Brandon
  • Honored with the naming of the street “Bobby Curtola Drive” in Thunder Bay, ON, September 27, 2003
  • Received the First Canadian Registered Gold Album
  • A pioneer, instrumental in the early stages of the Canadian Content ruling (the beginning of the CRTC)
  • One of the first artists to be a partner in his own publishing, recording and concert promotion companies
  • May 7, 1998 “The Gold Medal of Merit” and “The Order of Canada

So tune in tomorrow at 10am or 3pm on Toronto Rogers Channel 10 for Daytime Toronto, hosted by Val Cole and featuring a guest appearance by the one and only….Bobby Curtola!
http://www.bobbycurtola.com  Fcbk: Bobby-Curtola-Official
http://www.rogerstv.com    Twtr: @rogerstvtoronto    Fcbk: rogerstvtoronto

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SHOWBIZ FRIENDS BID A POETIC FAREWELL TO TORONTO’S NIK BEAT

The snow fell gently down on Toronto last Wednesday, carpeting the streets with a soft fluffy coating. Of course, NIK BEAT, the late humble, modest artist, musician, poet and media personality for whom we were all gathering would have thought it funny that the first major snowstorm of the year happened on the one night we all needed to travel to The Supermarket club in Kensington Mkt with musical equipment and instruments to pay tribute to him!!!

20141119_183320Although we got off to a late start – some artists and friends travelled great distances thru the storm to participate – the memorial concert AND THE BEAT GOES ON…. started off with an almost full house of friends, fellow artists, family and a very special opening guest – piper Rory Sinclair (below) who played a haunting lament for our fallen brother.

20141119_201905Rory was one of the last guests on Nik’s radio show, “Howl!” (CIUT-FM) in early September to promote the Beach Celtic Festival. Rory was followed by readings from Valentino Assenza and Tom Fischer (below)

20141119_202510 20141119_203115then poet/musician Michael Oesch, who was joined by his wife Saskia ….

20141119_203920…and musician Michael Marian and Valentino, as Michael O played his “Theramini” – Nik would have loved the weird spacey sound

20141119_205102and Pat Kelly (the hardest working man in Toronto showbiz, as you will soon see) played drums for the trio up front!

20141119_205115Performing some of Nik’s original poetry and songs, Michael Marian then took over front man duties and was joined by Michael Heyoka Ratt on bass and…Pat Kelly, again on drums

 

20141119_210243Jennifer Hosein read a couple of very emotional and evocative poems for Nik and left few dry eyes in the audience as we went to intermission.

20141119_210408Joani Paige traveled in all the way from London, ON, during the storm and we all cheered when she finally walked in the room. Here she is singing one of Nik’s favourite songs….bravo, Joani!

20141119_212602Then Pat Kelly returned to the stage for a rousing and inspiring set of Nik’s original tunes (with a little help from Michael HR and Michael O) that had the audience cheering, clapping and singing along

20141119_213652 20141119_213705 20141119_214629Pat even convinced Michael Marian and Laura Rock to join him for his final song (below)

20141119_220644Brenda Clews, artist, poet and performance artist, then took the audience on an emotional ride through several poems that offered insights into the poetic soul of Nik Beat

20141119_221532And to close the night out, Nik’s friend and musical colleague, Laura L. Rock…or as Nik used to call her Laura L’Rock … took the stage and with the help of guitarist friend Richard and Pat on drums backing her, Laura bared her heart and soul with two perfectly chosen songs.

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….and the crowd went wild!

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It’s hard to say goodbye to those who have done so much for us, and Nik supported Toronto’s indie music, poetry and arts scene for many years, offering radio interviews and promotions on his show when no other media would give the time to this city’s emerging or indie artists. Tonight we celebrated Nik Beat’s life and work in our own words and music, and as the host of the show, I would like to thank all those who schlepped thru the snow to perform on stage, sit in the audience or help me (thank you, Tom F. for working the door for me). The $5 cover was donated to Penelope Smith who adopted Nik’s beloved cat Hank (below) who was left behind when Nik passed suddenly 2 months ago. Cat food donations were also accepted so now dear old Hank can eat his way thru the winter, thanks to everyone’s generosity.

IphoneCDrelease 061First arrivals were performers Michael & Saskia Oesch (below)

20141119_183135..followed by Michael Heyoka Ratt  (below) who looked like Dr. Zhivago as he came thru the door, covered in snow!

20141119_183159And here’s Jennifer Hosein warming up with poet friend

20141119_193424And Tom Fischer enjoys a glass of wine with poetry fan Dwight

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Big thank-you, too, to our venue The Supermarket (and sound guy, Al) as well as CIUT-FM for all the promos

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There’s a posthumous Nik Beat CD release party (Famous For Falling) happening Dec. 6th at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club.

Details on Facebook events page: http://on.fb.me/1F9sFEA

God speed, my dear friend. I’ll see you soon.

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CASHBOX CANADA MAGAZINE PRESENTS DEBUT CD LAUNCH FOR SHINING NEW MUSIC STAR, MIMI O’BONSAWIN

CashboxCanada_MIMI (7)http://www.mimi.ca

Last night, 20yr old Canadian singer/songwriter, Mimi O’Bonsawin, unleashed such a powerful performance with her debut self-titled 12-track CD, that many in the industry-heavy audience were predicting fame, fortune and Taylor Swift-like future chart domination!!

20141112_202601 20141112_203846 20141112_202258Supported by some of the best musicians in Toronto (who also played on her album), Mimi tore up the stage of The Gladstone Hotel in downtown Toronto. Producer and co-writer Thomas Wade led the band with blistering guitar riffs and the lovely back-up singers were amazing, too!

20141112_202554 20141112_202410 20141112_205024For several of her songs, Mimi, of Canadian First Nations/French Cdn heritage, was joined on stage by the Metis Fiddler Quartet (www.facebook.com/metisfiddlerquartet) – pictured below – whose haunting sounds echoed throughout the Gladstone ballroom.

20141112_203852 20141112_203905 20141112_203924Audience members and celebrity guests had a blast, each receiving a copy of Mimi’s CD and lots of post-show photo opps….including Mimi with proud mum and dad (below)

20141112_214037Founding MuchMusic VJ and Cdn music industry icon, Michael Williams (below)

20141112_215007 20141112_215020And lots of Mimi’s friends and family turned out, including this tiniest of new fans (below)

20141112_195145 20141112_195027 20141112_195133(0) 20141112_195233 20141112_200046 20141112_212008Aspiring recording artist, Deena (www.thedeenatheartist.com) and her handsome fiance/personal manager Sam Sousi, came out to support Mimi, too…

20141112_203214 20141112_212324Cashbox Canada (http://www.cashboxcanada.ca) magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and show presenter, Sandy Graham, worked hard all night and for many weeks leading up to the concert to ensure Mimi’s launch party was a big success. Here’s Sandy (below) with musician Bill Wood (Bill Wood and the Woodies) and contributing music journalist Michael Williams

20141112_212122Don Graham (Sandy’s brother and outstanding Celtic musician) pictured below, MC’d the concert….

20141112_195743…and http://www.Newz4U.net publisher/editor KJ Mullins covered the event (and shot me shooting her!)

20141112_195756Here are a few random pics from the start of the event including the all important set-up and sound-check to the post-show reception and stage tear-down…

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MIMI album coverIt truly was a magical night, watching the birth of an exciting and inspiring new musical talent. Congrats and bravo, Mimi!

 

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AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER MICHAEL ALTMAN JOINS FORDHAM PR CLIENT LIST!

MA headshotI’m thrilled to announce that Fordham PR is now representing int’l award-winning filmmaker MICHAEL ALTMAN (above) with publicity and marketing for his extraordinary documentary, AMERICAN SONGWRITER, featuring American troubadour Danny Darst. 

NewPosterMasterCompleted 2 years ago, American Songwriter has won numerous international film festival awards for the director/producer and I’m looking fwd to introducing Toronto music & film audiences to the music, the artist and the documentary film experience.  You can purchase the soundtrack and view the trailer here: http://www.altmandarstllc.com/

IMG_0053 11 24 2010 177 IMG_7109Son of legendary director Robert Altman (considered by many to be the ultimate indie filmmaker), Michael grew up surrounded by filmmaking legends and superstars. At the age of 14, he co-wrote the song “Suicide is Painless” for the film M*A*S*H – in return for his songwriting he told producer Ingo Preminger that all he wanted was a guitar but Preminger insisted that Altman would be compensated in the regular manner and drew up a contract for his services. As it turns out, with Michael receiving royalties every time the song is played, he has wound up making far more than the $75,000 his father was paid to direct the film! Not a bad start to an auspicious career of his own.

Michael has worked as projectionist on such Hollywood favorites as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (one of my own favorite comedies), Collateral Damage, The Majestic and Amistad; as assistant editor on the ground-breaking TV series Twin Peaks, and post-prod. supervisor on Richard Gere’s Dr. T and the Women.

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Welcome aboard, Michael!  Follow American Songwriter on Twitter: @AmerSngwrtr

NewPosterMaster

 

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Celtic spirit comes alive & kilts are a-flying @ Beach Celtic Festival, Toronto

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Day One of the annual Beach Celtic Festival is done-and-dusted, and oh what a highland fling was flung! Lots of vendors selling and sampling everything from food to jewellery to clothing to home accessories…even wee Scots sock monkeys!!

Founded 11 years ago by my friend, Sandy Graham (below), who ran Route 66, Toronto’s hottest 50’s dance club back in the late 70’s, early 80’s while I ran Ollie’s, the 2nd best such club located in the Ports of Call multi-venue entertainment centre which was located at Yonge & Summerhill.

Sandy picSandy, a first generation Scottish Canadian, has been presenting Toronto’s only outdoor ceilidh at Kew Gardens in Toronto as a tribute to her late mother.  When her Mum was dying, she asked not be mourned but to be celebrated and thanks to her daughter’s dedication and persistence, the event has grown into what is now a local tradition, celebrating  the Scottish, Irish and Welsh diaspora who came to Canada to start a new life.

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Meghan Bold, founder of the Bold Steps Dance Studio, has choreographed many of the dances presented at the Festival, and has been supporting Sandy with fundraisers and promotional performances leading up to this weekend’s event.

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Check out some of the great vendors who have lots of goodies left in their tents for tomorrow’s visitors….

Dan and Laura Gordon of Whisky & Spice (below), the local hand-crafted premium mustards were busy sampling and selling their Whisky, Porter beer and Riesling/Apple flavoured condiments…yummmmm  http://www.whiskyandspice.ca 

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Tammy Watson, known as the “Canadian Mom” brought her wee sock monkeys to the event, along with some of the sweetest crocheted and knitted hats and toys for the wee ones.  http://www.Facebook.com/CanadianMomOshawa

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…and charming jewellery designer Stephanie MacKay (below) brought her stunning “druzy” rings and pendants that sparkled in the sunshine  http://www.mform.weebly.com

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Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’m a glutton for bling so when I saw the lovely designs of Fric & Frac Jewelry & Beads who set up their tent next to Whisky & Spice, I started oo’ing and aah’ing, drawing a crowd of shoppers. Look at these very affordable lovelies….

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20140906_171621http://www.fricandfracjewelry.com

Here are some more happy snaps……

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Toronto’s own Celtic Punk band, The Mahones, closed out the day’s festivities with a kick-ass performance that had the crowd clapping, dancing, whooping it up! http://www.themahones.ca

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Congratulations to Sandy on another fun-filled, family-friendly FREE festival in the heart of Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood! On Sunday, Sandy will be joined by knights (and maybe a princess, too) from the Medieval Times castle, and even more activities and entertainment.

http://www.thecelticfestival.com

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