Category Archives: Radio

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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CATCHING UP WITH THAT CANADIAN GUY – COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER

glen_foster_banner_v1Back in the early 1980’s, I ran the day-to-day business for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, and quickly became the in-house agent for all the comedians, too, as we developed satellite clubs and cross-country tours. I’ve been privileged to witness the debut of some pretty talented local comics as well as play host to now legendary US comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Sandra Bernhardt, Steven Wright and the frighteningly brilliant Sam Kinison. The late, great Robin Williams dropped into the club shortly after Mork and Mindy finished, and he held the club ransom for laughs one night; we were all in tears from laughing so hard. He was manic and marvelous.

This was the golden era for Canadian comedy talent and I’m thrilled to say that one of the outstanding stand-ups from those days is still making people laugh…you may know him as That Canadian Guy…I know him as my  Glen/Glenda “twin” – Glen Foster.

Glen has a series of comedy shows – Comedy Aces – coming up at The Pilot Tavern on Cumberland St (between Yonge & Bay) in Toronto, so I thought I’d invite him to share some stories from the comedy trenches, and I’ll post some photos later from his live show (with special guests David Merry, Simon Rakoff, Evan Carter, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards) this Thursday. Check Glen’s website (linked below) for dates/times.

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Glen, you’ve been performing since the early 1980’s – what first inspired you to get up on stage and where did you first perform?
Short answer?  I wanted to meet chicks but couldn’t play guitar!  Actually, I was always a comedy fan.  My dad was a pretty funny guy, very likable and always telling jokes. When I was a kid, we watched a lot of comedy on TV together like the old Bob Hope comedies. Then later, we enjoyed watching sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show, The Carol Burnett Show (a big favorite of mine), I love Lucy.

How long did it take you to get from amateur night to headlining shows and where/how did you hone your skills?
Probably took me about 6 months to a year to reach feature status from amateur night, through working regular nights to weekend spots, then headlining.   It was a lot easier back then as there was way more stage time available and a lot fewer comics vying for spots.  I imagine at one point, I was probably doing about 8 to 10 shows a week in an actual club.  I just don’t think it’s possible to have that kind of experience or rapid career growth for comics these days.

head_hands_out_0093The 80’s is considered the golden era of stand-up comedy in Canada – who were your early stand-up heroes (Cdn and/or US) and did you ever open for the big headliners?
The first time I saw Mike MacDonald was about two weeks after doing comedy.  He did nearly two hours and closed with his signature air guitar bit. It was incredible.  I thought to myself, “What am I doing in this business”.  On the more famous side, my early heroes were Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart , Woody Allen and later Steve Martin and some of the SNL crew. There were also a lot of US comics I was exposed to at Yuk Yuk’s such as Steven Wright and Sam Kinison (pictured below)

Sam kWas it difficult to make an actual living as a comedian when you first started out or did you hold down a day job, too?
I was working in advertising as a copywriter. It wasn’t quite the Mad Men days, but it was a good job and I didn’t want to give it up. I finally did give it up when I went moved to LA in 1984 -85. This is actually my 30th year as a professional comic which I count as “thirty years without a day job”!

When you first started touring, who were your favourite comics to share a motel room with…and who weren’t?
I got to be a headliner pretty quick so I didn’t have to share very often at all.  I can’t even remember if I ever did.  I must have.  I know the names of a few people that I wouldn’t want to share a hotel with EVER, and a few people who had a reputation for doing very nasty, gross things to hotels and condos.  I never wanted to be the guy in the condo the week after they came through.  Sorry no names (wink)

Any “gigs from hell” you remember and care to talk about?
Some of the Western gigs could get pretty dicey.  There was a gig in a place called North Battleford, SK (if it has “Battle” in the name…..) and Fairview, AB was another hell hole.  The audience generally started drinking at noon for a show that started at 9:00pm. The hotel was so disgusting that I refused to stay there and got a room in a classier (safer) hotel at my own expense, so I probably ended up making nothing on the gig because of it.

glen-jfl-09You’ve been fortunate to have your own comedy specials as well as appearing on comedy festival broadcasts – any memorable moments you’d like to share?
My very first TV show was “An Evening at The Impov” (1982).  The host was Tony Curtis, yes, screen legend TONY CURTIS!  I was pretty green and went waaay over time with my set. Curtis came on stage and stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder while I finished.  I didn’t even realize that I f*cked up, in fact, I thought it was cool of him to do that…..Duuhh
I got to meet a number of people at the Just For Laughs festival over the years including John Candy (below), who was a really nice guy.  I was also introduced on stage at one JFL gala show by William Shatner (below). He called me back briefly to centre stage after my set and I got to shake his hand.  Craig Fergusson hosted the gala I did in 2008; I was really happy about my set that night because Fergusson was really funny, and you’d always rather have a real comic as MC rather than a non-comedy celebrity.

Candy ShatnerDo you currently contribute to tv or radio shows, either as a writer or performer?
I’m on with Jerry Agar on radio Newstalk 1010 for the “round table” every second Wednesday, and I’m also a contributor to TV’s Sun News Network a couple of times a week.

Your humour is considered relatively clean but with an edge – how do you describe your stand-up?
I guess it’s observational, usually topical and occasionally politically incorrect. It really bothers me that people seem to be so easily offended these days, so I try to push those buttons, but in a thought-provoking manner.

As you’re now one of the “elder statesmen” of the Canadian comedy scene, any advice for up and comers?
Stage time. Stage time. Stage time. You can take all the courses and read all the books, but it all comes down to stage time.  Get on as many stages, even crappy open mics where 98% of the audience is other comedians. And try not to be too scripted – comedy should not sound rehearsed, even though it usually is.

And do you still have any career aspirations or goals not yet achieved?
I keep saying that I would like to write a movie or a sitcom….hasn’t happened yet.  Other than that, I am pretty happy just doing stand up.  Of course, I would like to do more of it in bigger venues for more money, but that’s about it.

Will you have any “My Canada Includes…” t-shirts for sale at your Canadian Aces shows?
Yes I will. I actually did a reprint as part of my 30th anniversary.  I had to change the design slightly to include Nunavut, which did not exist when I did the original shirt.  So I guess this is “My Canada 2.0”

glen_foster-my_canada_t-shirtHow can people find out about your live shows & tours, tv or radio appearances?
I am the most findable guy in the world! I have two websites:
www.thatcanadianguy.com  and  www.comedyaces.com
My Twitter handles are: @fosterfunny  or  @comedyaces
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Canadian-Guy-Glen-Foster/33438953821

16742So watch out for That Canadian Guy, coming to a comedy club near you!

 

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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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MEMORIAL CONCERT THIS WEDNESDAY FOR TORONTO INDIE MUSICIAN, POET, ARTIST, MEDIA PERSONALITY – NIK BEAT

Sadly, it was just two months ago that Toronto’s indie arts scene lost one of its biggest long-time supporters when CIUT-FM radio personality, musician, artist and poet NIK BEAT (below) passed suddenly, leaving a huge hole in so many hearts.

100_0643This Wednesday (Nov.19), I’m being joined on stage at 8pm by a dozen of Nik’s friends and colleagues at The Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave (just S. of College) in Kensington Market, Toronto, to celebrate Nik’s life and work in words and music. With a cover charge of just $5 (plus an optional donation of cat food to help support Nik’s best furry friend, Hank), we’re hoping that many of the artists Nik helped over the years with interviews on his “Howl!” radio show (Tuesdays at 10pm live on CIUT-FM) will come out and show their appreciation and respect.

untitledI first met Nik over 25 years ago when I caught one of his “Beatnik Cafe” shows in a tiny little coffee house on Vaughan Ave where he hosted gatherings of poets and the odd acoustic musician. At the time, I had recently walked away from a music agency where I represented several recording/touring artists but had become so disenchanted by the behind-the-scene b.s. that I was looking for another more positive entertainment vehicle.  I had begun hosting live poetry events in various bars and coffee houses around the city including the Rivoli, El Mocambo, Cameron House and Horseshoe Tavern, and as soon as we met, I knew I had to book Nik into some of my more mainstream venues – his talent was unquestionable as was his stage presence – I always had a good eye for new talent!

epepeppepepepDuring the early 90’s, Toronto’s poetry scene  was emerging as valid (although not too profitable) entertainment, driven by the Poetry Sweatshop events founded by John and James Coburn and staged at The Rivoli; Nik’s coffeehouse events and my newly created Scribes & Muses! – an artists’ collective of poets and musicians for whom I was artistic director & show producer – plus a few other popular monthly events hosted by members of The League of Canadian Poets. This all took place long before camera/phones or digital cameras for the masses so there aren’t too many photos of these inspiring and exciting creative nights. But this little family of writers, singers and songwriters was pretty tight and we all enjoyed attending and performing at each others’ soirees.

Nik book launch shotNik became my MC for many of the S&M! nights and he appeared regularly on my Thursday nights at Graffiti’s in Kensington Market, as well as college gigs I booked for the S&M! members via COCA (Cdn. Organization of Campus Activities).  Nik’s profile grew as he played more mainstream venues and the audience’s respect for him as a creative force grew as his music, poems and painting/collage works gained media attention. During the early 2000’s Nik introduced me to The League of Cdn Poets’ National Poetry Month (April) and I not only presented my own live poetry shows across S. Ontario each April, but thanks to Nik’s referral, I became the publicist for the League, promoting the heck out of Nat’l Poetry Month for all the participating poets across the country.

NIk Beat performs his poetry at fundraiser for artists at GalleryOver the past few years, Nik had established himself as a fine contemporary/abstract artist as well as author of a number of poetry volumes for which I was honoured to publicize and promote, presenting meet-n-greets, media interviews, TV and web-based chat show participation – everything I could to support his artistic endeavours.  Nik had a number of art shows at leading Toronto galleries (see below)….

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20131012_13424220131012_13425720131012_135200and several cool, well attended book launches (below)…

the tyranny of love original book cover Vern & Nik

20140204_193344 20140204_193657 20140204_193702 Nik Beat and bassist Michael Ratt at Free Times

And then on September 18th, I got the news: Nik had died. Suddenly and dramatically. None of us were prepared for such devastating news – I had just returned a couple of days earlier from a 6-day gig in Ottawa and had planned to call Nik on the Wednesday to remind him about the event but I knew he’d remember – so I never bothered. On Thurs. Sept. 18th Nik was due to arrive at Urban Gallery to enjoy a fabulous artist’s reception and lots of free food and wine but he never showed up and this was not like Nik. When he RSVP’d to an event, he was always on time, and knowing how much he enjoyed our mutual support, I knew something was weird but I never expected that I would not see him again. I had called several times that night leaving voicemails like “Okay, where are you…this is the first time you’ve stood me up…you got a hot date instead of me?” I got home around 9:30pm and heard the phone ringing as I turned the key in my front door. Life/work hasn’t been much fun since that moment when a media colleague told me down the phone “Glenda, don’t go on the internet…you need to hear this from a friend, are you sitting down?”

So this Wednesday, Nik’s friends, family and entertainment colleagues will perform in tribute to a man who made our lives fuller, happier, nuttier, funnier, gentler. Please come out, just to say thanks to Nik who gave so much to so many without expecting anything in return.

20140923_141424AND THE BEAT GOES ON…. takes place Wed. Nov. 19th @ 8pm The Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave (just S. of College)  $5 cover – doors open 7:30pm.  Featuring: Laura L’Rock, Michael Marian, Pat Kelly, Michael Ratt, Valentino Assenza, Linda Saslove, Angela Argento, Joani Paige, Michael Oesch, Jennifer Hosein, Brenda Clews and Thomas Fischer.

Here’s Nik at CIUT studio with Joseph Procopio, Canada’s most awarded young filmmaker (below)

with Nik Beat live on Howl!…and interviewing Eliot Hoppe (below left), Canada’s #1 body language expert and deception detector, along with co-host Nancy Bullis.

IMG_0222….and interviewing Ronnie Hawkins and Elvis’ drummer, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, at the Hard Rock Cafe, Toronto

CIMG1872…but here’s how we love to remember Nik…performing solo as well as supporting other artists.

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God speed,  my friend. 

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CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS FESTIVAL WEEK – day #1

Long day, starting with 7am alarm screaming at me to get up and outta the house to catch the 9:25am train from Union Stn, Toronto.  Pulled into Ottawa around 2:15pm and the grey clouds had followed us. But we were welcomed warmly by the lovely smiling staff at the Courtyard Marriott in the Byward Market (below).20140910_161855Publicity coordinator and Twitter goddess Jennifer and I headed out for some food – thank goodness there’s a 24hr Dunn’s across the street. Yummmm, I sucked back an all-day breakie with extra bacon. Burp! Then headed to the market to pick up some fruit for the room. I tend to have the late night nibblies so….

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…then back to hotel to get prepped for the Funniest Person in the Valley comedy finals at the Great Canadian Cabin.

20140910_193011The wonderfully funny Rick Wharton  (below striking his best rockstar pose) created the contest to discover talented newcomers and each year, it’s more and more difficult to pick a winner – tonight was no exception. Way too many brilliant, funny, rude, sassy, insightful comics took the stage…..

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Host Ben Miner (below) opened with a fantastic set before intro’ing everyone…

20140910_202556I was honoured to be asked to judge the contest (so many years working in the comedy biz) and along with my fellow judges, James Abson & Shawn Simpson from radio TSN1200, and CCA founder Tim Progosh (below)…

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…we scored each of the 13 fabulous comedians. I wanted to crown a Mr Congeniality but I was out-voted on that one. Here are all the comics apres-performance, relaxing with cocktails, beers and some schmoozing…..

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…all the time, Rick was tallying the scores.20140910_221713

…and we have a winner –  Geoff MacKay!!!

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Congrats, Geoff. I especially liked your “Aussie” impression….hmmm, bloody good show, mate.

Check out Geoff’s website: http://www.geoffmackay.ca/

There was another great show over at the Velvet Room featuring the amazing comic magician David Merry – will gather pics and report on that tomorrow morning. Now it’s time to catch up on my beauty sleep so I can tackle Ottawa media in the morning. The Marriott has great big comfortable beds…I may never get up. LOL

Thanks to the friendly staff at the Great Canadian Cabin….we’ll be going back for sure!

Cabin

 

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SCRABBLE WITH THE STARS celebrates 10 years of fundraising for PAL Toronto

Last Monday evening (May 5) many of Canada’s showbiz legends gathered at the Arcadian Loft at Queen & Bay Streets in downtown Toronto, to play Scrabble with the Stars and raise funds (and awareness) for the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) in Toronto. PAL is home to many of our mature leading lights of Toronto’s theatre, film, television and radio.

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Event chair, Kate Barris and SWTS Founder Vivienne Muhling welcomed all the guests including Councillor Pam McConnell (in red) who helped cut the celebratory cake along with SWTS celebrity hosts (and 2 of the funniest people in the country!) Deb McGrath and Colin Mochrie.

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I was thrilled to meet the charming Marilyn Lightstone (pictured below winning a prize & meeting Vivienne) who came to play and win…and who generously donated 2 works of art for our silent art auction.

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Canada’s most beloved children’s entertainers Bram and Sharon (of Sharon, Lois and Bram) joined us (below left) along with Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew (below right) and the always wacky Jaymz Bee of JAZZ-FM (bottom).

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Proud-FM’s Mike Chalut shared a photo opp with TV goddess Dini Petty (below right), jazz diva Jackie Richardson (centre) came ready to lay down her tiles, and SWTS Committee member, show producer and all-round funny man Brianne Nazimok introduced young actor (Life with Boys) Michael Murphy to the finer points of Scrabbling (bottom)

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There was also a stunning art auction plus other wearable art handcrafted by our celeb guests, plus some pretty cool goodies donated by prize sponsors. Comedian and artist Jayne Eastwood posed proudly with her beautiful painting, perfect for Mother’s Day (below left) and Emmy-nominated writer/producer Eva Almos (bottom) donated a stunning necklace she designed specially for the event.

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More great photos from the night attended by a galaxy of stars, generous sponsors and auction bidders who helped raise funds for PAL.

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Acting legend Paul Soles enjoyed the “red carpet” treatment with Vivienne (below)

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And special guests Sean Cullen and Rick Miller (below) kept the audience laughing their tiles off throughout dinner.

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Here are lots more happy Scrabblers….

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My photographer, Gabriella, won tickets to Yuk Yuk’s and I had my own red carpet moment outside the Mirvish Celebrity Lounge!

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A big BRAVO to all the volunteers from the Scotiabank who kept things running smoothly…

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….and to Kate, Vivienne and the entire committee who pulled off another glorious success at the Scrabble tables.

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Keep up to date with Scrabble with the Stars news for 2015:  http://www.ScrabbleWiththeStars.com

 

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