Sunday, April 12, 2015

Circus Meets Cabaret Meets Burlesque: Tix on Sale April 13 2015 for Spiegelworld's EMPIRE Opening September 1 in Toronto

From a media release:

Performances begin September 1 in TORONTO!

Tickets on sale Monday, April 13 at 10am

Toronto, ON – April 12, 2015 –
After unanimous rave reviews, sold out performances and standing ovations in New York and across Australia, Spiegelworld is proud to bring its all-new show EMPIRE to Toronto starting September 1, 2015. Ticket prices range from $69 - $129 and can be purchased online as of 10am on Monday, April 13.

Produced by Spiegelworld and presented by evenko, EMPIRE smashes the boundaries of circus, cabaret, variety and burlesque, reinventing the genres for a 21st century audience. Making its debut in New York City as the first tented show in Times Square in 2012, the 700-seat antique Spiegeltent, complete with beveled mirrors, plus velvet-upholstered seating booths, speak-easy style bar and the most intimate stage in town will host the most jaw-dropping and outrageous night out of the year!

EMPIRE will be making its first Canadian stop in Montreal in April, and from there will be heading across Canada with shows in Quebec City, Ottawa, and Toronto before wrapping up in Vancouver.

EMPIRE is a 90-minute adventure performed by the greatest international talent ever assembled in one tent. The MCs, Oscar and Fanny, steer the show while an eccentric cast of characters help Oscar rebuild his empire; the seductive Gorilla Girls from Ukraine form perfectly balanced pyramids on top of each other; the Ethiopian foot juggler Black Flintstone throws and impossibly catches his brother Big Mac Boy on his feet.

Other performers include the duo, Lime Green Lady and Carrot Man who beautifully and sensuously balance each other, the Half Naked Asian Dude Wearing Pigtails from Japan is the world champion wheelmaster, rolling dangerously past the audience; Miss A in a Bubble contorts gracefully inside an aerial sphere and the 3D Graffiti Guy from Canada creates amazing structures, anchored entirely on a feather. Miss Purple is the resident vocalist, backed by the music of the Viking of 6th Avenue, Moondog.

To create EMPIRE, Spiegelword Impressario Ross Mollison assembled a stellar creative team of director Terence O’Connell (numerous Australian comedy greats at The Last Laugh in Melbourne through to Circus Oz), choreographer John ‘Cha Cha’ O’Connell (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby), designer Angus Strathie (Academy Award for Moulin Rouge) and lighting designer Ginger Crobett (Greg Allmann, Guns n' Roses) .

Spiegelworld first presented its annual summer season in New York City on Pier 17, South Street, Seaport with acclaimed shows including Absinthe, La Vie, Gazillionaire’s Late Night Lounge and Desir. For the world premiere season of EMPIRE in 2012, Spiegelworld relocated to a premium vacant lot right in the heart of Broadway.

Praise for previous shows include ‘‘Erotic, remarkable feats in a chic atmosphere," AM New York; “Left me speechless, cool live music, hot taut bodies, eye popping feats of grace and muscle,” New York Daily News.

Spiegelworld is currently presenting Absinthe in the forecourt of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The production was announced the “Best show in Vegas” by Vegas Seven magazine. EMPIRE in Toronto opens September 1, 2015 - under the Spiegeltent. Don’t miss this unique, 90-minute adventure performed by the greatest international talent ever assembled in one tent!

September 1-27, 2015

Under the Spiegeltent in Toronto – location to be revealed soon!
Tuesday & Wednesday, Friday & Saturday @ 8pm; Thursday-Saturday @ 10pm; Sunday @ 7pm - Ticket prices range from $69-$129 - for regular tickets, VIP packages, and Cocktail Table and Booth seating and can be purchased at


Yuna, Naomi Wolf, Macy Gray & More at Women of the World Festival June 11-14 2015 at the Apollo Theater Harlem

With material from a release:

Women of the World Festival
June 11-14, 2015
at the Apollo Theater, Harlem
featuring Macy Gray, Yuna, Naomi Wolf & More

Performances, conversation, activism

Ticket Info

HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY - In this extraordinary, first-time collaboration, the Apollo and London’s Southbank Centre present a four-day WOW festival in New York, featuring performances, talks, mentoring sessions, music, film and debates that celebrate the talents of women and girls from all walks of life and all parts of the world.

WOW was founded in 2011, at London’s Southbank Centre. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate the formidable power of women to make change happen; to remind us of our history; to draw attention to injustice; to enjoy the company of women; and to encourage men to add their support as we set out to achieve a fairer world.

Please join us for this exciting, essential and empowering international gathering of women for four jam-packed days uptown in Harlem, USA, featuring,

• Leymah Gbowee - Nobel Peace Prize Winner
• Macy Gray - Grammy-Winning Singer/Songwriter
• Iyanla Vanzant - Emmy Award Winner
• Naomi Wolf - Bestselling Author
• Yuna - Malaysian Pop Star

Tickets for the Women of the World Festival can be purchased at the Apollo Theater Box Office and online at Tickets can also be purchased by phone at (800) 745-3000 FREE.

Yo - Spirit of Asia Makes Toronto Debut at Small World Music April 17 2015 (Asian Music Series)

From a media release:


YO - SPIRIT OF ASIA (Japan / India) - Toronto Debut
Friday, April 17 @ 8 pm / Doors 7:30 pm
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St.Yo

Tickets: $30

From the heart of Japan and the soul of India, and making their Toronto debut, comes YO – Spirit of Asia, presented by Small World Music as part of The 13th Annual Asian Music Series running April through May. Weaving ancient traditional sounds from both Japan and India, this improvisational trio features world-renowned virtuoso musicians Yutaka Oyama on shamisen, Akihisa Kominato on shakuhachi (bamboo) flute, and Ty Burhoe on tabla. YO is a cutting edge world music experience of gorgeous melodies, sizzling rhythms and riffs and scintillating synergy. Door open at 7:30 pm and music starts at 8:00 pm on Friday, April 17th, at the Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw Street.

YO is a Tokyo-based trio that entwines two ancient traditions with the music of today, representing the finest of world music aspirations. A collaboration of three internationally renowned musicians, possessing towering talent on their instruments and each boasting dynamic and wide-ranging careers in their respective fields, YO features Yutaka Oyama on shamisen (a plucked, three-stringed instrument), Akihisa Kominato on shakuhachi (a bamboo flute), and tabla player Ty Burhoe. The name YO is particularly fitting - in ancient Japanese it means 'song or melody' and in the modern language, it connotes 'community' and ‘living in the moment’. YO’s music has roots in the traditional sounds of India and Japan, yet it reflects the nature of modern culture and community.

From the classical Indian rhythms and the meditational lyricism of the Zen-informed flute pieces, to the folk melodies from northern Japan, YO creates a confluence of these elements through original works and arrangements of modern and classical compositions, that offers a highly accessible and enjoyable experience for audiences world-wide.


- pictured below
Sunday, April 12 @ 8 pm / Doors 7:30 pm
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St.
Tickets: $15 Available online / Website:

Saturday, April 25 @ 8 pm / Doors 7:30 pm
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St.
Tickets: $20 / Website: - - -

Saturday, May 2 @ 8 pm / Doors 7:30 pm
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St.
Tickets: $20 / Website:

Sunday, May 3 @ Doors 7:30 pm
Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. West
Tickets: $15 / Website: -

FOOTSTEPS OF BABUR (Afghanistan / India)
Saturday, May 8 @ 8 pm
Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr.
Tickets: $35 +

Sunday, May 17 @ 8 pm
Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. West
Tickets: $30 / $40 / Website: -
Thursday, May 21 @ 8 pm
Small World Centre, 180 Shaw St.
Tickets: $20 / Website:

FANNA-FI-ALLAH (USA / Pakistan) - A Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Sunday, May 31 @ 8 pm
Mississauga Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Dr, Mississauga, ON
Tickets: $30 / $40 / Website:!about-qawwali-ffa/c6eq

Friday, April 10, 2015

Taste the Neighbourhood at Harlem EatUp! May 14 to 17 2015

With material from a media release:

Harlem EatUp!
May 14 - 17, 2015

I don't often write about food - not often enough really because food is definitely a vital part of culture.

I've been a visitor to Harlem for several years now and while gentrification is very much a mixed bag of issues, the growth of the restaurant business in the hood (largely owned by people who live in Harlem too) is definitely something to celebrate  I've sampled from places like Maison Harlem, Red Rooster, Chez Lucienne and others  - including the burgeoning African dining scene at places like Africa Kine in Little Senegal (something alas that they don't much talk about) - and have been universally impressed with the results.

Harlem EatUp! is a four-day festival that invites you to see and taste all Harlem has to offer from the artists of the kitchen, the canvas, the stage and the streets. Come Dine In Harlem! for a one-night-only multi-room dinner party for the ages, hit The Stroll, where Harlem’s food, art and culture will converge or hear what the tastemakers are discussing at Harlem Talks.

• Harlem Talks includes info on what it's like to be a professional chef, valuable info and insights into how to open and run a restaurant along with a look at the very artistic process of creating food.
• Dinners, dinners and more dinners - but buy your tickets soon because many are already sold out.
• Walk around tastings including a Sunday gospel brunch.
• Culinary demonstrations by master chefs.

When friends and founders of the Harlem EatUp! Festival, executive chef, restaurateur and Harlemite Marcus Samuelsson and veteran event marketer, Herb Karlitz, put their heads together about celebrating Harlem they couldn’t be stopped. Three months later, together with the sage insight and support of Harlem business tastemake.s and residents, they would announce Harlem EatUp! to the world!

As part of its mission and dedication to Harlem, the Festival will donate proceeds from ticket sales to Harlem Park to Park and Citymeals-on-Wheels. Respectively, both organizations continue to provide a positive and direct impact on the community through small business support and feeding Harlem’s homebound elderly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Must See: Cavalia's Odysseo Returns to Toronto Opening April 8 2015 #Cavalia

Cavalia Presents Odysseo
Opening Night: April 8, 2015
at the Portlands, Toronto for a Four Week Run (So Far...)

Get Your Tix

With gorgeous, nimble dancers and acrobats - including a fully vulcanized troupe of acrobats from Guinea - the usual Cirque-ish attention to production values, live music and of course, horses and more horses, there's not much not to like about Odysseo, Cavalia's  spectacular production that returns to Toronto's portlands after a three year hiatus.

Odysseo is essentially a fantasy, a meditation on various landscapes - rendered in a stunning panoramic set with a combination of superb video from three IMAX screens and a stage set that included a mountain the horses rode down from and - at the very end of course - a 300,000 liter pool that fills up at the bottom of the stage.

With 70 horses, 45 performers and countless stage and technical hands (and they hire half their stage staff locally - another bonus,) this is the largest touring production of anything, anywhere and takes a spectacular logistical feat to get and keep organized.

Just a few of the details:

• 1,626 square metre stage
• 10,000 tons of rock, earth and sand are trucked in to create the setting
• The Big Top is 37 metres tall
According to founder and Artistic Director Normand Latourelle, it takes 21 semi-trailers and two to three weeks to get the show packed up and either set up or torn down. The company spent the winter touring Dallas and Mexico, with the horses taking a break in Kentucky before coming to Toronto for the show's run.

This is no "just the show" experience either - there's a swank indoor/outdoor lounge area, bar, washrooms better than most night clubs and merchandise to any taste.

The run has already been extended by two weeks and I suspect it will be again for at least that long. Last time they were in Toronto in 2012, the show ran an impressive 18 weeks and sold 150,000 tickets.

Man & Horse
What is most to love about Cavalia is the clear love all of these people have for the magnificent animals they work with. The scenes include elegant exhibitions of dressage and formation riding, then switch to acrobatics, then Western-style daredevil trick riding on Appaloosas that thunder by at breakneck speeds.

One of the highlights for me is the so-called liberty training - where the horses perform without rider, saddle or any tack at all, free and only to the voice of one trainer. Twelve white and grey Arabians performed various moves - and behaved despite the obvious rivalries between them. It takes a very deep understanding and trust to be able to pull that off; an impressive feat.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

New Single from Calgary Hard Rock Duo The Unraveling - Revolt (April 25, 2015 - Independent)

New Single from Calgary Hard Rock Duo
The Unraveling - Revolt
(April 25, 2015 - Independent)

Check out the single & Name Your Own Price

The Unraveling is Steve Moore on vocals and lyrics and Gustavo de Beauville on pretty much everything else, a Calgary-based hard rock duo whose latest single and upcoming CD you could say have truly been forged in fire.

With a sound that happens somewhere where hard rock and industrial collide, the band first came to the media and public's attention in 2010 with the release of 13 Arcane Hymns, a full-length concept album that was listed in Suite 101's Top Heavy Metal Albums of 2010. Pitch Black Magazine called it "a 13-track emotional and industrial-infused metal masterpiece.”

Move Forward Until You Are Dead, from the last CD:

A diagnosis of cancer, that battle and recovery sidelined singer Steve Moore for a few years but his recovery has been marked by a return to music - and the recording studio for the band. During the hiatus, Gustavo developed his production skills and worked with a number of other projects.

The vocals on the single, appropriately entitled Revolt, are raw and edgy, contrasted by soft male voices in chorus. The emphasis here is on the words and the message, hammered home by a powerful drum line and staccato guitar work that puts all the focus on the voice.

The lyrics are poetic and pessimistic - revolt is the only answer to society's corruption.

The dogmas we call learning
I see a strawman burning
Black smoke is crying foul
But the convincing beast will prowl
Youth feeds on itself like the mantis bride
Poised for endless future with the baby inside

It's not an unfamiliar theme in the hard rock genre, but The Unraveling give the sentiment a sense of sincerity and authenticity in the delivery. I would have preferred a more organic than electronic drum sound, although I'll admit that the electronics that drown the song's ending are a nice touch.


A preview of the new studio album - of which this is the first single...

Banjo & the Avant-Garde: Paul Elwood - Nice Folks (January 27, 2015 - Innova Recordings)

With material from a media release:

Banjo & the Avant-Garde:
Paul Elwood - Nice Folks
(January 27, 2015 - Innova Recordings)

Check it out/Buy it

It's virtually impossible to do any justice to this latest release by the ever eclectic Paul Elwood in mere words. As a writer, I acknowledge that they can only hint at the kind of sounds a listener might expect from his sonically striking collaboration between banjo virtuoso Elwood and percussionist Famoudou Don Moye along with many others - The Invisible Ensemble, Kelsey Shiba, Pierre Fenichel, Raphael Imbert, Jean-Marc Montera, Thomas Weirich, Simon Sieger and finally The GRIM/Montevideo Choir - that took place in Marseille.

Famoudou is the renowned percussionist with the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC), a major innovative voice in the history of jazz. Elwood's recordings use the group's facility for improv and his compositions are intercut with short improvisational sections.

The name of the album - Nice Folks - is a riff of AEC's 1970 album, Nice Guys. As Elwood describes it, this group - the Invisible Ensemble - came together quickly after he met Moye by chance at a music festival in Marseille. He assembled a group of high level young French musicians just for this recording project.

On his last recording:

As a banjoist, it was the culmination of Elwood's lifelong dream to play an an avant-garde jazz ensemble.

"This project enabled me to bring to realization a dream I had for many years of using my instrument within the context of an avant-garde jazz ensemble; Famoudou Don Moye’s presence on the recordings is a direct connection to the vanguard of the experimental jazz movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I believe that this recording will be of interest to others in that it will offer fans of the AEC the opportunity for an aural update on this legendary percussionist and to hear him in a new context."

The recording came together in a whirlwind during the summer of 2014.