Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reggae Reimagined: The See-I Remix Compilation

With material from a press release:

See-I Remixed
Fort Knox Recordings (Released: Nov 22, 2011)
The Original CD
The Remix EP 
Fort Knox Recordings presents the See-I Remix Compilation - thirteen brilliant remixes of original See-I tracks from their June 2011 debut album. Loved by fans, lauded by the press and popular with radio outlets around the world, the See-I debut album has been a phenomenal success.

This group of remixes is truly a global compilation, with remixers coming from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hungary and the USA, each bringing their own unique sound and vibe.

That's what the media release tells me, but I was a little unsure of what to expect from this compilation. The organic soul and the hip shaking groove of superb musicians who know each other well - that's just exactly what I love about See-I, so taking out the organic and adding electronics seemed counterintuitive. But, in doing so, they often added meat to the reggae bones of the music and overall, it ends up with a trippy and danceable (of course) vibe that I ended up liking a lot.

Impressions - the vocals remain as distinctive as ever, often contrasting the hypnotic rhythm and bass backdrop; the melody over reimagined electronic reggae riddims. The Funk Hunters Remix of Soul Hit Man picks apart the various lines of melody and rhythm, instrument and voice. Sometimes the vocals are actually much clearer than in the original versions. It's fun overall, and each remix has a fresh kind of take to offer, from psychadelic to not so far from the original to ultra electronic. I like the way J-Roc's Remix of Homegrown 2011 emphasizes the intense signature vocal style. Like the original CD, it's good party music.

My favourite - the last track, #13 - the Holmes Ives Remix adds a disturbing element to Disturbancy.

Track Listing:
1 Dangerous (Subatomic Sound System Remix)
2 Haterz 24/7 (Fort Knox Five Remix)
3 Dub Revolution (Omegaman Remix)
4 Soul Hit Man (The Funk Hunters Remix)
5 Talkin' About the Peace (Ancient Astronauts Remix)
6 How We Do (JPOD the Beat Chef Remix)
7 Blow Up (Knight Riderz Remix)
8 Soul Hit Man (Drumagick Remix)
9 Soul Universe (MustBeat Crew & Nynfus Corp Remix)
10 Homegrown 2011 (J-Roc Remix)
11 Blow Up (Turntable Dubbers & Sebski Remix)
12 Reign in 2 Light (Clayton & Fulcrum Remix)
13 Disturbancy (Holmes Ives Remix)

compare Homegrown:

  See-I - Homegrown (JRoc Remix) by See-I

Jazz CD Review: Tim Hagans Quartet 'The Moon is Waiting'

With material from a press release:

Jazz CD Review: Tim Hagans Quartet
The Moon is Waiting
Palmetto Records (October 11, 2011)

"I'm not comfortable making comfortable music," says trumpeter/composer Tim Hagans. "This is the ideal band for me to create a kind of spontaneous combustion of raw energy that is nonetheless melodically unified. That might sound like a contradiction, but all my music is tightly structured to allow for the wildest playing possible."

I can't really think of a better description of the music in this intriguing CD from the Swedish musician and composer. Three time Grammy nominated (including a 2011 nod for Best Instrumental Composition) Tim Hagans just formed this quartet and The Moon is Waiting is their first recording. The other members are Rufus Reid on bass, Finnish drummer Jukkis Uotila and guitarist Vic Juris. The focus on a smaller ensemble is a new one for the man who was Artistic Director of Sweden's Norrbotton Big Band for 15 years. Hagans also composes and performs with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble - the company uses only live original music and the musicians become part of the staging. The CD was recorded at Maggie’s Farm by Matt Balitsaris.

Impressions - he balances a singing trumpet line over a bumpy poly-rhythm section in songs that are melodic with dissonant sections. The trumpet lines are agile, sometimes trippy but always with a purpose. I like the dramatic and bluesy sound of the second track, (The Moon is Waiting,) where the trumpet screams like a banshee. At times the sound is busy and insistent, abstract and avant-garde, and some tracks are more conventional sounding - at least in parts. It's moody late night material with a kind of silvery quality to the sound.

Stand out track - Boo - track #5 - I like its swingy groove.

Track Listing:
1 Ornette's Waking Dream Of A Woman
2 The Moon Is Waiting
3 Get Outside
4 First Jazz
5 Boo
6 What I'll Tell Her Later Tonight
7 Wailing Trees
8 Things Happen In A Convertible

Wailing Trees
  Wailing Trees - Tim Hagans by BK Music PR

Jazz CD Review: Geoff Vidal's She Likes That

With material from a press release:

Jazz CD Review: Geoff Vidal
She Likes That
Arts & Music Factory (October 4, 2011)

Brooklyn native Geoff Vidal is one of the young new wave of hot jazz players in New York City, busy several nights a week with various gigs. She Likes That is sophisticated and listenable, with enough variation to keep it interesting through all seven tracks. The music displays a casual disregard for stylistic definitions and categorization that makes it fresh.

Geoff is joined by Chicago drummer Makaya McCravan, (who also produces the CD,) guitaritst Joe Hundertmark (his steady gig is Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana at Radio city Music Hall) and bassist Michael O'Brien, with fellow trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt on three of the tracks. He describes it as a collaborative work, "The album is under my name, but it's a really a band project, and i couldn't be happier with how we played."

Impressions - the music is busy, each line separate yet interconnected. He plays the sax with virtuosic prowess, whether in abstract meditations or frenetic releases of energy, melodic or emotional. Splashy cymbals and crisp drumbeats punctuate the lower end, with shimmering guitarwork to add another layer. The threads of each knot themselves together and then unravel again. I love the warm tone of his sax and in fact a kind of golden tone to both the sax and guitar, along with the expressive nature of Geoff's playing.

The stand out track - I like Lanusa (#6) for its fluidity and moodiness - the sense of perpetual motion, like the waves comes in from the sea - the subtleties.

Track Listing:
1 Darjeeling
2 Different Planes
3 O-Zoning
4 Time Apart
5 Freediver
6 Lanusa
7 She Likes That

  Darjeeling - Geoff Vidal by BK Music PR

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Broadway Opening Night: Stick Fly December 8

From a release:

Stick Fly on Broadway
Produced by Alicia Keys with Reuben Cannon & Nelle Nugent
Opening Night December 8, 2011

NEW YORK CITY - Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys with Reuben Cannon & Nelle Nugent present the Broadway premiere of Stick Fly, the critically-acclaimed new play by Lydia R. Diamond and directed by Kenny Leon.The first preview of Stick Fly opened on Broadway's Corte Theater on November 18 with a star studded opening night set for December 8, 2011.

It was a relaxing weekend on Martha’s Vineyard … until the baggage got unpacked.

Meet the LeVays.  When two adult sons independently choose to introduce their girlfriends to the parents on the same weekend, sibling rivalries flare, opinions clash, class distinctions divide and family secrets unravel.  Get your tickets now to STICK FLY, a wickedly funny, endlessly surprising new play by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Kenny Leon.

ALICIA KEYS, Producer: “This is a story that everybody can relate to. I’m passionate about this play because it is so beautifully written and portrays Black America in a way that we don’t often get to see in entertainment. I know it will touch audiences who will find a piece of themselves somewhere inside this house.”

KENNY LEON, Director:
“Stick Fly is one of those unique plays with a beauty that lies in its universality.  Lydia Diamond is a master storyteller, combining humor with intellect. Her reach is as great as my friend August Wilson – her poetry and the world of the characters may differ, but the results are the same: an evening full of laughter and hought that keeps us talking long after we’ve left the theater. I love plays where everyone can find themselves in the story on stage.”

LYDIA R. DIAMOND, Playwright, will make her Broadway debut with the premiere of Stick Fly. Her other work includes Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Stage Black and Harriet Jacobs. She is a faculty member of Boston University and has had her works produced across the country.

The play has been seen regionally at such theaters as the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and the Huntington Theater Company in Boston.

When it comes to family... you're stuck

Stick Fly on Broadway
Produced by Alicia Keys with Reuben Cannon & Nelle Nugent
Directed by Kenny Leon
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission
Audience: May be inappropriate for 12 and under. Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theatre.
Cast Members: Dulé Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Rosie Benton, Condola Rashad

Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street (Between 7th and 6th Avenues)
New York, NY 10036
BUY TICKETS ONLINE or (212) 239-6200

Royal Conservatory Toronto Concerts for December 2011

From a media release:


Classical concerts including the Tallis Scholars and Monica Whicher with Judy Loman
Spanish Harlem Orchestra presenting ‘A Salsa Christmas’
John McDermott returns for another holiday celebration
Superstar pianist André Watts makes his Koerner Hall debut

TORONTO - The holiday season should be enjoyed with loved ones – full of good times, good food, and good music. Why not break with the tradition of seeing the usual Christmas staples, such as Händel’s Messiah or Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and add some fun concerts to the mix? The Royal Conservatory offers four concerts in December to get everyone into the mood for the holidays: soprano Monica Whicher and harpist Judy Loman perform selections from their Lullabies and Carols for Christmas CD on Sunday, December 4; the Tallis Scholars (whose concert sold out during Koerner Hall’s inaugural season) return on Thursday, December 8, with diverse composers’ settings of the Magnificat; the Spanish Harlem Orchestra (the Grammy Award-winning 13-member all-star ensemble, directed by world-renowned pianist, arranger, and producer Oscar Hernández) bring caliente rhythms and dance (yes, even the audience is encouraged to enjoy themselves by dancing!) with A Salsa Christmas on Friday, December 9; and John McDermott and Friends return on Sunday, December 18. McDermott, lauded for his annual concerts which start off the holiday season with a blend of Christmas songs and a tasteful inclusion of a tribute to Remembrance, is joined by his band and special guests, including Adrian Anantawan on violin, and singers Ariana Gillis and Matt Dusk.

Music From Across the Middle East concerts continue in Koerner Hall with two notable vocalists, Chava Alberstein and Maryem Tollar on Saturday, December 3. In this third concert of the series, one of Israel’s most celebrated folk singers, Chava Alberstein will perform her music ranging from tender love to defiant songs about peace and oppression. She shares the stage with Maryem Tollar, an extraordinary Egyptian-Canadian vocalist known for her singing in Christos Hatzis’s Constantinople, on A.R. Rahman’s Mayya Mayya for the Bollywood film Guru, and as the voice of the theme song for Little Mosque on the Prairie. Both will be joined by their own bands, comprising of musicians playing everything from guitar, percussion, bass, electric violin, saxophone, and flutes, to the Middle-Eastern qanun, tombak, nay, and oud.

Two more classical concerts round out the month of December. On Friday, December 2, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Connie Shih present the Canadian premiere of an imaginative and pictorial new work written for Isserlis by Thomas Adès (named Composer of the Year in 2011 by Musical America), titled Lieux retrouvés, along with Felix Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 45; César Franck’s Cello Sonata in A Major, M.8; and Franz Liszt’s Romance oubliée, S.527 and Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth, S.382.

Coming from an exceptionally musical family, Isserlis has had many works dedicated to and written especially for him; he is an enormous Beatles fan (he even has his hair styled after the band’s hair cuts) and an author of children’s books! Pianist André Watts plays a concert entirely dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt’s birth on Sunday, December 11. The all Liszt program includes Étude de concert in D-flat Major No. 3, S.144 “Un sospiro”; Les jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este, S.163; Piano Sonata in B Minor, S.178; Bagatelle sans tonalité, S.216a; Nuages gris, S.199; En rêve, S.207; La lugubre gondola II, S.200; Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S.203; Étude No. 2 in E-flat Major from Six Grand Études after Paganini, S.141; Transcendental Étude No. 10 in F Minor, S.139; and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A Minor, S.244. “Watts’ technique has gained in brilliance and strength, while his insights have become exquisitely penetrating and detailed,” declared The New York Times.

Mazzoleni Concert Hall, located in historic Ihnatowycz Hall, offers three concerts by The Glenn Gould School’s talented students. On Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, the vocal program singers present an abridged version of one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most beloved operas, The Magic Flute, in an English translation. Peter Tiefenbach serves as music director and Brent Krysa as director and designer. The Glenn Gould School’s New Music Ensemble has prepared something truly unique for their December 8 and 9 concerts: conductor and award-winning composer Brian Current directs In Vain by Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas (Mr. Haas is coming to Toronto for a week thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum).

This one-hour long piece for 24 musicians requires special lighting effects and there are several passages, four to five minutes at a time, where the audience, the conductor, and the musicians are immersed in complete darkness, hence the players respond to one another by hearing only. Moreover, the audience is treated to colours through music as well as musical (tonal) colour, as the musicians use their instruments to play tones that, when combined, vibrate at the same frequency as the corresponding colour. Finally, rising star senior string students from the Young Artists Performance Academy come together as the Academy Chamber Orchestra to perform an inspiring program that will feature guest soloists and celebrated Academy alumni on Saturday, December 10.

Master Classes, Prelude Concerts, RCM Concerts Book Club

A very special master class is being held on December 2 at 1:00pm with Sir Roger Norrington conducting the Royal Conservatory Orchestra in a rehearsal of Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1. Maestro Norrington, widely recognized as one of the great conductors of our time, studied at The Royal Conservatory as a violin student during the 1940s, when he was sent to Canada to escape to bombings in London. This is his first return to The Conservatory since his student days during the war. Master classes are fee and Three of the Koerner Hall mainstage performances are followed by Postlude Concerts in the Leslie and Anna Dan Galleria, Lower Level: The Glenn Gould School Students follow Steven Isserlis on December 2, Arsalan Alizadeh follows Chava Alberstein and Maryem Tollar on December 3, and The Royal Conservatory School’s Latin Band follows the Spanish Harlem Orchestra on December 9. As a new initiative this season, concertgoers are invited to participate in casual discussions on books and music relating to specific performances. In conjunction with the Chava Alberstein and Maryem Tollar concert, the chosen book is The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan. Pre-registration is required and discussion locations will be announced by email prior to the corresponding concert.

More information about the Concert Book Club, including a full list of titles and related Koerner Hall performances, can be found at
With the Christmas season approaching, The Royal Conservatory Gift Cards and concert tickets are a great gift idea. The gift cards are available for purchase in any denomination and can be redeemed for concert or event tickets at The Royal Conservatory in person or by phone. They are also reloadable in any denomination. Gift Cards can be purchased in person at the Weston Family Box Office, by phone at 416.408.0208, or by visiting Gift Card services are donated by Givex, a global provider of stored value technology, loyalty programs, and e-coupons.

December Performances at The Royal Conservatory
• Sir Roger Norrington Master Class: Friday, December 2, 2011 at 1pm (KH) *
• The Magic Flute (Discovery): Friday, December 2, 2011 at 7:30pm (MCH); $14.50
• Steven Isserlis, cello, with Connie Shih, piano (Strings): Friday, December 2, 2011 at 8pm (KH); starting at $28
• The Magic Flute (Discovery): Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 7:30pm (MCH); $14.50
• Chava Alberstein & Maryem Tollar (Middle Eastern Music): Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 8pm (KH); starting at $33.50
• Monica Whicher, soprano, and Judy Loman, harp (Mazzoleni Masters): Sun., December 4, 2011 at 2pm (MCH); $31.50
• Tallis Scholars (Early Music): Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 8pm (KH); starting at $39
• The Glenn Gould School’s New Music Ensemble (Discovery): Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 7:30pm and Friday, December 9 at 2:30pm (MCH); $14.50
• Spanish Harlem Orchestra: A Salsa Christmas (World/Jazz): Friday, December 9, 2011 at 8pm (KH); starting at $39
• Academy Chamber Orchestra (Discovery): Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7:30pm (MCH) *
• André Watts plays Liszt (Piano): Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 3pm (KH); starting at $39
• John McDermott and Friends (Folk/Pop): Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 8pm (KH); starting at $39
* Free event; (KH) – Koerner Hall; (MCH) – Mazzoleni Concert Hall

• Tickets are available online at, by calling 416.408.0208,or in person at the Weston Family Box Office

All concerts take place at The Royal Conservatory
TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

CD Release Concert: Phillip Brown's Drive December 4

From a media release:


TORONTO – NOVEMBER, 2011 – Emerging young folksinger PHILLIP BROWN sparks a driving energy for his fourth music offering DRIVE. A release concert will be held at Toronto’s Tranzac Club on Sunday, December 4th, beginning with a 20-minute opening set at 7:30 pm by singer-songwriter Michael Burton. 

The wise-beyond-his-years singer-songwriter Phillip Brown has surfaced with a dynamic new album called DRIVE. This is his fourth CD and was produced by multi-talented award-winner Paul Mills of The Mill Stream, following the critically acclaimed Winter Hymn which Mills also had a hand in. Brown’s refreshing and smooth “folky” vocals whisper Lightfoot and wrap around his introspective lyrics with the strength and confidence of a veteran. His guitar pickin’ is impressive too and he has garnered the attention of many musicians and industry folks alike.

Someone once said, “Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.” And then there’s this funny quip “The shortest distance between two points is under construction.” Both of these quotes speak of life as a kind of work-in-progress and that’s what the seven-track album DRIVE is about – love and loss, yearning and making important decisions about one’s future through the freedom of driving somewhere, anywhere and letting the wheels chart your course. This is most aptly expressed in the song titled “Which Way Should I Go.”

Brown’s lush vocals are sweetly enhanced by singer Ann Chung especially on the title track. The haunting lonesome vibe on songs like “Harbour Mouth” and “The Sun and the Moon” is deftly achieved by the long somber tones from Wendy Solomon’s cello. Brown pays homage to the hard life of a man down-at-heels in the song “The Drunkard” and sees himself staunching his own path at times, in the livelier “Wrench in My Own Gears”.

Other players on the album are Paul Mills aka Curly Boy Stubbs on acoustic guitar, resonator guitar and banjo, the great Al Cross on drums and the anchor for Brown’s melodic prowess, Bryant Didier on bass. 

The CD was also recorded and mixed by Paul Mills at The Millstream and mastered by Ron Skinner at Heading North Mastering.

MICHAEL BURTON will open the night with music from his recent solo release The Welcome Shore which holds examples of his attachment to ocean and shore as well as the travelling life. He writes from real life most of the time and as folk veteran Tim Harrison put it, "Michael is a fellow toiler in the stony fields of Folk."

Guitar-slinger Phillip Brown w/ opening set by Michael Burton
A CD Release Concert for DRIVE
The Tranzac Club, (Main Hall), 292 Brunswick Ave. (416) 923-8137
Sunday, December 4, opener starts @ 7:30 pm
TICKETS: $15 / Door  / $20 with a copy of new CD. There will be door prizes too!

DJ Skate Nights Return to Harbourfront Toronto - December 3 2011 to Feb 18 2012

From a media release:

DJ Skate Night at Harbourfront Centre
December 2011 to February 2012

Top DJs get the party started at Toronto’s premier ice skating event

TORONTO, ON (Nov. 2011) –Harbourfront Centre’s DJ Skate Night transforms the Natrel® Rink into funky skating sessions. Every Saturday night from Dec. 3, 2011 to Feb.18, 2012 (except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) features a new DJ spinning groovy tunes including house, funk, soul, reggae, soca and pop-rock from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

This winter’s DJ Skate Night series features 10 FREE late-night skating events with some of Toronto’s best mix-masters including CHERRY BOMB DJs, 1 LOVE T.O., Cratery, DJ medicineman, Promise DJs and FLOW 93-5 FM. January events include a special LunarFest skate party celebrating Asian culture. Other highlights include a Kuumba Black History Month skate celebrations featuring Dr. Jay de Soca Prince followed by a reggae skate jam with CIUT’s DJ Patrick Roots.

If the chilly winter weather gets a little too cold, skaters can warm their fingers and toes by the outdoor fire pits right next to the rink! Patrons can also get cozy in our new lounge area inside the Lakeside Eats restaurant where they can rent board games, watch movies and sporting events, warm up by the fireplace and enjoy soups, chili, gourmet coffee and hot chocolate in between skate time!

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. DJ Skate Night is a part of Harbourfront Centre’s SKATE CULTURE programme that celebrates Canada’s winter culture. All SKATE CULTURE events take place on the beautiful Natrel® Rink located along the scenic shores of Lake Ontario at 235 Queens Quay W, in the heart of Toronto’s downtown waterfront.

DJ Skate Night featured events:

Fusion Freeze with Promise
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Promise is a Toronto underground music collective headed by David Macleod and Irving Shaw. With a keen ear to all that's good in house, techno, electro, disco, dubstep and beyond, Promise DJs guarantee a night of diverse beats that'll put a big smile on your face and a funky bounce in your skates.

FLOW 93-5 FM DJ Skate Night
Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Toronto’s best hip hop and R&B radio station hosts a special DJ Skate Night with one of their radio DJs. Skate along to some of your favourite artists like Rihanna, Drake, Kanye West, Jay Z and more!

1 LOVE T.O. Holiday Skate Party
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

1 LOVE T.O. is a movement that bridges the gaps – between cultures, neighbourhoods, interests and generations. This unifying voice of our city exposes art, culture, style and music on the Natrel® Rink.

Electro Swing with DJ medicineman
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Canada's most highly respected global fusion DJ will spin you around the world (or rink) with a mix of global grooves, world beat and ethno-electro hits!

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Cratery is a monthly vinyl podcast from record aficionados Arcee, Kaewonder and DJ Serious. Cratery comes to life on ice with Skatery, where you will find a blend of genres all derived from funk.

Lunar Skate at CIBC LunarFest
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

CIBC LunarFest is Canada's premier presenter of contemporary expression in Asian arts and culture. Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Lunar Skate party complete with lanterns, skating activities, and more!

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Back by popular demand, the dynamic duo that is CHERRY BOMB creates mixes and mash-ups of house, techno, and electro that are sure to have you grooving on ice. The fourth annual edition of the popular CHERRY BOMB DJ Skate Night heats up the ice with dancefloor burners that are mixed, mashed and played with love! (pictured right)

Soca on Ice with Dr. Jay de Soca Prince (part of Kuumba presented by TD)
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

Come celebrate Black History Month at Kuumba presented by TD, as DJ Skate Night explores hot Caribbean rhythms. Join us as Dr. Jay de Soca Prince heats up the ice with soca and calypso tunes.

Reggae Revoloution with DJ Patrick Roots
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

DJ Patrick Roots and his crew, including Junior Selector and DJ Chocolate fuse the familiar sounds of reggae with cool city nights for some hot culture in the dead of winter. (pictured left)

Ladies’ Night with DJ MelBoogie & JJ Rock
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 from 8-11 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink

DJ MelBoogie & JJ Rock of DD Radio, Canada's only all-female hip hop show, present Ladie’s Night! They'll be playing the perfect mix of hip hop, R&B and classic rollerskating jams and blend them with a healthy dose of dancehall reggae and soca.

Multidisciplinary Performance: Diasporic Genius Presents Tumbling Into Light in Toronto

From a media release:

Diasporic Genius Productions in association with Andrea Nann Dreamwalker Dance
Tumbling into Light: A Musical Journey out of the Darkness
December 1st to December 4th
The Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre - Toronto

Award-winning Multidisciplinary Artists Create the “New Hybridity”

TORONTO - Diasporic Genius Productions presents the performance spectacle Tumbling Into Light, a music-centred, multidisciplinary performance at The Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, from December 1 st to 4th, that made its debut in January 2010, to a wealth of critical and popular praise.

This presentation builds on its limited run debut performances, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, that were sold out and that generated a great audience buzz. This presentation takes what was great in the first round and fully develops it into a full-length, music-centred magical journey.

Tumbling Into Light features award-winning Canadian artists David Buchbinder, Dave Wall, Andrea Nann, Richard Underhill and a company of award-winning artists: musicians, dancers, design, and video. As a presentation of the new arts-based organization for creative and social change, Diasporic Genius, Tumbling Into Light will also include emerging artists and non-professional members of the Thorncliffe Park community.

The simple narrative line that runs through the show is a journey through the darkness of our times to arrive at a new illumination. This journey is grounded in questions raised and images presented by the composers in the songs, of identity, ideology, and the possibility of losing one ʼs way. Tumbling Into Light recognizes a darkness in our culture, in our people and in our dreams that calls us to question some of our basic assumptions about who we are and how we got here.

Tumbling Into Light breaks new ground in music presentation through its skillful blending of performance and presentation disciplines and techniques. Buchbinder calls this the “new hybridity” that exploits the power of a blended ensemble, as the performers weave together beauty, humour, extremes of darkness and light, explosive energy, and a rare dynamism. Over the last three years, Buchbinder, with collaborators such as Nann and Roberto Campanella Of ProArte Danza has been developing the practice of an integrated ensemble of musicians and dancers whose performing roles flow into each other.

It is a powerful yet accessible performance with an exciting new direction, bringing together high level performance with community-based art.

Diasporic Genius Productionsin association with Andrea Nann Dreamwalker Dance
Lighting Designer: Simon Rossiter · Multimedia: Tess Girard

Tumbling Into Light
December 1st to December 4th
The Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
• Ticket Price: $39 · Tickets available at Harbourfront Centre · (416) 973-4000

Canadian Folk Music Awards December 2 to 4 in Toronto

From a media release:

Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMAS)
December 2 - 4, 2011
Isabel Bader Theatre - Toronto


The Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMAs) are pleased to announce their 2011 gala lineup which reflects the broad and rich quality of music defined as folk. Some of Canada’s finest will perform at the event including Celtic superstar LOREENA MCKENNITT, bluesman JIM BYRNES, charming songstress ROSE COUSINS and two outstanding groups – a capella ensemble SOUL INFLUENCE and high-energy trio DE TEMPS ANTAN. The awards ceremony will be held in Toronto on Sunday, December 4 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West. Roots Music Canada will be on hand to provide live coverage at for those who cannot attend the event.

• December 4: 1-3:15pm
Workshops - Alumni Hall, Old Vic

8pm - Gala & Reception
Gala in Isabel Bader Theatre (general admission) - Reception in Alumni Hall

Soul Influence (my video from Afrofest 2010):

As well this year, CFMA, TD Bank and The Twelfth Fret present the world premiere of "A WALK IN MY DREAM," following the life-changing events of harmonica great MIKE STEVENS.

• Showtime at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King. St. West Cinema 3, is Friday December 2 @ 8:00 pm. For more information please visit  

Created in 2005 to bring greater exposure to the wealth of Canadian folk music talent, the CFMAs, now in its seventh year, honours outstanding achievements in 19 categories, plus a new award called “Unsung Hero” in recognition of the exceptional contribution of an individual, group or organization to the Canadian folk music scene.

The gala awards ceremonies – once again hosted by CBC Radio on-air personality and Order of Canada recipient Shelagh Rogers and Juno Award-winning veteran entertainer Benoit Bourque – will present some of our country’s brightest stars. Canada’s internationally successful, self-made Celtic powerhouse Loreena McKennitt joins the festivities this year along with multi-talented musician/actor Jim Byrnes. Jim will be accompanied by last year’s Producer of the Year winner and fingerstyle guitar genius Steve Dawson. Another 2010 CFMA recipient, Rose Cousins, from Nova Scotia, is sure to delight audiences with her lush, deep music and distinctive humorous banter. Stirring it up will be Afro-jazz-Christian a capella group Soul Influence, which focuses on the fusion of distinct African spiritual sounds based on Zulu, Shona, Ndebele, Bemba, Lingala,Tswana, Tonga, Twi, Taita Nyanja and Swahili, along with contemporary Christian gospel music. Quebec trio De Temps Antan will provide an explosive onstage presence, with their combined virtuosity on violin, accordion, harmonica, guitar, bouzouki and many other instruments.

The CFMAs, along with TD Bank and The Twelfth Fret are thrilled to present the world premiere of TV personality Jonathan Torrens’ film "A WALK IN MY DREAM."

The film features musician Mike Stevens, who is probably the only harmonica player in the World to appear on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage more than 300 times; give himself eight hernias because of the way he plays; and be named Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky for his outstanding contribution to bluegrass music.

Ten years ago, at the top of his game, Mike’s career took a sudden and drastic detour when he found himself face to face with a group of Labrador youth living in unimaginable conditions. His life would never be the same...and neither would theirs.

The film will debut at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and will launch the 2011 CFMA events on Friday, December 2 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $20 available at the TIFF box office and a full 50% of the ticket price will be a donation to ArtsCan Circle, the registered charity organization that is inspired by Stevens’ work and dedicated to linking creative artists with Indigenous youth at risk in Canada.

Nominee showcase performances and special events will run from Friday, December 2 - Sunday, December 4.
The Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMAs) is thrilled to announce music industry professional JANE HARBURY as the 2011 recipient of the inaugural UNSUNG HERO AWARD. The award will be presented to the vibrant and committed Toronto publicist during the SEVENTH ANNUAL CFMAs at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West in Toronto on Sunday, December 4th.

For more details and ticket information please visit

The new annual Unsung Hero award recognizes the exceptional contribution of an individual, group, or organization to any aspect of the Canadian folk, roots and world music scene, such as performance, promotion and presentation. Nominations for this category were accepted from the public and Harbury was selected by a jury from the region where the awards will take place – in this case, for 2011, Central Canada (which includes Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut).

Jane Harbury’s involvement with the music industry began in the late 1960s when she took on several roles, including manager of the well-known Yorkville coffee house The Riverboat, personal assistant to record producer Brian Ahern, and booking contact for Eastern Sound; the leading Toronto recording studio at that time.

Jane has worked tirelessly to promote artists and events since founding her own publicity company in the ‘80s. Some of her clients over the years include Lhasa, Ian Tyson, Penny Lang, Tom Rush, Eric Andersen, the Chieftains, Ken Whiteley, James Keelaghan and David Francey. In addition to her work with established artists, she is committed to assisting emerging artists in the development of their careers, and has worked with Jason Fowler, Clay Tyson and Rachel Kane, to name a few.

Angelwalk Theatre Toronto 2011-2012 Season Opens with Off-Broadway On Stage

From a media release:

Angelwalk Theatre Announces its 2011-2012 Season featuring

All performances at the Toronto Centre for the Arts – Studio Theatre

Toronto, Ontario... Angelwalk Theatre is thrilled to announce its exciting 2011-2012 lineup. This marks their third season producing some of Toronto's best productions of off-Broadway musical theatre as a professional theatre company in residence at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Angelwalk Theatre will be producing a brand-new musical revue, Off-Broadway On Stage, and the Canadian Premiere of I Love You Because, a modern day musical love story.

Conceived by Angelwalk Theatre's Artistic Producer, Brian Goldenberg, Off-Broadway On Stage is a musical journey through the world of off-Broadway, featuring songs from many popular and long-running off-Broadway musicals, including some that eventually made the move to Broadway.  From The Fantasticks to Altar Boyz or Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris to I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, this off-Broadway musical revue will charm and delight. 

Off-Broadway On Stage runs December 7-11, 2011.

I Love You Because is a modern musical twist on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with Music by Joshua Salzman and Book and Lyrics by Ryan Cunningham. Set in New York City, a young, uptight greeting card writer's life is changed when he meets a flighty photographer.  Along with their eccentric friends and siblings, they learn to love each other not in spite of their faults, but because of them.  Declared "infectiously entertaining!" by The New York Times and "the perfect date musical" by Talkin' Broadway, I Love You Because is "everything an Off-Broadway musical should be...a charming piece of work that will send you home smiling" (The Wall Street Journal). I Love You Because is a hilarious new musical that will have audiences smiling in their seats.

Running from March 28, 2012 to April 15, 2012

Dora-nominated Musical Director, Anthony Bastianon, returns to Angelwalk Theatre as Musical Director for Off-Broadway On Stage.  Last season, Anthony served as musical director for Angelwalk Theatre's productions of Songs for a New World and [title of show], the latter of which he received a Dora Mavor Moore nomination.  In addition to his work with Angelwalk Theatre, Anthony has been the resident musical director at Stage West for 10 years where he has performed in 35 productions.

Darcy Evans makes his Angelwalk Theatre debut as the Director for I Love You Because.  Darcy recently directed Lucy Peacock as Cleopatra in his adaptation of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in the Studio Theatre at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  Darcy was the Associate Director for Little Women on Broadway (starring Sutton Foster) and remounted the Broadway staging for the first U.S. national tour (starring Maureen McGovern). Darcy was invited to participate in the inaugural Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and worked there for 7 Seasons as an actor and associate director.

Angelwalk Theatre distinguishes itself in the Toronto musical theatre scene by being producers rather than presenters, focusing on quality mid-sized musical theatre and working towards developing an 'Off-Broadway' community in Toronto. The company prides itself on providing employment to Canadian artists at all levels - performers, directors, designers, technicians and production staff.

Patrons under the age of 30 can also purchase single tickets for all Angelwalk Theatre productions for as little as $25 per show, a savings of up to 44% off of the regular ticket price.  Group rates and school matinee performances are also available. 
• As a thank you to its patrons, Angelwalk will continue to pay the HST for all weeknight and weekend matinee performances in its 2011-2012 Season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The New Groundswell Festival of Contemporary Women's Theatre in Toronto Nov 30 to Dec 10

From a media release:

The New Groundswell Festival 

A National Festival of Contemporary Women’s Theatre
November 30 to December 10, 2011
Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs
26 Berkeley Street, Toronto, ON.

Toronto, ON…
Nightwood Theatre announces an exciting new beginning for its annual play development festival. For 26 years, Nightwood’s Groundswell Festival has been bringing audiences provocative new works in development. The re-envisioned New Groundswell Festival – A National Festival of Contemporary Women’s Theatre, happens over 11 days starting on November 30th and features 3 premiere workshop productions including Governor General’s Award nominee Lisa Codrington’s new play The Aftermath, Jordi Mand’s Between the Sheets and Zuppa Theatre’s acclaimed new work The Debacle (Halifax). The Festival will also feature a national industry series including an exciting array of masterclasses led by theatre luminaries such as Linda Griffiths, Jillian Keiley, Judith Thompson and young, as well as provocative dialogues and public readings with national and international artists and creators.

The New Groundswell Festival builds on the success of our 30th anniversary celebrations in 2009 and the 4x4 Festival, which put a focus on the female director. The New Groundswell Festival shifts the focus to the female playwright, and seeks to raise the bar in play creation, investing time and resources to explore work in development via production while aiming to increase the dissemination of women’s work across the country, where female playwrights constitute only 29% of plays produced in Canada.

Nightwood’s historic Groundswell Festival is a nationally recognized forum for the creation and development of theatre by women. The festival boasts impressive alumnae including Morwyn Brebner, Marjorie Chan, Claudia Dey, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Sonja Mills and Djanet Sears. The strength of these voices reflects Nightwood Theatre’s ongoing commitment to the development of artistic excellence among Canadian women theatre artists. We are proud to invite you to join us for The New Groundswell Festival – A National Festival of Contemporary Women’s Theatre.

The New Groundswell Festival Programming

The Aftermath by Lisa Codrington – Toronto
Directed by Audrey Dwyer
Starring Lisa Codrington and Ijeoma Emesowum
Sets and Costumes by Camellia Koo, Sound by Richard Feren, Lighting by Sandra Henderson
In the face of impending catastrophe and despite widespread evacuation there are simply those that shall not be moved. Inspired by Hurricane Katrina, playwright Lisa Codrington takes us on a harrowing and humorous exploration of survival in The Aftermath taking us to the eye of the storm to reveal the humanity of those left behind.

Lisa Codrington
Lisa Codrington is an actor and writer based in Toronto. Originally from Winnipeg, she holds a BA in Criminology from the University of Manitoba and a BFA in Acting from Ryerson University. She was nominated for the inaugural Toronto Arts Council Foundation's Emerging Artist Award and was co-winner of the 2008 K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Theatre. This past spring she co-directed the AMY Project with Claire Calnan and prior to that spent three seasons at the Shaw Festival. Most recently she finished adapting Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay A Modest Proposal into a one-act opera with composer Kevin Morse and currently she is playwright in residence at The Blyth Festival working on a new play about seasonal agriculture workers from the Caribbean.

Between the Sheets by Jordi Mand – Toronto
Directed by Kelly Thornton
Starring Susan Coyne and Christine Horne
Sets and Costumes by Camellia Koo, Sound by Richard Feren, Lighting by Sandra Henderson
What begins as a banal parent teacher interview unravels into a gripping and raw discussion between two women on the brink of disaster. One woman is fighting to protect her family. The other is fighting for the family she always wanted. An exposé on aging, fertility, marriage and midlife crisis, Mand has crafted a razor sharp, rollercoaster ride of high stakes drama.

Jordi Mand
Jordi Mand is an alumni of Nightwood's Write From the Hip program. Jordi's plays have been read/workshopped at the Canadian Stage Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, SummerWorks Theatre Festival and the Ignite! Festival in Calgary. Her voice can be heard on the animated series Rob the Robot on TVO. 

The Debacle by Ann-Marie Kerr and Susan Leblanc Crawford – Zuppa Theatre, Halifax
Actor/Co-creator Susan Leblanc-Crawford
Director/Co-creator Ann-Marie Kerr
Going to scientific extremes a woman attempts to freeze memories of her dying sister and in the process learns the power of letting go. The Debacle is a sad, funny and highly theatrical portrait of a woman facing the inevitable reality of being alone.

Susan Leblanc-Crawford
Susan is Co-Artistic Director of Zuppa Theatre Co. With Zuppa she has co-created and performed in twelve productions, most recently Five Easy Steps to the End of the World for which she won the 2011 Merritt Award for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role. With Zuppa she has also co-directed the world premiere of The Fairy of the Lake at Dalhousie University. Susan has performed with several other Atlantic Canadian companies.

Ann-Marie Kerr
Ann-Marie was part of Nightwood Theatre’s 2009 Director’s Summit and the staging of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad. Directing credits include Dapopo Theatre’s So…What about Love; Zuppa Theatre Company’s Five Easy Steps to the End of the World (co-director) that toured to Magnetic North Theatre Festival; 2b theatre company’s Invisible Atom which continues to tour extensively; ARD Production’s A Rescue Demonstration; The Comedy of Errors at Dalhousie University Theatre; and Daniel MacIvor’s Confession for Mulgrave Road Theatre Company.

The Festival Program also includes panel discussions, readings, master classes and workshops, and of course parties - check the link for more information.

• Single tickets on sale now
• $20.00
• Tickets available by calling: 416.368.3110 or

Malian Ngoni Master Bassekou Kouyate in Toronto November 27

From a media release:

Malian Maestro Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
November 27, 2011
The Great Hall, Toronto

TORONTO - Batuki Music Society presents Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba with opening act Daniel Nebiat on Sunday November 27th, 2011 at The Great Hall at 9:00 pm.

Malian maestro Bassekou Kouyate is a virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music. Bassekou’s instrument, the ngoni, is a ‘spike lute’ and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques. Since 2005, Bassekou has led Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around four ngonis – all played by members of his family.

His debut album, ‘Segu Blue’ was a great success and his next album ‘I Speak Fula’ builds on the success of ‘Segu Blue’. Its 11 tracks provide a star-studded tour of pan-Malian music, including collaborations with Toumani Diabaté, griot vocal legend Kasse Mady Diabaté, master of the horse-hair soku fiddle Zoumana Tereta, and guitar phenomenon Vieux Farke Toure, Ali’s talented son.  Bassekou is a true master of the ngoni and he has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali. He was part of Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté’s Kulanjan project, as well as being one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album Savane which was released July 2006. He also collaborated with Bela Fleck on the award winning ‘Throw Down Your Heart’.

Bassekou was born in a village called Garana, almost 40 miles from Segu, in the remote countryside on the banks of the Niger River. He was raised in a traditional music environment, his mother a praise singer and his father and brothers exceptional ngoni players. Bassekou moved to Bamako when he was 19 years old where he met the young Toumani Diabaté. By the late 1980’s Bassekou was part of Toumani’s trio and they recorded their first albums together, ‘Songhai’ and ‘Djelika’. Bassekou married the singer Ami Sacko (the so-called ‘Tina Turner of Mali’) and they have been in high demand for the traditional Sunday wedding parties that happen in the streets of Bamako.

Bassekou put together his own band, Ngoni Ba (meaning ‘the big ngoni’), Mali’s first ngoni quartet. The repertoire Bassekou plays is from the region of Segu, the heart of Bambara culture. Unlike Mandinka griot music, Bambara music is pentatonic in nature, music as close to the blues as you can get in Africa.

The opening act is Eritrean-Canadian Daniel Nebiat who sings and plays the krar, a traditional stringed instrument similar to the harp, tuned to a pentatonic scale and in Daniel’s case, amplified.  His music combines both traditional and modern forms of Eritrean music.

Images were taken by me at LuminaTO in June 2010

Sunday November 27th, 2011
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, opening Daniel Nebiat
The Great Hall
1087 Queen St. West, Toronto
• Doors open at 8:00 pm. Show at 9:00 pm.
• Tickets: $25 advance / $30 at the door

Tickets available: 
African Drums & Art Crafts: 618 Dundas St. West
Earthsong Village: 2436 Kingston Rd.
New Bilan Restaurant: 183 Dundas St. East
Nharo! Direct Trade African Art: 543 Danforth
Play de Record: 357A Yonge St.
Soundscapes: 572 College St.

• Info: / /

Batuki Music Society gratefully acknowledges the support of Canada Heritage and Small World Music Society.

For Kids & Good Causes: Chris McKhool and Friends in Concert Nov 26 in Toronto

From a media release:

Chris McKhool JUNO Nominee & 3x Parents' Choice Award Winner
& Special Guests: Suba Sankaran, Aviva Chernick, Shannon Thunderbird, Maryem Hassan Tollar, Ernie Tollar, Jordan Klapman, & Sultans of String!

"Celebrate:  Holidays of the Global Village"
Fundraising Family Concert for ArtsCan Circle & Daily Bread Food Bank
Trinity St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor Street West (at Spadina), Toronto
Saturday, November 26, 1:00pm

• Free Public Event 
• Monetary donations and non-perishable food items are greatly appreciated!

[Toronto ON]  On Sat Nov 26, JUNO nominee, 3x Parents' Choice Award winner & CFMA winner, Chris McKhool, celebrates the multicultural mosaic at Trinity St. Paul's Centre.

All funds raised at the concert are being donated to ArtsCan Circle & food donations for the Daily Bread Food Bank (information about both charitable organizations below). 

"Celebrate! Holidays of The Global Village" is an interactive and playful musical journey into the myriad of holidays, customs and festivities enjoyed in the North-American Fall and Winter. Children will learn traditional and original songs encouraging them to share our diversity with neighbours and friends.

Inspired by travels across Canada and around the world, "Celebrate!" is a groundbreaking collaboration with musicians from diverse cultures. It features songs about holidays from across the globe that are celebrated here in Canada, including Bodhi Day (Buddhist), Carnival (Quebec), Chanukah, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Diwali, Eid, Indigenous traditions, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Winter Solstice.

"Celebrate!" was developed as a response to the lack of programming for young audiences and families that integrates diverse cultures and holidays into one coherent vision.  While there are many worthy public concerts and programs that take place in the fall/winter holiday season that celebrate specific holidays such as Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali etc, there is no concert program in Toronto that aims to bring so many holidays together under one roof in this way.

Hailed as a “Children's musical star” (National Post) and “Canada’s greatest eco-troubadour for young people” (Mississauga Living Arts Centre), Chris McKhool is one of Canada’s greatest musicians for young audiences. He has been touring across Canada with his family concerts for over ten years, reaching almost 1 million youth, and has appeared on Mr. Dressup, YTV’s Treehouse, TVOntario’s Crawlspace and the CBC. Chris is also a 3x Parents’ Choice Award (U.S) and Green Toronto Award of Excellence recipient.

Thanks to our ongoing supporters: Prologue to the Performing Arts, Toronto Arts Council, Long & McQuade, Music Manufacturing Services.

Daily Bread Food Bank
The Daily Bread Food Bank is fighting to end hunger in communities across the Greater Toronto Area. As the hub of the food bank community in Toronto, Daily Bread supports over 170 member agencies in running different kinds of food relief programs. Their agencies run neighbourhood food banks where people come to access food hampers, as well as meal programs where people can access prepared meals such as soups or casseroles. Daily Bread is non-partisan and all-inclusive, and of the belief that no one in our communities should go hungry.

ArtsCan Circle
ArtsCan Circle sends teams of musicians, artists and instruments to engage children and youth in Northern Indigenous/First Nations communities. Through music and other creative arts, they work to share new skills, promote self-esteem and creative self-expression.  Musical instruments, art supplies and recording studio equipment have been brought to the communities to facilitate young people finding their own voices and creating their own art and music.  ArtsCan Circle now provides over 2,000 workshop opportunities for indigenous youth annually.  Countless volunteer hours help raise funds to send the teams north and create connections between communities in southern Ontario and across Canada with our neighbours in the far north.

CD Release: Jon Brooks' Delicate Cages Nov 24 in Toronto

From a media release:

Jon Brooks CD Release
Friday, November 25, 8pm
Trinity St Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St West, Toronto

[Toronto ON]  Canadian topical (and eternally hopeful) songcrafter Jon Brooks releases his new CD, DELICATE CAGES, at Toronto’s Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, Fri Nov 25th!

A songwriter dedicated to uniting folk song tradition with today’s stories, Jon has an uncanny ability to press his ear against the heartbeat and the soul of the times we live in.  In only 4 years, he has been nominated twice for a Canadian Folk Music Award (Songwriter of the Year), been profiled on CBC Television, named the Musician to Watch in 2010 by the Toronto Star, garnered an OCFF Award, and took home the US Mountain Stage NewSong Contest (NPR). 

Jon's music is also featured on Neil Young's Livingwithwartoday website and he recently won both the coveted Kerrville New Folk Competition in Texas, the International Songwriting Competition (Folk category), and placed as a Finalist in the Music2Life Contest (run by 'Paul' of 'Peter, Paul & Mary' fame).

All this might not have happened prior to 2006.  In fact, upon his return from a 1997 trek throughout war ruined Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jon quit writing songs and performing, claiming, "I'm at least a 1000 books and emotions shy of earning the right to stand behind a microphone."  8 years of musical silence later, and at the suggestion of one of his Canadian literary heroes, Austin Clarke - Jon wiped the dust off his Taylor Jumbo 615... there's been no stopping him since!

Indeed, Brooks is now offering up his 4th collection of songs-- DELICATE CAGES. The album covers a handful of current Canadian/World issues from the perspective of freedom and enslavement, with a concurrent and equally important theme running throughout the songs: the argument that the opposite of love is not hate, but is in fact, fear.

Brooks blames humanity for blaming God for all its ills, and remains incredulous over our self-destructive, warring ways. He spurs us to find answers to big questions and his approach is tough to avoid. There’s a method to his madness – ever-hopeful in spirit that we will find our way to spiritual renewal, forsaking fear for love and choosing healing over the pain we cause each other.

The delicate cages we hide behind are forms of enslavement - from the poignant, sombre “Because We Are Free” to the rootsy, upbeat “Fort McMurray” (with a beautiful assist by Lynn Miles), Brooks is the master mood-maker. The song “Mercy” moves skyward on the strength of the wordplay alone while “Hudson Girl”, written for his wife is a toe-tapping love song underscored by an English/French political backdrop. Brooks’ vocals, harp and banjitar joins Scott Dibble on vocals, Joe Phillips on bass and John Showman on violin – coming up with more than a hearty tapestry of sounds than four players should be able to bring.

The lighter than air “Madeline” rides on Showman’s violin and Brooks’ banjitar, complete with whistled chorus, offsetting the darkness of “Cage Fighter”. Pouring his voice over his words like a perfect jus, hope in the face of hopelessness is “Visiting Day” – as a con sings of love from his jailside perch. Honour killing is the sorry subject of “The Lonesome Death of  Asqa Parvez” while “There Are Only Cages” sums up the album’s theme nicely, as Carrie Elkin backs Brooks’ vocal.  Brooks solo piano reprise of the opening song is simply beautiful and at under the 3-minute mark, far too short to close with.  It gives the listener time to think about the content of the 43-minutes that preceded it. Brooks is brewing his own style of Canadiana and, at the same time, making a difference.

As he notes, “I’m not interested in ‘happy songs’ – I’ve chosen to write healing songs and, for that reason, I’m obliged to reveal a wound or two now and then.  I’m even less interested in writing unhappy songs:  I want to write hopeful songs, inspiring songs and I expect I owe today’s listener some hopeful argument – some legitimate reason - as to why we should believe our present world could be improved, or healed.

Photography by Jay Morrison
• $20 at door
$15 advance thru Maple Music
$30 ticket/CD advance thru Maple Music