Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wondagurl and Rich Kidd's "Cooking Beats" demo Part of IMSTA FESTA Toronto Celebration of Music Technology September 6 2014

From a media release:


• Admission is free with registration at:

Toronto’s finest beat-making duo, WondaGurl and Rich Kidd are announced as industry panelists for IMSTA FESTA Toronto on Saturday, September 6th, 2014. Hosted by The International Music Software Trade Association (IMSTA) and in partnership with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), the annual celebration of music technology event will take place at the Ryerson’s Rogers Communications Centre.

Providing an environment where top Musical Instrument Technology companies can interact with music makers face-to-face, IMSTA presents five educational and interactive panels featuring music industry experts. As part of the IMSTA FESTA Professional Panel Series, WondaGurl and Rich Kidd will inspire, inform and entertain those attending with a bird’s eye view of the art of live beat making. “Cooking Beats” will demonstrate step-by-step how to construct professional beats from start to finish.

With the instant popularity of WondaGurl’s instrumental for Jay-Z’s song Crown, the 17 year-old Brampton producer has collaborated with hip-hop artists such as Travis Scott, Ryan Leslie and Rich Kidd. As a hip-hop artist, record producer and film/video director, Rich Kidd is known for the quality and depth he brings into his production. He was nominated for a Juno Award in 2012 for his debut album The Closers.

With more special high profile panelists to come, the IMSTA FESTA Professional Panel Series will provide tips and tricks on developing your business, self-promotion, as well as information about publishing and licensing within the music industry.

IMSTA FESTA Toronto will educate music software and hardware users on the value of purchasing the products they use rather than using pirated versions of products. The event helps promote their important message to ‘Buy the software you use.’
Admission is free with registration at:

Monday Nights & Bloody Family at the Theatre Centre Toronto Through September 2014

From a media release:

The Theatre Centre announces upcoming programming at its live arts hub and incubator
6th Man Collective's Monday Nights - September 5 to 20, 2014
Philip McKee and Tanja Jacobs’ Bloody Family - September 26 to October 5 2014

• Check out both shows on their website

Toronto, ON –
To celebrate the first six months in their permanent home, The Theatre Centre today revealed 2014 programming highlights. Two productions developed in residency will animate the live arts hub and incubator: 6th Man Collective’s immersive basketball experience, Monday Nights, and Philip McKee and Tanja Jacobs’ interpretation of a classic Greek tragedy, Bloody Family.

Development of new artists and their work has always been an integral part of The Theatre Centre’s mandate, whether it’s through providing space, subsidy or mentorship within the cultural sector. Since opening their permanent home, The Theatre Centre is delighted to be able to highlight a selection of their residency partnerships through programming.

“We’re constantly working with artists at different points of project development in their relationship with The Theatre Centre,” said Franco Boni, general & artistic director. “By working with artists and groups in residency, we can provide them with funding and mentorship to nurture ideas still in infancy. Our new space means we’re able to further that support by giving them a stage for their work.”

Created and performed by 6th Man Collective, the interactive basketball performance, Monday Nights, tips off Sept. 5 and runs until Sept. 20. In the summer of 2008, five guys came to the basketball court at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst. Religiously, every Monday night, they stayed until the lights turned off.  Now, audiences will meet these guys on the court at The Theatre Centre, to join in their basketball bromance. With opportunities to join the team and show off your best slam dunk, or to just watch, everyone is welcome.

Next is Bloody Family (Sept. 26 to Oct. 5), a story of a family ripped apart by idealism. Philip McKee and Tanja Jacobs’ personal and volatile adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy The Oresteia is an experimental work that contrasts compassion with necessity, and examines the birth and failure of justice. A father kills his daughter for honour, a wife kills her husband for revenge, and a son kills his mother for justice.

Full details about The Theatre Centre’s upcoming programming will be announced at a special opening night party for Monday Nights on Monday, Sept. 8 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets for Bloody Family and Monday Nights are on sale now at The Theatre Centre box office (1115 Queen St. W), online at, or by phone 416-538-0988.

Image: #TeamRed, Byron Abalos, takes on #TeamGreen, Jeff Yung, in Monday Nights

Facebook: The Theatre Centre
Twitter: @TheatreCentre
Twitter Hashtag: #MondayNights; #BloodyFamily

New Grunge: The Lost Poets' Insubordia (Independent, April 27, 2014)

Recently Released:
The Lost Poets
Insubordia (Independent, April 27, 2014)
David Rosengren (Vocals, guitar) and Petter Ossian Strömberg (drums, bass)

Buy it on iTunes

From Stockholm, Sweden, The Lost Poets released their debut EP earlier this year, featuring five tracks that establish them firmly in the New Grunge movement.

The lead single is Ode to K, and according to vocalist/guitarist David Rosengren, the song tells a story. "Ode to K" was one of those songs that just came out of nowhere. It's essentially about a man selling his soul to the devil and how his life was before and after he died. It's also an homage to the love of his life for trying to help him. It's all very suggestive and the inspiration, as always, comes from my own life in a twisted sort of way."

When I stand at the gates of hell
That's when I know what I was ready to sell

The five tracks offer more of the same - grungy atmospheric rock with a dystopian, down the rabbit hole view of the world. The lyrics are thoughtful and observant rather than bombastic and the Eddie Vedderesque vocals remain the focal point of all the tracks, fuzzy guitar licks nothwithstanding.

The songs are rhythmically interesting, some with the churning, hypnotic vibe reminiscent of North African and Middle Eastern trance. Overall, the Lost Poets' sound has a languid rather than frenetic kind of energy.

Die To Live slows down the pace further, featuring acoustic guitar and keyboard. The song is imbued with melancholy - then kicks into an electric and more rhythmic phase with distorted vocals and ends with a fuzzy snarl of guitar.

David's voice is interesting enough to carry the weight - expressive and strong. The title track is a stand out that begins with an insistent rhythm and subdued vocals.

Careful what you think of
Might just say it...

A jangling guitar and stronger vocal line gradually rise from a subdued state. It all works together for effect. The EP ends with Inside the Cage, an atmospheric rock spoken word track.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Japan Society New York City Announces 2014-15 Performing Arts Season with Music, Dance,Theater & More

From a media release:


New York, NY -
Japan Society announces its 2014-2015 Performing Arts Season, featuring works by visionary artists in music, dance and theater. In this season, the Performing Arts Program proudly presents two large-scale series of events: in music, The Shamisen Sessions in Fall 2014; and in Spring 2015, Stories from the War: Reflecting on WWII through Theater, a series of theater events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII; in addition to long-running programs such as the Contemporary Dance Showcase, Annual Play Reading Series, a commission premiere and related events.

The season commences in September with The Shamisen Sessions, four distinct music events centered on Japan's unique centuries-old three-stringed instrument, from modern and experimental interpretations to world-class traditional explorations. The Shamisen Sessions, Vols. 1-4 offer a rare look at the versatility and evolution of one of Japan's most enduring instruments through distinct performances by star shamisen players, supported by related events and workshops spanning September - December 2014.

In dance this season, Japan Society presents the Contemporary Dance Showcase in January 2015, marking the 16th installment set to run in conjunction with The Association of Performing Arts Presenters' (APAP) annual New York City conference. In June, the Society presents the New York Premiere of Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug's OQ, a Japan Society commission.

To honor the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, Japan Society presents three timely and topical theater offerings: the plays Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose's Last Tape (January) and Yokohama Rosa (April), and a rare double bill offering plays from the modern and traditional noh repertoires, New and Traditional Noh: Holy Mother in Nagasaki and Kiyotsune (May). Additionally in theater, Japan Society delivers the 11th installment of the Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation with Dancing with the Bird, written by Seiji Nozoe, translated and directed by James Yaegashi (March). Productions and related events and workshops are detailed below. All events are at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street. For tickets or more information, please visit, or call 212-715-1258.  Tickets are available to Japan Society members now by calling or visiting the box office; tickets are available to the general public beginning Monday, August 11.

SEPTEMBER 2014 - JUNE 2015

The Shamisen Sessions
September - December 2014, as detailed below.

From traditional stages to contemporary rock, pop and jazz concerts, the three-stringed shamisen has forged art and entertainment culture in Japan for centuries and continues to shape new spheres of world music today.  These four sessions spotlight some of the most sought-after shamisen musicians in Japan performing the full gamut of today's musical styles.  The series includes: Hiromitsu Agatsuma + Akiko Yano (September 27), Yumiko Tanaka's shamisen improvisational accompaniment for Teinosuke Kinugasa's silent film Crossroads (November 15), A Salute to Tradition (November 20) and the Okinawan folk/pop duo SAKISHIMA meeting (December 12). 

Purchase tickets to two The Shamisen Sessions events and save $4, to three and save $6, and to all four and save $8 (available for general and member-priced tickets).  Discount available by visiting or calling the box office at (212) 715-1258 or by downloading the Ticket Order Form from

The Shamisen Sessions, Vol. 1Hiromitsu Agatsuma + Akiko Yano
Saturday, September 27 at 7:30pm (followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Virtuosic rock, pop and jazz player Hiromitsu Agatsuma on tsugaru-shamisen (the shamisen which originated in Northern Japan) and musical luminary pianist/singer-songwriter Akiko Yano perform together for the first time ever. Agatsuma's fast and aggressive playing style is showcased alongside Yano's engaging vocals and prodigious piano skills.  The two are united by their inimitable ability to transform the sentimental strains of Japan's beloved folk songs (min'yo), a genre each artist has explored extensively throughout his/her career, into compelling jazz/pop tunes. 

The Shamisen Sessions, Vol. 2
Crossroads (Jujiro), a silent film by Teinosuke Kinugasa,
with shamisen improvisational accompaniment by Yumiko Tanaka
Saturday, November 15 at 7:30pm

Internationally active experimental shamisen musician Yumiko Tanaka provides a thrilling improvisational soundscape to the silent film Crossroads (Jujiro, 1928). This audacious film by Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Teinosuke Kinugasa (1896-1982) depicts the love between a poor brother and sister, and features hallucinatory imagery and boundary-pushing German Expressionism-inspired set design.  The program is held as part of Japan Society's 2014 Monthly Film Series, The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema, curated by musical maverick and film and Japanese culture aficionado John Zorn. 

Crossroads (Jujiro):  1928.  87 min.  35mm, b&w, silent.  Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa.  With Junosuke Bando, Akiko Chihaya, Yukiko Ogawa, Ippei Sohma, Kazuo Hasegawa.

Monthly Film Series The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema begins October 18, 2014.

The Shamisen Sessions, Vol. 3
A Salute to Tradition
Thursday, November 20 at 7:30pm
(followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Immerse yourself in the diverse styles of traditional shamisen music.  The instrument, originally from China, reached Japan in the 16th century, where it underwent changes in shape, size and sound.  The three-stringed shamisen has since become a central element in Japan's unique performing arts and entertainment culture including kabuki and bunraku theaters, salon, folk and vaudeville music and more.  This evening showcases three major traditional shamisen musical styles-- nagauta (kabuki), gidayu (bunraku) and jiuta (tatami salon concerts) as performed by Japan's preeminent shamisen players and chanters, including a Living National Treasure and a traditional nihon buyo dancer. Artists include: Fujii Hirokazu (jiuta chanter/shamisen), Takemoto Komanosuke (gidayu hanter, Living National Treasure), Tsuruzawa Yumi aka Yumiko Tanaka (gidayu shamisen), Imafuji Chotatsuro (nagauta shamisen), Kineya Katsujuro (nagauta shamisen), Kineya Mitsuya (nagauta chanter) and Hanayagi Genkuro (nihon buyo traditional dancer).  Program includes: Kanjincho (nagauta style), Zangetsu (jiuta style), Tamagawa (nagauta style) and Komochi Yamamba (gidayu style).

Pre-Performance Lecture led by Dr. K. Natasha Foreman, Lecturer in Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Wayne State University.  One hour before curtain.  FREE and open to ticket holders only.
Related Workshop: Shamisen Workshop with Imafuji Chotatsuro and Nihon Buyo Workshop with Hanayagi Genkuro

The Shamisen Sessions, Vol. 4
Sakishima meeting, folk/pop duo from Okinawa
Friday, December 12 at 8:30pm / Cash bar opens at 7:00pm

For the final concert of the The Shamisen Sessions, Japan Society presents the smooth music of the Okinawan folk/pop duo SAKISHIMA meeting.  Duo members Yukito Ara on sanshin (Okinawan shamisen) and vocals and Isamu Shimoji on guitar and vocals serenade the crowd with tunes that blend the sounds and traditions of Okinawa, Japan's southernmost islands, with popular Western riffs and beats.  This cabaret-style concert takes place in Japan Society's Murase Room just off the lobby, where food and drink will be available for purchase. 

16th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia
Friday, January 9 at 7:30pm (followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Saturday, January 10 at 7:30pm

The Dance Showcase, which since 1996 has "opened a window onto the East Asian scene" (The New York Times) returns with a standout lineup of groundbreaking artists from the other side of the globe.  This year's showcase includes from Japan: Nobuyuki Hanabusa's group enra  ("mesmerizing ... versatile ... fantastic" -The Huffington Post) performing Newton, an out-of-this-world amalgamation of motion graphics and choreography; Mikiko Kawamura's street style solo Alphard set to a bold soundscape with J-pop and classical music ("a visual feast" -Vietnam Breaking News); and Marmont, by Kaori Seki ("one to watch in the contemporary dance scene" - in which bodies morph into nebulous creature-like positions.  From Taiwan: I-Fen Tung's fresh duo How to Say ("astonishing" -, a piece that grapples with communication through words and dance; and Shang-Chi Sun's Traverse, in which graceful martial arts-like movements oscillate between combat speed and tranquility ("extraordinary...unique charisma" -Leipzig Almanach). 

Stories from the War: Reflecting on WWII through Theater
January - May, 2015, as detailed below.

This Society-wide series, Stories from the War: Reflecting on WWII through a Contemporary Lens, which centers around three theatrical programs and includes a film series, lectures and family programs, encourages reconsideration and reflection on the events, figures and issues surrounding the war and its impact on the people of the United States and Japan from a 2014 vantage point.  WWII marks an important time in the shared histories of the U.S. and Japan and the seven decades since its end have been shaped by reconciliation and friendship.  The theater series includes: Miwa Yanagi's Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose's Last Tape (January 29-31), Michiko Godai's Yokohama Rosa (April 25-26) and New and Traditional Noh: Holy Mother in Nagasaki and Kiyotsune (May 14-16).

Miwa Yanagi's Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose's Last Tape
North American Premiere
Thursday, January 29, 7:30pm (followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Friday, January 30, 7:30pm
Saturday, January 31, 7:30pm

The center piece of the Spring WWII series is Miwa Yanagi's Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose's Last Tape, which recounts the story of "Tokyo Rose," the young Japanese-American woman who was stranded in Japan during WWII, forced to serve as a broadcaster for a propaganda radio program controlled by the Japanese Imperial Army and subsequently tried for treason by the United States.  Seventy years later, this historic incident is brought to life through a visually stunning theatrical whodunit conceived, written and directed by internationally renowned visual artist Miwa Yanagi (one of the featured artists in Japan Society's 2011 gallery exhibition Bye Bye Kitty!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art).  Brimming with iconic imagery from her rich body of photographic work, Zero Hour tells the multi-layered story of a woman caught between two nations during the war.  This marks Yanagi's North American debut as a theater artist. Performed in English and Japanese with English subtitles

Japan Society-produced and organized North American tour includes: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC; Asian Arts & Culture Center at Towson University, Towson, MD; Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada; REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theater), Los Angeles, CA.

Michiko Godai's Yokohama Rosa
North American Premiere
Saturday, April 25 at 7:30pm (followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Sunday, April 26 at 2:30pm

Continuing the WWII theater series, legendary actress Michiko Godai presents Yokohama Rosa, an intimate portrait of a woman whose life was forever changed by WWII.  In this original one-woman tragicomedy inspired by the sight of a mysterious old woman frequently observed on the streets of Yokohama and known by locals as "Merii-san," Godai transforms on stage from a vulnerable young woman to a confident prostitute out on the streets, to a lovesick middle-aged woman and finally, to a frail but compassionate lady, who is homeless.  Performed in Yokohama annually on the anniversary of the end of WWII in Japan, Godai's captivating piece reveals the war's deep and lasting consequences on the most personal level.  Performed in Japanese with English subtitles

New and Traditional Noh, featuring Holy Mother in Nagasaki and Kiyotsune
Thursday, May 14 at 7:30pm (followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Friday, May 15 at 7:30pm
Saturday, May 16 at 7:30pm

Japan Society presents a rare double bill offering plays from the modern and traditional noh repertoires.  In keeping with the theme of the Society's WWII series, the evening features the poignant new play Holy Mother in Nagasaki in which a pilgrim is told about the legend of a woman who appeared to console the victims of the atomic bomb, surmised to have been the Virgin Mary herself.  As a companion piece, the evening features Kiyotsune, one of the centuries-old masterpieces by Zeami, in which a grieving widow meets her warrior husband in a dream to learn of his final battle.  These two complementary plays, led by renowned noh actor Kanji Shimizu of the celebrated Tessen-kai Noh Theater Association, round out the Society's WWII series, illustrating that the tragedies of war are timeless and borderless. Performed in Japanese with English subtitles

Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation
Dancing with the Bird written by Seiji Nozoe, directed by James Yaegashi
Monday, March 9 at 7:30pm

For the 11th installation in this annual series that aims to introduce New York-based actors/directors to contemporary and topical Japanese theater artists and plays, the Society presents Dancing with the Bird, a Hitchcock-esque cliffhanger that describes a young woman whose hair is stuck in a fan nearly eight feet in the air, and the conversation that ensues with a man appearing to come to her rescue.

Dancing with the Bird is written by Kishida Kunio Award-winning playwright/director Seiji Nozoe of Japan's Haegiwa theater company whose plays are known for their amusing portrayal of the inner self within unusual but convincing realities.  New York-based director, actor and filmmaker James Yaegashi translates the play and leads a cast of American actors in this minimalist three-person play that unleashes a world of emotion.  Playwright Seiji Nozoe joins in a post-performance conversation with

Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug's OQ
New York premiere; Japan Society commission
Friday, June 5  at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 6 at 7:30pm

Japan Society presents the New York premiere of a new work by New York-based Bessie Award-winning choreographer Kota Yamazaki, entitled OQ (okyu is the phonetic reading of the Japanese word for "palace").  Inspired by ritual poetry readings held at the Japanese Imperial Palace, Yamazaki's OQ features dancers from diverse cultural and dance backgrounds including Western contemporary, butoh, hip-hop and Jamaican dance.  Within a space designed by New York's award-winning architect collective SO-IL (founders: Florian Idenburg, the Netherlands and Jing Liu, China) that complements the dancers' fluid motions, Yamazaki creates a palace with its very own rituals and customs. 

Observer tickets may be available for workshops after participant tickets are sold out.

Shamisen Workshop with Imafuji Chotatsuro
In conjunction with The Shamisen Sessions Vol. 3
Friday, November 21 from Noon to 2:30pm

The shamisen is one of the most important and versatile instruments in Japanese traditional music.  Imafuji Chotatsuro, a most sought-after nagauta (the style developed for kabuki accompaniment) shamisen player, leads a workshop that introduces the traditional Japanese pentatonic scale and special shamisen playing techniques.  Max 12 participants.  Some string instrument-playing experience required.
Tickets: $48/$42 Japan Society members

Shamisen + Nihon Buyo Workshop package: $96/$86 JS members. Discount available by visiting or calling the box office at (212) 715-1258 or by downloading the Ticket Order Form from

Nihon Buyo Workshop with Hanayagi Genkuro
In conjunction with The Shamisen Sessions Vol. 3
Friday, November 21 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Experience Japan's traditional kabuki dance with rising-star nihon buyo dancer Hanayagi Genkuro.  In this workshop, participants learn a variety of typical character movements (including male, female and animal roles) using fans and tenugui towels as props. Max 15 participants.  Some movement-based professional performance experience required. Participants must wear socks and activewear (no jeans).
Tickets: $54/$48 Japan Society members

Shamisen + Nihon Buyo Workshop package: $96/$86 JS members. Discount available by visiting or calling the box office at (212) 715-1258 or by downloading the Ticket Order Form from
Noh Workshop and Demonstration with Yamai Tsunao
Sunday, February 8  from 11:00am to 4:00pm

Chosen this year as a "Japan Cultural Envoy" by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, noh actor Yamai Tsunao returns to Japan Society for a full-day workshop on noh theater's stylized movement and vocalization.   A member of the Komparu school of noh, Yamai is active in bringing the noh tradition to audiences in Japan and abroad.  Workshop participants will have the opportunity to chant an excerpt from the noh play Takasago, learn basic moves from Hagoromo and try on costumes and masks.  The workshop concludes with a special collaborative presentation with Yamai and pianist Kentaro Kihara from Japan.  Max 25 participants.  Some dance experience preferred.  Participants must wear socks and activewear. Tickets: $120/$100 Japan Society members - Tickets include a bento box lunch with the artists.

Butoh/Movement Workshop with Kota Yamazaki
In conjunction New York premiere OQ
Saturday, May 30 from Noon to 2:30pm

New York-based Japanese choreographer Kota Yamazaki teaches the somatic movement techniques that he has developed out of his training in butoh and Noguchi Gymnastics.  In this workshop, Yamazaki offers a series of exercises that guide participants in the composition of renga collaborative poems through movement.  These poems act as a source of inspiration for his newest work OQ. Max 20 participants.  All levels welcome.  Participants must wear activewear (no jeans).  Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members

The best in Canadian Dance: Harbourfront Centre announces NextSteps 2014/15 Season

From a media release:

The best in Canadian Dance: 
Harbourfront Centre announces NextSteps 2014/15 Season
Check it out online

TORONTO, ON – Harbourfront Centre is thrilled to announce the lineup for the NextSteps 2014-15 dance season, September 2014 – June 2015. From explosive movement to evocative compositions, this season continues the 40-year legacy of dance at Harbourfront Centre.

Championing and cultivating dance in Canada has been a priority for Harbourfront Centre, making NextSteps one of Canada’s largest and most respected dance seasons. The 2014-15 programme features a stunning array of emerging, established, national and international dance talent. From Can-Asian to flamenco, contemporary to kathak – the 2014/15 season encourages audiences to experience, explore and connect with a vast spectrum of cultures, aesthetic and styles.

"Harbourfront Centre has supported dance from the beginning, over 40 years ago, before the site even had buildings. There have been so many performances, companies and dancers that have developed alongside Harbourfront Centre and have helped create the dance ecology in Canada,” says Lynanne Sparrow, Artistic Associate for Dance in Performing Arts at Harbourfront Centre. “The 2014/15 season truly celebrates the healthy growth of the dance community and all that it has to offer.”

Take the next step. Tickets go on sale August 12, 2014 via Harbourfront Centre’s Box Office. Offering ticket packages as flexible as the dancers this season, call (416) 973-4000, visit 235 Queens Quay West and/or go online for all ticket inquiries. Notable ticket offerings include the NextSteps Flex Pass, which provides savings of up to 50% (on sale until October 11, 2014), the CultureBreak programme for students and those 25 years and under as well as additional discounts for seniors and arts industry professionals.

The NextSteps lineup will be growing as the season progresses, please check the website for the most up to date schedule. For additional information, including photos, videos and artist interviews, please visit and connect with dance @HarbourfrontTO #danceTO.

For information about getting here during the Queens Quay revitalization, visit

NextSteps 2014/15 Season Lineup:

DanceWorks DW207: adelheid – elsewhere
September 25-27, 2014 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $19–37
Through five remarkable dancers, choreographed by Heidi Strauss, elsewhere speaks to resilience in the face of unknowing — an uncomfortable point where what has happened leaves traces on our bodies, gestures and the space between.

ProArteDanza - Season 2014
October 1–4, 2014 (Fleck Dance Theatre)
Tickets: $20–40
Celebrating 10 years of “high-energy, blow-out physicality,” Season 2014 features the award-winning work between..., and highlights from the repertoire of “the best small-scale contemporary ballet company in Canada” (The Globe and Mail, 2013).

60x60 Dance Toronto - 60x60 Dance Toronto 2014
October 16, 2014 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $22.25|
60 Toronto choreographers collaborate with 60 Canadian composers in consecutive one-minute miniatures. Under the directorship of Viv Moore, 60x60 spans the gamut of exciting contemporary, traditional and hybrid disciplines.

BoucharDanse/ Théâtre La Tangente - L’Implorante & L’éternel voyage
October 23–25, 2014 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $15-35
From ethereal to earthbound, this production traces a journey of human dilemmas — the unknown, fragility and undiscovered strengths. With stunning visuals and a cast of stellar performers, prepare to follow the beating of your own heart.

Toronto Dance Theatre - Pond Skaters, Early Departures and a new work by Christopher House
November 4–8, 2014 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $20–40
Toronto Dance Theatre’s amazing dancers return in a bold mixed programme featuring Thomas Hauert’s Dora-nominated Pond Skaters, Christopher House’s 1991 masterwork Early Departures, and a new, dynamic full-company work also by House.

Ballet Creole – Soulful Messiah
November 28–29, 2014 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $20–45
Ring in the holidays with Ballet Creole’s signature seasonal favourite. Soulful Messiah infuses tap,
African-Caribbean, ballet, jazz and modern dance into a unique holiday classic to the soundtrack of Quincy Jones’ Grammy Award-winning rendition of Handel’s Messiah.

Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre - WinterSong — dances for a sacred season
December 12–13, 2014 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $22.50–38
WinterSong will warm the hearts of family audiences with its breathtaking tapestry of seasonal dance inspired by the world’s rich solstice traditions. Highlights include a premiere by dance sensation Belinda McGuire, plus To Repel the Demons by New York’s acclaimed Kevin Wynn.

Dance Ontario – DanceWeekend 2015
In association with Harbourfront Centre
January 16–18, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $10 minimum donation
|A fabulous showcase of Toronto’s globally inspired professional dance companies. From the polished performances of traditional styles to edgy new works from debut choreographers, it’s a weekend to inspire every dance fan.

DanceWorks DW208: Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe – NTU/ Skwatta
January 29–31, 2015 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $19–37
Vincent Mantsoe presents his newest riveting solos. Watch as he embodies limitless spirituality steeped in the realities of his South African homeland.

DanceWorks DW209: Sylvain Émard Danse – Ce n’est pas la fin du monde (It’s not the end of the world) February 28, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)
Tickets: $19–37
Acclaimed choreographer Sylvain Émard plunges seven male dancers into the hurly-burly of a contemporary world undergoing massive change where bodies are electrified by a shared feeling of urgency.

DanceWorks DW210: Marie France Forcier & Tracey Norman - Scars Are All the Rage/what goes between
March 12–14, 2015 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $19–37
Through works aesthetically different but astutely crafted and rich in imagery, choreographers Forcier and Norman explore the impact of loss and transformation.

Kaeja d’Dance - Kaeja d’Dance 25th Anniversary Season
March 24–28, 2015 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $22.50–40
Award-winning contemporary dance company Kaeja d’Dance kicks off their 25th anniversary year with world premieres by Karen and Allen Kaeja, both of which play with the notions of fate, coincidence and choice. Enigmatic, provocative and hyper physical, celebrate 25 years with this extraordinary double bill. (Seen below in development of X-ODUS)

Ritmo Flamenco Dance & Music Ensemble – SIROCCO
March 27–29, 2015 (Studio Theatre)

Tickets: $25–35
A “Sirocco” is a powerful Mediterranean wind from the Sahara that crosses North Africa to settle in Southern Spain. Award-winning choreographer Anjelica Scannura moves beyond geographical and stylistic boundaries searching for the obscure Arab roots of flamenco.

Ballet Creole - Agua Como Vida
April 17–18, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $20–45
For its 25th anniversary season, Ballet Creole presents intriguing new works that combine the artistic sensibilities of Artistic Director Patrick Parson, Associate Choreographer Gabby Kamino and guest collaborators to explore the universal connectivity of Earth’s most valuable resource, water.

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
April 24–26, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $23–45
The power of flamenco is presented with elegance and passion by this award-winning company of singers, musicians and dancers who never fail to bring enthralled audiences to their feet.

DanceWorks DW211: Raagini Dance/Bageshree Vaze – Paratopia
April 23–25, 2015 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $19–37
Discover 21st century kathak and Indian classical dance in a contemporary, global reality. Bageshree Vaze’s solos and new group work highlight complex footwork, sparkling pirouettes, dynamic movements and intricate facial and hand gestural language.

CanAsian Dance Festival - 2015 CanAsian International Dance Festival
April 30–May 2, 2015 (Harbourfront Centre Theatre)

Tickets: $25–30
The 2015 CanAsian International Dance Festival features exceptional dance by outstanding Canadian and international artists inspired by Asian ideas and practices.

Sampradaya Dance Creations - nirantara — beyond space and time
May 21–23, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $20–35
Launching Sampradaya’s 25th anniversary year, Lata Pada’s bharatanatyam-based work explores worlds known and unknown, interwoven into a continuum, perpetual and elusive. It features a stunning dance ensemble performing to live music by India’s acclaimed, versatile pianist and composer Anil Srinivasan and Carnatic vocalist, Sikkil Gurucharan. (Seen below in last year's tour)

Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre - Space Interrupted
May 29–30, 2015 (Fleck Dance Theatre)

Tickets: $22.50–38
Californian Colin Connor explores uncharted waters, casting CCDT Artistic Director Deborah Lundmark in his domestic tempest, The Weather in the Room. Also featuring Ofilio Sinbadinho Portillo’s acclaimed 2014 Harbourfront Centre commission, Anomykz.

EDM Recently Released: Geiko - Aggressive (Waving Alien Records - July 2, 2014)

EDM Recently Released:
Geiko - Aggressive (Waving Alien Records - July 2, 2014)

Buy the CD

Aggressive is the debut full-length release of Geiko, the solo project of Amaris Wenzel, a Swiss musician/singer/producer & co-owner of Waving Alien Records, Switzerland. She takes a fresh approach to EDM - an over-crowded genre - and makes it her own with a dark edge and a kind of post-modern girl-power message that takes it for granted.

The album is interesting and listenable because she achieves something a little different on each track. There's a real sense of inventiveness in what is often a repetitive genre. She uses a wide range of electronic sounds from buzzy to orchestral with a nice sense of drama and theatricality that plays into the darker, gothy edge of her songs.

The trippy, psychadelic The Mushroom Dance is a highlight, with its surreal sensibility. It's excellent dance material, just made for the accompaniment of flashing lights and lots of warm bodies on the dance floor.

You're My Highway is a dystopic love song - romantic words over robot music. Her vocals are the gothy element in most songs - stark rather than emotional in delivery.

Look At Me is melodic love song, with romantic lyrics against with a dark musical backdrop. She's fond of spooky, gothy melodies and vocal delivery over textured electronic beats. The music is atmospheric in tracks like Look at Me and Katana without becoming boring and one dimensional, as is too often the case with EDM. She takes a layered, rhythmic approach that keeps its vitality.

Katana offers the flip side of You're My Highway... if you ever show up again, I'll cut off your fucking head

Quantumedusa riffs off a series of rhythmic patterns - largely instrumental - parts of it with an orchestral feel, juxtaposed with thick beats and electronic noise. Many of the songs are largely instrumental with minimalist lyrics, like Catch Me - the only words in the song over Latin-ish disco beats. She builds a nice sense of urgency - appropriately enough - in tracks like Aggressive, the title track, with her strong vocals over a driving rhythm. I'm aggressive, whatever I do... don't touch me, don't touch me

It's a dance album you'll want to listen to even off the dance floor,

1. The Flower Girl
2. Aggressive
3. Look At Me
4. Katana (Cutana)
5. Catch Me
6. Quantumedusa
7. Dream Of It
8. The Music
9. You’re My Highway
10. Blade Ride
11. Cut Peat
12. The Mushroom Dance


The NFB at TIFF 2014 September 4 to 14, 2014

From a media release:

National Film Board of Canada
The NFB at TIFF 2014
September 4 to 14, 2014

From an Aboriginal uprising and fugitive cows to the latest film from an Oscar® winner and restored gems by an animation pioneer, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) presents a diverse lineup of stellar titles at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (September 4–14).

The most recent documentary from Canada’s pre-eminent First Nations filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin, is featured in the Masters Program: Trick or Treaty? examines the current-day discussion around a controversial 1905 land rights agreement, set against the backdrop of the recent Idle No More movement. Veteran documentarian Paul Cowan teams up with Palestinian animator Amer Shomali to co-direct the Intuitive Pictures/NFB co-production The Wanted 18, which artfully recreates the efforts of the town of Beit Sahour to establish an independent dairy industry during the First Intifada. The Wanted 18 screens in the TIFF Docs Program.

The Short Cuts Canada Program features three new titles as well as two landmark films from the NFB vault. Oscar® winner Torill Kove (The Danish Poet) is back with the autobiographical short Me and My Moulton, about a little girl’s desire to fit in. CODA is a technologically enhanced dance film set to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, co-directed by Quebec husband-and-wife team Denis Poulin and Martine Époque. Toronto’s Randall Okita makes his first foray into full-on animation filmmaking with The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer. And to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of groundbreaking animator Norman McLaren (founder of the NFB’s animation studio in 1941), the NFB has restored Around Is Around (1951) and O Canada (1952); created with frequent collaborator Evelyn Lambart, these early experiments in stereoscopic filmmaking will screen in eye-popping 3D.

Feature documentaries
Trick or Treaty? – World premiere, 84 minutes

In 1905, the British Crown and the Canadian government entered into an agreement with Cree and Ojibway communities in Ontario and Manitoba: the James Bay Treaty – Treaty No. 9. The treaty is still called into question today by Indigenous people and other Canadians who want to set the record straight.

The documentary Trick or Treaty? by Alanis Obomsawin follows the journey of Indigenous leaders in their quest for justice as they seek to establish dialogue with the Canadian government. By tracing the history of their ancestors, they want to raise people’s awareness about the issues that concern them: respect for and protection of their lands and their natural resources, and the right to hunt and fish so that their society can prosper.

With their sights set on the future, growing numbers of Indigenous youth are at the forefront of a great awareness-raising movement to finally put an end to inertia. In recent years, various social awareness movements have surfaced: conferences to re-examine the context in which the Treaty was signed, the Idle No More movement to mobilize communities, Cree Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, and the 1,600-km trek to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa by David Kawapit and those who joined him. In her film, Obomsawin gives those who refuse to surrender a chance to speak out.

A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers, Obomsawin has directed more than 30 NFB documentaries over four decades, chronicling the lives and concerns of First Nations people and exploring issues of importance to all Canadians.

Her landmark documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance was named Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF in 1993. Obomsawin’s previous film, Hi-Ho Mistahey!, had its world premiere at TIFF 2013 and was runner-up for the festival’s People’s Choice Award in the documentary category.

Trick or Treaty? was produced by Alanis Obomsawin and executive produced by the NFB’s Annette Clarke.

The Wanted 18 – World premiere, 75 minutes
It is 1987, and the First Intifada has just begun. Palestinian communities want local alternatives to Israeli goods. Residents in filmmaker Amer Shomali’s village of Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem, decide to create a co-operative dairy farm, purchasing 18 cows from an Israeli kibbutz and transporting them to the West Bank. These new dairy farmers are pacifist intellectuals and professionals who know nothing about raising cattle or operating a dairy farm. But after some trial and error, the newly minted “lactivists” succeed, and the population comes to depend on the “intifada milk”―so much so that these 18 cows are declared “a threat to the State of Israel.”

Blending interviews, archival footage and whimsical animation, The Wanted 18 tells the unlikely story of how these cows became an inspiring symbol of resistance, sparking a self-sufficiency movement and remaining hidden even as hundreds of Israeli soldiers searched for them.

The Wanted 18 was entirely shot in Palestine, where Shomali is based. This is Shomali’s first professional film as an animator.

Veteran Canadian documentary filmmaker Paul Cowan’s credits include the Genie Award-winning NFB documentary Westray (2001), the NFB co-production The Peacekeepers (2005) and 2008’s Paris 1919, co-produced by the NFB and inspired by Margaret MacMillan’s acclaimed book.

The Wanted 18 was produced by Ina Fichman (Intuitive Pictures) and Nathalie Cloutier (NFB) with executive producers Saed Andoni (Dar Films), Dominique Barneaud (Bellota Films) and Colette Loumède (NFB).

Short films

Me and My Moulton – North American premiere, 13 minutes

In this latest animated short from Oscar® winner Torill Kove, a seven-year-old girl and her sisters ask their parents to get them a bicycle. Our young protagonist struggles with her sense that her family is somehow unconventional, and her loving yet hopelessly out-of-touch parents prove to be a source of quiet embarrassment and anxiety. Unfolding on a bright, colourful palette, the film views the creative attitudes of the parents through the eyes of their introspective daughter. Me and My Moulton tells the charming story of a young girl whose sensitive nature sometimes makes it difficult for her to be honest with the ones she loves most.

Norway-born and Montreal-based Kove won the 2007 Academy Award for Animated Short Film for The Danish Poet; 1999’s My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts was also Oscar nominated.

Me and My Moulton is a co-production with Norway’s Mikrofilm AS. It was produced by Lise Fearnley (Mikrofilm AS) and the NFB’s Marcy Page, and executive produced by Fearnley, Michael Fukushima, Roddy McManus and David Verrall (NFB).

CODA – World premiere, 11 minutes
From the glittering ground slowly emerges a mass of moving particles. Several more soon join in, dancing as though they were luminous bodies in the infinite space of the cosmos. These precarious shapes continually shatter, appear and disappear, transform and evolve, to the rhythms of the final transition of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring...

CODA draws on advanced digital technologies to offer a new vision of dance in cinema. Using motion capture (MoCap) techniques and particle processing, designers Denis Poulin and Martine Époque create virtual dancers that are free of any morphological features. They’ve crafted a film in which the dynamic movements of real dancers are transformed into images of motion in its purest form.

Addressing environmental themes by way of metaphor, CODA depicts a universe where space and time collide, deploy, and dissolve. The film was co-produced by Poulin and Époque with René Chénier (NFB) in collaboration with Marc Côté (FAKE Studio).

The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer – World premiere, 9 minutes
This visually haunting animated short follows two brothers who share the scars, though not the memories, of an untold history that has driven them to existential extremes. Combining high-speed camerawork, striking art direction and intricate animation sequences, acclaimed Toronto-based filmmaker and visual artist Randall Okita crafts a poetic elegy to connectedness and survival.

The film was produced by Maral Mohammadian and Michael Fukushima for the NFB, with Fukushima also acting as executive producer.

Around Is Around – North American premiere, 7 minutes
In Around Is Around, director Norman McLaren creates a 3D effect with cathode-ray oscilloscope patterns and images of spherical shapes evolving in space. “The Festival of Britain asked the National Film Board of Canada to contribute two shorts for a program of stereoscopic and stereophonic films being shown at the Telecinema in London, with the specific request that the films be of a cartoon or animated nature... To our knowledge, no stereoscopic cartoon-type animated film had been made before.” – Norman McLaren. With animation by Evelyn Lambart and music by Louis Applebaum. The film was commissioned by the British Film Institute for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Around Is Around was restored in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of Norman McLaren’s birth. NFB restoration team: Luigi Allemano, Eloi Champagne, Don McWilliams.

O Canada – North American premiere, 1.5 minutes
Following the enormous success of the NFB stereoscopic shorts commissioned by the BFI for the Festival of Britain in 1951, director Evelyn Lambart created O Canada, an experimental, stereoscopic trip through the Canadian countryside that makes use of the “travelling zoom” invented by Norman McLaren in 1937.

The “travelling zoom” technique was later adapted to create the famous “star gate” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. O Canada was restored in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of Norman McLaren’s birth. NFB restoration team: Luigi Allemano, Eloi Champagne, Don McWilliams.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Touré-Raichel Collective: New Album (The Paris Session) September 30 2014 on Cumbancha - North American Tour

From a media release:


New Album Follows Runaway Success of 2012 Debut, The Tel Aviv Session

Stay in touch via their website - available to pre-order soon

The formation and success of The Touré-Raichel Collective, the band led by Israeli keyboardist and songwriter Idan Raichel and Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré—icons in their own countries and abroad—is a reminder of the unique power of music to bridge geographic, ethnic, political and religious differences. As a follow up to their acclaimed 2012 debut, The Tel Aviv Session, the group will release a new album, The Paris Session, September 30 on the Cumbancha label. The Touré-Raichel Collective will tour the U.S. this fall; please see below for an itinerary.

Although a collaboration between an Israeli Jew and a Malian Muslim has unavoidable political implications, what inspired Touré and Raichel to work together was not the potential to make a statement; they simply connected as artists and friends seeking to find musical common ground.

They met for the first time by chance, in 2008 at the Berlin airport, where they expressed mutual admiration and a desire to get together and play. Touré’s father, the late great Ali Farka Touré, was one of Raichel's musical heroes and inspirations. Raichel invited Touré to Israel, where they assembled a few musicians and convened an unscripted, improvised jam session. The chemistry between Touré and Raichel was instant and profound. They assumed the name The Touré-Raichel Collective and used the material from that first gathering as the basis for an album, The Tel Aviv Session, which found poignant, musically beautiful common ground between the artists’ cultures.

Due to popular demand, The Touré-Raichel Collective has undertaken multiple international tours and performed on some of the world's most prestigious stages. In June of this year, Touré returned to Israel to join Raichel's band The Idan Raichel Project in a performance at Masada, an archeological site of immense significance in Jewish history.

Since they recorded their first album in Tel Aviv, the plan was to make the follow-up in Bamako. But the latter was deemed too risky at the time, so the artists traveled to France to record. For three days Raichel, who produced, and Touré sequestered themselves at Studio Malambo in the outskirts of Paris where they were joined by a number of special guests. While The Paris Session is the result of the same freeform approach that was used in the first album, this time around they decided to feature more songs with vocals, a wider range of instrumentation, and appearances by musician friends such as Senegalese artist Daby Touré on bass, Israeli trumpeter Niv Toar, Malian singer Seckouba Diabate and others. Touré and Raichel have honed their interplay over the course of multiple tours together, but the album possesses the same spontaneous, heartfelt magic as its predecessor.

One highlight of the recording is a rendition of the song “Diaraby,” written by Ali Farka Touré and featured on his landmark collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu. Raichel says that there was a period of six or seven years during which he had listened to the song nearly every day. Upon sharing a stage with Vieux for the first time, Raichel suggested they play the elder Touré’s song together, and doing so brought tears to Raichel’s eyes. He describes feeling “a big, big circle from Ali Farka Touré in Niafunke to me in Tel Aviv, then going back to Ali’s son.”

More broadly Raichel says of his collaboration with Touré, “I’m a musician from Israel, and I will always make Israeli music. And Vieux Farka Touré for me represents the spirit of Mali. I think world music artists by definition are people who reflect the soundtrack of the place they come from. I think that this collaboration between Mali and Israel—and remember we don’t even have diplomatic relations between the two countries—creates a new imaginary island located somewhere between Bamako and Tel Aviv.”

Touré says, “Idan comes from Israel, he’s Jewish. I come from Mali, I'm a Muslim. This project shows the point where there are no real differences between us. Working on these recordings we learn a lot about each other.”

It all works, first and foremost, because Touré, Raichel and their guests manage to make singular music. Reviewing The Tel Aviv Session for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Banning Eyre wrote, “If Raichel and Touré had planned a collaboration, it's hard to imagine that they could have topped the casual charm of this impromptu encounter.” Hosting the Collective on WNYC’s “Soundcheck,” John Schaefer called the debut recording “one of the year’s most surprising and infectious world music releases.” Wall Street Journal rock and pop music critic Jim Fusilli has described the collaboration as “not so much cross-cultural exercise as an exploration of common ground.”

The Touré-Raichel Collective U.S. Tour Dates

November 07 - Northridge, CA @ Valley Performing Arts Center        
November 08 - San Francisco, CA @ Nourse Theater
November 09 - Grass Valley, CA @ The Center for the Arts
November 11 - Phoenix, AZ @ Musical Instrument Museum
November 12 - Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
November 14 - Ogden, UT @ Peery’s Egyptian Theater
November 15 - Seattle, WA @ Meany Hall
November 18 - New York, NY @ Symphony Space
November 19 - Frederick, MD @ Weinberg Center for the Arts
November 20 - Fairfield, CT @ Quick Center for the Arts
November 21 - Toronto, ONT @ Koerner Hall
November 22 - Albany, NY @ Swyer Theatre at The Egg
November 23 - Bethlehem, PA @ Zoellner Arts Center

Images by Nitzan Treystman

From the last tour:

Ghanaian Star Rocky Dawuni Releases New Single "African Thriller"

From a media release:


Remixed by KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole, "African Thriller" is the first single from the African star's new album Branches of the Same Tree, which will be released in early 2015 on Cumbancha.


"African Thriller", the first single from African music star Rocky Dawuni's forthcoming album Branches of the Same Tree, has been launched today worldwide. The single announces the Ghanaian star's new signing to Cumbancha, which will be releasing Rocky Dawuni's new album in early 2015. Dawuni will be appearing LIVE on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic today at 11am PST to publicly launch the single. Live streaming is available worldwide at A new music video for the track will be premiered later this summer.

"African Thriller" embodies Rocky Dawuni's unique "Afro-Roots" sound, a funky blend of soul, pop, Afrobeat and reggae grooves that have made him a household name in his native Ghana and earned him a wide following across the globe. Jeremy Sole, a DJ, producer and host on the taste-defining Los Angeles radio station KCRW, remixed the single version of "African Thriller". Sole has previously remixed tracks for Femi Kuti, David Bowie, Thievery Corporation, and Quantic, among others.

Rocky Dawuni is a musician and humanitarian activist from Ghana, West Africa. Named one of Africa's Top 10 global stars by CNN, his recordings and thrilling live performances have attracted thousands to his concerts around the world at top festivals and prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Dawuni has collaborated and performed with Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae and John Legend, among many others.

Dawuni's eloquence, cultural diplomacy and successful melding of music and activism have led him to become a passionate spokesperson for various global causes. He has joined forces with Product (RED), UNICEF, the Carter Center and the UN Foundation. In 2012, Dawuni was appointed the Tourism and Cultural Ambassador of Ghana and World Ambassador for the Musicians Union of Ghana. The same year, he was named a United Nations Foundation Ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, alongside actress Julia Roberts and chef José Andrés.

Rocky Dawuni's sixth album, Branches of the Same Tree, is currently in the final stages of production and promises to bring him an even wider international audience. Influenced by the soulful beats of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, the positive messages and deep grooves of Bob Marley and the infectious, sing-along anthems of Michael Franti, K'naan and Matisyahu, Rocky Dawuni's songs straddle the musical boundaries between Africa, the Caribbean and the US to create a universally appealing sound that unites generations and cultures.

Recently Released: Keith Alan Mitchell - This Clumsy World (Independent - June 20, 2014)

Recently Released:
Keith Alan Mitchell - This Clumsy World
(Independent - June 20, 2014)

Buy the CD

This Clumsy World, a new release by Keith Alan Mitchell, is an enjoyable trek into Americana vérité - the world of the 99% put to guitar in an alt-country/rock/folk mode. He's now based in San Francisco but his Ohio roots show in his anti-glamourous take on the world.

"All the songs have to do with breaking free in some way; escaping, moving on, even disappearing. That can be a good thing, like breaking out of old patterns or old disagreements, but it can also mean people moving away from each other, being adrift and not grounded," says Mitchell.

After fronting bands in Cali and Ohio, this is his first solo release. Keith's voice is perfect for the idiom - full, expressive and fluid, sensitive. In the song Every Every he shows a really nice control and range. His lyrics are romantic, observant, with social commentary at ground level rather from a lofty position above the fray.

The songs tend to be on the short side, melodic, with enough rhythmic variation to hold interest over the whole CD. In the tradition of acoustic folk, he writes about the world around him - and is pro-union too:

Swaying is a highlight, a piano and guitar driven alt-country waltz.

Let's just be vagrants, we'll camp on the hill
We'll watch the red sunset and feel the night grow still
Just you and me under the sparkling canopy and we're trembling
We're lost and alone before this beauty we can't touch
And nothing to hold but our hands
And still we keep on swaying out of time with the world
We'll keep on swaying just you and me girl

It's characteristic of his lo-fi approach not only to music but to life in general.

There's a sweet mandolin part in Crossed That Line by Michael Zisman, one of many seasoned and up and coming San Fran musicians on the album -although Keith most often plays solo live. He's been known to throw in a cover tune or two as well.

Tavern Angeline is another highlight, continuing the long tradition of celebrating the low crowd at the neighbourhood bar while Diamond Blues is an uptempo two-step about finding a place to stay over the winter and other assorted situations. The Feud is a rocking country song about the personality clashes so common to touring bands, written when a former band of his broke up and no one was speaking.

He's touring this summer to support the release.

Keith performs solo (vocals/acoustic guitar). Album credits: Keith Alan
Mitchell - guitar/vocals; Jonathan Kirchner - bass; Andrew Laubacher -
tambourine; Michael Zisman - Mandolin; Kirby Hammel - keyboards; Kathy
Kennedy - backing vocals on "Swaying."


Monday, August 4, 2014

New Single: Latimer House - Birdcage Walk/Until Then (Honk Records - July 7, 2014 - Vinyl August 11)

New Single:
Latimer House - Birdcage Walk/Until Then
Honk Records - July 7, 2014

Buy the single (digital now, 7" red vinyl available August 11)

From Prague to the world, Latimer House continue down the road of upbeat pop with a literate mindset with the release of Birdcage Walk. It's the latest single from their full-length CD All The Rage, released last February on the band's Honk Records label.

The summer-friendly single Splash is available to stream at the link below. There's a tip of the hat to Beach Boys style harmonies in the chorus, watery lyrics on good days the dolphin smiles..  and a cool electronic piano line underneath the pop guitar. The lyrics play with pop cliches.

Buy the album All The Rage & stream the single Splash

While the four members of Latimer met in Prague, where they are now based, they bring influences from across the globe. Drummer and percussionist Jiri (George) Kominek hails from Toronto while guitarist/vocalist Joe Cook comes from London. In 2010, the pair booked a rehearsal room to jam and added keyboard player Anar Yusufov (Baku) to the mix later that year. In early 2011 bassist Michael Jetton (Virginia) joined to come up with Latimer House line-up as it is now.

Smart, insightful lyrics with interesting musical flourishes and the British intonations of singer Joe Cook add up to a distinctive sound. The music is varied and textured, offsetting Joe's somewhat limited range as a singer. You'll hear a range of influences, including classic 1960s and 1970s pop and rock, through funk, folk and New Wave, to obscure experimental rock, jazz and contemporary alternative sounds.

Birdcage Walk was released digitally on July 7, with a translucent red vinyl version available on August 11. It's an effervescent tune with your standard pop quartet fleshed out with a mandolin and lyrics that take a whimsical rather than heavy duty look at modern society.

Bankers dance to the devil's tune
Repossession - China booms
Still under fire but out of range
Still under fire but out of range
Still under fire but out of range...
Birdcage walk remains the same

Until Then, the B-side, has a rougher edge with snarly guitars, bits of a horn section and a danceable groove.

Hands are held up high in the air
All we get is alms for the poor
Stand in line, you'll get your share
Twist was shot for asking for more

As in their other songs, the lyrics take the expected references and turns of phrase in a wry direction, for social commentary in a palatable sonic form.

On a creative roll, Latimer House just came out of the studio August 2, putting down tracke of new material for their next full-length release due in 2015.

Joe Cook - guitar, vocals
Anar Yuufov - keyboards, backing vocals
Jiri (George) Kominek - drums, percussion
Michael Jetton - bass

Additional musicians on All The Rage:
Justin Lavash - guitars on "Until Then"
Tommy Levecchia - trumpet on "Until Then"
Jim Thompson - mandolin on "Birdcage Walk"


Watch the band's official music video for This Is Pop, another one of the tracks from the CD:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Catherine Filloux's Latest Play Selma '65 World Premiere September 26 2014 at La MaMa New York City

From the playwright's blog


In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, Selma ‘65 explores the virtually unknown stories, and double lives, of Viola Liuzzo and Tommy Rowe.

World Premiere September 26th, 2014 at the
La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (74A E 4th St)

SELMA ‘65 – a new solo play from award-winning playwright Catherine Filloux – is set to make its world-premiere at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (74A E 4th St.) on Friday, September 26th, 2014. Based on true events, SELMA ‘65 stars Marietta Hedges and is directed by Eleanor Holdridge.

Performances of SELMA ‘65 will be held Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm with a matinee on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Beginning on Friday, September 26th, SELMA ‘65 will play its final performance on Sunday, October 12th, 2014.

In anticipation of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, Bloody Sunday and the Voting Rights Act, Filloux’s newest work explores the civil rights movement from the perspectives of white activist Viola Liuzzo and FBI informant Tommy Rowe. Rowe was among the Ku Klux Klan members who overtook and gunned down Liuzzo’s Oldsmobile on March 25, 1965. The Klan targeted Ms. Liuzzo, who witnessed racial hatred first hand as a young girl, whilst she drove African-American freedom fighters to safety following the historic March to Montgomery. Ms. Hedges tackles both roles, switching between characters throughout the 75-minute production.

About taking on the story, Catherine Filloux believes it was a necessary step towards preserving history in the minds of theatergoers and staying in-line with her dedication to activism. “As a playwright I focus predominantly on human rights, exploring issues of genocide and other forms of state violence, its crimes and scars. I always choose subject matter, which I personally feel most urgently about. In this case, it is the erosion of our civil rights. The long and often bloody struggle to win the right to vote is obviously ongoing. The Supreme Court recently struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And as long as the rights of minority voters remain in jeopardy, the play becomes even more crucial to society.”

“SELMA ’65 brings a virtually unknown story in United States’ history to light,” adds Filloux. “In my story, I juxtapose the poetic with the brutal reality of violence and the individual moments of choice within the whirlwind of history.”

And in an effort to include the audience in a dialogue the play creates, select performances will offer special post-show panel discussions featuring renowned authors, journalists and activists. The still-growing list already includes author Gary May, Reverend Richard Leonard, voting rights expert Steven Carbó, Eleanor J. Bader and Serena Solomon.

Upcoming release: Leonino (aka Jorge Gonzalez) CD: Naked Tunes Hueso Records (September 15, 2014)

Upcoming release:
Leonino (aka Jorge Gonzalez)
CD: Naked Tunes
Hueso Records (September 15, 2014)

Connect on Facebook
Buy/order the CD - with a free download

Leonino is the newest incarnatino of Jorge González, leader/vocalist of Los Prisioneros, an iconic Chilean rock band who were front-runners of the musical resistance to Pinochet's dictatorship that burst through in the mid 80's. Jorge González became idol and voice for an entire generation of oppressed youth, reaching the pinnacle of fame not only in Chile but throughout Latin America.

He was heavily involved in the electronic scene in Santiago in the early 90's, featuresd in several releases progressively exploring into dance music (Gonzalo Martínez y Sus Congas Pensantes, Los Updates, Los Sampler...) and eventually moved to Germany in the 00's, where he has continued working in close circle with a group of musicians from Chile and beyond.

As Leonino, the release features an eclectic sound that blends Latin rhythms, pop idioms, and avant garde jazzy harmonies. The lyrics are in English, perhaps hoping for a cross over release back on this side of the Atlantic.

The songs sound deceptively simple, melodic; an effortless concoction that incorporates a wide range of influences including moody electronica and radio-friendly pop. Known for his dry, sarcastic wit, the lyrics here delve into the personal rather than the political and are thoughtful and insightful.

...hide your secret account... he begs his lover in Don't Change Your Mind

The instrumentation is varied. There's the classic acoustic guitar and piano of My Love Will Set You Free (along with steel guitar in a vintage rock vibe). Elsewhere, there are harmonicas or the electronic hum of synth. A highlight is the gospel-y swing of How Many Times Did You Save My Soul?

There's a disarming lightness to the songs and to his crooner vocal delivery. He takes the typical idioms of pop love songs and plays it straight for effect. In It Wasn't Meant To Be, he sings,

I tried-tried-tried my best
You can't-can't-can't complain

with a whispered rap:

I won't be holding my breath for another chance...
I'd rather go home and try to get some sleep

- all to music that is a sweet amalgamation of pop and jazz idioms. Or the chorus in After the Big War -

We can still make love...
After the Big War

It's pleasing pop, but if you listen more closely, you get the message. The release features collaborations by brothers Pier and Juan Pablo Bucci, Mariano Scopel, Argenis Brito, Martin Schopf, Tobias Freund and Miguel Toro. All the songs were produced by Leonino at Krossener Studios in Berlin, where he now makes his home.

TIFF 2014 News: Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures’ films The Imitation Game and Nightcrawler to premiere

From a media release:

Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures’ films
The Imitation Game and Nightcrawler
to premiere at Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto, ON - Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures is pleased to be a part of the premiere lineup, today announced at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) press conference. Elevation Pictures’ films include the Canadian premiere of The Imitation Game and the world premiere of Nightcrawler.

The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist, who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the allies win WWII. The film also stars Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Matthew Beard, Allen Leach, and Mark Strong. Directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore, the film was produced by Elevation Pictures’ partner Black Bear Pictures and will be distributed by The Weinstein Company in the U.S.

Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a driven and on-the-edge young man who discovers the nocturnal world of L.A. crime journalism. The film also stars Rene Russo and Bill Paxton and will be distributed by Open Road in the U.S.

“We’re really excited to have these films premiere at TIFF. The Imitation Game is a thrilling dramatic story with deep heart, that  is sure to resonate with both critics and audiences,” said Laurie May and Noah Segal, co-presidents of Elevation Pictures. “Nightcrawler will keep audiences on the edge of their seats and thoroughly entertained by the stellar performances from the cast.”  

• More titles from Elevation Pictures are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. TIFF runs from Sept. 4 to 14, 2014.

About Elevation Pictures:
Elevation Pictures is a Canadian film distribution company founded in 2013 by Laurie May, alongside financier Teddy Schwarzman of Black Bear Pictures. It is quickly becoming one of Canada’s leading film distributors, committed to bringing a robust film slate of elevated content to audiences with both commercial and critical appeal.

New Release & VIdeo: El Mató a un Policía Motorizado’s USA Debut Album La Dinastía Scorpio (Nacional Records - July 29 2014)

From a media release:

El Mató a un Policía Motorizado’s USA Debut Album
La Dinastía Scorpio Is Released Digitally Today (July 29, 2014)
via Nacional Records, With Vinyl Edition

Get the album

LOS ANGELES - July 29, 2014 - Today, indie rockers El Mató a un Policía Motorizado released their USA debut album La Dinastía Scorpio and premiered their new video “Mas o Menos Bien”. 

With an artfully sweet lo-fi sound, El Mató a un Policía Motorizado conjures rock reminiscent of Pavement, Pixes and Guided by Voices. The band was recently featured at Seattle’s tastemaker independent radio station KEXP, where they performed a raucous in-studio live set.

El Mató a un Policía Motorizado recently made their US debut at New York’s LAMC (Latin Alternative Music Conference), where they won the prestigious ‘Artist Discovery Award’ which has previously been given to then up-and-coming artists like Carla Morrison, Kinky, Los Rakas and Astro.

La Dinastía Scorpio maintains the band’s characteristic charm while adding intricately crafted melodies and profound-yet-simple lyrics that range from confrontational politics to the perils of love, all written by the band’s vocalist Santiago Motorizado.