Monday, June 29, 2015

Dusk Dances Returns to Toronto and Beyond

From a media release:

1 World Premiere, 2 Dusk Dances Premieres,
A Perennial Dusk Dances Favourite,
and the First Ever Full(er) Length Work!

Hosted By Brad Brackenridge
Opening Band Guaracha Y Son and free Salsa class with Miko Sobreira

DUSK DANCES, with slightly different programmes, will also be performed in Vancouver (July 9-11) at Portside Park; Peterborough (July 23-26) at Rotary Park; Hamilton (July 30-August 1) at Bayfront Park; and Pickering (August 14-16) at Alex Robertson Park.

TORONTO - The 21st Dusk Dances Festival returns to Withrow Park this summer with another week of exciting and entertaining dance works from Canada’s finest dance makers including Esmeralda Enrique, Danny Grossman, Sylvie Bouchard & Marie-Josée Chartier, and Lua Shayenne.

Over the weeklong Festival, four-10 minute pieces will be presented, plus the new addition of a final 30-minute work (evenings only) by renowned choreographer Tedd Robinson for Cloud 9. Founded by Sylvie Bouchard (Dusk Dances and BoucharDanse), Karen Kaeja (Kaeja d’Dance) and Claudia Moore (MOonhORsE Dance Theatre), Cloud 9 commissions choreographers to create masterful ensemble works for dancers over 45 years of age.

Each performance, hosted by the genial Brad Brackenridge who guides the audience around the site, begins with the Cuban sounds of Guaracha Y Son and a free outdoor Salsa class with master teacher Miko Sobriera. The Dance programme includes:

Performed by: Esmeralda Enrique (dancer), Nicolás Hernández (guitarist), and Tamar Ilana (singer)

RECUERDOS speaks to the strength and fluidity of memories.  The cycle of life repeats itself and memories reoccur in the next generation.  History is providing a chance at redemption, a journey that can be heartbreaking or rewarding; a journey of discovery.  Premieres this year at Dusk Dances.

Performed by: Michael Caldwell and Meredith Thompson

BELLA was inspired by the opera music of Puccini and a mutual love of Marc Chagall.  In 1977 Danny Grossman and Judy Jarvis set out to make a duet for themselves on top of, under and around a table. When Mary Kerr arrived to design the sets and costumes, she took her inspiration from the Chagall images they had been inspired by and created a beautiful painted horse as the centerpiece for this charming love duet.  First premiered at Dusk Dances 2007.

Performed by: Sylvie Bouchard and Marie-Josée Chartier
Photinus appearance by: Michael Caldwell, Live insect-o-sonics: Philip Strong

Twin fireflies get separated at birth. After a journey apart, they find each other again, in a cluster of trees, at Withrow Park. See how they grow to become photuris versicolor, or as they like to call themselves, "femmes fatales!"  World Premiere this year at Dusk Dances.

Performed by: Miranda Liverpool, Kassi Scott, Natasha Phanor, Lua Shayenne and Shireen Ali,
 Drummers: Yohan Franics, Walter MacLean

MURMURE DE FEMME / WOMAN’S WHISPER is an ode to femininity:
“Born to bear the weight of ceaseless adversities
I am she
Stalled in cyclic time
I remain – a woman
Rest your back against mine
Learn the rhythm of my breath
Listen carefully to every pulse in my veins
Memorize the cadence of my heart
In the flux of tempo and beats
We rise as one soul”

Lua Shayenne Premieres this year at Dusk Dances.

Performed by: Karen Kaeja, Graham Mckelvie, Claudia Moore, Ron Stewart and Linnea Swan

MOonhORsE Dance Theatre presents a Cloud 9 commission- DISCONCERTANTE - by award-winning choreographer Tedd Robinson, winner of the 2014 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. This 30-minute ensemble work to the music of Chopin is beautiful, magical, touching, comical, theatrical and captivating.
Premiered in June 2013 in partnership with Young Centre for the Performing Arts, premieres this year at Dusk Dances.
*Please note: Disconcertante will not be performed at the matinée performances

South of Danforth between Logan and Carlaw (Chester Subway Station)
Nightly Performances: August 3-9, 2015
Opening Band and Salsa class start at 6:45pm
Dance Performances start at 7:30pm
Matinée Performances: Thursday, August 6 & Sunday, August 9
Opening Band and Salsa class start at 1:45pm
Dance Performances start at 2:30pm
Pay-What-You-Can: Suggested donation $10 per person
More info: or call 416.504.6429 X24
FB/DuskDances • @duskdances #DuskDances2015

From last year's Dusk Dances:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Contemporary Opera: Soundstreams and Canadian Stage announce North American premiere of Julie November 17 to 29 2015

From a media release:

Soundstreams and Canadian Stage
announce hot, young Canadian cast for 
the North American premiere of Julie
November 17 to 29 2015

Advance Tickets

Toronto – Soundstreams and Canadian Stage today announced the all-Canadian cast for the North American premiere of internationally acclaimed and multiple award-winning composer Philippe Boesmans’ chamber opera Julie, which will be presented in English November 17 to 29, 2015 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Depicting a flirtation that turns into an erotic danse macabre between its aristocratic title character and her father’s valet, August Strindberg’s play Miss Julie was considered too scandalous to be produced when it was written in 1888—only to become a defining classic of modern drama. Canadian Stage Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn directs this acclaimed chamber-opera adaptation, with music direction by Les Dala.

The role of Julie will be sung by London, Ontario opera singing sensation Lucia Cervoni, in her professional Canadian debut. Hailed by critics around the globe as possessing a voice and presence that are “beautifully rich and glamourously beautiful to behold,” she recently debuted and premiered as the lead role in Germany’s first ever production of Fibich’s Die Braut, sung in Czech. Other roles include Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, and Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, all with Theater Magdeburg.

Baritone Clarence Frazer, currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, will portray Julie’s forbidden lover, Jean. The Mississauga native has appeared with the COC in Madama Butterfly, The Barber of Seville, La Boheme and Cosi fan tutte; as well as the title role in Don Giovanni (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy), and in productions for both Calgary Opera and Edmonton Opera.

Finally, Ottawa-born Sharleen Joynt will portray Jean’s scorned fiancé, Christine. The coloratura soprano trained with Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Development Program and has sung all over the world, including three years as an ensemble member of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg. She is acclaimed for her “technical command, spirited acting, and love of taking risks” (Opernwelt). Fans of ABC’s reality dating show, The Bachelor, may also remember Sharleen as a contestant from the series’ 18th season.

“Philippe Boesmans is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest living opera composers,” says Matthew Jocelyn, “with new opera commissions coming regularly from the Paris National Opera, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Teatro Real de Madrid, amongst others. Oddly enough, Julie will be the North American première of any opera by this true master of the 21st century. Philippe has been a long-time collaborator of mine, and on the eve of his 80th birthday I am beyond words delighted that Canadian audiences will finally have an opportunity to discover the musical universe of this great composer, in the company of a truly exceptional cast and orchestra.”

"Canada is producing so many great young singers, but all too often Europe beckons with its many reputable opera houses offering stable and lucrative employment,” says Lawrence Cherney, Artistic Director of Soundstreams. “So it is with great anticipation that we bring two of our three singers back to Canada for starring roles in this brilliant production."

November 17 to November 29, 2015; Opening and media night: November 17
Bluma Appel Theatre, St Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St East
A Canadian Stage production presented in association with Soundstreams, with additional support from the Théâtre d’Orléans, France.

Composed by Philippe Boesmans
Libretto by Luc Bondy and Marie-Louise Bischofberger
Directed by Matthew Jocelyn
Music Direction by Les Dala
Performed by Lucia Cervoni, Clarence Frazer, Sharleen Joynt and chamber orchestra.

Pre-show chat: Friday, November 20, 6:15 pm
Post-show talkbacks: Thursday, November 19 (evening), Wednesday November 25 (matinee), Thursday November 26 (evening)

Tickets may be purchased by phone at 416-368-3110 or in person at the Canadian Stage Box Office: Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St). Full details and tickets are available at

Scene 1 from Philippe Boesmans's Julie, performed by Teatro Comunale Bolzano in 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2015

National Lampoon’s Full House The Musical! starring Perez Hilton debuts in Toronto August 18 to September 6 2015

From a media release:

National Lampoon’s Full House The Musical! starring Perez Hilton debuts in Toronto before heading to New York City
Catch the exclusive run on stage at the Randolph Theatre
August 18 to September 6, 2015

Buy Tickets

Toronto, ON – David Galpern / Corey Ross / Starvox Entertainment today announced Torontonians can spend the summer with the Tanner Family when they see the premiere of National Lampoon’s Full House The Musical! A Tanner Family Parody!. Starring larger than life celebrity personality Perez Hilton as Danny Tanner, the production is on stage at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.) for a strictly limited engagement from Aug. 18 to Sept. 6.

Full House The Musical! is the unauthorized musical parody that puts an adult spin on ABC’s Friday night family sitcom. The beloved TV show followed the heartwarming story of a widowed Father whose best friend and brother-in-law move in to help him raise his three daughters. Every episode of “Full House” serves to remind you that no matter how unconventional the Tanner family is – they will always be better than your family.

Visiting Toronto for an exclusive run before heading off to Theatre 80 in New York, Full House The Musical! follows Tanner family patriarch, Danny, who loses his super power of solving any problem with his sensible “Dad Speeches” (complete with soft piano accompaniment). Follow Danny’s wacky and hilarious descent into madness as he slowly turns from wholesome Danny Tanner to foul-mouth and dark Bob Saget. Will he get his “Dad Speech” power back in time to save his family? Probably not!

Full House The Musical! includes book, music, lyrics and stage direction by Bob and Tobly McSmith (Bayside! The Musical!; Showgirls! The
On sale now, tickets range in price from $29.95 to $99.95 and are available online at

Joining Hilton on stage, the cast features Seth Blum as Joey Gladstone, John Duff as Jesse Katsopolis, Amanda Nicholas as DJ Tanner, Marguerite Halcovage as Stephanie Tanner, and Marshall Louise as the Olsen Twins.

Bob and Tobly McSmith
Writers & Directors - pictured left!
Twitter: @Starvoxent; @FullHouseTo
Hashtag: #FullHouseTO

Full House The Musical!
Venue: Randolph Theatre (formerly The Bathurst Street Theatre) - 736 Bathurst St. (centrally located on Bathurst St. just south Honest Ed's – with easy Green P parking nearby)
Dates: Aug. 18 to Sept. 6 - Tickets on sale: Tickets ($29.95 to $99.95) available at

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cumbia meets Andean Carnival: Chico Trujillo - Reina de Todas las Fiestas (Barbès Records: June 23, 2015)

From a media release:

Chico Trujillo Releases New Album on Barbès Records:
Reina de Todas las Fiestas out on June 23, 2015

Cumbia meets Andean Carnival with guest appearances by Kevin Johansen and Alvaro Henriquez of Los Tres. 

Buy the CD

If there is such a thing as Cumbia Kings, the crown should probably go to Chilean group Chico Trujillo. Fifteen years ago, in the small town of Villa Aleman, a few miles from Valparaiso, Chico Trujillo started as informal gatherings where singer Aldo “Macha” Asenjo and members of his punk/ska group La Floripondio would play old Chilean and Colombian cumbia hits for fun. The gatherings soon turned into a touring band that would spend most summers in Berlin where they honed their tropical chops (not unlike a famed Liverpool band honing their skills in Hamburg clubs) and eventually take them to Vive Latino; the Hollywood Bowl and Lollapalooza where Jon Pareles, of the NY Times, called the band “a world-class party band” adding that Mr. Asenjo sings lyrics as chattery and percussive as some hip-hop, taking on the ups and downs of love and life.”

A few world tours and six albums later, Chico Trujillo has come to symbolize a uniquely Chilean cocktail. Chico Trujillo is rooted in the cumbias of the pre-Pinochet days and seems to incorporate every aspect of Chile’s popular culture. Chico Trujillo has meshed bits and pieces of Chile’s fragmented past with the global influence of alternative culture and merged it all under the pan-Latin banner of Cumbia.

Their new album, Reina de Todas Las Fiestas (The Queen of All Parties), was recorded in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Chile and aims at creating a pan Latin American sound that is still based on good old cumbia, but also incorporates aspects of the continent’s varied musical culture. Los Chicos are still a party band, but it’s a moving party with an Andean edge, some Argentinean slang, and Mexican fans.

The essential new reference on the album is that of Northern Chile’s carnival music. Chico Trujillo recorded with the legendary Banda Wiracocha – a thirty-piece brass band from Iquique. Wiricocha usually plays traditional carnival parties filled with songs, dances and rituals based on pre-Hispanic traditions that have been kept alive by the Andean Aymara-speaking population. Chico Trujillo did a string of concerts with the Banda that proved to be raucous celebrations of Chile’s past and present culture – with forty musicians on stage and a wall of brass as loud and powerful as any other kind of metal band.

Other collaborations include a duet with Argentinean pop star Kevin Johansen – on the poignant Los nervios que te di – as well as a version of Calixto Ochoa’s Colombian Cumbia classic, Playas Marinas, with Henrique Alvarez, singer of Chilean band Los Tres – which may be the most influential rock bands ever to come out of Chile. Reina de Todas las Fiestas also features a track with Rebel Diaz, a political Hip Hop group from the Bronx fronted by two Chilean brothers.

Chico Trujillo’s Pan Latin-American new approach on Reina de Todas Las Fiestas pushes the band at the forefront of a recent movement that is redefining South American identity, with a newfound regional pride and unity. It also gives the band access to a more universal understanding of its music, which is not just confined to its domestic Chilean roots, or the global party-loving cumbia throngs.

It is probably no coincidence that, as he was working on Reina de Todas las Fiestas, singer Macha was also busy with Bloque  Depresivo – a side project which mines the more sentimental streak of the South American canon and pays tribute to the Latin equivalent of torch songs: Peruvian waltzes, Argentinean ballads, Ecuadorian Pasillos and the likes. Likewise, Chico Trujillo, while always keeping the beat going, never strays far from a certain sentimental approach that permeates even the happiest cumbias, and it is probably one of the secrets of their success: a level of sincerity and emotion that enables rockeros and cumbieros from every generation to relate to the music at a deep level – while dancing.

Reina de Todas las Fiesta, in that regard, is Chico Trujillo’s crowning achievement with an uncanny ability to reference Violeta Parra, Andean music, Mexican ranchera, Argentinean rock – all that without ever missing a cumbia beat.

Alt-Punk Release - New Single: Magnificent Birds of Prey 'Can't Wash My Soul'

From a media release:

Alt-Punk Release - New Single:
Magnificent Birds of Prey
Can't Wash My Soul
from the upcoming album Kaleidoscope (August 18, 2015 release)

Formed by friends from Philadelphia, New Jersey & Pittsburgh; the sound of the Northeast exports, Magnificent Birds of Prey reflects the loud, dirty and addictive nature of their respective suburbs, set to the heartbeat of the City of Brotherly Love.

The techy and sometimes psychedelic four-piece has drawn comparisons to Superchunk, Pearl Jam, Guided By Voices and Manchester Orchestra for their wily mix of indie/alternative rock and literary prowess. They name check bodies of work as varied as Star Trek, Kurt Vonnegut and Pulp Fiction and hope to make good on their name by bringing in “magnificent” sonic landscapes with unbridled attack, coining their sound ‘karate rock’- a music that moves you. “We question ourselves in both silly and serious ways”, says lead vocalist Lyle, “and that lighthearted nature finds its way into our music”.

Magnificent Birds of Prey will be releasing their new album Kaleidoscope August 18th and heading out on a regional tour of the Northeast this Summer/Fall.

Visual Arts: Summer Exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Mississauga

From a media release:

Be a Sport
Pan American Photo Exhibition
Kim Lee Kho | Chains Unlinked
July 2 - September 13, 2015

The Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM) presents three new exhibitions for the summer of 2015: Be a Sport, Pan American Photo Exhibition, and Kim Lee Kho's Chains Unlinked.

With the GTA community avidly focused on hosting the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan American Games, the AGM presents Be a Sport, a group exhibition featuring local and international artists exploring the cultural significance of athletic achievement, the continual quest for victory and how issues of gender, race, inequality and conflict are caught up in the arena of sport. Eight contemporary artists and collectives bridge the now often separated worlds of art and sports by using aesthetics, philosophy and humour to play with how we understand some of our favourite pastimes. Participating artists include Hudson Christie, Lia Darjes, JEFF&GORDON , Marc Losier, Leah Modigliani, Graeme Patterson, Diana Thorneycroft, and Weber & Schneider. Be a Sport is presented as an official IGNITE Community Partnership of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

To celebrate the rich diversity of Pan American cultures, the AGM is partnering with the Hispanic Canadian Arts and Cultural Association to present the Pan American Photo Exhibition. This international juried show celebrates the vibrancy of the cultures in the 41 Pan American countries through the lens of photography to promote inclusivity and cross-cultural connection. The AGM will be one of the four venues on the tour of this exhibition: Metro Hall in Toronto (June 27 - July 2), The Art Gallery of Mississauga (July 2 - September 13), HCACA website gallery (June 25 - August 15), The Assembly Hall Gallery in Etobicoke, (July 23 - Aug 14).

In the gallery's XIT-RM space, Brampton-based artist Kim Lee Kho uses drawing, video and sculptural elements to explore ideas of barriers (whether internal or external), vulnerability and empathy. Kho's interest in confinement and vulnerability is influenced by her mixed-race identity and the experience of a decade of illness which often left her housebound. Through an immersive installation, Kho invites viewers to walk through a space that examines constraint in an open public setting.

"The AGM is pleased to partner with the IGNITE program of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and the Hispanic Canadian Arts and Cultural Association to present exhibitions that address the ideas of diversity and equality and the unifying power of sport. As a host city for the 2015 Games, we are honored to feature the work of both national and local artists whose interest in transnational conversations speaks both to and from the multicultural fabric and dialogue of our vibrant city."

-     Mandy Salter, Director | Curator, Art Gallery of Mississauga

• Programmed with IGNITE Community Partnership of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, Be a Sport will feature both international and local artists examining the culture and influence of sports.
• The Pan American Photo Exhibition will feature an array of photographs from the 41 countries participating in the Pan Am Games.
• The exhibitions open at the Art Gallery of Mississauga on Thursday, July 2 at 6 pm. There will be a free bus from The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W, Toronto) at 6 pm.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Africa in Toronto: 27th Annual Afrofest 2015 // July 4 & 5 2015

From a media release:

Africa in Toronto:
27th Annual Afrofest 2015 // July 4 & 5 2015
Woodbine Park, Toronto
Presented by Music Africa Inc.

For the first time in its history, Music Africa Inc. is partnering with Africa New Music to present the 2015 edition of AFROFEST which is shaping out to be our biggest festival yet. With about 35 scheduled live performances, workshops, spoken word artists, dance groups, an interactive children’s village and marketplace, with over 70 vendors, there is something for everyone.

With the Pan American games being held in Toronto in the summer of 2015, we are proud to part of this historic event. Though the details are still being finalized, the Pan Am torch relay will make a stop at AFROFEST onSunday July 05, 2015. By doing this, AFROFEST aims to promote the understanding of African culture by reaching out and attracting to non-African audiences.

The living legendary Zouk group – Kassav, The king of Makossa – San Fan Thomas and the highly energetic and dynamic Congolese group – Wenge Musica Nouvelle Generation featuring Bill Clinton Kalonji, Celeo Scram and Flamme Kapaya are just a few artists who are expected to thrill AFROFEST’s ever-growing audience. Stay connected to get more information on the AFROFEST schedule.

Check out the line-up

Some of the headliners:
Dacosta (Rwanda)
Kateneen Cheka (Guinea)
Tich Maredza Band (Zimbabwe)
Trinity (Botswana)
San Fan Thomas (Cameroon))
Wenge Musica – Bill Clinton Kalonji (Congo DRC)
Kassav (Paris-based Caribbean Zouk band)

Sam Fan Thomas - a legend in Cameroon - performing with fellow Cameroonian Tala Andre Marie in Paris in May 2015:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

VP Records 35th Anniversary Show: Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons, Massive B June 27 2015 in NYC

From a media release:

VP Records 35th Anniversary Show: 
Maxi Priest
Bunji Garlin
Fay Ann Lyons
Massive B

Central Park, MN - SummerStage
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Doors at 2pm

NEW YORK CITY - Reggae lovers, this is a night for you, featuring Maxi Priest, the legend of British reggae, along with a full roster of international reggae and soca stars.

Maxi Priest
With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits (including the No. 1 smash "Close To You") - the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love (VP Records). Easy To Love is a fine representation of pop, reggae and R&B blended together in one set. The title track was a No. 1 hit on reggae charts last summer, evidence that Maxi Priest has a gift for staying fresh. "Hearts Across The World" is a song for our times and pleas for people of all races to love one another. The soulful "Without A Woman" features Jamaican legend Beres Hammond and even echoes the themes and intensity of James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World." Maxi continues to tug on women's heartstrings with irresistible tributes of enduring affection on "Loving You Is Easy," "Holiday" and his rendition of John Mayer's "Gravity."

Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian (pictured below) broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like "Serious Times," "Beautiful Lady," and "Mama, Don't Cry." He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically-acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title track, which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award. He is currently gearing up for a new EP Nothing To Lose. His latest fourth studio album Sex, Love and Reggae, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart, is a marked departure from his previous releases and unveils another layer of his artistry. The musically diverse set takes the listener from dancehall to soca to global pop and R&B sounds and features an eclectic mix of production from Jamaica - including Shane C. Brown. Justus Arison and Stanley "Rellee" Hayden, Russian and Linton "TJ" White - and is co-executive produced by Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis (Miguel, Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco, the Fugees).

Bunji Garlin
Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as "America's first soca star," Garlin has clearly taken his native country's genre to new heights. His single "Differentology (Ready For The Road)," which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean. In 2013, the single received a Soul Train Award win, was featured on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, won NYC's Hot 97 FM's Battle of The Beats competition and was chosen by NPR as one of the year's favorite anthems as well as MTV Iggy's Song of the Year. Garlin introduced soca to more mainstream music circuits by performing at last year's SXSW, CMJ Music Festival, FADER Fort, Mad Decent Boat Party and alongside Jillionaire and Major Lazer during their 2014 tour stint. That same year, he made his national TV debut on BET's 106 & Park to perform "Differentology" and returned for their Carnival takeover episode with Fay Ann Lyons and A$AP Ferg for their "Truck On D Road" remix. In his native country, he has won multiple Carnival competitions - including the "Ragga Soca Monarch" title, the Young King title and the coveted International Soca Monarch. He has released eight albums independently and three additional albums on VP Records - Revelation (2002), Global (2007) and Differentology (2014) - the latter being a joint venture with RCA Records.

Fay Ann Lyons
Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago's Carnival season's annual competitions, Lyons has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2009, she also won International Soca Monarch in Groovy, People's Choice and Power category and is the first soca artist ever to win that soca "triplet" of titles. In addition to these feats, she has taken home 17 awards between the COTT (Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago), NACC (National Action Cultural Committee Trinidad and Tobago) and SAO (Soca Awards Organization). The Point Fortin native has soca in her DNA. Her father Superblue, a soca legend who has won the Carnival Road March title nine times and Trinidad Soca Monarch competition seven times, was instrumental in honing Lyons' skills as a songwriter and performer. She became a front-liner for the band Invazion led by Naya George and today is an official member of the Asylum band (previously known as "Censation"), founded by her husband and soca royalty Bunji Garlin. Lyons continues to tour worldwide and is recording her first solo full-length album on VP Records.

Massive B
Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders' vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way. Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough's West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for Fire Sundays, where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. Bobby and Jabba can also be heard on-air every weekend on Hot 97 FM.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Patricia Vonne Announces New Spanish-Language Album Viva Bandolera (June 23, 2015 - Bandolera Records)

From a media release:

Patricia Vonne Announces New Album Viva Bandolera (June 23, 2015 - Bandolera Records) 
The Austin, TX Based Singer's 6th Album Features All Spanish Language Songs

Pre-order/buy the CD
Check Tour Dates

San Antonio, Texas has always been the musical and cultural crossroads of the Lone Star State, fusing the state’s modern Anglo-centric history with its centuries-old Latino past. Patricia Vonne is a product of this cultural menudo, growing up with the diverse blend of music in a family of ten wildly creative children- including her older brother, film director Robert Rodriquez. Through five albums, Vonne has found her own sound, harvesting a hybrid mix that has been interpreted as Texas border rock. Her latest album, titled Viva Bandolera, is a compilation of Spanish songs collected from her five previous albums that explore her experience as a Tejana. Out June 23rd on Bandolera Records, the album consists of 17 tracks including revised versions of “Severina” and the title track “Viva Bandolera.”

Growing up in the historic Monte Vista section of San Antonio, Vonne and her siblings were encouraged to forge their own creative paths. Her father, a native from Rio Grande Valley, came to San Antonio on a music scholarship and her mother, of Spanish descent, played guitar and sang Old World folksongs for her kids. The memories of Vonne’s mother giving her and her siblings exposure to these historical songs and styles has stuck with her throughout her life, and she expertly melds this influence with her own affection for rock ‘n’ roll. She counts Forth Worth rocker Johnny Reno and his band, the Sax Maniacs, as her first exposure to the decidedly American genre.

“Growing up as a Tejana, I listened to the diverse music of San Antonio—country, rock, jazz, pop, conjunto and Tejano styles,” she recalled. “When I started writing my own music, which is also a hybrid mix of sound and flavors, I felt a need to preserve and honor the rich cultural heritage of my upbringing.”

In 2001, Vonne relocated back to Texas from her temporary home of New York, settled in Austin and quickly became a standout attraction in a city of earnest singer-songwriters, indie upstarts and quirky iconoclasts. Vonne’s bilingual lyrics, flamenco dance moves and stage prowess left an undeniable impression on the Austin music fans and solidified her role in the live music scene. Vonne has garnered various accolades from the local music community, such as the Best Female Vocalist title at the Austin Music Awards in 2014. She also took an award home from the same ceremony that praised her dexterity with her signature instrument, the castanets. The statuesque singer has also collaborated with numerous Texas musical heavyweights such as Charlie Sexton, Rosie Flores, Flaco Jimenez, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely and Doyle Bramhall. The Austin Chronicle has many times over praised Vonne’s musical output and notes that “The caliente combination of Latino rhythm and American rock & roll has been well explored by everyone from Doug Sahm to the Cruzados, yet Patricia Vonne’s…is more stylized, a feminine, sensual rendering. Romance and rock & roll rarely sound so good.”

Viva Bandolera represents both a labor of love and a completion. Sung entirely in Spanish, it is a summation in sorts of the distance Vonne has traveled on her singular path. Weaved throughout the tracks are several connoisseurs of the genre including Alex Ruiz, Tito Larriva, Michael Ramos, Rick del Castillo, Joe Reyes, and her brother.

“This album is special to me because I wanted it to capture my Latina heritage on one disk,” Vonne says. “It’s a big part of my identity and I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. With this album I feel I’ve come full circle as an artist.”

The name of the album and her label, Bandolera Records, are allusions to the “independent spirit of women, and directly translates to “female bandit.” She says that at times she feels like an outlaw herself as a truly independent artist, and the role seems to suit her. After jumping through hoops to release her debut album through a label and having the deal fall through, Vonne formed her label and has released all of her records through the imprint to date. Her bandit mentality present in her music and operations made her the perfect fit as Dallas (aka the Zorro Girl) in 2014’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which also found her trading in her guitar and castanets (also the name of her 2005 release) for much deadlier weapons.

Vonne’s rich and extensive family history is a common thread throughout the album. La Gitana de Triana (The Gypsy of Triana) tells the story of Vonne’s sister who decided to run away and become a gypsy dancer while in the old gypsy quarter of Triana. The song captures that passion for flamenco and the haunting magic of the city.  One of the final album tracks, Severina, was co-written with her brother in memory of the pair’s grandmother, Severina Rodriguez. The song pays tribute to the beloved woman and the indelible mark she left on her grandchildren.

One of the standout tracks amongst the 17 is Traeme Paz. As heard in the Robert Rodriguez film Once Upon A Time In Mexico, the track is a “blood drenched love song” that unfolds like a Spanish ballet. Mexicali de Chispa, co-written with her brother, features Vonne on lead guitar. It has the cinematic bravado and Latin surf-rock feel that has become synonymous with the director and his frequent creative partner, Quentin Tarantino.

El Marinero y La Sirena was written while Vonne was on tour in Odense, Denmark, the hometown of Hans Christian Anderson. Vonne collaborated with fellow San Antonian Michael Martin on the nautical-themed animated video as well as the songwriting. The award winning video, shot and edited by Vonne, features Vonne and Martin’s original illustrations exploring the sailor’s “shipwrecked heart” and mermaid’s wounded cry of destiny leagues under the sea.

The short was featured at the SXSW Film Festival 2015 and won the Audience Award at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in 2015.

After visiting the museum of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Vonne was inspired to write La Huerta de San Vicente and Fuente Vaqueros. Though Garcia Lorca died tragically during the Spanish Civil War, his spirit lives on through his art, with energy and spirit as palpable as Vonne’s own works. Other gems on the album include Mujeres Desaparecidas, which she wrote to bring awareness to the ongoing feminicide in Mexico and later donated the song to Amnesty International. The songs La Huerta de San Vicente (which was the John Lennon Songwriting Contest grand prize winner in 2009), Torera, Guitarras y Castañuelas  and Fiesta Sangria were all written while Vonne was in Spain, where her ancestors are from.

Vonne will be promoting her album with live CD release gigs in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She is currently on a 32 date tour in Germany and will return for a European tour this summer in Germany, France, Austria and Italy.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Free in the Bronx: Hybrid Movement Company, The Incredible Incredible & IMPACT Repertory Theatre June 26 2015

From a media release:

Free: Dance in the Bronx
Hybrid Movement Company
The Incredible Incredible
IMPACT Repertory Theatre

Crotona Park, BX - SummerStage
Friday, June 26 2015 at 7pm

NEW YORK CITY - This free show is part of the Central Park Summerstage program and combines the efforts of three exciting performing arts companies.

Hybrid Movement Company
The Hybrid Movement Company, a dance, acrobatic, and visual arts troupe, will present two works, Momentum and Are You the Dreamer? Momentum, a new piece, focuses on risk-taking perpetual movement driven by rhythms and flowing through melodies. It is performed in a powerful cohesion of Hybrid Movement, circus arts, classical and contemporary ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, bobbing, waving and popping. Are You the Dreamer? is a transubstantiated tale exploring beauty, ugliness, rejection, love, dreams, and fear through dancing and dynamic movement. The Hybrid Movement Company has been hailed by The New York Times as one of the most innovative Contemporary Circus Companies in USA Today!

The Incredible Incredible
The Incredible Incredible presents Palindrome, the story of two characters, each the other's imaginary friend, meeting for the first time to unfold the intricacies of their tangled coexistence. Featuring invisible string manipulation, shoe poi, impossible feats with silverware, sinus explorations, snail hats, and finger stunts all set to live music! The Incredible Incredible is a physical theatre duo formed by two friends inspired by mime, physical comedy, traditional American sideshow, European clowns, and street theatre. Matthew "Poki" McCorkle is a self-taught physical performer known internationally for his surreal hoop illusions, movement based manipulation, and unique and unusual presentations. Justin Therrien is an entertainer that challenges the audience's perception of what is real and what is illusion with his unique blend of movement and skill based manipulation. Accompanying them is composer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Hicks on accordion, percussion, harmonica and ukulele.

IMPACT Repertory Theatre
IMPACT Repertory Theatre Performance Company uses the performing arts and the dynamics of leadership training to inspire and empower youth. IMPACT believes that arts and education play a pivotal role in providing opportunities and transitions for the leaders of tomorrow. IMPACT is rooted in creative self expression and anchored by a commitment to Safe Space, Outstanding Effort and Service to the Community (S.O.S.). IMPACT promotes the positive development of young people ages 12-19 by providing a learning environment that encourages, nurtures and challenges its students. IMPACT offers workshops, leadership programs and performance opportunities. The programs and curriculum encourages Impact members to have the imagination, skills and confidence to create their "special place in the world." A core Impact value is attending college and giving back through active community service. All of Impact's classes and programs are free. Impact's ongoing performance program, creative labs, and 12 weeks intensive artist and activist training program are tuition free.

Recently Released: Toronto's Steve Benjamins - Sightlines (Independent - May 15, 2015)

Recently Released:
Steve Benjamins - Sightlines
(Independent - May 15, 2015)

EP Available as a Free Download from Steve`s Website

Toronto-based singer/songwriter/musician/producer Steve Benjamins is a one man show on his recently released EP, Sightlines. He plays piano, guitar, synths, drums and bass and serves as songwriter and co-producer on the release, a collection of six tracks. The first singles were released April 17 and 29 and the whole EP on May 15 of this year. It's his third EP release in about two years.

The title Song has a stripped back feel that relies heavily on his expressive and accomplished voice - the dominant feature of this EP. Here it's accompanied by a spiritual/gospel-like arrangement that combines churchy organ sounds with pop-synth grooves.

We used to live, the first single, is upbeat pop with the edge of an urban anthem. Steve's vocals go from low and soulful to a higher and more insistent range. The track is like a roots/folk song lying underneath - and occasionally breaking through - contemporary electronic pop music.

Steve's lyrics combine the universal and a freshly modern sensibility; overall it's an ethereal and somewhat melancholic take on modern pop with romantic and universal themes. Devotion is an interesting and very brief track - all keyboards and wordless harmony.

Steamroller has faint shades of old Genesis guitar work and complex melodic lines, the vocals a clear high tenor range. In Exploding Boy he breaks through the laid back feel of the other tracks with a growing sense of urgency. The EP ends with the synthy and philosophical Later, a track that's short, synthy and atmospheric.

Steve Benjamins brings a sense of individual style to a crowded field of singer/songwriter/instrumentalists and offers a fresh take and some very fine vocals to the package.

1.    Sightlines
2.    We Used to Live
3.    Devotion
4.    Steamroller
5.    Exploding Boy
6.    Later On


The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series June 15 to 30 2015

From a media release:

The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series
Janai Brugger
Nathan Gunn
Isabel Leonard
Pianist Dan Saunders

Brooklyn Bridge Park, BK - SummerStage
Wednesday, June 17 at 7pm

Check out the full schedule that runs from June 15 to 30 2015

NEW YORK CITY - The Metropolitan Opera presents an enchanting evening of favorite opera arias and duets featuring Metropolitan Opera Stars.

Janai Brugger is a Soprano hailing from Chicago, Illinois. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2012 as Liù in Turandot and also starred as Helena in The Enchanted Island. Other career highlights include roles as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at Covent Garden and the Los Angeles Opera, Liù at Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Micaëla with Opera Colorado. She has also appeared with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is a 2012 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition. Upcoming, she'll perform as Micaëla in Carmen with the Washington National Opera and in Kansas City and Musetta in La Bohème with the Los Angeles Opera.

Nathan Gunn is a Baritone hailing from South Bend, Indiana. He has sung in more than 100 Metropolitan Opera performances consisting of 14 roles, including the title role of Billy Budd, Danilo in The Merry Widow, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory, Clyde Griffiths in the world premiere of Picker's An American Tragedy, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and in the ensemble of Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (debut, 1995). Additional career highlights include his recent role as Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Theater an der Wien and the title role of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Houston Grand Opera. He created a number of roles in world premieres, including James Dalton in Iain Bell's A Harlot's Progress at the Theater an der Wien, Yeshua in Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at the San Francisco Opera, Alec Harvey in Previn's Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Father Delura in Peter Eötvös's Love and Other Demons at Glyndebourne, and Paul in Daron Hagen's Amelia at the Seattle Opera. He is a graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program; a recipient of the Met's Beverly Sills Artist Award, established by Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman; and was recently named Director of the American Repertoire Council at the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Upcoming, he will sing Inman in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain with the Santa Fe Opera and later with Opera Philadelphia, and Sid Taylor in the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Great Scott with the Dallas Opera, followed by performances at the San Diego Opera.

Isabel Leonard is a New York based Mezzo-Soprano. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2007 as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette. Other Met appearances include Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Miranda in The Tempest, Rosina, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Her career highlights include a recent performance as Rosina at the Vienna State Opera and Angelina in La Cenerentola at Munich's Bavarian State Opera and for her debut with the Washington National Opera. She has also sung Rosina at the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Dallas Opera, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito with the Canadian Opera Company, Ruggiero in Handel's Alcina in Bordeaux, Cherubino at the Glyndebourne Festival, Sesto in Giulio Cesare and Cherubino at the Paris Opera, Cherubino with the Bavarian State Opera, and Dorabella at the Salzburg Festival. She was a recipient of the Met's Beverly Sills Artist Award, established by Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman. Upcoming, she will sing Ada in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain with Santa Fe Opera, followed by performances at Opera Philadelphia, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met, Angelina in La Cenerentola with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Arden Scott in Jake Heggie's Great Scott with San Diego Opera.

Dan Saunders is a pianist hailing from Perry, New York. His career highlights include performances in recital with singers including Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathleen Battle, Marilyn Horne, Tatiana Troyanos, Samuel Ramey, and Thomas Allen; and with instrumentalists including violinists Eugen Fodor and Tomoko Kato. He has also performed at the White House, on national television, and at Carnegie Hall, Washington's Kennedy Center, Paris's Bastille Opera, San Francisco Opera, and London's Wigmore Hall, as well as at the Santa Fe, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and Ravinia festivals. He joined the Met's music staff in 1985 as an Assistant Conductor and has been heard as harpsichordist on the Live from Lincoln Center television series and as a pianist on the Met's international radio broadcasts.

Mongolian folk/Electronic/Orchestral/Epic Music/New Age/Fusion: Nature Ganganbaigal (To Where Tengger Leads Me - September 10 2014)

Mongolian folk/Electronic/Orchestral/Epic Music/New Age/Fusion: 
Nature Ganganbaigal (To Where Tengger Leads Me - September 10th, 2014)

Buy the CD Here

Cambodian tonality and instrumentation combine with modern electronics in To Where Tengger Leads Me, the debut solo release from Nature Ganganbaigal - or Tianran Zhang in Chinese - a Mongolian composer whose music has been heard in films, commercials and video games. His scores have been featured in Official Selections at the Montclair Film Festival, 2015 Timecode:NOLA Film Festival and 2015 RxSM Film Expo among others and he's composed film scores for China Central Television. He appeared on MTV when the album was first released last fall.

Along with composing music, he's a throat singer and plays the Mongolian Morin khuur or horse head fiddle. As a soloist he's performed with the NYU Philharmonia and Combo Nuvo, a jazz group based in New York City.

The first track, Expedition, proceeds at a breakneck pace with insistent percussion and the distinctive timbre of his horse head violin on top of it all - at times languid, at times furious. It's hypnotic and eminently danceable.

While the music brings contemporary Cambodia vividly to life, there are some Western flourishes and harmonies and dance rhythms mixed with the traditional sounds - sweeping harmonies and synth grooves. There's an appropriately epic feel on the track Legend on Horseback.

The song titles and the music itself makes frequent references to the land and the horse culture of the plains people of Mongolia - Galloping Steeds - the Gobi Road - My Horse, Far in The Distance.

The tracks are largely instrumental with the occasional deep vibration of throat singing. Far From AWay is a hauntingly pretty song - rather than words, he lets the violin do the talking and it results in a panoramic feel. You can see the broad horizon of the Mongolian landscape in the music.

His studies and work in film music lend a noticeably cinematic feel to much of the music. The Ritual has a sense of magic to it a track that builds a sense of foreboding and anticipation. The rhythmically complex Golden Horde was a favourite of mine, along with Symphony of Steel, Pt. 1 & 2 - atmospheric tracks that put you inside a dark and suspenseful mood.

Hymn of the Earth is traditional in mode and expression and Homeland Song is sweetly evocative song, featuring the soaring vocals of NanDin.

It's easy to see why he's gotten a lot of attention with his evocative scores and virtuoso playing.


1.The Expedition 04:22
2.Legend On Horseback 04:36
3.Galloping Steeds 03:20
4.From Far Away 04:57
5.The Ritual 03:33
6.The Gobi Road 01:26
7.Golden Horde 04:20
8.Symphony Of Steel, Pt. 1 04:58
9.My Horse, Far In The Distance 04:00
10.Hymn Of The Earth 04:09
11.Symphony Of Steel, Pt. 2 04:55
12.Homeland Song (Feat. NanDin) 03:04