Monday, April 25, 2016

Celebrated chefs Chuck Hughes and Anthony Rose added to stellar line-up for Taste of Toronto, June 23 – 26 2016

From a media release:

Celebrated chefs Chuck Hughes
and Anthony Rose added to stellar line-up
for Taste of Toronto, June 23 – 26, 2016

Buy Tickets

TORONTO, ON – Taste of Toronto today announced celebrity chef Chuck Hughes and Toronto restaurateur Anthony Rose are set to participate in the city’s hottest food festival, taking place in Garrison Common at Fort York, June 23 to 26.
Taste of Toronto 2015
Known for his television shows, cook books and Montreal restaurants Garde Manger and Le Bremner, Hughes joins the festivities on opening night, Thursday, June 23. Throughout the evening, festival-goers will have the opportunity to learn from the accomplished chef. Hughes will host a live demonstration on the Taste Theatre stage, sharing his best cooking tips and secrets with the audience, and leading an interactive Metro Master Class, where eager foodies will work their own cooking stations to master one of his flavourful dishes. Hughes will also help to choose the Best in Taste 2016 winner, sampling dishes from each participating restaurant and meeting with each chef on-site to learn more about the dish.
Chuck Hughes, photo credit: Dominique Lafond
Joining the line-up of some of Toronto’s best restaurants for four delicious days, comfort food king Rose will showcase Middle Eastern and European Jewish eatery Fat Pasha, famous for its whole-roasted cauliflower, house-made pickles and signature hummus. Rose owns several acclaimed restaurants in Toronto, including Rose & Sons Queen West, Big Crow, Schmaltz Appetizing and, the most recently opened, Bar Begonia.
Anthony Rose, photo credit: Ryan Thompson

Hughes and Rose join some of Toronto’s food leaders at Taste of Toronto, which includes Barque, Little Sister, Kinka Izakaya, Kinton Ramen, Kintori Yakitori, Piano Piano, Carver and Daily Special restaurants, The Bar at Alo, Antler Kitchen & Bar and Kanpai Snack Bar. The premier food festival will once again keep food lovers busy with hands-on master classes, live demonstrations, a marketplace, and of course, the finest flavours and cuisine that Toronto has to offer.

Tickets for Taste of Toronto are now on sale, with early bird tickets available at $14 while quantities last. General tickets start at $19, youth under 12 are free and youth 12 to 17 are $10. VIP and AMEX ticket packages are also available. With an exciting festival ahead, more talented chefs and restaurants, plus new and exciting programming, will be announced soon.

Taste of Toronto is made possible by the following sponsors: American Express, Metro, Etihad Airways, All-Clad, Nespresso, Pilsner Urquell, and True North Salmon.

Facebook: TasteofToronto
Twitter: @TasteofToronto
Instagram: @TasteofToronto
Hashtag: #TasteofToronto

Billie Holiday, Vocal Sampling and more; Hungarian Noir A Tribute to the Gloomy Sunday (Piranha Records - May 13 2016)

From a media release:

Billie Holiday, Vocal Sampling and more; 
Hungarian Noir A Tribute to the Gloomy Sunday
(Piranha Records - May 13, 2016)

Pre-order/Download or Play

1 Song : 12 Artists
It is the world’s deadliest song, a musical composition so lethal that merely to hear it hummed may induce suicidal tendencies. It is “Gloomy Sunday”, public menace of such potentially epidemic proportions the BBC was compelled to ban it for decades. Indeed, if contemporary news reports and eyewitness accounts are to be believed, no other song comes close to it for sheer morbidity.

“Helter Skelter”? The Manson murders were horrific, to be sure, but the role of the Beatles’ song in those tragic deaths was incidental at best, and in the end, seven lives were claimed; the number of fragile souls, meanwhile, to have succumbed to the unrelenting lugubriousness of “Gloomy Sunday” may number in the hundreds if not the thousands.

“Better By You, Better Than Me”? When played backwards, a US lawsuit alleged, this 1990 Judas Priest song prompts listeners to “do it” and commit suicide. But how deadly can a song be which must be listened to backwards? “Gloomy Sunday’s” impact is direct and instantaneous. One need only recall the story of the Roman shop boy who, hearing a beggar hum it, handed the man his money and jumped from the nearest bridge. Hungarian pianist and composer Reszo Seress wrote the original music and lyrics for Szomorú Vasárnap – Gloomy Sunday – in 1933, while heartbroken over the break-up of a romance. Though local publishers initially rejected the song as too despairing, a new version with less forlorn lyrics by poet Laszlo Javor became an instant hit – and began claiming innocent lives almost immediately.

The song’s first victim, it is said, was the woman for whom it was penned. In the wake of its initial success, Seress’ ex-lover poisoned herself, leaving a suicide note of just two words: “Gloomy Sunday.” Hers was but the beginning of a wave of “Gloomy Sunday” suicides that ravaged Budapest in the 1930s. According to a US newspaper report from the time, “Budapest police have branded the song ‘Gloomy Sunday’ public menace No. 1 and have asked all musicians and orchestras to cooperate in suppressing it, dispatches said Today.”

No one was immune, the article claimed. “Men, women and children are among the victims. Two people shot themselves while gypsies played the melancholy notes on violins. Some killed themselves while listening to it on gramophone records in their homes. Two housemaids cut their employers’ linens and paintings and then killed themselves after hearing the song drifting up into the servant‘s hall from dinner parties.”

Seress was never prosecuted for the havoc his song unleashed (though fate may have caught up with him in 1968, when he leapt to his own death), but he and Javor alone can hardly be held responsible for “Gloomy Sunday’s” death toll. Like a plague, the song has spread, passed along by some of the most reckless and reprobate “artists” of our times.

Chango Spasiuk
Paul Robeson introduced the English version in 1935. Billie Holiday immortalized it in 1941. Björk, Ray Charles, Marianne Faithfull, Serge Gainsbourg, Diamanda Galas, Pyotr Leshchenko, Kronos Quartett – this list of infamy goes on and on. And now we can add to it the ultimate act of music industry callousness and irresponsibility – the release by Piranha Records of a collection of 10 new versions of “Gloomy Sunday” from around the world, plus the Billie Holiday masterpiece and the very Hungarian original for your digitally remastered listening pleasure.

Go ahead, listen to it if you must. But don’t say you weren’t warned. And should you be one of the fortunate ones to survive this ordeal, have the decency and good sense not to recommend it to others. Piranha Records must not be rewarded for their cynicism and betrayal of the public trust. Above all else, they must be discouraged from releasing “Gloomy Sunday vol. II”, which our sources say is already in the works.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Art & Environment: Gladstone Grow Op 2016 to April 24 in Toronto - Opening Party Tonight

An Exhibition on Urbanism, Landscape & Contemporary Art
#GROWOP2016 | @gladstonehotel
April 21-24th, 2016
Opening Reception: April 22, 7-10pm - Tix $10

Check the Link for talks, events & parties

Toronto Flower Market Local Growers & Designers
I'd hit the Gladstone Hotel this weekend to check out Grow Op 2016, an art exhibition that is currently inhabiting the second floor of the venerable arts institution.

The Gladstone hosts a number of arts shows and events through the year and I've always found them well worth attending - fun, interesting and highlighting the work of the city's best and brightest. This year's Grow Op is no exception, a show that invites you to touch, hear, and in one case at least, confess, along with offering a lot for your eyes to take in. Curators Christine Leu, Graham Teeple and Alan Webb have put together a cool collection of some 30 pieces that are bursting with life; here are some of my favourites.

Terrara by [R]ed[U]x Lab - three artfully sloped and arranged patches of grass, dramatically lit.

Djuna Day's stunning wall assemblage, Everything Seems Alright #10. Djuna doubles as a furniture maker and told me about the peculiarities of douglas fir, which absorbs more silica than other types of wood. It results in the shimmery texture that changes with the grain of each piece, a property Djuna exploits in the beautifully crafted piece.
Djuna Day - Everything Seems Alright #10
Micah Donovan's growing experimental sculpture project is appealing and organic. His living sculptures produce veggies and herbs at the YMCA's Family Development Centre childcare space.
Micah Donovan
The Loop, by Design Build Grow Studio, is a charming hydroponic that uses a closed loop system to recycle nutrient-rich water. It sprawls along the wall in a wash of green.

Altered: The Evolution of Toronto's Church Landscape by Jasmine Frolick and Robynne Redgrave takes up a room with a installation that evokes sacred spaces.

You can groove to organic audio - like the bird songs of Chad Clifford trilling in The Flower Station and Becoming Sensor in an Oak Savannah by Natasha Myers and Ayelen Liberona - they're also doing multi-sensory tours of the black oak savannah in High Park (High Park Gates, April 23 & 24 - 2-4pm)
Timber by David Perrett
Timber - the wobbly cast trees - in lovely fine detail - of David Perrett. It's a playful piece that emphasizes the beauty of the trees.

Petroleum Distillates - an exhibit about paints and the chemical assault on the natural world by Kelly Norman of Dopamine Collective. Confess to your petroleum addiction and you can get a free tote bag. It's bright, visually striking and delivers the message effectively.
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod - bobbing drops from the ceiling filled with manganese chloride that grows a pink 'garden' inside. The effect is as pretty and luminous as it is rather unsettling.
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Riad Sapphire Hotel and Spa Marrakech - 30% OFF Promotion to May 31 2016

From a release:

Riad Sapphire Hotel and Spa - Marrakech 
30% OFF Promotion

Here are a couple of great deals for a small boutique hotel in storied Marrakech. The details:

• Riad Sapphire and Spa - Marrakech 30% OFF Promotion to May 31st, 2016 - Book Now!
• From 91 euros per night  
• Includes freshly-prepared breakfast, all local taxes, VAT, in-room safe, WiFi. 
• Welcome Moroccan mint tea and pastries.

You can also take advantage of a fabulous discounted Spa Package, from 475.50 euros for 3 nights, includes accommodation, two three-course meals, two hammams and two one-hour massages.

If you're traveling with a group of family or friends, why not rent the whole riad (8 suites) to yourself?
Riad Sapphire Spa
Riad Sapphire Hotel & Spa
The best way to experience Marrakech is to stay in a riad (a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard) in the heart of the Medina, the old city of Marrakech. RIAD SAPPHIRE AND SPA aims to give guests a real Marrekech experience while they enjoy affordable luxury in a stylish property.

The design of the Riad Sapphire and Spa features understated 1920’s colonial chic with a modern twist – the confluence of the best of Moroccan architecture and the space and light of modern architecture. The Riad Sapphire comprises only eight suites, each light and airy and individually decorated in a modern minimalist style.

Riad Sapphire Marrakech - Sapphire Suite
The exterior is elegant whitewash, with two courtyards to enjoy, each featuring its own fountain. There is a pool in the grand courtyard and a huge roof terrace with a great view towards the Atlas mountains and space with sunbeds for relaxing.

RIAD SAPPHIRE AND SPA has its own private hammam (or Turkish bath, as it is often known abroad,) and relaxation room along with a massage room for massages and beauty treatments. Among the welcome amenities are home-cooked meals in your choice of Moroccan or European style.

A little bit about Marrakech, the "Red City" for your viewing pleasure:

Ragajazz recently released - Arohi Ensemble: Ahimsa - Love is the weapon of the brave (Innova Recordings)

From a media release:

Ragajazz recently released:
Arohi Ensemble: Ahimsa - Love is the weapon of the brave
(Innova Recordings - January 29, 2016)

Buy the CD

Weaving the classical ragas & intricate rhythmic architectures of India with the counterpoint of chamber music and gamelan in a synthesis of global musical traditions, ‘Ahimsa, Love is the Weapon of the Brave’ is a new release featuring the music of Arohi Ensemble. A collaboration of leading creative artists from India, Venezuela & Los Angeles, Arohi includes three disciples of the legendary ‘godfather of world music,’ Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Ahimsa highlights the music of composer/sitarist/activist Paul Livingstone in a cohesive and compelling blend of and sitar, sarod, bansuri (bamboo flute), cello, tabla, ghatum (clay pot) and drums with a sprinkling of vocal chants. Featured on multiple Grammy winning records, these artists bring the classical forms of eastern and western traditions into s contemporary format of ragajazz chamber music.

Arohi Ensemble
Arohi means ‘ascending melody’ and Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for ‘nonviolence’. The release is dedicated to the courageous form of conflict resolution which faces a violent aggressor with nothing but soul force. The music journeys from meditative ragas to dynamic polyrhythms and improvisations expressed in the free spirit of jazz; move through this music with us in the spirit of ahimsa.

Composers: Paul Livingstone
Performers: Paul Livingstone, Pedro Eustache, Abhijit Banerjee, Peter Jacobson, Dave Lewis, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Somnath Ro

CD Release: León Larregui - Voluma (Universal - March 24, 2016)

With material from a release:

CD Release:
León Larregui - Voluma
(Universal - March 24, 2016)

Buy the CD

Mexican singer and composer León Larregui released his second solo album, Voluma, recently and it's a great collection of polished and imaginative pop lit up by his unmistakeable voice. Voluma debuted in the #1 position of the U.S. Latin Alternative & Rock chart in  iTunes and as #2 on the general chart of Mexico.

León Larregui is best known as the lead singer and guitarist for Grammy Award-winning Mexican alternative rock veterans Zoé. The emphasis in Voluma is on his dreamy, expressive vocals, naturally, but there's a lot of energy in the music. Guitars work their way into the usual electronic dance mix on some of the tracks, adding to the sonic layers.

My quibble with pop/dance music is that it can be unimaginative, especially when it comes to the arrangements, but here León wrings a whole range of emotion out of the genre. Tiraste a Matar is an anthemic dance pop track that spotlights León's expressive voice. He has a flexible range that adds depth to the genre.

Luna LLena is another highlight, with a sexy Latin rhythm and languid vocals. His voice has a lazy, liquid quality that is emphasized on tracks like Visiones, an appropriately dreamy track. As the song progresses, the dream becomes more and more unhinged, with edgy guitars layering over the synth pattern.

Visitantes has a Beatlesque sense of melody in a lush arrangement (or maybe it was just the one synth line that reminded me of Eleanor Rigby!) There's a lot of sixties pop influence with some satisfying retro echoes. Locos is another fun track with its spooky guitars. Zombies is progressive musically yet always danceable.

He's lined up an international tour beginning with a recent appearance at the Pa'l Norte Fest in Monterrey, Mexico and he'll be at Vive Latino Fest on April 23.


07 - San Luis Potosí - Mexico
14 - Puebla - Mexico
20 - Toluca - Mexico
21 - León - Mexico
27 - Guadalajara, Mexico
28 - Morelia, Mexico

03 - Jalapa, Mexico
08 - Houston, TX
09 - Dallas, TX
10 - Austin, TX
11 - San Antonio, TX
16 - Riverside, CA
17 - Los Angeles, CA
18 - Sacramento, CA
19 - San Francisco, CA
24 - Mexicali, BC
25 - Tijuana, BC

08 - New York, NY
09 - Chicago. IL

Graphic novel release: Existence for the Damned Issue #1 - Antecedent

Graphic novel release:
Existence for the Damned
A serial anthology of abysmal tales
Issue #1 - Antecedent
Story & Lettering by Daniel Nash
Images by Studio Athena

Buy it
• Like it on Facebook

Existence for the Damned is a mult-genre comic series on distinctly noirish themes intended for a mature reader.

The Story Arc
In an act of heartbroken desperation a man takes his own life. He is then condemned to wander throughout time and space destined to die again and again.

Story settings range from the 17th to 22nd centuries involving countries on every continent and occasionally venturing out into space.

Issue #1
You enter a beautifully rendered black and white world - appropriate for the noir theme - a world of characters trying to chase away their demons with drink.

Our hero starts the night in a bar that quickly spins out of control. Grieving his lost love, he is led astray by two women, one of whom bears an inordinate resemblance to his late wife. Such hook ups seldom end well, especially when the 'ladies' in question have a secret that will change his life...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Travel South Africa for the Music: Standard Bank Jazz Festival Grahamstown part of the National Arts Festival June 30 to July 9 2016

From a media release:

Travel South Africa for the Music:
Standard Bank Jazz Festival Grahamstown
part of the National Arts Festival from June 30 to July 9, 2016

Jazz innovators from 12 different countries will share the stage with top South African artists including Caiphus Semenya, Simphiwe Dana, Afrika Mkhize and Ringo Madlingozi

[JOHANNESBURG] Some of the world’s most interesting jazz innovators from 12 different countries will be on the bill at this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival, which runs in Grahamstown as part of the National Arts Festival from June 30 to July 9, 2016.

They include Grammy Award winners Trio Corrente from Brazil and Norwegian saxophonist Petter Wettre; Austrian singer, composer and trumpeter Michaela Rabitsch and her partner, guitarist Robert Pawlick; Dutch saxophonist Toon Roos; Sweden’s David Kontra Trio and the powerhouse tenor sax duo of Dave O’Higgins (UK) and Per Thornberg (Sweden).

They will join a bill that includes powerhouse South African musicians such as the legendary Caiphus Semenya; Simphiwe Dana; the Afrika Mkhize Big Band; Swing City and Ringo Madlingozi.

Caiphus Semenya
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has grown in stature over the years and is now regarded as a serious international jazz festival that gives audiences a sense of the country’s jazz heritage as well as new trends emerging from both within the continent and around the globe. It also has some not-to-be-missed collaborations between visiting musicians and their local counterparts.

Trio Corrente comprises Fabio Torres (piano), Paulo Paulelli (bass) and Edu Ribeiro (drums) and has garnered two Grammys in an illustrious career. The band has worked with the likes of Mike Stern, Stacey Kent and Paquito d’Rivera.

Caiphus Semenya has built a solid reputation as a musical director and composer having composed the scores for Roots and The Color Purple, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He later worked on the score to Disney’s The Lion King.

Two times Norwegian Grammy Award winner Petter Wettre has made his mark as one of the most important musicians on the contemporary Norwegian jazz scene and is one of the most virtuoso saxophonists in the world today.

Austrian singer, composer and trumpeter Michaela Rabitsch has been called a modern-day female Chet Baker by US magazine Jazzscene. With his intuitive, lyrical and well-balanced style, Dutch musician Toon Roos is considered to be one of the finest tenor and soprano saxophonists in Europe.

One of the goals of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival is to open up opportunities for networking and collaboration between the international performers and their South African counterparts. A major feature this year will be Afrika Mkhize’s Big Band, paying tribute to Bheki Mseleku, with musicians from around the country as well as foreign guests.

This year South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli joins forces with three young Swiss musicians, led by trombonist Andreas Tschopp, who studied trombone at the Music Academy in Basel under Adrian Mears, a long-time collaborator with Mombelli. Cape to Calais is a not-to-be-missed collaboration between the established French duo of Daniel Mille (accordion) and Stéphane Chausse (clarinet), who will be joined by Dutch master bassist Hein van de Geyn and South African guitarist Dave Ledbetter.

Peter Wettre by Hreinn Gudlaugsson
The Ginsburg/Mezza Convergence Band comprises Mark Ginsburg, a formidable force in the Australian jazz scene with strong influences from his South African upbringing and Italy’s Vittorio Mezza. They appear with Romy Brauteseth (bass) and Kevin Gibson (drums) as well as a group of inspiring young South African vocalists led by Australian vocal coach Judy Campbell. Jazz pianist Paul Hanmer and indie/rock/world singer and songwriter Wendy Oldfield also team up in a unique collaboration that fuses jazz, folk, pop and African styles to bridge a path between genres.

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has become a litmus test of South Africa’s jazz future and this year again presents some of the country’s best young talent who will be playing each other’s music and pushing the boundaries. Young Guns comprises Sisonke Xonti, Justin Bellairs, Thandi Ntuli, Romy Brauteseth and Claude Cozens while Cape Town duo The Kiffness has rapidly become one of South Africa’s favourite live electronic acts, producing jazzy, groovy house music. Founder member David Scott first attended the Jazz Festival as a 13-year-old trumpeter and his musical partner, Clem Carr, was in the Standard Bank National Schools Jazz Band in 2003.

This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz winner Siya Makuzeni will lead an ensemble of young South African musicians while Soul Housing Project is the contemporary project of former Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2012 Bokani Dyer and vocalist Sakhile Moleshe, the voice behind Goldfish.

Other artists performing at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival include American pianist Justin Binek; Mozambique’s Frank Paco; Kyle Shepherd; Loyisa Bala; Lloyd Cele; Graeme Watkins and Nokukhanya Dlamini.

Says Hazel Chimhandamba, head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank: “We are delighted with the 2016 line-up which features more than 100 top musicians. We are delighted that the Festival continues to draw jazz lovers from around the country as well as being a tool to grow young jazz musicians in South Africa.”

Grahamstown National Arts Festival
30 June – 10 July 2016
The Grahamstown National Arts Festival held in late June or early July every year, is South Africa's oldest, biggest and best-known arts festival. The small university city of Grahamstown is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130 km from Port Elizabeth. The 11-day event offers culture hounds every indulgence of theatre, music, song, dance, film and a whole lot more. If there's one South African festival you have to attend, this is it.

Organised by the National Arts Festival team, Africa's largest and most colourful cultural event offers a choice of the very best of both indigenous and imported talent.

Every year for 11 days Grahamstown's population doubles, as people flock to the city for a feast of arts, crafts and sheer entertainment. Every hall or large room becomes a theatre, parks and sport fields become flea markets, normally quiet streets have to be managed by an army of temporary traffic wardens, and every available bed in the city is booked. The festival offers more than 600 shows from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz to stand-up comics and folk music.

The Festival incorporates various components:
  • Children's Festival
  • SpiritFest
  • ThinkFest
  • WordFest
  • Jazz Festival
  • Film Festival
  • Fingo Festival

St. Aidan's Guest Cottage
Corner of Milner & Constitution St., Grahamstown, 6139, South Africa
+27 46 622 7448
Upscale is still value priced for any North American or European traveler, so why not splurge a little? St. Aidan's Guest Cottage offers warm Grahamstown Hospitality in a beautifully restored, superior and well positioned accommodation in the historic Frontier Country City of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

Bartholomew's Loft
1A St Bartholomew St, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa
+27 82 448 2971
This value-priced 3-star guesthouse is set in 3 quaint, 19th-century buildings with whitewashed walls. It's located in the artisans' quarter less than 10 minutes' walk from the storied Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George. Accommodations range from rooms with en suie bathroom, a 1 bedroom with a kitchenette and a 3-bedroom with a kitchen and living room. There is also a a cottage with two suites that feature a private courtyard.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Backstage in Biscuit Land North American Premiere May 25 - 28 2016 in Toronto

From a media release:

Harbourfront Centre presents
World Stage 2016
Backstage in Biscuit Land
North American Premiere
May 25 - 28, 2016 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre


TORONTO - World Stage 2016 continues its stellar season with the North American premiere of Backstage in Biscuit Land from British writer, artist and activist Jess Thom. Celebrating the creativity and humour of Tourette Syndrome, four ‘Relaxed’ Performances of Backstage in Biscuit Land will be presented from May 25 to 28 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.

Combining storytelling, comedy and puppetry, Backstage in Biscuit Land presents an intimate glimpse into Thom’s unique perspective as a performer and woman with Tourette Syndrome. As a result of her tics, Thom says the word “biscuit” 16,000 times a day. She loved the theatre as a child, but the intensity of her tics made it increasingly difficult to attend. After being asked to sit in isolation while attending a theatre performance, Thom discovered the only place in the theatre she wouldn’t be asked to leave was the stage. Playful, spontaneous and laugh-out-loud funny, Backstage in Biscuit Land shows first hand that making theatre inclusive makes it better.

“At World Stage, everyone is welcome to experience theatre and we look forward to a true exchange of ideas through Backstage in Biscuit Land and other performances,” said Artistic Director Tina Rasmussen. “Jess Thom offers an incredibly empowering performance that is refreshing, honest, intelleigent and humourous.”

In associaton with Touretetteshero, co-founded by Thom to increase awareness of Tourette Syndrome and its challenges without self-pity or mockery, World Stage is introducing Relaxed Performances for Backstage in Biscuit Land in order to allow all audience members to feel comfortable in the theatre. Relaxed Performances are designed to welcome people who would benefit from a relaxing of traditional theatre etiquette and the expectations of stillness and silence. Adjustments often include gentler lighting and sound, relaxed attitudes to noise and movement in the theatre, and a general awareness amongst audience and staff of the possibility of disruption.

Special discussions will complement these Backstage in Biscuit Land performances (free with ticket purchase):
  • May 25: A pre-show Tea on Opening Night with World Stage’s Scholar-in-Residence Matthew Sergi from the University of Toronto.
  • May 26: A post-show “talkshow” invites the audience to connect with the artists.

Singular Bodies Ten solos created for TDT by Toronto Visual Artists April 14-17 & 20-23 2016

From a media release:

Singular Bodies
Ten solos created for TDT by some of the most dynamic visual artists in Toronto
April 14-17 & 20-23, 2016

• BOX OFFICE: 461.967.1365 |

Toronto, ON –  Toronto  Dance  Theatre  (TDT)  welcomes some of Toronto’s most dynamic visual artists to create 10 solos for the TDT company in a fresh and exciting approach to the body across disciplines. Singular Bodies is on stage April 14-17 & 20-23 at the Winchester Street Theatre.

Singular Bodies guest artists include Stephen Andrews, Nadia Belerique, Diane Borsato, Chris Curreri, Marisa Hoicka, Johanna Householder, Jean-Paul Kelly, Bridget Moser, Jon Sasaki, Walter Scott and Jim Verburg. Each guest will collaborate with a TDT dancer, drawing upon his or her distinctive artistic style to create a 5-7 minute solo work.

Conceived by TDT Artistic Director Christopher House, Singular Bodies is a product of the fascinating creative fluidity that has emerged within the arts; a showcase of pan-disciplinary works where rigid categories are tested through a range of perspectives on the body in visual art practice.

“Singular Bodies builds on TDT's encounters with visual artists during On Display in 2014,” says Christopher House of the upcoming production. “We're thrilled to be collaborating with such a stellar group of artists as we take a closer look at the choreographic intersection of visual arts and dance."

Paired with Singular Bodies guest artists are TDT performers Valerie Calam, Alana Elmer, Yuichiro Inoue, Megumi Kokuba, Justin de Luna, Pulga Muchochoma, James Phillips, Erin Poole, Jarrett Siddall, Christianne Ullmark.

Into The Work | Monday, April 4, 7:00 p.m.
TDT invites you to attend this FREE behind the scenes event. Learn more about the show’s creation see excerpts from the work and speak with our guest artists and the performers about the artistic process. No ticket necessary; free to attend. For info: 416.967.1365

Student Matinee | Thursday, April 21, 12:30 p.m.
A special viewing of Singular Bodies that invites grades 7-12 to join TDT in the audience. With a post-performance talk-back session, TDT’s student matinees aim to contextualize the work to make contemporary dance more accessible to a wide range of audiences.

Guest Choreographer and Dancer Pairings
Stephen Andrews  and Jarrett Siddall
Nadia Belerique and Christianne Ullmark
Diane Borsato and Valerie Calam
Marisa Hoicka and Yuichiro Inoue
Johanna Householder and Megumi Kokuba
Jean-Paul Kelly and Pulga Muchochoma
Bridget Moser and Chris Curreri and Alana Elmer
Jon Sasaki and James Phillips
Walter Scott and Erin Poole
Jim Verburg and Justin de Luna

Stephen Andrews he has exhibited his work in Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Scotland, France and Japan over the past 25 years. He is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Schwartz Collection at Harvard Business School as well as many private collections. His work deals with memory, identity, technology and their representations in various media including drawing, animation and recently painting.

Nadia Belerique is an award-winning visual artist living and working in Toronto. Primarily invested in questions around materiality and dematerialization through the illusion of photographs, her image-based works are often interrupted by sculptural objects. She received her MFA from the University of Guelph, and has recently exhibited at such venues as Daniel Faria Gallery, XPACE, The Drake Hotel, Diaz Contemporary and Gallery TPW in Toronto. She has an upcoming show at 221A in Vancouver.

Diane Borsato has established an international reputation for her social and interventionist practices, performance, video, photography, and sculpture. She was twice nominated for the Sobey Art Award and was winner of the Victor Martyn-Lynch Staunton Award for her work in the Inter-Arts category from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Chris Curreri is a Canadian artist who works with film, photography and sculpture. His work is premised on the idea that things in the world are not defined by essential properties, but rather by the actual relationships that we establish with them. Recent exhibitions include: Medusa at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto (2013); Surplus Authors at the Witte de With, Rotterdam (2012). He holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College.

Marisa Hoicka is a multi-media and performance artist who creates video, installations and paintings. Hoicka’s “This is Not a Test” was shown on all Air Canada flights as part of the Images Festival’s “Stitches in Time.” In 2016 she received an Emerging Media Artists Grant from the Ontario Arts Council. She has a Master of Digital Media from Ryerson University and a BFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University. Her video work is distributed by Vtape.

Johanna Householder has been making performances and other artwork in Canada since the late 70s. She was a member of the notorious satirical feminist performance ensemble The Clichettes, who performed across Canada and the US under variable circumstances throughout the 1980s. She is keenly interested in the histories of performance, re-performance, and the effect that performance has had in contemporary art and new media.

Jean-Paul Kelly is an artist exploring the relationship between materiality and perception. The videos, drawings, and photographs that Kelly makes pose questions about the limits of representation by examining complex associations between found photographs, videos, and sounds from documentaries, photojournalism, and online media streams. He was a resident at the Delfina Foundation (London) in 2015.

Bridget Moser is a Toronto-based performance and video artist whose work is suspended between prop comedy, experimental theatre, performance art, absurd literature, existential anxiety and intuitive dance. She has presented projects throughout the US and Europe, and has been a resident artist at The Banff Centre and at Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como, Italy. Moser is a 2015 recipient of the William and Meredith Saunderson Prizes for Emerging Artists.

Jon Sasaki creates multidisciplinary art that brings performance, video, object and installation into a framework where expectation and outcome never align, generating a simultaneous sense of pathos and fun. Sasaki holds a BFA from Mount Allison University and was an active member of Toronto/Vancouver–based collective Instant Coffee from 2002 to 2007.

Walter Scott is an artist from Kahnawake whose comics Wendy follow a “fictional narrative of a young woman living in an urban centre, whose dreams of contemporary art stardom are perpetually derailed by the temptations of punk music, drugs, alcohol, parties, and boys.” Alongside this work, Walter has maintained a practice that involves printmaking and sculpture. A series of this latter work was recently shown at Macauley and Co. Fine Art in Vancouver.

Jim Verburg is a Dutch/Canadian artist currently based in Toronto. Recent solo exhibitions include What is Missing / What is Seen (widmertheodoridis (Zurich) at VOLTA NY 2015, New York City), and What is Missing / What is Seen Light Becomes Form, The Horizon Rests Into View at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair (2015, Houston). He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Photography from Concordia University, and is a recent recipient of the Research and Creation Grant to Visual Artists, Canada Council for the Arts (2015).

Toronto Dance Theatre is one of Canada’s leading arts organizations, recognized for the intelligent vision of its choreography, the beauty of its productions and the exceptional artistry of its dancers. Founded in 1968 by Peter Randazzo, Patricia Beatty and David Earle, and under the artistic direction of Christopher House since 1994, TDT has produced a remarkable body of original Canadian choreography.

Christopher House is one of Canada’s “most enduringly inventive choreographers” (National Post). His works are acclaimed for their movement invention, musicality and deft handling of multiple layers of meaning. TDT’s dancers are passionate artists who play an essential role in the creative process, celebrated for their physicality, imaginative daring, and sensitive, playful ensemble work.

Singular Bodies
Ten solos created for TDT by some of the most dynamic visual artists in Toronto
April 14-16 & 20-23, 8:00 p.m. | April 17, 2:00 p.m. (PWYC)
Tickets $20-$26
Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester Street
or call 416.967.1365 |

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Baluchi, Pashto, and Klezmer: Sandaraa CD Release May 8 2016 & East Coast Tour

From a media release:

A Hybrid in Common: How a Pakistani Pop Star and Brooklyn Clarinet Whiz Got Baluchi, Pashto, and Klezmer Sounds to Dance Together as Sandaraa

• CD Release May 8, 2016 THE OUTER SPACE, Hamden, CT
• May 11 - Rockwood Music Hall, New York City
Check for other East Coast dates in May

“There are shared languages between people and cultures you wouldn’t think have much in common,” reflects clarinetist Michael Winograd, half of the duo driving Sandaraa (“song” in Pashto). “We’re going for whatever helps us understand the music and songs,” adds popular Pakistani singer and composer Zeb Bangash. “We want everyone to share that experience.”

The Pakistani-Brooklyn collaboration sprang from a mutual love of vintage tapes packed with Dari, Pashto and Baluchi music, of obscure online videos rich in evocative melodies, celebratory moments, and powerful sentiment. Giving a broader audience access to these feelings, the group finds innovative settings for traditional songs, exploring the musical hinterlands of several empires.

Reeds and oud, drums and violin all weave around Bangash’s sometimes subtle, sometimes bold voice. The styles, scales, timbres, and ornaments are inspired by some of Pakistan’s oft-ignored yet musically vibrant places, the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Yet it’s in these places where Bangash and Winograd found a sustained creative meetingpoint, one that yields both upbeat party-friendly sounds and slow-building drama.

American audiences will get to savor both on Sandaraa’s eponymous new recording (release: May 8, 2016) and on the band’s East Coast tour.

Bangash and Winograd met when Bangash’s former, wildly popular duo Zeb and Haniya played at the Pakistani Embassy as part of a US tour. The two hit it off, and they started trading ideas and links. When Bangash had a performance at NYU in Abu Dhabi, she invited Michael to collaborate. They spent hours listening to worn cassettes together, sessions that led them to songs like “Haatera Taiyga.” “Everyone started dancing to it,” Bangash recalls. “They couldn’t stop.”

Yet this was more than an exercise in crate-digging by two cosmopolitans. Sandaraa has channeled some of Bangash’s extensive training in khayal classical singing with Ustad Nasiruddin Saami and her early encounters with music, songs sung by relatives, songs that filtered through the fabric of a shamiyanas, the colorful tents set up for weddings and festivities.

“A lot changed in South Asian music, and recorded folk music, with equal temperaments and the influence of All-India Radio. But I heard this music live and it sounded very different” recounts Bangash. “I remember standing behind the shamiyana and playing with my cousins, when I heard ‘Bibi sanam janem’ and had to stop and listen.” The song stuck with her, so much that she wound up singing it on Coke Studio, Pakistan’s long-running, obsessively followed music TV show. It became a hit, but it had moved away from its source, from that moment behind the tent.

Then she and Winograd found a version from Afghanistan, from a Navruz (New Year’s) festival, that brought it all back to Bangash. “It had that vibe, that temperament,” she recalled. “When everyone at home heard Sandaraa’s version, they marveled that there was an authenticity to it. My family was moved.”

Engaging with and arranging these songs has channeled some of Winograd’s own experience, as a seasoned klezmer player with serious avant and traditional chops. He has played with major classical figures (Itzhak Perlman), Jewish music mavericks (Frank London, Budowitz, Klezmer Conservatory Band), and Yiddish revival mainstays like Socalled and The Painted Bird, as well as spearheading his own projects.

Diving beneath the surface doesn’t mean remaining beholden to tradition. Sandaraa’s hybrid nature spurs the musicians listen in a different, intense way to the source material. “Because of our awareness that we aren’t traditional, we have a deeper engagement with the song itself and with one another,” says Bangash. “We’ve been really teasing stuff out of the material.It’s made me reconsider things I thought I understood, to play and listen with people who are trying to grasp.” The results feel remarkably organic, even as they challenge the standard approach to South Asian folk music.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cirque du Soleil and Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible - the LUZIA Album

From a media release:

Cirque du Soleil and Nortec Collective’s
Bostich + Fussible Collaborate to Present
the LUZIA Album Inspired by the Music of the Show
Release: April 22, 2016

• Free Download of Album Single Available Now Exclusively on iTunes
Preorder/Buy the CD
• For more information about Cirque du Soleil and LUZIA, visit - opens April 21, 2016 in Montreal

Inspired by the cultural richness of Mexico, Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming Big Top production LUZIA features original music written by Canadian composer Simon Carpentier. The LUZIA album takes Carpentier’s original music written for a live acoustic setting and passes it through the filter of the electro-pop of Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible, infused with brassy Mexican and Latin American sounds.
  • iTunes users in North America (U.S./Canada/Mexico) can enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of the LUZIA album with a free download of the song “Así Es La Vida.”  With every pre-order of the album on iTunes, customers will also receive an instant download of “Tiembla la Tierra.” The full LUZIA album will be available exclusively on iTunes as of April 15th and on other sites globally as of April 22nd. 
The Nortec Collective – An enlightened choice
With LUZIA, Cirque du Soleil will, for the first time, release the live production’s music album at the same time as its first public performance, to be held on April 21st in Montreal. As the LUZIA album was recorded while the production was in full creation process, Cirque du Soleil decided to work with an outside partner based in Mexico to truly capture the vibe of the local modern musical culture. After a compelling first contact in Tijuana between Carpentier and Nortec members Ramon Amezcua and Pepe Mogt – aka Bostich + Fussible –, the deal was sealed.

Simon Carpentier, who joined forces with Amezcua and Mogt to rework and record the album, explains: “Nortec, who are also producers, create music that we love in a very authentic way. Their music is 100% Tijuana and 100% Mexico.”

Alain Vinet and Rob Heaney (who have co-produced several albums for Cirque du Soleil) put the finishing touches on the 10 tracks to make sure the production reflects Cirque du Soleil’s signature sound. While the album was recorded in Mexico with local musicians who have appeared on several Nortec Collective albums, LUZIA’s lead vocalist Majo Cornejo and trumperter Joenuel Lebron are featured on several tracks on the album.

About Nortec Collective: Bostich & Fussible
Bostich + Fussible have been fusing brassy, traditional Mexican Norteño music with electronica to great international acclaim for many years, essentially inventing a new genre of music they dubbed “Nortec.”  Over the years, the group has garnered multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations and has toured the globe, gracing the stages of some of the world’s foremost festivals.  Releasing music under the Nacional Records label, the Nortec Collective is primarily based in Tijuana, a city with a thriving music and art scene. For more information, visit

About Cirque du Soleil
LUZIA is Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Global Roots Pop: Karikatura New EP 'Speak Now' (Ropeadope Records April 15, 2016)

From a release:

Global Roots Pop:
Karikatura New EP 'Speak Now'
(Ropeadope Records April 15, 2016)

• Check out Live Dates incl CD Release Show April 14 at Bowery Electric NYC
Pre-order/Buy the EP on iTunes

NEW YORK CITY - Brooklyn-based roots pop group Karikatura will release their new EP Speak Now on Ropeadope Records April 15th 2016. Building on their acclaimed full length Eyes Wide (Ropeadope 2014) Speak Now features four songs that address the ghosts in our society: racism and white supremacy, gun violence, war and identity. The music on Speak Now is stylistically diverse, yet unified by Karikatura’s characteristic sound: blazing horns, reggae guitars and Afro-Latin rhythms delivered with punk-rock energy.

Karikatura just wrapped up the US leg of their #GlobalBarrio tour, playing across 12 states in a month. While on the road, they launched their new Suitcase Series, recording unique videos of their favorite covers in the van, on a ski-lift and beyond. Check those out and stay tuned for more!

Back in NYC, they will celebrate the release of Speak Now at Bowery Electric on April 14th with Yotoco and Fulaso, before kicking off their fifth European tour this spring.

On the lead single “Ghost Town ft. Akil B Strange,” which premiered on Relix in February, Karikatura teams up with Queens rapper Akil B Strange to deliver a haunting hip-hop/cumbia reimagination of The Specials classic song, “Ghost Town.” In their hands, the song takes on new meaning, addressing gentrification, official neglect and police violence and institutional and cultural racism in the US and around the world.

Continuing in that vein, “White Lies” is a blazing merengue/hip-hop/punk song about the seductive lies of Whiteness. Singer Ryan Acquaotta intones, “Got no love for cop killers/No love for killer cops/But I can see who’s got the power/From the top to the bottom/From the bottom to the top.”

“Barrio Nuevo,” which premiered on Latino Rebels in March, is a cumbia/salsa song that calls for an end to mass gun violence in our country, but also asks us to look deeper for the roots of that violence in our country’s history and culture.

On “Miesto,” guitarist and bandleader Dima Kay sings a laid-back rock-reggae ode to his birthplace, Kiev, Ukraine, which has been engulfed in war for several years. “Miesto” asks what it means to be ‘from’ somewhere, while national armies wage war over resources and borders. This struggle for identity is relevant in the US as well, where conflicts continue to arise as different groups fight to define what it means to be ‘American.’

This is a crucial moment in our country’s history. On Speak Now Karikatura adds its voice to the conversation with characteristic self-reflection, positivity and clarity, in their unique transglobal style.

Ticket Deal for Danai Gurira's Highly Acclaimed 'Familiar' in New York City - Must Close April 10

From a release:

#FamiliarPH: Ticket Deal for Highly Acclaimed Familiar 
at Playwrights Horizons New York City
Must Close April 10 2016

Buy Tickets 
• Use code DANAI for $35 tickets

It’s winter in Minnesota, and a Zimbabwean family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American. But when the bride insists on observing a traditional African custom, it opens a deep rift in the household. Rowdy and affectionate, Familiar pitches tradition against assimilation, drawing a loving portrait of a family: the customs they keep, and the secrets they bury.

Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actress. Danai’s play Familiar received its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre directed by Rebecca Taichman.  As an actress, Danai currently stars as Michonne, one of the most popular characters in AMC’s critically-acclaimed original series The Walking Dead.” 

Ito Aghayere - Nyasha
Joby Earle - Chris
Melanie Nicholls-King - Margaret
Roslyn Ruff - Tendi
Harold Surratt - Donald
Myra Lucretia Taylor - Anne
Joe Tippett - Brad
Tamara Tunie - Marvelous


CD Release: Haiti's Lakou Mizik - Wa Di Yo (April 1, 2016 - Cumbancha)

From a media release:

CD Release:
Haiti's Lakou Mizik - Wa Di Yo is here!
(April 1, 2016 - Cumbancha) 

Buy the CD
• Check out their tour dates including May 6 in Brooklyn, NY

Lakou Mizik is a multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians formed in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. The group includes elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to their countrymen and the world.

Music is at the core of Haiti’s sense of identity, and musicians have always played an important role in society, both in documenting the country’s history and helping to shape its path forward. Today, a young generation of artists is keeping this tradition alive, narrating the world they live in through music that is made in their neighborhoods, villages and post-earthquake camps. Lakou Mizik brings together these musical generations in celebration of the cultural continuum while using Haiti’s deep well of creative strength to shine a positive light on this tragically misrepresented country.

Check out/buy the album:

The idea for the band was hatched in 2010 on a hot November night in Port-au-Prince. Haiti was still reeling from the earthquake, a cholera epidemic was raging and a political crisis filled the streets with enough tire burning ferocity to close the international airport. Steeve Valcourt, a guitarist and singer whose father is one of the country's iconic musicians, singer Jonas Attis and American producer Zach Niles met in Valcourt's muggy basement studio and agreed that Haiti's music and culture could serve as an antidote to the flood of negativity.

Niles, who ten years previously was part of the documentary film and management team that introduced Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars to the world, had traveled to Haiti to explore ways in which music could help play a role in recovery and empowering social change. According to Niles, "I always wanted to use music and story of musicians to create a deeper connection to the country than either the one-note negative press or the falsified hope-and-inspiration NGO stories that get pushed to the public." Niles, Valcourt and Attis assembled an exceptional lineup, creating their own musical A-Team, a powerhouse collective of singers, rara horn players, drummers, guitarists and even an accordionist.

Over the next few years, the band honed their electrifying live show, presenting hours long concerts that blended the soulful spirit of a church revival, the social engagement of a political rally and the trance-inducing intoxication of a vodou ritual. Finally, after building a devoted local fan base, the band headed to the Artists Institute in Jacmel, home to a beautiful new recording studio and music school built by the We Are the World Foundation to help develop Haiti's music industry.

The resulting album, Wa Di Yo, reflects the African, French, Caribbean and U.S. influences that collide in Haiti. The spirit-stirring vodou rhythms and call-and-response vocals are supported by the French café lilt of the accordion. Intricate bass lines and interlocking guitar riffs mesh mesmerizingly with the joyful polyrhythmic hocketing of rara horns. These powerful layers are topped by sing-along melodies with inspiring, socially conscious lyrics. The end result is a soulful stew of deeply danceable grooves that feels strangely familiar yet intensely new -- and 100% Haitian.