Thursday, July 28, 2016

#NovaScotia #TravelMaritimes: Cabot Cliffs golf course ranked best in Canada - Stunning resort in Inverness County Nova Scotia

From a media release:

#NovaScotia #TravelMaritimes
Cabot Cliffs golf course ranked best in Canada
First in history to debut as number one

Book at the link

Inverness, NS (July 28, 2016) – Cabot Links Golf Resort has officially been named the top golf course in the country following the release of SCOREGolf’s TOP 100 Ranking this past Friday.
Cabot Cliffs Golf Course
In its first year of eligibility Cabot Cliffs stole the coveted number one position, becoming the fifth course in the history of the Ranking to hold this title and the first to debut in the top spot. Sister course Cabot Links also placed within the top five in the country, with a ranking of fourth in Canada. Both courses belong to the Cabot Links Golf Resort located on the west coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

The resort’s Managing Partner Ben Cowan-Dewar says his team is thrilled with the ranking and is not taking it for granted.

“It’s such an amazing honour and a celebration of all the people who have worked very hard to make this happen,” says Cowan-Dewar. “It’s certainly a tribute to our architect team Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw who continually prove themselves as the very best in the business globally, but also to all our employees and the Cape Breton Community as a whole.”

Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links also ranked in the World Top 100 by Golf Digest earlier this year, with Cliffs debuting as 19 in the world.

Course architect Bill Coore says Cabot Cliffs was a very special project, “Ben and I, along with our entire team, are honoured by this award. It is really a celebration of the Cape Breton landscape, which we were so fortunate to have as a canvas”

The SCOREGolf ranking, which takes place every two years and is judged by a panel of over 90 golf experts, was first published in 1988 and is known as the most comprehensive ranking in Canada. Each course is evaluated on beauty, strategy, challenge, design, par 3s, par 4s, par 5s, conditioning and fun. The goal of the Top 100 is to compile a listing of the very best courses in Canada, public or private.
Cabot Cliffs - Hole #16
Designed by award-winning Nova Scotia architect, Susan Fitzgerald and celebrated interior designer, Alexandra Angle, the 72-room Cabot Links Lodge is inspired by its surroundings. The building incorporates local materials, such as cedar and heavy timber, which combined with a timeless and modern aesthetic are the epitome of low key luxury. The Lodge is located in close proximity to the Pro Shop, the Cabot Bar and Panorama Restaurant, fanning south to border the putting green.

The 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom Golf Villas at Cabot Links, designed by Omar Gandhi Architect, offer an upscale accommodation option with modern influences and high-end amenities, set against a picturesque backdrop of breathtaking ocean and golf views.

There are three onsite dining options from the stunning Panorama Restaurant with its unbroken view of the surrounding area and an upscale meanu, the Cabot Bar with a diverse menu focusing on locally caught seafood, game and fresh salads, the Cabot Public House with a menu of pizza and pub fare along with local craft beers. The Downstreet Coffee Company is a few minutes walk on Central Avenue in Inverness.

Here's a dramatic video of the 16th hole - a par 3


The Glenora Distillery
North America’s first, and still Canada’s only single malt whisky, Glenora Distillers is based in Glenville, a gaelic community just a short drive south of Cabot Links.  Their most prominent product is the Glen Breton Rare, a 15 year old Scottish-style single malt that holds its own against some of the best in the world.  Book a tour and explore this amazing piece of Cape Breton history.  Travel: 15 minutes
Inverness Beach, Nova Scotia
Inverness Beach
Blessed with a stretch of sand two miles long, an ocean with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas and the spectacular sunsets that Inverness is known for, this stunning geography is, in large part, the reason many of our guests return again and again.  At Cabot, when we’re not on the golf course, we love nothing more than to spend those beautiful Cape Breton summer days on the beach.  If you’re heading down that way, we would be happy to help with transportation, beach activities or whip up a great picnic of your choice.  With the warm waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence, ideal summer weather and a lifeguard on duty during the day, the Inverness beach is a popular spot for both guests and locals alike.

Whale Watching
Located a short drive away in Pleasant Bay, you can experience some of the best whale watching grounds on the Cabot Trail, on board a 42-foot cabin cruiser.  Dolphin, seal, seabird, raptor and bear sightings are also a common occurrence. All equipment is provided, including, rain suit and hydrophones to hear the whales. Other scenic highlights of the tour include unique cliff formations, sea caves, pioneer settlements and waterfalls.

For the more adventurous, zodiac vessels are known for providing close encounters. Both options offer sightings of various marine wildlife and spectacular coastal views of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A tour with Captain Mark is a must for eco-tourists and photographers.  This trip is also available out of the Harbour in Inverness.  Peak times for whale watching is June through September. Travel: one hour each way   Duration: 2 hours
Ocean View dining
Also nearby/available:
  • Exploring Margaree Island - or Sea Wolf Island National Wildlife Area (NWA)
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Stand Up Paddeboarding
  • Beach Trail Horseback Riding
  • Sunset boat tours
  • Salmon fishing on Margaree River
  • Deep Sea Fishiing
  • Hiking and cycling on the legendary Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Skyline Trail, Celtic Trail and many more options
A look at Inverness County, Nova Scotia

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Public Art: Katonah Museum of Art Co-Commissions Public Mural in Downtown Chappaqua with sherry b dessert studio from Artist Keiran Brennan H­inton

From a media release:

Katonah Museum of Art Co-Commissions 
Public Mural in Downtown Chappaqua with sherry b dessert studio
Mural Launch September 17, 2016

Katonah, NY, July 26, 2016 — The Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) in partnership with sherry b dessert studio of Chappaqua, NY, announces a public art commission by New York City-based artist, Keiran Brennan H­inton. The commission, a public mural, is a civically minded initiative organized by the KMA and sherry b dessert studio aimed at enriching communities beyond the Museum’s walls while empowering artists as agents of change. Situated on an outside wall of 65 King Street in Chappaqua, the mural will portray one of artist’s signature enigmatic interior spaces. Works by Brennan Hinton are currently on view at the Katonah Museum of Art as part of the exhibition, OnSite Katonah (through October 2).
Kieran Brennan Hinton - mural
Built in 1929 as a department store, 65 King Street fell into disrepair and was left vacant for several years before being acquired by sherry b dessert studio in 2010. The addition of a visual art feature on the exterior wall has long been envisioned by Sherry and Jeff Blockinger, owners of sherry b dessert studio, as the final touch to the building’s extensive renovation and revitalization. Painting began mid-July with the completed artwork to be unveiled at a public reception on September 17. During installation, paintings by Brennan Hinton will be on view at sherry b dessert studio, which will also host two events that explore the creative process -- an art-making workshop for children on August 2, and a panel discussion for adults in September. (See RELATED EVENTS for detailed information.)

Darsie Alexander, Executive Director of the KMA, says, “We are thrilled to partner with a local business to commission the artist’s largest project to date and to insert Keiran’s mural into the everyday life of Chappaqua residents. Facilitating unexpected encounters with artwork sparks just the type of social engagement that the KMA seeks to foster among neighbors both inside and outside of traditional museum walls.”

Sherry Blockinger, Executive Pastry Chef, owner of sherry b dessert studio, and a member of the KMA Board of Trustees added, “We are passionate believers in the important role that art plays in our community and in how exposure to the creative process enhances our capacity for imaginative thinking in our daily lives.  We felt confident in approaching the KMA as a valuable partner in bringing this project to fruition.”

Paint and supplies for the mural have been generously donated by Chappaqua Paint and Hardware.

Open House (37) by Keiran Brennan Hinton oil on linen
Keiran Brennan Hinton is a native of Toronto who now lives and works in New York City, NY. Brennan Hinton received his MFA in Painting from Yale, and his BFA from Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn NY. With oil paint and canvas, Brennan Hinton creates nuanced meditations on the ways in which we experience the human-built spaces around us. His compositions depict domestic interiors that, in their balance of familiarity and ambiguity, speak to the psychological weight architecture carries. With a range of bright, muted, and dark colors, the paintings reveal their complexity slowly, over a period of sustained looking. Brennan Hinton’s domestic scenes appear to shift under our vision — moving from precisely rendered to entirely abstract and back again. These works suggest the ways in which such experiences stick in our memory — particular details intertwined with intellectual and emotional impressions.

Recent group exhibitions include Onsite Katonah at the Katonah Museum of Art, Mercury Rising at Mulherin New York, and Large Works at FRONT Art Space. The artist has been awarded the Gloucester Painting Prize and Residency, the Yale International Student Scholarship, Outstanding Merit in Painting from Pratt Institute, and a Presidential Scholarship from Pratt Institute.

Be An Artist
Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 1:30 PM – 3:00PM
Tickets: $15/child, $12/KMA Members, pre-registration required, ticket includes materials and dessert
sherry b dessert studio, 65 King Street, Chappaqua, NY 10514

Keiran Brennan Hinton may be known as a painter, but before any paint touches the canvas, he starts by sketching his ideas on pencil and paper. Children ages 6-12 are invited to join Brennan Hinton for a “process workshop” led by the artist and educators from the Katonah Museum of Art.

Meet the Artists
(September date TBA)
Tickets: $20/General Admission, $15/KMA Members
sherry b dessert studio, 65 King Street, Chappaqua, NY 10514

Elizabeth Rooklidge, Associate Curator at the Katonah Museum of Art, moderates a panel discussion exploring parallels in the creative process between Keiran Brennan Hinton’s practice as a visual artist and Sherry Blockinger as a pastry chef. A reception with the artists will immediately follow the panel discussion.

Mural Launch Party
Saturday, September 17, 2016, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Free and open to the public
sherry b dessert studio, 65 King Street, Chappaqua, NY 10514

The Katonah Museum of Art and sherry b dessert studio cordially invite you to the unveiling of OnSite Katonah artist Keiran Brennan Hinton’s mural on an exterior wall of sherry b dessert studio, Chappaqua, NY. Meet the artist and mingle with neighbors at this festive event celebrating the completion of this civically minded public art initiative, co-commissioned by the KMA and sherry b dessert studio.

The Katonah Museum of Art, through innovative exhibition and education programs, promotes the understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts for diverse audiences. The Museum presents exhibitions that explore ideas about art, culture, and society — past and present.

The Katonah Museum of Art is supported in part by ArtsWestchester with support by the Westchester County Government, The New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the New York State Legislature.

OnSite Katonah
July 10 - October 2, 2016
OnSite Katonah presents eight experimental, site-specific installations created in response to the Katonah Museum of Art’s distinctive landscape, architecture, and history. With projects boldly immersive and keenly subtle, artists investigate and reimagine every facet of the KMA’s location. Installations occupy the light-filled Sally and Volney Righter and Mary L. Beitzel Galleries; the Marilyn M. Simpson Sculpture Garden, with its towering Norwegian spruce trees; and the sloping greens of the Front and South lawns. These artistic interventions into its site transform the Museum’s physical space — which so deeply impacts the KMA’s institutional identity — into a platform for creative experimentation.

Artists include Grimanesa Amoros, Amy Brener, MaDora Frey, Keiran Brennan Hinton, Caitlin Masley, Caleb Nussear, Jason Peters, and Rachel Mica Weiss.

Victoria Fu, Egg
July 10 - October 2, 2016
Los Angeles-based artist Victoria Fu employs analogue and digital techniques to explore the impact of virtual aesthetics on the everyday human experience. While Fu typically works in film, light-projection, and photography, for the KMA she has created a site-specific building wrap, covering the Museum's front façade with one of her enigmatic, unexpected images. Fu's work was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and she is a recipient of the prestigious 2015 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Egg will mark the artist's first solo project on such a monumental scale.
Victoria Fu, Egg
The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Saturday from 10am - 5pm, Sunday from 12pm - 5pm, closed Monday. General admission: $10 adults, $5 seniors & students. Members & children under the age of 12 always enter free. For more information, please call (914) 232-9555 or visit

Stay connected with the Katonah Museum of Art on Facebook (, Instagram (@KatonahMuseum) and Twitter (@KatonahMuseum).

Monday, July 25, 2016

#TravelAustralia: Dine Under the Stars at Uluru by Night - Ayers Rock Resort

From a release:

See the Stars at Uluru by Night
Ayers Rock Resort

Check out & book your experience
• Check out all the tour possibilities at Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia

Yes, it is possible to explore the Australian Outback while being respectful of the Aboriginal people and their sacred landmarks.

Ayers Rock - Uluru - is one such area. Tourists typically want to climb to the top of the stunning landmark, even though the Anangu, the people of Australia's Western Desert, request that outsiders respect their ancestral lands. By booking your tour through the Ayers Rock Resort, you can experience the magic of the desert landscape without committing the sins of the obnoxious, self-serving tourist who doesn't care about the people who call the place home.
Uluru - Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock Resort
Ayers Rock Resort lies at the gateway to Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, in Australia's Northern Territory. The Resort lies hidden from view to those visiting the National Park precinct. Everything about the Resort reflects sensitivity to the environment and respect for the area's traditional Aboriginal owners. Huge sails provide shade, solar panels generate power and native trees flourish throughout - the Resort is an architectural achievement.

The Resort provides a variety of accommodation options for every possible taste and budget - from the award winning 5-star Sails in the Desert Hotel, and modern Desert Gardens Hotel, to the self contained Emu Walk Apartments, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge & Ayers Rock Campground, offering powered campsites and air conditioned cabins.
Ayers Rock Resort
Sounds of Silence Experience
FROM $195 per adult
Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, Sounds of Silence offers the best of the Red Centre distilled into four magical hours. An evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky.

Your Sounds of Silence experience begins with canapés and chilled sparkling wine served on a viewing platform overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As the sun sets and darkness falls, listen to the sound of a didgeridoo and join your table of fellow travelers for an unforgettable dining experience.

Our attentive staff will keep your glass full with a quality selection of Australian wine and beer while first course is served. As the night sky twinkles to life, help yourself to a bush tucker inspired buffet that incorporates native bush ingredients.

Settle back and listen to our resident star talker decode the southern night sky. Locate the Southern Cross, the signs of the zodiac, the Milky Way, as well as planets and galaxies that are visible due to the exceptional clarity of the atmosphere.

TIP For an unparalleled experience, upgrade your Sounds of Silence to ‘A Night at Field of Light’, combining the Sounds of Silence dinner experience with the once-in-a-lifetime Field of Light art installation. With the 50,000 soft lights of the Field of Light covering the desert floor behind you, you’ll enjoy a mouth-watering 3-course buffet menu before you're invited to immerse yourself in the Field of Light. It’s pathways glistening softly with rhythms of coloured light that beckon you to explore.

Art at Ayers Rock
In the coming months, Ayers Rock Resort will feature a fascinating line-up of Indigenous Australian and Australian artists as part of its popular Artist-in-Residence program. Each month, the highly successful program features an artist and craftsperson to create art in situ at the Resort, as well as to exhibit and sell their work.

The line-up of artists for the rest of 2016 includes sought-after Indigenous artist Raymond Walters Japanangka, who will be in residence at Wintjiri Arts & Museum throughout September, and up and coming artists from the Indigenous art communities of Yuendumu and Utopia (1 July-31 August), and Ninuku (1-30 November).
Artist Raymond Walters Japanangka
Mingkiri Arts and Craftworks, located near Desert Gardens Hotel, will feature a regular Craftsperson-in-Residence, including jeweler Suzette Watkins (15 June-30 July), whose work is inspired by the Australian landscape, colours and light; Patrick Ferguson (1-15 September), who creates stunning punu (wood) artifacts, and well-known silk artist Heather Duff (1-31 December). A Glass of Fire jewelry workshop is also on offer from 15 September-15 October.

Original Central Australian Indigenous art can be viewed and purchased at Ayers Rock Resort’s Wintjiri Arts & Museum near Emu Walk Apartments; Mingkiri Arts and Craftworks; the resort’s acclaimed Mulgara Gallery located at Sails in the Desert Hotel, and at the Indigenous Art Market at the Resort Town Square.

About Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is a subsidiary of the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) and operates Ayers Rock Resort on its behalf. The ILC is an agency designed to assist Aboriginal people with the acquisition and management of land.
Pictographs at Uluru
As part of the acquisition of Ayers Rock Resort, the ILC established an Indigenous Training and Employment Strategy with the aim to employ one hundred Indigenous trainees at the Resort each year and to work towards fifty percent Indigenous employment by 2018. To help achieve this, the ILC established an Indigenous Engagement Team, responsible for the Indigenous Traineeship Program and working closely with Human Resources to provide specialist services in recruiting and retaining Indigenous people.

The National Indigenous Training Academy delivers accredited training to Ayers Rock Resort’s Indigenous trainees in partnership with William Angliss Institute and Charles Darwin University. At the end of March 2016 Ayers Rock Resort celebrated employment of 276 Indigenous staff, which includes 50 trainees, 226 employees including Real Jobs staff with a goal of 100 new employee placements by 2017.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Jazz Musician & Composer Ivan Mazuze: Straddling the globe with a saxophone

Jazz Musician & Composer Ivan Mazuze
Straddling the globe with a saxophone

Listen to his music on Spotify
Buy his music on iTunes

I had the opportunity to hear Ivan Mazuze play recently at the Hamilton World Music Festival and hang with him for a couple of days in the sun.

In performance, he was loose and fluid with only two short rehearsals with his backup band (the stellar Jay Danley Ethio Jazz Project of Toronto) and in spite of a couple of glitches with the sound system. In a panel discussion I was fortunate enough to be a part of, he was eloquent and articulate on the art of juggling African and Nordic jazz and his roles as a musician and ambassador for Norwegian music.
Ivan Mazuze
About Ivan
Ivan began his musical studies in Mozambique at the National Music School in 1987 with piano as first instrument. After 8 years of classical piano training Mazuze joined the woodwind section of the same school with a focus on improvisation. After finishing the basic elementary music school, Mazuze continued his studies at the Department of Jazz and Ethnomusicology at the University of Cape Town.

Ivan has performed with a wide variety of South African and Mozambica artists, including Tucan Tucan, Mingas, Bill Prince, Wazimbo, Jimmy Dludlu, Loading Zone and many others.
Ivan Mazuze
He is currently music instructor (woodwind instruments) for Oslo - Music and Cultural School in Norway and contributing artistic mentor for the International Jazz Day celebrations in Oslo, Norway. Since 2015 Mazuze seats as a board member national and international folk music, joik and folk dance, Rikscenen - Norway.

Additionally Mazuze was the driving force behind the implementation of the International Jazz Day in his home country, Mozambique with its very first edition in 2015. More recently, Mazuze is the musical leader together with Unni Løvlid for the program Talent 2016 at the Førdefestivalen in Norway.

The CDs
I decided to check out his three releases to get a better grip on his music. Ivan writes the majority of the material on his CDs, with a few co-written songs in each album.

MAGANDA (2009)
Recorded in South Africa in 2008, Maganda is Ivan's first full length release - and the word Maganda is his traditional name. In it, he seamlessly draws from traditional Mozambican musical genres like maskandi and marrabenta along with Western and Latin jazz idioms, offering textural complexity along with a driving groove.

The release is characterized by standard jazz idioms with a lively energy, with Ivan's fluid sax singing above it all. There's a nicely lush sense of instrumentation, including prominent keyboards on some tracks, liquid gold jazz guitar and a busy drummer. The release features titles in Mozambican languages, Portuguese and English and some tracks include vocals African style female chorus. Piece of Peace - the only song that uses Western jazz idioms/melody - features male and female vocals and philosophical lyrics. In Going Home, Ivan picks up the flute in a plaintive melody against Southern African rhythms.

It's a very accomplished first release in the African jazz canon.

NDZUTI (2012)
Released in 2012 after he got to Norway, in Ndzuti Ivan's music takes on a variety of global influences with the addition of Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Ivoirian vocalist Manou Gallo. Also prominent is percussionist Sidiki Camara of Mali in a kind of Pan-African contingent with Cuban vibes.

The music is much more global in feel from the very first track. Ivan's skills on the flute are more in evidence on this release. He plays flute, soprano and tenor sax and sings - it's a dizzying, kinetic whirl of music.

In Celina, the sax takes the vocal line against a syncopated polyrhythm. Pé Descalço is a track that occupies a more Western jazz mode, with the lyrics sung in Portuguese. Ivan's sax goes from a clear, golden tone to throaty and sexy, often trading back and forth with Manou's vocals. The Cuban influence is especially evident on Ritmo de la Vida, a lush, melodic track.

Ndzuti means "shadow" in Xichangana, an ancient Mozambican language, a title he feels reflects his heritage set against a modern perspective. As a whole, the release reveals a more developed personal style that reaches beyond his own influences with stylish results.

UBUNTU - 2015
Recorded in Norway, in this release Ivan's style takes on another influence - Norwegian or Nordic jazz. There's more of an emphasis on his virtuoso playing in a range of contexts.

Inta Mutlhangela is the languid first track, a favourite of mine. The CD feature distinctly Southern African influences in tracks like the title Ubuntu. Celebration features the West African balafone played by Sidiki Camara (of Mali,) beginning with a chant and West African polyrhythms, Ivan's sax floating above the layers of sonic texture.

In this release, the compositions and song structures are more complex, attuned to the contemporary jazz scene and featuring superb jazz percussion by Frank Paco. Water is a stand out track with a trippy vibe reminiscent of... water, Ivan's sax fluid and the melody pensive. The track takes a turn around the avant garde and comes back into lush melody.

Ivan has the confidence of a runner who can go at top speed if necessary but who knows the value of superb phrasing and tone.

He also appears on – 7th set – a compilation of jazz from Norway 2016 produced by Norsk Jazzforum in close cooperation with The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Music Norway.

From his recent appearance at the Hamilton World Music Festival on July 17, 2016:

Book Review: Kwame Stephens The Prophet's Room and Other Modern African Stories

Book Review:
Kwame Stephens
The Prophet's Room and Other Modern African Stories

Buy the book in digital or paperback on Amazon

Kwame Stephens is a Ghanaian/Canadian writer and this collection of ten stories set in his native Ghana. The first two stories were published in English Speaking Africa in the mid 1980's when Kwame began his writing career while the rest are more recent. Taken together, the collection covers a broad swath of contemporary African life from the crowded buses to a busy restaurant in Accra.

Kwame's style is straightforward and focuses on action and character. Like his writing style, the characters are fairly straightforward and not given to indulging in a lot of introspection. Instead, Kwame focuses on the actions and details that flesh out their lives and the Ghanaian landscape of rural and city life. There are female characters but these are largely the stories of men and the male gaze.

Collectively, the stories bring the complex fabric of modern African life to light. The characters navigate between Christianity and older African religions, between ex-patriots and those left behind. Christianity is a strong theme, with faith as something that can be well or badly placed. Christianity is a disappointment in The Road to Accra, the element that won't magically help you get the job, but offers hope in The Shadow of Death.

Some of the elements play out in terms of tensions and resolutions, There are ethnic tensions between Christians and Muslims. There are the inevitable tensions between ex-patriot Africans in a new way of life and those who stayed behind are revealed in Letters to Kasoa.

The stories touch on family life - the reverence for family as well as the sometimes callous indifference of those close to us. Other Duties is something of a morality fable about the boss's son and An Honourable Gentleman deals with an ostentatious businessman who beats his wife. The Prophet's Room, the titular story, deals with the realities of village life without passing judgement.
Kwame Stephens
The last story is an excerpt from a soon to be released novel, an opening that sets up a romance brewing between a Ghanaian business woman and a Kenyan worker. The novel, Abena's Loves, is based on stageplay.

Plots don't follow a traditional arc of conflict and resolution - they are more slice of life tableaux that should be read together to follow the characters from funerals to family gatherings, restaurants to road trips in a modern African landscape.

Friday, July 22, 2016

LA-Based Conceptual Artist Justin Michael Williams Releases Music Video For Debut Single 'Here With Me' & Free Download

From a media release:

LA-Based Conceptual Artist
Justin Michael Williams 
Releases Visually Stunning Music Video For Debut Single
"Here With Me" 

A dedication to those we've lost too soon - we love you, we'll never forget you. 

Free download of the song at the link

Three years ago, Justin Michael Williams sat next to his grandmother on her death bed in her final days of battling cancer as she asked him a question that changed his life forever. "If you were in my shoes and knew you were going to die in two months, what would you do?" Williams immediately responded with, "I would drop everything I'm doing and finally record an album."

Today, LA-based conceptual artist Justin Michael Williams releases his first music video "Here With Me" after transitioning from an 8-year career as an international yoga and meditation teacher to recording artist. Directed by Thor Wixom (Chris Brown, The Chainsmokers, G-Easy), 'Here With Me' is a captivating visual that seamlessly matches the feelings of pain and loss Williams' delivers in his heart-wrenching vocal performance.

Williams says, "The phrase that spawned the idea for this entire video was 'colors of my darkness.' When we look back on some of the most challenging moments in our lives, we see that they are what make us stronger. This video shows how we can make art out of our pain, transform from our struggles, and paint the world with the colors of our darkness."

The message of the track and video is reflective of our current social and political state. Williams explains, "The colored teardrops that overtake my entire body represent the pain we face in the world today. As as society, we are crying right now. The mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the terrorist attacks that are taking place across the globe, gun violence, racism, loss, and the list goes on. We must dance in that fire."

If Maxwell, The Weeknd, Prince and James Blake had a music baby, it would be Justin Michael Williams. Williams is taking pop-infused R&B to a new level that is as inspiring as it is entertaining. "What inspires me most in life is watching people accomplish the impossible," says Williams, "If my music and words can inspire people to do the same, I've accomplished my mission."

"I've wanted to be an artist since I was a kid," shares Williams, "The first thing I remember is wanting to be a performer, but never fully stepped into it because I didn't think I was good enough." Now, as he prepares to release his first full-length album, Justin Michael Williams has proven that he isn't just good enough...he's a bona fide supstar in the making.

Justin Michael Williams' debut album Metamorphosis will be released later this fall.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Love, Opera & Espionage: Mr Shi and His Lover August 4-14 as part of Summerworks 2016 Toronto

From a media release:

Love, Opera & Espionage:
Summerworks’ First Chinese ­language Production
Mr. Shi and His Lover
Presented as part of SummerWorks Performance Festival, August 4-14, 2016

TORONTO – The North American premiere of Mr. Shi and His Lover will touch down at the SummerWorks Performance Festival in August 2016. Featuring an international cast and performed entirely in Mandarin with English surtitles, this vivid contemporary Chinese music theatre piece created by artists from Toronto and Macau marks the first­ever Chinese­language production in the Festival’s 26­year history.

Inspired by the enigmatic real­life story of a Chinese opera performer and his French Diplomat lover who believed him to be a woman, this intimate two­hander re­imagines the characters’ innermost thoughts to illuminate their mysterious affair and the ensuing espionage scandal that rocked the political world in the 1980s. Stylistically varied and emotionally rich, the score draws inspiration from opera, musical, and vintage popular music from both East and West.

Praised by the Taiwanese press as “gentle and elegant, yet possesses a determination that dares to dream”, Mr. Shi and His Lover is a collaboration between Macau playwright Wong Teng Chi (Amsterdam Études, Hiu Kok), director Johnny Tam (Golden Dragon, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center) and Toronto composer Njo Kong Kie (Infinity, Volcano/Tarragon; knotty together and La Señorita Mundo, SummerWorks; Picnic in the Cemetery, Edinburgh Fringe).
Jordan Cheng and Derek Kwan
Mr. Shi and His Lover offers a rare opportunity for Canadian audiences to revel in the beauty, passion and rich storytelling of modern Chinese music theatre. Featuring Jordan Cheng (Art School Musical, Edward Lam Dance Theatre) as Mr. Shi and Derek Kwan (Blood Wedding, Aluna Theatre/Modern Times; The Lesson of Da Ji, Toronto Masque Theatre) as his lover, this SummerWorks Special Presentation is a co­production by Music Picnic, Macau Experimental Theatre, and Point View Art Association.

Music Picnic is a music and theatre production company led by Toronto­based pianist and composer Njo Kong Kie. His compositions have reached music, theatre, and dance audiences internationally.

Macau Experimental Theatre is a non­profit theatre company with the mission to promote local theatrical art and enhance performers’ professionalism and techniques. Formerly known as the Horizon Theatre (Macau), MET was founded in 2008 and has presented more than 30 productions to date.
Jordan Cheng as Mr Shi
Point View Art Association is a non­profit arts and cultural organization based in Macau. Its mandate includes the production of arts and cultural creations, the promotion of arts education and research, audience development, and exchange and international collaboration.

SummerWorks Performance Festival is Canada’s largest curated performance festival of theatre, dance, music, and live art. From the first Thursday of every August and running for 11 days, SummerWorks takes over Queen Street West in a celebration of new and essential Canadian voices.

RnB Release: Ravyn Lenae 'Moon Shoes' - Release: 29 July 2016

From a media release:

Ravyn Lenae
Moon Shoes
Release: 29 July 2016

Check out her website
Listen on Spotify

It’s hard to believe that someone so young could be bursting with so much talent; but listen to Ravyn Lenae and you’ll quickly realize that age is truly just a number.  At 17 years old, the classically trained singer/songwriter is taking the music world by storm with her inimitable style, which seamlessly melds elements of R&B, Electronic, Soul and Hip-Hop.  As Pitchfork declared, “She roars. She soars. She has the right.”

Born and raised on Chicago’s often turbulent south side, Lenae is part of “Zero Fatigue,” a local music collective that boasts artists like Smino and Jean Deaux, as well as producer, Monte Booker.  In early 2015, Lenae released her single, “Greetings,” which quickly became a household favorite in the Chicago area and beyond. Soon after, she signed with renowned Chicago-based record label, Three Twenty Three Music Group.

In August of 2015, Lenae soft released her highly acclaimed debut EP, Moon Shoes, which premiered on Fake Shore Drive and My Mixtapes and has well over two million plays on SoundCloud. Hypetrak appropriately described the EP as a “combination of entrancing vocals, control over creative cadences and superb writing,” and noted that Lenae demonstrates an “incredible collection of skills that many singers work a lifetime on perfecting.”

After the success of Moon Shoes, Lenae was named Verizon’s Big Break Artist on WGCI in Chicago, as well as one of BBC Radio’s New Names of 2016.  To date, Lenae has performed all over the country, including headlining appearances at Chicago’s African Fest and at House of Blues Chicago.  On 7/29, Moon Shoes will be available at all DSPs and will feature two new songs, “Right Of Spring” and “Something In The Air.”

Given her remarkable ability to blend genres, it’s no surprise that Lenae has been influenced by a wide variety of artists, from Stereolab and Outkast to Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald.  “I tend to take small bits and pieces from my favorite artist, and incorporate them into my own work,” shares Lenae. And, maybe that’s why some of her favorites - like Erykah Badu and NAS - are now reaching out as dedicated fans of Lenae.

With a lifetime ahead of her, fans can look forward to a whole lot more from Ravyn Lenae. “I plan to touch as many people with my music as I possibly can,” says Lenae. “And, I can’t wait to learn more about the world and about myself. I know I still have to tap into my full potential, and discover the true Ravyn Lenae.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

New Music Monday: New Singles from Nacional Records - Fyahbwoy, The Chamanas, Alex Anwandter

From a media release:

New Music Monday
Nacional Records is proud to share with you our new summer singles. 
Play them loud, play them often!

Nacional Records is coming out with three new singles today from three of their hottest artists.
Fyahbwoy, The Chamanas & Alex Anwandter (Nacional Records)
Fyahbwoy -"Tanto Por Ti" - Buy the Single
The Madrid-based artist combines melodic vocals with urban reggae roots to create his irristitable signature sound. After finding fame in Spain with viral videos, Fyahbwoy drops his debut US album 'Tanto Por Ti' on July 29th. The title track has over nine million YouTube views. Join the fun on this sure-fire summer jam.

The Chamanas - "Neblina (Feat. Angeles Negros)" - Buy the Single
El Paso/Juarez based electro desert pop band The Chamanas have had a busy year. They have received critical praise from NPR, Apple, Spotify, Pandora, Carla Morrison, and even a tour with Beach House. This deluxe version of the bands track "Neblina" features the legendary Angeles Negros. The band drops a deluxe version of their album 'Once Once' on September 16th.

Alex Anwandter - "Intentarlo Todo De Nuevo" - Buy the Single/CD
Chile's Prince of Pop has been on an upward trajectory this year with the release of his critically acclaimed album Amiga which debuted number on on iTunes and on Billboard's Top 20 Latin charts. His new single "Intertarlo Todo De Nuevo" contains a lush pop melody with lyrics that tug on your heartstrings.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Travel Japan: Noto Kiriko Festivals Summer to Autumn 2016

With material from a release:

Travel Japan: Noto Kiriko Festivals
Summer to Autumn 2016

Giant lantern floats, decorated portable shrines and cheering crowds lit up by free flowing sake.. Noto Kiriko festivals have been held since the Edo period. From summer to autumn, Kiriko Festivals take place all over parts of the Noto region in the northern part of Ishikawa. The Kiriko lantern floats are paraded through the streets with portable shrines for the deities to ride on. At dusk, the Kiriko are lit up creating a magical ambiance as they come and go.

Each area of Noto holds its own version of the festival. At the Abare Festival in Noto Town, aka "the Fire & Violence Festival," the giant kiroko are set on fire on the pier at the end of the parade to the beat of taiko drums, gongs and flutes. In Anamizu, the the Kiriko are carried out to sea.

The Noto Peninsula
The Noto Peninsula extends into the Japan Sea from the Okunoto Coast in central Honshū, the main island of Japan, and is often called the "treasure box of festivals." Here, the spirit of the festival has been handed down from generation to generation since ancient times in an area that also preserves traditional rural culture.

Noto is often passed over by tourists, yet it is an area of lush green hills and gorgeous coastlines, home to unspoiled fishing villages.
  • Getting there is easy, with two flights to Noto airport from Tokyo daily along with mutiple options for bus or train travel. 
  • Getting around - public transportation is limited so your best bet to explore the Peninsula is a car rental.
Local cuisine is dominated by fresh fish and seafood - naturally - along with game and fine local sake.

Tip: The Noto Peninsula is home to an established glass making industry and you'll find many artisans and gorgeous pieces for sale, along with the Glass Art Museum on Noto-Jimu Island.
Noto Peninsula, Japan
History of the Kiriko Festivals
The date of when the first proper Kiriko Festival started in Noto is unknown. However it has been confirmed that a 4m – 5m tall bamboo Kiriko with a small lamp on top was used at the Sumiyoshi Shrine festival in Wajima in 1647. The success of the Kitamaebune trade ship brought economic prosperity to the port towns in Wajima and the surrounding area (during the 1800s), and with this the Kiriko floats grew in size and were decorated in Wajima lacquer. It is said that the floats were as tall as 10m in height during the 18th Century, however in the 20th Century with the development of telegraph poles, they had to be shortened to 4m – 6m.

At present, there are Kiriko festivals taking places in over 100 regions from early July to mid-October. Unfortunately there has been a decrease in float bearers on festival days and in turn the number of Kiriko used is falling every year. Despite this, inclusive of the preserved floats there are 700 – 800 Kiriko.

• Check out the long list of Noto Kiriko Festivals at the link

Schedule for Main Kiriko Festivals
  • Abare Festival (1st Fri – Sat of the month / Noto Town)
  • Nanao Gion Festival (2nd Sat of the month / Nanao City)
  • Koijihi Festival (Day before Sea Day / Noto Town)
  • Iida-machi Toroyama Festival (20th – 21st July / Suzu City)
  • Noto-jima Koda-no-hi Festival (Last Sat of the month / Anamizu Town)
  • Nafune Taisai Festival (31st July / Wajima City)
  • Yanagida Taisai Festival (16th July / Noto Town)
  • Issaki Hoto Festival (1st Sat of the month / Nanao City)
  • Horyu Tanabata Kiriko Festival (7th August / Suzu City)
  • Saikai Festival (14th August / Shika Town)
  • Okinami Tairyo Festival (14th – 15th August / Anamizu Town)
  • Sosogi Taisai Festival (17th – 18th August / Wajima City)
  • Wajima Taisai Festival (22nd – 25th August / Wajima City)
  • Niwaka Festival (Last Sat of the month / Noto Town)
  • Togi Hassaku Festival (4th Sat – Sun / Shika Town)
  • Jike Kiriko Festival (14th September / Suzu City)
  • Tako-jima Kiriko Festival & Hayafune Kyogen Play (10th – 11th September / Suzu City)
  • Shoin Kiriko Festival (14th – 15th September / Suzu City)
  • Ogisode Kiriko Festival (3rd Sat – Sun of the month / Noto Town)

Kiriko Lantern Museum
Open year round, the Kiriko Lantern Museum in Wajima’s Marine Town has the oldest existing Kiriko lantern floats and models of the Noto Peninsula festivals displayed. There are over 30 floats of various sizes including ones that have been designated as cultural properties by Wajima City. The room is arranged to give the same magical feeling as being in a festival with a summer evening-like lighting paired with the sound of festival music and people being played in the background.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Habari Africa Festival August 12 to 14 2016 at Harbourfront Toronto

From a media release:

Experience the cultural diversity of global Africa at Habari Africa, August 12–14, 2016
at Harbourfront Toronto
co-presented by Batuki Music

TORONTO, ON (July 13, 2016) – Harbourfront Centre is proud to present Habari Africa, co-produced by Batuki Music Society, August 12–14. Returning for its third edition, this three-day festival celebrates African music from traditional West African griot music to rumba and other contemporary sounds representing the African continent.

Throughout the weekend, African music will be at the forefront with artists from Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia and more. Internationally renowned Senegalese singer Mamy Kanouté, descended from a long line of griots, presents a charming performance that marries traditional and western instruments on the Concert Stage on August 13. Joined by Blandine Mbiya, veteran Congolese group Cour des Grands will give a special tribute performance paying homage to two giants of African music, Tabu Ley Rochereau and Papa Wemba, on August 12. Ethio-jazz singer Alemayehu Eshete takes over the Concert Stage on August 13 with powerful vocals reminiscent of James Brown. Eshete’s sound is a combination of Ethio-jazz, soul, blues, and rock and roll.

“Habari Africa highlights the diversity of Africa through a variety of mediums including our exciting lineup of musical performances and interactive dance and drum workshops that take place throughout the weekend,” says Nadine McNulty, Artistic Director at Batuki Music Society. “Torontonians have the opportunity to build a greater understanding and appreciation for African culture by experiencing it through the various art forms that are closely tied to the continent.”

Along with the music, writer/author Kwame Stephens is proud to return to Habari Africa Festival in the company of some good literary friends. Simeon Taole (South Africa), MK Bonsu (Ghana), Yahaya Baruwa and Derek Thorne among others will read from their past works, discuss their latest works, the creative process and other engaging subjects of interest to everyone.

This year’s Habari Africa highlights the rich assortment of cultures that shape Africa through music, dance, film, workshops, crafts, fashion and food.

Mamy Kanouté of Senegal is one of the featured performers, appearing here in a video with Baaba Maal '' Mousso Lou ''

Friday, July 8, 2016

Dancing in the Park: DUSK DANCES 2016 - July 28-30 in Hamilton & August 1-7 in Toronto

From a media release:

Dancing in the park:
July 28-30, 2016 in Hamilton at Bayfront Park
August 1 – August 7, 2016 @ Withrow Park

Dusk Dances Hamilton
We are thrilled to have the incredible visual and sound artist Dave Gould kick off the festivities at Dusk Dances Hamilton July 28-30, 7pm nightly at Bayfront Park! Dave's sound can be described as Experimental mixed with Urban Folk...check out his music at the link.

Join us before the show at 6 pm for free dance workshops. The festival kicks off nightly at 7:00pm with a musical performance by Dave Gould, who will be joined Hammer City Samba and Michel De Quevedo to delight audiences with a fusion of Afro-Brazilian Beat and Latin influenced folk music. From there, our incomparable host, Nina Gilmour will lead you through the park on an unforgettable dance journey .

Dusk Dances Toronto
Hosted by Allegra Charleston (Susie Burpee)
Opening Musical Act DoubleTooth
Free Nia Movement Class with Master Teacher Martha Randall

Featuring Five Contemporary Dance Works from Choreographers
Apolonia Velasquez & Ofilio Sinbadinho, Myriam Allard,
Susie Burpee, Michael Caldwell, and Milan Gervais

Now in its 22nd season, Dusk Dances Festival will return to Withrow Park, August 1-7, with five original contemporary dance works by Canada’s leading choreographers including Gadfly’s Apolonia Velasquez & Ofilio Sinbadinho, La Otra Orilla’s Myriam Allard, Susie Burpee, Michael Caldwell and Human Playground’s Milan Gervais; with performances by Myriam Allard, Hedi Graja, Dusk Dances Festival Director Sylvie Bouchard, Brendan Wyatt, Raoul Wilke, Lauren Lyn, Daniel Gomez, Celine Richard-Robichon, Mairéad Filgate, Molly Johnson, Meredith Thompson, David Albert-Toth, Jessica Serl, and Simon-Xavier Lefebvre.

Each performance of the weeklong Festival features four 10-minute pieces that move the audience throughout the park, plus, following last year’s new tradition, a final 25-minute work—on evenings only. Each presentation is hosted by Allegra Charleston (Susie Burpee), and begins with a free outdoor Nia movement class with master teacher
Martha Randall, accompanied live by musical act DoubleTooth.

From Dusk Dances Hamilton 2014

The 2016 Withrow Park Dusk Dances Festival programme includes:

Performed by Raoul Wilke, Lauren Lyn, Daniel Gome, and Celine Richard-Robichon
Music by Dr. Draw & Sinbadinho mix
Toronto’s Gadfly Dance Company, an urban dance repertory company, presents a new version of their iconic Klorofyl, a highly physical dance that depicts four fallen warriors forced to work together to thrive and survive. A Dusk Dances Premiere.

Performed by Myriam Allard and Hedi Graja
Montreal-based La Otra Orilla, founded by choreographer and dancer Myriam Allard, and singer Hedi Graja, present an all-out choreographic exploration for three performers: a dancer, a singer, and a bata de cola; the long flamenco skirt which transforms movement and gives rise to another body.
A Dusk Dances World Premiere.

Performed by Sylvie Bouchard and Brendan Wyatt
Music: Ogives I II III and IV by Erik Satie, performed and recorded by Eve Egoyan
Dora-Award winning choreographer and performer, Susie Burpee asks “What does love feel like?” The audience is asked this question as the dance begins, and their responses play a key role in bringing the duet to life. Quirky, passionate, and never the same from night to night, this duet is a game of love. A Dusk Dances World Premiere.

Performed by Mairéad Filgate, Molly Johnson, Meredith Thompson
Original composition and live performance by Kyle Brenders
Choreographer, performer, curator, and arts advocate, Michael Caldwell seeks to incorporate cinematic sensibilities in all his work. Through a simplistic world of movement and sound, Waves tells a poignant story about three lonely characters searching for connection and understanding
A Dusk Dances World Premiere.

Performed by David Albert-Toth, Jessica Serli, and Simon-Xavier Lefebvre
Composer: David Drury
Rehearsal Director: Allison Nichol
Montreal based choreographer Milan Gervais conceives choreographic proposals for public spaces.  Auto-Fiction features three dancers and an automobile embedded in the middle of a park. The dancers walk, run, roll, propel and fall all over a car, creating a link between nature and urban sprawl, dance and acrobatics.  A Dusk Dances Premiere.

DUSK DANCES presentations will also take place in Hamilton (July 28-30) at Bayfront Park, and Repentigny, QC (August 18-20) at Centre d’Art Diane-Dufresne.

South of Danforth between Logan and Carlaw (Chester Subway Station)
Nightly Performances: August 1-7, 2016
Opening Band and Nia movement class start at 7pm
Dance Performances start at 7:30pm
Matinée Performances: Thursday, August 4 & Sunday, August 7
Opening Band and Nia movement class start at 2pm
Dance Performances start at 2:30pm

Pay-What-You-Can: Suggested contribution $10 per person
More info: or call 416.504.6429 X24
FB/DuskDances • @duskdances #DuskDances

From Dusk Dances Toronto 2015

Review: Waiting for Sunday - The Windsor Effect (Independent - Nov 17, 2015)

Waiting for Sunday - The Windsor Effect
(Independent - Nov 17, 2015)

Buy the Music

It's been out for several months, but I just found The Windsor Effect, the latest release from Vancouver rockers Waiting for Sunday in my inbox recently. Better late than never applies in the case of this full length album of polished material.

Waiting for Sunday is producer and drummer Colin Everall, singer Dan Hudson, bassist Mircea Tracke and lead guitarist Matt Gauld. The 12 tracks on the CD offer a variety of styles and themes, as befits these veteran rockers. It's the follow to their 2011 debut, "The Courage, The Strength, The Wisdom & Doubt".

Last Call for Safety is a hook laden track of energetic straight ahead rock that is tight and accomplished. Dan's vocals are distinctive and expressive with a subtle kind of raspy edge. They are put to good use on tracks like The Love is Gone, a slow, bluesy song and a stand out track on the album.

The songs range goes through a number of moods and likewise, the lyrics cover a range of ideas from the usual romantic themes and rock out songs like Pebbles Become Stones to the liberation of Long Live the Strong, a heavier rock song where Dan's voice carries the mode well.

Long Live... is contrasted by Wanted, a melodic song in a softer mode - almost Beatle-esque - that has orchestral moments and a nicely complementary female backup vocalist. Borderline is texturally complex with an intriguing rhythm. Chasing Youth is (appropriately) bluesy while Seasons Are Dire slips into a bittersweet acoustic love song. My Scripture features - as you'd expect - an appropriately blues/gospel sound made edgy by Dan's distinctive vocal style

There's something different in each song and while the sonic terrain may be familiar overall, the band manages to make the sound their own.
Waiting for Sunday


Watch the music video for "The Love Is Gone", directed by Colin Everall. The video has received multiple accolades, including

  • Platinum Remi Award for Music Video Production at the 49th Houston 
  • WorldFest
  • Director's Choice Best Music Video at the 9th Rincon International Film 
  • Festival
  • Music Video Gold Kahuna Award at the Honolulu International Film 
  • Festival
  • Official Selection at FilmQuest 2016