Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Debut single: J-Anthony - It's Official (Independent - January 13 2017)

Debut single:
J-Anthony - It's Official
(Independent - January 13, 2017)

Download the single

It's Official is the first single from J-Anthony, a danceable, multi-layered track with a memorable hook. "The track It's Official is an anthem about a guy not ashamed to let the world know he found his perfect woman," he says, and the lyrics go over the usual boy loves girl ground against a funky groove.

Toledo's pop/rock/funk songwriter J-Anthony was working as a high school principal after graduating from college, but he couldn't give up his love of music. After starting a cover band, the new single is his first step in a new direction as an original artist.

The track features J-Anthony on vocals and keyboards, with Devin Krueger on lead guitar, Will Schuler on drums and Byron Harris on bass and keyboards.

It's Official is funky in a fuzzy electric guitar kind of way - a la Lenny Kravitz you could say - and his vocals are powerful enough to compete with the electronic instrumentation. The track has a nicely varied song structure and an authentic sense of power to the pop that doesn't feel forced.

Looking forward to more from this artist.

Swedish Alt/Pop: IVANNA - Leaving Town (Bakery Allstars Recordings: 4 January 2017)

CD Review: IVANNA - Leaving Town
(Bakery Allstars Recordings: 4 January 2017)

Buy the Release

Swedish alt-pop group IVANNA's latest release is the latest incarnation of a group of talented musicians. Previously known under the names Dolly Daggers and Modern Love, The group has been busy on the club and festival circuit in Sweden and beyond, including Club 333 and Camden in London, and Popkom in Berlin. The band's sound has transformed from a classic 80s pop/rock sound to a more acoustic style - hence a new name.

IVANNA is fronted by Ludvig Sersam who composed and produced the album, followed by his two brothers Jonatan (piano, harmonicas) and Valdemar Sersam (drums) and also Johan Dahlbom from the synth pop band Alice in Videoland and Simon Söfelde (guitars).

The tracks go over well worn pop ground but with a sense of urgency that brings them to life. Acoustic guitar and voice dominate most tracks, fleshed out with synth and other layers of sound.

Disease highlights Louis' slightly over the edge vocals against a classic power pop arrangement that begins with a four-piece and then with the second verse, a multi-layered backdrop of electronica and acoustic instruments. Like the vocals, the lyrics have an emotional urgency.

The things I did in the past
The memories fade - but they always last

In songs like Fight Fire With Fire, you can hear the legacy of melodic 1970s pop. Interestingly, the release was recorded at the Bakery Street studios, in Louis' home, a renovated old school on the plains of Skane, Sweden. The production is nicely organic, with the intimate feel that you need for this kind of music.
Image by Gustaf Johansson
My Love is a stand out track, where spacey back up vocals echo against a lush arrangement of keyboards, acoustic guitar, and lyrics that examine love with an idiosyncratic lens. Money has some interesting chord changes and a relentless energy. Stalker is lit up by expressive vocals and a driving pop arrangement with a melancholy edge that suits the lyrics. The Broadway Show is another great track, where Louis uses his lower range rather than just the falsetto, and his range results in some real power as the song swells to a dramatic crescendo.

In all, it's an interesting collection of tracks with enough diversity to warrant listening to the full release.

Spotify: spotify:artist:5B4lGj7WZFqMjOfdn8JfYN

Friday, January 20, 2017

#CUTMR2017 - Come Up To My Room Alternative Design Exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto January 19 to 22 2017

#CUTMR2017 - Come Up To My Room at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto January 19 to 22, 2017
14th Annual Alternative Design Exhibition
part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO)

• Get Tix to CUTMR and see all the events
• Check out the Love Design Party - January 21 - 10pm in the Ballroom (FREE)

Art and design exhibits have taken over the Gladstone Hotel again for the 14th annual Alternative Design Exhibition. I checked out the exhibits on the 2nd floor, but there is more to see on the main, 3rd and 4th floors too. There isn't enough room to describe it all, but here are a few of the highlights.
Primavera in Sospeso by Jennie Suddick & Anna Rose
Primavera in Sospeso (Spring on Hold) - Jennie Suddick and Anna Rose
A tangle of textiles and fibres hangs ceiling to floor, made up of found materials in both artist's practices. It does evoke a lush sort of atmosphere, one that is almost suffocating, with an edge of implied violence.
Propagation Station by 1:1 collective
Propagation Station - 1:1 Collaborative
This playful station recreates images of Toronto's iconic buildings, and lets you cover them with stickers of pollenators and progators like bees, seeds, and rain.
The Long, Tedious Task of Waiting - Amanda Gresik
The Long, Tedious Task of Waiting - Amanda Gresik
This clever design room by Amanda Gresik beautifully recreates the seemingly endless opportunities we have to wait in our world.
Missisquoi Room by Simon Johns
Missisquoi Room - Simon Johns
This elegant installation combines the neutral tones and texture of the dried, grassy plants found near Johns' home in East-Bolton, meticulously placed and hung in an arch, offset with a sleek black wood bench.
Endosphere by Kaya Kim, Deena Jamokha, Garbo Zhu
Endosphere - Kaya Kim, Deena Jamokha & Garbo Zhu
Undulating white forms with cubed surfaces make up this intriguing sculpture that sits in the hallway.
From The Fortune Room by Patrick Li
Fortune Room - Patrick Li
Images don't do justice to this clever design room. On the floor, there is a bed of fortunes (as in, from fortune cookies,) that wave around like seagrasses in the current of a controlled wind. On one wall, hundreds of fortunes stuck with clear, and on the other, the same treatment for hundreds of (previously) winning lottery numbers. It's an amusing illustration of our obsession with luck and trying to know the future.
Rat's Next Skate Park by Oasis Skateboard Factory
Rat's Nest Skatepark - Oasis Skateboard Factory (OSF)
This is the group's depiction of a post-apocalyptic skateboard park. Oh, and it's been taken over by giant rats. The combination of street art and skateboard culture comes courtesy of the alternative school's design program.
Shift by Ryerson School of Interior Design Show Committee
Shift - Ryerson School of Interior Design Show Committee
A hallways is reimagined in this eye catching black and white installation.
Primavera in Sospeso

Along with the exhibits, the Gadstone invites you to explore five featured artist-designed suites on the 3rd and 4th floors during exhibition hours.

• Wanna sleep with art? Use promo code CUTMR17 for 20% off stays during February 2017 (some restrictions apply).

From last year:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Canadian artist and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie to be recognized as outstanding humanitarian at 2017 JUNO Awards

From a media release:

Canadian artist and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie
to be recognized as outstanding humanitarian 
at 2017 JUNO Awards

Toronto, ON — The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) today announced that iconic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, social activist, educator, philanthropist and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie will be the award recipient of the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, presented by Bell Media. Sainte-Marie exemplifies the essence of humanitarianism through her dedication to protecting indigenous communities and indigenous intellectual property, which have been at the epicentre of her lifelong activism.

Given out annually at the JUNO Awards, the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award celebrates and recognizes the philanthropic efforts made by Canadian musicians that have created a positive impact on the social welfare of society as whole. Named after CHUM Ltd. founder Allan Waters, the award is made possible by funding from BCE-Bell Media Benefits. This year’s award will be presented at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards presented by SOCAN on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

“I've had some great partners in mobilizing my ideas in art, education and technology, especially the W.K. Kellogg Foundation who taught me that there's a difference between an administrator and a visionary. Both are important but visionaries are seldom pushy in that business way that administrators learn; and visionaries don't think in corporate pecking order terms so often get squashed out in normal business systems,” said Sainte-Marie. “I've been lucky enough to work in both worlds, and although my timing has sometimes been off and gotten my big mouth into trouble, other times, with the help of other people, I've been effective beyond my expectations. So I thank all my colleagues in and out of the music business for helping put my songs to work.”

“It’s our privilege to present the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie with the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award,” said Randy Lennox, President, Broadcasting and Content, Bell Media. “Her dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous people is truly humbling. We look forward to celebrating this iconic artist and her inspiring philanthropic work at this year’s JUNO Awards.”

Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan and grew up in Massachusetts. With a musical career spanning more than 50 years, releasing her first single in her early twenties, Sainte-Marie is celebrated for her thought provoking lyrics and her passion for supporting Aboriginal people. In 1969, Sainte-Marie founded The Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education, a private non-profit foundation dedicated improving the education of and about Native American people and cultures. An important social activist figure in the 60s, Sainte-Marie became well-known for her 1964 anti-war peace anthem “Universal Soldier,” inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. Her hit song “Starwalker” from the album Sweet America (1976, ABC), which she dedicated to the American Indian Movement, also marked the first time Aboriginal and pop music were combined, and with Sainte-Marie dubbing it ‘powwow rock’ she created a new genre.
Buffy Sainte-Marie. Photo by Matt Barnes

The first First Nations artist who has been awarded an Academy Award (Best Original Song for “Up Where We Belong,”) Sainte-Marie is also the recipient of four JUNO Awards, a Golden Globe, the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, a BAFTA Award, multiple Queen’s Jubilee Medals and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. She carries the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Sainte-Marie has toured the world and her performances have been recognized as must see events with Billboard Magazine highlighting her “as an exciting contemporary artist of major dimension.” Her songs have been covered by hundreds of artists including Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Céline Dion, Cher and Indigo Girls. The multi-talented artist has also had frequent TV appearances throughout her career, including a regular spot on the hit television series Sesame Street (1975 to 1980), creating a positive representation of Native Americans among children.

Sainte-Marie’s most recent album Power in the Blood (2015) won 2016 JUNO Awards for Aboriginal Album of the Year sponsored by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, as well as the Polaris Music Prize.

JUNO Week 2017 will be hosted in Ottawa from March 27 through April 2, 2017. A live broadcast of The 46th Annual JUNO Awards will air on CTV and CTV GO on Sunday, April 2, 2017 from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Web Links:
Buffy Sainte Marie website:
Official JUNO Awards website:
CTV website:

Social Media:
Buffy Sainte Marie: Twitter: @BuffySteMarie / Facebook: Buffy Sainte Marie
JUNO Awards: Twitter: @TheJUNOAwards / Instagram: @TheJUNOAwards / Hashtag: #JUNOS

#Canada150 at Drake Devonshire: Skating, Toronto vs. Montreal Chefs Hockey & Post-Game Dinner

From a media release:

February 4, 2017 - Drake Devonshire

Tickets to hockey game
Book your dinner reservation

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY - For Canada’s 150th, we’re throwing it down with two quintessential Canadian passions: hockey and great food.

After a Family Skate at the Wellington Outdoor Ice Rink with complimentary bites from The Drake, you can watch all-star chefs from Toronto + Montreal face off for an exhibition game you can really sink your teeth into. Each $20 ticket will be donated to Community Food Centres Canada and special guest Ken Dryden (six-time Stanley Cup winner + NHL Hall of Famer) and Dave McMillan (Joe Beef, MTL) will be on-hand to coach the gameand.

The experience includes samples from Lot. 40 + Moosehead, food by Bar Isabel, DaiLo, Beast, Cheese Boutique, The Drake, + more!

• For a full listing of participating chefs hitting the ice visit,

Family Skate w/ complimentary bites from The Drake @ Wellington Outdoor Ice Rink (266 Main St., Wellington) @9-11AM_FREE
Toronto Grinders vs. Montreal Mashers @ Essroc Arena [Duke Dome], (111 Belleville St., Wellington) @2PM_$20 | FREE for kids under 12
Patio of the Drake Devonishire (in the summer!) by TheDuke1815 at English Wikipedia
Following The Drake Barn Burner Hockey Game, catch top chefs trading skates for Chef's whites at Drake Devonshire for a strolling feast featuring chef-designed stations, a Lot. 40 welcome cocktail to enjoy by the fire, ice-cold Moosehead Lagerr, Norman Hardie + Rosehall Run wines + more.
Time: Feb. 4, 2017, 7 p.m./ Venue: Drake Devonshire Inn
Cover: $150 (including tax + gratuity)

Be sure to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner post-game at Drake Devonshire.

A look at the Inn:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo - Toronto February 10 & 11 2017 and Canadian Tour

From a media release:

Show One Productions presents
Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre • February 10 & 11, 2017
The Boys are Back in Town!


Five years to the exact day of their last appearance in Toronto, the internationally acclaimed all-male comic ballet company, LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO will return to Toronto with their breathtaking blend of technical prowess, athletic artistry and perfect parody.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo by Zoran Jelenic
For this Toronto engagement, THE TROCKS repertoire will include one of the company’s signature works, Le Lac Des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II); the world-infamous Dying Swan scene; the great 19th century Russian classic Don Quixote; the rarely performed La Esmeralda, based on the Victor Hugo novel Notre-Dame de Paris; and one surprise piece to be announced at each performance.

“The Trocks are a guaranteed hoot for people who know nothing of ballet and an absolute must for those who know the originals.” – Sydney Star Observer
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in Swan Lake Act II: Le Lac des Cygnes

What began more than four decades ago as a private joke was so successful it became a professional ballet company with a grand tradition of international touring. To date, THE TROCKS have performed in more than 30 countries and 500 cities worldwide, including Amsterdam, Auckland, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Canada, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, the United States and Vienna.

With all the ego, drama and glamour of the legendary Ballets Russes, THE TROCKS continue to wow audiences with their flawless executions of classical ballet and modern dance, lovingly skewered with pliés, portés, and pratfalls!

“These guys don't only get what's nutty about ballet; they show you what's wonderful.”  – NY Post

Show One Productions presents
February 10 – 11, 2017
Three Performances Only!
Friday, February 10 @ 8pm / Saturday, February 11 @ 3pm & 8pm
The Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, Toronto
Tickets: $35 - $115  • $150 VIP ticket includes Meet and Greet with The Trocks
To purchase tickets visit
Get Social with Show One:
FB/ShowOneProductions • @ShowOneProd • FB/thetrocks • @TrocksB
Official Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo Site:

The Toronto performances are part of a three-city Canadian Tour presented by Show One Productions which also includes Vancouver (January 20-21, 2017) and Montreal (February 18-19, 2017).  Other Canadian dates for THE TROCKS include Calgary (January 12-14, 2017), Edmonton (January 17-18, 2017) and Ottawa (February 17, 2017).

The Dying Swan scene

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Niagara Ice Wine Festival January 13 to 27 2017

From a media release:

Niagara Ice Wine Festival
January 13 to 27 2017
see details below

Buy Discovery Passes

Icewine harvest had an early start this year with Niagara wineries starting to pick Icewine in mid-December as temperatures dipped below minus 8° Celsius. While harvest dates of Icewine vary year to year, this somewhat early harvest reminds locals and visitors that Niagara's Icewine Festivals are just around the corner. Taking place over three weeks in January, in the heart of Niagara's wine region, these one-of-a-kind festivals combine to create one of the biggest Ontario wine celebrations of the year.

Niagara's Icewine Festivals, in their 22nd year, offer wine lovers, cocktail fans, and foodies experiences that will create winter memories to last a lifetime. During this special time, consumers are invited to discover and enjoy one of Canada's most cherished products, Icewine along with Ontario's exceptional sparkling wines and world-renowned VQA red and white wines.

For three weekends in January the Niagara region is transformed into wintery wonderland, celebrating one of Canada’s most cherished products, Ontario Icewine. From the Xerox Icewine Gala, to wine and culinary pairings, outdoor activities along the famed Wine Route, the 22nd Niagara Icewine Festival is the perfect place to celebrate the upcoming winter season and the incredible Icewine harvest in Niagara.

Icewine grapes on the vine catching the morning sunlight
 (CNW Group/Wine Marketing Association of Ontario)
Xerox “Sugar & Spice….Everything Ice” Icewine Gala
January 13, 2017
This year celebrate 2017 at the Xerox Icewine Gala: Sugar & Spice….Everything Ice, an all-inclusive event held inside the Grand Halls at the Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls. The official kick-off to the Niagara Icewine Festival offers Canada’s most luxurious Gala evening featuring incredible culinary from the world class Fallsview Casino Resort Chefs and over 100 VQA Icewines and table wines from over 35 award winning wineries.

Discovery Pass Program
January 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29, 2017
Discovery Pass| $40+HST

The Niagara Icewine Festival Discovery Pass is your key to three weekends of wine and culinary adventures at wineries across Niagara. Discovery Pass holders can enjoy eight experiences per pass indulging in wine and culinary pairings at each winery crafted specifically to celebrate the season.

There is no finer way to experience the bounty of the winter season than travelling the wine route, sipping and savouring the best in local icewine, table wines and cuisine.

Experiences are $10 each without a Discovery Pass unless otherwise stated.

Driver's Discovery Pass | $30+HST
Designated drivers can revel in the wintery delights on the Wine Route with an alcohol free Discovery Pass indulging in the culinary offering’s at participating wineries with the Niagara Wine Festival Driver's Discovery Pass.

Guests warming up outside at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival
(CNW Group/Wine Marketing Association of Ontario)
• Just a few of the many listings - check them all out here

Château des Charmes
1025 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
905-262-4219 ext. 238 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

A Harvest of Land & Sea

We are proud to showcase Canada's bounty with this pairing of our 2015 Vidal Icewine and Late Harvest Cured Salmon Wellington with Dried Apricot and Chili Preserve from our culinary partners at Queen’s Landing. $10 without a Discovery Pass.

The Hare Wine Co.
769 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
905-684-4994 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

A Sticky Situation!

Come celebrate Icewine harvest at The Hare Wine Co. Our awardwinning 2014 Vidal Icewine is perfectly paired with a delicious Sticky Toffee Pudding prepared by Ello Gov'na. This gooey toffee cake is smothered in a treacle sauce and topped with an Icewine Chantilly. $10 without a Discovery Pass.

Inniskillin Wines
1499 Line 3 & Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake
905-468-2187 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

Back by Popular Demand!

Chicken and Waffles! A fluffy sweet waffle topped with crispy seasoned fried chicken with Estate Chef Tim MacKiddie's secret Icewine inspired sauce paired perfectly with our Riesling Icewine; a treat that will warm your heart this season. $10 without a Discovery Pass.

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery
2145 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
905-468-4637 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

It's Greek to Me!

Opa! An Authentic Greek bite with Niagara charm! Pork Souvlaki with preserved cherries paired with our Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine. $10 without a Discovery Pass.

Trius Winery
1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
1-800-582-8412 ext. 2 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

Icewine By Fire

Kickback fireside at the 2015 Ontario Winery of the Year and enjoy our outdoor winter ambience while you “chill” by the fire with Chef Dodd’s delectable Pastrami Beef Sausage with Icewine Onion Jam paired with our perfectly sweet Trius Vidal Icewine. $10 without a Discovery Pass.
Guests enjoying the Twenty Valley Winter WineFest
 (CNW Group/Wine Marketing Association of Ontario)

Redstone Winery
4245 King Street, Beamsville
905-563-9463 |
January 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 | 11am-5pm

A Daring Pairing ~ Chili Heat + Sweet

Stop by the winery for a taste of Chef Sider's almost famous Venison and Dark Chocolate Chili which is sure to warm your insides. Our pairing is a bit out-of-the-box but we think that it is brilliant with our 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine! $10 without a Discovery Pass.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sci-Fi Book Review: The Cygnus Virus by T.J. Zakreski

Sci-Fi Book Review:
The Cygnus Virus by T.J. Zakreski
(June 2016, Dancing Star Publications)

Buy the Kindle version
Buy the book
Like it on Facebook

Enjoyably multi-faceted, The Cygnus Virus offers the classic sci-fi cornucopia of adventure, social commentary, and universal themes, wrapped up in a fragmented, postmodern narrative style that shifts perspective and skips through time.

Andron Varga is a middle-aged lawyer living a shadow of a life on planet Terra after his wife is killed by a meteorite. One day, he helps an old friend with a lawsuit launched by a fringey sounding church. He's researching the case, gets distracted by internet porn, and the next thing you know, he's joined an organization linking computers in an effort to look for exoplanets.

Andron goes to bed half-drunk. When he wakes up, he finds he's crashed the entire internet on his home planet of Terra, and worse still, he's let Cygnus into his world...

Cygnus, as it turns out, is a being from Earth, a planet that has long since succumbed to fuckedization, the inevitable environmental degradation that comes from a species like humans. Or Terrans. Like other Earthlings, Cygnus exists as digital code that can be transferred into other humans. Or Terrans. And so the trouble begins.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many twists and turns of this novel by Canadian writer T.J. Zakreski. It's a thoroughly satisfying read, sprinkled with literary references, tidbits of both hard science and science fiction created for the story, and dry wit, with a real emotional heart at the middle of it that makes it more than just a clever take on the villain-as-computer-virus trope, although it definitely is that as well. Like all good science fiction, it talks about the Big Questions -- life, death, love.

My only real quibble: Why. Is everyone writing. In sentence fragments.These days. I hate it, and it happens often enough here to prove occasionally annoying.

It's the first in a planned trilogy, with the next volume, Lysandra and the Spear of Destiny, set to be released later this year. But, The Cygnus Virus can be read on its own without compromising the story.