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Showing posts from 2020

Review: Night of the Kings / La Nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte

Night of the Kings
La Nuit des Rois
by Philippe LacôteA France, Côte d'Ivoire, Canada and Senegal co-productionNow Playing In The New York Film FestivalImageAfter Venice and the Toronto Film Festival, Philippe Lacôte's Night of the Kings has moved on to conquer New York City. A young pickpocket (Koné Bakary), is incarcerated in the giant La MACA prison, the largest in Côte d’Ivoire. The prison offers a hostile atmosphere, where the guards have long given up keeping order and the prisoners run the show, albeit confined within the prison walls. They dance, sing, and mingle at will in a common area called The Jungle. There is a violent power struggle between Lord Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), who runs things, and the younger leaders of other factions. Blackbeard is old and infirm, and he knows he can't hold on forever. But, he does want to hold on long enough to leave on his own terms. Blackbeard designates the newcomer as the new storyteller - the griot - called Roma…

Modern Romanticism | Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings (Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)

Modern Romanticism:
Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings
In praise of mysteries
(Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)Composers: Stanley Grill
Performers: Camerata Philadelphia, Stephen Framil, Brett Douglas, Deubner, Peggy Pei-Ju YuCheck Out The Release On Innova RecordingsAmerican composer Stanley Grill is about to release another album of his work, so I thought I'd catch up on the last one, And I Paint Stars with Wings. 
His work with Camerata Philadelphia and others on the release is melodic and evocative, modern romanticism with achingly sweet harmonies. Grill's goal is to use his music to encourage thoughts of world peace, most obviously evidenced in Pavanne (for a world without war) for string orchestra. It's part of his Music for Peace project, composed, as described by the composer “after having made a decision that my music needed to serve another purpose besides the obvious one of touching the hearts of those who listened to it. However unlikely of success, t…

tiff Bell Digital Talks: Planet Africa Black Film Now

tiff Bell Digital Talks
Planet Africa
Black Film NowPlanet Africa was a TIFF initiative, a programme designed to showcase films from Africa and throughout the diaspora that became hugely popular at the festival for about a decade. Twenty-five years after it began, the 2020 Festival honoured that effort with a talk that featured four of the Black filmmakers at TIFF this year in a discussion about the state of Black film now.Cameron Bailey was the moderator. While he is of course TIFF's artistic director and co-head these days, in fact, his involvement with the festival began as one of the founders of Planet Africa.Participating were Americans Dawn Porter (The Way I See It) and Tommy Oliver (40 Years A Prisoner), Canadian Charles Officer (Akilla's Escape), and Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi (Downstream to Kinshasa).This year's festival took place largely online, including the Talk, which was held on Zoom. Still, the TIFF experience is valuable, the filmmakers said."It&#…

American Classical | Third Sound: Heard in Havana (Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)

American Classical
Third Sound: Heard in Havana
A musical delegation
(Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)Composers: Spencer Topel, Kati Agocs, Ingrid Arauco, Christopher Wendell Jones, Kai-Young Chan, Jeremy Gill, Amadeus Regucera, Michael Harrison, Cindy Cox, Jennifer HigdonPerformers: Third Sound, Sooyun Kim, Romie de Guise-Langlois, Karen Kim, Michael Nicolas, Orion Weiss, Patrick CastilloCheck It Out At Innova RecordingsFrom white noise minimalism to romantic lyricism, Heard in Havana, perhaps surprisingly, offers a unique snapshot of the work of living American composers. Heard In Havana is the third release for Third Sound, an ensemble made up of adventurous New York City- based chamber musicians. It's a project with a bit of a history.  It was late 2015 when American Composers Forum (ACF) sent Third Sound to Havana, Cuba, along with a group of ten American composers. The group made history when they presented their program at the 18th century Basílicia Menor de San Francisco…

Harlem Stage Digital Event: A Drop Of Midnight October 13 & 15 2020

From a release:Harlem Stage Digital Event:
A Drop Of Midnight
October 13 & 15 2020A two-part conversation with Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité and his creative team around the developmental process of creating his autobiographical theater project, A Drop of Midnight. In this conversation Jason will take us on his journey to becoming one of Sweden’s chart-topping hip-hop artists and a best-selling author. He’ll also share the story of how a mixtape from Brooklyn traveled across the waters to the tiny village of Lund, Sweden and altered the course of his life forever. We will examine the impact of hip hop music and culture on the globe. How has hip-hop united communities of color globally?  How do you translate a personal story into a universal truth? How do you build a creative team? How has the current climate of social justice informed your artistic practice? Jason will read excerpts from the play and share some of the music. October 13—Part IIn this conversation A Drop of Midnight author…

Fall for Dance North Debuts 2020 Festival: Live + Digital Experiences Sept 29–Oct 18 2020

From a media release:Fall for Dance North Debuts 2020 Festival
Captivating Live + Digital Experiences on Newly Enhanced Digital PlatformToronto’s premier international dance festival launches curated collection of original content and proprietary programs on new custom-built websiteTORONTO, ON — Fall for Dance North (FFDN) proudly presents the 6th edition of its esteemed international dance festival, The Flip Side, from Sept. 29–Oct. 18, 2020
Featuring a new, Netflix-style digital platform, an enhanced line-up of free programming, and a ticketed signature livestream presentation featuring six world premieres by Canadian dancemakers, FFDN has reimagined the festival experience to offer audiences an intimate connection to the art form of dance during these extraordinary times.Starting on Sept. 29, free programs will be released at daily, including an original podcast, a quirky interview series in a bathtub, a poetry + music album, a new dance film featuring 46 Ryerson Schoo…

Single: jefff - R U Hip 2 the Revolution (Conch Town Music / 21 August 2020)

jefff - R U Hip 2 the Revolution
(Conch Town Music / 21 August 2020)Stream It On SpotifyR U Hip 2 the Revolution combines spoken word and song in a hip hop-ish vein. Its strengths are a hypnotic rhythm and jefff's expressive vocals.
The track builds in momentum, with anthemic chord progressions that ramp up the intensity. It's danceable, with a nice melodic keyboard line.The song's somewhat reminiscent of Marcy Playground's Sex & Candy - an irresistible rhythm and clever lyrics, although here, they're about global politics and not a furtive hook-up.Listen for yourself.

Electro-acoustic singer-songwriter: Dan Tuffy - Letters of Gold (Independent / 24 April 2020)

Electro-acoustic singer-songwriter:
Dan Tuffy - Letters of Gold
(Independent / 24 April 2020)Stream It On SpotifyThere's an organic, acoustic feel to Dan Tuffy's Letters of Gold, even where he introduces electronic effects. That kind of seamless synthesis is just the point.
His music is rhythmic, with the emphasis on his nuanced and expressive vocals, and the words he's singing. From Can't Contain My Feeling,Snow fell at daylight
My eyelids fluttered...
He talks about the album in a media release."What's vital to me about this album is our success at welding electronic and organic sounds together in a way that supports the songs/themes you hear. I'm very happy about the sonic world we have created and how it pushes the boundaries of the roots/songwriter genre."He has an intimate sound. It's evocative and poetic in effect. A sense of urgency comes fromthe rhythm. Often the electronic and electrified sounds are used for atmosphere. Here, the electric gui…

Acoustic Fusion: Mark Vickness Interconnected - Interconnected (Independent / 15 September 2020)

Acoustic Fusion:
Mark Vickness Interconnected - Interconnected
(Independent / 15 September 2020)Interconnected is a new instrumental album of acoustic fusion by Mark Vickness and Interconnected - with the album of the same name. The album contains four solo pieces and four new original pieces for the ensemble that includes two time Grammy winning violinist, Mads Tolling, cellist Joseph Hebert, Dan Feiszli on upright and electric bass and tabla virtuoso, Ty Burhoe. Known for his fingerpicking guitar style, Vickness gets percussive as well as melodic sounds from the guitar. Three videos have been released so far.Interwoven is a piece that begins with acoustic guitar and mournful cello. Gradually, those layers are overlaid with a violin and then tabla. The play of melodies and rhythms is absorbing. Is it neoclassical, or classical crossover - it doesn't matter.Hot Apple Stuff was created for the Tiny Desk Competition 2020. In it, the ensemble creates sonically intriguing layers that buil…

Contemporary Americana: Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - American Bardo (Baggage Room Records / 30 July 2020)

Contemporary Americana:
Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - American Bardo
(Baggage Room Records / 30 July 2020)Stream it on SpotifyNeocountry, or contemporary Americana, with a minimalist aesthetic and a penchant for a guitar that sounds ghostly and full of echoes, the sound created by Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz is hard to pin down into today's streaming slots.  I liked the effect on Masterbloomfight (Revisited) with its lost highway guitar and vocals in a melodic tenor that sings over a sparse drum beat. Bury Me has lovely harmonies between the strings and acoustic guitar, with electric guitar that makes its way in later, once the mood has been set.Northern Californian singer-songwriter, Eric Anders, and southern Californian guitarist-composer, Mark O'Bitz are veterans of the music business in Cali. American Bardo was inspired by the book Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (who won the Mann Booker Prize for it). Eric, who wrote all the songs along with Mark, says the tr…

#TIFF2020: For The Love Of Short Films - Short Cuts Programme #3

For The Love Of Short Films
Short Cuts Programme #3Check it out from 6pm todayShort Cuts Programme 03 (2020)
Short Cuts, Drama, Life Experiences, Women In Film, Canadian • 1h 36m • Canada, France, Senegal, United States
Short films have to capture a key moment in an ongoing story, which is what the seven films in this programme do well. In each story, the characters face a pivotal situation.With your stream of all seven shorts, you'll also get roundtable talks about the films, and other video material to complete your film festival experience.
The Archivists
Director Igor Drljaca
Noah Reid, Bahia Watson, and Maxwell McCabe-Lokos star in this Canadian film about keeping the past alive in a dystopian future. It was shot in 16mm, and delivers a message about the ghosts of the past. Benjamin, Benny, Ben
Director Paul Shkordoff

A young man is on his way to a job interview. Intense and anxious, his journey begins to unravel. I recognized good old Hamilton, Ontario as the filming locati…

So You Can't Go: Six Ways To Travel Virtually

So You Can't Go:
Six Ways To Travel VirtuallyTravel is limited for most of us in the world these days. For Canadians, it depends on the province you live in, but with the border to the US still closed, and other options limited at best, virtual travel from the couch can provide at least a view with a difference at a time when you may well need it most. Google Cardboard – VR On A BudgetYou don't need a lot of cash to get into travel via virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a line of VR viewers that are, well, made of cardboard, and are priced starting at $12CAD.If you check out this link, you'll find out how to download the software to your smartphone.At this link, you can get yourself an actual Google Cardboard for a hands-free VR experience. Google Cardboard apps offer a variety of ways to experience our beautiful planet, including Google Earth itself, which can take you anywhere, along with apps to view museums and cultural artifacts, and more.Ascape VRAscape has a huge l…

Electro/Dance/Rock - Les Techno: Flowers for Dystopia (Solid Bass Records / July 31, 2020)

Les Techno: Flowers for Dystopia
(Solid Bass Records / July 31, 2020)Stream It On SpotifyFlowers for Dystopia, by New York City based Les Techno, is full of stick-in-your-head hooks and enigmatic lyrics. Les Techno blends genres, electronics and live instrumentals for a sound that's thoroughly contemporary - albeit with a tip of the hat to the past.
Techno has a great feel for songwriting in a nutshell, with all the tracks coming in at under 4 minutes. He lists Bowie, Psychedelic Furs and others as influences in his media, but I'm hearing 1970s era radio pop as well - with a modern electronic edge - and tracks like Come Along are reminiscent of Freddie Goes To Hollywood's iconic dance track, Relax, Don't Do It.He calls himself a post-punk electronic rocker, and blends rock guitar sounds, electronics, hip hop beats, and live bass. He talked about the title track in a media release."This song came in a dream. I dreamt the live band was on stage at so…

COVID-19 And The Restaurant Industry: What Happens When Winter Comes?

COVID-19 And The Restaurant Industry:
What Happens When Winter Comes?The travel and hospitality industries have taken a huge hit in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, one of the bright spots to emerge has been the public's immediate acceptance of outdoor dining as soon as the worst of the restrictions was lifted.Even for places like New York City, which rely to an enormous extent on tourist dollars, it was a lifeline to a struggling restaurant industry.But, what happens across North America now that temperatures are getting colder?Jason Kaplan, CEO of the New-York based restaurant consulting group JK Consulting, is quoted by CNN. "Everybody is scared of the winter right now," he said. "[They are] still losing money, regardless of delivery and takeout and outdoor dining, they're still not being profitable. And they're still having problems paying rent."In some areas, like NYC, indoor dining is still banned. In others, some indoor dining is allo…

New Single: Patrick Ames - You Make Me Scream (Independent / 19 August 2020)

New Single:
Patrick Ames - You Make Me Scream
(Independent / 19 August 2020)Stream it on Spotify"You Make Me Scream (YMMS) is dance music. After a year writing serious songs and protest songs about our country and the politics, and experimenting around on the edge of folk and other genres, I just wanted to dance. And in the middle of the Pandemic, after months of quarantines and isolation, I wanted to dance."
The latest single from Patrick Ames is three minutes of fun - a dance tune for the pandemic, let's say - with an irresistible beat and vocals that intertwine above it. The addition of harmony vocals adds another dimension to the song.Patrick talks about it in a media release."There is nothing music does better than make people dance. At one early point in the song writing process, I had "You make me scream, democracy" and the whole point was that democracy is exasperating. But the symbiosis between systems of government and funk music just didn't jiv…

Pop EP: Anya Mia - Looking for Heaven's Ghost (Independent / July 4, 2020)

Pop EP:
Anya Mia - Looking for Heaven's Ghost
(Independent / July 4, 2020)
Anya Mia is me - my performing name, and my name as a recording artist. My debut EP as a singer and songwriter is an eclectic mix of everything from a piano ballad to retro rock to reggae-ish. I studied the flute and played guitar as a teenager. I wrote my own songs (two of which appear on this EP - Never Coming Home and the title track, Looking for Heaven's Ghost). Then I married a musician...and dropped my own music for decades.It's a pretty familiar story.Light of Day - a video I created myself:But, I'd say the music has been all the sweeter for taking it up again later in life. I've gotten together with some terrific local musicians to put it together.Play it on the Spotify player below, or stream/buy it from your favourite service at this link.

Blues/Rock: The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now? (Independent / 24 July 2020)

The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now?
(Independent / 24 July 2020) Buy the CD Big vocals and infectious grooves make up this release from The Cole Patenaude Band. It's modern blues with a classic sensibility, anchored by solid musicianship and upbeat songwriting. 
Keyboard player Dean Thiessen and Patenaude on guitar trade off solos and melodic lines to keep it interesting through a range of bluesy style, incorporating rock and country, with a pop song sheen on songs like For the Money. Would You Be Mine is more Elvis-esque rockabilly, while How To Love is an acoustic song with folky storytelling lyrics and feel. 
Compromise is a standout track, with a snarly guitar line and a churchy organ swelling underneath a nice bluesy beat. Horns aren't credited in the notes, but I swear I heard some on this and a couple of the other tracks. 
As a husband, father, and full-time mechanic based in Langley, British Columbia, finding the time to make his music was a challenge…

Indie Rock: Sonic Fuel - I Will Rise (Independent / 15 June 2020)

Indie Rock:
Sonic Fuel - I Will Rise
(Independent / 15 June 2020) "I Will Rise" is an upbeat rock-pop anthem to perseverance. The melodic rock song is the first single from the band. Sonic Fuel is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter David Hales. 
"When someone you love decides to end their life abruptly and leave you behind, it is nothing short of devastating. 'I Will Rise' is an expression of determination; a cry out to the world that the darkness someone left you writhing in will soon be a thing of the past," he said in a media release. 
The band is tight and anchor the track with a driving energy. When it comes to vocals, David Hales voice track is given the usual studio rock star treatment or harmony and reverb on the ubiquitous chorus. I was more intrigued by sections where his expressive natural voice came through the mix. 
More to come soon from this newly minted Knoxville, Tennessee-based group, including a full-length album. 
Personnel: Da…

Music Organizations Across Southern Ontario Celebrate Successful Virtual Concert Partnership

From a media release:Music Organizations Across Southern Ontario
Celebrate Successful Virtual Concert PartnershipWorld-renowned Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki performs a virtually broadcasted program of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin followed by a live on-stage interview from The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner HallProduced in association with Ottawa Chamberfest, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Festival of the Sound, and Stratford Summer Music, Toronto’s Koerner Hall hosted Canadian world-renowned pianist Jan Lisiecki in concert and conversation through a virtually broadcasted performance on Tuesday, July 28. The private event successfully welcomed more than 2,000 viewers online and was presented in place of five concerts that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.The evening’s program featured works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. Following the broadcasted performance, Jan Lisiecki was joined by Executive Director of Performing Arts at The Royal Conservatory, Mervon Mehta, for …

Habari Africa Festival Online Free August 7 to 16 2020

From a media release:
Batuki Music Society Presents
Habari Africa Festival Online
Free August 7 to 16 2020Listen On The YouTube Channel Batuki Music Society is proud to present the seventh edition of the Habari Africa Festival with online concert presentations that celebrate the uniqueness, wealth and diversity of African music featuring a stellar line-up of national and international artists. 
Join us online and subscribe to the Batuki Music YouTube Channel to watch the Habari Africa Virtual Festival daily performances at 8 PM from August 7 – 16th, 2020. 
Performing artists include:Alpha Yaya Diallo is a multiple award-winning guitarist and singer from Conakry, Guinea. His dexterous guitar style, with its fluid melodic lines and compelling grooves, places him in the front ranks of African axe-men. 
Blandine is a talented singer/songwriter from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her music encompasses traditional Congolese rumba, soukous, mutuashi, jazz, Afropop and Afrobeat. 
As much as Mighty…

A 10-Year World-ly Musical Video Archive

A 10-Year World-ly Musical Video Archive
World music is a stupid term, even if we're forced to use it for SEO purposes. (Which I just did, haha).
It was in vogue, however, when I began writing and blogging about music from all over the globe about a decade ago. In rearranging my social media accounts recently, it occurred to me - somehow, for the very first time - that I had a huge treasure trove of concert video clips from that period. 
For reasons largely to do with work, and of course nowadays the whole global pandemic thing, I don't get out to concerts and festivals as much as I used to, and while I don't miss the expense, and couldn't possibly take the same amount of time anymore, I certainly wouldn't change any of the memories. 
Most of the 80 videos were taken in conjunction with stories that might appear on this blog, or other outlets over the years, some of which no longer exist. This is the first time I've put them all together in a playlist.
NOTE: The sou…

Artist Sanaz Mazinani Envisions Vancouver In 2080 at Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite

From a media release:
Artist Sanaz Mazinani envisions Vancouver in the year 2080
at Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite
July 25, 2020 through to February 15, 2021
Vancouver, BC - Toronto-based artist Sanaz Mazinani creates a speculative garden comprised of native plants, sculptural water catchments and a series of glacier-like formations in All that Melts: notes from the future-past, the latest site-specific installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s public art space, Offsite.

In this new work, Mazinani imagines the city of Vancouver in the year 2080, a time in which the rise of global temperatures will have melted glaciers around the world, causing ocean levels to increase dramatically and forcing coastal cities to adapt. In this dystopic future, Vancouver will be subject to significantly longer, drier and hotter summers―a climatic shift that will require fundamental changes in water consumption, conservation and urban infrastructure. This transformation will also alter the typical growing sea…

The Vancouver Art Gallery Celebrates Post-War Craft & Design In BC With 'Modern In The Making'

From a media release:
The Vancouver Art Gallery Presents
Modern in the Making:
Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia
July 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021
Discover the Ceramics, Fashion, Furniture, Jewellery and Textiles That Defined West Coast Modern Living in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Art Gallery is proud to present Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia from July 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021. The exhibition is the most comprehensive view of the mid-century craft and design scene in British Columbia assembled to date, examining ceramics, fashion, furniture, jewellery and textiles that defined West Coast modern living. Comprising over three hundred works created from 1945 to 1975, Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia reveals the multiple ways modernism was interpreted in British Columbia, with the inflection of local histories, materials and knowledge with a recognition of the rich Indigenous cultur…