April 3, 2008
Welcome to April! I
have uploaded my site with a new program so some older pages may not look
exactly as they should. Nothing I can do about it for now but the content
is all there. Hopefully this will resolve all the web issues I
Now, there is more than the average amount of news this week. Take your time and scroll down to your weekly entertainment news!
Adele A Soulful Balladeer
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
At the Rivoli ƒo in Toronto on Wednesday
(March 27, 2008) Fame is fleet, and so is Adele Adkins, the brandy-throated British phenom who finished off her brief maiden North American tour with an efficient 10-tune performance at the Rivoli.
Adkins, a likeable performer who trades by her first name, rendered her cockney coffeehouse soul wonderfully and was a chatterer between songs. But her patter was anxiously quick, and her strong vocal work, even with a "stripped-back" band that included only a keyboardist-pianist and an acoustic guitarist, stayed fairly faithful to the versions on her debut album.
That lauded record is 19, which, by no coincidence at all, is Adele's age. Adele's skittishness may be the handiwork of the hyping British music press, a machine that shouts her up as the "Sound of 2008" and the new Amy Winehouse — even though that year and that troubled singer are far from over.
The Toronto show was billed as being sold-out, but I've seen the room tighter. After the upbeat pop-soul of Right as Rain, which is about fake cheer, Adele commented that her shows usually had seated audiences. There were a few tables up front, which served as a buffer between an appreciative crowd and a young star singer who herself sat on a high chair a few feet back from the stage front. Casually dressed in black and with her auburn hair in a friendly bun, Adele presented herself first as a lovelorn balladeer — a duskier Minnie Riperton who strummed and lithely described the boy of her sighing wishes on Daydreamer. "There's no way I could describe him/ What I've said is just what I'm hoping for," Adele crooned in her nuanced way, stretching the last word as "fo-oh-oh."
Before the loping Crazy for You, the nascent star declared that the unplugged setting would suit a concentrated set, "all about my voice and my songs." Adele sings dynamically — up and down, adding rasps and syllables for colour, not for show.
Lyrics, sharp and self-penned, are of the wistful and melancholic brand. A keyboardist arrived for Chasing Pavement, a grand sweeper that got by fine without the album's strings. A pair of covers (the Sam Cooke blues That's It, I Quit, I'm Movin' On and Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love, done as a romantic slow dance) impressed. It's a fast track that young British pop singers run on and Adele spoke recently of wishing to settle down in a few years, raise a family and write hit songs for others. She told her Rivoli fans that she would be back in June, though, after her birthday. Adele is 19 now. Do we hear 20?
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Noor Javed, Staff Reporter
(March 30, 2008) Nelly Furtado brought light to the darkness of Nathan Phillips Square last night, as she headlined a free Earth Hour concert that attracted more than 10,000 music fans.
As the appointed Earth Hour drew near, it was hard to tell if the crowd was more excited about seeing the city lights darken or anticipating the pop singer's performance, as the thousands cheered each time her name was mentioned. It was still dusk when Furtado, clad in all black, took the stage after 8 p.m, starting the concert off by singing "Turn Off the Lights," the theme song for the evening, accompanied by a sole guitarist.
"Happy Earth Hour, Toronto," she yelled at the screaming crowd.
By the time she got to the last verse of the song, urging the crowd to sing along, the square was dark – except for the stage, which was lit by four spotlights and battery-powered, flameless candles.
Furtado left soon after she appeared, but not before promising the crowd she'd be back for more.
It was a cold night, but the next act, the Philosopher Kings promised warmth with four songs, including "Hurts to Love You."
FeFe Dobson, dressed in a '70s Jimmy Hendrix-ish fur coat could hardly see her audience could hear he fans cheering as she sang three songs, including the recent hit "Everything."
"I can't see you, but I am sure you're out there," she said, a display of cellphones the only thing visible from the stage.
"I respect you are all here – it's cold," she said. "But I'm sure you are all warmed up now."
But it was clear that the crowd wanted all Furtado, all the time.
When she returned to the stage, the crowd cheered louder than ever, with one women throwing a stuffed animal onto the stage.
"It's from my husband," she yelled.
Furtado laughed as she picked it up. "Crazy Canadians in the cold," she said.
She entertained the crowd with "Say It Right," but it was her last offering, "I'm Like a Bird" – from her first album, Whoa, Nelly! – that elicited the greatest response and had her assembled fans singing most of the lyrics.
Furtado, too, seemed taken by the entire event as she looked out to the darkened skyline.
"Thanks to the city of Toronto," she said. "This is cool."
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(March 31, 2008) *The singing Levert family of Cleveland has lost another son and brother. Sean Levert has died. Levert, 39, the son of R&B legend Eddie Levert and brother of Gerald Levert, who passed away in 2006, collapsed at the Cuyahoga County Jail late last night and was immediately rushed to the hospital. The warden of the jail told TMZ.com that he died at the hospital, not the jail, which disputes other reports. A nursing supervisor at Lutheran Hospital confirmed to Cleveland's Fox 8 News that Levert, a Cleveland native, died of natural causes just before midnight. A hospital spokesperson said that Sean Levert's body was immediately taken to the coroner. Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office spokesman Powell Caesar confirms that Sean Levert's body had been received. Levert had reportedly been in the Cuyahoga County Jail serving time for failing to pay roughly $80,000 in child support. Sean, along with Gerald and Marc Gordon was a member of the 80s group Levert. They hit it big with "Casanova." At some point Sean was apparently working on new music as a solo artist. You can hear a couple of cuts at his official MySpace page: www.myspace.com/leverts. Sean Levert had also appeared in movies, including 1991's "New Jack City."
Mounts Around Ledger's Joker
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - David Germain, The Associated Press
(March 27, 2008) LOS ANGELES–Heath Ledger's frenzied reinvention of the Joker had fans and colleagues buzzing. His dreadful clown face was seen online by millions, and stood as the goosebump-raising image upon which nearly all early marketing of The Dark Knight hinged.
All this, while Ledger was still alive.
Now the Batman archfiend stands as Ledger's next-to-last performance. And, while it's not the first, The Dark Knight has already emerged as arguably the biggest movie featuring a posthumous role in Hollywood history.
Major stars including James Dean, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Spencer Tracy and Will Rogers had high-profile films released after they died. The deaths of others – notably Bruce Lee and his son Brandon – created an eerie allure that heightened interest in their final films.
Yet none had the magnitude of a comic-book franchise with an illustrious 70-year history, and movies in those eras did not arrive with the fanfare of today. Certainly none had the advance word of a delirious, demented turn by an actor completely reimagining of one of Hollywood's greatest villains.
"It was punk, it was A Clockwork Orange, it was druggie. It was this kind of fantastic, anarchic look to him. This character who had absolutely no rules whatsoever," said Christian Bale, who returns as rich guy Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego Batman. "That's not like any Joker I've ever seen before, what I saw Heath do."
As the sequel to 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins, The Dark Knight already was one of this year's most-anticipated films. Opening July 18, the film's must-see status has only risen since Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose Jan. 22.
"More people will come to see it because of his death," said Bill Ramey, founder of the fan website Batman-on-Film.com. "No doubt some people may be apprehensive about seeing it because there may be a little ghoulish factor about it. But I'm betting that more people now kind of look at it as a tribute to him, and the biggest tribute you could give someone is to go see it and enjoy his performance."
When Dean died in a car wreck in 1955, studio executives lamented "there goes the movie," figuring audiences would be scared away from his final two films, said Wes Gehring, who teaches film at Ball State University. To the contrary: Rebel Without a Cause and Giant were huge hits.
In today's anything-goes celebrity climate, it's doubtful anyone in Hollywood ever felt Ledger's death might hurt the box-office prospects for The Dark Knight, Gehring said.
"It's a tacky thing to say, but what would have been a negative in the past now could be a positive thing," Gehring said. "I think we've done a flip-flop on pop culture. Now it might actually be a selling point for a movie where you say, `So and so's dead. Let's go see his movie.' What might have been a hindrance in 1935 now won't be a problem."
In the days after Ledger's death, fans debated how it might affect the film.
Would distributor Warner Bros. make changes or even delay its release? Would the advertising shift away from its early focus on Ledger's demonic Joker and his mocking taunt, "Why so serious?" Would the Joker's ghastly persona disturb fans? Would viewers be able to set thoughts of his death aside as they watch his performance?
"Of course, you find more poignancy in moments, and I'm very, very aware he's not here with us," said Bale in an interview shortly after the film's opening segment – in which Ledger's Joker orchestrates a bank heist – was screened in mid-March at ShoWest, a convention for theatre owners. It was the first time Bale had seen the sequence, and Ledger's death weighed on his mind.
"I can't deny that kind of threw me watching that just now," Bale said. "You can't help but have that different feeling when I'm viewing it, especially since he's somebody I was in touch with until just recently and believed would be a future friend."
Director Christopher Nolan, who revived the franchise with Batman Begins, said he expects the performance will speak for itself, that morbid thoughts of Ledger's death will not affect the way audiences view The Dark Knight.
"Having seen the movie myself in such heightened and tragic circumstances, no, I don't think that's going to be the case," Nolan said. "What I found in watching the movie myself is that you're not looking at the actor, you're not looking at the friend, you're not looking at the colleague. You're looking at the Joker. ... He inhabits this character, and it's an extraordinary icon, so it's easy to enjoy it on that level, just as a great piece of acting."
Ledger – known for serious films including Brokeback Mountain, which earned him a best-actor Academy Award nomination – was a surprise choice for the Joker, most famously played previously with Jack Nicholson's giddy performance in 1989's Batman.
Nolan, Ledger and their collaborators came up with a wildly different Joker, whose ominous clown makeup seems to have been finger-painted onto his face, an outer portrait of the black and twisted soul within.
Ledger's performance floored two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine, who reprises his role as Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred. Caine's first glimpse of the character came when Ledger emerged onto the set from an elevator; in an interview last September, four months before Ledger's death, Caine said he was so startled that he forgot his lines.
"He came out of the bloody lift like a whirlwind," Caine recalled. "They said, `It's your line, Michael.' I said, `What is it?' Extraordinary. It will be one of the characters of next year, the Joker as played by him."
Warner Bros. executives, who declined to comment for this article, have moved ahead with The Dark Knight and its marketing as planned. To do anything differently would have disrespected Ledger's memory, the filmmakers said.
"The greatest testament to Heath's portrayal is to do everything that we were planning on doing with Heath's portrayal," said producer Charles Roven. "His family knew him to feel exactly the same way. They knew how excited he was, knew how much fun he had doing it. When you see the film, it's undeniable how much fun he had playing the character."
While the Batman brand-name virtually assures blockbuster status for The Dark Knight, other posthumous films have had a mixed history.
Rogers scored a posthumous hit with Steamboat Round the Bend, as did Tracy with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon and Brandon Lee's The Crow found broader audiences beyond action crowds because of their deaths. Singer Aaliyah's Queen of the Damned overcame bad reviews to become a modest commercial success.
Received coolly by critics, John Candy's Canadian Bacon and Wagons East were box-office duds, as was Natalie Wood's Brainstorm.
The final films of Lombard (To Be or Not to Be) and husband Gable (The Misfits) earned critical acclaim and have held up over the decades but initially were disregarded by audiences.
Unlike Oliver Reed, whose death during the filming of Gladiator prompted the filmmakers to digitally graft his head onto another man's body to complete a scene, Ledger had finished his work on The Dark Knight.
Ledger died with his final film, Terry Gilliam's fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, only half finished. Gilliam salvaged the production by casting Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell for the fantasy portions, each playing Ledger's character on trips through a magic mirror into a parallel realm.
The snippets of Ledger's Dark Knight performance released in trailers have captivated not only the average fan, but also his close colleagues from past films.
"You can tell Jack Nicholson was having fun doing that, but you can see Heath probably put his soul into it," said Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee. "That's why it's scary. You see the trailer, just a few shots of him, you have to see the movie. . . . I'm anxious to see it. I'm afraid to see it. I don't know how I'll respond to it, but you have to see it."
St. Lucia: Helen of the West Indies
By Melanie Reffes
One of the Windward Islands, St. Lucia is snuggled halfway down the eastern Caribbean archipelago between Martinique and St. Vincent. The Atlantic Ocean rims the eastern shore and the Caribbean Sea on the other side has the finest beaches. Dubbed “ Helen of the West Indies “, St. Lucia is known for its five-star resorts, rum and culinary traditions and natural beauty including one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes and sulphur springs, a tropical rainforest, natural waterfalls and the dramatic Piton mountains which soar 2,000 feet above the sea and have become the signature image of the island.
St. Lucia also boasts the highest Number of Noble prize winners per capita in the world - two out of 163,000 . The Island is the birthplace of two Laureates, the late Sir W. Arthur Lewis won the Prize for Economics in 1979 and poet Derek Walcott was awarded the1992 Nobel for Literature.
Near the charming town of Soufrière lies the famous drive-in volcano which is a rocky lunar landscape of bubbling mud and craters seething with sulphur. You literally drive your car into a millions-of-years-old crater and walk between the sulphur springs and pools of hissing steam. Turtle Watching is another favourite activity of nature lovers with an abundance of these majestic reptiles due to the protection provided by environmental activists and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The 100-year-old market in the capital Castries is chocked full of vendors ready to bargain. Rice and peas at the outdoor café will set you back $4.00 and worth every bite. Other shopping venues include the duty-free J.Q. Mall in Rodney Bay and Caribelle batik studio near Castries. Gros Islet is an authentic slice of West Indian life. With a population that is predominantly Catholic, the St. Joseph the Worker Church in this sleepy fishing hamlet welcomes tourists to Sunday Mass. Bring your cameras as the ladies dressed in their finest are happy to pose. Nearby, the ship that is featured in the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie sits in Rodney Bay and is another popular photo opportunity.
The north coast is known for high-end properties and night life but the south coast is closer to the natural attractions. Tours to the healing Sulphur Springs, the Moule-A-Chique cliffs and the Pitons are the most popular. Wind and kite surfing is best on the southeast coast while day trips take history buffs to the sleepy fishing village of Labourie with its Church built of stone and cinderblock for hurricane protection, the crafts town of Choiseul and Soufriere that looks much the same today as it did 250 years ago.
Where to Stay:
If you’re familiar with the Almond brand in Barbados, the properties in St. Lucia will feel pleasantly familiar. Following the opening of Morgan Bay, the most recent addition to the chain gang is a few minutes away on the northwest coast. On the property formerly known as Cap St Lucia, Almond Smugglers Cove is the largest on the Island and spread on a sixty acre estate overlooking St. Lucian Bay. Five villages with one-storey villas painted in tropical rainbow hues are named after regions like Anse La Raye, Canaries, Dennery, Soufriere and Babonneau.
Although the property is all-inclusive there is no buffet overload with more a la carte dining.. The Saturday Caribbean Beach party is worthwhile for the homemade desserts like a scrumptious almond banana mousse. The tastiest pasta and pizza this side of Rome at Trattoria and the Creole menu at Café Enid’s tempts with a creamy callaloo and crab soup and a divinely decadent almond crusted wedge of brie.
When the sun sets, the action moves indoors to Tommy’s Rum Shoppe and sizzles till the wee hours with karaoke and a TiPunch that blends St. Lucian honey and rum with a splash of lime. Ask for it, it’s not on the menu. “Anything with rum is an aphrodisiac,” says bartender Chester Francoise with a shy twinkle. For the lovebirds in the crowd, weddings are complimentary with a stay of a week or more.. Honeymoon packages include in-room flowers and a couples massage. Romance offers are available until December 20, 2007.
The first thing you'll appreciate about the all-inclusive Coconut Bay Resort and Spa on the southeast coast is that it takes less than fifteen minutes to get there from the Hewanorra International Airport. Formerly Club Med St Lucia, the property stood empty for two years following the events of 9/11 and re-opened two years ago. Rooms were refurbished and enlarged although the bathrooms are still shower-only (a throwback to the Club Med days), extensive landscaping preserved the endless rows of soaring coconut palms that stand guard over the Atlantic Ocean and a newly constructed Water Park is the largest in St. Lucia.
If you go:
Tourism Information: 1 (888) 4-STLUCIA www.stlucia.org
Rain Forest Sky Rides: www.rfat.com
Barefoot Holidays www.barefootholidays.com/
C & M Tours www.cmtouring.com/
Solar Tours www.solartoursandtravel.com/
New Curtis Mayfield And
The Impressions Film Out May 6
Source: Karen E. Lee (KL364@aol.com); Juanita Stephens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(April 1, 2008) "You hear in Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions the spiritual power of a Dr. Martin Luther King" - Ambassador Andrew Young
(Los Angeles, CA ) -- To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Impressions, Reelin' In The Years Productions and Universal Music Group International are proud to announce the May 6, 2008 release of the documentary Movin' On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions on DVD.
The two-hour film tells the incredible story of one of the greatest artists and most important R&B groups of all time. Also included in the documentary are 22 complete vintage television performances from The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield's solo career filmed between 1965 and 1973.
In addition to telling the history of Curtis Mayfield as an artist and The Impressions as a group, the film explores how The Impressions' music was a virtual soundtrack for the civil rights era in the '60s.
In an interview filmed exclusively for the documentary, civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young (who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) speaks about the effect classic Impressions songs such as "People Get Ready," "Choice of Colors" and "We're A Winner" had on the movement, and how often their songs were sung for inspiration in churches and during marches (some led by Dr. King.)
The film also shows how Curtis Mayfield's solo work helped define the early '70s. Chuck D, leader of the rap group Public Enemy, provides context about Curtis's music as a soundtrack to the grim realities of urban life culminating with his 1972 masterpiece Superfly.
In addition, Carlos Santana, speaks about Curtis Mayfield's unique genius as a songwriter, artist and teacher and also comments on the spiritual nature of his music.
Also featured in the film are Impressions Fred Cash and Sam Gooden, who discuss the history of the group, beginning with their origins in the late '50s and share incredible stories about many of their classic songs as well as give insight into Curtis as a songwriter.
In addition, producer/arranger Johnny Pate speaks about the recording process of their classic songs and reminisces about the Impressions in the studio.
Altheida Mayfield, Curtis's widow, provides tender insight into the personal side of Curtis, including his inspirations and aspirations as well as stories about Curtis as a husband and family man. Curtis Mayfield himself speaks through several archival interviews filmed throughout his career.
Movin' On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions includes a wealth of staggering full-length performances filmed throughout America and Europe beginning with The Impressions singing their classic hit, "It's All Right" and progressing through the group's career including the only known performance of "People Get Ready" (filmed in 1965), a stirring medley of "We're A Winner/Amen" from 1968, as well as "Woman's Got Soul," "Choice Of Colors," and a host of others. Performances from Curtis Mayfield's solo career include "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue" from his first solo album, as well as five amazing songs performed in 1972 from the classic Superfly album including "Freddie's Dead," "Pusherman," and "Superfly" - all featuring Curtis's astounding band - one of the greatest (and most underrated) in the history of soul.
Movin' On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions also features a bonus section with five additional performances from 1972 including "We're A Winner," "Movin' On Up" and "Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey)" as well as an additional version of "Freddie's Dead" filmed live in a recording studio. Also included are an additional 20 minutes of interviews bringing the total running time to three hours.
Movin' On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions also includes a 28-page booklet with an extensive essay by GRAMMY® award-winning writer Rob Bowman, who also conducted the interviews and co-produced this DVD. The booklet includes rare photographs and memorabilia featuring never-before-seen images from the Mayfield family's personal archives.
For Movin' On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions every effort has been made to locate the best possible sound and video; each of the performances has been re-transferred and re-mastered from the best-quality, original masters (some resting in the television vaults for more than 40 years). In the case of lip-sync performances, the original master recordings have been used, replacing the original TV broadcast audio and making for a much more enjoyable viewing and listening experience.
Reelin' In The Years Productions LLC is the world's largest music footage library and has produced over 30 DVD releases including the four-volume The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 DVD series. Released to universal critical acclaim, Volume One was nominated for a GRAMMY® award in the category of "Best Long Form Music Video." 2006 saw the release of the certified-platinum The Temptations - Get Ready, The Definitive Performances 1965-1972, the certified-gold Marvin Gaye - The Real Thing In Performance 1964-1981 and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Definitive Performances 1963-1987, the first official DVD anthologies of classic archival television performances by Motown artists. 2007 DVD releases included Dreams To Remember: The Legacy Of Otis Redding and The Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967. Also released to international acclaim have been the 16 titles in the Jazz Icons DVD series.
For further information, please visit www.reelinintheyears.com or www.jazzicons.com.
It's All Right (1965)
Woman's Got Soul (1965)
I Need You (1965)
People Get Ready (1965
Meeting Over Yonder (1965)
We're A Winner/Amen (1968)
This Is My Country (1970)
Choice Of Colors (1969)
Check Out Your Mind (1970)
(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go (1970
Keep On Keeping On (1972)
We Got To Have Peace (1972)
We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue/Give Me Your Love (1972)
Freddie's Dead (1972)
Eddie You Should Know Better (1973)
Future Shock (1973)
The Makings Of You (1970)
We're A Winner (1972)
Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey) (1972)
We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue (1972)
Move On Up (1972)
Freddie's Dead (1973)
Maxi Gets Close To UB40
Excerpt from Jamaica Gleaner Online - Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
(April 1, 2008) LOVERS ROCK singer Maxi Priest will replace Ali Campbell as UB40's frontman, a British newspaper has reported.
UB40's hometown 'paper', The Birmingham Mail, in its March 14 edition, quoted a source close to the band as saying Priest has recorded a version of Marley's I Shot The Sheriff with them.
"The recent recording session with Maxi Priest turned out brilliantly and the band are really buzzing about the year ahead," the source was quoted as saying.
There was no response to the report from Priest's booking agent or his tour manager, Zola Burse, when The Gleaner tried to contact both.
The 45-year-old Priest, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, joined UB40 on tour last year. Campbell, one of two brothers in the classic UB40 line-up, left the pop-reggae unit in January.
"Ali made a very simple decision, he chose to pursue and put his solo career over and above continuing to work with UB40 after February 2008; it's as simple as that," read a statement from the band.
Campbell left following legal squabbles with the group's management. Keyboardist Mickey Virtue has since left, citing similar reasons.
The reported alliance between Maxi Priest and UB40 comes at a crossroads in their careers. They headed a British reggae invasion of North American reggae charts in the 1980s and 1990s, but have not had a major hit song in some time.
UB40 emerged from the Birmingham club scene during the late 1970s when the punk movement was still hot. Although they tackled social issues, such as racism, their sound was far more commercial to other British reggae bands of the time, including Aswad and Steel Pulse.
Strongly influenced by reggae, the multiracial eight-piece band built a strong following throughout Britain and Europe before releasing several well-received albums in the United States.
Their Labour of Love albums pay homage to Jamaican music of the 1960s and 1970s. They include covers of songs by Johnny Osbourne, Johnny Clarke, Eric Donaldson and Lord Creator.
Priest cut his teeth in London's vibrant reggae circuit in the early 1980s. He first got the attention of Jamaicans with a cover of Cat Stevens' Wide World, In The Springtime and Should I.
Both acts had chart-topping albums in the United States. UB40's 1983 Labour of Love spawned the hit song Red Red Wine and sold millions of units. Priest's 1990 Bonafide disc, driven by the hit song Close To You, sold over one million units.
He also topped the US singles chart the following year with Set The Night to Music, a collaboration with Rhythm and Blues singer Roberta Flack, and scored a Top 20 hit with Housecall alongside Shabba Ranks.
Prior to Campbell's departure, UB40 continued to tour and made their debut Jamaican appearance in 2006 at Reggae Sunsplash. Priest has maintained a local presence by working with leading local producers.
Same band, different singer
· Naggo Morris succeeded Leroy Sibbles in The Heptones in the early 1970s.
· Guitarist Junior Marvin took over vocal duties for The Wailers shortly after Bob Marley's death.
· Junior Reid replaced Michael Rose in Black Uhuru in 1985.
· Carlton Coffie, who sang on Sweat and Bad Boys, became Inner Circle's lead vocalist after Jacob Miller's death.
· UB40 took its name from a British unemployment form.
· They have sold over 70 million units, making them the best selling reggae band.
· Bass player Earl Falconer says Robbie Shakespeare is his biggest influence.
· The band's trumpet player, Astro, is of Jamaican descent.
· Singer Bittie McLean, currently making waves with the songs Walk Away From Love and Make it With You, toured as a roadie with UB40.
· Bonafide marked the first time Maxi Priest worked with a largely Jamaican cast. Willie Lindo, Handel Tucker, Mikey Bennett and Sly Dunbar each had significant input.
· UB40 and Maxi Priest are the only British reggae acts to top the US singles chart.
Inspired by Ella
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner
(April 2, 2008) When Fern Lindzon was eight years old, her mother, Toronto artist Rose Lindzon, started piano lessons. "I used to lie in my bed listening to her play," Lindzon recalled, "and by the time I was 9, I was really champing at the bit to learn." About a year later, her mother abandoned her adult avocation (although she had already made it to Grade 5), and daughter Fern began. She has never really stopped.
Now, four decades and a long musical journey later, she's releasing her debut CD, Moments Like These, a compilation with three jazz heavyweights - bassist George Koller, Don Thompson on vibes and guitarist Reg Schwager.
Former Globe and Mail jazz writer Mark Miller, a critic careful with his praise, describes Lindzon on her website as "an engaging pianist and singer who brings an unassuming authority, an inquiring spirit and a natural grace to contemporary jazz."
The album includes standards (On the Street Where You Live and Where Do You Start?); tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter's To See Through Infant Eyes, for which Lindzon wrote, with his permission, the lyrics; the haunting ballad Re'i, written by a mixed Israeli/Muslim band called Sheva; a klezmer take on a Thelonius Monk-like tune called You Really Shouldn't Be, But; and Tr7, a bluesy Lindzon composition using Schoenberg's 12-tone row.
It has been a particularly busy and satisfying year for Lindzon. She has appeared on two other CD releases, one self-titled effort by the klezmer group the Lithuanian Empire, and another, Sheynville Express, by the Sisters of Sheynville, a sextet whose work is a fusion of swing, klezmer and Yiddish. The reviews for work on those albums have been glowing.
This month, she has numerous Toronto gigs, starting with an appearance with Koller this evening at the Rex Hotel (the first of four dates there), followed by a klezmer brunch on April 13 at the Free Times Café with the Yiddish Swingtet, and a Sisters of Sheynville gig at the Gladstone Hotel on April 17. She's scheduled to perform and sign CDs at Toronto's Manulife Centre Indigo store on the evening of April 10.
And though she says she's less active than she used to be, Lindzon remains a formidable Scrabble player, plays regularly at the Toronto Scrabble Club, the oldest of its kind in North America, and was once the top-ranked female Scrabble player in Canada. "It's not so much about vocabulary," she says of her talent for the game, as it is a perceptual ability to see the board and its possibilities. Her April calendar also includes two nights as a volunteer at Scrabble fundraisers, where players pay $50 for tips from Lindzon.
Trained as a classical pianist, Lindzon studied music history at the University of Toronto, specializing in 20th-century works. She concedes that she never had any particular affinity for jazz until one night, in her late teens, she and a girlfriend stumbled into a jazz club (in pursuit of a young man) and heard a combo that included pianist Ted Moses and guitarist Lorne Lofsky.
"I'd never heard music like that,' Lindzon recalled during a recent interview. "And I immediately thought, this is what I really want to be doing." Her instincts were confirmed when she heard Ella Fitzgerald's 1973 album of duets with Joe Pass, Take Love Easy.
She started studying jazz, going to clubs and buying jazz albums. Then, to clear her head, she took a year off and went to Israel, spending nine months on a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley. When she returned, she plunged headlong back into jazz, studying both piano and voice - a dramatic change from the classical lieder she had previously sung. She spent three years studying with the multi-instrumental Don Thompson.
"Don was great," Lindzon says. "The thing about Don is, he doesn't have an agenda. He knows how to work with whatever you bring. I remember one of the first things he said was, 'From now on you'll never play another note that doesn't mean anything.' And at the time, I was playing a lot of piano bars and that can be very damaging, if you go on automatic pilot."
For years, while raising two children, Lindzon played and organized music for corporate and organizational events. It was only about three years ago, she says, that she decided to raise her personal bar. "It was around the time of my birthday and I just thought, 'Well, it's now or never, in terms of really performing. I'm not going to say no to anything.' "
A few weeks later, she was playing and singing around town at Ben Wicks jazz club and soon after at the Montreal Bistro, the Rex and other venues. She hasn't looked back.
The album's title alludes to the seminal musical moments that have shaped her life, including, at the age of 9, only a few weeks after she started piano lessons, hearing Arthur Rubinstein play Chopin at Massey Hall. "This seemingly ancient man, whose unbounded energy and passion scared me to death. I thought for sure he would have a heart attack and I would have to replace him." Such moments, she says, "make sense of our life, create euphoria, open a doorway, make us feel like we've come home."
The Mullings Shine at 21st Annual Canadian Reggae Music Awards
Source: L3 Publicity
(April 1, 2008) The Stars shone brightly for artists at the 21st annual Canadian Reggae Music Awards, held in Toronto, Ontario Canada on Sunday March 30th, 2008. This premiere Reggae event, produced by Winston Hewitt Productions, was well attended by fans who gathered to honour the best in Reggae entertainment in Canada.
Canada's songbird, Tanya Mullings, was nominated for a record 3 categories for Top Reggae Singer Female, Top Reggae Producer and Top Reggae CD/Album, of which she swept all three categories. The most touching of the three wins, was that of Top Reggae Producer as it was a category she shared with her late father, Karl Mullings, who recently passed away. "Of all the awards, Top Reggae Producer means the most. I know Daddy is up there, but sharing this moment with us down here", said a tearful Tanya when asked how she thinks her father is reacting right now.
Continuing with the Mullings streak of success is sister and Manager Carrie, who won the Canadian Radio DJ Award for playing the most Canadian Content on her radio show Rebel Vibes which airs on CHRY 105.5FM in Toronto every Monday from 10am to 12pm. Carrie has been hosting the show for the past 3 years, making her the first radio personality in Canada to broadcast an all Canadian content format. So recognized is Carrie, that she hosted a special segment for RE TV which included interviews with the cream of Canada's crop in Reggae entertainment.
Carrie and Tanya recently founded i.M.O.K. (In Memory of Karl) Enterprises which is an Artist Manager, Artist Booking and Business Consultation company. One of their Star Canadian Artists, Exco Levi, won the Top Reggae Single award for 'Oh Canada', which pays tribute to his 'home away from home', and has quickly become a Reggae anthem for people from the Caribbean living in Canada.
Featured International artists, who also attended the awards was Canadian Award of Merit winner, Nadine Sutherland who put on a spectacular show, thrilling fans, and the true rebel himself, Mr. Tony Rebel who was the recipient of International Award of Merit, and rocked fans in with a well selected performance showcasing his many hits over the years, and his newest hit, "Fire"!
Polegato Owns The Part
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Classical Music Critic
(March 29, 2008) Baritone Brett Polegato is taking Eugene Onegin to heart.
On the cusp of his 40th birthday, 15 years into his singing career, the Torontonian boasts international recognition, a gorgeous lyric baritone voice and a deep commitment to both art and craft.
He proves the latter over a pre-rehearsal coffee, discussing the fine points of language, music and dramatic motivation.
All shape his debut in one of opera's great roles for the Canadian Opera Company on Wednesday.
The title character in Russian composer Tchaikovsky's most famous opera Eugene Onegin is a Don Juan who has grown bored of women and parties, yet is afraid of making a commitment. It's a trait that brings misery to the people around him, especially to Tatyana, a young woman who has fallen under his spell. By the time Onegin changes his mind, several years later, Tatyana has married someone else.
Polegato read the story by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, learned to read Cyrillic, the Russian alphabet (while singing in Pique Dame, another Tchaikovsky opera, last summer in Belgium), and spent November and December learning the libretto (during a production of The Magic Flute in Switzerland).
The baritone started learning the music from Eugene Onegin in January, having blocked off the first two months of the year for this purpose.
This serious focus permeates everything Polegato does.
"When you are a young singer, you think you're going to be famous – to condense it into one sentence," says Polegato. "But when you get older, you begin to understand where success takes you and what it costs you."
So the baritone balances cost – living out of a suitcase, away from the significant people in his life – with the benefits of choosing roles that interest him and that he thinks he can make interesting:
"I probably have been more selective than some singers. But it's not out of arrogance, which some people might think it is," he explains. "There needs to be something about the role or about a concert that intrigues me."
This explains how Polegato can take on singing the Herald in Wagner's Lohengrin one moment (in Lyon, France, 18 months ago), turn around and be Orestes in Christoph Willibald Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (Seattle Opera last fall), and, in between, join a big orchestra in Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony or the Aldeburgh Connection for an intimate recital of art songs at Walter Hall.
Toronto audiences last saw him on an opera stage as Valentin in last season's COC production of Faust, by Charles Gounod.
"Hugo Wolff said that he would never set a poem that has been set well by another composer," Polegato says.
"I feel the same way: The reason I perform is that I see the song or the role this way and I have not seen it communicated this way. And I'd love the chance to show what I get from that piece."
To build the character of Onegin, Polegato has relied heavily on Pushkin's narrative poem as well as Tchaikovsky's libretto, which is based on three discrete episodes from the Pushkin original.
But doing this kind of preparation before meeting an opera's director must mean there are times when everyone arrives at the first rehearsal with very different visions.
"That happens a lot," Polegato admits.
But he says great directors he has worked with have managed to convince him of their purpose.
When that doesn't happen, an opera role slides from interesting to just a paycheque, like last fall's Magic Flute in Geneva.
"There was an awful lot of belching by Papageno on stage, and I never did find a reason of making that work for me," Polegato recalls. "Before that, there had never been a situation where a director couldn't find a way to make me understand what was happening."
The singer says he had to shrug it off in the end, "And you just hope that when you see that person's name again you might think twice about working with them."
Polegato qualifies this by saying that differences of opinion "are what great art is about."
With soprano Giselle Allen singing Tatyana and British maestro Richard Armstrong and the COC's own Derek Bate sharing conducting duties to April 30, let's hope great art will prevail.
Just the facts
WHAT: Eugene Onegin, by Tchaikovsky
WHERE: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W.
WHEN: Wednesday to Apr. 30
TICKETS: $30-$275 @ 416-363-8231 or www.coc.ca
Cezar Bringing Soul To Reggae Music
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(March 27, 2008) *His father Rupert Cunningham was a singer/producer/songwriter and also a record label owner. So it came as no surprise that Cezar would follow have followed in his footsteps. Cezar’s musical journey has far from being an easy ride. ‘It has been a struggle for me. I have a formal education in a field where I can live comfortably and I have given that up the certainty of financial comfort for a field of uncertainty. It has really been a difficult journey for me’, Cezar revealed in a recent interview.
Cezar who made his recording debut in 2003, has been getting some attention of late with his single Will You Be which was recorded on the Renaissance label’s Legal rhythm. The song is accompanied by an excellently shot, directed and conceptualized music video, that has been getting a lot of airtime of late.
‘The video was shot in New York in November last year and it was directed by Nadia Sampson and Tim Naylor. The feedback on the song since the video came out, has been tremendous. Interest in the song has really picked up in recent times’, Cezar explained.
Cezar says his mother is one of the persons who has been very supportive of his career choice. He said she keeps him motivated and she has also been the one to encourage him to keep focused.
A former student at Howard University in Washington, USA, Cezar studied architecture. He debuted in 2003 with the song I’ll be dancing which he credits Jazzy T for putting into rotation on ZIP 103 FM. Sexy Ways on the Tunda Clap rhythm later followed. Lay You Down on the Stepz rhythm is probably his better known song.
The talented singer whose material includes reggae, alternative, pop and R&B, Cezar has also written and co written songs for Tami Chynn, Wayne Marshall, Machel Montano and television personality Empress.
Asked how he got involved with the legal rhythm project, Cezar explained ‘Delano and myself have had a long standing friendship and when the rhythm was given to me, the song immediately came to my mind. Will You Be isn’t necessarily about a relationship with someone. It is also relevant when it comes to dealing with matters relating to family or even a friendship with someone’.
Cezar’s debut album is being earmarked for a May 2008 release. The album as well as his latest singles will be available on I-tunes via Rebelmix.
Tyson Comes Clean
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman
(March 28, 2008) Longview, Alta. — The call came to Ian Tyson's ranch on a Monday morning as a huge, purple chinook cloud hung over his 640 acres near High River, Alta. It was the lawyer's office: Tyson's divorce, finally, was settled – five, or was it six, years after Twylla, his second wife, had left. Tyson hobbled back into the living room (one of his mares had stumbled onto his foot two days before), picked up his old Martin D-45 guitar, and started strumming Estrangement, a song he recently wrote about his grown daughter.
“How our horses couldn't wait to run/school-bus afternoons in the early fall/the races that you always won/through the fields of our dreams./Now I'm waiting out the flight delays/waiting for the storm to pass/waiting for the sky to clear.”
Approaching his 75th birthday, Tyson is still ranching, still having trouble with women, and still writing music. Only his voice, as gravelly as the road outside, hints at his age. “I'm sort of on the verge of making a new album, but it's gonna be such a downer,” he says. “But you've got to write about what you've got to write about.”
Maybe it's the finalized divorce, maybe it's the drunken dinner party he hosted the previous night (he went to bed while his guests argued politics), maybe it's the 2 1/2 hours he spent that morning cleaning the kitchen, but Tyson, known by some reporters to be on the reticent side, is beyond forthcoming on this day. It's almost as if he needs to talk.
Tyson is a Canadian music legend: One half of the 1960s folk phenomenon Ian and Sylvia (with his first wife, Sylvia Tyson); the host of his own television show in the 1970s; and finally a reinvented western-folk singer, where he found his true voice, recording his biggest-selling album, 1987's Cowboyography.
If there's any song with which Tyson is immediately identified, it's his seminal folk hit Four Strong Winds. Chosen in 2005 by CBC Radio's 50 Tracks as the best Canadian song of all time, it also bought his ranch (thanks to royalties from Neil Young's version) and is the song Tyson was asked to sing at the memorial service for four Mayerthorpe, Alta., RCMP officers killed in the line of duty in 2005. “It was probably the best performance of the song I've ever done. There was so much emotion.”
Like Four Strong Winds, many of Tyson's best-known songs reflect the solitary life he leads on this big, dusty ranch. They are full of good-byes, heartbreak and reflection. Tyson is a storyteller, and his stories so often end in leaving and loneliness. His life has told that story repeatedly as well, and is currently playing out at the T-Bar-Y ranch, which he runs on his own (“I get up at 6 o'clock and I shut her down at 6 o'clock”) – a heavy load for anyone even half his age, and about as far from a celebrity existence as one can imagine. He does his washing on Mondays (five pairs of Wranglers to get him through the week), cleans the hardwood floors, and cooks a mean, garlicky buffalo. The ranch is filled with cowboy hats and books – both too numerous to count. On his fridge, this mantra held up by a magnet: Life is tough. Life is tougher if you're stupid. – John Wayne.
The ranch lies east of the Rockies, with a stunning view of the mountains out the living-room window. From here, Tyson can keep an eye on his yearlings, which easily distract him. “There's my little sweetheart. Look at her,” he says, pointing to one through the window. “That's her little brother. He just got castrated,” he continues, getting up from his leather couch for a closer look.
Tyson would rather discuss ranch issues than just about anything else (with the exception, maybe, of politics). In nearby Longview, population 300, everyone seems to know him – not as Ian Tyson, singer-songwriter, but as Ian Tyson, rancher-neighbour. On the town's main strip, Tyson owns a coffee/gift shop called Ian Tyson's Navajo Mug. Dedicated fans will come all the way from Europe, he says, for his CDs, T-shirts and, yes, mugs.
He has won awards almost too numerous to mention, including a Juno and a Governor-General's. He has been named to the Order of Canada, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Prairie Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Last month, he was honoured by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, Tenn. Next weekend, he'll drive the hour to Calgary to be a presenter at the Juno Awards. After each stint in the limelight, Tyson is happy – relieved, really – to return to the ranch. He is a cowboy not just at heart, but in practice. He's at home on the range.
The self-taught musician
Tyson did not start life as a cowboy. His parents, immigrants from England, lived a privileged life on Vancouver Island. Born in Victoria on Sept. 25, 1933, Tyson attended private school when he was young. His first stop on the way to the rodeo was the polo field, where his father loved to play. “He liked the sport very much,” Tyson says. “I was interested in it, too, and as I got a little older, I was kind of his test pilot. And then the rodeo came to town and he took me … and I was hooked.”
It was a rodeo accident in Alberta in his early 20s that led Tyson to discover the guitar. One of the other patients in his hospital ward had one, but couldn't play it. Tyson picked it up and taught himself Johnny Cash's I Walk The Line.
When he returned to art school in Vancouver that fall, Tyson took some guitar lessons, but realized they weren't for him. Instead, he learned through “osmosis,” he says. “My deal is strictly ear.”
And so a self-taught cowboy became a self-taught musician.
After graduating from the Vancouver School of Art in 1958, Tyson hitched a ride to Toronto, where he worked as a commercial artist, designing peanut-butter jars, jam containers and shampoo bottles.
He wasn't alone for long – it was there that he met Sylvia Fricker, with whom he began to perform in 1959, as Ian and Sylvia. The pair moved to New York, signed with Vanguard Records and got married; they later had a son, Clay. But with the British invasion, folk music fell out of fashion, while such fellow folk icons as Bob Dylan turned to protest songs. Ian and Sylvia created a band, Great Speckled Bird, and moved toward the country genre. Ultimately, though, their popularity faded, and their musical and romantic partnership ended.
Craving the country life, Tyson moved out to Alberta in 1976, bought the ranch, began writing and recording cowboy songs, and met Twylla, who would become his second wife. Some were scandalized by the relationship: Twylla was just a teenager when they met, while Tyson was in his 40s. They had a daughter, Adelita, and later married. For years, they lived an idyllic ranch life with the cattle, a couple of longhorn steers and their beloved horses. Then things fell apart and Tyson has found himself alone on the land once again, just the livestock to keep him company.
Concerns about the future
When you walk in the front door of Tyson's ranch, you're greeted by a table stacked with books: To Kill A Mockingbird, a Georgia O'Keeffe biography, a dictionary, The Western Buckle: History, Art, Culture, Function. There's also a copy of Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, recommended by friend and music colleague Tom Russell to help Tyson deal with the opposite sex. Copies of The New Yorker, to which he subscribes, are scattered everywhere. Recently, he's been reading Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero – for the second time. “I love that book. I don't understand it, but I love it,” he says. “He's the Hemingway of today, I think.”
He suffers frequent bouts of writer's block. The cure, he says, is in the writing of others: the poetry of Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway on fishing, Jane Jacobs on urban life. He is a huge Cormac McCarthy fan, and says he relates strongly to the old sheriff in No Country For Old Men (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the Coen brothers' film) whose laments echo Tyson's melancholy about the disappearing cowboy life. “I became a historian, a chronicler of this way of life, and this way of life is just about over. … The cowboys are all gone.”
These days, Tyson is worried about finances and about the future – his own, his kids', the land's. The divorce settlement with Twylla has forced him to sell half his property. She now lives in the Bahamas, while he tries to keep things solvent on the ranch. He peppers conversations with constant references to being broke: The woman who cleans his house is his “expensive cleaning lady,” one of his awards is made out of gold so he “might have to hock it.” He wants to record another album (his last, Songs from the Gravel Road, came out in 2005), but doesn't know how he'll raise the $50,000 minimum required to finance it (Tyson now records independently). Selling the ranch isn't really an option; he's hoping to leave it to his children – the south half to his son; the north half to his daughter.
But his kids – Clay is 41, Adelita is 22 – are far away, from each other and from Tyson himself. The half-siblings do not have a relationship with each other. Clay customizes racing bikes in Toronto; a musical career didn't work out. Adelita goes to school in Texas, where she competes in the rodeo and has a calf-roper boyfriend. (“That's the lowest thing on the cowboy scale,” Tyson grunts.) Both children have gone through extended periods of estrangement from their father. Tyson has no idea what they'll do with the ranch. Clay is an urbanite. And Adelita seems happy where she is. “She's a Texan,” Tyson says. “She even talks like one.”
It's not just the future of his own ranch Tyson worries about. He watches the urban sprawl creep out from High River with a mixture of outrage and sorrow. He abhors the local council, which he accuses of being pro-development, but has turned down offers to enter politics. “I've been approached a lot. But I [am] absolutely, totally ill-suited for it. I can't run my own life,” he says, searching for a saucer to serve with a cup of tea.
He has, however, been active as a protester, most notably in his fight against oil and gas drilling in southwestern Alberta. “They don't like messing with me, because I've got such a high profile, you see.”
Dinners with Sylvia
Tyson is content, quite, with his solitary ranch life – but that doesn't mean he's happy.
He has been consumed of late by heartbreak over, not either of his ex-wives, but another woman, code-named “Colorado.” Married, with young children, and, yes, living in Colorado, she followed Tyson around on one of his tours and an affair began. They split in the fall, and Tyson is still nursing a broken heart. “She wasn't gonna take no for an answer, and Twylla had left. So I guess I was vulnerable,” he says of how the relationship started. “We were very in love. It was very intense. Very, very intense. It was silly. Foolish.”
Tyson himself admits to bouts of infidelity in his younger days, but says he didn't stray much. He and Sylvia are friends now; they have dinner together when he is in Toronto. Her song You Were On My Mind was used in a European coffee commercial, earning her “the best part of a million bucks,” he says – half-proud, half-wistful. “That's how she lives in that big old brick house ... in Rosedale.”
A world away, driving down the gravel road toward his ranch, on the way back from a grilled-cheese-and-soup lunch, he reveals a shocker: He still carries on a relationship with his first girlfriend, “the Greek girl” who inspired Four Strong Winds after she moved to California and broke his heart. He was a student then, in his 20s.
Now, at 74, he still sees her from time to time. She's 70, lives in Kelowna, B.C., is divorced a few times over and “has had so much work done, she looks terrific,” he says. He's going to fly her out to his place soon for a visit, but he doesn't think the ranch life is for her. Besides, he's pretty happy living alone. “I like about 70 per cent of it,” he says. “The other 30 per cent is the pits.”
As he ages, the playing is getting more difficult. Tyson suffers from arthritis, and plays guitar an hour a day to keep it at bay.
Despite the bouts of arthritis, the bad foot, and his worry over leaving the ranch unattended, Tyson still tours fairly extensively. He's just finished a swing through the southwestern United States. He'll play later this year with both the Calgary Philharmonic and the National Arts Centre orchestras. It's lucrative, for one thing, and in front of an audience, he can forget the aches and pains, the unpaid bills, even the heartache.
“I tour because I can. A lot of guys would like to tour, but they can't fill those seats,” he says. “If they stop coming, I'll hang it up.”
After all the talking, Tyson needs to get outside, do some chores, visit with his horses. But when he tries to put on his boot, he winces in pain. It's the battered foot. “I'll get used to it,” he says, waving off a visitor's concern. “It's the cowboy way.”
He Loved Manhattan - Now He Loves Berlin
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(March 30, 2008) First things first. In response to often angry questions from longtime devotees about the absence of a guitar on his latest album Rain, Joe Jackson would like us to know this:
"I just became interested in a more minimal approach," he said in a phone interview from Milan.
Jackson was on a break from the European leg of a world tour in support of his first studio album in five years. (He's performing Tuesday at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall.)
"I wanted to find out how big a sound and how much variety we could get with just bass, drums and piano. I had a feeling these songs could sound rich and spacious without guitar, bigger than our last album.
"Guitar and piano occupy the same space, and often they fight like divas."
What irritates fans most is that on Rain, the British singer/songwriter and pianist is accompanied by only two of his three sidekicks from the original, iconic Look Sharp!-era Joe Jackson Band: bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton, but not guitarist Gary Sanford, who appeared on the band's 2003 reunion album, Volume 4.
Not that Jackson gives a hoot about the past or the expectations of music consumers.
"I have no expectations at all about how my music will be received. Of course, I'm always happy when someone likes it, but I don't think about charts and sales numbers and marketing.
"My process is simple. When I have enough songs I like – and sometimes a song can take three or four years to finish – I go into the studio all prepared, with everything arranged and rehearsed, and get out as quickly as I can. Sitting around in a studio experimenting – that's not for me."
Early in his career, Jackson said, he felt to need to produce albums consistently, "to justify my existence. Now I have a different way of working – it's about quality, not quantity. I have no deadlines. I wait till I have the best songs, then I make a record."
In addition to several movie scores (Francis Coppola's 1988 biopic Tucker is his favourite), Jackson has also written a semi-autobiographical "faux novel," A Cure For Gravity, and is collaborating on a stage musical about the untold story of Victorian author Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula.
"It was originally written as a play, but because there was always a lot of music in Victorian dramas, the writer and director asked me to add some music and songs. It's in fund-raising limbo at the moment."
In 2005 Jackson, along with American punk cult survivor Henry Rollins, Aimee Mann, Brad Paisley and British prog-rock guitarist Adrian Belew, collaborated with American producer/arranger Ben Folds on Canadian movie and TV legend William Shatner's most recent "musical" undertaking, Has Been. Jackson shared vocals on Shatner's mind-bending cover of Pulp's "Common People."
"He's wonderful, very musical, and very funny, because he's so obviously in on the joke," Jackson said.
A resident of Berlin for the past year, Jackson says his lifestyle priorities are simple as well – "doing what I love, having enough money to pay the rent, being comfortable in my own skin and maintaining my dignity."
Living in post-9/11 New York, his adopted home for the previous decade and more, became intolerably messy for him.
"I used to have a real love affair with New York, but the city has changed in the past seven or eight years. People there have become very paranoid, uptight ... everything's overly gentrified. It's all about money and real estate now in New York – as it is in most big cities, I suspect."
And though he thinks too much has been made of his stance against anti-smoking laws – the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Daily Telegraph have run essays of his lamenting "the overblown hysteria whipped up by anti-smoking propaganda," and on politicians and law makers who have bought into "the junk science bonanza" – Jackson said those regulations and the knee-jerk acceptance of them only added to his discomfort as a New Yorker.
"I think (the anti-smoking agenda) is a giant scam, another way to make fearful people obedient citizens," said Jackson.
A social smoker – "about 10 cigarettes a day" – Jackson has vigorously researched claims about the dangers of smoking, and finds much of them "bogus."
Berlin suits him fine. "It's cheap, funky and Bohemian, like New York 25 years ago. I love the freedom of the place, and it's a big city."
Even so, he suspects even Berlin will fall to the same malaise as other cities – upward mobility, gentrification and real estate mania.
"Everything's moving so fast, particularly the music business," he said. "As long as I have enough to live on and get to play live as often as I can, I'm not bothered. Playing live is the best part of what I do. It's the only thing that's real."
Al Green Will Perform At TD Toronto Jazz
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine
(March 27, 2008) Toronto — According to the press release, R&B and gospel star Al Green is a man of many talents: "Reverend. Singer. Songwriter. Musician. Legend." Notably absent is "Jazzman," but that isn't stopping him from opening the 22nd annual TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival this summer. Green, who turned his back on soul stardom in the late 1970s to work as pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tenn., will perform at the Sony Centre on June 19, with Toronto-based Dionne Taylor opening. The TJF runs from June 20-27. Tickets for the Green concert go on sale today through Ticketmaster, 416-870-8000 or online at http://www.ticketmaster.ca.
Jazz Pianist Marcus Johnson Plays For A
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(March 27, 2008) *“I just want people to smile,” Jazz pianist, Marcus Johnson said about his newest CD release, “In Concert for a Cause: Marcus Johnson,” on Three Keys Music. Some of the CD’s revenue goes towards the Washington, DC YMCA Scholarship Fund to aid kids in the “before and after-school programs” of the Building Bridges Campaign. “Parents send letters that say if it wasn’t for the program they would have had to quite their jobs,” Marcus points out.. Johnson’s last CD was “The Phoenix;” that release and his previous three CDs reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. He started producing his own CDs since 1997 when his debut sold 40,000 units on his own label, Marimelj Entertainment Group (MEG). BET founder Bob Johnson initially financed that label. Today Marcus has Three Keys Music Group, Three Keys Music Publishing, Marimelj Music Publishing, and 8121 Studio (full-service) in Washington, DC. “In Concert for a Cause: Marcus Johnson,” is his second album produced to support the program, the first CD it was distributed locally. This CD release is nationally distributed. “It’s for those who don’t have it,” Marcus said about the Building Bridge’s Campaign. “We’ve sent allot of kids. Sometimes we get checks in the mail (from those the program helped) for $5.00 and sometimes $5,000.” The release has an amazing collection of songs. Marcus Johnson covers Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady,” and Beyonce’s “Me, Myself and I.” He does unbelievable things on the piano, it’s truly a masterpiece for your jazz CD collection. For Marcus Johnson tour dates visit his web site at www.threekeys.com.
New Nelly Album Finally Due In June
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(March 28, 2008) Beset by long delays, Nelly's next studio album is back on the Universal schedule for June 24. First single "Party People" featuring Fergie is already gaining radio airplay well before its May 15 add date. The album's "Wadsyaname" appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 way back in September, debuting at a career-best No. 43. The rapper, who is fond of creative spellings, has four No. 1s and 12 top 10s to his credit. And although the track list is still coming together, Nelly has logged time with a host of major names for the album, including Ciara, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Akon and LL Cool J. "Brass Knuckles" is the follow-up to Nelly's simultaneously released 2004 albums "Sweat" and "Suit," which have sold a combined 4.4 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
'Punch' Andrews, 43: Radio Announcer
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Star Staff
(March 31, 2008) Local radio announcer and traffic reporter Chris “Punch” Andrews died yesterday of lung cancer. He was 43. Andrews was known as Punch on 99.9 MIX FM, where he hosted the Saturday Night Party, and as Chris Andrews on CFRB, where he did traffic reporting. He started his career at Cable 10 in Aurora as an on-air host at the age of 17, co-workers at Astral Media said. While studying radio and television at Ryerson University, Andrews began working at a Newmarket radio station, eventually leaving to become a producer at AM 640. After three months, he left for Prince Edward Island to become an evening announcer at a station there, returning to Toronto two years later to do overnights at MIX. He did several jobs at the station. Andrews also taught communications technology classes at Vaughan Secondary School and Humber College. A tribute can be found at 999mixfm.com and condolences left at the Facebook group “The Chris 'Punch’ Andrews Support Posse.”
Warwick: Why We Sing
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry
(out of 4)
(April 01, 2008) Five-time Grammy winner Dionne Warwick has been largely off the radar since 1985's "That's What Friends Are For" – save the Psychic Friends Network infomercials and 2002 pot arrest at the Miami airport. This album, which marks her second gospel release since 1968's The Magic of Believing, revisits her self-described first love with traditional spirituals, such as "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Jesus Loves Me," in addition to originals by Bebe Winans. The 67-year-old songstress's smoky, distinctive vocals are complemented by strings and guests, including Winans, sister Dee Dee Warwick and choir members from Newark's New Hope Baptist Church where she began singing at age 6. Contemporary, R&B-flavoured gospel with occasional hip-hop stutter beats. Top Track: The traditionally fervent "Old Landmark."
Ellington Legacy: Thank You Uncle Edward
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry
(April 01, 2008) Around 2004, Duke Ellington's eldest grandson, guitarist Edward Kennedy Ellington II founded this cover band. With solos by turn playful, prodigious and sultry, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon is the star of this nine-piece ensemble's first recording. Standout interpretations include "Perdido" with under-the-radar singer Nancy Reed floating easily above the fleet-fingered musicians and a seamless handoff between trumpeter Mark McGowan and tenor saxist Virginia Mayhew. A well-executed update of Ellington's music. Top Track: The Latin-inflected medium tempo take on "In a Sentimental Mood."
Page – Singer
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon
(April 1, 2008) Get ready for Ellen Page - indie singer. After winning acclaim from all corners for her lead role as the wisecrack-gifted, pregnant teen in Juno, the Halifax actress is likely to be the hit of the film's second soundtrack album, Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs. Second soundtrack album? The first one, with its assortment of diffident songs used in the film, from bands such as the Kinks and Belle & Sebastian, was a runaway success, unexpectedly topping the U.S. chart a couple of months ago - much like the tiny film's own runaway box-office numbers. Page and co-star Michael Cera closed that first album singing a tender indie-duet Anyone Else But You from the film's final scene. So come next week, an album of songs that didn't actually make the final cut for the film will be released on iTunes only and on other digital download services in May. There's no plan for a physical CD release. But the highlight among these tunes may very well be Page's appearance once again at the end, with her rendition of Zub Zub, a song written by Juno's award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody. It's from a scene cut from the film in which Page, in character, mourns her teen-pregnancy fate. Now bear in mind, Cody the screenwriter never wrote any straight dialogue for Juno that couldn't better be expressed with slangy verbiage. So this particular ode to love and motherhood has Page strumming along to the line "he filled me with baby batter, then we ate some orange Tic Tacs after."
'Judgment At Nuremberg' Screenwriter Abby Mann Dies
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(March 27, 2008) LOS ANGELES–Abby Mann, writer of socially conscious scripts for movies and television and winner of the 1961 Academy Award for adapted screenplay for Judgment at Nuremberg, has died at 80.
Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said Mann died Tuesday. The cause of death was not given.
Mann also won multiple Emmys, including one in 1973 for The Marcus-Nelson Murders, which created a maverick New York police detective named Theo Kojak. The film, starring Telly Savalas, was spun off into the long-running TV series Kojak.
In a career spanning more than 50 years as a writer and producer, Mann returned repeatedly to morally conscious themes, doing films for television on such subjects as Martin Luther King Jr., human rights advocate Simon Weisenthal and Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
"Abby was brought along by great producers like Herbert Brodkin, but his passion was his own. From his earliest days as a writer, he was guided by a moral compass that never wavered," said Del Reisman, former Writers Guild of America, West, president and a longtime friend.
Mann was a struggling TV writer in the 1950s when he became fixated on the postwar Nuremberg trials that brought to justice the top surviving leaders of the Nazi regime. His Judgment at Nuremberg had become a successful drama on television, and against all advice, he was determined to convert it into his first movie script.
"A lot of people didn't want it done," he commented in a 1994 interview. "People wanted to sweep the issue under the rug.''
Mann persisted, and producer-director Stanley Kramer made the film with a cast that included Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift and Maximilian Schell. Judgment at Nuremberg was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won Oscars for Schell and Mann. (Widmark, who played a U.S. prosecutor, died Monday at 93.)
"I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world," Mann said when he accepted his Oscar.
Entertainment One Set To Be 'Top Player'
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Grant Robertson And Gayle Macdonald
(March 27, 2008) Entertainment One Ltd. is expected to announce Thursday it is buying the Canadian assets of Toronto-based rival ThinkFilm in a move that delivers the fast-rising company into the upper echelons of the industry from bit player in less than a year.
The acquisition of ThinkFilm's Canadian operations from a U.S. owner who bought the company for an estimated $25-million two years ago is the biggest move yet for Entertainment One. The deal includes the rights to a library of 235 films, several of them Academy Award nominees and winners, and the rights to release forthcoming titles until 2010.
Entertainment One has now assembled the international rights to a library of more than 700 movies in a matter of months. The deal also comes as the landscape of the Canadian industry has changed more in the past year than it did in the previous decade.
The sale of Alliance Atlantis Communications Corp.'s movie distribution business to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2007 has been a catalyst for acquisitions. Smaller players such as Entertainment One are bulking up to steal market share from the larger rival and its new owners.
“It's an important deal for us … It makes us one of the top players in the country,” said Patrice Théroux, the head of Entertainment One's film division.
“In less than a year we have established a base that is strong enough to be a significant player. That was the goal: to have some impact.”
Though terms of the ThinkFilm deal are not yet known, Entertainment One has spent nearly $200-million since last summer buying rival distributors and shoring up output deals on forthcoming titles. The acquisition of ThinkFilm will make it one of the largest players in the country, behind Alliance Films.
In acquiring ThinkFilm, Entertainment One is buying one of Canada's most controversial film companies both on and off the screen. ThinkFilm built a reputation for taking chances on risky titles such as the 2006 film Shortbus, a critically acclaimed but sexually explicit film that raised the ire of censors. ThinkFilm has also sparked controversy away from the theatres. Last year it was accused of violating federal ownership rules after the Toronto-based operations were sold to Los Angeles businessman David Bergstein in 2006.
Under Canadian rules, foreign-owned distributors in Canada are not allowed to distribute domestic films. After complaints from the industry, and eventual pressure from Ottawa, the U.S. owners began seeking a domestic buyer for its Canadian operations. The company's president, Jeff Sackman, said yesterday, he has been negotiating with Entertainment One since October.
“Aside from the fact we had to do this, it made sense for us,” he said of the deal with Entertainment One. “Instead of my own people selling our product, we have another company calling on the theatres and we pay them a fee.”
Mr. Sackman didn't elaborate why it took 17 months to find a buyer for the Canadian assets. “We knew we had to abide by regulations, but nowhere in the regulation were we forced to do a deal that wasn't satisfactory,” he said.
But in that time since he began the search, Entertainment One has grown bigger.
It has done six deals since last June, buying up distributors around the world, including British-based Contender Entertainment Group, European distributor RCV Entertainment BV and Seville Pictures in Canada. It has also signed a joint-venture partnership with Maximum Films, a firm launched last year by Canadian movie producer Robert Lantos, who is also looking to take market share from Alliance Films.
Entertainment One signed a deal last week with Yari Film Group, coaxing the Los Angeles-based studio away from Alliance Films in Canada. Yari has financed several recent Hollywood films including Crash and The Illusionist.
Alliance is also set to lose a lucrative deal with New Line Cinema, which expires this year when Warner Bros. takes control of the U.S. company.
Omar Gooding Is In The 'Can'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(April 1, 2008) *Actor Omar Gooding, last seen on the small screen in ESPN's "Playmakers," returns to television in a new drama pilot for CBS titled "Can Openers." The Sony project stars Lauren Lee Smith as a brain surgeon who fights to survive in the competitive boys club that is the seven-year neurosurgical residency. Gooding, also a vet of Showtime's "Barbershop," will play Dr. Darryl Childress, a sixth-year resident suffering from burnout. His upcoming film projects include "Bolden!" and "Knuckle Draggers," both due for release this year.
'Air Farce' Dropped After 15 Years On
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press
(April 01, 2008) CBC-TV's long-running comedy show, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, is ending its 15-year run, a mutual decision between the show's producers and the network.
Producers Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott, who also star on the beloved sketch comedy series, have informed the cast and crew that there will be a truncated, 10-episode farewell season starting in the fall, with a final Air Farce farewell edition airing on New Year's Eve.
"All good things must come to an end," Ferguson said. "Our last deal with the CBC was made after our 12th season and it was for three years and the feeling was that would be long enough."
He added the new regime of CBC programming executives seemed to agree.
"It's all new people here since then ... there's a totally new regime, and what they want to do, and I agree with them completely, is they want to do their own thing," he said.
"The thing about TV time slots is you can't make new ones. The only way you can get your hands on one is if somebody vacates. If they're going to come in and do their job, they don't want to feel they have to carry every predecessor's decision."
Other cast members of the show, in particular Luba Goy, are disappointed by the decision to call it quits, Ferguson added.
"She's upset; this has been her main gig forever and ever," Ferguson said.
"I have kind of mixed feelings about it. Thirty-five years is a long time, and if there's a chance we're ever going to do anything else in our lives besides this, we have to stop this first. But personally I feel bad for all the other people on the staff and the cast – none of them wanted to stop. So I am feeling kind of responsible in a sense."
Kirstine Layfield, CBC's head of network programming, paid tribute to the show on Tuesday, and added Canadians have likely not seen the last of the Air Farce crew.
"We remain in discussions with them about upcoming projects. It's too soon to say what's next, but we look forward to continuing to work with them," she said.
"We're paying special tribute to it this year as we bid it a fond farewell. Air Farce has meant a lot to the CBC and its fans and we want to celebrate a great partnership unprecedented in television."
"Air Farce" debuted on CBC Radio in December 1973 and boasted more than 600 radio broadcasts over 24 years before making the leap to television in 1993. Its last radio broadcast was in 1997.
In 2007, it returned to a live format with Air Farce Live.
Throughout its run, the show has poked mostly gentle fun at politicians, journalists and other famous Canadians – everyone from Stephen Harper to Jean Chrétien and George Stroumboulopoulos.
"Politicians are so mealy-mouthed, they would never admit if we'd angered them," Ferguson said. "We can be occasionally nasty but we're not mean-minded. We've never been sued or anything; it's not our style. We wanted our stuff to sting a little bit, but there's no real pleasure in personally attacking somebody."
Curtain Falls On Equity Showcase
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter
(March 27, 2008) A cash flow crisis has forced the closure of Equity Showcase Theatre after 47 years of serving the theatre community.
Founded in 1960 by a group that included Charmion King, Amelia Hall and Christopher Newton, it was created to keep actors in the game when performing jobs were hard to come by. Equity Showcase Theatre put on as many as four productions a year of mostly well-known plays.
In 1978, the organization began offering training and professional development workshops.
The Canadian Actors' Equity Association, the union for performers, directors, choreographers and stage managers, subsidized the use of space and training costs by $30,000 a year. Recently the association reduced its rental subsidies, making a precarious operation unviable.
The Canada Council for the Arts withdrew Equity's operating grant of $60,000 in 2004 and the organization had limited success with its fundraising efforts. Less than 10 years ago, Equity had been posting surpluses of as much as $100,000 a year, but in 2007 it logged its first deficit, of $36,451.
"It was going to be very difficult to get through the next few months," board president Maria Costa said yesterday. "It seemed like closing the doors was the most responsible thing to do."
The closure of the theatre, housed in a church on Dufferin St., also means an end to a rental space widely used for auditions, rehearsals and small theatre productions.
A Showcase production of The Rake's Progress, scheduled to open next month, is cancelled. All remaining workshops and classes for 2008 will also be cancelled.
"It is very sad indeed," said Newton, who offered several workshops and labs at the theatre, and used it for auditions when he was director of the Shaw Festival. "It was very good for (young actors) and working professionals. It created a continuity and provided a network for working professionals."
Actor David Smukler has been teaching at the theatre for 30 years. The loss of Equity Showcase Theatre, he said, will impact the community. For the actors associated with it, the theatre "housed us and assisted us and gave a chance for young actors to be seen. So many actors got their first real break here."
Over the decades, theatre and screen talent from Gordon Pinsent through Sandra Oh, Scott Speedman and Rosemary Dunsmore has been involved in productions or classes.
Sarah Orenstein Pulls Off A Theatrical Hat Trick
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(March 27, 2008) The first months of 2008 have hardly been the winter of Sarah Orenstein's discontent.
She has been continuously employed in three challenging theatrical projects, going right from Maureen Hunter's Wild Mouth at Tarragon into David Hare's Stuff Happens for Studio 180 and now she's immersed in George F. Walker's Beyond Mozambique, which starts previews March 30 for an April 3 opening at Factory Theatre.
"Oh my God, it's been insane!" she roars, already hip-deep in rehearsal early on a Saturday morning when the rest of the world is burrowing under the duvet for a bit more sleep.
But Orenstein wouldn't give it up for the world. "They're such disparate pieces," she explains, "miles apart from each other, but that's what makes it fascinating."
"Wild Mouth was a new play, with all the complications involved around that, while in Stuff Happens I was channelling my inner anchorwoman, and Beyond Mozambique? Well, the best way I can make sense of it at this point is to think of it as an opium dream."
Walker's 1974 drama is from the earlier period of his career when his fantastical imagination was roaming all over the cultural and geographical landscape.
At a remote outpost of civilization, he flings together an assortment of characters, including an American porn queen, an Italian Nazi doctor and a Canadian Mountie, all trying to come to grips with how their lives have spun out of control.
It's the same emotional territory Walker was later to mine with such success in his East End Plays and his Suburban Motel cycle, but the trappings are considerably different, especially for someone who's never been in a Walker play before.
"That's right," confesses Orenstein. "I've never done the guy before, so I said, `Let's give it a whirl!'"
Even though she willingly concedes that "it's such a bizarre piece," she feels she's in safe hands with director Ken Gass, who probably knows Walker and his work better than anyone.
"He's like a George F. Walker master class," Orenstein says admiringly.
"I look at Ken and say, `What is he intending? What does he want us to do here?' and he just pours forth this encyclopedic knowledge of the plays."
The process has opened Orenstein up to a new understanding of the author.
"There's some pretty cruel, unrelenting images in this play, and I've learned that you just have to give yourself up to them and go along for the ride.
"This is certainly not a world where people extend their hands out to each other. Oh no! They try to make contact by throwing things and causing as much damage as possible."
Just the facts
WHAT: Beyond Mozambique by George F. Walker
WHERE: Factory Theatre Mainspace, 125 Bathurst St.
WHEN: Previews begin Mar. 30. Opening April 3. Runs to May 4
TICKETS: $12-$36 at 416-504-9971 or factorytheatre.ca
Crash Or A
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(April 01, 2008) NEW YORK–The performance area at Manhattan's New World Stages was electric with the sound of clapping as Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow led the audience in the acid-tinged rap that finishes their powerful work, Bash'd.
"All you real faggots pump your wrists in the air. It's okay to be gay, really out and aware."
An enthusiastic response is something every actor hopes for, but on this particular day last week it was extra important.
Craddock, Cuckow and their two producers (Stephen Kocis and Carl D. White) had set up two special "industry previews" of Bash'd to help generate support – "financial, theatrical, spiritual" – for the production they plan to open off-Broadway this summer.
"I'd say we're about 85 per cent of the way there," said White, with Kocis agreeing that "plans were being made and final arrangements were being put into place."
But general acceptance from the New York theatre community would definitely be the pivotal piece of the puzzle.
Sure, Bash'd had knocked out audiences and critics in Edmonton and Toronto, won the Outstanding Musical Award of the 2007 New York International Fringe Festival and just got the Outstanding New York Theater Production citation from GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
But would the industry insiders buy it? The crowd was a strange mix of all ages and types.
Kocis described them as "presenters from other cities, possible investors, theatre owners, colleagues – all the types we need support from."
Before it started, Craddock and Cuckow admitted to being nervous.
"We started this in a gay bar in Edmonton," Cuckow laughed. "And now we're aiming for the Big Apple."
To tell the truth, Bash'd took a while to get going last week. Craddock and Cuckow, as flamboyantly gay rappers named Feminem and T-Bag, are initially so in-your-face, you feel like you've had a dermabrasion.
But soon, the wit of their lyrics and the suave insistence of the rap grooves (courtesy of fellow Edmontonian Aaron Macri) won the people over.
Even a couple who looked like they could have played Jerry Seinfeld's stodgy TV parents were tapping their feet and laughing.
But as the story turned from its simple saga of two young men who meet and marry to the horrible aftermath a gay bashing has on both their lives, you felt the audience become viscerally moved.
By the time it ended, they were on their feet cheering and they left the theatre excited, many pausing to embrace Kocis and White.
"They're buzzing, talking," beamed Kocis. "That's what we wanted."
Craddock and Cuckow were relieved it was over.
But they sighed a bit when they realized they had to do it for another group that night.
"Get used to it," kidded White. "Soon you're going to be doing it eight times a week."
"Then let's open it during Pride Week," suggested Cuckow.
"Is there anything that could stop us now?" asked Craddock.
"Nothing," grinned their producers, "except an act of God."
Quitting As Chair Of Canada Council
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(March 28, 2008) OTTAWA — Karen Kain used the occasion of her 57th birthday Friday to announce her sudden resignation as chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, effective Monday.
Ms. Kain, named chair for a five-year term in September 2004 by Paul Martin's Liberal government, said in a statement she's leaving to dedicate herself to her full-time job as artistic director of the Toronto-based National Ballet of Canada. Ms. Kain, who shot to international fame in the 1970s as a principal dancer with the ballet, was named its artistic director in June 2005.
Ms. Kain announced her intention to leave Thursday while attending what turns out to have been her last Canada Council board meeting in Ottawa. Vice-chair Simon Brault, director general of Montreal's National Theatre School, will serve as acting chair until the Harper government appoints a successor to Ms. Kain.
In a letter to Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner, Ms. Kain said that taking on the National Ballet directorship nine months after the Canada Council post – historically deemed a part time, largely ceremonial function – eventually resulted in a situation where she “found it increasingly difficult to do justice to both positions.”
In a statement Friday, Heritage Minister Verner accepted Ms. Kain's resignation “with regret . . . Over the past three and a half years, she has contributed greatly to the successes of the Canada Council.”
The Council marked its 50th anniversary last year under Ms. Kain's aegis and in July 2007 then-Heritage Minister Bev Oda announced that the Harper government was permanently adding $30-million to the council's base budget, thereby raising it to $180-million annually.
Meanwhile, with Ms. Kain's help, the National Ballet last fall was able to report its first fiscal surplus in more than five seasons and to extinguish its accumulated deficit of $630,000.
Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet, said Friday that while Ms. Kain's announcement may have seemed sudden, “she and I have been talking it over for several months now.”
Ms. Kain, she noted, was “frustrated at having to neglect” various aspects of one job at the expense of the other, and vice-versa. Certainly the ballet was “very supportive” of her role with the Canada Council because “it was really good advocacy for the arts.” But the artistic directorship is “a huge job” and “I was finding, she was finding as well, she was struggling very hard to make it all work,” Ms. Garland said.
Program Lets Young Talents Flourish Unfettered
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer
(April 01, 2008) Pledging to abolish the "maestro" approach to training young dancers ("do this just the way I do it"), teacher and former dancer Lindsay Fischer is directing a new professional dance program at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Fischer, who joined the staff of the National Ballet School after retiring from New York City Ballet, believes that talented dancers best flourish when they are not forced into a particular aesthetic.
The artistic directors of the National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Ballet Jörgen and Boston Ballet have recommended the 24 dancers.
They are not long out of ballet school, chosen for their promise as performers. Sarah Iley, vice-president of programming at the Banff Centre, believes the summer of training, rehearsal and performance will jump-start careers.
As well as selecting the dancers, the artistic directors will choose the winner of the Clifford E. Lee Award, one of the biggest choreographic prizes in the country. The winning choreographer will create a new work on the dancers for presentation in the Banff Summer Arts Festival Aug. 5 to 9. The winner also receives a cash award of $5,000.
The faculty for the program includes Mandy-Jayne Richardson, senior ballet mistress at the National Ballet of Canada; Stéphane Léonard from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School; National Ballet School instructor Peggy Baker; Cathy Taylor from the School of Dance in Ottawa; National Ballet principal dancer Nehemiah Kish; ProArteDanza artistic director Roberto Campanella; and National Ballet second soloist Je-An Salas.
Leafs Officially Out Of Playoff Run, Lose 4-2 To Bruins
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Kevin Mcgran, Sports Reporter
(March 27, 2008) They can go ahead and set golf dates and start planning that summer vacation.
The Toronto Maple Leafs playoff hopes, to borrow a phrase from Tiger Williams, are done like dinner. Not even the return of Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov – the club's top two scorers – could save the Leafs on Wednesday night.
The vastly undermanned Bruins rode the suddenly hot hands of Phil Kessel and Glen Murray to a 4-2 win before a crown of 16,659 at the TD BankNorth Garden in Boston.
That leaves the Leafs eight points behind the Bruins and Flyers, with only four games left. Both Boston and Philadelphia hold the tiebreaks over the Leafs by winning the season series. The Bruins are 5-1-2 against Toronto. The Flyers are 2-1-1.
With the loss, it's now 41 years and counting since the team's last Stanley Cup. The Maple Leafs also managed to make some ignoble history, taking the team back to a time when they were known as the St. Patricks.
For the first time since 1926-28, the Maple Leafs will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. (The team changed its name to the Maple Leafs in Feb. 1927.)
It wasn't for lack of trying. The team put together a decent run – 12-4-1 – until running into back-to-back losses against the Bruins.
You could tell the game mattered. Even Kyle Wellwood was back-checking and throwing his weight around. And the Leafs had their chances throughout, Antropov in particular.
With the game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, Kessel got a breakaway pass from Peter Schaeffer and beat Vesa Toskala for go-ahead goal.
Staffan Kronwall seemingly gave up on the play, looking as if he expected the linesman to call an offside. But Kessel didn't give up, netting his second goal in two games.
Glen Murray then got his second in as many games, 10:54, for a 3-1 Bruins lead. It was a power play goal with Ian White off.
Pavel Kubina scored at 15:01, a power play snapshot between Tim Thomas's legs. But the Bruins came right back, Peter Schaeffer's shot careening off Jason Blake's stick at 15:24 burying any hope of a comeback.
Mo Pete Feels
The Love In Return To T.O.
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Garth Woolsey
(March 31, 2008) Mo Pete back in Toronto means mo' good lovin'. Hugs and at least one kiss, too.
The kiss: Morris Peterson planted one right on the Raptors logo at centre court moments before he and his New Orleans Hornets tipped off last night against the team for whom he gave his heart for seven long seasons.
The hugs: Peterson exchanged them with dozens of Raptor loyalists, ushers, security personnel and, especially, many of the current Raptors themselves, still friends.
The good loving: It showered down from many in the capacity Air Canada Centre crowd, a group that has been known in the past to turn surly with former Raptors. Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter figure most prominently in that group. Their departures were acrimonious, in sharp contrast to Mo Pete's last off-season.
Asked before the game if he might get chills (nothing to do with the unseasonable weather), Peterson said: "I might start crying ... I almost walked into the wrong locker room at first," he added. "I had to stop myself. (Teammate Bonzi Wells) had to pull me back."
Asked afterward if the experience was everything he'd hoped it would be, he said no, that "it was more, it was even better ... I can't even put it into words. That's why I went up and kissed the floor. It was spontaneous. I was just going to wave to the crowd. But something told me to kiss the floor."
Everywhere he went last night Peterson met with smiles and hearty greetings, returning embraces and handshakes. "It's just good to be in an environment you've been in for seven years, somewhere you consider home."
After seven years, the Raptors got the itch for change. There was not, however, any case of seven-year bitch from anyone. His time was up, he went softly into free agency and landed softly, too, with a four-year, $23 million deal in New Orleans, where the Hornets have sold out their last few games and feel they are bringing more pride back to that still-devastated city. Wins such as last night's, 118-111, have them among the contenders to go all the way, now 50-22.
Toronto fans grew to love Mo Pete in part because he represented consistent defensive effort and a sweet three-point touch through what were some wildly up and down years. Through his franchise record 547 games played, familiarity bred content. He wears No.9 now but there was plenty of old No.24 Raptors gear in the house.
When the game ended he tossed his Hornets top to a delighted fan.
"I always pride myself on going out there and leaving it all on the floor. Things might not always go my way but I think people respect the way I go out there and leave it all on the floor. I love to play the game and it shows in my emotions, it shows when I'm out there."
All this sweetness can be cloying. Pro sports is supposed to be about the bottom-line, isn't it? Blood, sweat, tears and dollars, not necessarily in that order.
Peterson was in the starting five again last night, but he had been averaging only 23.9 minutes per game, roughly what he got in his last season with Raptors, after the season before playing a career-high 38.3 minutes per game. In this one, he played 24:02, scored his team's first field goal and wound up with two three-pointers and eight points.
He's 30. He has a role to play, the veteran presence to Chris Paul's youthful and spectacular explosiveness. Peterson said Paul should wind up being named MVP. "I'm excited about this team," said Peterson. "A lot of people who counted us out early didn't know how hard we work."
They're on a roll, momentum building. The New Orleans double double: Mo Pete and the Big Mo.
Chris Webber Calls It Quits
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(March 27, 2008) *Chris Webber said Wednesday that his days of playing professional basketball are officially over. The former Michigan star announced his retirement at a press conference yesterday, stating his decision was prompted by a knee injury that cut short his comeback attempt with the Golden State Warriors. "I really didn't want to rehab and come back this season because I don't think that was possible," Webber said. "Plus, because the way the team is playing, the chemistry is great with these guys, they're on a roll. I feel like they're going to win, they have a great chance to go very far in the playoffs. I just felt it was time to let the game go and be able to be happy about what I accomplished without trying to keep coming back." Webber was a member of the infamous Fab Five at Michigan and played for Golden State, Washington, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Detroit in his NBA career. He suited up for only nine games with the Warriors before being sidelined by a bum left knee that's hampered him in recent years. He has not played since March 2 and had not been around the team of late. The athlete said Wednesday he wanted to remain involved in basketball, first as a television commentator and then in perhaps a bigger role with a team. He is scheduled to be in the studio for TNT on Thursday night.
Holyfield's Ear Will Always Be A Talking Point
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Garth Woolsey
Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey,
by Evander Holyfield with Lee Gruenfeld
(Atria, 275 pages, $28.99)
(March 30, 2008) Evander Holyfield is the only man ever to win the heavyweight boxing championship four times. He has also earned more money in the ring than any other fighter. Those are undeniable claims to fame. But these are, too: Holyfield, now 45 and still boxing, will be forever remembered as much for having a chunk of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson, as relentlessly beating the once fearsome "baddest man on the planet." His image will always be associated, too, with that bizarre episode in which an interloper with a motorized fan on his back parachuted into the ring during one of his fights. Holyfield's ranking among all-time best fighters is debatable. Certainly he was one of the smaller heavyweights to have success and his I-shall-overcome, risk-taking will to win sets him apart even in a game hallmarked by guts and bravado. He came by his heart honestly, growing up poor, greatly influenced (no surprise here) by a tough and loving mother. Now he's involved in major charitable works, appears on Dancing With The Stars and has none other than former President Bill Clinton featured on his book's dust cover, singing his praises. "I've spent my entire career proving the critics wrong," he writes.
Flutie, Clemons to CFL Hall of Fame: Source
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(March 31, 2008) HAMILTON–They won Grey Cups together and now they're going into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame together. A CFL source requesting anonymity says that former CFL stars Doug Flutie and Michael (Pinball) Clemons will make up two-thirds of the players who will be named for induction at the Hall on Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear who the third inductee would be. Clemons joined the Argos in 1989. He won three Grey Cups as a player and another as a head coach and is currently the team's chief operating officer. Flutie and Clemons won Grey Cups together with the Argos in 1996 and 1997, Flutie's final two seasons in Canada. Flutie, who also played for B.C. and Calgary, won the CFL's outstanding player award an unprecedented six times and led Stamps to a Grey Cup title in 1992.
Chatelaine Turns A New Page
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(March 31, 2008) A recent afternoon visit to the headquarters of Chatelaine in downtown Toronto found no crying, no gnashing of teeth, no bleats of rage from any of the 28 full-time staff working for Canada's longest-running and most successful women's magazine.
Apparently, if one is to believe the stories, such outbursts have not been uncommon in the last four years. Chatelaine, after all, has had four editors-in-chief in that time, and seen the departure of dozens of staffers and contributors. All of which has "pitched" the mood at the magazine "somewhere between anxious and neurotic," according to one much-read article on Chatelaine's woes in the February issue of Toronto Life.
But last week all seemed purposeful, calm and bright on the sprawling eighth-floor space Chatelaine shares with Flare and Glow and all the other magazines published out of Rogers Media's castle-like "campus" east of Yonge Street.
It's an atmosphere Maryam Sanati seems intent on keeping, nurturing, heightening, in fact. Last month she was named Chatelaine's editor-in-chief, the tenth to hold that position in the periodical's 80-year history. Indeed, she'll be the chatelaine of the ball that Chatelaine is holding Wednesday at the swelegant Windsor Arms Hotel to mark the onset of its octogenarianism.
The occasion also will see the unveiling of a radical redesign which has been in the works, in one way or another, for at least the last two years. The new look will dress the May issue which, at 364 pages, is the biggest single edition in Chatelaine history and, with a one-time-only cover price of $1.99, certainly its cheapest in years. (The cover price returns to $4.50 in June.)
Sanati, 38, Iranian-born, University of Toronto-educated, has been at Chatelaine since early fall 2006 when then-editor-in-chief Sara Angel appointed her as deputy editor. Previously, she'd worked in sundry editorial capacities at The Globe and Mail, Report on Business Magazine, Shift and Toronto Life. At the time of Sanati's arrival, Angel herself had been in the editor's chair for only about five months, chosen after a nine-month search to succeed Kim Pittaway.
Named editor-in-chief in 2004, Pittaway had abruptly resigned after only 15 months in the job, saying she couldn't work with publisher Kerry Mitchell. Angel's term proved even shorter but more tumultuous: Announced as editor in May of 2006, she was gone by mid-July 2007.
At any other publication, such turmoil might have had a deleterious impact on its public reception. But no magazine survives for 80 consecutive years by being just "anything." And, in fact, Sanati has inherited a decidedly thriving enterprise. Last year it was the country's largest magazine by revenue (more than $53-million) and second in circulation (more than 550,000), with an estimated per-issue readership of 3 to 4 million. So when Sanati notes that Chatelaine's new cover tagline will be "First for Canadian Women," it's not just a slogan or a boast, it's a fact.
Over the years, Sanati has earned a reputation for tact, diplomacy, discretion - and an ability to get things done, all of which were on ample display last week. Asked to interpret, "just generally," why Chatelaine has been described as "dysfunctional" and "unhappy" in the years before her ascension, she tacked sideways. "That sort of history seems so distant to me. It doesn't affect the reality or the way the place functions or the spirit that's here," she said. "I can only speak for myself and for me it's been a truly satisfying work place, very fruitful ... and quite intriguing, especially in seeing how Chatelaine fits into the lives of so many women."
For the last nine months Sanati has worked especially closely with Lise Ravary, Rogers' nominally Montreal-based editorial director of women's titles and new magazine brands. Ravary has been functioning as Chatelaine's "editorial director" ever since Sara Angel's leave-taking and will continue to hold that title on the magazine's masthead after Sanati goes on maternity leave in early June. (Sanati is expected to name her own deputy editor this week.)
"Magazines are hyper-collaborative," Sanati noted, and most observers agree the Ravary-Sanati collaboration has been an effective one. Indeed, Sanati now occupies what was Ravary's office - or perhaps still is: the two-deck sign by the door reads "Lise Ravary" on top and below, in elegant script, "Agent Provocateur."
The Ravary-Sanati regime has leaned heavily on celebrity covers (Chantal Kreviazuk, Alanis Morissette and Carrie-Anne Moss have been featured in recent months), and it's an inclination that will persist with the re-design. True, research has indicated Chatelaine readers are most interested in food, health, home, style, decor - what Sanati calls "the pillars" - but "I don't think concept covers are our thing," Sanati remarked. "There will be a people focus."
We've been told ad nauseam that we're living in a niche era, an epoch of specialization where, among other things, the general interest magazine is passé. Yet Chatelaine continues to prosper as an intelligent general interest magazine, albeit one aimed at the country's 10 million or so adult women. Asked why, Sanati theorized that it has something to do with "balance," with "tension. The magazine is made for women in the busiest time of their lives. It's about the struggle between home life and work life, community life and personal time, individual fulfilment and satisfying others."
And it's a fissure, so to speak, Chatelaine has been mining from its inception. Pulling out a copy of one of its earliest issues, when it sold for 10 cents and was called The Chatelaine (the "The" was dropped in 1931), Sanati pointed to an article titled "Only a Super Woman Can Juggle Both a Family and a Career." It had been commissioned by Anne Elizabeth Wilson, Chatelaine's first editor who lasted in the job for about a year, then, Sanati trenchantly noted, "left to get married."
Like every editor-in-chief, Sanati is fond of referencing "the typical reader" or, in her case, "the typical contemporary Canadian woman." Usually, this archetype is a fiction, a statistical composite distilled, as Sanati remarked, from "a deep amount of psychobiography, demography and market research." Chatelaine, however, draws heavily on a real woman.
This is Robin (her last name is a secret), a white, blonde, pretty working mother, in her late-30s, who lives with her husband and two children, on a combined family income of about $80,000, in a suburb north-east of Toronto. Virtually everything about Robin is available in Chatelaine's staff data base (and has been since at least early 2007). Rarely, Sanati remarked, does a day go by at Chatelaine headquarters without someone saying something like "Robin likes Patrick Dempsey" or "Robin would be interested in that" - and "that" could be a survey on the status of national day care, determining one's correct bra size or pinpointing "miracle foods that fight disease."
Robin functions as a sort of holy ghost for Chatelaine. "We don't bring her to sit in on story meetings or that sort of thing," Sanati said. "I've never contacted her in my life." But she is, as Auden said of Freud, "a climate of opinion" for the magazine, someone who "represents millions of women who are Chatelaine readers." Sanati pointed to a collage-like poster on her wall of pictures that Robin provided to the magazine, and images of things Robin likes. "That's her," she said. Her and pictures of her kids and her purse ("You'll see it's not a designer handbag") and her clothes closet and her refrigerator and the cover of The Da Vinci Code (a novel Robin has read) and, well ... you get the picture."Editors don't make decisions based on one person," Sanati stressed. "But [Robin] provides a really useful focus for us ... There's always research going on the reader and you're not doing your job if you don't have a sense of that."
Kaslik Draws On Indie Band Connection
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner, Publishing Reporter
(March 27, 2008) Yes, novelist Ibi Kaslik attended the Etobicoke School of the Arts in the early 1990s with a bunch of friends who eventually leapt to the forefront of Canada's indie rock renaissance as members of Stars, Metric and Broken Social Scene.
And yes, Kaslik was part of the larger entourage as those bands first toured Canada and the U.S., helping her musician chums by humping gear from the van to the stage and selling merchandize at the back of the club. She is even name-checked in the title of Broken Social Scene's "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)."
It's also true that Kaslik's new novel, The Angel Riots, plots the trajectory of an indie-rock collective as the group makes the transition from obscurity to club phenomenon.
That said, the author cautions against readers treating the novel as a roman à clef and scouring the pages for thinly disguised characterizations of Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew, Metric's Emily Haines or Stars' Amy Millan. As the obligatory disclaimer advises, "Any resemblance to actual persons ... is entirely coincidental."
"It's a work of fiction that stands on its own," says Kaslik on the line from Regina, where she is writer-in-residence for the city's public library system.
"It's definitely based on a world that I know. But it would be mistaken and scurrilous to try to identify individual people.
"The novel uses the idea of a band as a surrogate family. Like any family, there's a hierarchy of power dynamics and coping strategies. You throw in the built-in drama of people going from obscurity to success and you have a story that lends itself easily to a dynamic series of events."
Kaslik returns to Toronto for the book's official launch Tuesday at the Gladstone Hotel as part of the This is Not a Reading Series. The free program will feature musical accompaniment by Andrew Whiteman of Apostle of Hustle and Broken Social Scene.
"I'm going to recite passages from the book while accompanying myself on the guitar," she says.
Not that Kaslik is planning to make music a full-time vocation. The Angel Riots is her second book, following 2004's Skinny, a novel for young adults that enjoyed a two-week appearance on the New York Times bestseller list and was also shortlisted for a handful of prizes.
"I'm too much of a control freak to be a musician," she says. "A band is like a hydra with all these heads. One person makes a move and it affects everyone. I can't handle that. I can't even go out for dinner with six people. I have more of a writer's personality in that way, a desire to be left alone."
Just the facts
WHAT: Ibi Kaslik reading and book launch, with music by Andrew Whiteman
WHEN: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St. W.
Strum, Rock 'N' Roll
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman, Special To The Star
(March 29, 2008) The summer just got a whole lot louder for Nintendo Wii owners.
Harmonix, MTV Games and Electronic Arts announced this week its incredibly successful Rock Band video game, currently available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, will be ready to rock on the Nintendo Wii on June 22 for $169.99.
Sure, Activision's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for the Wii lets you jam on a wireless guitar, but Rock Band also includes a collapsible drum kit and sticks, microphone and USB hub to connect it all to the back of the Wii; the Rock Band guitar is also wireless, plus gamers could pick up a second one for a bass player.
Rock Band will feature 63 songs including five exclusive bonus tracks for Wii gamers, but will not support online jam sessions like the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, nor will players be able to download additional songs over the Internet.
This upcoming Wii game will be rated Teen for mildly offensive lyrics and suggestive themes.
Guitar Hero to jam on Nintendo DS
Speaking of Nintendo and music games, Nintendo DS gamers can unleash their inner rock star for the first time with the upcoming Guitar Hero: On Tour (guitarheroontour.com).
Packaged with a Guitar Grip peripheral that fits snugly into the Nintendo DS system, players hold the game system like an instrument and strum along using a guitar pick-stylus hybrid (also included) on the bottom touch screen.
Dozens of tracks will be available, including songs from the likes of Nirvana, No Doubt and OK Go, plus gamers will be able to unlock five unique venues and six different characters.
Developed by mobile gaming veterans Vicarious Visions, this mobile game builds upon the core game play found in its console and PC predecessors, where players must press the correct coloured button on the guitar neck at the right time.
Along with Quick Play and lengthy Career options, Guitar Hero: On Tour will also offer co-operative play using a local wireless network, and a head-to-head battle mode called Guitar Duel.
As examples of the latter, Activision says players must blow into the microphone to extinguish a pyrotechnics effect gone wrong or use the touch-screen to autograph a crazed fan's shirt during the band's set.
Set for release this summer, the game will be rated E 10+ (everyone 10 and older).
Kudos for the ROM's Crystal
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(March 27, 2008) Many a critical stone has been cast since it opened last year, but this week the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum got a very big boost when Condé Nast Traveler magazine named architect Daniel Libeskind's controversial creation one of the “new seven wonders of the world.”
With a paid monthly circulation of 800,000, Condé Nast Traveler is a highly influential magazine. And by giving the Crystal the full-colour double-page treatment along with the six other artificial “wonders” – they include the 160-storey Burj Dubai complex in the United Arab Emirates, Manhattan's New Museum and the rebuilt Wembley Stadium in London – “it puts it into a global context,” a delighted ROM president William Thorsell said yesterday.
The article, in the magazine's April issue, acknowledges that the $135-million Crystal and its jagged thrusts of steel, glass and aluminum have “received mixed reviews from the locals – and that's putting it mildly.” But it goes on to suggest that “the aggressively deconstructionist addition is just the shock of the new that this slow-to-change city needs.”
Mr. Thorsell said he had “heard a rumour that [the article] was coming but I didn't know until Tuesday that they'd done it.” The approbation of Condé Nast Traveler, to his mind, is “a real tribute to Libeskind,” the Polish-born, New York-based architect whose now-famous yarn of drawing the first iteration of the Crystal on a cocktail napkin is dutifully repeated in the article. “It's really nice to see that kind of notice.”
Asked if it was also a vindication of his own unstinting devotion to the Crystal, Mr. Thorsell demurred somewhat. “A lot of people think the Crystal was built in the face of all this public opposition. But if you go back to the actual selection process [in 2001-2002], when we had the exhibitions, the lectures and all that, he was the favourite” among the three finalists, Mr. Thorsell said. “That was a very open process and the people of Toronto did not come out and say, ‘Don't do the Crystal.' I think if we'd announced something ordinary, there would have been a great sense of disappointment in the city. So I think it's a tribute to the city; the city embraced it by the end of the selection process, for the most part.”
Late last year The Globe and Mail's architecture critic Lisa Rochon named the Crystal as “the building most likely to come down in the next 20 years.” Wednesday Mr. Thorsell was begging to differ.
“Over time, I think it will prevail.”
Condé Nast Traveler, in the meantime, already thinks it's one for the ages.
Ontario Giving $75M To Arts
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Columnist
(April 02, 2008) The Ontario government is showering the arts with several surprise end-of-the-fiscal-year bonuses featuring six zeroes each, adding up to about $75 million.
Most of this has not yet been announced, but details are contained in a little-known corner of the provincial cultural ministry's website, under the heading "Fourth Quarter Investment Projects."
In other words, this money is a last-minute part of the 2007 budget, whose year end fell on March 31, rather than the 2008 budget, which was recently unveiled.
So the cheques must go out sooner rather than later.
Among the luckiest winners are two cash-strapped museums, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum, and one ambitious new arts festival, Luminato.
Returning for its second year in June, Luminato, the festival of arts and creativity, gets $15 million to maximize its long-term potential, including the creation of new work as well as securing major bookings. The government plans to announce this gift at a Canadian Club lunch next week when Luminato co-founders David Pecaut and Tony Gagliano are honoured as Canadians of the Year.
The ROM gets $12.1 million to provide a basis for sustainability.
Translation: this money covers the operating deficit the ROM had to endure while it was partly shut down for a massive remake, including the construction of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal designed by Daniel Libeskind (recently chosen byConde Nast Traveler as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World).
And the AGO, currently being re-invented by another celebrated architect, Frank Gehry, gets $8.6 million. That enables the gallery to eliminate an operating shortfall incurred this year while closed for construction, and also to retire a historical deficit it has been carrying since 1992 (as the result of an unanticipated funding cutback by the NDP government of that era).
Libraries are also big winners. The Southern Ontario Library Service is being handed $15 million to increase the public's access to information and collections. And as recently announced, the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St. is getting $10 million to help with a five-year expansion plan.
The Canadian Film Centre will receive $2.5 million to improve its training facility. Knowledge Ontario gets $5 million to renew database licences, and $4 million goes to the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.
The Ontario Science Centre gets $2,176,000. There is also $747,000 for the Ontario Heritage Trust and $388,000 for Science North.
"This is one of the most positive moves we have seen from any government," says William Thorsell, CEO of the ROM.
Matthew Teitelbaum, his counterpart at the AGO, says: "We're grateful to the province, which believes in culture as a driver of economic prosperity."
This bonus will enable the AGO to open its expanded building with a clean slate, Teitelbaum says.
Honours for Hill's The Book of Negroes
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner, Publishing Reporter
(April 02, 2008) Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, a novel about a 19th-century black woman engaged in the cause of abolishing the slave trade, is the winner of the $15,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, presented last night at Toronto's Jane Mallett Theatre during this year's Writers' Trust Awards.
The novel by Burlington native Hill topped a field that included M.G. Vassanji's The Assassin's Song, previously nominated for both the Giller and Governor General's Award, along with Robert Hough's The Culprits, Nancy Huston's Fault Lines and Shaena Lambert's Radiance.
Each of the runners-up received $2,000.
The Nereus Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize, also worth $15,000, went to Toronto's Anna Porter for Kasztner's Train, a biography of the Hungarian Holocaust hero Rezso Kasztner.
Finalists Katherine Ashenburg for The Dirt on Clean, Tim Bowling for The Lost Coast, Barry Gough for Fortune's a River and Douglas Hunter for God's Mercies all received $2,000.
Craig Boyko's story "OZY" garnered the $10,000 Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, with finalists Krista Foss and Rebecca Rosenblum earning $2,000 each.
Also, novelist, poet and essayist David Helwing was the winner of this year's $20,000 Matt Cohen Award, which honours someone who has dedicated their life to writing as ``a primary pursuit.''
Novelists Diane Schoemperlen and Michael Crummey respectively won the Marian Engel Award and the Timothy Findley Award, both worth $15,000, for a female and male writer in mid-career.
Novelist and short story writer Martha Brooks claimed the $15,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, for her entire body of work.
The Writers' Trust Award for Distinguished Contribution, which carries no cash prize, went to author and naturalist Graeme Gibson.
Past winners of the award include June Callwood, Bernard Ostry and Pierre Berton.
With files from The Canadian Press
Simple Workouts For Busy Women
By Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE Raphael, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
When I was growing up, I was always astonished by how my mother worked mega hours a week, took care of a family, dealt with compounding stress and still kept her sanity. When I think of it, I most certainly feel like I'm of the weaker sex.
Today, with a focus on careers and fitness, women are faced with even more challenges.
To honour the busy women of the world, I've constructed a workout that's simple and quick. So if you're sick of all the "rules" related to what you should or shouldn't be doing concerning exercise and you feel inundated with career and family responsibilities, I have a solution.
In addition to a workout, I've also provided suggestions for those who want even more alternatives based on their busy schedule.
No hour-long sessions in the gym or long bouts of cardio and no living with the guilt of dreading the thought of exercise. Just a realistic alternative to all the "noise" in the world of fitness that makes us hate exercising. No anatomy lessons today, simply something you can do in your living room. The only weight you'll need is your own body.
This series of movements will take about 12 to 15 minutes. Yep, you are reading correctly. You can do them three to five times per week, and your entire body will be stimulated, and you'll feel rejuvenated.
I've designed this routine so that one exercise stimulates multiple body parts; this way, you'll get the best bang for your buck in the least amount of time. Perform each exercise in succession. After completing one movement, immediately continue to the next one. After you've completed all the movements (one cycle), perform them one more time. Attempt 20 repetitions of each movement. Don't worry if you can't perform all the reps; it will come!
I also recommend performing this routine first thing in the morning. You know and I know that after that, it may get too difficult to fit time in.
1. BENT KNEE PUSH-UPS -- Start with your hands and knees on a mat. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your head, neck, hips and legs should be in a straight line. Don't let your back arch and cave in. Maintain a slight bend in the elbows. Lower your upper body by bending your elbows outward, stopping before your chest touches the floor. While contracting the chest muscles, slowly return to the starting position. Inhale while lowering your body. Exhale while returning to the starting position. After mastering this exercise, you may wish to try the full push-up.
2. LUNGE -- Stand straight with your feet together. If you don't have dumbbells, use cans. Hold one in each hand with your arms down at your sides. Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor. While contracting the quadriceps muscles (front of the thigh), push off your right foot and slowly return to the starting position.
Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set. The step should be long enough that your left leg is nearly straight. Make sure your head is up and your back is straight. Your chest should be lifted, and your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement. Also, make sure your right knee doesn't pass your foot (you should be able to see your toes at all times). Discontinue this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.
3. ABDOMINAL BICYCLE MANEUVER -- Lie on a mat with your lower back in a comfortable position. Put your fingertips on the sides of your head. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle. Slowly go through a bicycle-pedaling motion, alternating your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. This is a more advanced exercise, so don't worry if you can't perform a lot of them. Don't perform this activity if it puts any strain on your lower back. Also, don't pull on your head and neck during this exercise. The lower to the ground your legs bicycle, the harder your abs have to work.
4. BENCH DIPS -- Using two benches or chairs, sit on one. Place palms on the bench with fingers wrapped around the edge. Place both feet on the other chair. Slide your upper body off the chair with your elbows nearly, but not completely, locked. Lower your upper body slowly toward the floor until your elbows are bent slightly more than 90 degrees. While contracting your triceps (back of the arm), extend your elbows and return to the starting position, stopping just short of the elbows fully extending. Inhale while lowering your body, and exhale while returning to the starting position.
Beginners should start with their feet on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle. As you progress, move your feet out further until your legs are straight with a slight bend in the knees.
5. ABDOMINAL DOUBLE CRUNCH -- Lie on the floor face up. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle with both feet on the floor. Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor. Cross your hands over your chest. While contracting your abdominals, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor. Exhale while rising up and inhale while returning to the starting position. Keep your eyes on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck.
You'll begin to notice a tighter feel in your muscles in a few weeks, and you will naturally perform more reps as time progresses -- all in 12 minutes or less.
For those who desire more alternatives:
· Perform two brisk, 10-minute walks, one in the morning before work and one at lunchtime. You need a break a few times a day, and this is a good way to spend it.
· Simulate strength-training movements at your desk, using your own body as tension. For example, tighten your muscles and do curls, leg extensions, lateral raises, seated ab crunches and triceps kick backs.
· Perform one exercise per day for 10 minutes first thing in the morning. For example, on Monday do lunges for 10 minutes. Tuesday, do bent-knee push-ups for 10 minutes; Wednesday, do crunches for 10 minutes, and so on. Take a breather as needed, but keep the pace for a solid 10 minutes.
· Commit to a 20-minute walk every other day. Sometimes even 10 minutes every day seems daunting. If that's the case, try for every other day.
· Don't forget about your favourite videotapes. Who says you have to do it all at one time? If you have an hour-long tape that you enjoy, perform half of it one day and the other half the next.
Make sure that the workout pattern fits into your lifestyle with the least amount of angst and drudgery associated with it. Busy schedules are a part of life but should never be an excuse to stop exercising and caring for your health, weight and fitness level.
As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Richard M. DeVos
The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.