I do an open format radio show on Radio Regent online out of Regent Park in Toronto every Friday from 5 p.m. til 7,called CORBY's ORBIT playing everymusic, so far no Death Metal or light opera but who knows?http://www.radioregent.com/
Illustration by John Kricfalusi
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi
FOCUS Media Arts Centre Home of Radio Regent Thursday, 30 April 2020 from 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Daniels Spectrum 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON.
This unique collaborative fundraising event hosted by The Neighbourhood Group, UrbanArts, St. Stephen's Community House, FOCUS Media Arts Centre - Regent Park and Neighbourhood Information Post raises much-needed funds to support vital programs and services. Collectively, our agencies serve 50,000 Torontonians each year.
The blues came out to play again on Monday night at Toronto’s Koerner Hall for the yearly Maple Blues Awards gala. The burgeoning young Canadian blues talent pool was represented strongly by refreshing newcomers to the proceedings: Miss Emily, who walked away with several awards (including the new Sapphire Video prize) and some shiny mascara trails, a quartet of fledgling horn talents from the Regent Park School of Music, and new-generation blues turbines Matchedash Parish, whose finale inspired the already crunk house to a joyful summit of soulfulness.
Miss Emily. Photo by David Hynes.
Perennial performers were of course evident in abundance, coming out from under their fedoras, foregoing their denims, and sporting sparkle, tweed and vintage heels for the occasion, bringing an element of peril to foot traffic on the inclined aisles of the hall. Vivacious first-time hostess Raha Javanfar made a point of chameleoning through a pageant of suits and leathers, and the impeccable Harpdog Brown sported pinstripes with a white tie, rust socks and shirt and two-tone shoes. The night was definitely dialed to high snazz.
Performance levels were again boosted by the support of Gary Kendall’s Maple Blues Band (above), recruited from Toronto’s blues and jazz elite, and featuring two members of Entertainer of the Year honourees the Downchild Blues Band.
Downchild's Chuck Jackson, Mike Fonfara, Pat Carey and Gary Kendall
Mister Downchild himself, Donny Walsh, was present to accept his recognition only as a pre-taped video projection, as were several of the other award winners including Colin James (Electric Act of the Year) and Kenny Blues Boss Wayne (Piano / Keyboardist of the Year). Matt Andersen’s two acceptance speeches were videotaped on a balcony in Jamaica, although he was boisterously represented in the hall by a fan who bellowed out a “Yeeeaah!” every time his name was mentioned throughout the evening.
Matt Andersen appearing on screen from Jamaica
Our MC, Raha J., aka the Bad Luck Woman, kept a light conviviality floating all night long, even while sharing conscious thoughts on the continuing social progress that will be necessary to further develop inclusivity of gender, race and generational variables in the Canadian blues nation.
She then demonstrated her point by sharing the stage with the young artists from Regent Park (above) on a powerful and finely fiddle-fraught performance of the title track from her latest Cruel Thing album, which also manifested a first runner-up nod for her and her band, The Misfortunes, in the Cobalt Prize for Contemporary Blues Composition, which was won by Rich Junco’s Cope.
Raha Javanfar. Photo by David Hynes.
Montréalers were prominent winners in the major categories, with powerhouse Dawn Tyler Watson (below) taking top songwriting honours for Mad Love, an album which, she confided, “came out of a lot of pain,” and also sharing the Producer of the Year award with her hiphop/jazz saxman Francois Tiffault.
Dawn Tyler Watson with Howard Moore and Alison Young Photo by David Hynes Her long-time compatriot Paul Deslauriers was presented with Guitarist of the Year, and the bassist from his trio, Alec McElcheran, took Bassist of the Year, consolidating a Quebecois coup in the string categories. Acoustic guitar master Michael Jerome Browne humbly received the Blues with a Feeling lifetime achievement award for his deeply adept and respectful curation of old-time blues, as well as his ongoing contributions to the future with his many original compositions. He capped the moment with a graceful and show-stopping performance of “Pharaoh” from his 2019 Juno-nominated That’s Where It’s At record. The song was redolent with shades of melancholy and the tang of slavery that historically permeates the roots of the blues.
Michael Jerome Browne
Harpdog Brown. with old pal Steve Marriner
In a touching coincidence, Harpdog Brown and one-time protege Steve Marriner shared the Harmonica Player of the Year award, and a big bearhug at the podium, each giving testimony to the other’s prowess and inspiration.
Brian Blain. Photo by David Hynes.
A native Montréalais who has bolstered the Toronto blues community with his writing, editing, performance and empathy skills over the past 30 years, Brian Blain (above) accepted the Blues Booster of the Year honour with a quiet homage to the “bluesicians” whom he has admired and with whom he has collaborated over the decades, and an admonishment to all practising artists of “Da Bloose” to maintain their dedication and stamina in spite of the obstacles that still persist for them over the other 364 days of the year.
Grammy demi-gods Rob Bowman & Colin Linden (left) and Steve Dawson & James Dean (right)
As the TBS continues to enjoy presenting this event in Koerner Hall, arguably the most prestigious venue in the city, and with the advent of an international audience tuning in as a live streaming feed was inaugurated this year, is it maybe not time to assess the persistent drawbacks that shortchange the potential excellence and effervescence of what has become a highly successful and jubilant occasion: a chronically muddy snare mix, a complete absence of staging, and amateurish screen graphics? And incidentally, could someone not have helped Michael Jerome Browne with his amp? And would a singing hologram of Lonnie Johnson be out of the question?
Big Dave McLean
So many hyper-expressive and involving performances over the course of the evening of original songs by Dawn Tyler Watson, Big Dave MacLean and Miss Emily – not to mention Matchedash Parish’s high-water finale – highlighted the fertility of compositional innovation and the vivid showmanship that validate the rising prestige and the nascent sugaring-time of our talented Maple Blues ambassadors internationally.
Looking forward and upward now, and on to the next sweet Blue Decade!
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Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby ( Brought to you by Van Gogh Mangoes, Picasso Avocados and Apple-core Dali) Guests: Suzanne Jarvie & Jay Douglas 5-7 p.m. Fridays online http://www.radioregent.com/ and at tunein.com . Podcast here https://www.mixcloud.com/paul-corby/ Click On Pictures To Enlarge Canadians in Asterisk’d RED. 5:00 Rhap Sodas
Joseph Shabalala (28 August 1941 – 11 February 2020) & Ladysmith Black Mambazo ~ Hello My Baby ~ The Warner Bros. Collection David Crosby with Neil Young ~ Music Is Love ~ If I Could Only Remember My Name Baaba Maal ~ Fa Laay Fanaan (Ashley Beedlr Remix) ~ Remix 2002 ~ @ The Aga Khan Friday / Saturday 21 & 22 February ~ Duniya Salaam Tour * Wes Carroll's Confabulation ~ Borderless ~ Elephant In The Sea NEW DISK ~ @ Tranzac tonight 7:30 5:20 The Jarvie Universe Smokey Robinson & The Miracles ~ Ooooh Baby Baby (live) ~ 1957 - 1972
* Suzanne Jarvie ~ In The Clear / Interview / You Shall Not Pass (live) / Point Blank (live) ~ In The Clear ~ @ Winterfolk XVIII @ 2 & 3 pm Saturday on 22 February and 8 pm on Sunday 23 February 6:00 Fab Originals * Nate Smith ~ The Grove ~ Let It Rest Let It Rise NEW DISK~ @ Burdock Sunday and on Corby's Orbit Friday March * Buffy Sainte-Marie ~ Guess Who I Saw In Paris ~ Illuminations * Craig Cardiff ~ Judy Garland (You're Never Home) ~ Judy Garland (You're Never Home) ~ @ Hugh's Room Live tonight * Susan Aglukark ~ Hina Na Ho (Celebration) ~ This Child 6:15 Jay's Reggalia
* Jay Douglas JUNO NOMINEE~ Jah Children / Interview / Jah Children (Dubmatix Dub Version) / Magic ~ Touch Of Magic photo by Adrian Hope
6:40 Kate and Anna Canadiana
Linda Ronstadt ~ Anna McGarrigle's Heartbeat Accelerating ~ Winter Light * Clela Errington ~ More Love And Happiness: A Song For Kate & Anna McGarrigle ~ More Love And Happiness ~ @ Winterfolk XVIII Friday 21 February 8 pm, Saturday 3 pm * Dieufaite Charles ~ Dambala Dangwe / Peace ~ Bamba Eya NEW DISK / Toronto Music Listings Bob Dylan ~ Early Morning Rain ~ Self Portrait ~ Edge Of Dylan @ The Linsmore Friday 22 February Ladysmith Black Mambazo feat. Paul Simon ~ Amazing Grace ~ The Warner Bros. Collection
There was too much musical and emotional content on display
at Beverly Kreller’s first-ever not-for-profit Speak Music Be Kind Festival last month to adequately describe the magnitude of the vibe. How did Toronto’s
first music festival of 2020 combine the perfect storm ingredients of a sizable
audience, a comfortable and accessible venue, the Tranzac, and a captivating flow
of lustrous musical talent to manifest a concept - kindness – so intrinsically
simple that it has failed to be made obvious until now?
As a gender-balanced event, there was a lake effect of
feminine calm that was palpable from every angle, and, with a major snow
occurrence squatting down on the entire region overnight, there was that
particularly Canadian camaraderie that only mutual sufferers of the overchill can
share. It seemed that the deluge, fortunately, had little appreciable effect on
attendance, or on the safe and timely transit of performers and volunteers to
the venue. Highlights of two nights spent kindling kindness follow:
Above: Gregarious blues monger Sammy Duke absorbs the high
attitudes with prime kindness motivator Beverly Kreller and Roots Music Canada’s
retired Chairman of the Moose, David Newland.
Fiercely empathetic duet Piper & Carson inducted the
audience in the Southern Cross Room into the wolf clan with a howling chorus, setting
a primeval tone for Friday night’s opening set.
Shi Wisdom, the songstress with the longest of tresses, blessed
and unstressed the Main Hall with a stick of incense and some trance-y beats
Best of buds, Chloe Watkinson and Mip, contributed bundles
of warmth and fun to the bonfire of kinship that empowered the evening’s
ascending flight path. Chloe crushed it yet again with her superb power ballad
In their florally resplendent fabrics, Blisk brought Balkan
balladry, stomping revelry and some elegant harmony to a boil with their
accordion-fuelled distillation of far-flung cultures and wildly celebratory
Mike Field’s capricious pop compositions gave his star-studded
band a chance to enhance the dance quotient, and an opportunity for saxman Paul
Metcalfe to blow away the chill.
Vivienne Wilder was a total weapon against gravity with her
uplifting songcraft, badass lyricism and the musical support of her two expert
flotation devices, Neil Whitford on guitar and Andrew Roorda on bass.
Jazzomometers were overloaded during late sets by cobalt-jacketed
scat champ Ori Dagan sparring with his miracle bass player Jordan O’Connor
(above), the Simone Morris Trio (right), keeping the audience hanging off every note
and word of her insinuating originals in a snowflake
chic ensemble, and by midnight, dreamy retro queen Tia Brazda (below)
galore to convey her positive perspectives on the changing stages of affection
James Bailey, Lydia Persaud and Kyla Charter
After a steady Saturday of shovelling out, the second night was back in
action, with an all-day jam bubbling along, a bellowing accordion workshop and
one for fiddle inside the Tranzac’s cozy, parlour-style Tiki Room which
featured a hoedown showdown between Anne Lederman’s intricate string embroideries
and Dr. Draw’s electro/techno techniques . There were
also a dozen afternoon concerts by such folk faves as Annie Sumi and David
Newland, amongst others. Courtesy volunteers and sandwich trays helped to
develop a comfortable, indoor “snowday” atmosphere. By sunset, with the welcome
news that the roads were clear and the wind-chill was minimal, a fresh buffet
of sounds had been set out for us.
At 6:00, Abigail Lapell (above) started charming the Main
Hall, linking her songs of deep melody and lyricism with her gregarious
personality and stream-of-consciousness musings, while Sammy Duke was busy roaring
out the blues to the nearby Tiki Room denizens.
The six members of Darbazi (the Georgian language’s
equivalent of “kitchen party”) decided to set up on the floor in front of the
stage in order to more directly present their harmonious edifice of
full-throated a capella chanting, murmuring and yodelling to the receptive crowd.
Meanwhile the multi-national fusion music of Al Qahwa was
timbrelling up a complex brew of rhythm and ouds in the Southern Cross room
with shadings of social conscience, cinematic visualizations and a bit of belly
dancing from den mother Maryem Hassan Tollar.
Lydia Persaud opened hearts, minds and ears by reducing the
songs from 2019`s Let Me Show You album
to a vocal trio format, with James Bailey's and Kyla Charter's contributing
cascades of vibrant and velvet ornamentation.
Notching up the energy, the magnetic Ginger St. James had braved
the highways to deliver a tight band and a loose sense of propriety, just in
time to kick the Saturday-Night factor into high gear. She`ll soon be on her
way with guitar man Slim to decimate audiences at the Blues Challenge in
Johnson Crook turned the dance floor into a carnival as
their urban country air breathed the sparks of Saturday night into a raging
Then all that remained was for fiddling dervish Dr. Draw to explode
his shamanic forces onto the approaching midnight, urging his band into
hyperdrive while shredding his bow - along with our minds - and filling the
dance floor all by himself.
When ECHLO came onstage we were eased into the smoothness of
her beautiful songs by a heavenly voice and lustrous gestures conjuring a state
of grateful fullness and kind repose. If music was food we would all have
gained a lot of weight by then.
In retrospect, there was a great level of love being shown
for this series from the community: non-performing artists such as Tannis
Slimmon, Shawna Caspi and Jill Harris were just there to support and absorb the
atmosphere. Because of the gender equity, we heard songs about topics such as
assault, girl crushes and sperm donors that might not see such a large audience
As far as the cultivation of kindness goes, uber-host Bev Kreller (left, with Tannis Slimmon) has some warm recollections: “A few of the performers offered to waive their
fee and donate it to the Unison Benevolent Fund. Artists offered to go and
fetch hot beverages for the volunteers (because it was REALLY COLD at the front
door reception). And folks were creating and catching the kindness vibe
throughout, with smiles and excitement for the festival event. Plenty of hugs
and warmth going around. There was enormous support for the idea of kindness.
Virtually every artist kindly highlighted the festival’s intention, in comments
during their sets. It wasn’t corny or saccharin, it was genuine and
heartfelt…some folks even shed tears.”
In terms of success, she adds, “We had a terrific turnout in spite of
the cold weather conditions and massive snow storm on Saturday. Ticket sales
online were brisk and we had a large number of walk-ups for single day and
3-day passes. And as well, folks who had bought a single day pass, often came
back to the box office to request a full weekend pass, because they were so
thrilled by the performances and the eclectic lineup. Due to word of mouth,
walk up increased significantly day by day as the festival went on.”
She also remarks, “OMG there were SOOOO many moments! The
choir led by Laurel Minnes, called Minuscule, blew the roof off a packed main
hall, earning a standing ovation. So Long Seven piqued everyone’s interest and
captivated with their unique combination of banjo and tabla. Tour mates Tragedy
Ann (right) and Moonfruits packed the Tiki Room like a tin of sardines, and you could
hear a pin drop. Gary Kreller doing old-school rap with accordion. The Pure Pop
workshop with Blair Packham, Arlene Bishop and Rob Szabo was glorious and
engaging, while the blues-rockin’ roots workshop with Julian Taylor, Kim
Doolittle and Ken Yoshioka offered a terrific blend of varying blues styles.
Dave McEathron made me cry and yet I felt elated at the same time! Johnson
Crook were hugely impressive – such great country songs and vibrant harmonies.
The Barrel Boys were tight and brilliant as usual. Ginger St. James and Dr.
Draw both tore it up in the main hall while Ben Heffernan quietly impressed in
the Tiki Room.”
And her wish list for next time? “A little more sound proofing between the
rooms, though it was pretty good through most of the fest, a few more
volunteers to share the load, and a portable heater for the front door area!
Originally published at Roots Music Canada If you are enjoying this content, please take a second to support Roots Music Canada onPatreon
Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby ( Brought to you by Zestivities, Zealabrations and Sonic Zooms ) Guests: Ozzie from Reggadiction , Chelsea Stewart and Wes Carroll from Confabulation 5-7 p.m. Fridays online http://www.radioregent.com/ and at tunein.com . Podcast here https://www.mixcloud.com/paul-corby/ Click On Pictures To Enlarge Canadians in Asterisk’d RED. 5:00 Au Courant Occurrences
Dihoba Tsa Belina ~ Metete Suwa ~ Sound Offerings Of South Africa David Bromberg feat. Buddy Cage (born: Toronto February 18, 1946 – February 4, 2020)~ Dark Hollow ~ Midnight On The Water * JP Cormier ~ Ode To Big Blue ~ A Personal Tribute To Gordon Lightfoot ~ @ Hugh's Room Live Sunday 6 pm * Susan Aglukark ~ I Will Return ~ Blood Red Earth ~ @ Koerner Hall tonight Jack Bruce ~ Tickets To the Waterfall ~ Songs For A Tailor ~ Strange Brood: Tribute To The Music of Cream &Jack Bruce @ Linsmore Tavern Saturday 5:20 Menage A Reggae Khalia ~ Easy ~ Produced by Tony CD Kelly & Lionel De La O NEW SONG Judy Mowatt ~ Strength To Go Through ~ Black Woman ~ @ Rose Theater for Tribute To The Legends Of Reggae Saturday
*Reggadiction ~ Harvest ~ Ganja Harvest / Interview with Ozzie ~ @ Lee's Palace Saturday for 14th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Tribute * Lazo ~ Sunfest ~ Passin' Through ~ @ Lee's Palace Saturday for 14th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Tribute Bob Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981)& The Wailers ~ I Know / Rastaman Live Up ~ Confrontation 6:00 Always Chelsea Rainbows
* Chelsea Stewart ~ Kiss You Again / Interview / Crush / Forever Your Girl ~ Chelsea Stewart NEW DISK @ Brampton Public Library for An Intimate Evening with Chelsea Stewart Friday, March 6, 2020 at 7 PM – 11:30 PM
6:20 Soul Tenders Aretha Franklin ~ Gentle On My Mind ~ Spanish Harlem Russell Malone ~ Sweet Georgia Peach ~ Sweet Georgia Peach ~ @ Hugh's Room Live tonight King Curtis (born Curtis Montgomery; February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971) ~ Peter Gunn Theme ~ Greatest Hits 6:40 Confabulated States
Wes Carroll's Confabulation ~ Night Song / Interview with Wes Carroll / Out The City / Elephant In The Sea (live) ~ Elephant In The Sea NEW DISK ~ @ Tranzac Friday 14 February * The Henrys feat.. Becca Stevens ~ Swan Song ~ Is This Tomorrow> ~ CD release @ Burdock Sunday 3 pm Post Malone ~ Hollywood Is Bleeding ~ Hollywood Is Bleeding ~ @ Scotia Bank Arena Friday 14 February Jackie DeShannon ~ What The World Needs Now ~ The Best Of Jackie DeShannon