Corby's Orbit

Corby's Orbit
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi

Monday, January 31, 2022

Ronley Teper and the Lipliners’ new album is a multi-sensory genre-bending musical adventure


Toronto’s prismatic singer and composer Ronley Teper has recently beamed a high-spirited rainbow of sounds up into our ears with her welcome new release entitled Everyone Loves A Good Story. Her first studio recording in 10 years, it includes hues of R&B, cha-cha, balladry, gospel, ragtime, folk, funk, African high-life, Dada cabaret and rock’n’roll, amongst a spectrum of other ingredients. This multi-disciplinary interweaving harkens back (or forward?) to an adventurous era for creative pop music, exploring hybrid formats that are at once concise concepts and free-wheeling extensions of possibility, as pioneered in Toronto over the years by artists like General Idea, Friendly Rich and Joe Hall & The Continental Drift.

The album was heralded in advance by a number of stylistically unique animated videos: the classic surrealism of Carolyn Tripp’s “Big Black Clouds,” Virpi Kettu’s charming  “New Love,” and Saul Lederman’s opulently dark RPG interpretation of the title track to name a few. Ronley’s combining of sound with visuals has always been elemental to her musical output, both in performance and on record. You can watch some of the animations at Ronley’s YouTube Channel.

“I think that music is an audio-visual experience,” she explained.

“I mean even if you actually don’t have a video, if you’re listening to music and you can visualize something, that’s really a powerful experience. And there is a painting for each song inside the booklet too. Everyone who collaborates artistically with the Lipliners is a Lipliner, and they’re jamming along with us, and together we find a palette to put things together into a larger-than-life experience, expressed through a variety of media.”


Lipliners is the membership brand that Ronley uses to identify her long-standing and eclectic collective of some of Toronto’s most progressive musicians and multi-media artists. The album’s central musical core consists of keyboardist Chris Pruden, drummer Jesse Baird, horns by Caleb Hamilton and Gordon Hyland and, in the string section, bassist Vivienne Wilder, guitarists Tim Posgate and Christine Bougie, and significantly, on violin, guitar & banjo, Jaron Freeman-Fox, who produced the album.

“During preproduction, we recorded and edited live, improvised sessions that we made during a residency at the Cameron House,” Ronley said. “I expressed what I loved and wanted on the record. I was adamant about having the live feeling with the studio feel, and I think Jaron did a superb job! He’s really such an amazing multi-instrumentalist/mixer and he’s been in and out of the Lips for over a decade, not to mention he’s brilliant. With previous albums I was always there and throwing in my juice, but I trusted Jaron completely – he knows me so well.”

“This is the first LP I’ve ever done where I did not include myself as a co-producer,” Ronley continued. “I wanted him to have as much autonomy as my artistic director tendencies could endure. During production, he would send me near-finished tracks to listen to, and I would say if something bothered me or not. I needled and picked at the itty bitsy’s, and there was one particular track where I really struggled to explain my vision. In the end, he nailed it. I would do another record with him in a heartbeat.”

Everything around me can be art if I let my mind run amuck. – Ronley Teper

The record opens tenderly, with a gospel-toned piano inflating within seconds into a heart-filling power pop testimony to “New Love.” Then an Afro-Latin fulminate of orchestration swoops in to support “Pimple On The Nose,” with the full-on Ronley character emerging – a combination of the unrestrained vocal combustion typical of her live persona with synchro-mesh musical precision. “It’s about something that’s ready to erupt, and you can either wait for it or go for it. But by doing that you realize the risk of making it much worse,” she said.

Switching gears again, the dream-inducing nursery-rhyme cadences of “Big Black Clouds” reverse the flow to a gentle, contemplative assurance that “maybe tomorrow, we’ll find a better way.” By juxtaposing her elastic lyrical tendencies with successively expanding musical moods, Ronley coerces the listener into an attentive state that conforms to the velocity of her conceptual hyperactivity.

“Honestly, it’s all or nothing with me,” she reflected. “Everything around me can be art if I let my mind run amuck. It’s challenging to just let things be, and not be, actively listening and watching and being in the moment. That’s why I love live performance so much. Improv on stage is the only place I seem to be in the now.”

How does she generate the energy required to maintain that storm of consciousness?

Ronley Teper, Vivienne Wilder, Tim Posgate and Jaron Freeman-Fox at The Cameron

“There can be extremes of energy and extremes of nothingness sometimes too,” she said. “Sometimes I really have no energy at all and will sleep for days on end. Other days, it’s on fire, a sensational burning to create, direct and always to have some creativity on the go. I actually can get quite depressed when I don’t have anything creative in action. Creative blocks come and go, but at least for now I feel that even when I’m blocked or energy-less it’s actually part of a process that’s taking me somewhere. Sometimes. I think that it’s also a blessing to appreciate, and to be able to explore such a variety of different elements of our humanity.”

The opportunity that she offers to us to share the range of her emotional inspirations is exemplified by the rapidly segueing styles that carry “Love Again” from a skiffle simplicity to operatic awesomeness and then into an a cappella resolution.

“It’s for anyone who has been in love and been decimated by it,” she explained,” to remember to allow yourself the time and be patient until you’re open to love again.”

Similarly, “Stuff” is a straight-ahead rocker about trying to focus, with a half-time breakdown on the word “procrastinate” that leads into another internal dialogue, with Ronley raging out on the situation comedy that sometimes evolves between “Cohabiting Lovers.”

“Crazy” starts as a country rumination with a relaxed Ronley deconstructing her anxieties over “those people that tell you you’re crazy” over an evolving pulse that flourishes and subsides within a starburst of vocal fireworks.

Anything that affects emotion, I think that’s where art comes from. – Ronley Teper

“Anything that affects emotion, I think that’s where art comes from, and everyone has a little bit of craziness in them, so if people love you or hate you, it’s just two sides of the same thing. I would prefer any sort of reaction. I have a thing about indifference. It’s just a place-mat underneath the feast of deliciousness.”

“Crazy Times” is a terse and timely admonishment that “the future is now, so let’s figure out how.” She extends her soulful plea for social unity with the graceful and ironic “Everybody’s Friend” before mapping out the ephemeral particulars of the creative process on “Everyone Loves A Good Story.”

“Sometimes you don’t know what the story is,” she confided,” and that can be the story. Especially in this pandemic lifetime we’re in, it’s hard to create a story with a mask on; you can’t see the expressions that people are feeling.”

The album closes with the light-hearted “Alright,” reassuring us all with some soul-searching real talk about patience and trust.

The studio album naturally extended into a genre-bending multimedia immersive audio-visual album experience, with Ronley as curator and hostess welcoming you to visit Toronto’s Lyceum Gallery  for an in person exhibition and/or to explore this project through AR and a VR gallery that begins March 3. The exhibition will showcase commissioned artworks by 15 artists within a variety of artistic media, each inspired by a song from the LP. The in-person exhibition is open to the public for walk-ins Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5, and by appointment during the week. Further surprise small events and workshops between March 3 and 20 will pop up during the run of the show. Finally, the project will culminate, on Sunday, March 27, with an all-day/all ages festival extravaganza running from 2-11 p.m. at The Tranzac Main Hall (covid world permissions pending of course). Scheduled highlights will include an all ages Lipliners set at 2 p.m. followed by performances of some the regular contributing Lipliners’ own projects including Wilder, Posgate, Freeman-Fox and Rutherford, ending with another performance by the Lips at 9 p.m.

“To be honest,” Ronley concluded, “my greatest fear in life is losing that creative energy. I think a lot of artists eventually get to a point where they don’t continue releasing new works later in their lives. I hope I’m one of the long haulers. So far so good. Everything in life starts with creativity. If you don’t know where to go, you just keep going. Eventually you’ll end up somewhere.”

 Originally published at

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Friday, January 28, 2022

Playlist for Corbys Orbit Show of 28 January 2022


Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby 

5-7 p.m. Fridays online at iheartradio: Radio Regent

(Brought to you by Major Natures, Colonels Of Truth and Genre Generals)

5:00: Wonderbuns

* OMBIIGIZI Cherry Coke Sewn Back Together NEW SINGLE 

* Geoffroy ~ Cold World ~ Live Slow Die Wise NEW RELEASE

Kiko Villamazar ~ Sempra El Maiz ~ Todo El Mundo NEW RELEASE

* The Night Owls ~ The Night Owls ~ The Night Owls PRE RELEASE SINGLE

Daniel Rossen 
~ Shadow In Frame ~ You Belong There PRE RELEASE

* Beny Esguerra & Wheel-It Studios ~ Bored ~ Ride It Out ~ appearing at Speak Music Be Kind Festival 12 February

* DUB FX ~ Made ~ Everythinks A Ripple (2009)

* Aline Morales ~ Sororidade ~ Todas De Norte NEW RELEASE

5:30 Unspecified Sandwiches

Bob Marley & The Wailers ~ Crisis ~ Kaya 


SUNDAY FEBRUARY 6th, 2022 Livestreamed from BSMT 245 in Toronto

6 pm to 9:30 pm FREE

* The Night Bluemers ~ Poor Me ~ Welcome Aboard The Midnight Train NEW RELEASE

KIDD G & YNW Bslime ~ Left Me ~ Left Me NEW RELEASE

5:45 Trad & Rad

* Jully Black ~ No Relation NEW SINGLE

* Shirley Eikhard ~ Good News ~ Anything Is Possible NEW RELEASE

* Partner ~ Time Is A Car NEW SINGLE

* Bob Jensen ~ Tomorrow Is A Long Time ~ For The Sake Of The Song NEW RELEASE

J.D. Crowe  (August 27, 1937 – December 24, 2021)  & The New South ~ Gordon Lightfoot's You Are What I Am & Ian Tyson's Summer Wages ~ The New South (Rounder 1975)

* Brad Barr ~ Two Hundred And Sixteen ~ The Winter Mission (Secret City Records) NEW RELEASE

Jana Horn ~  Jordan ~  Optimism NEW RELEASE

* Les Louanges feat. Corneille ~ Crash ~ Crash NEW SINGLE

* Roddy Ellias & Free Spirit Ensemble feat. Kellylee Evans ~ Closer ~ Not This Room NEW RELEASE

6:30 From The Mirage Garage

* Jerry Leger ~ Have You Ever Been Happy ~ Nothing Pressing NEW SINGLE PRE RELEASE 16 MARCH

* Reggaddiction ~ Satisfy My Soul ~ appearing at 16th ANNUAL BOB MARLEY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION & FOOD DRIVE SUNDAY FEBRUARY 6th, 2022 Livestreamed from BSMT 245 in Toronto

6 pm to 9:30 pm FREE

* Kevin Saunders Hayes ~ If The Key Fits featuring Victoria Levy (AliƧin) NEW SINGLE

Noam Lemish ~ Erlebnisse #4 ~ Erlebnisses NEW RELEASE

Address from The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

DUB FX & Kundalini Project  ~ Answer Me NEW RELEASE

* Greg Amireault  ~ Song For Nova Scotia  ~ News Blues NEW RELEASE

* Tannis Slimmon & Lewis Melville ~ Stephen Fearing & Willie P. Bennett's  Braver Wings appearing at Speak Music Be Kind Festival 12 February

Friday, January 21, 2022



Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby 

5-7 p.m. Fridays online at iheartradio: Radio Regent

This show is dedicated to the memory of, and to the continuing legacy of 
Vince Fontaine

(Brought to you by Snakes and Leaders, Neuroses R Red & Viruses R Blue)

5:00: The Now Sound Of Today

* Domanique Grant ~ Airbrush (Acoustic) NEW RELEASE

* Ian Lake ~ Easier ~ What It Is NEW RELEASE

* BANGGZ ~ Who's Gassing Who? NEW RELEASE

* Lucy MacNeil ~ Hope For One And All NEW RELEASE

* Clever Hopes ~ The Other Side ~ Artefact NEW RELEASE 20 January

* Sonia Johnson ~ Winter ~ Aires Givrés

* Li'l Andy ~ Out On The Old Highway ~ All Of The Love Songs Lied To Us

* Ben Sures ~ No One Will Remember You ~ The Story That Lived Here NEW RELEASE 18 January

* Genevieve Racette feat. Dallas Green ~ Someone ~ Satellite Pre RELEASE 18 March

The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio ~ Don't Worry Bout What I Do ~ Cold As Weiss ~ NEW RELEASE

* Chynna Lewis ~ Where I Left You ~ What Are Friends For? ~ NEW RELEASE

* Matt Andersen ~ Other Side Of Good-bye ~ House To House 
~ Pre RELEASE \ 4 March 

* Envy Of None feat. Maiah Wayne ~ Liar ~ Envy Of None Pre RELEASE \ 8 April

Lawrence ~ Don't Lose Sight (Acoustic)

6:00 Five Songwriters Were Approaching...

* Abigail Lapell ~ Pines ~ Stolen Time ~ Pre RELEASE \ 22 April 2022

* Jadea Kelly ~ Happy NEW RELEASE

* Ancient Teeth ~ Days Away NEW RELEASE

* Leanne Pearson ~ Caturday NEW RELEASE

* Amanda Rheaume ~ The Spaces In Between The Spaces In Between NEW RELEASE

6:20 Radiant Hearing 

* Raine Hamilton Believer ~  Brave Land NEW RELEASE - TODAY!

Stromae ~ L' Enfer NEW RELEASE

* Isabel & The Uncommons ~ Distance Pre  RELEASE \ 11 February 2022

FKA Twigs (Nyah Remix) ~ Meta Angel ~ Meta Angel  NEW RELEASE

Robert Glasper ~ Black Superhero ~ Black Radio lll  NEW RELEASE

* Steve Dawson feat. Allison Russell ~ Dimes ~ Gone, Long Gone  NEW Pre RELEASE \ 18 March 2022

Jazzanova (Ian O'Brien Remix) ~ Days To Come Jazzanova Remixed (2003)

2 Unlimited 
~ The Magic Friend ~ Get Ready! (1992)

6:50 Vince Fontaine - Invincible Fountain

* Indian City ~ Excerpt from an Interview with Vince Fontaine (R.I.P. January 11, 2022) The Path ~ Code Red NEW RELEASE

Monday, January 17, 2022

10 Best-Built Tunes of 2021 In The Orbital Opinion

Holding tight onto a lifeboat song has been a way-through  strategy for many of us, ever since the slings and arrows began to pop up as regular features in our daily routes and routines. With the recent increase in inconvenient pivots, swerves, and outright ditch runs, we have been requiring epic tunes to serve, not merely as therapy, but as temporary remedies and roadblocks to the ongoing viral ennui. Here are ten tunes that helped protect me from the intrusive effects of Covid’s notwithstanding clause this year.

1, Jane Mathew – “No One”: After Heather recommended Such Perfect Lives, a barcode-free release from young Toronto singer Jane Mathew, I caught a case of Kitch’s goose bumps immediately. Jane’s sweetly ironic lyricism is buoyed up by the magnificent sea-swell settings arranged by her friend, Simon (a guy she knows from her church), lighting the heart in a way that only a voice full of phosphorescent honesty and compassion can. This song gives voice to a feeling of bitter frustration with hypocrisy that is as universally transmissible as any virus. Light within the dark.

2. The Fretless featuring Lady Phyl – “Wondering Where The Lions Are”: Open House is a broad invitational album concept, providing an opportunity for the virtuosic neo-trad string quartet to host some of Canada’s most dynamic song stylists. By removing the reggae exo-skeleton from Bruce Cockburn’s anthemic 80’s hit, “Wondering Where The Lions Are,” the Fretless has provided a timeless meditative core for the application of beautifully harmonized vocals that breathe in spirituality and breathe out soulful sensuality. Some kind of ecstasy.

3. Indian City – “Smile”: On Vince Fontaine’s recent soul-cleansing album Code Red, this one is an especially brilliant pinnacle of inspiration. It’s got all of the effects of summer sunlight in it and rises up as a unique pandemic love song for people who can still smile with their eyes above the masks. Jeremy Koz’s aquiline voice lifts you right out of whatever and effortlessly infiltrates the pop-glide streamway, spinning you into a cooler and better place. Every time. Sometimes this world is a miracle place.

Vince Fontaine (R.I.P.)

4. Isaac Murdoch and Matt Epp – “Indian Song”: Daniel Lanois famously insisted that this song be reduced to its bare accompaniment and be crafted to augment the sincerity of the vocal performance. In so many songs about poverty and homelessness, pathos and perseverance are served up as the main course. The striking suggestion that compassion redeems the giver nourishes the flower of generosity at the heart of this song. Help me sing.

5. Jazz Lovers Society – “Drum Song”: A jazz instrumental is no one’s idea of roots music, unless it is helmed by folk / reggae cornerstone Fergus Hambleton, whose songs have been adorning Canadian charts for almost 50 years. He used his Covid vacation from the Sattalites to rally drummer John Adames and bassist  Rob McBride to help liberate some original compositions, a few standards, and one enormously significant cover tune from his saxophone. His version of transplanted Jamaican-Canadian Jackie Mittoo’s “The Drum Song” cascades across a monotonic polyrhythm with imperial tranquility. Jackie’s time spent in Toronto helped to crystallize Canada’s reggae legacy, and to hear his masterpiece given such deep production with a full horn section is both triumphant and thrilling. Aeolian mode to the max.

6. Stringbone –“Wow! Oh Yeah!”: Hooked up to an infinitely renewable electric guitar power riff, Barry Payne ponders the vague possibilities and clear failings of our current socio/economic culture. A gang chorus, a punky tenor sax and the growls of some kind of, perhaps, carnivorous mammal reaffirm his hopes and fears during breaks in the recitation. Did YOU ever wonder what would happen…?

7. Shawna Caspi -“Celebrate”: Producing her most recent album, Hurricane Coming, while maintaining a day job and struggling with the absence of gigs was a labour of love for the typically industrious Shawna and her producer Joel Schwartz. The result is a classic time capsule of her apprehensive thoughts and feelings. Our impatience with society’s current vogue of ennui is nowhere more evident than on this simple tune of encouragement. We don’t have to wait.

8. Maria Dunn -“Joyful Banner Blazing”: When you first hear this opening title track from Maria’s elevating release from early 2021, (which won silver in the recent Penguin Eggs Critics’ Poll) it’s hard to keep from going back to it just to hear her sing “You are young / you are precious / you are loved” until it loops around your heart like a soft bright scarf. An episodic homage to her activist aunt, it is magnified by the wistful pipes and accordion for additional comfort. One big heart on one big sleeve.

9. Broke Fuse -“Strawberry Moon”: With Rocket Ride, harpist Jay Moonah has made a decisive career leap by releasing an album of original compositions that alternately rocks, swings and soothes. This tune will ease you into a florally-scented midnight hot tub with an aura of spiced reverb and a haunting haze of twang. Recognized with a nomination as best new artist at the recently postponed Maple Blues Awards, Jay will doubtless continue expanding his affiliations to new horizons of the blues. No matter how you hold it, it always slips away.

10. Dana Sipos -“Light Around The Body”: Apocalyptic visions drowning in morphic resonances bring us intimately close to the sense of overhearing an internal monologue on Dana’s CFMA-nominated album, The Astral Plane. Her bluesy phrasing on this tune, as well as the intricate and nebular detailing by producer Sandro Perri, merge the song into your celestial consciousness effortlessly. Choking on eucalyptus and rose.

P.S. Amongst the hundred other great songs I would like to share, here is my 2021 video crush, a salubrious and unCanadian, unRoots British disco hit with a strong positive charge called “Keep Moving by Jungle” that no one should really have to live without. Apply as needed.

 You’re welcome. 

2022, you been served.

Originally published at Roots Music Canada

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