Posts Tagged ‘Summerworks’

No Update on May 1st… but here's some A/V bribes (and resource links)

April 30th, 2009 Steve 2 comments

I’m out of the country until Tuesday May 5th, so the next weekly update won’t be until May 8th. Yes, there’s going to be a dark week; my apologies to anyone whose show is affected, but it’s just too much work to do completely on-line – and I plan to be spending a fair amount of time pool-side and elsewhere. I’ll try to keep the calendar updated, so I’m not leaving my faithful readers completely in the lurch.

To keep you coming back… here are some videos and mp3s of local events of note that happened over the last week or two, or are happening in the next week. I’m actually considering making this a permanent part of the update, as a chance to post some of the internet goodness I haven’t yet figured out how to gracefully include on the site.

Below all the video and audio goodness are a collection of links I use frequently to write my updates (they’ll form the nucleus of the Links page I mean to post – someday), that you might utilize to plan your week without my guidance. ;)

In Comedy, The Subway Series that Ghost Jail Theatre and The Sketchersons collaborated on was a riot. There’s no video available (as far as I know) of either show, but here’s a GJT favourite of mine; Ghost Jail cast member Fraz Wiest (who was qouted exclusively in the Toronto Star article about the show, to Sketcherson cast member Brendan Halloran’s comic chagrin) doing a written on the spot monologue about natural disasters:

Also, those of us who rode the subway were treated to an song written and performed by Sketcherson cast member Daryn McIntyre. In commemoration of the recent passing of comedy legend Bea Arthur, I’m posting a YouTube clip of a song Daryn wrote about her and the other Golden Girls. It starts off familiar, then veers off wonderfully:

In Theatre, “Appetite” closed this past weekend at Theatre Passe Muraille. The clever folks at Volcano Theatre filmed a nifty little promo video that made the rounds on the interweb. The show is going on tour, and may be back again (fingers crossed). Here’s their “advertisement” (and watch it in “HQ”, as you should whenever possible):

Also in theatre, but this time, upcoming: The Summerworks Launch Party is happening May 3rd (one day off this past week’s update). As well as all the great theatre works being teased and previewed, there’s a couple of musical guests, including Nils Edenloff of The Rural Alberta Advantage (Who’ve just been signed to the Saddle Creek label!) .

Here’s Nils, Amy Cole, and Paul Banwatt in studio, singing “Edmonton“:

The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Edmonton” – HearYa Live Session 4/1/09 from on Vimeo.

While we’re on bands Paul drums with, Woodhands played an incredible set at the Phoenix last weekend, and videographer Jared Sales has put up a couple of great videos of the live performance. Here’s Paul and Dan Werb, jamming out (and rapping!) on “I Can’t See Straight” (again, HD is the way to watch this):

OK, so, this Thursday (tonight), There’s a whole bunch of CD releases to choose from. I’d say that you should pick one based on your mood. If you want to hear some beautiful, soulful folk music from Tamara Lindeman (also a member of Entire Cities, who I wrote about a fair bit in this post), you should head to the Tranzac Club for The Weather Station’s LP release.

The Weather Station – East

Simon Borer, Tamara Lindeman, and Dwight Schenk of The Weather Station. Photo by Meredith Cheesbrough.

If you’re feeling like really working up a sweat, consider Green Go, who are having their CD release at Wrongbar:

Green Go – Put Your Specs On

Green Go! Photo by Blaise Misiek.

Hot Docs opens this Thursday, too: it took an awful lot of on-line sleuthing, but I finally managed to find something other than the famous “Winnebago Man” clip – a piece filmed at SXSW about “Winnebago Man“, the documentary, one of the opening night films:

Finally, the oldest clip, from the oldest guys – pretty much anywhere. Bad Dog Theatre celebrates its 6 year anniversary next weekend, and amongst the troupes performing at their “Super Troupes of Comedy” celebration are my favourite father and son Cajun music duo, The Williamson Playboys:


You’re still reading? Really? Oh, right! I promised you some resource links.

Besides the two weeklies (Now Toronto, and Eye Weekly), and the two city blogs (Torontoist and Blog TO), there are a few other people and sites around town who post informative listings.

- In Music, Jen Polk’s HistoryJen does a weekly update similar to mine, consisting of pretty much EVERY local show under $10 happening in Toronto. Carl Wilson’s Zoilus Gig guide is a good one, too; not comprehensive, but easy to read, and tends to hit the good stuff. The most comprehensive listing for local stuff is, of course, the “Show Thread” on; if you’re looking for touring shows, if it isn’t listed on stillepost, or if they aren’t selling tickets for the show at Rotate This or Soundscapes, it likely isn’t worth seeing.

- In Theatre, there’s no Toronto specific web site that does theatre listings, though the site, run by the City of Toronto, is a decent resource for the arts in general in the city. There are quite a few good blogs about theatre in Toronto, like Praxis Theatre and Play Anon; there’s also Plank Magazine, which covers Toronto and Vancouver. The best on-line theatre resource in town, in my opinion,  is Johnny Walker’s “Drama Club” over on Torontoist (and I’d have said that even before he did that nifty piece about Gracing the Stage and the website launch shows).

- In Comedy, there’s VERY little that isn’t self promotion by comics, troupes, and venues online. But theatre writer Amanda Campbell’s blog, The Way I See It, is getting pretty good at picking out some good comedy around town, as well as theatre.

In Film, well, most of that comes from reading the more general resources already mentioned – and the individual sites for the rep cinemas (which I’ve previous listed in this post). For film listings and basic info about Toronto’s cinemas, there’s a wealth of sites out there, but I tend to use Cinema Clock – it’s basic, but it has what you need. The thing about film is that it really is a global market (and community), so the best sites about films aren’t Toronto-centric. That said, That Night in Toronto (I do have a FEW contemporaries around town) currently has a little mini-guide up about Hot Docs…

Finally, the most authoritative on-line resource for performing arts events in Toronto is Facebook – go figure, huh? But it’s the easiest way for companies and troupes to promote their work with minimal effort; it’s like a free individual website for an event that takes a minute to create. Any show or event that DOESN’T post an event listing on Facebook obviously doesn’t feel the need to inform any of the more than a million Facebook users in the GTA. Have a look at all the links in the past few week’s updates; chances are, those event invites were written by troupes and performers worth having a look at, joining their group, and keeping abreast of their work.

OK. Have I earned a vacation? I hope so. See you all in a week or so!

CMF(est) / The Rural Alberta Advantage

March 12th, 2009 Steve No comments

Canadian Music Fest officially kicks off as of this evening. Yes, you read that right: Canadian Music Week has already been underway for the past few days. The organizers are making a concerted effort to differentiate the public, concert part of the festival from the conference and industry part. Having picked up my pass today at the Royal York, it almost seems like they’re two very different entities; one hosts forums in posh banquet halls, and holds industry events celebrating such Canadian rock stalwarts as April Wine and Randy Bachman, and the other features hungry young Canadian (for the most part) bands, signed and unsigned, playing over 500 gigs over 45 venues (closer to 55 with all the unaffliated shows) over 4 (really, 5) days.

Can you guess which entity I’m more enthusiastic about?

Amy Cole of the Rural Alberta Advantage.

Amy Cole of the Rural Alberta Advantage (photo by Frank Yang).

Tomorrow’s update will have full listings covering shows, both official and unofficial, leading right up to the after parties being held on Sunday night (I’ve got something special I’m waiting to announce, but you’ll have to wait another day).

But tonight’s first full slate of shows has some really great bands, including a set from one of my favourite Toronto bands, The Rural Alberta Advantage.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Ballad of The RAA

Nils Edenloff of the Rural Alberta Advantage.

Nils Edenloff of the Rural Alberta Advantage.

This might be your last chance to see this charming folk rock trio before they explode onto the blogosphere, and start booking shows at mid-level clubs instead of tiny indie venues. They’ve already received quite a bit of attention for a handful of shows in New York City, and for their status as E-Music’s artist of the month last November. But next week, the band will be flying down to Austin, Texas, to play their first SXSW shows.

By no means are they the only CMW act to be doing so; Eye Weekly’s current cover boy Slim Twig (the RAA follow his midnight set tonight at the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom) is making his SXSW debut, and Gentleman Reg is playing quite a few shows (he’s been there before). But the RAA are opening for Grizzly Bear, and it’s the sort of slot that will attract all sorts of music cognoscenti. After all, Grizzly Bear are right up there with Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, and TV on the Radio in terms of garnering the sort of obsessive write-ups the music blogosphere produces (any band Feist gets to appear on Letterman with her is bound to get lots of chatter).

I’ve written at greater length about The RAA in the past (their Summerworks music series profile, for instance), so I’m going to keep this brief (plus, I’ve shows to get to!). They’ll also be playing an unofficial all day affair on Saturday at the hush-hush venue Trash Palace, so if you can’t make it tonight, you’ll have one more chance before they fly down to Texas, and potential fame and fortune (fortune being relative – even Sufjan hasn’t cracked a million albums sold, despite the volumes of online print he’s had devoted to him).

Paul Banwatt of the Rural Alberta Advantage.

Paul Banwatt of the Rural Alberta Advantage.

The Rural Alberta Advantage and Slim Twig play the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom tonight, Thursday March 12th, at 1am and midnight respectively, as part of the Eye Weekly showcase; for full listings for all bands and venues  playing Canadian Music Fest (and ticket purchasing information), visit

"Bitch Salad"

March 3rd, 2009 Steve 1 comment

When examining the career trajectory of successful female stand-ups in North America, whether they be straight (Kathy Griffin), lesbian (Ellen Degeneres), or bi (Margaret Cho), one thing becomes clear; their careers got significant boosts, and continue to enjoy success, in large part because of the support of the gay community. When it comes to female stand-ups, gay men in particular are the taste-makers; their support can help female comics, who might be ignored by the traditional comedy club circuit, break through the glass ceiling of comedy.

The performers on tonight's "Bitch Salad".

The performers on tonight's "Bitch Salad".

So it’s especially heartening to see a show like Bitch Salad in Toronto: hosted and produced by a gay man, performed at Toronto’s most important venue for queer theatre (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), and featuring all female comedy (or, in the case of The CHEETO Girls, all dressed-as-female comedy), regardless of their orientation.

Comedian Andrew Johnston, a finalist for the 2006 Tim Sims Award, and well known to MuchMusic viewers for his frequent appearances on “Video On Trial“, has been producing the (more or less) monthly “Bitch Salad” comedy showcases since July of 2007. Actor/comic/musician Chelsea Manders, who was on that first show’s bill as one half of the musical comedy duo The Black Roses (the Roses were also nominated for the 2006 Tim Sims as well), is headlining the bill tonight with her new duo with Ingrid Haas, Charity and Chastity.

The link to the Tim Sims awards is particularly strong with this month’s edition of Bitch Salad, “Freshly Tossed Bitches“. Johnston has managed, in a producing coup, to book ALL of this past year’s female nominees; stand up Zabrina Chevannes, character comic and improviser Alana Johston, and sketch comic Laura Cilevtiz, whose duo with fellow Sketchersons member Josh Saltzman, 7 Minutes in Heaven, was announced as the winners on Sunday night on the Comedy Network’s Cream of Comedy” TV special (which you can watch online here).

Laura Cilevitz (pictured) and Josh Saltzman of 7 Minutes in Heaven won the 2008 Tim Sims Encouragment award; the Cream of Comedy special announcing their win aired Sunday March 1st on the Comedy Network (keep your eyrs on the network schedule for repeat airings).

Laura Cilevitz's duo "7 Minutes in Heaven" won the 2008 Tim Sims Encouragment award.

In addition to all the funny femmes on the bill, drag group The Cheeto Girls will be entertaining, and I’d be mightily surprised if there isn’t music and dancing after the show. These showcases draw very healthy crowds of both comedy fans and Buddies regulars.

Oh, and a final note on Buddies, for the theatre crowd: although there’s still quite a few people understandably disappointed (myself included) at the cancellation of “Gay 4 Pay“, starring Dora-nominated actor Ben Clost, a real crowd pleaser has been announced to fill at least part of the empty space on the Buddies’ schedule; Summerworks hit “The Pastor Phelps Project” will be remounted for two nights, March 14th & 15th (EDIT: This remount has ALSO been cancelled – see comments below for a statement by Ecce Homo’s Artistic Director).

Bitch Salad: Freshly Tossed Bitches” takes over the Buddies in Bad Times Cabaret tonight, Tuesday March 3rd, at 8:30pm, $10.

Wombats in Love / Wavelength

February 12th, 2009 Steve No comments

(Note: I’m mentioning last night’s Wombat Wednesdays Valentine’s special after the fact, because a) February curator Magali Meagher has several more Wombat Wednesdays scheduled this month, and b) several performers have upcoming shows, including Gentleman Reg’s in-store and CD release, and Levi Macdougall & Katie Crown at Laugh Sabbath and, well, my shows. The Wombats in Love show was slated for a profile yesterday on the site, but I’ve been a busy fella, and I fell behind; mea culpa. If it’s any consolation, I missed seeing last night’s show, including the rare appearance by Mary Margaret O’Hara, as well. If you’ve been reading the weekly updates or calendar event listings, you’d have known in advance last night was gonna be special – though that’s still no excuse for my tardiness. – Steve )

Duos included husband and wife Bob Wiseman & curator Magali Meagher, friends Reg Vermue & Jim Guthrie, and Mary Margaret O'Hara and some lucky sod (seriously, the lady's a legend).

Duos included husband and wife Bob Wiseman & curator Magali Meagher, friends Reg Vermue & Jim Guthrie, and Mary Margaret O'Hara and some lucky sod (seriously, the lady's a legend).

There’s been a few editions of (un)likely duos shows around town the past few years, mostly comedy related, and certainly, this month’s curator of Wombat Wednesday, and her husband, Bob Wiseman, have their fingers in the pie that is Toronto comedy. But this special edition of The Tranzac Club series was very much a music affair, and there were some terrific musicians lined up.

Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle

Gentleman Reg – You Can’t Get It back

Participants included Casey Mejica (of Ohbijou) and Samir Khan; Jim Guthrie (of Human Highway) and (Gentleman) Reg Vermue; David Dineen Porter (PDF Format); and comics Levi MacDougall and Katie Crown (Crown has played bass in the past with Meagher’s band The Phonemes). But the brightest star of the night was announced just a few days ago (I added it to the weekly update and event listing immediately, of course), when Mary Margaret O’Hara joined the bill. The reclusive Toronto musician, whose 1988 album (and only full LP to date) “Miss America” has been called one of the best records of the 20th century by rock critics from Mojo Magazine and elsewhere, was a late addition to the fundraiser for cancer research, adding star power to a show that already had plenty.

So, for a music fan, how do you top a show like that happening mid-week? Why, with the Wavelength anniversary celebrations, of course. The venerable alternative music series, well profiled this week in Eye Weekly by veteran writer and Two Koreas singer Stuart Berman, is celebrating its 450th edition (which officially happens on Sunday at Sneaky Dee’s with Foxfire headlining) with shows from Thursday to Sunday at 5 different venues, with a wildly varied slate of over 20 different bands, local and otherwise.

(More choice mp3s and info about the Wavelength celebrations after the “more”). Read more…

"East of Berlin" / "Them & Us"

January 25th, 2009 Steve No comments

When there’s a deal to be had, or a way to see a sold-out or pricey show, you can bet I’ll be mentioning it on this site.

Paul Dunn & Brendan Gall in "East of Berlin", @ the Tarragon Theatre, to Feb. 8th.

Paul Dunn & Brendan Gall in "East of Berlin", @ the Tarragon Theatre, to Feb. 8th.

Example 1: “East of Berlin“. Hannah Moscovitch’s drama about a young man (Brendan Gall) who is heavily burdened with the knowledge that his father had committed atrocious war crimes, has been the hottest theatre ticket so far in 2009. The remount of the show at Tarragon Theatre has been extended twice already, and most shows are already sold out. Since the theatre can’t extend a third time, they’ve added two Sunday 7pm shows, and those are your best bet for reservations, since the shows were just added this past week.

Since this show has so much buzz that even your grandma in Port Hope has heard about it, there are very few deals on tickets (the Sunday shows are regularly priced). Tarragon has also canceled its Sunday PWYC matinees (all matinees are now regularly priced) in favour of special rush pricing on Friday night shows; as of 6pm on Fridays, the box office releases $15 ($10 for non-remount shows) tickets to those people lined up. For “Black Rider“, I recall lining up at 5pm, and leaving empty handed at 6:10pm. If you really want to score discount tickets to “East of Berlin”, I’d recommend showing up with a friend (or a good book or an mp3 player) around 3pm or 4pm on a Friday; you can always go for dinner after getting your tickets.

(click the “more” link to hear how you can easily score FREE tickets to “Them and Us“, and watch a video of distinguished Canadian theatre actor Micheal Healey inviting someone to violate his ample posterior). Read more…

The Next Stage Festival: "Don't Look" & "The Rake's Progress"

January 7th, 2009 Steve No comments

Tonight, the Next Stage Festival launches at the Factory Theatre. The festival has already done a terrific job of getting the word out there about their hand picked slate of proven shows/companies (and their heated beer tent); both of Toronto’s weekly papers, and at least one reputable theatre blog, has already profiled the festival’s offerings. But let’s see if I can’t contribute a little something more to that coverage…

<i>Daniel Sadavoy & Rebecca Applebaum in "Don't Look" (photo by Bryanna Reilly)</i>

Daniel Sadavoy & Rebecca Applebaum in "Don't Look" (photo by Bryanna Reilly)

While the criteria for selection is open to productions created and produced outside of the Fringe Festival circuit, Next Stage originated primarily to give past standout Fringe shows another chance to flourish. The first play to open at the Factory Studio for this year’s Next Stage is “Don’t Look“, a comedic two hander about kissing cousins, that was a standout of the 20077 Toronto Fringe.

(Much more after the break – including a tasty MP3!)

Read more…


January 4th, 2009 Steve No comments

It seems only right that my first proper blog post for this website is for the launch of another website; tonight, ONOfONO goes online, and there’ll be a party to celebrate the launch of the company (I have my own plans in the works for later this year).

Since this website covers the arts, not parties, I’m going to focus on ONOfONO’s founder, and what he plans to do with it.

Anand Rajaram, in Communist til Payday

Anand Rajaram, in "Communist 'til Payday"

Anand Rajaram is one of the most versatile performers in Toronto. He’s demonstrated equal faculty with sketch and improv as a Second City mainstage cast member, stylized theatre as a recurring cast member in the Video Cabaret series (“Red River Rebellion”, “Laurier”), and combining his gifts to create his own work such as “Communist ’til Payday” and “Cowboy & Indians” (a collaboration with Bob Wiseman) at the Summerworks festivals.

Rajaram’s plans for ONOfONO’s output include film and video screenings, a lecture series on conspiracy theories, and classes in mime,  mask work, and physical theatre, run out of a studio space in Kensington Market.

Entrance to all these will require the purchase of a nominal membership, skirting the various legal issues that have hampered regular performances at other artist run spaces in the city, such as Unit 102 and The Centre for Gravity.

It’s certainly exciting to see the recent explosion of new performance spaces in Toronto, from the studios like the Pia Bowman School and Hub 14, to the licenced venues like Bread and Circus and Comedy Bar. The more places local performers have to test out new material and exhibit new film, the better, right?