Jazz, Blues and a Rock Lobster!

Living in Liberty Village, I am super-close to the CNE Grounds and I’ve noticed they are now setting up for The Canadian National Exhibition…lame games of chance, rides, and lots of food from “around the world”.  The Ex is a guilty pleasure for me – I go at least once a summer and end up winning a useless toy; I purchase a caricature of me from a local artist and go home feeling gross from bad food and too many rides. Every year they have new disgusting things to eat. Deep fried Mars bars, deep fried cola and even deep fried butter. Gross!  The EX this year is August 17th to September 3rd.

My brother came into town from Ottawa this past week. I think we could be mistaken as nerd undercover cops in our matching duds. It was great seeing Christopher and showing him The Reservoir Lounge.

Keep you eyes open for a concert by Melissa Lauren and pick up her new CD “The Other Side”!

He really enjoyed Melissa Lauren’s set and the thin crust pizza. I’ve always enjoyed Melissa’s voice but her stage presence and vocal chops are better than ever lately. The band killed it!

Speaking of Melissa…I bumped into Melissa DiMarco at The TIFF Press Conference Wednesday.

I have at least a dozen photos with Melissa over the years…one day I’ll have to post them all in order to prove this girl doesn’t age – what a doll!

She looked as gorgeous as ever. Our paths have crossed seasonally for almost two decades and she is still knee-deep in producing and hosting TV shows. What a gal!

Outside the Cameron House…too much beauty?

Thursday I hit The Cameron House back room for a burlesque show. The girls were sweet and wholesome and it was a unique treat to be in such a cozy room, with all that flesh and glitter. The highlight of the night was watching the emcee, Laura Desiree, in action. She’s got a great sense of humour; and after years of knowing her I discovered that she can sing! Laura kept things moving along at a brisk pace: Good job!

If you ever need an emcee that is equal parts Sassy and Classy, hire Laura Desiree! If you want a dynamic duo…I’d be happy to join her anytime! No…really…anytime!

Friday I was off to Brampton. I didn’t expect to meet a Goddess at the Brampton Global Jazz And Blues Festival, but lo and behold, I did.

Angela Del Duca…the Princess of Brampton?

Angela Del Duca interviewed me for the local TV station about the jazz festival. What a great girl! The highlight of the day was seeing Shakura S’Aida with her full band. I am so lucky that I get to see her again this Thursday at The Markham Theatre to kick off their jazz festival. Shakura is one of my favourite live entertainers and blends jazz, blues, gospel, soul and anything else she pleases. If you haven’t seen her live…do it!

Proof that I should leave the live photos to people with bigger cameras! Shakura S’Aida and part of her brilliant band. Musicians kept joining as the set progressed…

Saturday it was off to Casino Rama with my pal Tim Rivers.

Tim Rivers is Adventure Man – always ready to take-off at a moments notice!

Tim and I go on adventures on a regular basis. He drives movie stars around here in Toronto but since the late nineties he’s also been my best pal/driver for exploring Havana, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas and Winnipeg. (Yeah, Winnipeg!) Casino Rama featured a “double bill” of The Bangles and The B52’s but judging from the audience response, it was all about B52’s. Tim and I bee-lined up North on Saturday eve and it seemed to take no time at all. I’m hoping to get back to Rama on the 20th to see Barry Manilow!

Barry and I could be brothers, no? Last time I hung with him he was very funny and told my guests Lawrence and Dawna “Jaymz Bee is a sick puppy!” He’s at Casino Rama August 20 and 21.

The Bangles sounded great and Susanna Hoffs looks even better now than twenty years ago!

The Bangles were all perfect pitch and great legs – a couple songs didn’t appeal to me but overall they were in fine form and delivered a terrific 45 minute set.

Bangles Fans….The Charlie’s Angels of Casino Rama!

Speaking of fine form, Kate and Cindy in the B52’s were also at the top of their game – they seriously rocked the joint – and had the SRO room of over 5000 people up on their feet. What great harmonies!

Did you know that FAN is short for FANATIC? The Rock Lobster Lady danced all night long…does that costume even breathe? No matter, she was all smiles during the concert as were the people watching her! I feel awkward when under-dressed.

The B52’s pulled out most of their hits. I always love when Fred Schneider brings out the glockenspiel but he played a few other gadgets while screaming at us to “bring our juke box money!” After the show Tim and I were escorted backstage and I laid some Bonzai Suzuki CD’s and kazoos on the band. Fred and I had dinner (along with GeeGee from Bonzai) in New York last fall and he enjoyed the music I played for him so it was nice to have a finished CD to pass on. This marked the first time I ever went to Casino Rama and didn’t spend a dime gambling. Call Ripley!

Will B52’s feature Kazoo on a future recording? It COULD happen…

Sunday I had a perfect mellow night with two amazing girls…Sahra and Andrea.

Sunday night wasn’t scary at all. THAI FOOD and a game of FOUR…perfect!

While some may notice that I didn’t sail this week (scandalous I know) I have to admit the rain didn’t bug me much and this afternoon I will beeline to the boat with Sahra and Andrea and make up for lost time.

Coming up this week: The MARKHAM JAZZ FESTIVAL I will be hosting it once again (I’ve lost count how many years I’ve emceed but I’ve gone to it for the past decade) so drop by the Millennium Stage in downtown Unionville and say hi if you can. They have some great acts and you can read all about it on my article in FYI Magazine this month.  FYI ARTICLE

Don Byron is up from the U.S. for the Markham Jazz Festival. As the “Artist In Residence” you will have several times to see him in concert!

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