Last Monday began with a mega party! Andrea Ramolo (of “Scarlett Jane” fame) was celebrating her birthday and went all-out with a mega-loft party at a secret location on Adelaide. I emceed one room and Richard Flohil emceed the other. Tons of acts: Folk, blues, jazz, pop and even a little cabaret and burlesque. Best of all, was meeting her parents and raving about how talented their daughter is. I’ve said it before, I think Scarlett Jane (www.scarlettjane.com) should be opening for Blue Rodeo on a world tour…those two bands, along with The Sadies, American Pour and anything featuring Russell DeCarle are my favourite when it comes to western-folk inspired pop music.
Tuesday I took Alex Pangman (www.alexpangman.com) out for lunch…it was her birthday and that is truly something worth celebrating.
We’ve been best pals ever since I first met her doing a show with her Alley Cats over ten years ago. She’s always been one of my favourite jazz vocalists and I’ve followed her career closely and had the pleasure of working with her on numerous occasions.
She recorded “Dead Drunk Blues” (a song she wrote with her husband, Colonel Tom Parker from the band American Pour) with my Royal Jelly Orchestra and released it as a 78 vinyl record, donating all profits to The New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund. What a classy move! Music aside, we also have a love of horseback riding and I look forward to our next adventure on Beaumont and Gypsy!
Wednesday I hooked up with three friends; two old and one new! Cecilia Monte (www.ceciliamonte.com) is visiting from Argentina (a place I’ve always wanted to visit) and is singing at a few venues in town. I met her at the Markham Jazz Festival and we hit it off right away so I asked her to come into JAZZ.FM91 for an interview. That afternoon Sheena Turcotte (http://sheenaturcotte.com) was in town from Quebec, just for the day. I first met Sheena when she was starring in “Hair” about eight years ago and we have had some outrageous adventures…my favourite was probably our RV trip to the Electric-Eclectics Festival. We spend a lot of time laughing whenever we hang and I hope she will visit more often! Elizabeth Shepherd (www.elizabethshepherd.com) was also in town from Quebec. She moved to Montreal recently but was in town to do a Live To Air performance at JAZZ.FM91’s Long & McQuade Performance Hall. I’ve known her for about 8 years as well and we’ve worked together many times in The RJO and with the project Babes In Jazzland. Finally, Barbra Lica and Dave Howard (oh, look, I have a friend who is male!) came over for dinner and song writing.
The only thing I love better than writing songs with Dave Howard (www.thedavehowardsingers.ca) is writing songs with Dave Howard AND Barbra Lica(www.barbralica.com). No lack of ideas here folks! Our songs are for Bonzai Suzuki…I am so looking forward to releasing new songs early in the New Year…maybe even before then! (www.bonzaisuzuki.com)
Thursday I hosted a pre-TIFF cocktail party in the penthouse of The Cosmopolitan Hotel for my pal Gil Blutrich. Amazing food, lots of beverages and some top notch entertainment! I just found out this gorgeous room, complete with a decent sized balcony is actually up for sale. Kevin Costner and Kate Hudson stayed there (uh, not at the same time) while making movies in town. I might actually buy a lottery ticket this week!
Friday I took some generous JAZZ.FM91 (www.jazz.fm) donors on a Jazz Safari™ to five clubs. I never tire of doing this: hitting five acts in one night with about 20 like-minded people. On this occasion I about half were safari veterans, having toured with me many times in the past six years, while the others were wide-eyed first timers. We hit The Rex, The Old Mill Inn, Gate 403, The Reservoir Lounge and Dominion On Queen. I’m doing it again this Friday and Saturday…can’t wait!
Saturday I finally checked out the Shangri-La Hotel on University. Nice joint! It was super busy, not just because they just opened but because many stars were staying there for the Toronto International Film Festival and Fashion Cares.
Genevieve (Gigi) Marentette was singing and did a marvellous job entertaining the chichi toursits. The gorgeous piano was played by the guy who sold it to the hotel, Stu Harrison of www.merriammusic.com
I’ll give the hotel a break because they are new, but I wasn’t impressed with the slow service and faulty washroom facilities. When I told a member of the staff there were no hand towels and only one sink was working, he simply said “thanks for your understanding” and walked away. (Apparently women’s washrooms also had issues.)
The lobby was buzzing and I bumped into an old chum from my childhood, Ted Boyd. It was wonderful to reminisce about our North Bay daze…uh, days. As Ted and his wife were getting ready to leave my guests showed up. Melissa, Julie, Roz and Sahra all enjoyed the set by Gigi and her fellas.
I’m going back to the hotel this Wednesday where Gigi sings again, this time with Mark Kieswetter and George Koller. Show at 7pm. Call me an optimist, but I bet they have hand towels!On Sunday I took Melissa to Canadian Film Centre TIFF Picnic which has been my favourite film fest tradition forever! Perfect weather, lots of food and drink to sample, some live music and minimal speeches. These guys know how to host a party! I saw many old friends and met a bunch of new ones. A perfect day and a perfect date!