Swing Dancing and More Zombie Fun!

As usual, my week began with getting up at 5:30am and co-hosting JAZZ.FM91 with Heather Bambrick. By noon I was up at the CN Tower with Gia and Sunnie, enjoying some terrific food with a gorgeous view of the fall colours on Toronto Island. I counted over 20 cranes on our trip around the city over lunch. Then I walked over to Harbourfront and joined Captain Paul for one last sail of the season. It was really warm and we reminisced on our busy summer and polished off the last of the wine on board. It was a truly relaxing afternoon.

I also began my week with a sweet surprise on Monday evening. I’ve always enjoyed Halie Loren’s voice, but I’d never seen her live in concert. While taking to the stage like a seasoned veteran she sang pop hits and jazz standards so beautifully…there were even moments I thought she was unintentionally channeling my BGG Gigi Marentette. The audience of the sold out house was as impressed as I was with her voice. Another highlight of the week was watching Sly Blue at Lula Lounge. This swing band are based in Manhattan and I first saw them two years ago when Brandi Disterheft invited Gigi and I. I suggested to Marko, the bands banjo meister, that they come up to Toronto for a few shows some time. Since then they’ve been up three times, recorded a CD at Canterbury and hired many local musicians to join them. On this night Alex Pangman opened and in no time the dance floor was full of lindy hoppers. The swing dancing continued until Sly Blues, good-to-the-last-note-encore. My date for this perfect outing was Mary B. who is as much fun on the dance floor as she is at a dinner party. We dance and laughed along with a slew of friends…including my Russian friend German, and my Monterey enabler Daron. The sides of the room were filled with people I knew from jazz safaris enjoying dinner and great music and the middle of the room was for the dozens of swing dancers who really added to the party vibe. One of the best shows of the year!

On Thursday morning Oliver Jones came by the radio station and it was great to reconnect. When I asked him if my plan (from a decade ago) of getting everyone to call him Oli Jo worked he laughed and said “no, nobody’s been calling me that, but you just keep trying if you like.”  Oliver has recorded the definitive instrumental of the song “Girl Talk”. When he plays the piano, it’s hard to believe he only has ten fingers! 

Friday I had lunch with a great friend I worked with for a few years at Jazz FM, Molly Anthony. We had a perfect meal (as always, I opted for the Friday special of fish and chips) and some really big martinis. Our waiter, Mike, is the new kid on the block. He’s only worked there 23 years!

Super Mario belongs on Poker After Dark!

Saturday I hit a Halloween poker party at the home of Vince and Mel. I hadn’t been there in months and was grateful so many familiar friends showed up. We played Texas Hold’em for many hours and by the time I split I was down ten bucks. I got back to 7 Fraser about 1am and my neighbours Halloween party was still rockin’ I got to bed by four and was ready for a kids show at Palais Royale with The Royal Jelly Orchestra. One of the announcers got the name wrong and dubbed us “Jaymz Bee & The Jellybean Band” and I think it’s going to stick. We had so much fun playing to a room full of kids I think I’ll create a special set of music and do some more shows like our Halloween bash on Sunday. It was a scaled down version of the band, with six musicians and five singers: Great Bob Scott (drums) Mark Kieswetter (keys) Rich Underhill (sax) Jake Wilkinson (trumpet) Ross MacIntyre (bass) Tony Quarrington (guitar) and vocalists Heather Bambrick, Julie Michels, Barbra Lica and Roger Clown. The show was a benefit for St. Josephs Hospital and based on how packed the room was I’m sure it was a huge success financially and party-wise. I’ve been to so many Halloween parties since last Saturday’s Zombie March, I can’t believe it’s actually coming up on Wed. I might just chill and leave my make-up bag sealed.


Friday November 2: NEWZAPALOOZA at The Opera House My buddy Dave at Ace Awards donate a trophy and I bee-jewled it to give to the best amateur rock band of the night. The bands are made up of people who work for various media outlets. Teams from Sun, Star, CTV etc. get three songs each. Bonzai Suzuki will do a few songs as well…but not part of the contest. Get tix now or at the door. $20

Monday November 5: Pam Hyatt performs PAMALOT at Hugh’s Room. Get your $20 tickets now at www.hughsroom.com Entry gets you a complimentary CD and after the concert from Pam I’ll be joined by half a dozen singers doing clever ditties and perform a second set. Hugh’s Room is a large venue, so please encourage your friends to come join you for great food, music and laughs!

Also, November 8 at Gladstone Hotel, a CD launch for Amy McConnell and William Sperandei’s “Stealing Genius” I’m glad they didn’t call the CD “plagiarizing smarty pants” – the CD is way too good for my silly antics. Honestly imagine Barbra Streisand fucking Chris Boti…uh, no wait…imagine k.d. lang and Bradford Marsalis playing backgammon in Shangri La. Anyway, I just heard it and was so blown away I put it on a second time immediately. I ‘ve got to see this CD done live, and I’m sure it’ll be sold out any day now.

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