North Bay Christmas and Bonzai New Years Eve!

Bonzai Suzuki performed at Massey Hall on New Years Eve again. Kiran and her pole joined us.

Bonzai Suzuki performed at Massey Hall on New Years Eve again. Kiran and her pole joined

It sure was surreal to go from Havana to North Bay for the holidays! I arrived in Toronto at 2am on Christmas Eve and at 9 got ready and headed up to North Bay with my buddy, Tim Rivers.

Home sweet home in North Bay

Home sweet home in North Bay

Upon arrival we quickly set up the white fire-proof bags and candles on the  snowbanks on both sides of Copeland Street. Many neighbours take part in this tradition and the street is lined with big candles up the hill as far as the eye can see. We call it “Santa’s Runway”. Then, friends visited my parents house in droves. At one point an ambulance parked out front. It was an old friends of my folks and she was off duty and just about to return the ambulance. The neighbours wondered if my mom was ok so they rushed over and then were invited in for drinks. It was a mad house – but par for the course at my folks house on Christmas Eve. My dad remarked it was one of the best Christmases in recent memory and I have to agree.

JAZZ.FM91 received dozens of horns, guitars and various musical instruments for The Regent Park School of Music. Merry Christmas indeed!

JAZZ.FM91 received dozens of horns, guitars and various musical instruments for The Regent Park School of Music. Merry Christmas indeed!

My mom was outrageous and hilarious and there was so much laughter and animated conversation: No place like home!

When I got back to Toronto I hosted a wee loft party and it was particularly warm and fuzzy.

Gia, George Koller and Mark McLean whip off an impromptu tune!

Gia, George Koller and Mark McLean whip off an impromptu tune!

Richard Flohil regaled in stories of Satchmo and singers included Denielle Bassels, Roger Clown and Sam Broverman, among others. It was a full moon, which only added to the great vibe I reckon.

Jessica brought me homemade cookies. I let the gingerbread man hang with Buddha a bit before I bit.

Jessica brought me homemade cookies. I let the gingerbread man hang with Buddha a bit before I bit.

My personal favourite song of the night was Jessica Ferg (who I didn’t know could sing) doing a version of Santa Baby with lyrics about me and my loft party.

Jessica made me blush with her sweet song!

Jessica made me blush with her sweet song! (Thanks to Janet Jardine for the photo!)

So clever and sweet!

My favourite photo!

My favourite photo!

Also, this week I did something I look forward to ever year and that is dancing with the Canadian National Ballet’s Nutcracker Suite as a Cannon Doll. Each year I bring a different friend to be my dance partner and this year it was actor Melissa Bourne. IMG_6539We had such a blast watching behind the scenes and our two minutes of fame was hilarious and hammy.

Anthony is a fine actor who also really knows his Sushi!

Anthony is a fine actor who also really knows his Sushi!

my beautiful dance partner!

my beautiful dance partner!

After that we beelined to Sushi Time and then to Cameron House for a drink before hitting The Rex Hotel to enjoy Gia The Unpredictable and his big band of prog rock-jazz heroes!

Also earlier this past week I arranged a rehearsal for Don Francks, Mark Kieswetter and Tony Quarrington in my loft.

Elaine Loring loved the show at Hugh's Room...especially seeing Don Francks!

Elaine Loring loved the show at Hugh’s Room…especially seeing Don Francks!

The show they did (with Great Bob Scott on drums and Richard Whiteman on bass) was brilliant as was the opening act, Amy McConnell & William Sperandei Quartet. A perfect double-bill to wrap up an incredible year of live music.

I should’ve been tired the next day but sound check with Bonzai Suzuki was a breeze so I went to a 3-D screening of “Life of Pi” before playing on stage for the New Years Eve Comedy Extravaganza at Massey Hall.

This was their 11th year and my 8th as Music Director. For the past few years I have worked with Dave Howard and members of Bonzai Suzuki with special guests. Kiran Friesen blew the crowd away with her pole acrobatics and Barbra Lica sang beautifully to open the show.

every year we do a shot of "bad jazz hands" backstage at MH

every year we do a shot of “bad jazz hands” backstage at MH

The crowd was great, the comics were a riot and Harland Williams was the consummate pro and included many references about his son Timmy (Great Bob Scott on drums behind him) in his routine.

The seriously wonderful and strange, Winston Spear also appeared!

The seriously wonderful and strange, Winston Spear also appeared!

Nikki Payne showed beyond a doubt why she is a headliner and Kate Rigg proved she can add rap artist to her long list of talents. Mark Breslin always showcases famous comics and rising stars, and it’s a great show every single year!

I had made no plans for NYE…the first time ever actually…and after the show Kiran and Marie and I decided to just chill at my loft.

Bonzai Suzuki pic by Robert Saxe

Bonzai Suzuki pic by Robert Saxe

We arrived about 11 and within 20 minutes over a dozen people had arrived, drinking champagne awaiting the countdown with us.IMG_6569Old friends Melleny Melody, Kyree Vibrant and Robert Scott dropped by. Brian Ainsworth, Great Bob, Gene Hardy and Friskey Brown showed too…I was happy to have such a cozy impromptu room full of friends to kick off the New Year. Everyone left before two which put Kiran, Marie and I back on the sofa where the first toast started two hours earlier. Perfect! IMG_6572

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I will post “Memories of 2012” in the next day or so…come back soon!

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