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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So clever and sweet!
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. We had such a blast watching behind the scenes and our two minutes of fame was hilarious and hammy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We arrived about 11 and within 20 minutes over a dozen people had arrived, drinking champagne awaiting the countdown with us.Old 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!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I will post “Memories of 2012” in the next day or so…come back soon!