BEE DAY 2013: Actually, to be correct I suppose I should call this BEE WEEK. Every year I celebrate my birthday doing a big bash but this year, since I was turning 50, I decided to do a week of events and I’m so glad I did! I can’t recall who sent in some of these photos but most of the best ones come from Janet Jardine and Robert Saxe…and anything a little fuzzy or shiny is likely from my iPhone. Thanks to everyone who contributed and if you remind me of a pic that’s yours I’ll get your name on it!
My birthday began with a perfect lunch with an old and new friend at Barberian’s. Heather and Dave enjoyed the food as much as I did and we covered a million topics! Heather has given me such great advice about my various writing project in the last two years. I should’ve been buying her the lunch as a thank you! David Lee joined us. He is here from L.A. (via South Africa) and is shooting the new TV version of Nikita. We became fast friends and ripped it up three times last week!
Monday, April 8 HUGH’S ROOM 8pm-11pm
That night I hosted a night of some of my favourite folk, roots, blues and country artists for a room of about 80 people. It kicked off with Colonel Tom Parker and members of his awesome band American Pour (including his wife, Alex Pangman) and they blew away the audience with some classic and original western folk songs. The night ended with Scarlett Jane and in between so many great singers and players soared. The evening included my good friends Heather Luckhart, Robert Priest, Roger Clown, Sam Broverman and Big Rude Jake. Joe Hall came in from Peterborough and played a wild set that included the brilliant and sweetly hiarious song “The Balloon Man And Pin Lady”. Sam Broverman was really funny too. He sang a song about kicking out the n’er do wells from Winnipeg and sending them to Toronto, called “All About The Asshole Train”. Then he sang a sweet song for me, a familiar melody with original lyrics.
The biggest star of the show was probably Tony Quarrington who sat in with almost everyone. He was positively glowing all night long! No cake at this event, but I did get the most wholesome tasty butter tart ever from The Kings Table for my B-day which I count as a cake cuz it was just as good. (If you’ve never been to THE KING’S TABLE it’s my fave place for soup and sandwhich…outrageously delicious and extremely healthy.) MORE PHOTOS TO COME. I didn’t take any…but know there were many who did so I’ll upload later this week!
Tuesday April 9 – Jaymz Bee Live To Air on JAZZ.FM91 (Jaymz and some musical pals play live on 91.1 FM andwww.jazz.fm) at 7pm
WOW – this concert will stay in my mind for a long time. It meant so much to me that I could showcase a few of my friends to a Jazz Fm audience filled with generous donors.
The band consisted of Tony Quarrington (guitar) Robert Scott (piano) George Koller (bass) Great Bob Scott (drums) and Richard Underhill Sax.
I sang a duet with my hero, Don Francks and other singing pals included Alex Pangman, Barbra Lica and new comer Denielle Bassels. Ross asked me some brilliant (and often hilarious) questions including why I wore drag to hitch hike from North Bay to Toronto after quitting school…and how I managed to leave a bag with $8000 in cash at a Manitoba Truckstop only to have it returned by Bus Parcel Express. Magic Radio I dare say!
Wednesday April 10 – Dinner Party at Barberians Steak House.
I told people to be ready to drop $200 per person and we got mighty close to that! I wanted to have an option for friends who preferred something quieter than all my live concerts and it worked great.
19 of us congregated in the basement of my favourite haunt. While the wine cellar is fairly new the place opened in 1959 and many of the staff have been there over 3o years.
I’m treated like family and considering I don’t eat meat, I feel right at home with their tuna, salmon on extensive wine list. My date was Mary B who never ceases to amaze and amuse…at one point a very shy man stood up and proposed a toast saying “Mary B is perfect. I just want to toast that!” We have so many laughs all night and the service and ambience was simply perfect. Being surrounded by about six million dollars worth of wine is pretty wild!
I got to see some really old friends, some of my favourite JAZZ.FM91 donors and was happy to have some non-business fun with my boss, Ross Porter.
After the four hour dinner we walked to Delta Chelsea Hotel to enjoy some music by Bradley & The Bouncers.
Apparently I sang but I was pretty gone by then…and the hang over the next day was the biggest of the week! No complaints though – it was a night I will never forget!
Thursday April 11 – Bonzai Suzuki perform at Painted Lady.
One of my favourite projects ever is my pop band Bonzai Suzuki. The Painted Lady is a tiny venue but great s0und and staff and a ton of faithful regulars meant that even in the shittiest weather conditions we have a nice full house and a major party every single time!
Dave Howard, Bubz Magoo, Sarah Featherstone, Great Bob Scott and I all crammed on to the stage and did an hour plus set. We wrote a new song called “Robert Priest’ which was a homage to the great Canadian poet (using some of his stuff with his permission and adding our own chorus and music) and it was wild to see Robert in the audience smiling away.
After our set GIA THE UNPREDICTABLE did a power trio set. It was great fun and I managed to get home by 2am. One of my friends, trumpeter Chris Norton from NYC sat in with Gia. He played hard, dranks tons and ate five cheeseburgers on the way home. The next morn we brought him to a doctor so he could get his voice back for the show the same night. It worked…and ninety bucks later he said he loved Canada. (He ended up paying $90 for walk-in clinic and his meds.)
Friday April 12 – Royal Jelly Orchestra at The Lambton Golf & Country Club!
I was looking forward to this as much as any event this past week. I’ve recorded nine albums with my Royal Jelly Orchestra band and we’ve done countless gigs including award shows, charity galas and private parties.
We haven’t toured or played regularly for years but still get together for one-off shows when the money is there. This was a special reunion and the audience of Lambton Gold Club members and their guests were so enthusiastic! We played an epic first set and then kicked it with an hour of duets in the second set. It was great to see Moses Znaimer in the room enjoying himself.
Tom Martin and Hugh Saunders have been working with me on this series forever and they both said it was such a hit they want me to do more events like this.
The band featured Waylen Miki (piano) Tony Quarrington (guitar) Artie Roth (bass) Rich Underhill (sax) and Chris Norton (trumpet and vocals) as well as a ton of great singers including Julie Michels, Sophia Perlman, Serafin LaRivere, Sheena Turcotte, Roger Clown, Amy McConnell, Don Francks, Denielle Bassels and Nathalie Kraemer.
The cake was delicious and I shared it with the band and the audience. We sold a record number of CD’s but I suppose that is natural when you have such a huge variety of singers with an all star band.
Saturday April 13 – Palais Royale
I celebrated the big 5-0 with a swing dance party at Palais Royale! Over 500 danced all night long to the music of Alex Pangman, Terra Hazleton, Chris Norton (from NYC), Barbra Lica and special guests.
The night wrapped up with The Shuffle Demons.
What a serious party…thousands was raised for Unison Benevolent Fund and everyone had a blast!
So many good friends in one room it was not possible to spend much time with many of my favourite people. C’est la Bee!
My family came from North Bay and my bro from Ottawa hosted Karaoke in the lower lounge. Christopher Dog of Dog & Pony Sound did a great job – some hilarious moments!
I have to admit by the time four am rolled around I was wondering if maybe I didn’t book one party too many. Luckily the next morn my house guests awoke just fine, we hung for a bit and then it was off to McMichael Galleryto enjoy Tony Quarrington for a matinee performance of his Juno Award winning CD “The Group Of Seven Suite”.
Eleven years later, he returned for another performance of his Juno Award winning CD, with his all-star band including Jane Bunnett, Brian Dickinson, Jeff Bird, Neil Swainson, Larry Kramer and Michael McLelland. The concert was brilliant and I saw a bunch of friends (Peter Laywine, Joanne Smale and at least half a dozen others) that drove up from Toronto. Even a bunch of my mates from Liberty Village made the pilgrimage. I suggested this show to McMichael and said I’m emcee if they booked Tony and his crew. It was a wonderful time and I hope to present more shows for them!