My week started off with scotch sampling at a great little place called The Caledonian, the only Scottish-themed restaurant I can think of in downtown Toronto.
I took some JAZZ.FM91 donors and provided some live entertainment.
I sang my “Scotch Song”, Big Rude Jake belted out a few original tunes and Emilie Claire Barlow, Heather Bambrick and Irene Torres all sang.
On Wednesday eve I attended the opening night performance of “Les Miserables” at The Princess of Wales Theatre. This is a limited run and I highly recommend you get tickets now. It was a truly outstanding production with top notch acting and singing. It simply doesn’t get any better! Mary B. loved the show as much as I did!
On Thursday I hosted another show at McMichael Gallery after strolling through the gallery with a gorgeous friend.
Before the concert Kevin Breit explained the name of the band, Stretch Orchestra. “We were called The Tall Boys for a little while, but there was already a band with that name; uh, but they were actually kinda short. Jesse Stewart is 6’2″, I’m 6’4 and Matt Brubeck is 6’8…so Stretch Orchestra fits.”
Everyone was blown away by the many sounds and styles coming from this brilliant trio and we all agreed this was the perfect band to play an art gallery. (Much like the show coming up October Don Francks show on October 24 with Tony Quarrington, Don Thompson and Terry Clarke.) Tickets and info the next three Thursday concerts at http://www.mcmichael.com
I also had back to back Jazz Safaris on Friday and Saturday and took in ten bands in two nights. I do the same thing this month….by Halloween I figure I will have seen a minimum of 31 bands this month…one set each!
1. My health! I can’t remember the last time I had the flu…and didn’t take a single sick day at Jazz FM in my first seven and a half years! Sometimes I think I’m pickled…germs can’t get me…other times I think it’s because I went Pescatarian over twenty years ago. Whatever the reason, I thank my lucky stars and try not to take my health for granted. And as far as weight goes; I could shed twenty pounds but I like to feel like a Polar Bear: I never get cold! And besides, as Burl Ives is my idle far be it from me to lose weight before Christmas.
I play Bad Santa at a few corporate events this season and will have to add a pillow. I fear I’ve reached a weight plateau now…no matter how much I eat, I can’t get weight. At this rate I’ll never be “Burl-sque”!
2. I am thankful for my family! I got lucky…cool siblings and awesome parents! My mom and dad come to Toronto (from North Bay) several times a year and take in big concerts with me. They are my pals as well as my parents and there isn’t anything I ever have to hide from them. Since I have Complusive Disclosure Disorder I’ve no choice, but it’s nice to know they don’t judge and love me for the me that makes me me!
(As for the photo above: Las Vegas, late seventies! I’m in the middle. The cutie in the tux is my mom!)
3. Girls! I am so thankful for my bevy of beautiful girlfriends (meaning close friends who are female). I always had many female friends, even when in committed relationships, but recently it seems I can’t go a week without meeting half a dozen women I want to hang out with. When it comes to a beautiful, kind, fun, intelligent girl; I consider myself best friend material and I Don Juan anyone to think I am a “playa”!
4. Friends! Uh, I know I just wrote about gal pals but some of my best friends are men. Honest! I admit it takes a ton of effort when it comes to friends of the male persuasion. I see Captain Paul most often because our schedules mesh so perfectly and we have the same taste in adventure and I see Don Francks on a weekly basis but other than that some of my favourite people fall under the High Level, Low Maintenance Friend category.
5. JAZZ.FM91! In some ways I find it hard to believe I’ve had a “real job” for over a decade and that I’ve gotten up at “stupid o’clock in the mourning” (before 6am) on weekdays for eight years.
The thing is, when Ross Porter became President back in the day, I knew it was going to be an interesting ride. I loved his stuff on CBC and had met him on a few occasions. I knew the station would play more forms of jazz than ever before and that we’d get way more involved in the community, so I decided to stick around. In no time we moved to a new building, I moved to Liberty Village as well, and since then time has flown. I jokingly say “I’m in a beautiful rut”. I love my job: the music and musicians I support, the establishments that book live music and especially the generous donors who give to Jazz FM (a registered charity and arts organization); and love taking donors on Jazz Safaris in Toronto and various cities like Havana, Monterey and Panama!
6. My Loft! I got lucky and found a place that is a five minute walk to work. Of course, getting up before 6am, I had no intention of living far from work, and because I’m single moving is not an issue – but to find a large loft in a big old warehouse…there was certainly luck involved! I host quiet salon nights at my place; usually six or seven per “season”. Between late October and early March I’ll invite about 40 people over on a given night – mostly musicians and singers I know well – and we sip wine and enjoy a few hours of music. As I have literally hundreds of people I like to see over the winter the guest list changes constantly and there are only a few who have an open invitation to come anytime. I have the coolest neighbours too. We all help each other and sometimes host theme parties like our Mini Golf Tournament where each loft in the building had a unique putt putt course.
7. Bonzai Suzuki! My band is a project that has made me happy for a few years now. Dave Howard and I are the principle songwriters but we encourage everyone to jump in with ideas any time. Making music with some of my best friends always feels right. This is a side project only because all of us already have so much on our plate but if someone comes a knockin’ and wants to invest in recordings etc., we’re in!
It’s just that after decades in the music business, Dave and I are realistic…I prefer the term tempered ambition to lowered expectations. I also tell people I’m seasoned, not jaded. Currently the band also includes Great Bob Scott (drums and backing vocals), Sahra Featherstone (electric violin, flute and vocals), Bubz Magoo (uh, not her real name – vocals) and Leg Mahoney (speaking of fake names – vocals and dance moves). We are preparing to release our second CD in spring of 2014. It’s fun!