September 2011

Tia McGraff - Diversity

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Independent

From the moment you hear the first song on this incredible CD you’ll be hooked! ‘Angry Eagle’, written by McGraff, is an emotional, timely song that speaks of the uncertainty and hard times the world is currently experiencing.  Because it’s such a strong song, musically, lyrically and performance wise, it makes you want to hear what else this talented singer/songwriter has to say. And she doesn’t disappoint! Songs like ‘Lavender Tea’ are so intimate that you feel like she is singing just to you and makes you want to get to know her better. The harder edged ‘Radical Road’ shows another side of her personality and how well she works with talented husband/producer and sometimes co-writer Tommy Parham. ‘Tumbleweed’ is another excellent track but having said that, there isn’t a weak track on this CD.


The production work of Parham is also top notch, with some co-production help from McGraff. The Port Dover, Ontario native McGraff and the Colorado born Parham have found that magical blend. Great separation on all the tracks and a keen belief that the singer is the most important part of track, Parham has obviously grasped the idea that ‘less is more” in some cases, most notably on ‘Lost Souls, Left Luggage.’


Tia McGraff is a songwriter’s songwriter and with a voice like liquid honey, a singers singer.


Pick up a copy of this CD and prepare to make a new friend in Tia McGraff. You’ll be glad you did!


Don Graham

Dan Mangan: Oh Fortune

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Arts & Crafts

Whoa, this is the kind pf abrupt u-turn can put a career in the ditch. Y’all remember Dan Mangan of Polaris Music Prize-nominated album Nice, Nice Very Nice fame and consequent international touring. Sunny of disposition and sounding all Left Coast cuddly bear doing songs about robots needing love and fun roads taken.


If you’re hung on that Dan Mangan, bad news. This is not him. That dude’s outa here, leaving this Dan Mangan in his wake to make sense of it all.


Which is precisely what the album does not do. For Dan’s run out of easy answers and sunny asides and he’s looking down the cold steel barrel of success. In that spot, the man’s loaded with sharp questions and armed to cut to the quick.


The music’s still as minimalist clever but there’s way more instrumentation deployed and the carefully layered arrangements are inspired, all in the service of the dark side.


“Where did I go? What is this sorrow?” Dan Mangan asks on Jeopardy, the album’s existential closer and with song titles like Almost As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any help At All  and Regarding Death And Dying the bitterness is guaranteed and that’s fine. Although more of it might have gotten over more effectively had more sarcastic humour been involved.

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical Returns To Toronto

Cover, Sept 23, 2011

The 2009 Tony Award-winning revival HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, will play the The Royal Alexandra Theatre for a limited engagement December 13 to 31, 2011.  Tickets for HAIR will go on public sale, Monday, October 3, 2011.

With a score including such enduring musical numbers as “Let the Sun Shine In,” Aquarius,” “Hair” and “Good Morning Starshine,” HAIR depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the 60s and 70s that changed North America forever and resonated around the world. 

David MirvishDavid MirvishThe Toronto engagement of the North American Tour of HAIR is a homecoming of sorts.  HAIR had its Canadian Premiere at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in December 1969.  It was a homegrown production, featuring a cast of young Canadians who formed the Mississauga Tribe to perform the show.  The show was groundbreaking not just in subject matter but also because that it was the first theatrical production to play a record 53-week engagement in Toronto.

Explains David Mirvish: “When HAIR played the Royal Alex, nobody thought that a theatre show could attract a very large audience in Canada.  But HAIR filled the theatre for a year and launched the Canadian commercial theatre movement, offering a new avenue for young people who dreamed about working in the theatre.  The production told them it was indeed possible.  All of us in Canadian commercial theatre owe our careers to that production.”

A Summer of Struggle for the Japanese Community – Kano Remembered

Chris Kano

Submitted by: Bill Delingat

This past spring and summer will be remembered as good and bad memories for the people of Japan and their Canadian families. With the biggest earthquake and Tsunami, spawning a nuclear disaster larger then any on record, Japan and their community are on the road to recovery.

Here in Toronto, Canada (located at 6 Garamond court off of Wynford Drive and Eglington) is the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. For more than 40 years the JCCC (as it is known)  has served as the gathering point for the Japanese Canadian community and for those of non-Japanese ancestry who have an interest in things Japanese in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Open to everyone regardless of race, religion, sex or age, the JCCC provides a place - and more importantly, the impetus - for the exchange of ideas; a showcase for those with Japanese artistic and athletic talents; social and intellectual events. The JCCC is pleased to introduce the culture, history and legacy of the Japanese Canadians to all Canadians while creating a tribute to the history of the Nikkei community and their contributions to the building of our nation. The centre has been proactive in bringing the spirit and youth of the community together during these difficult times with public charity events, concerts and bazaars.

Matt Andersen-Big Man on the move

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Story:Lenny Stoute

As Mr. Young reminds us, rust never sleeps and it’s easy to think the same of Matt Andersen. The New Brunswick bluesman is a veteran road warrior who plays an average 200 dates a year during which he draws on a catalogue six albums deep. Among the 16 outdoor festivals Andersen played this year was the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, a huge deal in the UK and Europe, during which he played two spots.

Awards? He’s won a few; the Memphis International Blues Challenge, two Maple Blues Awards and another pair form the ECMA. As well, he’s a frequent performer at Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café shows across Canada since 2009.

Still no bells ringing, right? No worries if you’ve never heard of the guy. He’s heard it all before. It’s all there in the opening track to Andersen’s new album, Coal Mining Blues. “ I Don’t Wanna Give In”, a steady rollin’ slice of southern fried boogie, with a side of the country grits needed to make things happen for you.

It’s also the reason why this current album spreads the net of audience appeal the widest of any previous Andersen collection. Known for a solid grasp of the blues and folk musics, despite its title Coal Mining Blues is Andersen’s most countrified effort to date. This speaks of the need to reach higher career ground and the Big Blues Man’s just fine with that.