Interview with comedic pop dynamo Kat Leonard

imageKat Leonard is a multi-faceted, multi-talented ball of endless joy and positive energy. She performs her own brand of music, using a combo of comedic and poignant themes; is one-half of the music/comedy duo Musedy Tag Team (with Arlene Paculan); and also works with Paculan as the A.D. of Let’s Make Good (LMG) Productions to produce and present the WonderFest series of music, comedy and spoken word/poetry events. I had a chat with Kat over email about what’s been up with her lately, 2014 in general and upcoming events.

LWMC: So you’ve been a very busy lady lately. What’s been going on? What have you been up to?

KL: Oh man, that’s what I’d like to know! The year has whizzed by like bursting piss that’s been held in way too long! I started a new health and wellness business, and I’ve been doing some motivational speaking presentations and workshops (which I love), and of course still writing and performing my music and comedy, and being Artistic Director of Let’s Make Good Productions and WonderFest.

LWMC: I get the sense that 2014 has been a year of big changes. How would you sum up this past year – for you?

KL: Big changes. 2014 was the beginning of my detox, which continues into 2015. I’m detoxing my mind, my body and my world. Don’t worry. It’s not the end of cussing, beer and gyrating for me – in fact, it might mean even more! I’m just really scrutinizing what I let into me physically and emotionally. (That actually wasn’t supposed to sound dirty, BTW ;p)

LWMC: And what was your favourite gig of 2014?

KL: If I had to choose one favourite gig of 2014 it would be our Wonder Women LA showcase because we were in L-fuckin-A and I revel in the vibe there. I love the warmth of the people – and obviously the sunshine – I love the way they embrace art and take risks. We did a jam-packed four-hour show that was filled with soooo much talent and love – from music, comedy, spoken word, visual and multimedia artists. We had two stages at opposite ends of the venue so we could flip back and forth between artists, the sound was amazing, the food was amazing and the people were amazing. It was full of amaze! I made a lot of friends and felt that glorious buzz that lets you know you’re in the right place at the right time.

LWMC: I’ve always wanted to do this in an interview, and you’re my first. I’d like to give you James Lipton’s adapted Bernard Pivot/Proust questionnaire.

KL: I love it!

What’s your favourite word? I think it might be “fuck.” Maybe lowbrow, but it’s so totally versatile, eh? I like its sound and the different emphasis that can be put on it, and the effect it has on people.

What’s your least favourite word? Sometimes I don’t like the word “skin” even though it’s quite harmless and obviously I use it a lot. Just sometimes I hear it and get weird visuals of empty skin just lying around. In those moments, I don’t like it.

What turns you on? Low rumbling bass notes, a good beat, honesty, courage, strong hands, kind lips, boobs.

What turns you off? Complaining, arrogance, boredom.

What sound or noise do you love? People laughing, especially when it’s that erupting uncontrollable kind they can’t stop. Even better when they’re somewhere inappropriate and they gotta try to muffle it.

What sound or noise do you hate? Anything high-pitched, especially whining. And hockey game din. All my life, I’ve been surrounded by people watching hockey. Good lord, shut up!!! 😉

What is your favourite curse word? Fuck.

What profession other than your own would you like to pursue? International Spa Tester. I would be so good at this!

What profession would you not like to do? Ultimate Outdoor Survivalist. I would be so not good at this.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Surprise!

LWMC: You have a special gig coming up on January 8th at Flying Beaver Pubaret. What’s that about?

KL: THURSDAY, JANUARY 8 – 7pm SHE’S LISTENING: BENEFIT CONCERT FOR OVARIAN CANCER CANADA

This is a benefit concert for Ovarian Cancer Canada. There will be laughter and love, door prizes and other surprises! A spectacle of rock, pop and comedy mixed with the spirit of hope and help, this is an evening not to miss! However, if you must miss it and would still like to donate, please consider donating directly to Ovarian Cancer Canada.

$15 advance/$20 at the door: tix available at The Pubaret or online. Dinner available before, during and after the show. Dinner patrons get priority seating. E-mail heather@pubaret.com for rezzos or call 647.347.6567

Artists include:
Heather Hill
Kat Leonard
Angela Saini
Jessica Speziale
Kristine St. Pierre

This is the link to the Facebook Event should anyone wanna click!

LWMC: Anything else you want to shout out?

KL: Let’s Make Good Productions is partnering with SIPO Foundation and One Fire Movement for our next big WonderFest event in March 2015! We are also always looking for people to be featured in our weekly WonderFest series. More information on all of this at our website.

LWMC: Anything else you’d like to share?

KL: I’ve been maintaining my blog wherein I sometimes do People Profiles. Anyone who would like to be featured can contact me. Here is my latest one, on musician Marcus Walker, if you’d like to check it out. You should check him out too!

LWMC: Thanks, Kat! It’s been a pleasure.

KL: No, thank YOU!!! YOU’RE the pleasure! 😉

You can also keep up with Kat Leonard on her YouTube channel and on Twitter.

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Beautiful, brave & brilliant words @ WonderFest Poetry Series

WonderFest 2014 festivities continued last Thursday night at Habits Gastropub with their Poetry Series event.

Host Arlene Paculan ushered us through the evening, and treated us to some of her music as well. It was a night of beautiful, brave and brilliant words and music from guests Dan Curtis Thompson, Lizzie Violet and Vanessa McGowan – who shared passionate works, full of insight, emotion and humour. Keep an eye out for these talented writers/performers.

I was able to catch the first set – here are some snaps I took that night:

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Moving & grooving sounds + positive vibes = WonderFest 2014 concert

SAMSUNGA fabulous, fun time was had by all at WonderFest 2014 and I was so glad to join in the festivities at the concert last night, closing off a day of learning, collaborating and positive interaction at Revival Bar. And after a full day of workshops (A Capella Jam with Niki Andre and a Synergy Session with Madette), the gang was engergized and ready to go.

LMG Productions organizers Kat Leonard and Arlene Paculan hosted an amazing line-up of talent (aka Wonder Women & Super Men) from a variety of arts disciplines, including music, spoken word, stand-up comedy and visual arts. Visual artists included paintings – which were featured onstage – by Dorothy Knight, Rohan Moore and Stephanie Payne, and face painting by Lisa Diane.

The stellar roster of concert performers, in order of appearance, included:

In case you missed it the first time around, here’s the cowbell interview with Kat Leonard and Arlene Paculan about this event.

And thanks to Kat and Arlene for my fabulous WonderFest coffee mug!

Here are some snaps I took of last night’s celebration of empowerment through art:

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Interview with Kat Leonard & Arlene Paculan on WonderFest 2014 event

POSTERwonder96Kat Leonard and Arlene Paculan are both amazing solo artists in their own right. Together, they are Musedy Tag Team and half of the Four Winds Collective (with Heather Hill and Meghan Morrison), performing music with heart and humour, and they are the force behind LMG Productions, spreading empowerment through art through their Wonder Women, Super Men and now WonderFest events. Leonard is also a well-known Johnny Depp fangirl and Paculan, like me, shares his birthday. I interviewed these two lovely and talented ladies over email about their work together and their upcoming WonderFest 2014 event on April 6 at Revival Bar in Toronto.

LWMC: So tell us about how you met and how you came to start working together.

AP: I met Kat at a Valentine’s Show. It was called No Sweetheart Required, so she calls it an anti-Valentine’s Day show. It was so amazing because I immediately was drawn to her and was curious as to what she was all about. We started talking about what we did in the arts world. I found out that we both put shows on and I asked her if she’d like to participate in one that I do in the future – not having heard any of her work, I was trusting my instincts that she was incredibly awesome. After I saw her perform “Jockstrap,” that solidified my assumption! Prior to meeting her, I was in the process of starting Wonder Women and asked her to join the line up and she’s been a part of the event ever since! And now she’s Artistic Director for the company!

KL: … We hit it off and within mere moments decided we should embark upon doing shows together. We were both individually relieved as we stood backstage listening to the other perform their piece, because we had agreed to collaborate before even hearing the other perform. We’re both allergic to eggplant so it must have been fate!

LWMC: And how did LMG Productions, Wonder Women and the evolution to WonderFest come about?

AP: LMG Productions was something I came up with in 2010 – just a little production company that I could use to put on little concerts around the GTA. It was initially called Lene, Mean, and Green because of my name and my favourite colour is green. Kat came on board in 2012 to help out with the growing Wonder Women events. Soon she came up with the idea of changing it to ‘Let’s Make Good’ because of the direction our shows were going.

Wonder Women started to showcase female songwriters with different genres and to grow our audience base. After four Wonder Womens where it was solely music, we teamed up with This Girl Friday, which is run by a talented poet and graphic designer, Lizzie Violet [link]. Lizzie brought on the idea of having music and spoken word in a show. From then, Wonder Women and Super Men (all male showcase) combined creates ‘WonderFest’ which celebrates all types of art forms.

KL: … I was happy to be a performer in that first concert and to become Artistic Director of the series and production company. We worked together to create events that would eventually include Super Men and also workshops to nurture creativity and healthy self-esteem. We really endeavoured to develop a strong community that would encourage and promote the arts and self-empowerment. WonderFest was born. Because we were endorsing positivism we felt it was important to have a production name that reflected the same, so we went about brainstorming something with which we could retain the LMG moniker. Like a flash of enthused lightning, the name Let’s Make Good blasted into my brain as Arlene and I sat there doing just that, making good, and munching on Crispy Minis. 🙂

LWMC: In addition to your individual projects and work with LMG, you play together as Musedy Tag Team and in the Four Winds Collective What can you tell us about the experience and dynamics of performing solo, in a duet and in a group?

KL: Solo: I love it! Performing solo is empowering and freeing, though I tend to engage audience members in my act quite often. 😉 It is freeing that I can go off track and discover new moments without throwing anyone else off, and it’s also liberating to not worry that my behaviour is partly representing a bigger group. Having said that, there is no sweeter pleasure than sharing the stage with others, and sparking a unique and dynamic energy.

Musedy Tag Team: I love it love it!
I feel truly blessed to create and perform with Arlene in Musedy. She is the perfect yin to my yang and the class to my sass. A duet is a special relationship because you’re able to really get to know the other person and create a solid foundation of confidence upon which you can play and take risks. Musedy Tag Team is one of my favourite things to do and it is on my “to do more” list. Stay tuned for our upcoming Musedy Tag Team Mashup Madness show that’s in the works for being in the works! 🙂

Four Winds: I love it love it love it love it!! There is something absolutely enchanting about working in a group that works; it leads to endless discoveries and gifts. I really feel there is something magical about this collection of gals. We are eclectic and complementary, a songstorm of musical forces intertwined for the greater good. 🙂 I completely trust and admire each one of them musically and as best buds. When I play with Heather, Meghan and Arlene I feel safe yet thrilled, and a buzz of love adds to the rhythm of every performance. Incidentally, Four Winds will be performing our first original song at this year’s WonderFest!

AP: It’s SO much fun to do different projects with my best friend, Kat Leonard. Whether it’s LMG events, or duos, or even with more artists, like Four Winds, it’s really easy, extremely fun, hilarious and productive to work with Kat. I feel like we both have the same vision in promoting ourselves through these different projects and I’m really excited to see where it goes!!! We even toured to Halifax together on the VIA Rail, and travelled to LA to get a taste of the film and music scene.

LWMC: On Sunday, April 6, WonderFest takes over Revival Bar. What’s happening at this year’s fest?

KL: So much talent and fun is happening! Along with visual art displays, WonderFest starts this year at 2:00 with an inspiring workshop led by Niki and Madette: A Capella Jam and Synergy Sessions come together to lead us in musical improvisation. All levels of experience wanted! At 4:00 there will be networking and face painting until doors open at 6:00 for the variety show taking place 7:00 to 9:00. Music, comedy, dance, spoken word, art; we are so very excited for this fun-packed day!

AP: This is from our press release (Thanks Jeff Costigan!)
This year’s event promises to build on the popularity and success of previous years – empowering people of all ages and backgrounds to use creativity and art in their everyday lives. The one-day event will take place on Sunday, April 6th at the Revival Bar in Toronto (783 College St.). The art-packed schedule includes a musical workshop, networking, and a culminating concert featuring musicians, poets, visual artists, and comedians (welcome to everyone from all levels, as spectators or participants). Tickets for the concert are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be found at: https://wonderfest2014.eventbrite.ca/

Event Schedule:

2-4pm: Synergy Jam Workshop
A Cappella Jam + Synergy Session team up for a flash mob style jam session. Come sing, play, and leave feeling inspired! All styles, traditions and levels are welcome.

4-5:30pm: Networking

7-9pm: Concert (doors open at 6PM)

LWMC: And what do you hope participants and audience will take away from this year’s event?

AP: I really hope that people leave feeling inspired and empowered by what they learned and what they got to experience by performances and art work. The goal is to encourage people to tap into their creative side again, whether it’s to make an interesting spreadsheet or a lovely homemade dinner.

KL: My hope is that everyone who experiences WonderFest will discover a new artist and friend, will explore something fresh about themselves, and will find the freedom and power in nurturing a community of healthy risk-takers. I hope that every person walks away from WonderFest with a sense of empowerment to pursue the wildest of their dreams and the minutest of everyday miracles.

LWMC: Any other upcoming gigs or projects you’d like to shout out?

AP: Saturday April 12, 2014
with Miquelon Rodriquez, Sarah Giles, and Edward Monzon
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W., Toronto)
9pm – 11pm * FREE

Sunday April 13th, 2014
Village Vinyl (2925 Lake Shore Blvd West, Toronto)
2pm – 5pm * FREE

LWMC: Anything else you’d like to share?

AP: Life with more cowbell ROCKS!! Thanks Cate for having us on your blog again!

KL: If I may be so bold, I want to thank you for being such an important and loving member of our WonderFest community. We adore you completely!

LWMC: Aw! Thanks, ladies!

You can also check out Kat Leonard and Arlene Paculan on their YouTube sites:

Kat on YouTube   Kat on Twitter

Arlene on YouTube   Arlene on Twitter

I highly recommend coming out to experience the inspiration and music talent at this year’s WonderFest! Come on back after April 6 – I’ll be posting a slideshow of the WonderFest concert!

musedy elbows
Arlene Paculan & Kat Leonard

 

 

 

Everything Begins with Love @ Arlene Paculan CD launch

Singer/songwriter Arlene Paculan celebrated the launch of her first full-length CD Everything Begins with Love in a packed room at Gallery 345, Toronto last night.

Super-energized comic pop performer Kat Leonard kicked the evening off, opening with a set of fun, poignant originals and Kat-branded covers, starting with her Johnny Depp ode “Jockstrap” (from her one-woman show/CD A Depper Kind of Love). Mixing her own tunes up with “These Foolish Games” and “Born This Way” (very fitting as Pride Week starts in T.O.), and giving special attention to birthday boy singer/songwriter Matt Gerber, Leonard wrapped it up with her hilarious, self-deprecating tribute to personal foibles “Asshole” (first checking to see if any minors were present – there weren’t yet).

Before Leonard introduced Arlene Paculan and her band, the audience was treated to a screening of Paculan’s recently released video for “Right Behind You”:

Always vibrating with warmth and positive energy, Paculan performed songs from Everything Begins with Love, a follow-up to her I’m Worth It EP, along with some mash-up covers from the likes of Britney Spears and Our Lady Peace. The new CD is a collection of original, sexy – and sometimes edgy – love songs. “If I Only Knew Your Name” speaks to a missed opportunity in a brief, passing moment; “Just Another Guy” is an ode to Iron Man’s Tony Stark; “Nightmare” (which Leonard joined in on back-up vocals) is a warning of romantic revenge, delivered with an acid-dripping smirk; and “Right Behind You” has a subtle edge of desire and desperation behind the driving beat, a craving for reunion with a lost love. “Running” is one of my personal faves – a haunting, longing for love and hanging onto dreams, but needing to let go of fear and stand still to find it.

Paculan’s band included a line-up of excellent musicians: Peter Linseman (guitar, he was also the producer on this project), Sarah Giles (modern upright bass, who folks may recognize from Angela Saini’s band The Residence) and Miquelon “Mickey” Rodriguez (drums), with Paculan on a sweet baby grand. With her sultry, soulful vocals, moving lyrics and passionate, rhythmic arrangements (co-arranged by Linseman, Paculan and Rodriguez), Paculan is both polished and naturally at ease on stage. And she’s a pleasure to watch.

It was a fun and inspiring evening of music, friends, family and fans – complete with a post-concert buffet courtesy of Paculan’s mom – and Gallery 345 is a great venue. “Everything Begins with Love” could also be a fitting description for the vibe in the room last night.

If you missed the CD launch, you can catch Paculan next at Habits Gastropub on Friday June 28 at 8:30 p.m. in a line-up that includes Aynsley Saxe, Bryan Pickell and Roveena.

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Kat Leonard performs.
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Kat Leonard gives birthday boy Matt Gerber some attention. Happy birthday, Matt!
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The evening’s main attraction, Arlene Paculan.
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Arlene Paculan works a gorgeous dress and a sweet piano as she performs at her “Everything Begins with Love” CD launch.
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Sarah Giles, with Arlene Paculan in the background.
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Mickey Rodriguez
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Peter Linseman
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Arlene Paculan, moving us with sexy, soulful R&B.
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Kat Leonard joins Arlene Paculan on “Nightmare” – do not piss these ladies off.

Big love & a joyful noise @ Tania Joy “I’ll Be Around” CD launch

The Melody Bar at the Gladstone Hotel was packed last night, all in celebration of the release of Tania Joy’s EP I’ll Be Around. And what a celebration it was!

MC Shannon Paterson, a long-time friend of of Tania Joy’s – from their days as six-year-old figure skating pals to modern-day wing men in the dating scene – ushered the evening’s festivities, including opening acts Arlene Paculan and Candice Sand.

Arlene Paculan got things going with some R&B and pop goodness – a set of originals and covers, on keys with Mickey Rodriguez on drums.  From the slow groove of “My Plea” to her love song to Tony Stark and awesome Green Day mash-up to “Running” – a soulful ballad with a sometimes haunting piano arrangement (and a personal fave) – it’s always a pleasure to wrap my ears around Paculan’s sounds. Coming up for Paculan: the Beaches Jazz Festival, the release of her debut full-length CD Everything Begins with Love (June 21 @ Gallery 345, Toronto) and WonderFest West (August 14 @ Celebration Square, Mississauga). Drop by her website for details and keep an eye out for her upcoming gigs.

Candice Sand showed us she’s got this, bringing it with a bluesy acoustic set, with Neil Whitford backing her up on guitar. Shifting from cheeky fun on a cover of Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am,” then a couple of songs later into the slow, sexy “Maybe I’m Crazy” and the soulful, strong groovin’ yet vulnerable “I Got This” (her recent release) to audience participation like on her slow groove cover of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” it was a pleasure to see Sand perform live (I’d missed her set at a WonderFest event a while back). Definitely an artist to watch out for.

The main event, Tania Joy, took to the stage with a full band backing her: “The Groove Doctor” (Dave McMorrow) on keys, Rick Joudrey on bass, Jeff Haynes on guitar, Richard Greenspoon on drums (he also engineered the record), and the lovely and talented Arlene Paculan and Candice Sand on back-up vocals.

Opening with “I Push You Pull,” an R&B-infused ballad, with the organ/keys and back-up vocal arrangements bringing some gospel Tania Joy delivered a set of originals from her I’ll Be Around EP, peppered with some covers of songs by the likes of John Fogerty and The Allman Brothers. Singing of connections and relationship, with a mix of folk, blues and gospel on “Gypsy Heart (Back To Me)” and taking us to the church of the joyful noise on “Shine Your Light,” this is a deep, rich and resonant voice singing catchy and soulful lyrics. The moving R&B/gospel sound returned on “I’ll Be Around” and “I Won’t Quit,” the title track inspired by and dedicated to the memory of her cousin Dana Rene Gibson. Bee Gees cover “To Love Somebody” had folks singing along (I was one of them, on harmony) and the reggae rhythm of original “New Ending” got folks up dancing in front of the stage. And the whole room was feeling Tania Joy’s cover of “People Get Ready.”

Tania Joy’s warmth and enthusiasm is contagious – and was matched by that coming from the audience. Friends, family, fellow singers and musicians brought a whole lotta love and support – the room was vibrating with excitement and positive energy. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this talented lady. In the meantime, drop on by Tania Joy’s Soundcloud and YouTube pages.

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Arlene Paculan, with Mickey Rodriguez on drums.
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Arlene Paculan opens for Tania Joy at the “I’ll Be Around” EP launch.
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Candice Sand, with Neil Whitford on guitar.
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Candice Sand at Tania Joy’s “I’ll Be Around” EP release.
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Tania Joy (right), with Candice Sand (left) and Arlene Paculan (centre) on back-up vocals.
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Tania Joy on guitar at her “I’ll Be Around” EP launch.
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Tania Joy brings it powerful and soulful at her EP launch.
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Tania Joy and event MC Shannon Paterson.
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The energized, enthusiastic crowd kept Tania Joy busy with autograph requests after the show.

Singing from the heart for War Child

Another amazing night of music and friends – all for a great cause – at the War Child benefit at the Drake Underground last night. So. Much. Fun. And so very moving as well.

MC Kat Leonard introduced an incredible line-up of music artists, all donating their time – as well as some of their CD and merch proceeds to War Child:

Kristine St-Pierre

Chris Assaad

Heather Hill, who was joined by Four Winds Collective members Kat Leonard, Meghan Morrison & Arlene Paculan

JP Saxe
Angela Saini

Decided to do a photo essay post this time – so here goes…

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Kristine St-Pierre
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Heather Hill & Meghan Morrison at the merch table
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MC Kat Leonard
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Arlene Paculan & Kat Leonard sharing a moment
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Chris Assaad
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Kat Leonard & Angela Saini (with some random cute bearded dude in the background)
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The Four Winds Collective (l-r): Meghan Morrison, Kat Leonard, Arlene Paculan & Heather Hill
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Eddie Paton accompanied Heather Hill
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Heather Hill (whose new song “We Are the Same” made me cry)
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JP Saxe (centre) with TJ Whitelaw (left) & Robin Claxton (right)
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JP Saxe
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Kat Leonard & Heather Hill
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Angela Saini’s band The Residence drummer John Burton (aka JB)
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Angela Saini’s band The Residence bass player Sarah Giles
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Angela Saini

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