Saturday = Artaday

Yesterday was a day of art and friends – “Artaday,” as my partner in creative crime Lizzie Violet coined it – as we attended two art exhibit openings and a very unique haunted house experience. Here are some highlights, as well as the details, of these events.

5 By 5 exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel Art Bar Gallery features five local artists, who have joined forces for a collaborative painting exhibit:

Jacques Albert uses a mostly subdued palette of earth tones, creating organic, flowing pieces featuring nature and figures that are both moving and haunting.

Brenda Clews combines text and figures using a vibrant primary palette for a series of electric works.

Jennifer Hosein’s beautiful paintings are sometimes disturbing, sometimes ethereal, and water colour-like in a striking use of blues and greens.

Anna Karoliina Koskinen’s works include some lovely snapshot moments of human and animal subjects, the images of people capturing a second’s worth of joy and pensiveness.

Greg Nordoff’s paintings have a sharp photographic quality to them, with images of mysterious, sexy women, as well as finely detailed architecture and portrait work.

5 By 5 – Brenda Clews performs some of her poetry.
5 By 5 – Lizzie & Laurie take in Jennifer Hosein’s work.
5 By 5 – Opening reception guests mingle, with Greg Nordoff’s work in the background.
5 By 5 – Guests chat, with Jacques Albert’s and Anna Karoliina Koskinen’s work in the background.

5 By 5 closes on October 26, so get on over to the Gladstone Art Bar Gallery.

Kill Joy’s Kastle – The tour waiting area aka “the Womb”
Kill Joy’s Kastle – The larger than life Goddess figure.
Kill Joy’s Kastle – The Carpet Muncha installation.
Kill Joy’s Kastle – The Hall of Straw Feminists (Liz Lemon & Margaret Thatcher).

Kill Joy’s Kastle at 303 Lansdowne Ave. is a scary fun haunted house trip into women’s studies, feminist thought and gender fluidity. Our tour guide Keith Ann McWoman, a prof at McMaster U., leads us through the space, which features thought-provoking, spooky and humourous images and installations. Totally destroys the stereotypes of joyless, humourless feminists and lesbians by giving these preconceived notions a good send-up. On until October 30 – 4 till 8 p.m. daily or by appointment. Take the alleyway on the south east side to get to the entrance.

Urban Federation of Artists at Gallery Catalyst is a remarkable, edgy and eclectic multi-artist show. Here are some artists that stood out for me:

Nik Beat’s work is a selection of darkly whimsical multi-media collage pieces, featuring images of pop culture and famous musicians.

Dr. Seuss – yes, that Dr. Seuss – unique drawing style is on display, and for sale, in numbered prints of illustrations from some of his most beloved books.

Tanja-Tiziana gorgeous black and white photographs combine nostalgia, memory and iconic architecture.

Urban Federation of Artists – Opening reception guests mingle & view the art at Gallery Catalyst.
Urban Federation of Artists – Lizzie Violet & artist Nik Beat.
Urban Federation of Artists – Nik Beat’s and Alice Zilerberg’s art on display, with pieces & prints available for purchase in the trays below
Urban Federation of Artists – A live model in full body paint stands in the front window.

Alice Zilerberg’s stunningly beautiful altered photographic images are where dream meets nightmare meets fairy tale.

What art has inspired you recently?

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.

Tania Joy CD launch 001
Arlene Paculan, with Mickey Rodriguez on drums.
Tania Joy CD launch 002
Arlene Paculan opens for Tania Joy at the “I’ll Be Around” EP launch.
Tania Joy CD launch 004
Candice Sand, with Neil Whitford on guitar.
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Candice Sand at Tania Joy’s “I’ll Be Around” EP release.
Tania Joy CD launch 007
Tania Joy (right), with Candice Sand (left) and Arlene Paculan (centre) on back-up vocals.
Tania Joy CD launch 005
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.
Tania Joy CD launch 009
Tania Joy and event MC Shannon Paterson.
Tania Joy CD launch 008
The energized, enthusiastic crowd kept Tania Joy busy with autograph requests after the show.

Fierce ambition & passion in Elizabeth Ruth’s third novel Matadora – book launch

First off, I need to admit some personal bias: I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Ruth’s writing, so I was thrilled to receive word about the launch of her third novel Matadora, hosted by This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS) and Cormorant Books at the Gladstone Hotel ballroom last night.

The ballroom was packed – so much so, the Gladstone folks had to open up the panels that separate it from the café space. Not surprising, given that there’d been a line forming outside the ballroom, all the way to the entrance of the hotel, shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Flamenco dancer La Mari

By the bar were some canvasses by Alex Flores, painted in a style reminiscent of Frida Kahlo, the portrait of a woman particularly striking. A slide show of Ruth’s trip to Spain flickered across a screen upstage, featuring stunning colours and sights, including images of a bullfighting ring and bullfighters. Introductions from TINARS and Cormorant Books, and then we were treated to the sights and sounds of Flamenco: dancer La Mari, with singer Maria Assunta and guitarist Juan Dino Toledo. A passionate spectacle, the music and voice haunting and powerful, the dance strong and proud.

The “main event” started with Anju Gogia interviewing Ruth about the book, discussing process and how the story evolved. Many of the points of discussion can also be found in this Quill & Quire Matadora piece.

The thing that struck me most was Ruth’s reference to “chasing your talent.” Even though a writer may not realize what exactly the book is about, and not know what he/she is doing, with time and practice – and, like her heroine Luna, ambition – the process of coming to the page to put these stories, these lives, on paper brings the journey to the book to its conclusion.

Ruth read a short piece from the book, then opened up the floor for a Q&A. I asked how her feelings about bullfighting had changed over the course of researching and writing the book. Earlier, she had mentioned that it was a book about bullfighting that wasn’t really about bullfighting, but about class, feminism and gender – and that universal longing and drive to rise above socially imposed limitations. In loving her subject, Luna, she found herself looking at bullfighting with respect and void of judgement. While bullfighting is blood sport to some, it is art form to others, with views divided along sociopolitical lines in 1930s Spain, where bullfighting eventually became associated with the Franco regime. But, like boxing, bullfighting offered an opportunity to rise from poverty – and, in Luna’s case, it was a chance to pursue her passion and ambition in a profession that was closed to women.

This was a fantastic, vibrant event – extremely well-attended and crackling with excitement. Whoever said Canadian publishing was dead sure would have changed their tune last night. I’m really looking forward to reading Matadora. As part of last night’s festivities, we got to see the book trailer. It was shot and edited by Erin Reilly Clarke, who I had a chance to chat with briefly after the Q&A. She’d seen a late draft of the book and was already in love with it and looking forward to reading the final product – and we both speculated on how Matadora would make an amazing feature. The trailer features actor Joanne Vannicola, with original music by Evalyn Parry:

If you missed the launch, you can catch Ruth reading from Matadora, followed by an interview with NOW Magazine’s Senior Entertainment Editor Susan G. Cole at the Toronto Reference Library in the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium on May 15 from 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Admission is free. In the meantime, you can check out Cole’s review of Matadora.

Girl power rawkin out @ Supertash “Before The World Ends” CD launch

What would you do if the world was gonna end on December 21, 2012? Rawk out, of course! Maybe some other things too, but this is a PG kinda blog, so I’ll leave that up to all y’all.

The countdown for Supertash’s Before The World Ends CD launch ended last night at the Gladstone Hotel, with some incredible talent taking to the stage for a super big fun, girl-power packed evening. Also on feature: jewelery made by Tash and Meghan’s awesome delicious cupcakes, as well as some very tasty catered nosh.

Throughout the evening, host Kat Leonard, accompanied by Arlene Paculan, treated us to some tunes of their own: a slowed down ballad version of Kat’s song “Jockstrap” (from Kat’s one-woman fangirl opus to Johnny Depp, A Depper Kind of Love), Arlene’s song “Nightmare” (also performed by Kat, including her own improv’d expletives) – then both singing the Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown mash-up medley they performed at Theatre Passe Muraille’s recent Songbook Series cabaret, with Kat doing an interpretive dance performance as Arlene performed vocals on the big “I Will Always Love You” finale. A great combo of music and comedy – irreverent, fun and passionate.

Sherry-Lynn Lee opened with a solo acoustic set, accompanying herself on guitar, moving us with a great range of pop, rock and soulful, melodious ballads – mixing her set of originals with covers “With or Without You” and “Someone Like You.” It was the first time I’ve heard her live – I’m looking forward to hearing more, and I took her music home on CD. Keep an ear out for this lady.

It had been a while since I saw Meghan Morrison performing with her full band – and I especially love the violin arrangements, which add a poetic, haunting quality to her songs. Opening with “This Song” – violin crying along with her voice, “the sound that my heart makes” – she moved into “Good People (Sideways),” a song inspired by an incident that occurred on the steps of the Gladstone Hotel a couple of years ago during Nuit Blanche. Showcasing Meghan’s great range – vocally, she’s been compared to Alanis Morissette, early Sarah McLachlan (circa Vox) and even Paula Cole – the band performed several songs from Meghan’s We Are All Born Naked CD, finishing with my fave “Hush,” which Meghan said she pretty much has to do every gig or else someone will be upset over the omission. Coming up: Meghan plays tomorrow night (Nov 13) at The Drake Hotel at 7:30 p.m. as a guest performer for the SUPERCELL screening by Tara Cooper – and look out for her monthly webcasts, featuring local indie music artists.

Another piece of trivia – and the jury is still out on whether this actually works or not. Apparently, eating a dollop of butter helps the voice when one is experiencing a dry cough. This remedy was thought up on the fly by Meghan and tried by Kat (who was dealing with a dry cough) – Kat says it works. Placebo or the real deal? Who knows.

After a brief break, the main event. Supertash (aka Tash Jolly) took over the stage with her band, treating us to three mini-sets, featuring tracks from the Before The World Ends CD and a an easy, soft acoustic guitar-driven solo set by Tash. This was one kick-ass, rawkin out at the end of the world experience. From the smokin’ hot, mysterious “Empty Hands,” which could easily be a James Bond movie theme song, to the unapologetic “No Coincidence” to the dreamy haze warning of “Blow Right Through You” and the soulful girl-power power ballad “Relief,” Supertash brought it.

It was a big fun evening of music and positive energy – and there were door prizes, where audience members submitted their superhero name and powers with their entry. Thanks to Tash for the awesome lightning bolt necklace – super hero powerful and Harry Potter magical! For a sneak peek at “Before The World Ends,” wrap your ears around these tracks on SoundCloud:

Kat Leonard & Arlene Paculan
Sherry-Lynn Lee
Meghan Morrison & band
Meghan Morrison
Supertash – Tash Jolly
Supertash band – Frank Bartoletti (guitar) & Ed Mortenson (drums)
Supertash band – Dave Carreiro (bass) & Christina Melanie (keys)
Supertash – Tash Jolly w Frank Bartoletti
Supertash & band

Counting down to Supertash “Before The World Ends” CD launch – Sun, Nov 11

Looking for something to do in Toronto this Sunday night? Well search no more, dear readers.

Supertash (aka Tash Jolly) will be launching her “Before The World Ends” CD this Sunday, November 11 – 7 p.m. at the Gladstone Hotel. Hosted by Kat Leonard, with guests Arlene Paculan, Meghan Morrison and Sherry-Lynn Lee, and featuring Supertash – this is gonna be some big fun girl power evening. Check out the promo vid:

And give her a listen on SoundCloud:

You can also check out this event on Facebook:

I know where I’m gonna be on Sunday night. How ’bout you?

The art of sexy parody – Toronto Burlesque Festival Press Party/Meet & Greet Teaser


Poetry in pasties at the Gladstone Hotel Melody Bar last night, my friends, at the Toronto Burlesque Festival Press Party/Meet & Greet Teaser. This is the 5th annual TBF, with performances taking place at the Gladstone and the Mod Club, running until July 22.

Hostess with the mostess (and Skin Tight Outta Sight business and booking manager) Sauci Calla Horra introduced the panel that included: performer Coco Framboise, and guests of honour Imogen Kelly (the Reigning Queen of Burlesque, who came in all the way from Australia), Ms. Judith Stein and April March, who took questions from the floor. While Ms. Kelly is pioneering the art form in Australia, Ms. Stein and Ms. March were doing their own pioneering here back in the day, when venues and backstage ammenities were less glamourous. There are about 200 performers in Toronto, including some male performers, though the majority are women. Burlesque is about paraody – sending up what men want in a woman (or, what women want in a man).

Rockabilly band Jump Devils performed a rockin pre-naked ladies set, then turned the floor over to teaser performance hosts Sexy Mark Brown and The Great Canadian Wolfman, who introduced a tantalizing sampling of the talent that will be featured throughout the festival. Big fun times, my friends. If you have a chance, check out these amazingly talented and lovely performers.

For more info on the Toronto Burlesque Festival, please visit their website:

For info on the hosting troupes/organizers, check out:

Skin Tight Outta Sight:

Coco Framboise:

Great Canadian Burlesque:

And here’s a peek at a couple of the performers we were treated to last night. You know, there’s just something about a woman in a corset. That is all.

TBF Meet & Greet Teaser – Scarlett Sparks
TBF Meet & Greet Teaser – Mlle Belle Jurnelles

The Beautiful & the Damned and Toronto Burlesque Festival

Lots more going on this week, my friends.

Tonight, the July edition of The Beautiful and the Damned will take place at Glad Day Bookshop (598 Yonge St., Toronto – just north of Wellesley on the west side of Yonge). Here’s the scoop from my pal, the lovely and talented Lizzie Violet:

It’s officially summer and the best way to celebrate, in a room full of amazing poets, and inspiring music. Come dressed in your best Hawaiian Luau outfit or grass skirt! Join our fabulous host DM Moore, as she gives this month’s dead celeb, Tura Santana, a run for her money. This month’s features are:

Marcy Rogers’ first incarnation as a writer was as a playwright. Her play Nocturnal Emissions was nominated for a Dora award in 1993. She was also commissioned by Young People’s Theatre to write a play about hard of hearing children called The Secret of Shhh. After developing a severe aversion to actors, she began writing fiction and now she spends all her time trying to be the next Raold Dahl. That said she has just finished a one-woman show called Cristina, which is being considered by one of her favorite Toronto theatres and one of the few actresses she actually likes.

Thomas Scott is a poet turned adman turned poet. His first poems were published in The Canadian Forum when he was in high school. After a career with a major Canadian advertising agency he retired as Chairman, CEO and returned to poetry. His two collections, User’s Guide to a Blank Wall and How Things Got Like This were published by GREF at York University’s Glendon College with French translations by award-winning French novelist, Daniel Soha. In 2009, he was declared winner of Discovery Night at Toronto’s Art Bar, the longest running poetry reading series in Canada where he featured that year and is featuring again on August 23 of this year. Thomas Scott is a member of The League of Canadian Poets.

Charnie Guettel is a jazz composer created by the saloons. She appears with members of her band The Modern Jazz Twelve.

Sign up for Open Mic is at 7:00 pm. Spots are limited, sign up early.

All The Beautiful and The Damned events are pay what you can.

For more information please email

Follow us on:
Twitter: @TBandtheDamned
Facebook: @

Also tonight, the 5th annual Toronto Burlesque Festival opens at the Gladstone Hotel, with programming running at the Gladstone and the Mod Club until July 22. For full details, times and locations, check their website: