Took a break from Fringing last night to travel out to Café Chez Hélène (1437 Kingston Rd., just west of Warden) for Roof’s Off!, a one-night solo show double header featuring Kat Leonard’sMy Selfie and Hélène Nicole’sSecrets of a Single Dysfunctional “French” Woman.
Leonard’s My Selfie is an ever-evolving, joyful work in progress, as she tweaks and tailors each performance for entertainment or workshop purposes. It’s a great big love letter to her body – from head to toe, she expresses gratitude for each part, sharing anecdotes and songs along the way. And, best of all, she encourages the audience to consider the skin they’re in – and how our bodies make up a relatively tiny portion of who we are. Keep an eye out for future performances of this entertaining, engaging and touching one-woman show.
Nicole’s Secrets of a Single Dysfunctional “French” Woman is a confessional cabaret of songs (mostly originals by Nicole), woven together with brief stories about life as a single gal who’s loved and lost, from being an entrepreneur/businesswoman in Montreal to an artist/café owner in Toronto (Café Chez Hélène is her place). The performance is charming and entertaining, with touches of wistful melancholy. Singing in English and French, Nicole’s music is inspired by country/folk music and ballads, and was accompanied last night by guest Léo, a visitor from France, who played guitar and piano when Nicole wasn’t strumming the guitar herself. To add to the fun, as a finale, Nicole hosted a dance contest between Leo and two male audience members, inviting others to play percussion instruments. In the end, Leonard’s Soulo Theatre Masterclass classmate Chris was the winner. Also a work in progress, Secrets of a Single Dysfunctional “French” Woman will be transformed and developed – so be sure to look out for future productions. In the meantime, check out Café Chez Hélène’s bilingual open mic nights on Wednesdays.
This was a one-night event, one that packed the house, so make sure to follow Kat Leonard and Café Chez Hélène on Facebook to get the heads-up on future shows/events.
It was a super fantastic night of music, friends and celebration at 3030 Dundas West last night, with two reasons to party: Supertash launching her Breakdown EP and Kat Leonard’s birthday (with Leonard performing as the opening act)!
Leonard treated us to a sneak peek of her new solo show in progress My Selfie, a comedic, frank and thought-provoking piece on positive self/body image. More than just an ode to body parts, this is a singing, dancing, storytelling trip in and around the external self – and we are all so much more than the sum of those parts. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for future performances of My Selfie.
Supertash (aka Natasha Jolly) and band rocked our world with tunes from Breakdown, as well as some selections from her last record Before the World Ends. Featuring kick-ass vocals, outstanding musicianship and passionate lyrics – especially on the title track and “Serial Killer” (Supertash’s ode to Dexter) – as well as some soulful, keyboard-driven pop (“Control Freak,” which brings to mind the sounds of Sade), Breakdown is full of heart and edge. Joining Supertash onstage last night were: Frank Bartoletti (lead guitar), Dave Carreiro (bass), Rick Carreiro (drums) and Toad (keys/guitar/back-up vox).
Kat 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for rezzos or call 647.347.6567
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.
And what a great evening it was! I was already very familiar with – and love – Hill, Leonard, Saini and Speziale, and was really happy to meet Peterson and see her perform with her band. And she is also awesome!
Check out these ladies’ websites, and take a look at their music videos too. Heather Hill recently released her music vid for “Stupid Happy” and Jessica Speziale launched “Brace Yourself” recently. Here’s Angela Saini’s “Little Black Dress” (and she tells me a vid for “Something Like I’m Beautiful” is coming soon!) Here’s Melanie Peterson’s “Cinema Girl” – and if you haven’t heard Kat Leonard’s fangirl ode to Johnny Depp, then you must take a look at this singalong vid of “Jockstrap.”
And last, but not least, here are some pix I took at the event last night:
A 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:
Kat 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/
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.
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: