On the Road from Damascus to Victoria, BC.

13 11 2016

dsc02494Sari Alesh

– Syrian Refugee gives back by using his musical talent.
Hear his first Canadian music recording
– Learn about plans to support Benefit Event
– Discover news about another Syrian Family commencing that same long road from Damascus.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world to-day. Over 33,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 2015 when Prime Minister Trudeau opened the doors to approved applicants. That “door” is now closed for government sponsorships but private sponsors still have until the end of 2016 or early 2017 to apply and receive approval.

One fortunate refugee who took that long road from Damascus to Victoria is a talented musician, 31 year old, Sari Alesh. Sari played with the Syrian national orchestra for six years, touring and playing in Germany, Italy and the Middle East. He also performed with leading Arabic pop stars and recorded a number of successful records. Sadly his musical career was abruptly halted for five years as the conditions within Syria deteriorated due to war. He spent the early years of the Syrian civil war in Damascus but then, like so many in Syrians, he fled his home to find safety in Turkey during 2014.

Since arriving in Victoria nine months ago, life has been busy for Sari. The accomplished violinist has been able to take some lessons at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. He is also improving his English studies at UVic and wishes to study for a Master in Music. He hopes to be successful to secure a scholarship to fulfill this dream. His ambitious plans are now to continue to play violin (in some capacity), teach French/Music and also to teach violin to children with downs syndrome.

Despite being focused on his new studies he still finds time to connect with his new Canadian community and try and give back to help others. He is so appreciative towards the people who sponsored him to move to Canada. He feels it is only correct that he return the kindness, as best as he can.

finalbenefit-dinner-posterbwOn 26 November, Sari will be performing in his third Benefit event. This time at the Friendship Community Church, an event that is being arranged to raise funds for another Syrian Family whose cousin, Liza Glynn, lives in Victoria. This family hopes to be following Sari and move to Victoria. The family of five (parents with two young children and a disabled brother) fled Syria after their home was destroyed by ISIS. Having lost everything, they, along with millions of others, decided to leave their homeland in the hope of finding a safe place for their family to re-start their lives again. Their children have never lived without war. They have not had the chance to play safely outside. They have been faced with many other challenges in Syria including daily power cuts, food shortages and other issues due to living in a civil war. They are currently in Beirut with thousands of other displaced refugees hoping for the chance to live in peace.

On the Road From Damascus Benefit event will feature Victoria’s local world music group, Saffron. They will lead the Middle Eastern themed musical entertainment, evening together with the dazzling Asmira and her Belly Dancing group, also from Victoria. Sari will join them for a “jam session” and then and he hopes to delight the audience with his chosen music for the night, that will include performances of Turkish, Arabic pop as well as classical pieces. It promises to be a fabulous evening with a three-course Middle Eastern-themed dinner prepared by owners of Café Zanzibar Restaurant in Brentwood Bay followed by the live entertainment.

Sari has made his first recording in Canada of his favourite music and you can listen to some of the songs now at this link.

Listen to Sari playing Violin on “Yalnız Sen”, a Turkish folk song.

 

Music Recorded in Victoria, by Richard E Arthur Studios.

If you enjoy listening to his music, please consider to make a donation to help the Benefit Event and raise funds to aid sponsorship of another Syrian family:
Please make cheques payable to St Mary’s Church, Saanichton Memo: “For the Peninsula Refugee Fund.”

To learn more about this special Benefit gig, please link here

Also, watch an overview about the event via this YouTube video:





Local Musicians and Dancers support Benefit Event for Syrian Refugees.

26 10 2016

ON THE ROAD FROM DAMASCUS.
SPECIAL BENEFIT DINNER AND SHOW – RAISING FUNDS TO SUPPORT SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY

– RAISING FUNDS TO SUPPORT SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY

Victoria, BC, Canada.

Victoria’s local musicians and entertainers have opened their hearts and pocket books, to offer their services to support and perform at a very special Benefit event on 26 November 2016.

Well known Brentwood Bay resident, Liza Glynn who has advanced MS, has been working hard to raise funds to sponsor her Christian, Syrian family to move to Canada.

Time is running out to meet the deadline to apply and raise funds so now a group of her friends, members of the St Mary’s Church and friends around the Peninsula and Victoria have gathered to host this special event to boost her fundraising efforts.

saffron-imageWell known World Music group, Saffron an entertaining mix of world influences, folk and jazz, will open the show with their wide-ranging explorations of three talented multi-instrumentalists – Ken Hall, Niel Golden, and Enrique Rivas. Using songs drawn from a deep repertoire of original and traditional pieces, these consummate tour guides will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey through the evocative sounds of India, the Arabian peninsula and Africa (with a touch of blues thrown in for good measure.) Saffron has also produced a critically acclaimed CD titled Road. If you are a fan of exotic instruments and mood-inducing musical textures, sit back, relax and enjoy the trip. Join Saffron for an unforgettable celebration of improvisation, featuring a musical conversation you won’t soon forget!

If the music of Saffron is not enough to entice you, live belly dancing will occur during the Saffron performance, presented by the awesome Asmira and her dance group. Asmira is a world class dancer, master teacher, and award winning choreographer who has taught and performed Arabic Dance in Canada, the U.S.A., Egypt, the Canary Islands, The Bahamas, Morocco, and Turkey since 1979.

sari-aleshFollowing these two electric performances will be Sari Alesh, a recent refugee from Damascus. Sari formerly trained and played violin with the National Damascus Symphony. He arrived in Canada six months ago, and is doing his part, to give back and help others, in the same way as others helped him.  He will also share his story from Damascus to Canada.

ximena-londonoWith all that sitting, the crowd may want to move beyond toe tapping, so the evening will be rounded off with a dynamic Zumba routine lead by Ximena Londono. It will be fabulous fun and we hope many will rush to buy tickets $50 and u18 $20.

Ahead of all this great live entertainment will be a delicious 3 course Middle Eastern Themed dinner prepared by local restaurant owners, Mo and Toni at Cafe Zanzibar, Brentwood Bay. Plenty of other folks will be volunteering to support and ensure the night will be filled with good food, music, fun and prizes.

It truly promises to be a fantastic evening at the Friendship Community Church, Saanichton. Tickets may be purchased from the following locations or tel 250 652 4123

Buy tickets at: Brentwood Bay Village Empourim, Cafe Zanzibar, Friendship Community Church.





Creative ways to teach teens!

6 10 2016
ca-roule-poster2Kids learn best when they are having fun. No surprise or secret here.  One innovative approach in Victoria, BC, Canada was a project to encourage more kids to listen to  French.  On the West Coast of Canada the chance of hearing French is pretty slim or rare.  However, being the second official language in Canada, it’s important to encourage young students to study and speak French as well as English.
A group of Grade 7 students were challenged to develop their own teen radio show – in French!  The goal was to encourage more kids in Victoria, BC, Canada to listen and speak French.  This was an exciting project that commenced with brainstorming sessions with the Radio station Director and producers to come up with the name, format and content.
Once the name, Ca Roule!, was agreed upon, the students selected topics that were of strong interest to them.  It would mean they would be able to speak passionately about the subjects.  They choose Video Games (what teen doesn’t like playing those!), Sport, Music, Cooking and Books.  In addition, to writing their scripts, seeking out people to interview they also were able to select French music to be played live on air.  They had great fun seeking our both Canadian French and French artists online to share.
They found an older student who served as their MC to glue each section together.  Best of all, they found you could buy online, soundbites that added an extra bling to the overall production of the show.  Finally, one of the students’ fathers, was able to compose a signature tune for their unique production.  Indeed, he helped the students with the major editing and production of the final program.  A job that would be challenging for most!  The show was a success with many local schools in Victoria tuning in to listen, or downloading the show for sharing later with their students.  Local press also enjoyed learning about this ambitious project – see here.
All their hard word paid off, as they were invited to make four pilot shows that were aired live during the summer months.  The show now exists online for anyone to download to listen.
The project is now being extended to High School students to continue the format.
This idea can be expanded for any topic. Consider getting your students to be “junior reporters” and write their dream interview. You could always video and host on a private “YouYube” post!
Please share your creative ideas on getting kids to read and write more!
Listen & discover #CaRoule podcasts, anytime via (Link to be added).




ON THE ROAD FROM DAMASCUS – Reuniting well known Brentwood Bay resident with her Syrian Refugee Family

6 10 2016

saffron-imageAs Canadians look forward to being reunited or joining their families for Thanks-giving this weekend, one Brentwood Bay homeowner is sadly unable to make such plans. Liza Glynn’s cousins were one of the thousands of families whose lives have been disrupted by the civil war taking place in Syria. Their home in Damascus was totally destroyed by terrorists and life in Syria became dangerous with bombings, food shortages and challenging living conditions. They have now fled to Lebanon in the hope that as refugees they can find a better life.

Liza and ChilliLiza Glynn, who has MS, has not allowed her disability to stall her passion to lobby, fundraise and work to get her cousins approved as refugees and able to move to Canada. Sadly time is running out as her application is only being processed now but she remains hopeful that she can celebrate Thanks-giving with her family in 2017.

Meanwhile, her friends are rallying around to help Liza raise the “much needed” funds that are required by private refugee sponsors.
An exciting, Benefit Dinner and Show has been scheduled for 26 November 2016 at the Friendship Community Church in Saanichton.

hagop-ani-and-their-childrenAll profits will go to aid the sponsorship of Liza’s Christian refugee family (Mother, Father, two young children aged 6 and 7 and a disabled cousin).

“We are so lucky to have such a fabulous welcoming community with an amazing capacity to reach out and help within Victoria.” Commented event planner, Sandra Arthur.

The owner of Zanzibar Café and Restaurant, Brentwood Bay will be cooking a Middle Eastern themed dinner (at cost) so that the fundraisers can maximize profits.

Following dinner, guests will be entertained with a Middle Eastern twist:- World Music group, Saffron will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey through the evocative sounds of India, the Arabian peninsula and Africa. Local dancer, Asmira will delight the audience with her exotic Belly Dancing skills and Ximena will give all the chance to try out their dancing skills by joining her in Zumba at the end of the evening.

benefit-dinner-posterjpgA recently arrived refugee from Syria, Sari Alesh who played for the National Damascus Symphony will share his wonderful talent and play a number of music pieces on his violin. He will also share his story on his journey from Damascus, to refugee and finally to Canada.
I hope readers will want to join and attend this dinner or send donations if they are unable to attend.

For ticket information visit the Peninsula Refugee Fund Team page at Facebook for more information.
https://www.facebook.com/BrentwoodBayCommunity/

Make it a date that counts!





Jesse Cook in Concert – leaving the best to last.

7 06 2015

Review of Jesse Cook’s Live Show Victoria BC, Canada 5 June 2015.

The final venue for Jesse Cook’s current Canadian tour took place in Victoria, B.C. Canada, and what a show!

From the outset he was ready to party and encouraged, the mainly middle aged audience (his fan base (?) or simply Victoria!) to join him in a rhumba party. And yes the crowd were ready to clap, dance and participate in sing-along audience participation throughout the show with the band.

I’ve been a big fan since the release of his first CD, Tempest in 1995 and used some of his haunting, swirling Arabic and Brazilian fused rhythms mixed with his famous flamenco-style music from Vertigo (his hugely successful 3rd CD) at my wedding in Cannes, France in 1999.

If you are not familiar with this artist, Jesse Cook is a Canadian guitarist, composer, and producer. Widely considered one of the most influential figures in “nuevo flamenco” music, he incorporates elements of flamenco rumba, jazz & many forms of world music into his work. He is a Juno Award winner, Acoustic Guitar (magazine)’s Player’s Choice Award silver winner in the Flamenco Category, and a three-time winner of the Canadian Smooth Jazz award for Guitarist of the Year. He has recorded on the EMI, E1 Music and Narada labels and has sold over 1.5 million records worldwide.

In addition to headlining concerts and festivals, he has opened for such legends as B.B. King, Ray Charles and Diana Krall. He has also performed with Welsh soprano Charlotte Church and toured with legendary Irish band, The Chieftains.

 

Jesse and band mingle with crowd

Jesse and band mingle with crowd: Photo Copyright Rich Arthur

This current tour was designed to promote his latest album, One World, which features a diverse range of musical influences from South America, Middle East and beyond.   This penchant for “world music” is equally reflected in his choice of band musicians.  I pre-ordered this CD and I’m still waiting to receive it so will review once received!

His longest serving band member is Chris Church– the multi-talented maestro from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Church plays the violin, accordion, percussion and sings. And, as Jesse shared with the crowd, he recently added the Armenian Duduk (the Grandfather of saxophones and Oboe) to his playing skills! Jesse had discovered this sound during his travels and a famous Armenian musician and composer, Djivan Gasparian had recorded with the band for one number on an earlier CD, Free Fall. As a result, it was a song that Jesse could not perform live “Incantation” as it was impractical to fly in Djivan from Armenia for one number. As a result, Cook decided to learn how to play this ancient instrument.   With that background, Cook teased Church on stage that he better nail the song! Which of course, he did.

On percussion Jesse had secured the services of Chendy Leon from Cuba. He was the backbone to the whole show and moved from drums, congo, tin pans and delivered an amazing and entertaining solo on a cajon.

Another force on stage was the equally talented Nicolas Hernandez who has been playing guitar with Jesse for over a decade. His latin musical strumming and plucking strengthen and complement Jesse’s rapid style flamenco guitar playing throughout the show.

Adding a slice of funk to the line up was Dennis Mohammed who played bass and an upright bass guitar.

A local guest vocalist, from Victoria, was announced and for a moment we thought we might have the good fortune to see Nelly Furtado join Jesse on stage. Certainly her experience to sing in Spanish, English and Portugese would have complemented Jesse’s music, but no it was a local lass, Kristina Héléne. She accompanied the band on the cover of Sting’s number “Fragile” and her smoky, jazz styled voice did justice to this romantic ballard.

Jesse ran the two set show with extreme ease and professionalism. Arriving on stage alone speaks volumes about how humble and confident he is about his music. He revealed himself to be quite an amusing and a worthy raconteur.

He kick started the show with some well known upbeat songs and then almost apologetically asked permission to play some music from his new CD One World.

He shared some background to how he had produced this latest album, breaking away from some of his more traditional musical roots. As he joked, his wife felt disappointed. To explain fully, she had expected him to go to a studio, a la 1960’s play a song and have it fully recorded in 3 minutes. However, Jesse, like his world music, has fully embraced the use of technology. Thanks to the creativity of new music software it’s now possible to build a song, track by track with contributions from a wide range of musicians who may never meet. Large files are therefore zipping over the internet and being shared, edited and returned ahead of final mixing and music launch. So in the past as Jesse travelled around to pick up ideas and influences for his work, he admitted he had stayed in his Toronto home, with no need to roam to develop his latest “One World” East meets West release. As many in his business are discovering, gone are the long studio rehearsals but now embracing the electronic style of producing music.  See an example of what he did on this link

After this explanation, Jesse asked the audience if they would like to hear how he had built some of the tracks, to which the answer was yes.

With the aid of digital looping technology (using his magic pedal box at his feet) Jesse commenced to lay down some basic music composition. He was then joined by other band members, who added to this mix, until a cacophony of reverb sounds rang out around the hall to the appreciation of the crowd.

The band moved from traditional line up to moving front stage for casual and informal percussion led numbers, audience clap along involvement and breaking away from the stage for a spine chilling acoustic Crowded House cover of Fall at your Feet, to the delight of the audience.

I would like to say a few words about the amazing lighting that bathed the band in blues, purples, red and greens which perfectly complemented the mood of the songs. Atmospheric, moody, sad, romantic, sensual and simply orgasmic – just like the music!

I had the good fortune to have a seat in row 3 and so had up close and personal views of his scintillating guitar skills. As he strummed away you could see each tendon in his arm flexing as he strummed and hit his guitar frenetically thorough his unique nuevo flamenco music. I struggled to see if he was still using crazy glue on his nails to strengthen his talons, to survive the abuse his frenzied plucking created!

Jesse Cook is an astonishingly generous person repeatedly thanking his band members and mentioning crew members who had gone beyond doing more than their job. He also shared how blessed he felt to make a difference in this world with not only his music but via his ability to give back to different charities. He highlighted one particular environment charity group, David Suzuki’s Foundation Blue Spot that he had invited to share his night.

The encore included another audience pleaser, a version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic “Cecilia” and The Lumineers Hey Ho.

Meeting Jesse Cook: Sandra and Richard ARTHUR

Meeting Jesse Cook: Sandra and Richard ARTHUR

I met up with Jesse after the show to express my appreciation of his wonderful show. I joked with him how many babies did he think his music had brought to the world. Wearily shaking his head, he had been challenged with the question many times, like Godfather of soul, Barry White, but his meek smile reflected some of his inner pride from such a notion.

We discussed the new trend of producing music on vinyl – rather amusing to think that such “old” technology is making a comeback. Must be all these baby boomers in early retirement wanting to bathe in the nostalgia of their youth!    Jesse confided he had considered making a vinyl LP but was reviewing production choices in Canada. No promises, as sales are still extremely small representing less than 3% of music sales. So if you want to buy Jesse’s next album on vinyl let him know!

Though the tour was over for the moment, there was no time to party, for Jesse had a 6 am flight back to Toronto in the morning.   He’ll be back in July performing in other parts of Canada and USA through to year end.

If you missed seeing his him this time then I highly recommend you book a seat for one of his shows later this year – definitely one of the people to see this year! You won’t be disappointed.

Bravo Jesse and band.   I absolutely loved it darling.





Why Run for the Cure?

22 01 2015

I had the honour to join my husband and his work colleagues to Run for the Cure in Victoria, BC, Canada.   Here’s a quick review together with photographs to celebrate our day.  If you missed joining or sponsoring this event, I hope you will join us next year!

“Since all of us have women in our lives, we should feel the need to find the cure.  And remember, men may get breast cancer too.  It affects all of us.”   

Each year thousands of Canadians participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC “Run for the Cure” to help raise funds for important research to help beat this disease.  The Foundation has funded $300 million in breast cancer research, health promotion, advocacy, education and awareness programs since 1986.   It’s therefore great to report that philanthropy is alive and kicking in British Columbia as tens of thousands joined the effort to raise more funding ($9 Million in Victoria alone!) and participate in the 2014 run around the University of Victory grounds.   This included the Hewlett Packard Victoria office that fielded a twenty-five person strong team thus beating their own record for attendance.   Family members young and old joined HP Victoria staff in the run (jog or walk), whereas across Canada more than 150 HP employees, family members and friends participated. HP VictoriaTeam HP raised a total of $13,124 in donations for this very worthwhile cause. Way to go Team HP!

We all thank Bonnie Gunderson and Amanda Gray who performed a great job coordinating HP’s participation.  In addition they arranged team shirts and generally kept up the drumbeat to get everyone to get involved and pumped for the day. The friendly rivalry of “Cowtowners” (Calgary) vs “Islanders” (Victoria), kept the team motivated.   A sea of pink clothed people greeted the team arriving to collect their HP Run for the Cure T-shirts.

Some participants had definitely gone to town: supporting pink wigs, pink hats, pink dresses and tutus. Some even extended the branding to their dogs and baby pushchairs. A personal favourite were the local fire-fighter team all clothed in pink jump suits.   An option of 1 km or 5 km was available for those joining this “fun run” and serious runners were definitely out in force. Likewise people with walking sticks, wheelchairs and those walking with young and old did the event organisers proud.

Our own, Ross Kelleway achieved a respectful 29 minute run, though 3 minutes short of his typically best run effort. Clearly valuable early minutes were lost as the dense crowd could only shuffle forward as runners, joggers, walkers and those pushing strollers all battled to push forward and commence the race. One of the youngest members in the HP team, was Richard Arthur’s 11 year old son, Edouard, who achieved an impressive 38 minute result – his first 5 km run, ever and now hooked to take up running.

Everyone participating had a reason and a story to share. Many participants were sporting labels on their back to “advertise” why they were running and raising funds for Breast Cancer Research. It brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye to read the many tributes being sported such as “I’m running for my Mom”. In 2014, it is estimated that 24,400 women and 210 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and that 5,000 women and 60 men will die from the disease.  

Morale was kept high with live music played at different points along the route. Likewise volunteers, strategically placed along the route, cheered and applauded all the participants.   As runners and walkers approached the first 2 km marker the unmistakable sound of the bagpipes could be heard and this definitely helped flagging runners to pick up the pace.  A great feeling of relief washed over participants as they reached a “water stop” point and beyond at the final 1 km leg. Everyone participating enjoyed the job of running under the End banner to cheers, waves and well done greetings.

The top team fund raisers in Victoria were Brentwood Busts Cancer who earned $12,727.88 from their sponsors whilst FooB Fighters raised $10,899.21.   Hats off to the the top individual fund raiser who was Kirsten Petersen who accumulated an amazing $9,537.10

The HP team members were thrilled with their efforts. The sun shone early in the race but rolling clouds provided a much appreciate blanket of “coolness” for the sweaty runners effort. All in all a fun morning activity for an important fund raising event. The funding will allow important research, education and advocacy initiatives to be put in place in the coming year.

So was it worthwhile for the HP team, Victoria?  You bet. On top of all of that, we beat the Cowtowners…Yeah!

See you again next year!  P1070726





Rockin with Jann Arden, at last.

6 09 2014

A report of Jann Arden/Rose Cousin’s concert, 4 September 2014 Victoria, BC, Canada.

 

In 1995 I was touring BC and Alberta on holiday and walked into a Music shop in Banff. I asked the man serving in the shop if he could recommend a Canadian singer that he thought I might like. He mentioned that a new Alberta sweetheart, that was proving popular, was Jann Arden. I snapped up her CD “Living Under June” and fell in love. I introduced the music to my then Canadian boyfriend (later my husband) who had not heard of her, but who also fell under Jann’s spell with her quirky folky/rock songs. Since that time I have listen to her music and learnt to sing many of her soulful ballads.

 

Fast-forward to 2014 and my family had plans to move from the beautiful sunny shores of the Cote d’azur, France to the equally beautiful, but less sunny coast of Victoria, BC, Canada.   A quick check on upcoming concerts revealed that my top two Canadian singers: Sarah McLachlan and Jann Arden were due to sing in Victoria! What excitement and luck for me.   Budgets and babysitters get in the way of the hard decision that had to be made: which event to choose… I’d been fortunate enough to see Sarah in Montreal in the 1990’s, so the vote was 100% for Jann.

 

Jann was kick starting her Canadian tour to promote her 12th album, Everything Almost and tickets had sold quickly.   By the time I tried to book all but 10 seats remained. Hence balcony near the back seats remained, but no matter I had a ticket for the Royal Theatre, Victoria show!

 

I love the efficiency that I’m experiencing in Canada. Online booking works a treat. Things run on time and people are very friendly. I was informed that the show would start at 7.30pm and would run for 2 hours 45 minutes.  Guess what, it worked exactly like that. Wow, was I ready to rock.

 

No babysitter was possible so I came alone. Or to share a line from Jann, “I was not alone, I was with Jann!”. This Alberta singer-songwriter is now celebrating her 52nd year, and the audience profile tended to match. The majority of people attending were in the mid 40’s to 60’s with the exception of one young girl called Bella who the audience got to meet and a couple of other “younger” folks dotted about on the balcony level.

 

It’s been a long time since I attended a music gig without having part of my view blocked by something holding up their camera or smart phone to video or take photographs.   I have to say it was quite refreshing and remarkably enjoyable. All attendees were told that no photography was allowed during the show. With no public mention or reminder of this fact, I was honestly amazed that during the show not one person took a sneaky photo. I was tempted but realised this Canadian audience were an honest bunch – it would never have worked in France (;-) It was only during the encore when Jann stated she didn’t care if people wanted to snap her photo and share it on FB, Twitter or any social media platform that people slowly pulled out their phones and filmed and snapped away.

 

I did not make notes during the show but here are some of my memories and observations from last night’s show.

 

Rose Cousins opened the show. Who, yes it was my first question as well. Sadly her name was not promoted in the ticket nor on the theatre billboard. However, after tonight’s performance I feel Rose has won herself plenty of new fans. Originally from Prince Edward Island she now lives in Halifax. Apparently she writes from a tiny New Hampshire Island cabin, with no electricity and shares her beliefs about life. Her soulful voice resonated around the theatre and lyrics were delivered with passion and clarity. Slow, deliberate and questioning words reach out to the audience as she strummed her guitar – alone with no support. I thought this was a brave way to start a show… Luckily the darkness and shade of the sombre music was broken up by the humour and teasing that Rose shared with the audience. It was this ping pong change from dark to light that made her short, thirty minute performance such a delight. She sang songs from her STRAY BIRDS CD. This is a collection of meaningful covers, some by friends, some by heroes, along with two new originals, including the EP’s namesake.

 

No surprise that there was rush to the sales table, during intermission, to meet Rose for those interested to buy her latest EP/CD. As she stated, “I’ll be hanging out near to the CD sales table in the lobby – no pressure to come and meet me!”.

 

And so we come to the main act, Jann Arden.  Jann clearly is no pretentious diva or sex god. The opening lit logo image of her “shape” was testament to her style: She is “large” and proud! Her worst nightmare being if her skirt would fall down on stage, but as she quipped, she has hips and that probably only happens with skinny girls! Her years of touring experience shone through. She was at ease with the crowd – connecting, joking and sharing her fears, dreams and wishes.   She perhaps wants to be a sexy rock chick: her leather boots and faux-leather jacket paid testament to that but her self-deprecating humour “I have sweat rolling down my butt” was shared to confirm she was like one of us, “hot and human!”.

 

And human she is with a few wobbly notes for the first song but thereafter she was rockin, rolling and cruising with her dyed blond hair and amazing support band. Sadly I made no notes and can’t recall the names of the band other than they hailed from Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary as well as USA.  I’ll research and update later…

 

She kicked off with some of her older tracks (and my favourites Time for Mercy, Will You Remember Me, Good Mother and Unloved) but was careful to weave in her newer material from her latest CD Everything Almost. This latest collaboration with Grammy Award winning producer Bob Rock is considered to be amongst Jann’s finest work – progressive, yet retaining the magic that is distinctly Jann. Her support band were really ace, tight and professional. Special mention should be made of her keyboard/violin player, Allison Cornell.

 

Within the show she helped cheer up one lady who was celebrating her 60th birthday, who had thought she was coming to see Ann Murray, by singing “Songbird”. Whilst sang in a tongue in cheek manner, it was an audience pleaser! Jann also sang another strong cover favourite by Carly Simon “You’re so Vain”. She speculated Carly was singing about Woody Allan to the amusement of the crowd.

 

Full of surprises Jann let her band entertain the crowd and gave the spot light to her keyboard/violin player, Allison Cornell, to give her a perhaps much needed break during the mamouth 2.5 hour show. She popped up in the audience, sitting and singing in the only spare seat in the house. Whilst exchanging banter with the audience she realised her adult theme conversation might be offensive to the one and only child in the room. She invited the little girl in the front row to receive a 20 dollar bill to go and buy a “pot or pan” to cover up her discussion about marijuana (pot). Later the same lucky girl received two more 20 dollar bills to cover up her embarrassment and serve as an apology for discussing her death obsessed behaviour in her early 20’s.

 

Ahead of an emotional performance of her famous hit “Insensitive” the crowd where privy to her fun recount of being interviewed by a Mississippi Radio DJ who had called the song Insatiable! Some sassy attendee stole her dramatic pause during her performance of that same song by singing IN (to complete the word insensitive) but Jann took it in her strike and acknowledged the cheeky person before completing the song.

 

The crowd’s receptiveness and warmth was well rewarded with a 25 minute encore AFTER the two hour show.

 

 

To wrap up I can’t put it better than Nac Southam Hall “ Whether she is captivating audiences with her heartfelt music, entertaining them with her quick wit or sharing her written word in a boldly honest voice – Jann Arden is a Canadian original – a brilliant multi-dimensional talent.”

 

If you have the chance, do try and get tickets to see Jann during this tour – highly recommended. If you can’t do that, the next best thing, buy her music, you will not be disappointed.

 

See Jann’s Performance from a few years ago – still wearing those same leather boots!