Summerworks Review: The Magic, Ark Analog, August 10, The Theatre Centre

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The first official night of the Summerworks Musical Series started off with a bang. Playing before a packed house at the ridiculously cool Theatre Centre venue, indie pop act The Magic put on an impressive show that also doubled as their record release party for their upcoming debut album Ragged Gold.

Featuring both Geordie Gordon and the leggy Sylvie Smith on vocals, the group’s music can best be described as fun infectious music that can inspire some hand claps and serious waspy dancing. I first saw The Magic in 2009 at the Wrongbar, and at the time I wrote that they sounded like Yacht Rock, I think that still kind of holds true, and that’s a good thing. Being Summerworks, the concert also featured theatrics with Keith Cole playing the role of the MC in what can only be described as a twisted cross dressing re-imagination of classic 70’s show The Midnight Special. Interviews, dance contests and the like kept the 90 minute show moving along at a rapid pace accumulating in the crowd and band dancing under a pitch black sky of glitter and balloons.

Opening for the Magic was the new Maylee Todd/Dan Werb collaboration Ark Analog. Fans of Woodhands would know that they have previously worked together on the Woodhands track Dancer and probably some other tunes as well. While the premise of the band seems promising (dance beats balanced out by a female vocals), the group has some work to do as Ark Analog seem to quickly lose momentum after an impressive first track. Given that the collaboration is relatively new and both Dan Werb and Maylee Todd put on good shows on a regular basis, I’m sure things will work out over time.

Summerworks Review: Iceland [2012, Ravi Jain]

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iceland picture

Iceland is an entertaining play that follows a trio of characters through what can be best described as a series of unfortunate events. In what is basically a sequence of monologues, we get to learn about three characters – Kassandra, the Estonian exchange student with a heart of gold, Halim – a Gordon Gekko meets Brad Lamb sort of character and Anna, a conservative overly religious lady down on her luck. The strong performances by the actors involve make the play both engaging and highly enjoyable. I never thought I’d be one to enjoy a play full of monologues but the acting, humor and twist and turns in the script made the hour long play go quickly and I was kind of sad it ended so soon.

Remaining Dates:
Thur. August 16, 5:00 PM
Sat. August 18, 10:00 PM
Sun. August 19, 5:00 PM

Buy Tickets Here

Summerworks Music Preview: Aline Morales, Evening Hymns, Buck 65

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The beginning of August usually means a few things – heat, Blue Jays being officially eliminated from playoff contention, trips to cottages and Summerworks Performance Festival.

This year marks a bit of a comeback for Summerworks (the largest juried festival in Canada), who had their funding cut in 2011 due to criticism over Catherine Frid’s terrorism-on-home-turf play Homegrown. I guess this was why my nazi-al-queda-tamil-tiger-terrorism-genocidal-spaghetti-western-kung fu play based on the U2 song “A Beautiful Day” got rejected.

The festival originally started out as a theatre only event but has gradually included music elements as well. This year’s festival will feature a host of musical acts and we are here to preview them.

Aline Morales

I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil – gorgeous beaches, gorgeous women, the Amazon rainforest and what is probably amazing food all add up to a pretty wicked trip in my head. However, I am now rather poor and out of vacation days so the only time I can travel to Brazil is in my head. While I am travelling to this exotic locale (in my head), I can’t think of a better accompanying soundtrack then the music of Aline Morales. The Brazillian born singer had a highly revered solo debut record Flores and it’s basically summertime in a box. I hope they serve fruity drinks at the Theatre Centre on Thursday August 16th, because that would be highly appropriate for the tropical flavors of this lady. Buy tickets to this show here

Evening Hymns

In case you come out of the Aline Morales showcase a little too happy, you can always drag that down by attending the Evening Hymns showcase the following night. The Toronto based band has new album Spectral Dusk coming out in late August and by all appearances, it is a devastatingly sad album that lead singer Jonas Bonnetta wrote to deal with the loss of his father three years ago. A decidedly less jovial but equally good show, I suspect. Get tickets here.

Buck 65

Hip Hop artist Buck 65 has probably been fighting the moniker “hip hop artist” for a better part of a decade now, seeing how some of his releases in the mid 2000s incorporated many other genres of music. Whatever musical genre you choose to paint Richard Terfry with, you probably realize that the opportunity to see him in a theatre setting is a rare opportunity. I say seize the day and grab some tickets and see what goes down at the Theatre center on Wednesday. Buy tickets here. I’ve been fond of Buck 65 since I saw him on MTV’s Cribs, and he showed MTV just normal apartment. That, my friend, is keeping it real.


I took part in the Summerworks Soiree earlier this summer and it was a fundraiser dinner. A good time was had by all and I met both food AND livestyle bloggers. I feel so enriched now. The food was graciously provided by chefs Mark Cutrara (from Cowbell) and Alexandra Feswick, who will soon be opening up the restaurant Samuel J Moore inside the Great Hall later on this fall. It serves food, so you should go eat it. A lot of donations were made to the Summerworks cause and if you feel somewhat left out, you too, can donate to this cause by clicking on this link.

Summerworks Concert Review: Jennifer Castle, Bruce Peninsula, Lower Ossington Theatre, August 11

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Toronto – Thursday night at the Summerworks was home to two artist who had impressed many at NXNE – Toronto’s own Jennifer Castle and Toronto’s own Bruce Peninsula. For me it was night two of Can con music and I was very much looking forward to exploring the sounds and songs of artists from all over the GTA west area.

One of the oddest things I found about this year’s Lower Ossington Theatre setup was the lack of chairs. They seem to have been removed after the theatre people were finished with the plays and placed on the sides. Was this a subtle declaration of war between theatre and music? Are indie music fans not deserving of plush comfortable seating? Is it considered more indie/real to sit on the ground than on a chair? These questions were lingering about in my mind during Jennifer Castle’s set because the songstress’s fragile voice and gentle guitar picking had the entire packed audience at the theater sitting down on the cold hard floor. Perhaps it was to reflect the cold hard truth in some of the lyrics for her songs. I am not sure. Dressed in a shiny silver jacket, I had expected some more upbeat perhaps disco tracks from Jennifer during her set, but I quickly learned that apparel on stage cannot be a good judge of an artists discography. Instead, Jennifer performed some songs off her album Castlemusic to the silent delight of the crowd.

Jennifer Castle – Powers by GreaterGoodsCo.

Employing a much different setup was Bruce Peninsula, the rip roaring folk revival gang bang band that had everyone’s private parts in a tussle after what I read was an exhilarating show at the Rivoli in June. Employing a choir of singers (dressed like they were from a 70s variety show), the nine piece band effectively took up almost one entire side of the theater. Standing front and center was Neil Haverty, the cancer beating front man of the group. Standing right by his side was the other lead vocalist Misha Bowers. From what my friends say, this was a new arrangement that perhaps stemmed from Haverty having to take a step back with his health issues. Either way, from the second the band took the stage, the groups toe tapping gang vocal folk rock was a definitely hit with the packed crowd. For me, half the tracks almost sounded like a gospel rock song with Haverty’s ragged vocals delivering a kind of sermon whilst the choir girls on the side backed him up with tender choral passages. It was an entirely pleasant experiment save for Misha Bower’s music is like cooking a cake analogies, which seemed amusing at first until she repeatedly attempted to add to this metaphor throughout the night. It seemed a bit much, but perhaps it was amusing to all the bakers in the crowd.

Salesman by BrucePeninsula

Bruce Peninsula are apparently playing every little city in Eastern Canada this fall, chances are you can check them out, unless you live out west.

September 09 – Sarnia, ON – The Story
September 10 – Hamilton, ON – Christ’s Church Cathedral
September 15 – Guelph, ON – Ebar
September 17 – London, ON – OH Fest
September 18 – Waterloo, ON – Waterloo Park / Grist Mill
September 21 – Kingston, ON – Chalmers Church
September 23 – Burnstown, ON – Neat Coffee
September 29 – St. Catharines, ON – Mansion House
October 01 – Peterborough, ON – The Attic
October 05 – Montreal, PQ – Casa Del Popolo
October 07 – St. John, NB – Pepper’s Pub
October 08 – Sackville, NS – George’s
October 09 – Halifax, NS – Khyber
October 12 – Cornerbrook, NL – Backlot
October 14 – St. John’s, NL – The Ship
October 15 – St. John’s, NL – The Ship
October 16 – Port Rexton, NL – Two Whales Cafe
October 19 – Sydney, NS – St. Pat’s on Esplanade
October 20 – Riverport, NS – Confidence Lodge
October 21 – Fredericton, NB – The Capital Bar
October 22 – Halifax, NS – Bus Stop Theatre
October 23 – Charlottetown, PEI – Baba’s
October 24 – Moncton, NB – Plan B
October 25 – Fredericton, NB – Charlotte Street Arts Centre
October 26 – Sherbrooke, QC – La Petite Boite Noir
October 27 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace