Bernie Finkelstein -The Baron of Canadian Music

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If you were listening to independent Canadian music in the 70’s and 80’s, you were most likely listening to music produced by Bernie
Finkestein and True North Records.

Back in those days, you could get discovered by people like Bernie, and have your life and musical career take off!

In 1969, I was far too young to hang out at Yorkville, Toronto, the mecca of the bohemian Canadian music scene. Heck, I didn’t live in Toronto until 1984. But my spirit and heart must have been there even at 8 years or age because the music that came out of that period made me feel more alive than any dogma or social conditioning my parents were trying to instill in me.

Artist such as Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLaughlin, The Paupers, Kensington Market and Rough Trade were…. so fresh and progressive compared to mainstream music and my Mom’s (bless her heart) endless playing of Roger Whittaker. Their songs helped to shaped how I felt about myself, opened my eyes to what music could be, and changed my perspective on life. They inspired me with their words, their boldness, rawness, honesty, and unique sounds. They not only inspired me, they inspired a whole generation. So, when I had a chance to chat with Bernie Finkelstein, in person, I grabbed it.

Bernie was in town for the Ottawa release of his memoirs, True North. It was held at The Elmdale Tavern, the perfect venue for the occasion; rustic and unscathed by stylized trends, and filled with photos of bands and memorabilia going back decades. And for those of us who were present for Bernie’s meet and greet, it was an experience of stepping back in time.

Harvey Glatt was in attendance, and Ken Rockburn was on hand as moderator… some fairly big names in Canadian broadcasting. I met and interviewed Ken a couple years back for a radio feature series I produced for CKCU’s 35th anniversary. So, I was delighted to catch up with him.

As I pulled out my recorder, I noticed the batteries were low. I had been at WestFest just a mere 2 hours before interviewing The Cooper Brothers and Al Wood (Al Wood and The Woodsmen). And now, when I wanted to capture a moment of Canadian music history,  I prayed the batteries would hold out. (I’m not the most technically savvy person on the planet… But holy shit, girl! Extra batteries in the purse would have come in handy). Disappointed and embarrassed, I faked it… praying and hoping the batteries would hold up. And they did!

The recording isn’t the best with the all the background noise in the tavern, but it’s quite endearing. Unrefined and unplanned; two people just chatting in a bar…. (and yah, my ‘gaga’ little girl came out rather than the composed media professional). But it was all okay just being me and Bernie Finkelstein being, well… Bernie Finkelstein! That’s what I wanted… the person behind the success. And the icing on the cake despite all my fumbling? He leaned over, and with genuine warmth said, “I quite enjoyed our chat.”

When it came time for him to take centre stage in front of the crowd, he was just as endearing, gentle, humourous and candid. With his wife, Elizabeth, sitting next to me at the back of the room, he took eager ears back to his beginnings, his perspective on the times, the reason for his success, and his great adventure he called, True North Records.

His next big adventure? Retirement … whatever that means or entails. A little of this and a little bit of that… catching up on some reading in his backyard… and of course, after years of promoting others, now sharing his journey through his True North memoirs.

I can’t say enough on how much of a treat this experience was for me.  And if I can get my act together, I’ll post the audio for your listening pleasure!

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Man of My Dreams…here you come!

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Now that my son has grown and has stepped out from under my skirt-tails, it’s time for me to design the love life I want. Well, to be more honest, I’ve dated over the past 7 years. Yet relationship after relationship, although enjoyable, honest and caring, were disappointing. When I realized that I needed to take even more responsibility for my happiness, the brakes were off!

At the beginning of May, I shared with my dear friend, Anna, that intuitively, I knew ‘my’ guy wasn’t in Ottawa. She offered an exercise, and words of encouragement to persevere rather than give up.  She had used this process to attract her wonderful guy, and perhaps it would work for me. Remaining open but skeptical, I agreed to follow through with the ‘exercise’ to attract the man of my dreams, which I’ll share with you…

Whether you’re 25 or 55 years of age, seeking a significant guy or gal, actively pursuing, or carefree,  the methodology of the exercise is the same because you are the designer of your life, as I am of mine.

Your success rate is based on how well you know yourself, your needs and your wants, as well as your ability to articulate. And depending on your age, you’ve probably been through at least a couple of relationships, if not several. The more relationships you’ve had, the greater your experience and your awareness of what you DON’T want.

Keep in mind that I’m still ‘in the process.’ But rather than leaning towards cynicism, I’m finding a renewed sense of adventure, freedom and clarity, which indicates to me that I’m healing what I need to heal, simply by going through the process. So, here goes!

Part I:- DISLIKES

Write out all the dislikes you don’t want in a relationship and in the other person. You’ll find old hurts and memories come up. Perhaps anger, betrayal, disappointment, but keep going. It’s a purging process. Take your time. Take a few days or a few weeks. You want to clear the old to make way for the new, just as you would your closet.

I took my time with this phase because I wanted it to be thorough. With so much more to live, give and experience, I didn’t want to waste any more potential, energy or time. I wrote my dislikes over the course of a weekend, and then put them aside for a couple of days. Afterwards, I re-read the list and continued to add to it. In the end, I had 7 double-sided hand-written pages…

Here were some of my ‘don’t wants’ …. drama, addictions, co-dependence, deceit, lack of integrity, cowardly, insecure, arrogant, ignorant, unsafe, closed-minded, intolerant, impatient, unimaginative, boring, fearful, a 9 to 5’ver, selfish, traditional, depressed, needy, violent, cruel, abusive, procrastination, control, manipulation, self-absorbed, narcissistic, miserly, unstable (financially, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually), poor, unconscious, unaware, disrespectful, dishonesty, in-authentic, emotional unavailable, conventional, religious, unappreciative, insincere, untidy, married, judgmental, indecisive, critical, condemning, punishing, disorderly, lack of common-sense, discontent, disorganized, irresponsible, unbalanced, antagonistic, etc… and the list went on to include the type of career, background, education, leisure, activities, and even sex!

Once the list felt complete, I waited a few more days to allow the internal process to do the same. Then, with conviction and a renewed clarity, I burned the list in the fire pit in the courtyard behind me. The next day, the guys I didn’t want to hear from, stopped calling. It was amazing!

Part II- LIKES

This can be the tricky part if you make assumptions or are too vague. So, take your time with this section as well. Be as thorough and as articulate as you can. For example, if you’re looking for someone who is wealthy, don’t assume they are generous. Describe what wealth is for you, and what it would look like in your partner. Is it simply money? Is it having a loving family and friends? A combination of both, or more?

Also, be specific as to how you design the time you spend together. Every night, weekends, vacations, holidays? And don’t assume he lives or works close to you. That guy or gal you’re seeking could be on the other side of the world, which may mean a long distance relationship. Is that what YOU want? Do you want someone with young kids, older kids? Does his/her type of career matter to you? Also, write it in the present tense… as if the person is already in your life.

You’re the designer of your life and your relationship. You hold the pen!!! The love life YOU want is yours for the taking… design it! Create it! Because what I noticed by doing this process is that in the past, I wasn’t being loved the way I wanted to be loved. I was being loved the way my mother had been loved…

Here are some of my ‘wants’ … successful entrepreneur, secure within himself, established, committed to growing and learning, courageous, brave, imaginative, creative, spiritual, unconventional with an appreciation for convention, romantic, respectful of women (personally and professionally), adventurous, well-being, attractive to me, 45-55 years of age, great common-sense and business sense, non-judgmental, non-critical, non-condemning, we flow naturally, youthful energy, contemporary, has valid driver and motorcycle licenses, owns his own home, integrity, self-aware, knows how and when to put his ego aside, makes my happiness a priority, 5’10-6’1, medium build, fit, healthy, some post-secondary education, balanced, emotionally stable and mature, makes my awakenings come true, he complements me, nice ass, loving, tender; makes me feel proud of my life, my decisions, my choices, my career; he values my opinion, experience, femininity and contributions, he’s safe and vulnerable, he shows me appreciation and affection daily, weekly in ways that delight and surprise me; he is 1 hour from me, etc….

I put my likes into categories; physical, financial, leisure, interest/activities, time spent together, sex, career, how he makes me feel, etc… Remember that what you ask in another, you also ask from yourself.  I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking for the right fit! I asked for someone who would complement me and make my awakenings come true.

I took several weeks for this section, really digging deep within myself, putting aside how society defines happiness and success to get to the core of MY definition of happiness… on the last page, as a final intention, I wrote… ‘this, or someone, something better.’ Because in the end, I don’t know, what I don’t know. And if there’s a better man, a better relationship than I could ever possibly imagine for myself, then I’m open to that possibility, as well. I also made a copy, in the event I needed to burn it again in a couple of months.

It was 7-typed pages long, and I also had Anna give it a good look-over in the event I missed some of the basics.

About a month had passed before I remembered that I hadn’t completed the process. That same whisper reminded me that New Moons were a good time for new beginnings. And it just so happened that the evening I felt pulled to burn my ‘wants,’ was the night of the July New Moon. At 10:30pm, last week, I burned my desires.

I must confess, though, that I had a moment of hesitation. What I was doing felt so final, so confident, so real… I wondered whether I was emotionally ready to receive my desires. And then, I decided that I was worthy, and there was nothing wrong with wanting what I wanted! And if by chance I wasn’t ready, then I would be!

I’ll keep you posted… until then, journey well!

Patricia

Excerpts from this blog were broadcast on DAWG-FM on July 20-22, 2012 from 10pm to midnight.

On The Edge…. Again!!!

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After a two-day emotional meltdown last week and taking the weekend to nurture the effects, I called up my neighbour yesterday for some womanly energy and understanding…

My neighbour is a perky, active, adventurous and independent 64 year old woman, 15 years my senior, with whom I have shared many glasses of wine over conversations about disappointed lovers, single-parenting, dreams, spirituality and neighbourhood gossip. Her name is Danielle, but she’s known as ‘Mammy’ (and no, she’s not black). It’s a French-Canadian term of endearment for an older woman.  My visits to her home remind me of my childhood Sunday visits with my grandmother, but better.

I’ve known Mammy for about 10 years. And during that time, we have shared much about our lives.  She knows of my accomplishments, struggles, disappointments, and romantic encounters. She too had been a single parent during her time.  Like me, she is single, living on her own and wanting a companionship and more. Unlike me, though, she is a devote Catholic.

She showed up at my door handing me a twenty dollar bill. And with her usual nurturing concern, she allowed me to vent my frustrations at feeling displaced in the wrong city and still not living the life I envision for myself. After years of hard work, both on myself and on my craft, after constant disappointment in dead-brain men, life and finances, I’m now at the edge… and she knows me well enough to know that I’m running out of patience and understanding.

She could hear it in my tone of voice, in my sarcasm, and my words… all of which, were coming from of place of total exasperation rather than entitlement. I don’t know which is worse…. feeling trapped in a life that I’m not feeling for myself, or witnessing my contributions to the awakening, happiness and success of others around me, without return.

Most men I know, both single and married, complain that women don’t know what they want. I, on the other hand, do know what I want. My dilemma is uncovering the right train to board, and in finding the right man to complement me and in making my awakenings come true….

So, Mammy invites me out to her favorite poutine truck on Rideau Street. And if you don’t know what poutine is… it’s french fries with cheese curds, smothered in gravy…. good ol’ Canadian comfort food. We sat at the chip-stand enjoying our treat and listening to a couple of elderly women complain about life… chuckling and hoping to never sound like them.

On the way back home, Mammy tells me that she’ll pray for me, pray for my happiness. However, this time, I said to her that perhaps she shouldn’t as she’s prayed for me numerous times in the past, and things haven’t happened for me. Perhaps a reverse approach is needed, I suggested. She then confessed that she hasn’t REALLY been praying for me, only lip-sinking. Well, I stopped in my tracks, turned to her, and with an astonished tone, said, “You’ve been ‘fake-praying’ for me all these years? No wonder things haven’t happened. I’m telling God on you.” Well, we broke out laughing so hard, she almost pee’d her pants…

I took her arm so she could compose herself, and then we continued our stroll home, giggling at the moment. I love her dearly! She has been the one soul over recent years who has shared in my questioning, struggles, fortitude and despair.

As I shared with her what I saw for my life, I could envision her visiting me on my horse ranch overlooking rolling hills, and us picking up right where we left-off, which made me feel one step closer to that life I designed and desire.

Oooooeeeeee, Highway 17!

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Blues has no sadness when it comes to Al Wood and The Woodsmen.

Their recent matinee performance on closing day of this summer’s WestFest was the type of performance crowd’s have come to expect from the Woodsmen… high energy with generous sets that are packed with incredible originals that it makes one wonder why they’re not in Memphis yet.

Al Wood (vocals and harmonica) with long time friend and songwriting collaborator, Lindsay Pugh (guitar, bass and dobro), front this band with a timeless style that could very well bring Blues back to the top 40.

Right On Cue, Wood’s 2nd release with the Woodsmen, is exactly that… reminiscent of Blues hall days with a contemporary style that’s filled with ounces of subtle country-swing and jazz.

Wood doesn’t have a favorite track. He likes them all. “Each song is a part of the road. Having a favorite might mean you miss out on everything else around you.” And at his heart, he’s an everyday guy with a reverence for his musical roots and everyday experiences, of which he has plenty. Apart from his virtuoso harmonica playing and vocals, the appeal is his over-flowing energy and generosity… he doesn’t ever hold back!

Also on the roster, are the rhythms of Simon Meilleur (drums and percussion) and the guitar talents of Marty Sobb.

Well-crafted lyrics, heartfelt vocals, progressive dirty blues guitar and virtuoso harmonica playing are the Woodsmen unmistaken signature. Whether its a crowd of 3 or 3000…. they deliver with the same consistent fervor that makes them a band to follow in my books.

I caught up with Wood backstage at this year’s 9th annual WestFEST.  For more information on Al Wood and The Woodsmen visit alwoodmusic.com

WestFest 2012 Performance (courtesy of Brian Cote)

Patricia is a published freelance writer, a communications specialist and a radio announcer at DAWG-FM in Ottawa, Canada.

Venus Arrived Right On Cue!

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Tonight was the night whereby Venus transited the Sun. And although it’s considered by many to be a phenomenon, I don’t ever think in those terms… I believe there’s always a bigger picture being unveiled to us, if we simply are of the mind and heart to pay attention. Venus’ transit of the Sun is an event that won’t happen for another 105 years, until December 2117. That in itself must be significant!

I believe we are living in exciting and powerful times. And apparently, many others feel the same way… Crowds gathered and members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada graciously offered their solar telescopes to the public for this brief up- close glimpse of Venus. And it all started at 5:30pm on the grounds of the local science and technology museum. Here’s my bit…

I work as an announcer at a local radio station. I had been mentioning this event on-air for the past few days wishing I wouldn’t be able to make it (there’s a little bit of Jodi Foster’s character, Ellie from the movie ‘Contact’ in me). I wanted to observe Venus through a telescope, but for some reason I kept thinking I couldn’t. I have no car… I’d be working until 6:15pm… I didn’t make arrangements for a media pass…. what if I have to pay for parking… I have no money… I wouldn’t make it on time… I don’t want to take the bus… it’s too far….blah, blah, blah!

Anyway, I friend lent me his car this afternoon, completely out of the blue.   When I finished my shift at the radio station, all I was thinking was that I had to get the car back to him, even though we hadn’t stipulated a time. After finishing the last newscast at 6:00pm, I got into the car and fiddled with the windows as today was a particularly warm summer day. I was only thinking of going home. Even as I spoke of the event during the newscast, it still didn’t dawn on me that I could go to the event. At least not until I drove out of the parking lot.

After my ‘ah-ha moment’ (as Oprah would say), I drove down the long stretch of Hunt Club Road across the south end of the city. I wasn’t quite sure of the exact route to the museum, but cars were making room for me at each missed turn.

As I turned onto the road where the museum is located, there were rows of parked cars everywhere. People had come in droves to witness the event.

There were crowds of people all over the place. The parking lot was full, and cars were parked illegally in red zones, and up and down both sides of the street leading into the museum; the media was also there capturing the experience of the event.

I could see from yards away, the museum parking lot and the vast front lawns of the museum. People were lined-up everywhere for telescope observations… and apparently for awhile, based on the number of people. Not allowing myself  to chicken out of this event because of a would-be lack of parking or the line-ups, I actually found a perfect parking spot in a fire zone right in front of the museum doors (as did many others). I thought I might get ticketed, but it appeared no one else had. So, I felt safe to leave the car in that spot.

As I walked across the parking lot, a man walked towards me and started sharing his experience and giving me pointers as to the best and quickest way to get a view through one of the telescopes. The line-up for the big observatory, he pointed out, was the longest line-up, and I should obviously avoid that one. But some people had brought their own solar telescopes and were sharing them with the public. I felt pressed to get into a line, any line, to behold Venus with my eyes, but I remained patient and attentive as the man finished with his experience and directions. He then handed me a disposable, cardboard solar viewer. And just as I was about to ask him what he intended to charge me for it, he said it was free.

So, I mozied over to the crowds hoping to meet up with a friend of mine from the local astronomy society, who would let me view the event through his telescope. Disappointingly, he had gone to Kingston, where the weather was better for the viewing. Despite this glitch, I walked among the crowd for a bit trying to assess whether Venus was worth the wait. Needless to say, and because I’m writing this blog, I flowed into a line, and decided to stay and be content. I put on my nifty disposable cardboard viewer and  started my experience of the event before I got to a telescope.

Well, that little contraption kept me long entertained. People around me, were sporting them as well. But oddly enough, they were saying that they couldn’t see Venus, only the Sun.

I was confused… there she was in my plain sight. A delicate black spot against the brilliance of the Sun between 12 o’clock and 1 o’clock… Venus, the Goddess of Love! And the Sun, rich, proud and massive, holding the light for all to see his beautiful Venus as she passed before him. I starred at this phenomenon for the longest time, and with such immense awe; I felt I was holding the moment. The last time I felt such profound humility, I was on Dreamer’s Rock on Manitoulin Island during my vision quest in the mid 90’s.

Finally, I shared with those in line around me the position of Venus I was observing…. and they too began to see. And the ouuuu’s and aaaaaaa’s started up in the crowd.

Parents, grandparents, children… everyone seemed so connected to the event. Some knowing something about the phenomenon, others just wanting to be a part of it. Stories were being shared … tales of eclipses past and of the latest in Sci-Fi movies.

One teenage-couple behind me pointed out, that it wasn’t as exciting as they thought it would be… “like, you know… it’s not like playing a video game or watching a Harry Potter movie.” I chuckled to myself. I’m the type that runs to meteor showers, eclipses and Venus transits. They’re the best movies in the world… This was a natural phenomenon! And that in itself, they admitted, could be exciting.

It wasn’t a video game or a Harry Potter movie. It wasn’t suppose to be. It was bigger than all of us or anyone of us; a sight of wonder for our eyes to behold… a ‘Universe’ movie on the biggest screen we have. And a testimonial to all that is unknown, and yet to be discovered about ourselves, who we are and the world we live in…

I eventually saw Venus through a telescope; but it wasn’t the same as my first glimpse though the disposable. It took about 30 mins from parking the car, to viewing, to leaving…. and then it was over. As I arrived home, after a clear, sunny day, the Universe closed the curtains on her grand performance. The clouds rolled in at 8:30pm, and it started to rain… once again, right on cue!

Here are some helpful links:

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

Wonders of Astronomy (my friend, Gary Boyle)

CATL –Breaking barriers in Blues!

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Ottawa, ON. ~Unrivaled, raw and pure CATL is considered the next evolution in Blues, both in performance and music. The Toronto-based trio, with a sound that swayed even the diehard Blues followers, received a standing ovation as part of the JUNOfest line-up at Ottawa’s Elmdale Tavern.

Shaking the ground in the Westboro area of the Nation’s Capital, it was CATL’s first appearance in Ottawa. Jamie Fleming (vocals and guitar), Sarah Kirkpatrick (vocals and keyboards) and newest addition, Andrew Moszinsky (drums) brought the house down with their soulful, foot stomping, rock ‘n roll interpretation of the Blues.

In 2009, the trio won the Toronto Blues Societies Talent Search but only after falling out o,f and then back in, favour with purists. “You need to have an open mind and open ears when listening to new music nowadays,” said one Elmdale Tavern patron. “Musicians are retrofitting traditional roots and coming up with their own sound. It’s new but familiar all at the same time. And I’m lovin’ it!”

Fleming is the creative brains behind the band and stays true to his Mississippi Delta Blues influences, and his decade with Toronto-based, Pecola. Self-taught, he gives all to his audiences, who he appreciates deeply. A tall, good looking, well-rounded musician and singer-songwriter, Fleming still enjoys performing and touring, and delivers more than his years in experience.

Wearing a shimmery white flapper-style dress and cowboy boots, Kirkpatrick’s prominent female vocals and physical presence on stage bring an explosive synergy that compliments Fleming. With over 20 years dance and performance experience, and a drummer for a father, Kirkpatrick is a natural on stage.

CATL was one of the best acts I’ve seen and heard in a while. And by the buzz in the club while they were playing, everyone thought the same. These days, Blues isn’t breaking the top 40. So, CATL’s desire to revitalize Blues is a breath of fresh air.

For those of us who are purists, who experienced the evolution of music during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, we’re being awakened to another powerful era. We can either be as our parents were, or we can embrace the force of change from our younger years.

Music has always been emblematic of our times. And when there is a band with a cross-generational sound, I say, bring it on! It’s an exciting revitalizing peaceful revolution that shakes our perception of how things should be or shouldn’t be. And we should embrace it… every little bit of the swamp, punk, foot-stomping, delta blues-rock n’ roll we can get.

Before their performance, I spoke with Fleming and Kirkpatrick about their music, collaboration and the April 13th, 2012 release of their third album, Soon This Will All Be Gone. Clips of the interview, and the broadcast on 101.9 DAWG-FM’s mid-day show with Carly D is forthcoming.

You can visit CATL and get a taste of their latest!

Is it JUNOfest or Route 66?

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Ottawa, ON. – Perhaps I should write about Route 66 and how the mystery of the energy vortices on that stretch of highway created a synergy that produced the serendipitous moment of celebration that occurred in Ottawa, Canada for the 41st JUNO Awards Weekend celebrations.

However, the last time the JUNO Awards were presented in Ottawa was in 2003. And I don’t recall a specific article that made a co-relation between Route 66 and the Canadian Juno Awards. Therefore, I best stick to what I know – my experiences at the JUNOs.

In 2003, I attended the JUNO Awards Gala in Ottawa, and had a blast. I went with a star-crazed friend who hadn’t forewarned me. As we stood behind the ropes of the red carpet being elbowed by fans, my friend began screaming hysterically at the celebrities as they made their way towards the ceremonies. As I personally knew some of the artists, I quickly made my way to the doors of the building with my embarrassment, and hid. By the time she finished her star-screaming, the ceremonies had begun, and we had to make our way to our seats, which at this point would have been relatively impossible. So, I gave way to my situation, and decided to sit in the upper bar at Scotiabank Place (then the Corel Centre), forgoing my gala seating for an evening of drinks and a TV screen’s view of the ceremonies.

As I often do, I made conversation with the people around the bar completely oblivious to the events that were to transpire. As the gala came to an end, the glass dividers surrounding the venue began to close and security was placed at the door. Thinking the bar was closing for the night, I asked for my tab. But as people began to arrive, I realized that everything that was everything in Canadian music  was about to go down around me. One by one, the 2003 JUNO Award winners and nomimees, the suits and jewels, began to arrive … and there was little old me, sipping my martini at the bar.

I couldn’t have planned it better. Unbenounced to me, my tribe was arriving! Having worked in media and entertainment in Toronot, and now raising my son in Ottawa, the familiar vernacular, jeans and buzz in the room felt like a homecoming. I got caught up on industry business, gossip, and with friends I hadn’t seen in years. I had more fun hanging out at the bar than I would have in a seat on the floor with a star-crazed friend.

And so it was, once again, at this year’s 41st JUNO Awards Celebration Weekend in Ottawa… but, this time, without a star-crazed friend.

With the Awards Gala on the Sunday evening, I knew Toronto-based friends would be in town over the course of the weekend. However, it hadn’t occurred to me that the synergy of 2003 was still alive within me.

All around town, various venues were hosting phenomenal local, regional and national multi-acts all weekend. And when it came to, ‘where should I be?’ I followed my nose.  For Friday’s celebrations, Mavericks was the place me. The line-up of performers was my cup of tea …. The Beauties, The Good Lovelies, Luke Doucet, Jenn Grant, The Sadies, Daniel Romano, Wayne Petti, Oh Susanna, NQ Arbuckle, Dustin Bentall/Kendel Carson, Devin Cuddy and more, and more, and more.

And as it turns out, it was the place to be. Go figure! As the stage performances began to wind down, an ocean of suits arrived discreetly, followed by Ron Sexsmith, Tom Wilson, and Jim Cuddy.

As I made my way to the back to say hello to Ron, I was scooped up by Tom Wilson and was given the big bear-hug he is known for. Once again, the tribe was in town, and I got caught up on industry business, gossip, and with friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

What can I say? Serendipity? Being at the right place at the right time? Or, maybe it does have something to do with that Route 66…

Patricia Lever is an Ottawa-based radio announcer with 101.9 DAWG-FM and a freelance writer.

Chaka Khan Performs The Dinah 2012!

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Chaka Khan is appearing at Club Skirts presentation of The Dinah Weekend, March 28th to April 1st, 2012, in Palm Springs, California. Considered the biggest lesbian event in the world, this oasis in the desert has been uniting thousands of women from around the globe in the common bond of life affirming celebration, one weekend a year for the past 22 years. Tickets and packages are still available. Visit thedinah.com

PALM SPRINGS, CA. ~ The ‘Queen of Funk’ performs at the largest lesbian event in the world, Club Skirts ~The Dinah Weekend 2012.

At the age of 59 and a musical career that spans 4 decades, this 10-time Grammy Award winning American singer-songwriter shows no signs of slowing down.

After declaring she was free from drugs and alcohol, and caring for family matters, Khan returned to the spotlight a few years back when she released what many critics called a “comeback album” with Funk This. The album featured the hit, “Angel,” and the Mary J. Blige duet, “Disrespectful.” The latter track went to number one on the dance singles chart in the US, winning the singers a Grammy Award, while Funk This also won a Grammy for Best R&B Album. The album was recognized for Khan’s covers of Dee Dee Warwick’s “Foolish Fool” and Prince’s “Sign ‘o the Times.”

In 2008, Khan hit the Broadway stage in the adaptation of The Color Purple. The following year, she went on the road with singers Anastacia and Lulu for Here Come the Girls. In 2010, she contributed vocals on “Soul Survivor” for Beverley Knight, and collaborated with Clay Aiken (of American Idol fame) on a song for the American animated television comedy musical, Phineas and Ferb, which originally broadcast on Disney Channel.

In May, 2011, Khan was honoured with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Khan before her appearance at this year’s The Dinah.

PL: Past performers at Club Skirts have included The Pussy Cat Dolls, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga –How does it feel to be headlining the world’s biggest gathering of lesbians?

Khan: It’s fabulous! My gay and lesbian fans have always been there for me. They are my most loyal, and I promise them an awesome show! We’re going to have a wonderful time!

Your signature hit, “I’m Every Woman” is certainly the song for The Dinah – a message of empowerment for women….the girls will go crazy!

Khan: That’s what it’s all about… being empowered! And we are powerful, more than we know!

Countless numbers of drag queens have lip-synched to “I’m Every Woman” over the years, and you’ve supported various Pride events with your performances. How does it feel to be a gay icon?

Khan: It means a lot to me, because gays will read you! They know when you’re genuine and when you’re not.

You’ve won 10 Grammies, worked with music legends, such as Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Mary J. Blige, and the list goes on… it seems like you’ve done it all! What has been your ultimate career achievement?

Khan: My ultimate career achievement to date, without a doubt, was working with Miles Davis.

In September 2011, you were nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame… How did it feel?  

Khan: The nomination was a huge honour! It was a wonderful moment to share with my family and Stevie Wonder by my side. It left me speechless!

With all the changes in the music industry, and of course, the pervasiveness of the internet, do you find these changes have added to your career and longevity?

Khan: Technology has changed so much in the music industry. Ultimately, I believe that it helps because it allows greater access – both faster and more direct. I enjoy doing live chats with my fan-friends. I’ve said it before, I’m very optimistic about the changes in the recording industry, including music downloading. I’m glad things are shifting and artists – not labels – are having more control over their art.

In recent years, you’ve turned your attention towards The Chaka Khan Foundation. Tell me why creating this foundation was so close to your heart.

Khan: Well, it provides support and education to children and young adults who are victims of domestic violence, substance abuse and autism… issues that have been in my life. Empowering the innocent is my passion and purpose. Children and women at risk are who we assist through the foundation.

What can we look forward from Chaka Khan in 2012?

Khan: Well, the upcoming The Dinah Weekend for sure! I’m so looking forward to the event. And the rest… well, you’ll have to stay plugged into my website, Chakakhan.com. There are surprises in store!

Published March 28th, 2012 Xtra.ca. Patricia Lever is an Ottawa-based radio announcer at 101.9 DAWG-FM, and freelance writer. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Her Unfolding Journey

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I often remind myself of the words of feminist philosopher and Havard professor, Laurel Ulrich, ‘well behaved women seldom make history.’

Ulrich came to the forefront of my unfoldment a few years back during a time when I felt victimized, unheard, and in the process of unraveling those wonderful socio-cultural compartments that had molded me to be what our culture and men wanted.

It’s an on-going process… a labour intensive journey of actualization that demands perseverance, unconditional love and unequivocal boldness to the truth about oneself. And to date, I’ve come to know my Divine Feminine in the most beautiful and powerful ways. She is tender, wise, strong, intelligent, highly capable, compassionate, adventurous, sensual, mischievous, patient, rebellious, tenacious, curious and child-like.

She insists upon authenticity and acceptance; aspects, that were not present in her formative years, in her relationship with her father, and with men. She is not perfect, as she was lead to believe she should be. She is, however, more whole, more trusting of herself and at peace with her essence and expression.

My experiences are but a few among the bizillion shared through the voices of women around the world.  To my sisters, past and present… I celebrate your bravery, your expression, your love of self and of mankind. And to the men who support us, love us and relish in our unfoldment… I thank you!

Happy International Women’s Day!

I Forgive You!

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People who really know me… know that I rarely express a personal opinion. They are aware that my intent in communicating, facilitating workshops, public speaking, etc… is to inspire intelligent conversation, to stimulate self-reflection, and to open the lid on outmoded and limited beliefs and perspectives pervasive in our personal lives and culture.

To stir the pot a bit last Friday, I posted a comment on my Facebook profile, which, apparently, went beyond my typical, inspirational ‘nice’ girl image. It was a simple comment that had been passed down to me years ago by a few close male friends, who were self-aware, courageous and compassionate enough to share a moment of honest male introspection with me during a time when I was quite discouraged and disillusioned with relationships.

Here it is:

Women! Do not, I repeat do not, leave your happiness in the hands of a man. As much as I love them, they are dump creatures. Love them, appreciate them, adore them if you must. But under no circumstance should you leave the fate of your happiness in their hands…. a real man, who knows himself very well, will admit this outright! 🙂

I received over 50 comments on this Facebook post from both men and women. My female friends posted wishes of encouragement, which was very sweet, while the males, for the most part, understood what the comment meant.

One male, however, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken with in 10 years,  posted this comment,” I’m saddened by your post. How can you categorize all males as Dumb creatures. That I take as an insult as we are not all the same. It’s like me saying that all females are Dumb and Manipulative. Which again is also not true. The bottom line don’t blame the masses for the few bad apples out there. And I still love you even though you think were dumb creatures. I forgive you.”

“I forgive you?”… “I FORGIVE YOU?!!” Since when do women need to be forgiven for expressing their opinions, comments, thoughts and reflections, publicly or privately, and especially on their own social media profile? Last time I checked,  women had the legal right in this country to challenge male perspective and opinion. We also have the right to freedom of expression!

I thank you, my dear Paul, for your comment, your willingness to be so candid, and for your courage to express it publicly. You reminded me of the  ego’s need for supremacy, and the gratitude I feel for my wonderful, self-aware male friends who are no longer in denial and keep their ego in check. And, as they pointed out to me … “as enlightened and as benevolent our egos would lead us to believe we are, we still have a long, long way to go!” And for that, I too, forgive you!