Bands for Baskets – Friends in Need!

Peter Angrove knew a lot of people in the music community.

The year was 2005 and given all the advances in technology – people were still starving. What shocked Angrove the most was how many families were struggling in the West Island.

Peter Angrove of Pincourt – decided to do something about it.

He gathered a few of his musical friends and placed them together in the form of a concert. The funds raised through tickets, raffles and merchandising- is all going to the underprivileged for food baskets during the Holiday season.

The first year, $2500.00 was raised and has leveled off around the $5000.00 mark in the subsequent years. Not bad for a fundraising effort just before the holidays.

Bands for Baskets is aided by the volunteers from the Lakeshore Kiwanis Foundation. This means that all of the people involved are strictly volunteers and not one cent of the money raised goes to anything except the needy. Something which makes Peter’s heart proud.

This year, a ticket cost $10.00 and a raffle ticket is $5.00 that gives you, a chance to win half of the money raised in a raffle held during the show. This way, according to Peter, more tickets are sold and more money is raised even after giving the prize away to the lucky donor.

win – win situation for all involved.

This year,  the annual calendar which will be available for sale at the show, has special meaning to Angrove and his family. For the second unfortunate year in a row, the Angove’s have lost a family member through death. Two seasons and two of Peter’s brothers gone. Last year, John was featured in the calendar dressed as Santa – this year it is Michael’s turn.

Please help out the needy in the West Island. After all they could be your neighbor.

December 2 @ Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire

Show starts at 4pm

100% of the money raised goes to the Lakeshore Kiwanis Foundation who – in turn, distribute Christmas Baskets to the needy.

Please help everyone have a Merry Christmas!

Scheduled Performers

Big Fun

This is True


Jam Avenue

Roxfield Pointe

For the seventh year in a row – Special guest … Blues Guitarist Extraordinaire

Steve Rowe

The show starts at 4pm with opening act …

Angel Forrest and Denis Coulombe

Don’t be a Grinch! Help the Whos from Whoville !

See you then !

Gilberto Gil; A Brazilian Mick Jagger?

When a seventy year old man is able to lift people from their seats – over and over and over again …

A flip of the fedora in his direction is not just necessary – it is required.

Photo courtesy of Anne Achan

Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira, born in 1942, is the man responsible for a love – in at Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts last night. Who knew that a man from  Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, could one day be king of Montreal – if only for a couple of days.

Dressed entirely in a white suit and a blue guitar as an accessory, Gil was a presence the moment he took center stage. John Bon Jovi and Stephen Tyler take note. Before the status of Mick Jagger is obtained – an obstacle by the name of Gilberto stands in the way.

Gil is an icon. Gil is a performer and a groundbreaking songwriter. Gil is special.

With his trademark dance moves a la James Brown / Jagger, his falsetto notes arriving on cue and an ability to raise the level of the musicians around him – Gil possesses that ‘something’ which all superstars possess. Elvis Presley had it, Micheal Jackson had it and the man who was at one time his country’s Minister of Culture – is one of the few living who not only ‘have it’, know precisely how to use ‘it’.

Photo courtesy of Anne Achan

That’s exactly what Gil did, utilizing every tool in his white suit jacket to get the audience so involved – the rain outside, a footnote in the long history of Montreal Jazz shows.

Gil utilized his song;  ‘Fe Na Festa’, as an instrument of warmth. A beach – the only thing missing in a theater suddenly alive with rays of musical sunshine. People perked up, they took notice and from that point forward – a sold out theater  were drinking from the palm of the ‘once upon a time’ jailbird’s palm.

‘Vamos Fugir’, ‘Expresso 2222’ and ‘Andar com Fe’ – three songs ripe with a vocal following from the crowd mixed in age, continued a stand-up, sit-down, stand-up roller coaster of a set. The crowd danced, the ushers danced, the band danced and the man himself –  appearing ghostly under a white spotlight, summoned  the only man who may have been able to upstage Gil himself.

Bob Marley appeared. Through song. Particularly – ‘Three Little Birds‘ and ‘No Woman No Cry’. A pair of tunes which rode along within Gil’s four decade repertoire. A duo which delivered smiles to people’s faces and warmth to the coldest of souls.

People were lifted out of their seats over and over again.

Even seventy year old men …

Susie Arioli; Concert Review

Sometimes, poems are written in the dark …

Thoughts and feelings piercing the blackness like a knife profound with emotion. Last night at Place Des Arts – Susie Arioli and her excellent group of musicians delivered lines on a platter spun with golden oldies.

The patrons or as the English say; the punters – recipients of a catalog smitten by the Great America Songbook. Who says Valentine’s day must be celebrated on the 14th of February …?

The songs chosen by Miss Arioli, tunes which placed feminine heads upon manly shoulders – sheer diamonds in a jewelry jukebox. Arioli’s voice, a female version of Mel Torme. Smoother than a velvety fog hovering above a city begging for raindrops of nostalgia.

The first half of the show complimented by My Funny Valentine. A song written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Following a half dozen ‘warm-ups’, Arioli and her backing musicians – appeared to hit stride with the tune which was originally penned for Babes In Arms on April 14, 1937. Arioli’s voice almost mesmerizing in it’s roller coaster indentations.

As he has done for seven discs – guitarist Jordan Officer complimenting the original classic with his clever arrangements and Charlie Christianlike riffs. It is obvious how Arioli and Officer hooked up once upon a time at a Stephen Barry Blues Band jam. A mutual understanding of  songs like ‘Husbands and Wives’, ‘Pennies from Heaven’ and ‘Here’s to the Losers’.

It is difficult to mess up a dinner table set by musicians such as Bill  Gossage (Bass), Cameron Wallace ( Tenor Sax) and Tony Albino on drums. A trio not just primed to fill in empty spaces of a musical scale, primed to headline on their very own if needed. Wallace providing sounds following a childhood education of Clarence (The Big Man ) Clemons. Sultry? Soothing?Ambitious ? All the above.

The song of the evening – “Mother Earth’, originally penned by Memphis Slim. In a show which emphasized Jazz, Officer’s guitar rock – like and menacing while Gossage ( on the stand-up bass), a rock in a weighted down rhythm section complete with Albino’s metronome motions. That is when Miss Arioli was not keeping time with a snare of her own. A pleasant addition to an act void of over – the – top antics …

Miss Susie did not appear in a giant egg a la Gaga. Arioli does not require the bells and whistles. Her vocal chords sounding the charge in a warning of standards to come.

What did come to the surprise of many, were a pair of  Christmas songs. A back-to-back duo fastened to the back end of a two hour show like sleighbells on the Grinch’s back. ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Blue Christmas” – adding a splash of warmth to the most cynical, watered – down enemy of the holiday season. Scrooge was chased out quickly by Arioli’s renditions of the wintery classics …

Another surprise to a non-fan, the presence of trilingual chatter. French, English and Fr – anglais; shattering any preconceived notions that Arioli’s songbook would be under scrutiny from any race or group of people. Add that to the song; ‘Un Jour de Difference’, a musical score penned by Maria Greve and made famous by Lys Gauty – a flicker of Paris candlelight embracing a Montreal crowd huddled together on a cool November evening.

Sometimes, poems are read in the dark …

Susie Arioli; Changes are Standard

Jazz crooner Susie Arioli did not plan on being a singer…

Art – or rather drawing, was her thing. In fact , she even enrolled in a four year Fine Arts program at Dawson College in Montreal. Something she did not finish because it was too confining for her free – spirited ways.

‘It is a lot of work being an artist.” Says Susie. ” There are a lot of things, tedious things involved in the process. It is not like singing where you just show up, sit down and open your mouth and sing. I’m not lazy but I guess my personalty suits what I am doing …”

Arioli has been doing the   ‘singing thing’ on and off since her late teens and early twenties. Starting from singing at any hotel / club which had a piano. Something Susie says was quite common in Montreal in the eighties.

” I would go from place to place looking for bars with pianos and sing. Thinking the whole time how great I was. When you are young, you have no idea just how good you are not. It takes an experience to humble you a bit …” Says Arioli.

Susie’s experience of being humbled took place as she took the stage and realized the reverb box was missing during a gig in a big hotel. Arioli  does not care who you are – without that tool, any voice will not sound very good.

” I was singing top forties stuff with a sprinkling of jazz.” Explains Susie. ” When you are doing other people’s songs, you must try to produce them accurately. Without the reverb box, I went through a painfully educational experience. Even Madonna would not sound good without it. I’m not saying she can’t sing, she would not sound as good. Everyone uses it …”

Arioli, following her humbling lessons, truly discovered her talent working with the Stephen Barry Blues band.  An experience which she holds dear to her heart. It was the first time she worked with true professionals. She followed their jams which sometimes took place at community centers. Her older sister and her getting right into the experience as the pair designed posters for the band.

“They were true gentlemen. I was not thrown into a situation where I was singled out with catcalls or something. They were so nice and they helped me to take my ‘ heart-pounding anxiety’ and harness it into something meaningful.”

The rest, they say –  is history…

Susie Arioli along with her arranger / guitarist Jordan Officer, have combined for seven albums and have traveled all over the world performing Jazz standards for an ever growing fan base. Her big break came when she was asked to open for Ray Charles’s show in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts in 1988. An opportunity which opened the door for a singer whose voice has been compared to a young Ella Fitzgerald – before the iconic singer became known for scat.

” Ella, Sarah Vaughn and a young Billy Holiday are the singers which influenced me the most.” Says the Toronto – born, Montreal – raised Arioli. ” I grew up listening to them  along with Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. My parents were kinda beatniks. They were very cool. My Dad was Italian and used to wear those wife beater shirts and he was a very hairy man. Looking back – I think he must have really stood out …” Laughs Susie.

Susie also holds Brazilian singers in high esteem. Mostly because they sing with their mouths close to the microphone. In doing so – a low, deep in bass sound is parlayed to an audience. Something which Arioli admires.

The late guitarist Jeff Healey is another person the singer admires. Susie had the opportunity to sing with Jeff on her ‘Pennies from Heaven’ CD in 2002.

” Jeff was a great guy. He had this amazing collection of 78 records and the cool thing was – he could tell you which song it was by feeling the grooves. There was no brail. He would pick one up, run his fingers on the grooves and tell you what song it was. A truly amazing thing.”

Jordan Officer, Susie’s partner in crime since the beginning, is another person who Arioli holds high as far as his talent goes. Officer, the arranger of practically every song on Susie’s collection of seven  CDs –  is on his way out.

” Sometimes, a comfortable place can be creatively restrictive. ” Admits Susie. ” I think it has become that way. Not just for me but for Jordan as well. He needs to grow and so do I. He won’ t be completely out of the picture, he just won’t be my main guy anymore.” She continues. ” I have my own identity and so does he. We have both been living in this beautiful cocoon. It is too comfortable and too easy. Sometimes we need new challenges.”

Arioli is in the process of  ‘auditioning’ four guitarists for her next album ( a tentative Autumn release) and at least one of them is a big name. A name which Arioli would rather keep secret for now.

For now, including a show at Place des Arts on Thursday November 22, Officer and Arioli will be together on stage along with other band members Bill Gossage ( Bass), Cameron Wallace ( Tenor Sax) and Tony Albino on drums. They will be performing a list of songs from Arioli’s newest CD; All the Way, as well as a couple of Christmas tunes. The rest of the show will contain songs from the Great American songbook. Some staples of Arioli’s choices will be included because of audience appreciation.

” I just read an interview with Tony Bennett. After all these years, he still subtracts or adds songs by the way they are received during a performance. As a performer, you’d be stupid not to.” Says Arioli. ” The audience is the consumer. You must ( or should ) perform what they are paying for. If not – how long can you be a supplier for?”

Some changes are standard …


Show starts at 8pm at Salle Wilfrid- Pelletier Thursday 8pm

Stay tuned for a review.

Kristina Maria honored at the SOCAN Awards Gala

At the 23rd annual SOCAN Awards Gala, held last night at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, Kristina Maria received the Pop / Rock award for her song Let’s Play, with over 100,000 air-plays on national radio. Hosted by Seamus O’Regan, the SOCAN Gala recognizes the accomplishments of its members on the national and international levels, honoring the talent of Canadian songwriters, lyricists and music publishers.

Since the release of this first single, Kristina Maria has achieved great radio success in Canada. This Franco-Ontarian became known to the francophone markets of Quebec and France thanks to the hit Co-Pilot, recorded as a duet with the singer Corneille. Together, Kristina Maria and Corneille sang before more than 200,000 people on Morocco’s Agadir Beach for the 7th edition of the Concert for Tolerance in the Middle East.

For this festive season, two new singles from the singer can be heard across the radio waves. On the English side, Karma has blown up the charts, climbing this week to #19 of BDS Canada.

On the French side, Kristina Maria has, for the first time, sung the French parts herself on the bilingual version of We Belong Together. As well, Kristina Maria will participate in a TV special dedicated to Celine Dion that will be broadcast on France’s NRJ12 this December.

Top Ten Drummers

The men behind the scenes. The backbone of most bands. The guys whose mistakes can nullify anything in a heartbeat …

To narrow down a list of the best drummers is next to impossible – here is a (rim) shot at just that …

Ginger Baker

Stewart Copeland

Jimmy Chamberlain

Terry Bozzio

Keith Moon

Mike Portnoy

Neil Peart

John Bonham

Gene Krupa

Buddy Rich

Misstress Barbara – Concert Review

Techno – pulsating, dance – rave type of music is an acquired taste.

Especially if ‘Disco Duck‘ was considered dance music when a listener was thirteen going on thirty.

Photos courtesy of Kid Mercury Entertainment

Misstress Barbara;  former DJ – turned – songwriter / producer / singer, comandeered her computer to Club Soda on Friday night to instill her techno music to anyone who was in attendance. This was her first Montreal show under the title of her new disc – Many Shades of Grey. Her first album – ‘I’m No Human’ was released in 2008 following the advice of friends to try her hand at singing.

Barbara knows something about the techno circuit. She has traveled around the world as one of the top DJ’s for sixteen years before settling down to croon. Judging by the crowd and reaction, the same amount of folks would have filled the place if a Panda Bear was on stage. This is not a knock on Misstress Barbara’s singing or songwriting ability. That part – she has down. What Barbara needs to learn is how to entertain.

A show such as this did not include drug-induced ravers swinging out of their minds to fast paced beats. The attendees, stood in one place and danced. Well .. swayed is a better word. Their eyes never leaving Misstress Barbara’s perch on stage. How did she return the favor? By being dull …

Boring in banter and boring in creativity.

The one story she attempted to parlay to an equally mixed French / English crowd – thwarted by her own guitar player. Drowned out by the six stringed dude with his attempt at distortion. Hello …? Practice was at six …! Did you not get the memo Mr. Madonna – guitarist wannabe …?! When she got down to telling her tale of slipping a note to a beautiful woman at a bar to invite her to a show for free – an ending worthy of a bad sitcom finale stole the show.

“There are many beautiful people in Quebec.” Declared Barbara from her stance. “I could get them all at my shows for free. But … that would not be good for sales.”

Barbara stood behind her computer doing what Barbaras – turned – DJs – turned -singers do. Once in a while – a tambourine appeared as she slapped it on her hand or hip. Then – for extreme excitement, a drum stick clashed mightily on a symbol to the right of her office ( computer ) at the desired peak of a tune. Keith Moon she ain’t …

‘The Right Time’ and ‘I’m No Human’ battling for the title of song of the night – according to the rush which swamped the crowd at the appearance of both. The show was two hours long. Who knew one song could be that long? A non-techno type of music fan would have deciphered the show as such.

There were no peaks and valleys. Just one continuous beat with a packed Club Soda staring at Misstress Barbara, her computer, and some dude on guitar who was late for sound check.

Hey …!

Rick Dees never realized just how good he was …