|September 23, 2010||Filled under Entertainment, Profiles||
There is one word that defines Toronto comedian Frankie “Trixx” Agyemang … hilarious. At his recent stand up show “Another Mistrial” at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts – Trixx had the packed house in stitches. The two-hour show jumped off with host veteran comedian Jean Paul; the opening acts Patrick Haye (Toronto) and Sterling Scott (Edmonton) warmed up the audience, along with DJ Reddy Fox who spun a nice selection of tunes.
Then Trixx hit the stage… his storytelling ability held the audience captive for over an hour – anecdotes about Canada’s Wonderland, growing up in an African family, poking fun at today’s pop culture, reminiscing about old-school games were just a few themes on his extensive roster of jokes. Dipping into various characters to deliver the tales had the crowd wanting more of his raw wit.
In his early thirties, this natural entertainer is one of Canada’s next generation of “up and coming” comedians who is definitely a force to be reckoned with. People of all ages, sexes and religions will enjoy his engaging style; Trixx is relevant – he is the “voice of the times.”
Follow Trixx and his upcoming performances at www.trixxworld.com/site/
|August 29, 2010||Filled under Entertainment, Profiles||
Renowned New York artist/filmmaker/photographer, Julian Schnabel, is making a big splash in the Toronto art world. Julian Schnabel: Art and Film, his upcoming exhibition at the AGO, will showcase about 60 pieces including paintings, sculptures and photography. Cinematic themes and personalities are common subject matters in Schnabel’s work and this exhibit highlights his longstanding relationship between art and film.
Well known for his eccentric personality, Schnabel first garnered international status in the early 80s with his large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates and by the mid-80s he had become a prominent force in the Neo-expressionism movement. Sizeable canvases filled with bold strokes and vibrant colours often typify his paintings.
Having received some harsh reviews from the critics over the years – the rich and famous worship him – Schnabel’s works of art sell for millions and his exhibitions often sellout. At his recent AGO premiere the 58-year-old artist spoke candidly about this criticism, “You don’t always get the ball back in your court.” He cites a reference from The Godfather where Vito Corleone, the head of the Corleone crime family, gets shot five times and doesn’t die. Schnabel adds, “I say, if you get five bullets in you and you’re still standing, you got to be worth something.”
The “Schnabel hype” is quickly gaining more momentum as his latest film, Miral, will have its North American premiere at TIFF which kicks off a week after the opening of his AGO exhibit. Starring Freida Pinto and Willem Dafoe, the film is about a Palestinian woman who opens an orphanage in Jerusalem following the creation of Israel in 1948. Schnabel is best known for films such as Basquiat and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and has received many awards included the Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination.
The love affair between Schnabel and Toronto is evident, “I like this town you have here, it feels so familiar,” he says. “It’s like Houston, or some other places I’ve been. It’s like this computer chip run amuck, with all different kinds of architecture everywhere. It also feels like the United States did 50 years ago before everything went to shit.”
Julian Schnabel: Art and Film runs September 1, 2010 to January 2, 2011 at the AGO. Schnabel will appear at a public talk on September 15 and four of his films – Basquiat (1996), Before Night Falls (2001), Lou Reed: Berlin (2007) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – will screen throughout the exhibition’s run. You can catch his film, Miral, at TIFF on September 13, 2010 @ Ryerson Theatre, 6pm (Premium Screening) and September 14, 2010 @ Varsity B, 9am
|April 23, 2010||Filled under Entertainment, Profiles||
Blessed with a great voice, good looks, sense of humour and, let’s not forget, athletic prowess – Jonathan Roy has found a new passion in life … music. A former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League goalie and son of the legendary NHL star Patrick Roy, his new pop/rock CD entitled Found My Way will be in stores April 27 and his first single “Everyday” will be playing on radio stations nation wide.
The Canadian singer/songwriter likes to write about what’s going on in his life. He elaborates, “The album is about a 21 year old who is just going through life and who has ups and downs … it’s an autobiography … I am actually a quick writer; I get out the guitar, start doing a little riff, put on some lyrics … and then bring it to my producer Richard Samson.”
His debut album CD, What I’ve Become, sold over 25,000 copies in his home province of Quebec. Found My Way, his latest creative venture, features 14 songs recorded at the famous Avatar Studio in New York. Singing in the same booth as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and other great artists proved to be an inspirational experience for Jonathan, “I was going nuts … being in this kind of studio builds up emotions and it makes you want to do better.”
Recently, Jonathan visited the Bahamas to shoot the video of his single. “We took a plane and got out in Nassau then took a six hour sailboat ride to Norman’s Cay – which was really cool. We had so many ideas but the video is really based on the movie Cast Away.” (Tom Hanks plays the FedEx executive who survives a plane crash on a deserted island). Previewing on youtube, the “Everyday” video has already had about 40,000 hits in the first week. He chuckles, “It’s not like a Justine Bieber thing – but for us it’s big.
Jonathan talks about being successful in today’s music biz, “I think you have to be creative, you have to be humble, you have to have fun with it and don’t take yourself too seriously. Always remember where you are from and give a good show; I am a showman – that is the thing I love most – just going out on the stage.”
If you want to catch this talented artist on stage, Jonathan will be performing in Toronto at the Mod Club on May 3 – it will be free to the public. Following the Canadian launch of Found My Way, the tour will continue into the States and then Europe early next year. He adds zealously, “It’s getting pretty big and this is a great adventure – I love it.”
Go to www.jonathanroymusic.com for more information.
|April 9, 2010||Filled under Entertainment, Profiles||
There is no better way than “the reel deal” to define Tonya Lee Williams, Founder and Executive Director of the Reel World Film Festival, this week celebrating its 10th anniversary year of enriching us with the finest cinema from multi-racial world communities.
Creating value is a core theme and belief that she passionately encourages and passes on to staff, volunteers, film makers and audiences alike. “I am grateful to still be around people who support and are part of the Festival and see the need and value of telling our diverse stories on the screen. We need to nurture our emerging Canadian and foreign film makers to make them feel loved and valued. I think of my mother. If she can come out year after year to applaud and give blessing, anyone can and should.”
The key to the Festival’s continuing success and her own longevity as its founder and visionary is frankly summarized, “If each staff member and volunteer assumes responsibility for themselves and everyone else in the running of the Festival, that’s all we can ask for … but after ten years, it’s still a struggle and challenge. I always hope that nothing goes wrong and if it does, I erase it and just keep looking forward.”
At Wednesday’s opening night reception, as I stood between Tonya and her mother, a woman of grace, beauty and surprisingly not quite as young as she looks, I felt the staying power of two generations. She proudly confided, “That girl had the same vitality and drive as a child that she possesses today in all she does for the Festival.”
The Reel World Film Festival runs from Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11.
For tickets and schedule go to www.reelworld.ca or 1-800-595-4849
|March 18, 2010||Filled under Entertainment, Music, Profiles||
The number three has proven to be a very lucky draw for Halifax singer/songwriter Joel Plaskett – Three, the title of his latest album, recently won him six awards at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards. At Canadian Music Week, Plaskett won the 2010 Indie Award for Solo Artist of the Year. He also has been nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year for the upcoming 2010 Juno Awards.
Plaskett reminisces about his momentous evening “in the spotlight” at the East Coast Music Awards that were held in Sydney, Cape Breton, “It’s an honour to be acknowledged in this way… I worked really hard. It’s funny how the Awards work because there were a lot of my friends in the same categories with me. When I won a bunch of times, I was happy but I also felt kind of sheepish – I think the love should be spread around.”
His music has been described as “a blend of 70’s hard rock, 60’s pop hooks and catchy, clever lyrics delivering a retro modern rock tongue-in-cheekiness.” Released through MapleMusic, Three features three discs, each disc features nine tracks (a multiple of three) and a lot of the song titles are one word repeated three times. “Three is a very universal and balanced number in a strange way,” reflects Plaskett. “I recorded the album when I was 33 years old … it was sort of an obsessive impulsive endeavour that I got carried away with and I saw it as a work on many levels – you know a story with a beginning, middle and end.”
In today’s music industry Plaskett feels that there is no one recipe for success. Talent combined with dedication, time and persistence is crucial. Beyond that, there is also some luck involved. “There is less activity now with the major labels in terms of them signing less music. You have to build things up from the grassroots more so than you did before in getting a record deal.”
Starting next week Plaskett will be touring in the Maritimes and Ontario for nine shows with his old band Thrush Hermit from the 90’s. Then for the month of April, he will be opening up for the Barenaked Ladies Canadian tour. “I feel that things have been going really well and I try not to take any of it for granted. The way I have approached things over the past few years is to make the records that I want to make and to work with my head down, as far as touring, and then look up now and then and go, ‘Hey, more people at the show – things are different, things are improving.’”