‘Crash Pad’ art exhibition preview for Vue Weekly

Arts-Cindbaker-May10-e1525892283436

I covered Crash Pad, an engaging exhibition from Albertan artist Cindy Baker, for Vue Weekly a few weeks ago.

Edmonton artist Cindy Baker’s latest exhibition explores the fat female body through inviting blue watercolour prints and evocative, yet relaxing, performance art.

Crash Pad was first shown at the Tangled Art Gallery in Toronto last December, and it features images of diverse women at home, lounging in varying states of undress as they prepare to begin or end their days.

Baker chose Somerset paper for these prints to preserve the feel of the original watercolour paper, and within each image she presents a soft feeling of domesticity. Laundry baskets, wheelchairs, canes, furniture, indoor plants,  dogs, and cats all fill the frames in service of this goal. Read more

The exhibition runs until June 16 at the dc3 Art Projects gallery, with live performances held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Video Games Live symphony concert preview for Vue Weekly

Music-VGL3-Mar29-edits

I enjoyed a fun and personal assignment this week when I previewed Video Games Live for Vue Weekly.

When veteran composer Tommy Tallarico dared in 2002 to produce Video Games Live—an audiovisual spectacle featuring symphonic music—no one in the business thought it would work.

Tallarico recalls the game publishers, symphonies, and concert venues telling him “people who play video games don’t go to a symphony, and the people who do go to a symphony certainly don’t play video games. You’re crazy, kid. Get out of here.”

But 11,000 people showed up to his first show in Los Angeles, silencing the doubters and starting a wave of momentum that still rolls today. Video Games Live now holds a Guinness World Records for the most concerts performed by a touring symphonic production (450, and rising), as well as the record for most concurrent live viewers at a symphony: 752,000 at a concert in Beijing, China in 2015.

“No time ever in the history of music have millions of young people around the world come out to watch a symphony,” Tallarico says. “Before Video Games Live, it never happened.” Read more

Alongside the first conscious moment I can recall as a toddler playing Chrono Trigger (trying to catch the password-rat in Arris Dome,) the haunting bass line of the derelict 2300AD labs is the first piece of music I remember. So to interview Tallarico about his numerous arrangements of equally great video game music for Video Games Live was a special moment I won’t soon forget.

Video Games Live tickets almost always sell out, but if you’re in town and can make it, hopefully I’ll see you there!

Kobo Town concert preview for Vue Weekly

Music-KoboTown-Mar22.jpg

Kobo Town is an incredible Canadian calypso band, and I got to preview its upcoming concert for Vue Weekly.

When Kobo Town comes to play, they deliver a high-energy show with calypso classics and reinterpretations of the genre.

After moving to Canada as a teenager, Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves named the band after the historic neighbourhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad: the birthplace of calypso.

Gonsalves grabbed inspiration from all around him for the band’s latest album Where the Galleon Sank—whether by listening to hits from Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, working with legendary performers like Calypso Rose, absorbing ideas from French culture, or spotting quirks in Kobo Town’s home-base Toronto. Read more

Where the Galleon Sank is nominated for world album of the year at The JUNOS awards this weekend. Whether Gonsalves and his band earn the top nod or not, their concert isn’t one to be missed if you can make it to The Arden Theatre on March 29.

‘La Traviata’ Opera Preview for Vue Weekly

Arts-LaTraviata1-Mar1

I had a fun time previewing La Traviata in Vue Weekly this week. It’s described as the ‘pinnacle’ of opera, and this production is set in a cabaret club.

Mercury Opera’s slogan may be “Opera where you least expect it,” but for this week’s production of the iconic La Traviata, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue in Edmonton than the Chez Pierre Cabaret.

La Traviata tells a tragic tale of overlapping love triangles in 1920s Paris, with Violetta Valéry (an accomplished courtesan) and Alfredo Germont (the first man she feels has truly loved her) at the centre.

And within the intimate club setting of Chez Pierre, Mercury Opera artistic director Darcia Parada says an eight-piece orchestra will bring Giuseppe Verdi’s music to life while internationally acclaimed singers unleash their voices up close as if every audience member is a part of the characters’ party. Guests are even invited to attend in ‘20s attire to suit the occasion. Read more

I can’t wait to see what it feels like to be so close to the performers. I love the way Mercury Opera‘s tries to hook new audiences, and Chez Pierre couldn’t be a better choice to flaunt that approach. The show runs through Mar. 11.

Heart of the City Music and Arts Festival Preview for Vue Weekly

Arts-Heartofthecity4-Jun1

I returned to my musical roots again this week when I previewed the Heart of the City Music and Arts Festival for Vue Weekly.

The annual Heart of the City Music and Arts Festival will take over Giovanni Caboto Park again this Saturday and Sunday as it highlights inner city artists for the 14th year in a row.

Charity Slobod, an organizing board member for the festival, has helped run the event for six years, and she says its primary goal is always the same.

“The main focus, and the most important point, is really giving a platform and helping inspire inner city musicians, artists, slam poets—you name it,” Slobod says. “If you sing it, you can play it, you can be on our stage.” Read more

Goodluck Jonathan Heart of the City 2010I played with a high school rock band (Goodluck Jonathan) at the festival in 2010, so it’s great to hear that it is still growing and supporting artists in Edmonton’s core.

Jeff Sylvester’s ‘Signals’ Art Exhibition Preview for Vue Weekly

Art-Sylvester3-May11

I previewed Jeff Sylvester’s latest exhibition, Signalsfor Vue Weekly earlier this month.

The work of longtime Edmonton-based artist Jeff Sylvester looks like animated freeze-frames. And Signals, his latest solo exhibition installed this week at The Front Gallery, continues his concept of melding natural and man-made figures with his paintings.

The 44-year-old father of three slowed his exhibition pace after he had kids, but he’s been working steadily on Signals for the past two years and he’s happy with the result. Read more

The exhibition is up until June 5 at The Front Gallery, and both Sylvester and gallery owner Rachel Bouchard say you have to see the paintings in person to really appreciate them.

‘Sense and Sensibility’ Preview for Vue Weekly

The Citadel Theatre Sense and Sensibility

David Cooper Photography

I got to chat with Canadian theatre heavy-weight Bob Baker this week in a preview of Sense and Sensibility for Vue Weekly.

Bob Baker’s 17-year tenure as the Citadel Theatre’s artistic director may have wrapped last summer, but his connection to the company and Edmonton’s theatre community persists with Sense and Sensibility—the final production he’s directing this season.

Baker asked local playwright Tom Wood to adapt Jane Austen’s literary classic to the stage, because it’s more than a romantic comedy of manners.

“It’s got a lot of edge to it,” Baker says. “It’s got a lot of pain in it, it’s got a lot of heart in it. So I thought it would be a great production for the Citadel to present, but also for the participants of the Citadel Banff Program.” Read more

Baker is an old professional acquaintance who directed me in all of my appearance at the Citadel Theatre, so it was great to reconnect with him and learn about his current and future ambitions.

Sense and Sensibility opens tonight and runs until May 14 in the Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre. You can get tickets from the box office website.