James’ Brand New Blog | The Free Press's resident A&E columnist on the London arts scene and his place in it.

James’ Brand New Blog

April 17, 1975: Cambodian genocide starts

- April 17th, 2015

Buddhist monks Khmer Rouge RE_2015_04_17T122631Z_1143717990_GF10000062626_RTRMADP_3_CAMBOD

A Buddhist monk takes pictures as he joins others attending a Buddhist ceremony at Choeung Ek, a “Killing Fields” site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 17, 2015. Hundreds of Cambodians and monks gathered at the site to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge reign, which plunged the nation into a radical communist group genocide regime from 1975-1979. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Joe Chertkow is a good friend to JBNBlog & a former Londoner who often travels and works in Southeast Asia. We have shared our love of music, rock stories & more since we were at Central in 1969-1970 . . . we collaborated on a review of the first KISS album that should live forever in Western Gazette annals.

This week, Joe shared a reminder about the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, a country Joe knows & loves.  It was a private letter to friends, but Joe has allowed the  use of his words here. Maybe Joe is wrong about other media ignoring or overlooking the 40th anniversary of the slaughter’s beginning . . . we must remember it here.

Over to Joe & thank yuo for sharing your eloquence”

Hi All,
Happy  Cambodia (Khmer) New Year, which starts tonight!
Not that we’ll be doing anything special to celebrate, but just wanted to bring it to your attention. Specifically the date of April 17th, which is this Friday.
It’s very impressive and interesting to see that recently the Pope spoke out on the terrible Armenian genocide in the early 20th century, which for some reason Turkey continues to deny.
And I expect to see media coverage this month regarding the end of the war in Vietnam and the  40th anniversary of the “fall” of Saigon  and the evacuation of all the Americans, etc. (April 30, 1975).
I truly hope that I am wrong about this…but I’ll bet there is no major media coverage this week, for example in the Globe & Mail or NY Times, about the  40th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh and the start of the Cambodian genocide. Nobody knows how many died, estimates range from 2 to 3 million people, which would tally at about 1 person in 4 or 5 out of the total population. No exact numbers, and obviously this should not reduce the gravity of this horrible 20th century evil.
The anniversary for the start of this event is this Friday, April 17.  Now of course we have Holocaust (Shoah) remembrance day/week in the Jewish community annual calendar.  But Cambodia does not have something like that.
I reflect on this every time that I visit in PP and stay at my usual hotel that is located on the major north/south street, Monivong Boulevard, which bisects the city. The Khmer Rouge used it to divide up the city and families/ friends who never saw each other again as the city was emptied in April 1975.  Despite some urban development, the appearance of most of this street hasn’t changed to this day.
There are numerous historical sources, and I refer to the excellent book by Henry Kamm, a Pulitzer Prize NYT winning writer:
April 17, 1975– The Khmer Rouge capture Phnom Penh and complete their victory.  They drive the population out of cities, towns and villages, and under a plan of unprecedented ultra-Communist social engineering, turn Cambodia into a country of large agricultural communes condemned to unattainable self-sufficiency.  They abolish money and prohibit all private property, Western medicine, education and religious practice… Its four years of rule result in the deaths of at least hundreds of thousands (estimates range as high as two million) of Cambodians—by arbitrary execution, starvation, exhaustion from unending work, and denial of medical care
Anyhow, I think that we should remember this date, April 17, 1975, and maybe give it a  few minute’s thought on Friday.
Here is some recent background from Reuiters:

By Prak Chan Thul
PHNOM PENH, March 27 (Reuters) – An international judge at a war crimes court in Cambodia charged another former Khmer Rouge cadre with crimes against humanity on Friday, in a further widening of its net of suspects in the tribunal’s most sensitive cases yet.
The charges against 79-year-old Ao An, or Ta An, cover alleged “extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds and other inhumane acts” at detention centres under the late Pol Pot’s bloody, ultra-Maoist 1970s rule. At least 1.8 million Cambodians died during that time.
Ao An is the third suspect charged this month in cases many investigators and advocacy groups feared might go unheard due to their old age and alleged government attempts to block the proceedings.
The hybrid U.N.-Cambodian tribunal announced the charges for Ao An on Friday in case 004, which includes Im Chaem, a Buddhist nun suspected of running a forced labor camp.
Meas Muth, an 80-something former navy chief who allegedly sent detainees to a torture centre where some 14,000 people died, was recently named in case 003. Another suspect in that case died in 2013.
The decade-old tribunal has delivered guilty verdicts to only three defendants, two of whom – “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and former President Khieu Samphan – remain on trial in a separate case.
Case 003 and 004 are strongly opposed by the Cambodian government, police and the national investigating judge, who have been unwilling to cooperate with the tribunal. Experts say high-profile figures in present day Cambodian politics fear they could be implicated in defendants’ testimony.
Court spokesman Lars Olsen said Ao An had heard the charges on Friday but had not been arrested.
Cambodian investigating judge You Bunleng issued a statement on Friday saying he regarded Case 003 as completed and he disagreed with the international judge over 004.
Any legal challenge by You Bunleng could further delay a court already criticised for its slow progress. (Editing by Martin Petty and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Fans: The Diamonds shone on April 10 1958 in #ldnont

- April 17th, 2015


London Arena 1958 diamonds  (2)

It is The Diamonds in this LFP/Postmedia Network photograph from April 10, 1958 at the old London Arena. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

Yes, it was The Diamonds . . . back on that amazing April night in 1958 when so rock and  roll stars played the old London Arena. Thanks to everyone who helped out — London historian Dan Brock who saw the show in Kitchener sent along pix from the original programme. JBNBlog asked for help & yay it was forthcoming.

So the young women seen in the My London column were The Chantels, and these are The Diamonds, a Canadian group. JBNBLog has obviously under-rated the mighty Dee-men. With all those hits (see the note from Michael), they are like forerunners of The Four Seasons or a bridge between the smooth-voiced groups of the 1940s and the 1960s. Maybe there’s a Diamond Boys jukebox musical out there if somebody is interested.

Again, thanks to everyone — & is that sax player Sam “The Man” Taylor?

from Michael …

I am certain that the male group is the Diamonds as  that most certainly is Dave Somerville on the left  and  Phil Levitt  one of the
guys on the right.
The female group looks very much like the Bobbettes who had the smash hit, ” Mr. Lee ” in the summer of 1957.
By the way the Diamonds were no one-hit wonders. They scored 16 times on the Billboard Hot 100 charts between 1956 and 1961.

from Carol . . .

An entertainer friend of mine has worked fairly recently in Branson (within the last few years) with Dave Somerville, lead singer of the Diamonds. He has confirmation from Dave that the pic is of the Diamonds…himself, plus two original members and a new member. Dave Somerville is originally from Guelph, Ontario.

from former LFP colleague Mark Kearney . . .

Enjoyed, as always, your My London column from last Saturday. You may have already heard from others regarding that photo you thought would be The Diamonds. I looked through the scrapbook of articles that Randy Ray and I had done when we were writing our where-are-they-now stuff about Canadian bands that we did back in the late 80s. Anyway, yes, that’s clearly the Diamonds based on the photos we have of them. Hope that helps.





#WePlayOn musicians get their Downton on

- April 16th, 2015


Michelle Dockery WEN_wenn22325493

Cast shoot scenes for the new series of Downton Abbey in Wiltshire Featuring: Michelle Dockery

Where: Wiltshire, United Kingdom  When: 20 Mar 2015 Credit: WENN.com

JBNBlog applauds the continuing greatness of the #WePlayOn musicians a.k.a. as the Musicians Formerly of Orchestra London . . .  & here is news two excellent April concerts.

This was also an excuse to run a photograph of Michelle Dockery (a singer with her own band when she’s not being Lady Mary on Downtown Abbey) because at the April 26 concert you get to hear “a personal message to the citizens of London from Downton’s Emmy Award-winning composer John Lunn.”

Yay . . .over to #WePlayOn media ace Thea Boyd for more:




London, Ontario – Hello spring and goodbye winter! The #WePlayOn musicians present two blockbuster concerts in April, An Afternoon at the Proms on April 26, followed by The London Connection on April 29.

An Afternoon at the Proms brings the long-standing tradition of the British Promenade Concerts to London, ON. Conductor Brian Jackson leads the musicians in a selection of favourite Proms’ classics, including Elgar’s ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, Parry’s Jerusalem and a suite from Downton Abbey, complete with a personal message to the citizens of London from Downton’s Emmy Award-winning composer John Lunn. Singing and flag waving are very much encouraged at this event.

The London Connection features the dynamic, young Canadian conductor Eric Paetkau. Eric is the director of Toronto’s G27 chamber orchestra and recently appointed Music Director of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. He will lead the #WePlayOn musicians in a concert of symphonic masterpieces. The evening includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 26, Wagner’s beguiling Siegfried Idyll and Haydn’s aptly titled ‘London’ Symphony No. 104. Eric will share his insights into this intimate programme with a pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m.



Sunday April 26, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. Metropolitan United Church, 468 Wellington St, London, ON


Wednesday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. Dundas Street United Church, 482 Dundas St., London, ON

TICKETS FOR BOTH PERFORMANCES: $10 – $50 available at the door, or online at: musiciansorchestralondon.wordpress.com

The Musicians (formerly — JBNBlog add) of Orchestra London are committed to providing the people of London with music for all tastes, performed at the highest level. We believe every concert we perform is an opportunity to connect with our audience and with the community in which we live.

Twitter: @OLC_Musicians

Facebook: Musicians of Orchestra London



Fest hits w/ Pope, Tapp, Heppner, Swimmers, Schafer

- April 15th, 2015

Miranda Mulholland John Tory QMI_TS20150313CR004

Toronto Mayor John Tory gets a violin lesson from Miranda Mulholland from the band Great Lake Swimmers  in Toronto, Ont. on Friday March 13, 2015.  The Mayor was promoting his trip to Austin Texas next week  to attend  the South by Southwest Festival. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency . . . JBNBlog note: Miranda M is with the Swimmers at Aeolian Hall on Wednesday (today) & Thursday . . . & then Swimmers headline a Stratford Summer Music gig with Trent Severn on the bill at Knox church on Aug. 17

JBNBlog is in awe . . . any festival with Gordie Tapp, Miranda Mulholland, Ben Heppner, Carole Pope & plenty of  R. Murray Schafer is clearly programming beyond boundaries  . . . Here are the Stratford Summer Music fest details sent along by John A. Miller … JBNBlog has long dreamed of writing about former Londoner Gordie Tapp and this just might be the summer it gets done  . . . Gordie Tapp is rawkin with Whiskey Jack on Aug. 1 at the Legion Hall . . . details on all this remarkable music follow. Yay.

Stratford Summer Music’s Artistic Producer today unveiled an exciting six-week season that begins with the traditional Stars in the Sky fireworks in Lower Queens Park, set off to a score by St. Marys composer, Berthold Carrière, Music for a Midsummer’s Night, which is traditionally played once a year to mark the beginning of another calendar of musical events.

2015 will see more than one hundred concerts and events, some looking back to great moments since 2001 and others totally fresh and innovative.


-Classical Tattoo with 200 of the most outstanding young musicians of North and South America and the Caribbean. The National Youth Orchestra of Canada is joined for one concert only by the Youth Orchestra of the Americas in partnership with L’Orchestre Francophonie. 22 nations will be represented in this event exclusive to Stratford.

(Wednesday, July 22. Allman Arena)

-Return of Canadian tenor, Ben Heppner, as the special guest of the Grammy award- winning ensemble, The Blind Boys of Alabama. (Thursday, July 23. Knox Church)

-Great Lake Swimmers, with Trent Severn (Monday, August 17. Knox Church)

-Unique choral programming, including a recreation of the Coronation of George II (1727) with the famous choral anthems of G.F. Handel sung by the Theatre of Early Music led by Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor. Featuring Stratford actor, James Blendick, voicing the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Thursday, August 6. St. James Church).

-Music of Canadian composer, R. Murray Schafer, including three early morning (7am) events on Tom Patterson Island and the Avon River, called Schafer at Dawn and a late evening candle-lit concert of Schafer’s sacred music, dubbed Schafer at Twilight. Presented with the participation of TorQ Percussion Quartet. (Friday, August 7. 10pm. St. James Church)


-Young People’s Programming, including the fourth School of Rawk led by the Yukon-based band, Speed Control (Sold Out) plus a week with the unique percussion instruments which delighted families last summer on Tom Percussion Island. (July 27-August 2)


-Classical Piano Series with recitals by international pianists, Paul Lewis (U.K.), Janina Fialkowska (Germany/Canada) and, in a special three-part series of the complete five Beethoven piano concerti, the Alberta pianist, Jan Lisiecki with the Annex Quartet. (St. Andrew’s Church. July 29, August 19, August 27-29)


-The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra returns for two performances this year.

(Monday & Tuesday, August 3,4. Arden Park Hotel Ballroom)


- Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Three performances of the world’s most popular opera, sung by young Canadian vocalists and adapted/staged for dinner and brunch presentations in Revival House. (August 14, 15, 16. Revival House, formerly The Church Restaurant)


- The Sound of Music. One showing only of the original movie as a sing-a-long with audience participation and all the lyrics on the screen. Everyone is encouraged to sing heartily, even to win prizes by dressing up as characters from the film. (Saturday, August 1. Stratford Cinemas)

-Play Me, I’m Yours: the return of a nine street pianos newly painted by local and regional artists. (August 6–30. City Centre & Avon parkland)

-Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, played throughout the season in the full series of 12 weekend brunches by Aisslinn Nosky, Julia Wedman and Cristina Zacharias, violinists of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. (July 25–August 30. Reservations made directly through The Prune Restaurant)

- MusicBarge. Five weeks of free outdoor performances on the floating stage docked beside the Avon River at the heart of the city. Featuring the Sultans of String, Ontario Youth Choir, Heavyweights Brass Band, Dan Stacey & The Black Swans and welcoming back two all-time favourites of MusicBarge audiences, The Boys Guard Band of Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Langley Ukulele Ensemble from British Columbia. The Stratford Police Pipes & Drums will play the traditional final concert, as they did at the original MusicBarge finale in 2002. (July 30-August 30. MusicBarge)

Whiskey Jack welcomes Gordie Tapp. A genuine Canadian country music legend joins Stompin’ Tom Connors’ original backup band for a Saturday night of songs, comedy and square dancing. (August 1. Royal Canadian Legion Hall)

Great Opera Arias. Vocal recital by Michael Schade, Canada’s lyric tenor to the world of opera, accompanied by Emily Hamper, piano. Presenting a program with repertoire newly offered for Canadian audiences. (Sunday, August 9. St. Andrew’s Church)

-Illustrated musical lectures by music critic and CBC Radio Music producer, Robert Harris, on four topics related to Summer Music’s 2015 programming. (Wednesday mornings throughout the festival. University of Waterloo/Stratford Campus)

- Opera Goes to the Movies – the annual Harry Somers Forum, presented by Barbara Willis Sweete, director of the Metropolitan Opera’s popular international videocasts, Live in HD, and founding partner of Rhombus Media. (Wednesday, August 12, University of Waterloo/Stratford Campus)

- Stratford Summer Music Vocal Academy, a week-long intensive training program for up to eight emerging Canadian classical singers led by Founding Faculty members, Michael Schade, Phillip Addis and Emily Hamper, with public master classes and a finale concert featuring all the singers hosted by former CBC radio host, Howard Dyck.

(August 10-15. Finale at St. Andrew’s Church)

-Cabarets. Four shows featuring singers Rebecca Caine (the original Cosette in Les Misérables and Christine in Phantom of the Opera ), Canadian pop icon Carole Pope, Heather Bambrick & Friends in a Newfoundland Jazz Ceilidh, and Micah Barnes & Friends including former members of the Nylons a cappella ensemble. (Saturday nights, July & August. Revival House)

-Season Finale featuring a program of opera, operetta and Broadway favourites with six gentlemen of song – Phillip Addis, baritone; Roger Honeywell, tenor; Gary Relyea, bass-baritone; Lutzen Riedstra, baritone; Drew Santini, baritone; James Westman, baritone – all of whom have called Stratford home. With Music Director, Emily Hamper.

(Sunday, August 30. St. Andrew’s Church)


Hundreds of individual patrons and community organizations financially support the programming and activities of Stratford Summer Music as do a variety of public sector agencies, private corporations and foundations, including these major funders: Sun Life Financial, BMO, CTV, RBC, Manulife Financial, Yamaha Music Canada, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, CIBC, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport with the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Celebrate Ontario and Ontario Arts Council, Department of Canadian Heritage, Service Canada and the City of Stratford.

Tickets on sale now. 519 271-2101 or 1-866-288-4313 or stratfordsummermusic.ca

#ldnont drummers rawk the world

- April 14th, 2015

Dale Anne Brendon Facebook with trio


Dale Anne Brendon on drums w/ the Randy Bachman power trio. The  bassist Anna Ruddick from Montreal … from Dale Anne Brendon’s Facebook page

PostmediaNetwork  colleague Jane Stevenson has a fine story about Randy Bachman’s new power trio which has Oakridge secondaary school and Western Don Wright music faculty grad Dale Anne Brendon on drums . . . it reminded JBNBlog  of such #ldnont drummers as Graham Lear w/ Santana and Paul Anka & Jason Pierce with Our Peace and Sum41 . . . any other examples?

Here’s some of Jane’s story . . .

At the same time, Bachman – now on tour in Canada – hooked up with a young female rhythm section, including Dale Anne Brendon on drums, who he saw in a Stratford production of The Who’s Tommy, and bassist Anna Ruddick from Montreal roots-rock outfit Ladies of The Canyon.

“I was sitting behind Pete Townshend,” said Bachman of his Stratford experience. “And at one point, Pete leans over and says, ‘The drummer sounds amazing. Just like Keith Moon.’ And I say, ‘The drummer is a girl.’”

Here’s some material from an LFP story re Bachman’s gig with the old Orchestra London . . .

Just as exciting is another new Bachman project which has London-raised Dale Anne Brendon on drums.

Bachman had worked with the “phenomenal” Brendon in London-area singer Shelly Rastin’s band and met her again when she was in the off-stage band for Tommy at the Stratford Festival.

Bachman instantly pitched the idea of forming a duo with the Oakridge secondary school and Western Don Wright music faculty grad. It could be called “the Canadian Stripes or something,” playing off The White Stripes.

Bachman’s manager nixed the duo idea. But Bachman powered on, looking for another woman to play in the new band.

During the 2014 Junos, in his hometown of Winnipeg, he heard Ladies Of The Canyon.

Their bass player Anna Ruddick turned out to be a McGill music grad. She also knows The Who comes first in certain projects.

“We’re going to do a British power trio,” Bachman told her. Introductions to Brendon and Bachman’s manger were in order.

“She shows up in a John Entwistle T-shirt,” Bachman said. Bachman asked if Ruddick liked Entwistle, the late bass player for The Who.

Like Entwistle? “I love him. He’s my favourite bassman,” Ruddick said.

The ex-Guess Who man realized he had his own take on The Who’s iconic players.

‘Oh my God,” Bachman said. “I’ve got Keith Moon (Brendon) on drums and John Entwistle (Ruddick) on bass and Kevin Shirley producing. All I’ve gotta do is write 12 great blues songs.”

. . . .“They’re going nuts over my new rhythm section,” Bachman said of Randyverse response to Brendon and Ruddick.


What: It’s opening night for Tommy, based on The Who’s fabled rock opera, at the 2013 Stratford Festival. The Who’s Pete Townshend in sitting in front of his old friend, Randy Bachman, ex-Guess Who. The drummer in the production’s off-stage band reminds Townshend of The Who’s late drummer.

“I was there and Pete Townshend said to me, ‘The drummer plays like Keith Moon.’ I said the drummer’s a girl. He said, ‘It can’t be.’ So I go backstage and I introduce him to Dale Anne (Brendon).”