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About "James Reaney"

James Reaney has covered everything from operas to Neil Young concerts to baseball's World Series in more than 30 years at The London Free Press. Now, he concentrates on London entertainment in his Saturday Today section column and Forest City lore in a Saturday Comment section column called My London. He is the host of two weekly video. lfpress.com features. One is Reaney's Pick, an online platform for London performers. The other is It's On, a guide to the best of the local scene. James is a passionate supporter of the Jack Richardson Music Awards, which host an annual gala and other free events in London's only not-for-profit recognition of our musical excellence. He is also on the board of the King's University College Centre for Creativity and an active member of the London & Middlesex Historical Society.

Online auction: Lombardo Family London Music Hall of Fame plaque withdrawn

- January 23rd, 2015

Guy Lombardo London Music Hall of Fame plaque

Lombardo Family plaque image courtesy of gardnergalleries.com 

JBNBlog is grateful to James & Grant Gardner of Gardner Galleries for the following news . . . the Lombardo Family London Music Hall of Fame plaque has been withdrawn from an online auction of Lombardo material which starts today (Friday).

JRMA steering committee chair Grant Stein can speak officially on any reaction . . . as a friend of the JRMA & supporter of the proposed, dreamed-of, hoped-for London music hall of Fame, I will be happy to help in any way Grant & others would think right.

Meanwhile, JBNBlog encourages others concerned about ownership of material in the online auction to pursue the matter in hope that reasonable dialogue & goodwill will lead to the sweetest ending this side of heaven . . .

Here is the e-mail from James Gardner  received Friday morning . . . there are two Jameses & two Grants here but the meaning should be clear:

Good Morning James and Grant ,

I have spoken with Grant Gardner (President, Gardner Galleries) on this matter and we have decided it is in our best interests to pull the award from the current online auction.

You must understand it is not our award either so we cannot ‘give it to the Lombardo Family or return it to the Jack Richardson Music Awards’ – legally, we must return this item to the consignor Doug Flood who has had possession of this item since 2003.  When an item is consigned to auction the consignor signs an agreement stating they have legal ownership/title.  If there is a question of ownership it is not for the auction house to decide.


James Gardner

Tom (!) Hunter & Edith Hill Adams #ldnont 1958

- January 23rd, 2015

Edith Hill Adams Tom Hunter 1958 Beal

The Free Press advertisement for what must have been a terrific concert . . .  the students of Edith Hill Adams w/ Tom (!) Hunter as a special guest . . . courtesy of Bill Cole

A recent My London column in The Free Press paid tribute to the memory of Edith Hill Adams. She may have started teaching guitar in 1915 in #ldnont . . . which seems young. Anyway it was a chance to honour a London centenary & My London (the print version sibling to JBNBlog) is always a good spot for that.

It was frustrating to find so little about Edith in The Free Press files or elsewhere . . . thanks to Bill  Cole there’s a date in 1958 that will give future researches a starting point. Bill was able to provide information on the date when Tommy Hunter (Edith’s most famous student) returned to join his revered guitar teacher at Beal in the 1950s. It was mentioned, without a date, in the column.

Over to Bill . . .

  Thanks for the article on Edith Hill. The Beal Tech concert date you referred to in the article took place May 6th, 1958. Attached is an ad from the London Free Press for that concert.
All the best;
Thanks for this, Bill . . . there may be coverage around that May date which would add to the Edith Hill Adams legend. JBNBlog vows to get on the case. Meanwhile, why is it Tom Hunter in the advertisement? Was Tommy ever called that?

Now museum: Kevin Benoit & Steve Martin & Guy

- January 22nd, 2015

Steve Martin Museum London B79VMCQIcAACPyi


(JBNBlog presumes it’s_ Kevin Benoit, left, & Steve Martin in a Twitter.com image courtesy of Museum London (Jan. 21, 2015)

JBNBlog congratulates Kevin Benoit for winning the #museumselfie prize …. pls. let us know the details! Congratulations to this Steve Martin for choosing Museum London to visit on Museum Selfie day . . .

Here’s Museum London via Twitter.com . . .

It’s true! That’s @SteveMartinToGo at @MuseumLondon yesterday (Jan. 21, 2015, JBNBlog note0. Kevin Benoit wins the best #museumselfie ever

Meanwhile, as JBNBlog is sure someone who wears a jacket as well as Mr. Martin would want to advise Museum London, about those Royal Canadians red jackets & that online auction . . . for the record, a lot of us think Museum London is their owner even if they have been stored off-site for a many years. Assert yourself & ourselves one & all (JBNBlog plans to follow this advice on a related Lombardo auction matter). Truth. Beauty. London.

Back to Steve Martin . . . it’s a mere 17 years or so that his presence as a playwright lit up the Grand Theatre . . . in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s LFP colleague Ian Gillespie’s review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile from Feb. 23, 1998:

It’s a night of lowbrow comedy and serious thought; of cartoonish characterizations and deeply human insight; of manic lunacy and placid beauty.
It’s a funny piece of theatre by a serious Hollywood comic. It peers into the future by poking into the past. It mixes heady intellectual themes with unabashedly physical slapstick.
It’s absurdly surreal, irreverent and surprising; it’s romantic, conventional and reassuring. It creates sublime theatrical magic while puncturing the illusion of the stage.
It’s called Picasso at the Lapin Agile. It’s about – in the words of one of its main characters – “everything.”
And it may be the most entertaining, stimulating and downright invigorating show produced at the Grand Theatre in a long, long time.
Director Peter Hinton probably lost the Grand more than a few subscribers with his adventurously erotic rendering of Atlantis last season. But if there’s any justice, the flamboyant director may excite a whole new whack of theatre-goers with this brilliant production of Steve Martin’s 1993 play.
On paper, this script reads like an ugly collision between a Laverne and Shirley sitcom episode and a Marx Brothers film. But Hinton and his nine actors have elevated this into something supremely satisfying.
The idea is a brazen one: Albert Einstein, the man who changed science with his theory of relativity, and Pablo Picasso, the man who altered art with his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, accidentally meet in a Parisian bar in 1904.
Aided and abetted by an aging drunk, a cynical server, an ambitious art dealer, a philosophical bartender and a street-smart young woman, the two young titans of the 20th century toss around concepts faster than two street jugglers working a corner crowd.
Along the way, this unlikely bunch examines lust and love, men and women, art and science, creativity, beauty, aesthetics, the mechanics of humor and just about everything else under the stars, including lawn flamingos.
At first, it all seems a bit wobbly. Some of the actors are doing accents and some are not. Carolyn M. Smith’s set, which reproduces a boldly Picasso-like canvas on the widely-spaced planks of a seedy bar, seems distracting and overly exuberant.
And the early minutes of the play – particularly the opening impressions of the characters – leaves one thinking that the whole enterprise is going to wear thin. And fast.
But instead of skittering off into the inanely superficial, Hinton’s production deepens and ultimately ends with a feeling of optimistic sadness and hopeful regret. That may sound impossible. But the effect is truly magical.
Along the way, we get loads of linguistic gags by Martin. Recounting her first sexual encounter with Picasso, for instance, the character Suzanne (played by an impossibly tall Kelly McIntosh) admits that, “At that point, the word ‘No’ became like a Polish village. . . . Unpronounceable.”
We get some Brechtian moments of anti-theatre where the characters remind us that this is only a play (one character grabs a program from a spectator, while Picasso later tells Suzanne he’ll meet her “when the play is over.”
We also get some brashly muscular performances.
Although he sounds like somebody from The Godfather, Alex Ferguson believably portrays Picasso as a throbbing bull of ambition. And Allan Zinyk seems to defy the laws of physical science with a bizarre bit of personal levitation.
But at the centre of this curving universe sits – or rather spins, trips and hops – David Storch as Einstein. This is an absolutely astonishing performance that takes both artistic and physical risks; the result is akin to a Looney Tunes cartoon that touches the heart.
Storch’s physical rendering of a mental mathematical calculation, for instance, is hilariously mesmerizing. and it’s just one gem set into a glittering string of special moments.
Of course, we know that space curves, time wobbles and everything is relative. But in my books, this 90 minutes of theatre is an unequivocal hit.
Ian Gillespie is a Free Press reporter covering arts and entertainment.
The play: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a comedy written by Steve Martin; produced by the Grand Theatre and Vancouver Playhouse
Rating: *****
(Excellent *****; very good ****; good ***; fair **; poor *)

Ivy Mairi & hottest record in world: Inevitable #ldnont connection

- January 22nd, 2015

Ivy Mairi NO-TALKER-press-photo

An undated image of Ward’s Island hit-maker Ivy Mairi, courtesy of ivymairi.com

JBNBlog is delighted to discover there an inevitable #ldnont connection to at least last week) the hottest record in the world .

Thursday’s (Jan. 15, 2015) Hottest Record from Rene LaVice - The Calling (feat Ivy Mairi)– is that track & singer-songwriter Ivy is the daughter of old friend and former Londoner Alec Farquhar, president of the Central secondary school student council late in the 1960s and ace activist etc. Alec & his family have lived for decades on Ward’s Island just a ferry ride from downtown Toronto.

The Calling sounds terrific . . . if you listen to the link you’ll hear Ivy & drums n bass ace Rene LaVice who keeps his kewl when BBC Radio’s Zane Lowetells him how courageous the genre has become . . . wish they talked some about Ivy … or would that have been uncourageous.

Ivy is also a member of “wide-eyed” (their Facebook) Toronto band Bruce Peninsula . . . so maybe she’s played London  with them & I shoulda been on the case.

Well. Anyway. Let’s flash back to April, 1968 when Alec is running for student council president . . . his campaign appearance made room for a fine version by student performers  of Phil Ochs’s Changes . . .  for the usual prizes — & this is a tough quiz — which song by another American folk icon & which Central student singer-guitarist had been tabbed for the spot . . . here’s a clue. He has a brother-in-law in Rant Maggie Rant.

… Over to Ivy … from ivymairi.com

It’s an exciting week! Two projects that I poured a lot of love into over the past year are finally being released!

The first actually already has been released…sort of. My good friend and drum n bass producer supreme Rene LaVice (who is poised to have a HUGE year) and I worked our butts off on a couple of new collaborations in Spring 2014. The first of them – The Calling - finally saw the light of day last week when BBC’s Zane Lowe chose it as his Hottest Record that day and premeired it on the radio! UKF Drum n Bass also put it out on youtube and the love has been flowing in! I’m so proud of Rene – this song was a true labour of love. 

… just for a little Trana context, here’s a January 2007 item from 24 Hours Toronto . . . wonder what Otis Redding songs were sung?

GIRLS DO BOYS Well, not literally. We’re talking in the musical sense. In a gender-bending evening, some of the city’s top female singer/songwriters will be taking on songs by their favourite male singer/songwriters. MC Michael “A Man Called” Wrycraft presents Girls Do Boys, Friday at Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., featuring October Browne doing Lindsay Buckingham; Rita Chiarelli doing Elvis Presley; Andrea Koziol-Bill Withers; Brenna MacCrimmon-Brian Eno; Madviolet-Simon & Garfunkel; Ivy Mairi-Otis Redding; Linda McLean-Bruce Cockburn; Oufti-Redd Evans; Soozi Schlanger-Steppenwolf. Stay tuned for the Boys Do Girls series too.

10q Mortz: 2015 Maple Blues Awards winners

- January 20th, 2015

Angel Forrest QMI_qmi_1304151537_001

Angel Forrest est certainement l’une des artistes, sinon la seule, qui compte le plus de présence au Festival Jazz et Blues de Saguenay. Il faut dire que celle qui avoue avoir été conquise par la région il y a de nombreuses années, se considère presque comme une bleuet d’adoption. Elle sera de passage à l’Hôtel Chicoutimi le 19 avril 2013. Photo non datée. ARCHIVES/LE RÉVEIL/AGENCE QMI

(Trying to get a Nanette Workman PIC in here)

Nanette Workman et Dick Rivers lors du soundchek pour le spectacle de ce soir, samedi 01 mars 2014. ANNIE T ROUSSEL/JOURNAL DE QUEBEC/AGENCE QMI

JBNBlog doesn’t see any local names in the winners of the 2015 Maple Blues Awards announced Monday at Toronto — anybody know of a local connection … Thanks to Brian Mortimer for sending this information along & media ace Sarah French for pulling it together . . . .

Over to the Maple Blues Awards . . .


Montreal’s Steve Hill Tops Tally With Four Wins

January 19, 2015 (Toronto) – Blue Monday, thought to be the most depressing day of the year, was anything but last night Toronto’s Koerner Hall, as internationally renowned Canadian Blues Artists from coast-to-coast were honoured by their peers at the 18th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala.

Montreal’s one-man band, Steve Hill took home all of the awards he was nominated for including Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Recording of the Year for Solo Recordings Vol. 2, and Guitar Player of the Year. Angel Forrest won two awards including Female Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Also representing the thriving Quebec blues scene were Nanette Workman who won the Blues with a Feeling Lifetime Achievement Award and Greg Morency of the Paul DesLauriers Band who won Bassist of the Year. From Montreal, Guy Belanger won Harmonica Player of the Year, sharing it with Vancouver’s Harpdog Brown in the first ever Maple Blues Awards tie.

Vancouver’s Brandon Isaak won the Acoustic Act of the Year award with David Vest taking home the award for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year. The New Artist or Group of the Year award was presented to Ottawa’s Wicked Grin. Edmonton Folk Festival producer Terry Wickham joined Stony Plain Records president Holger Petersen to present the Blues Booster of the Year Award to Edmonton’s Peter North, who was recognized for his dedication to promoting the blues as a broadcaster, talent buyer and festival Artistic Director.

An additional award was handed out last night as the winners of the first ever Cobalt Prize for Contemporary Blues Composition were announced. The creator and benefactor of the award, musician Paul Reddick, presented Digging Roots the grand prize for their song “Hwy 17”, with Rob Lutes and Samantha Martin announced as runners up.Hosted by renowned musician and broadcaster, Toronto’s own Danny Marks, the Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from Maple Blues Award nominees past and present, including the evening’s big winners Steve Hill and Angel Forrest, Joel Johnson, Downchild, Harpdog Brown and Brandon Isaak, all backed by The Maple Blues Band.

Winners of the 18th Annual Maple Blues Awards ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR Steve Hill   ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR Steve Hill   ACOUSTIC ACT OF THE YEAR Brandon Isaak   MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Matt Andersen   FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Angel Forrest   NEW ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR Wicked Grin   RECORDING OF THE YEAR Steve Hill Solo Recordings Vol. 2 No Label Records; Producer: Steve Hill   BLUES WITH A FEELING AWARD (Lifetime Achievement) Nanette Workman   BB KING INTERNATIONAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR Johnny Winter   GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR Steve Hill   HARMONICA PLAYER OF THE YEAR Tied: Guy Belanger and Harpdog Brown   PIANO/KEYBOARD PLAYER OF THE YEAR David Vest   HORN PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jon Wong   DRUMMER OF THE YEAR Tom Bona   BASSIST OF THE YEAR Greg Morency   SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR Angel Forrest   BLUES BOOSTER OF THE YEAR Peter North