Monthly Archives: May 2012

“Storyweaving” brings First Nations’ stories to life

(l-r) Marge C. White, Muriel Williams, Priscillia Tait, Kat Norris Photo: David Cooper

May 11-13 & 18-20, 2012
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm (Doors open 7pm)
Sunday Matinees at 2 pm (Doors open  1:30pm)
By donation $0-$20. Limited seating.

Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre
Chief Simon Baker Room, 1607 East Hastings Street

special contribution by X MacDonald
Vancouver Moving Theatre’s Storyweaving is like an open concept loft with plenty of space to create, sing, dance and relate through the past, along the present and into the future. VMT produces relevant theatre by, about and for the downtown east side community and they know their source, environment and audience well. Directed by Renae Morriseau, the show’s aim is to exorcise demons and embrace healing all in the same breath and odd as it may sound, quite naturally they achieve that.
The evening began with a blessing given by Musqueam Chief Victor Guerin followed by a welcome and dance by Spakwus Slulum (Eagle Dancers). At no time is the audience ignored throughout this. Instead we are accepted as an integral part of the story for the evening. The intimacy of the Chief Simon Baker Room of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre helps us feel included. The space is technically limited, but this is actually to its credit as it functions like a swift moving canoe, agile and responsive to the needs of the moment. This is well too because the play moves through time rapidly as each scene requires sometimes existing in two or three periods at once. We work our way through many issues in a short time, but dwell too long on none. Nicole, played by Priscilla Mays Tait, is searching for her mother missing from the downtown east side and Marge C White as the voice of the North leads the exposure of life in the residential schools. Rather than bludgeon us with the horrors of these events and circumstances the storytellers open their hearts and reveal their experiences and feelings and move on allowing the audience the opportunity to attach our own emotional response to the moments. Our feelings are evoked, respected and included.
The acting ranges from somewhat clumsy to bold, but this is the nature of community based work and it’s easy to forgive the shortcomings because the honesty in presentation is so pure. You wouldn’t condemn your grandmother for having a shaky voice when she tells you a story of when she was a girl and so you shouldn’t be too critical of these people for their quavers. Of special note is Sam Bob’s portrayal of Old One. He is our reference through the shifting landscape more than anyone else and he’s imminently likeable. At one point Old One tells his sister that his Indian name is Gentle Mountain Lion and it’s not far off the mark, but I found him to be more of a giant cheerful chipmunk, whimsical and adorable, but a mighty too.
By the time Spakwus Slulum returns for a final song and dance there is power and yes even defiance in the air. Always there is the undercurrent of hope. Two centuries of misunderstanding, misfortune and mistreatment could not destroy the spirit of the Coast Salish peoples who remain strong, compassionate and honourable. It has been their legacy for over ten thousand years after all. They do us a great service to show us their hospitality and we would all be wise to learn from their wisdom and grace. Storyweaving runs May 11-13 & 18-20 in the Chief Simon Baker Room of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre 1607 East Hastings at Commercial Drive at 7:30pm.

Lifford Grand Tasting… of scotch and wines…

Auchentoshan could be a scotch sponsor at the 2013 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner….  L-R, Scott, Chrystal and Tony of Edgemont Fine Wines, Spirits & Ales, Jaime of Auchentoshan, Don Harder – my musician friend and scotch drinking buddy, and me – Todd Wong.
I was invited to the
Oysters were served with the Bowmore 12 year old scotch.   The pairing was very nice.   Such a bit of luck, that my friend Don Harder had composed a song “Oysters on the Griddle” for our ceilidh weekend last year in Desolation Sound, where the cabin overlooked the oyster farm in Penrose Bay.  I taught Don how to “stealth hunt” oysters for low impact shucking… Oysters and single malt scotch…. yum… yum….
Cara is actually from the Isle of Islay, where Bowmore is distilled.  She is holding up the bottle of 15 year old Bowmore Darkest – which my brother gave me for my birthday last year.  We also tried Bowmore 12 year and 18 year.
Deb holds up some Canadian Forty Creek whisky in her right hand, and vodka in her left…  It’s a lovely Canadian whisky, brewed with some rye.  For tastings, they had Double Barrel Reserve, and 2 others…

Jessica Fichot plays French accordion chansons extraordinaire!

Hanging with the cute accordion girl!  Todd Wong, Jessica Fichot, Meesha the bass player, Accordion Noir radio host Bruce Triggs, clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Rob.

Jessica Fichot is a accordionist born in the USA of French and Chinese ancestry, who was raised in Paris where she developed her love of the French chanson music style.  It’s always great to meet another accordionists, and Jessica’s music is particularly interesting.  Both myself and Bruce Triggs (co-host of Accordion Noir radio show on Co-op) did not want to miss this show!

I also invited some of my musician friends from the Black Bear Rebels Ceilidh group. Even bagpipers Allan and Trish McMordie really enjoyed the concert.


Jessica’s band includes Antoine on a gypsy guitar, Nanaimo bassist Meesha, and Robbie Marshall on sax and clarinet.  It was a great combo playing a mix of gypsy French chanson, with 2 songs in Spanish latin american style, 2 songs in Chinese, plus one song in Russian!

Robby Marshall was amazing on saxophone and clarinet – he complimented Jessica’s singing so well, and he also played Jessica’s toy piano for one song.  After the concert, we went out for dinner with the band.  I made reservations at Wild Rice and had a nice variety of dishes, which Jessica really enjoyed!

Urban Dreams Gala for Urban Ink Productions

We are hanging out with the flash opera crowd at the Urban Dreams Gala! pianist Karen Lee-Morlang, Todd Wong, Urban Ink artistic director Diane Roberts, tenors Phillip Grant and Joel Klein, and Deb Martin.

We had lots of fun at the inaugural gala for Urban Ink Productions.  I have enjoyed a few productions over the years starting such as the manga inspired “Hunted”, the Tricia Collins one person play “Gravity” and most recently Valerie Sing Turner’s “Confessions of the Other Woman”

The evening was hosted by Hosted by Omari Newton, series actor in Continuum, Blue Mountain State and Maxx Steele, and local multi-talented performer Mutya Macatumpag.  There were lots of silent and live auction prizes, and of course, lots of food!  Entertainment included some hip hop, a flash of opera, and more!

It was fun to watch the flash opera unfold… as Phillip and Joel had pretended they were catering staff that suddenly burst into song, singing “The Drinking Song” from “La Traviata”.  Pianist Karen Lee-Morlang joined in, after initially pretending to be background piano music.  Next they led the audience in a singalong of a traditional Neopolitan song “Funiculi Funicula” – which is in my accordion repertoire.  After their little performance, Karen who is a friend of mine, said to me “Too bad you didn’t have your accordion, you could have joined in with us!”

I joined in on some of the live auction bidding for vacation getaways, but bailed when it got too high for me.  However I did walk out with a silent auction prize for the upcoming Arts Club musical production of  “Xanadu”, which had been one of my guilty Olivia Newton-John pleasures while growing up in the 80’s.

I made new friends with actor/stunt performer Patrick Sabongui, actor Daren Herbert, and Dimi Alansari (marketing and outreach for Urban Ink).  We discovered the four of us were a real United Nations: Egypt, Bermuda, Lebanon and Canada (me).



World Accordion Day May 6th

Happy World Accordion Day…. 24 hour live streaming of accordion music from around the world….
Confederation Internationale des Accordéonistes CIA
The Confederation Internationale des Accodeonistes (CIA) are the organisers of the annual Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Chapmionships

We celebrated World Accordion Day Eve last night with Jessica Fichot concert at Le Centre…

She sang mostly in French… 2 songs in Chinese, 2 songs in Spanish, 1 song in Russian… then had dinner with Jessica and her band at Wild Rice – for some Chinese-West Coast fusion cuisine
Check Jessica Fichot’s website
Chanteuse and songwriter Jessica Fichot is a lot like her hometown of Paris: French at heart, but with a soul that’s truly universal…

Jessica Fichot – French-Chinese accordionist now living in California is coming to Vancouver

Jessica Fichot – French-Chinese accordionist now living in California is coming to Vancouver

Jessica first came to my attention in the Accordion Babes calendar, after her fellow Californian accordionists Renee La Prade and Amber Lee Baker came to Vancouver in November.


I had emailed with Jessica earlier this year, and this is her reply
“Thanks for reaching out! I am indeed coming to Vancouver on May 5th and the concert will be presented by Le Centre Culturel. I haven’t listed the details on my website yet, only as I was waiting to confirm the venue and time information (I believe I’ll be performing at “Studio 16” though.)  I have been in touch with Rowan from Accordion Noir in the past, and I will let him know about the show once the details are confirmed – but I also know I won’t be able to perform live on his radio show, since there are a lot of restrictions for American musicians to perform in Canada (I was denied entry to Canada once in 2008, as I was not allowed to play a show.) I’m now very careful about obtaining the right permits to play shows in Canada.
“Your work seems very interesting and I can’t wait to hear some Scottish/Chinese music fusion and sample some Scottish/Chinese cuisine!”

From the website for Le Centre

The remarkable Franco-American artist Jessica Fichot will present her new album, “The Secret” in an avant-première performance on May 5th, in concert at Studio 16.

Saturday May, 5th – Studio 16, 1551 West 7th Avenue – 7:30pm – Member 5$ / Non member 10$

fichotwebJessica Fichot is a Franco-American artist whose international career began in Los Angeles. Now, with the official release of her brand new album “The Secret” set for June 5th, 2012, she is beginning a tour of the West Coast and Le Centre is very happy to present her in concert at Studio 16 on May 5th at 7:30 p.m.
Accompanied by her accordion, her toy piano and her band of young musicians, Jessica brings us a performance full of energy and talent. Here in Vancouver, she will honour us with the first-ever public performance of her new compositions. A singer-songwriter whose music is an eclectic blend, Jessica sings in more than five languages, a reflection of her origins and her international spirit, and she delivers a perfect blend of French chanson, Chinese music, gypsy jazz, folk and world music.
Following on the success of her first album entitled “Le Chemin”, Jessica Fichot has performed all over the world, from China to Mexico, as well as Canada and the United States, and of course France. Based in Los Angeles, California, she has won over American audiences with her French and multilingual compositions, her clear, warm voice, her musical sensitivity, her instrumental talent and her charm.
Truly a musical journey, Jessica Fichot’s performance is one you will not want to miss.



This week gala events for Urban Ink Theatre and explorASIAN



May 3rd, 2012
7:30 – 10:00 pm
Vancity Theatre
1181 Seymour St

Going to Urban Dreams Gala tonight… very intercultural… Urban Ink does great theatre work – “Confessions of the Other Woman” was amazing… “Gravity” was stunning!

check out:

Urban Dreams: A Very Vancouver Gala

The Magical Encounter – Opening Gala for explorASIAN Festival & Asian Heritage Month
May 4 – Milton & Fei Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodwards
A Pan-Asian & inter-arts gala performance showcasing both local and visiting artists, and exploring the intersection between music, word, dance, multimedia and cultural traditions. Produced by VAHMS, co-presented by SFU.

I am going on Friday – should be interesting with lots of different performers and performances.