Tag Archives: Prince George Event

Concert Review: The PGSO Presents Lord of the Dance, With Special Guests Out of Alba and the Old Time Fiddlers!

27 Jan

I had the immense pleasure of attending last night’s Lord of the Dance performance, a very special presentation by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO), the Old Time Fiddlers and local Celtic group Out of Alba.

Lord of the Dance

Wow!

As a notorious fan of Celtic music and the PGSO, picking up a ticket to this show was an absolute no-brainer for me.  Without introduction, as soon as Conductor Kevin Zakresky strode onto the stage, the Symphony launched into a stunning rendition of beloved English folk tune Greensleeves, the perfect way to begin the evening.  At the conclusion of the piece, Zakresky took the mic and reminded me why, beyond his incredible musical talent, he is a perfect fit to the PGSO as he introduced the next composition.  Prairie Dawn, a piece from Canadian composer Stephen Chatman, promised to pull the audience further into thrall.  It was Zakresky’s charming excitement that did it for me – that, and his advising that the audience pay special attention during “the fast bit” so as not to miss the bird calls played by clarinet and violin.  His enthusiasm was not misplaced, this piece was amazing and the PGSO executed it with the passion and skill they are so known for.  Prairie Dawn was spot on, sounding exactly like the sonic sunrise it promised.  A brilliant addition to the show.

Few PGSO events are complete without the introduction of a special guest musician, or two.  The first of our contributing acts last night was a small group of Old Time Fiddlers.  These were not just any fiddlers, these were young fiddlers and their talent was absolutely outstanding.  In each of their collection of toe-tapping ditties, these musicians shone.  Murmurs of awe erupted all around my seat during their performance and culminated in hand-throbbing applause at its conclusion.

It was in the second half of the show that Out of Alba took the stage.  To begin, they were unaccompanied by the PGSO.  Alan O’Reilly, Jim Sayle, Carolyn Kelly, Jim and Margaret Coyle and Ross Williams – of Prince George metal band Axis Disrupt, a special guest of Out of Alba for the evening.  I am sad to admit that this is the first time I had seen Out of Alba perform, but thrilled to be a new, eager, loyal fan!  These folks are exceptional musicians with a glowing repertoire.  They have been playing together for years and it shows – not only do they complement each other beautifully and seem to play with an almost supernatural connection, they have a lot of fun doing it!  Out of Alba embodies the reason I love Celtic music: it feels like home.  We could just as easily have been sitting in their living room rather than Vanier Hall, last night.

After a short, amazing set, Out of Alba called Zakresky and the PGSO back onto the stage to play with them.  Thanks to Trevor Hoffman, the PGSO had the orchestrations needed to flawlessly accompany Out of Alba in their next set.  Then, just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better, the Old Time Fiddlers were back on the stage, adding another layer to the performance.  This show was so well received that the evening’s musicians were called back for not one, but two encores.  Wow!

This was one of my favourite PSGO events.  The combination of Prince George Symphony Orchestra and the tunes of the Celts was perfect.  Thank you, so much, PGSO, Out of Alba, Ross Williams and the Old Time Fiddlers – you absolutely made my night!  Please consider a repeat performance.

 Chatman – Prairie Dawn

UNT.

Concert Review: John Mellencamp in Prince George, BC

18 Jun

Oh Prince George, you have outdone yourself once again!

I was fortunate enough to take in the John(ny Cougar) Mellencamp show in Prince George’s CN Centre this evening!

What a show!

It began with the Cowboy Junkies.  Now I was privy to the thoughts of the people around me who quoted the opening act as boring and just plain not all that great.  I completely disagree. The band may not have brought the upbeat danceable melodies Mellencamp was sure to carry, but they were outstanding!  Cowboy Junkies did not disappoint as a countrified blues rock band – I foresee buying in to their sound and predict a few summer nights around the campfire with Cowboy Junkies providing some pretty fabulous background tuneage.

And then there was John Mellencamp.

When the tickets to this show went on sale a few months back, I was stoked!  I grew up listening to classic rock and I married into a huge (new) appreciation of (and undying affection for) blues rock.  Mellencamp was no stranger to my dancing around the living room days (which are actually still pretty alive and well) – seeing him (and his amazing band) live and in concert was amazing!  His brand of “heartland rock” (a musical inclination which “emphasizes traditional instrumentation” (Wikipedia)) caters to my love of blues rock, folk music and the addition of traditionally not-rock instruments in a purely rock environment.  It’s stunningly musical – a testament to the art.

I’m serious folks, anyone who can rock (the fuck) out with a double bass, fiddle and accordion deserves nothing but my utmost respect.

From the acoustic version of Jack and Diane to the rocking house-party atmosphere of the Cherry Bomb finale – Mr. Cougar asked that the house lights be turned on for this number so that we could very easily rock with him – this will go down as one of my favourite concerts.  Of all time!  Our fair city has been mocked for its “rock retirement tour” events.  Again, I disagree.  Mellencamp, like KISS before him and Sir Elton John before them, proved that he can still rock as hard as ever and time has only refined his skills.

Rock on Prince George!  Thank you, Cowboy Junkies and John Mellencamp, for the amazing show.  And thank you, Prince George and all of your fantastic concert supporters and organizers, for being juggernauts of win!  You are so much fun to party with!

John Mellencamp – Hurt So Good

UNT.

Prince George Roller Derby: The Rated PG Roller Girls!

15 Mar

What do you get when you take a group of even-tempered well-mannered ladies, slip them into fishnet stockings, booty shorts, roller skates, fall protection and let them choose names for themselves like Cruely Sue, Malice May, Sistah Viberosis, Mutt Diver, Portia De Saucy or Mortu Mary?

(Flat Track) Roller Derby.

(Image © Richard Krueger.  Used with permission.)

The game is played on an oval circuit track.  Two teams send five members each onto the track for the jam (a two-minute shift during which points are scored).  The two players at the front of the pack are the “pivots” (they sport stripes on their helmets) and set the pace for the pack.  The next six members are the “blockers” and provide defence for their team.  It is the job of the blocker to do everything (legal) in her power not to allow the “jammer” to pass her.  The jammers are the final two players in the pack (who wear stars on their helmets) and are the designated point scorers.  The “first jammer to legally pass all pivots and blockers once the jam begins wins the status of lead jammer for the remainder of the jam. The lead jammer can decide to end the jam at any time before the 2 minutes are up. She does this by placing her hands on her hips repeatedly, which signals the referee to officially call off the jam” (Wikipedia).  The goal of the pivots and blockers is to prevent opposing jammers to pass them and to create opportunities for their jammers to attain lead jammer status.

More succinctly:

My roller derby cherry was popped on Saturday, March 12th.  (This is not to say that I participated in any way other than cheering – I’m a sidelines kind of gal.)  Our Rated PG Roller Girls hosted the Red Deer Belladonnas in a battle royal at the Prince George Roll-A-Dome.  Though our girls did not come out victorious over the opposition, the night was not a loss.  At all.  The two teams played their hearts out, bashing each other left, right and (dead) centre.  The Belladonnas brought their A-game and took home the well-deserved win.  PG’s belles of the track were gracious (well, as gracious as you can be when you hip check someone out of bounds, of course) and encouraged frenzied cheering for the success of their opposition.

Roller derby has struck me in almost exactly the same way that burlesque struck me (this time) last year.  The crowd was there, buzzingly excited to cheer on their favourite girls.  The ladies were there, decked out in hot-pants and fishnets.  Size doesn’t matter at derby.  Shape doesn’t matter.   And the after-party was hosted by GALA North.  It’s all about acceptance . . . and really chic violence.  Come out, have a great time, and leave bullshit social constraints at the door.  I can dig that.

Roller derby.  An amazing time!  The Rated PG Roller Girls.  Amazing women!  I am thrilled to have been able to attend Saturday’s bout and will be there on April 9th!  See you folks there!

Trooper – Raise a Little Hell

UNT.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

9 Dec

(Image © BustedTees)

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Santa Claus Debate.

Last Friday (December 3rd) was the 16th Santa Claus Debate (SCD) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)!  This event has become something of a holiday tradition between me and two of my girlfriends, so we were thrilled to be in attendance!

As with all Santa Claus Debates at UNBC this one opened with a small choir of carollers belting out well-loved Christmas tunes, warmly welcoming attendees.  To further the welcome, cookies, coffee and tea were laid out invitingly, free for the crowd.  Debate veterans arrived with knowing smiles and virgins chattered expectantly among themselves.  The atmosphere was light-hearted and the SCD was a very welcome break in the monotony of exam preparation, and a great end to the work week.

Of course, since this was a debate, there was a Pro side and an Anti side.  Pro-Claus.  Anti-Claus.  The Anti side hosted an array of clever reasons why the great Santa Claus is mere myth.  Sandor Clauswitz (Peter Zimmer) regaled the audience with his family’s sordid history and informed us that it was an ancestor who began parading about in red velvet outerwear and handing out gifts so that the townspeople would grow to like him – the family had been following in these footsteps for years!  Gary Wilson was the next naysayer to take the stand and shone a light on the red wearing St. Nick and called him for who he really was: Karl Marx.  This North Pole ploy is, in fact, a Russian conspiracy of epic proportions.  Our final presentation in this series was given by the infamous Sarah Palin (Zoe Meletis), who pleaded with us, in a return engagement, not to support this wealthy, unknown European with questionable foreign allegiances who is possessed of loose morals (the obesity, the perpetually red cheeks and the inappropriate visitation of strangers’ children under cover of darkness)!

Then there was the Pro side, those who have invested great time and energy in defending the existence of Mr. Claus.  We heard first from Sufey Chen who brought three points to her argument: 1) Mrs. Claus, 2) the elves, and 3) Rudolph.  Mrs. Claus is married and, thus, must have a husband, who is none other than Mr. Claus.  The elves, as we know, work tirelessly in their shop, and, as we know, all workers have a boss.  In this case that boss is Santa Claus.  We mustn’t forget Rudolph, that little reindeer with his nose so bright who gained great fame after Santa beseeched him to pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve night!  Miss Chen followed her points with a question: if there is no Santa, then who eats all of the cookies that are left out for him?  Surely an apparition cannot leave gingerbread crumbs in its incorporeal stead.  Sufey’s cohort Marcus Lantz followed her statement with the proof of that long Christmas journey: NORAD.  The joint American Canadian organization that has provided aerospace warning and defence for decades tracks Santa each year on his trek to visit the home of each of the world’s children!  Truly NORAD would not make the mistake of tracking a myth and no government affiliated organization would lie to the citizens of North America.  Finally Fredrique (Tracy Summerville) was introduced.  As an elf in the North Pole, Fredrique is witness to the existence of that jolly old man in red.  She did not, however, stand and relate her personal sightings of the man who signs her pay cheque.  Instead, she hefted a large sack of North Pole mail into the centre arena and proceeded to pull from it a letter that had been written by a young audience member (Owen), who had indeed sent his letter, through Canada Post, to the North Pole for Mr. Claus’s approval.

Now it was up to the judge, Dr. Daniel Ryan (dean of the College of Science and Management at UNBC) to make a decision.  First he reviewed the topics of the evening’s conversation.  Then, he called a character witness, someone who could without a shadow of a doubt, answer the question of the existence of Santa Claus once and for all!  With the help of Master of Ceremonies Dr. Todd Whitcombe, Dr. Ryan brought forth the jolly, ho-ho-hoing man in red himself: Santa Claus!

Santa ended the debate when he informed us: “I ho-ho, therefore I am!”

This was, without a doubt, the finest Santa Claus Debate I’ve taken in.  They are always entertaining and the arguments always gain a laugh, or two, but this one was outstanding!  The debaters’ prepared speeches were spot on, the crowd was awesome and the Canfor was the best possible venue choice – much more suited to the audience than the Wintergarden.  I eagerly await next year’s festivities!

Michael C. Hall – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

UNT.

Of cloudless climes and starry skies.

23 Jul

Tonight, tonight!

I just got home from a fantastic Friday night at Café Voltaire.  Man, oh man!  Amazing.

You may, given my elation, have guessed that we were treated to another performance by the ever esteemed and always phenomenal Kevin Hutchings, who is an absolute inspiration to me.  Tonight was especially fantastic, though, as Kevin invited his wonderfully talented daughter Sahra Featherstone to take the stage with him.

Let me take this opportunity to explain something to you.  I’ve said before that Kevin is a brilliant person, a gifted teacher, and an impassioned artist.  I’ve told you that I, effectively, stalked him while pursuing my BA in English Literature and took as many courses UNBC offered with Kevin at the helm.  I’ve also told you that I think he’s a gifted performer.  But, until now, he’s been described as something more akin to a statue atop a pedestal.  I need you to understand just how neat I think Kevin is.  See?  When I started working at Books & Co. I happened to be lucky enough to score a Friday night shift which happened to be my first out-of-the-classroom interaction with The Professor.  After the (amazing) show, which was, coincidentally, another event featuring Sahra, as I was tidying the café Kevin came up to say hello – I hadn’t spoken with him since I’d graduated, in and around two years prior.  He smiled as we made idle chit-chat and waved Sahra over, keen to introduce her to one of his former students.  Not only did he introduce her to someone he remembered sitting in the back row of his Romanticism classes, but he gave her my full name.  (Background: I am not an outgoing person and I never spoke in class.  I listened, I wrote essays and I completed exams.  Kevin should not have been able to recall my first name, let alone my last.)  See, he’s a great professor, a fantastic performer, and an enthusiastic scholar, but he’s also an amazing person.  Kevin Hutchings is one of those people who makes an impact in your life.  He is one of those people you feel truly blessed to know.

Now.

Tonight.

You should have felt tonight!  The music was great, the crowd was chipper (it was a beautiful day, it is Friday and great music abounded, there’s nothing to be un-chipper about), and the wonderful café gals were slinging stunning lattés.  The electricity on stage was something else.  After Kevin and Sahra played a few tunes together, they invited our favourite Artistic Director Eric Tompkins aboard.  The smiles.  It was the smiles that made the evening for me.  Sahra and Kevin, clearly, love to have the opportunity to play together.  It is something pretty amazing to be able to witness.  Eric, too.  They all share such a mutual respect and admiration for each other and have such fun in what they do it’s just an absolute joy to watch.

A joy.

This was, perhaps, best personified by the little blond toddling critter to the right of the stage, by the bookshop counter, who was just a’ grinning, and be-boppin’, by the end of the show.  He was having a blast.

The mood was light.  The music was wonderful and heart felt.  The performers are amazing people.  The crowd was properly appreciative.  All in all, it was a wildly successful Friday night in Café Voltaire.

Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue

UNT.

Fogtown Follies Risqué Cabaret!

24 Mar

I love the idea of becoming someone else.  Nothing permanent, I do love who I am, but a moment to become someone I could never be in this life.

I think that’s what draws me to burlesque more than anything else: the opportunity to don a mask and be a character.  There is nothing wrong with that character having a sassy name and flaunting the sexuality society deems uncharacteristic of day-to-day life with a broad, happy, smile.  It’s not something I will likely ever be comfortable enough to do, but I will attend events, roar with the crowd, and possibly dabble in some creative writing about the art.

I attended the Fogtown Follies’ Risqué Cabaret with mephy last Saturday (March 13/10) night and, let me tell you, it was a phenomenal show!  We began our foray with a greeting from a lingerie clad minx at the front door who gave us our playbills.  She ushered us into a of class, grace and complete acceptance in the middle of the (redneck) capital of Northern British Columbia.

The crowd – men and women of all ages (above 19 years, of course), shapes, sizes and clothing styles – was buzzing!  Before even the hosts took the stage, the throng was cheerful, chatty and already having a fantastic time.  As soon as the emcees took the stage, that all escalated.  Professor VaudEvil and Queen Calamity ushered the evening onto the stage with the fantastic soundtrack provided by The Maestro, Cam.

The first event of the evening was the debut performance of two of the Fogtown Follies newest members: my friend Sonsi L’Amour and her girl Side Walk Suzy.  I had no idea what to expect.  These two showed so much confidence as they sashayed on stage and strutted their stuff as though they’d been at it for years.  Not a hint of fear between them.  They were mesmerizing.

The Follies also invited some Vancouver talent for their show.  The saucy Crystal Precious and dynamic Jenny Magenta graced the stage to add their brand of spice to the mix.  Miss Crystal Precious serenaded her new Prince George fans with not only a crooned song about the importance of treating a woman right, but a very well performed rap.  The Lady Jenny Magenta was in brilliantly intriguing form in a pair of completely different acts, both utterly profound.

mephy, who had never considered burlesque a form of preferred entertainment before Saturday, also enjoyed himself thoroughly.  He sat, engrossed, as the exquisite Ruby Garters was carried away by a song by Sneaker Pimps, and was quite taken with the performance by Tara Misu that would put La Belle Dame Sans Merci to shame.

The performances by Marie Noir, Sasha Switchblade, and Zsa Zsa J’Adore left the crowd in rapture.  These vixens danced seamlessly between brilliant satire and exquisite provocativeness.  Each and every woman who graced the stage that night boasted a different size and shape (as well as some brilliant ink).  Each of these sizes and shapes were invited and celebrated without question.  They, with their audience at their backs, thumbed their noses at contemporary standards set to women and men by the media.  Fantastic!

This was an entrancing evening.  Each and every one of the ladies who charmed Prince George with their outstandingly talented presences deserves naught but the most emphatic of standing ovations.  They were graceful, raunchy, and looked as though they had an absolute blast!  I wish them all the luck in the world and hope that they continue to do what they’ve been doing.

Rock on, ladies.

Sneaker Pimps – Small Town Witch

UNT.

*The fantastic image you see above shows the sensuous Sonsi L’Amour and Side Walk Suzy and was taken by Birgit Allgaier of Your Mind’s Eyes Photographic Services.  Use of this image is courtesy of Sonsi L’Amour.  (If it’s use causes displeasure of any kind by the ladies of the Follies, please let me know and I’ll take it right down!)

PS! Hey folks?  Join up.  It’s like the KISS Army.  Only way sexier.  Adoring fans of Burlesque in The Peeg!

a Wink and a Smile

6 Mar

The lovely ladies of the PG Burlesque circuit hosted a fund raiser, this evening.

It was a celebration of femininity, an encouragement of confidence, and an endorsement of the undeniable sexual appeal of the human psyche.

a Wink and a Smile

I had my crash course introduction to an alluring new world, tonight, and it was phenomenal!  The film, a documentary, followed the evolution of a group of “every day, normal” women as they worked their ways through Burlesque 101 with the sassy Miss Indigo Blue in her esteemed Academy of Burlesque.

I am finding it difficult to put into words my reaction to this evening’s treat.  I will tell you, though, that it left me absolutely jazzed, rocking out, and singing at the top of my lungs (in the safety of my car, of course).  I knew, through clips of acts I had stumbled upon on and tidbits I’d read, that Burlesque wasn’t about the act of “stripping,” or even the near-nudity of the performers, but rather an acceptance and love of who, and what, you are.  In order to satirize something, you have to understand it fully.  If it is yourself that you endeavour to expose through satire, than you had better open a dusty can of worms and unlock the deepest parts of yourself.

Now I know that my psychological state will not allow me to step into this (new) world just yet, but wow! is it attractive.  To be able to lay it all out on the line and not care what others think all because you are so empowered and so confident?  That.  That is amazing.  I respected the women who performed before this evening, and I am now in utter awe of them.  And I’m just lucky enough to have tickets to watch the Foxy FogTown Folly gals live and in person next weekend!  Round two of your snarky neighbourhood vyx’s foray into the world of Burlesque.

Ladies?  You’re amazing.  Don’t stop a’ rockin’.

Tata Young – Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy

UNT!

Kevin Hutchings hath thee in thrall!

28 Nov

I have to begin this with a disclaimer: I am 100% biased.

I just got home from a night of music at Café Voltaire.  Tonight’s show?  (Esteemed UNBC professor) Kevin Hutchings.

Kevin and I have a bit of history.  I’ll give you a quick run down.  I took a BA in English from UNBC, finished that a few years back, and took absolutely every class I could with Kevin.  The man, aside from being astoundingly brilliant, is a gifted teacher.  The passion he holds for what he loves is impossible to miss and makes class a joy.  Now, just about two years ago – very shortly after I started working at Books & Co. – I had a shift during a Friday night show at the café wherein Kevin and his daughter Sahra rocked the stage.  My life was changed.

Fast forward.

Tonight’s show was not only something of a release party for Kevin’s most recent CD (On The Bridge You Were Burning), but also a fundraising event for United Way.  Folks?  It was amazing.  I spent the better part of the night, while thoroughly enjoying the tunes, trying to conceive of how to relay to you, here, just how this evening progressed.  I realized, as I opened this screen, that I would be completely unable to do that adequately.  You’ll have to use your imagination.  Or, if you’re local, you’ll have to take in his next show – if you’re not local, have a listen to some of his music; you won’t be disappointed.

Our dear professor sat, relaxed, at the back of the café.  He crooned melodies penned in partnership by himself and (the Romantic Era’s rock star) George Gordon Lord Byron.  He lauded his love for his (also amazingly talented and brilliant) wife, Lisa Dickson, and celebrated her in the dedication of this latest album.  He recognized his “favourite” students in the audience!  He invited the skilled Eric Tompkins on stage to jam with him.  And he concluded his performance by describing, with his best Scotch flare, a certain tilt in his kilt inspired by his lady love.

It would be impossible to beat the atmosphere tonight.  The café and bookstore, both, were packed.  People were milling about browsing, sitting with friends and family chit-chatting, or avidly watching the show.  There was a buzz in the air.  Happy conversation, joyous laughter, and a general feeling of “TGIF!”  Excited relaxation.

Not only was this just another show of the impressive calibre of musical talent in Prince George (and, oh, was it ever that), but a show of the generosity of this city.  During the Christmas season, in the middle of a recession, and at the beginning of a weekend Kevin managed to reach an awesome total of $726 for the United Way between the tips from his audience, his meager performer’s “wage” and the toonies he and Lisa donated from the sales all CDs purchased.

My all time favourite professor.  My all time favourite place in the world.  (I am lucky enough to be paid to hang out there!)  And?  I had a London Fog and a cookie.  A night can’t get much better than that.

Thanks, again, Kevin!  It was an amazing show and a fantastic night!

Kevin Hutchings – La Belle Dame Sans Merci

UNT.

Out hob-knobbin’!

16 Oct

I signed myself up for a few extra hours of work, last night.  Don’t despair, I am not that dedicated to peddling books.  I worked a few hours because The Boss asked that I cover the desk for an author event he thought I might be interested in.  Turns out?  He was right.

Fantasy author Nathalie Mallet and Sci-Fi ink slinger Lynda Williams hosted their Sci-Fi/Fantasy creativity evening at Café V (where they make a mean London Fog, lemme tell you).  I admit, having virtually no knowledge of the population of writers, let alone genre writers, in the area, I was heartily impressed by the turn out.  I am very interested to see what each of these players brings to the table.

It may not be a writing group, so to speak, but I’m hoping this meeting of the minds will help me slay the dread dragon Procrastination and, perhaps, be a key to getting to know some fab new people who seem to dig their craft.  If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to get out of the house and sink into creativity.

Apocalyptica (Featuring Linda Sundblad) – Faraway Vol. 2

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