The Time In Between by Maria Dueñas

BOOK REVIEW
Title: The Time In Between
Author: Maria Dueñas
Publisher: Atria Books
Released: November 2011
Pages: 624
ISBN-10: 1451616880
ISBN-13: 9781451616880
Stars: 3.0

A book could have all the rave reviews in the world from prestigious sources (as this one does); it could have a beautiful, stylish jacket, an author who is a PhD, and be set in countries that you have an interest in, and still not be what you expected it to be.  This is the case for me with The Time In Between by Maria DueñasSimon & Schuster Canada generously gifted me with an advanced reader’s copy of this bulky, literary spy novel because after I read its synopsis, I really wanted to read it.

The Time In Between by Maria Duenas is an international bestseller that spans the Spanish Civil War to World War II. This beautifully spun novel tells the story of a seamstress who rises to become the most sought after couturier and an undercover spy who passes information about the Nazi regime to the British Secret Service through a secret code stitched into the hems of her dresses.

The Time In Between is one of those rare, richly textured novels that, down to the last page, has you hoping it won’t end. Written in splendid prose, it moves at an unstoppable pace. An exceptional debut, it is a thrilling adventure through ateliers of haute couture, the glamorous elite, political conspiracies and obscure secret service missions blended with the unhinged power of love.”

The fact that it took me over two months to read and I seldom found myself wanting to make time to finish it is definitely not a good sign.  I’m trying to figure out why I feel this way about the book because it certainly has an interesting storyline and I enjoyed the section that was set in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco (Tetouan) very much.  However, I just didn’t really connect with the main character, Sira Quiroga, because she felt quite restrained and lacking in passion for life and love and that’s not how I expected to feel.  She evolves from a being an uneducated young woman who is foolish in love, to a self-doubting, fearful entrepreneur, to a confident, globetrotting secret agent.  I pictured her as Angelina Jolie: someone who is beautiful to look at, interesting for a while, capable of acting fragile or tough, and then you just get sick of her.  Perhaps some of her character traits didn’t translate well from the original Spanish (Daniel Hahn translated), but I found it hard to really empathize with her or understand why she would decide to become a spy for the British when she didn’t seem to have any real understanding of what was going on in her own homeland of Spain nor in England during World War II at the time that she became a spy.

The novel begins in Madrid at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War with a young, naïve Sira about to marry a “modest government clerk” after knowing him for only a few weeks.  She works as a seamstress with her mother in a local dressmaker’s shop that services a distinguished clientele.   As she is considered a girl with no professional expectations, it makes sense to her to marry Ignacio and become a wife and perhaps later, a mother.  But she doesn’t really love him and it doesn’t take long for her to be completely swept off her feet by a smooth-talking, tall, dark and handsome typewriter salesman named Ramiro who she meets when Ignacio convinces her that she should learn how to type and takes her shopping for a typewriter.  Sira quickly breaks Ignacio’s heart when she leaves him for Ramiro.

Sira’s mother, who had raised her as an only child on her own, introduces Sira to her father, a wealthy engineer and foundry owner named Gonzalo Alvarado, who is married and has two sons from whom he is estranged.  Gonzalo is worried about the state their country is in under Franco’s dictatorship and fears for his life so he decides to put his affairs in order and acknowledge his daughter by giving her an inheritance consisting of boxes of family jewels.  He convinces Sira that she must leave Madrid for Morocco where it will be safe and although her mother refuses to join her, Ramiro goes willingly to Tangiers, and later, unsurprisingly, deceives Sira by leaving her and stealing her family jewels.

Alone and unable to pay her hotel bill, Sira flees to Tetouan with next to nothing, only to be apprehended by Commissioner Claudio Vázquez who then decides to help her get back on her feet so that she can repay her debt, by putting her in the care of a street smart boardinghouse owner named Candelaria.  Candelaria the Matutera (the Smuggler) is one of my favourite characters in the book because she has a large, fearless personality to go with her heart of gold.  She doesn’t always operate on the right side of the law, but she’s a survivor who is willing to help those who are less fortunate and will do whatever it takes to keep food on her table and the authorities off her case.  It’s not long before Candelaria and Sira embark on a dangerous, exciting adventure that leads to Sira being able to set up her own dressmaker’s shop where she suddenly finds herself making clothes for wealthy Nazi’s wives and meets a mysterious blonde British waif named Rosalinda Fox.  Rosalinda is involved in an extramarital affair with Spain’s high commissioner in Morocco, Lieutenant Colonel Juan Luis Beigbeder and they (who were in fact real people) are responsible for recruiting Sira for a life of espionage.

I was quite transfixed with the story up until this critical juncture.  Sira’s friendship with Rosalinda presents a pivotal turning point in her life.  Dueñas’ narrative prose is exceptional and historical research thorough.  The story moves quite quickly in Part One and is still captivating in Part Two (Tangiers in the 1930s) where we meet another interesting character named Félix who becomes a good friend to Sira.  However, as the plot becomes more about politics and espionage, the characters who are introduced are unsympathetic and tedious, with the exception of Marcus Logan, but even he isn’t allowed to be truly remarkable until the very end and by then I just didn’t care.

A lot more occurs in The Time In Between, but I won’t give away the entire plot.  It’s full of twists, turns and individuals whose lives later intersect.  By Part Three, Dueñas started to lose me and from there on it took me a long time to finish reading the book.  In Part Four, Sira, now using the name of Arish and pretending to be Moroccan, departs for Lisbon to try to infiltrate a textile distributor named Manuel Da Silva who is in business with the Third Reich.

So in contradiction of Simon & Schuster’s synopsis, I found myself wishing the book would end because it moved from the second half on at a sluggish pace and I didn’t find much emphasis was put on the power of love at all.  This is not a love story but rather the story of a gifted seamstress who discovers that she has what it takes to be a great spy, in spite of the people she cares about.  This is just my opinion.  A Nobel Prize Laureate loved it so I think you’ll have to decide for yourself.

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Walk Tall Brand Design & Music Promotion: Walk Tall Or Don’t Walk At All!

The music world is a small place and over the past year I’ve met many new people & friends because of the concerts I’ve attended.  One of those friends is a man I met through my favourite Irish singer-songwriter, Andy White, and his name is Andrei Talbot of Brighton, ON.

Andrei is the creative force behind Walk Tall Brand Design and Music Promotion.  He’s just launched a new website and offers services in:

  • brand design
  • music bookings/promotion
  • advertising and marketing
  • corporate communications
  • web site design
  • social media marketing
  • photography
  • writing and research
  • public relations

Walk Tall Brand Design & Music Promotions presents and promotes only the very best in live independent music.  Some of the many talented musicians on its roster are: Andy White, Lucas Stagg, Jay Aymar, Ariana Gillis, Whitney Rose, Ginger St. James and Kirsten Jones.

Walk Tall works with a broad scope of venues; from bars and club shows to corporate events at wineries, galleries, private house concerts and more.

In addition Walk Tall delivers top level brand design and online promotions to promote all of their events by combining their passion for design with their passion for music.  And if you are an artist or business requiring creative services they can make you walk tall too!

Land of Hope and Dreams - Springsteen in Ireland Book Walks Tall!Land of Hope and Dreams – Springsteen in Ireland book Walks Tall!

Check out PDFs for Walk Tall’s music promotions here: Walk Tall Promo and about its brand design here: Say What Brand Design

Contact Andrei Talbot and tell him Christine Bode of Scully Love Promo sent you!

Mobile: 416.571.6802
Direct:  613.475.5441
andrei@walktalldesign.com
www.walktalldesign.com
www.facebook.com/walktallandrei

Live Wire Music Series Announces Its First 2012 Show With Ray Bonneville & Madison Violet!

Live Wire Music Series is excited to announce its 2012 winter line-up, which showcases some of Canada’s finest musicians.  We are kicking off the new year with a double-bill featuring the masterful blues musician Ray Bonneville, (“master of the slow burn, the gentle funk, the infectious rhythm“- The Ottawa Citizen) together with the remarkable duo Madison Violet (“exquisitely lovely and haunting harmonies- poised for greatness” – Winnipeg Free Press)

Ray Bonneville and Madison Violet
Sat. Feb. 18, 7:30 pm
Octave Theatre, 711 Dalton Ave. Kingston
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door (if available)
On sale now at Brian’s Record Option (613-542-2452) and Tara Foods

More on these two great acts below.

And coming next – get these dates on your calendar!!!

Friday, April 13, 7:30 pm
New Country Rehab with special guests Sheesham and Lotus
Octave Theatre

Friday, May 4, 7:30 pm
Lynn Miles with special guest Lynne Hanson
Octave Theatre

RAY BONNEVILLE

Ray Bonneville is a roaming blues poet, inspired by the road and the many other places he has called home—New Orleans, Colorado, Arkansas, Alaska, Boston, Seattle and Paris, France.  Born in Canada and raised in the United States, Bonneville has lived all over.  No place, however, has been more influential than New Orleans.

In the streets and clubs of New Orleans, Bonneville soaked up the prevalent take-your-time attitude that ran through the music being played there. “There’s something about the heat and humidity that makes people slow down,” he says.  “New Orleans is where I learned to take my time, to allow space between the notes so the songs could truly groove.”  That groove is at the core of Bonneville’s sound.  A one-man band, he backs up weathered, storytelling vocals with a highly percussive guitar style, dramatic harmonica lines and a foot that keeps the rock steady beat.  The result is a big sound with an almost primitive quality.  It’s visceral, raw music.

Honing his craft for the last 30 years, Bonneville’s gritty storytelling and deep-grooving blues style has won him much critical attention.  In 1999, Ray won the prestigious Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for his third album Gust of Wind.  His fourth release, Rough Luck, was also nominated for the coveted award.  With his 2004 Red House debut Roll It Down, Ray made himself a name in blues and roots music circles, garnering rave reviews from DownBeat and No Depression.  He has toured all over the world, sharing the bill with such blues legends as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, J.J. Cale and Robert Cray and in 2007 wowed the music industry with his bring-down-the-house performances at the South By Southwest and Folk Allianceconference.  A world-class guitarist, harmonica player and hard-hitting songwriter, it is no wonder that Ray has received rave reviews from blues, jazz and roots critics alike and can count among his fans such artists as Chris Smither and Ray Wylie Hubbard.  His current Red House Records Release, Bad Man’s Blood, is Ray at his best, stripped down and raw, with some of the best songwriting ever from his long career.

MADISON VIOLET

Finding the good in goodbye is always bittersweet.  JUNO nominated roots duo Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac) can attest to that with their latest release, The Good in Goodbye.  An album born from their growth, both together and apart, The Good in Goodbye is an open diary of their personal and professional experiences together as friends and musicians, two very unique relationships that affect each other in profound ways.

Since releasing their last album, No Fool for Trying (2009), Madison Violet won the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their track “The Ransom,” took home the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, and were nominated for multiple East Coast Music Awards and a 2010 JUNO Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Group).

Receiving a mass of acclaim from outlets including the BBC, the CBC, Maverick Magazine, NPR, and Penguin Eggs Magazine, No Fool for Trying made dedicated fans of even the most hard-to-crack critics.  Ultimately, Madison Violet captured the attention of Mojo Magazine, landing “Small Of My Heart” on the publication’s distinguished playlist, “Mojo’s Top 10,” in December 2009. Madison Violet also have the unique distinction of being the only Canadians to win The John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

As a follow-up to their breakthrough successes in 2010, The Good in Goodbye captures the duo’s growth and musical maturity.  Their distinct take on iconic Americana-inspired up-tempo melodies beautifully contrasts with their breathtakingly sweeping and personal lyrics, creating songs that blend nods to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch with radio-friendly flecks of The Court-Yard Hounds.

The duo has sold-out venues across North America and Europe, had the prestigious distinction of touring with Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, and has shared stages with contemporaries such as Chantal Kreviazuk, Ron Sexsmith and The Indigo Girls.  With their newest effort, Madison Violet prove they’re among Canada’s brightest singer/songwriters.

What You Need To Know About Your Online Presence

An excellent website design by Sarelia Design + Development

Whenever I am approached by a potential client, I generally do an assessment of their online presence to find out what they already have in place, what needs improvement, what’s missing and what should be implemented in order to ensure maximum opportunities for marketing and social media interaction.

The most important thing for any artist or business to have in place is a really good-looking (not too busy) and functional website that obviously highlights what they have to offer.  It should be carefully proofread to ensure that there are no typos or spelling mistakes and fonts should be limited to two easy-to-read styles that are no smaller than 11 pt.  Colours should be limited as well to only a few and they should be complimentary.  If you’re not good with colour schemes, seek the advice of someone who is.  Your website should also contain clickable social media icons on the home page that will take viewers directly to their Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account, Google+ or LinkedIn profiles or WordPress/Blogger blog.  If you’re like me and don’t have the budget to pay a professional web designer yet, I highly recommend a WordPress site as it has a lot of functionality and is quite easy to use.

I believe that in this new age of social media marketing it is also important to have a professional photo of YOU and/or your logo on your website that is consistently branded across all of your social media networking sites.  The whole point of social media marketing is to be accessible and to connect and engage with your audience.  If you don’t reveal what you look like people will think you have something to hide (and don’t use a photo of yourself wearing sunglasses either!).  Ultimately a person will become a fan or buy your product because of the quality of it and their own personal tastes, but putting yourself out there online is now mandatory for anyone trying to sell something on the Internet.

If you’re selling art, CDs or books/eBooks, make sure that they can be purchased right from your website or at the very least from an excellent online distributor like iTunes, CDBaby or BookBaby, Amazon, Etsy, etc. with applicable links in place.

I always recommend that my clients have a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Twitter account because of what you can do with these three platforms when they’re all interlinked and consistently branded and you know how to use them effectively.  They work together to produce a finely tuned marketing machine.

MySpace is dead and an utter waste of time…even for musicians.  No one is interacting there anymore and the only email or comments you’ll receive are from other musicians trying to market themselves.  However, video and photos are worth a thousand words!  Now is the time to consider starting a video blog (a.k.a. Vlog) or to create a Flickr photostream that you can integrate into your website or Facebook page.

The number one most important thing to consider when using social media marketing to sell something is to think outside the box!  Think of as many creative ways as you can in which to engage and interact with people in order to keep them coming back to your sites again and again, and even more importantly, recommending them to their friends!

Women Who Make A Difference: Interview With Social Media Maven Christine Bode by Renee McDade

I am so honoured and grateful that my new Facebook friend, the very lovely Renee McDade who is an entrepreneur, accessory designer and lifestyle and business consultant from Athens, Georgia, as well as a news commentator, blogger & an aspiring social media marketer herself (whew, I’m tired just thinking about everything she’s doing!), decided to interview me for her blog and news network.

This is our interview and in it, I think you’ll discover a little bit more about how I think and why I do what I do.  Thank you so much Renee!!

MY INTERVIEW WITH SOCIAL MEDIA MAVEN CHRISTINE BODE

Christine Bode was one of the first to catch my eye out of the numerous people that I had met on Facebook back in November of 2011. My connection with Christine made me want to learn more about her. Christine’s web site (https://scullylovepromo.wordpress.com) had such rich content that I stayed there for awhile just reading and connecting to the different links. As I read I could feel the positive energy. Her site read like a social media adventure story and I saw the workings of social media management in a whole new way. I knew at that moment that I had found a mentor and a new friend. It has been a great honor to interview Christine Bode. Her strength, brilliance and her willingness to share so much about the work she loves is what I admire about her the most.

Social Media Mavens are described as exhibiting innovation in creating and connecting online communities.  They demonstrate leadership in the field by skillfully using social tools to bring in likes, comments, tweets, etc., to deliver an unparallel level of community engagement. This truly describes Christine Bode, who has an impressive social media portfolio. Christine has worked with a wide range of musicians, bands, singer-songwriters, novelists, children’s book authors and independent business owners.

Christine Bode, Professional Social Media Manager, and Internet Promoter, is the owner of Scully Love Promo, which she started in 2008. Scully is the name of Christine’s beautiful dog (a female Goldendoodle).

The Interview with Christine Bode:

RMcDade:  Please share what’s going on with your latest project, the social media workshops.

Christine Bode:  I have just started hosting social media workshops and gave my first one last week.  It went really well and gave me the confidence to continue with them in 2012.  I hope to host at least one a month.  I will concentrate on teaching people about the sites I know the most about which include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and WordPress.

RM:  While working as a Social Media Manager for almost 4 years, please share what you see as the most repetitive need that your clients ask for help with?

CB:  My clients know that they need to have a social media marketing campaign in place but they’re not sure exactly what to do in order to make it effective.  I help them to get everything up and running, teach them how to use each site properly, and assist with expanding their audience.  My clients need someone to help them with social media because they don’t have the time to do everything that’s required to share all their content, build their network and actually run their business or create their products.

RM:  What inspires you to continue your work in Social Media in spite of the ups and downs over the years?

CB:  To be honest there haven’t been any downs.  I just started working for myself full-time late this year (I’ve always had another part-time job to help supplement my income) and the only thing that’s a bit nerve-wracking is wondering if I’ll make enough money to pay my rent & bills every month.  I love this job though and I find it very interesting because I have to keep learning more and more about social media marketing myself all the time in order to remain relevant.  I also love being my own boss and keeping my own schedule!

I started working with Facebook for one client (a British author) in 2008 and since then, every year I’ve been blessed to work with more and more interesting, talented people.  My client roster has increased significantly this year.  I’m a huge fan of the Arts, so I work primarily with musicians, authors and artists.  A couple of my clients have recommended me to a number of people so my business income doubled this year.  I love them for that!  The best thing about working in Social Media is the people that I get to work with.

RM:  Christine please share your definition of success and true wealth? For you, what is ‘enough’?

CB:  I do believe in ‘ENOUGH’ and I know that I am richer already than most of the world’s population.  I know that we can’t take cash, toys, or any other material things with us when we die and I truly believe that the most important thing in life is to spend as much quality time as possible with the people we love and to never stop learning or sharing.

Money is important insofar as we need to have our basic needs met and it’s even nice to have a little extra once in a while (I really need a vacation as I haven’t had one in 8 years so I’ll spend any extra cash that comes my way on travel when I have the chance and I confess I do buy CDs, DVDs & books regularly), but I’ve never cared about it enough to focus on “getting rich”…I couldn’t care less.  I’d rather have free time to read a good book, go to the movies or a play or concert with a friend, or just spend time in nature with my dog.

I quit a $50K per year job working for Canada’s leading entertainment lawyer in Toronto in 2004 to move back to Kingston to be closer to my family when my beloved cousin died at age 50 from prostate & bone cancer.  I realized after a two year period during which I went to 8 funerals and had several other tragic things happen in my life that all that really mattered to me was spending as much time with my family & loved ones as I can.  So I moved back toKingston where my whole family is and although finances & employment have been a constant challenge ever since, I’m not sorry that I made the move.  I enjoy every moment that I get to spend with my parents and my two sisters and their families and my close friends here to the fullest.  I don’t have the same kind of stress in my life and I knew it was time to stop watching capitalist lawyers make millions of dollars a year while their assistants made a pittance in comparison and they weren’t in the least bit grateful for how hard we worked.  It’s so true that absolute power corrupts absolutely and I don’t think that people, just because they can, need to make their services so exclusive that only a select few can afford them.  I met someone this year who taught me about being a social entrepreneur and I really admire her.

RM:  To date, what has been your most rewarding accomplishment or moment with your Social Media work?

CB:  This year has definitely been the most rewarding and some of the things I’m proud of accomplishing are: working for several Juno-nominated musicians; assisting a music publishing company in getting almost 60,000 views of a single video on YouTube in 3 months; collaborating with an author, healer & public speaker with the launching of her successful social media marketing campaign that has resulted in the sale of hundreds of copies of her book; helping the creator of a 2D animated YouTube series to get noticed by the William Morris Agency in LA & Fashion Television; and being able to provide social media assistance and online promotion to three of my favorite Irish singer-songwriters.

RM:  What advice would you give to anyone just beginning to work in Social Media as it relates to the following: finding their niche market, connecting and networking, and what kind of person do you have to be to stick with this business?

CB:  First and foremost you have to love people to work in this business.  You have to enjoy working on the computer, being sociable, and learning new things all the time.  Work with people who you admire, who move you, and who could call you their fan.  Work with people who work in businesses or industries that interest you.  Concentrate on being really good at a few things and don’t try to be all things to all people.  Don’t be afraid to set boundaries because people will try to take advantage of you.  Don’t under sell yourself (I made that mistake)!  Don’t be upset if someone deletes you as a friend online.  Be friends with people you have lots in common with.  Be open, be honest, be willing to share and don’t compromise your personal integrity for anyone.

Christine Bode lives in Kingston, Ontario

Social Media Management, Internet Promotion, Virtual Assistance, Proofreading & Editing

For more information or to contact Christine Bode:

http://www.facebook.com/christine.bode

https://scullylovepromo.wordpress.com/about/

Interview by Renee McDade/RMcDade News Network

Sultans of String CD Release Tour Schedule 2012

SULTANS OF STRING

  [Sultans of String’s] latest album seems to be hoovering up Canadian awards and nominations like a Dyson on speed — a joyful melting pot of jazz, flamenco, folk and indeed anything else that takes their fancy…energetic and exciting world music fest from a band with talent to burn.  This is the sort of band and music that would rip up any festival in the country.
Maverick Magazine

  “Chris McKhool and the boys are fantastic!”
Bob Ezrin (Producer–Pink Floyd. Kiss)

“A hard core of five is leading this spectacular Canadian band to award after award.”
The Scotsman

“Sultans of String are one of Canada’s hottest new musical exports, dynamically embodying their homeland’s values of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures. Centred on the founding interplay between Chris McKhool – a six-string violinist of Lebanese/Egyptian descent – and Kevin Laliberté’s rumba-accented guitar, they weave a gorgeously-hued tapestry of Spanish, Arabic, Latin, French and gypsy strands.”
Celtic Connections Festival
________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2011

WHO: Sultans of String CD Release
WHERE:
Living Room, 154 Ludlow St., New York City
WHEN: Fri. Jan. 13, 7:00pm
TIX/INFO:  $10 / www.livingroomny.com
MEDIA ENQUIRIES:  Lisa Weitz, LW Communications lw@lwcommunications.ca  416-624-3466416-846-6877 (c)


[New York, NY]  On Fri. Jan. 13, 7pm, raucous world-roots string wizards and JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nominees, Sultans of String, are releasing MOVE, a spicy stew of Gypsy jazz, Spanish flamenco, Global roots, and Cuban rhythms at the legendary Living Room.

“Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” include 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Pavlo), dueling guitar czars Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook, guested on tour with The Chieftains) & Eddie Paton, bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), and the jaw dropping talent of Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club)!

Seamlessly traversing diverse themes of heart, place and tradition, fiery violin dances with kinetic guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Throughout, acoustic strings meet electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound.

Since their formation only 4 years ago, Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their debut CD, “Luna”, and 2nd offering, “Yalla Yalla”, both hitting # 1 on world/international music charts in Canada, to their triple Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, winning Instrumental Group of the Year.

In the past year alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nomination, representation from acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck, Jerry Jeff Walker), and booking representation in the US, UK and Australia.  They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries) and placed as finalists for two 2011 International Independent Music Awards.

The band’s new and 3rd CD, MOVE can only be thought of as a perfect hat-trick, presenting – once again – an exhilarating celebration of world music styles.

“North America is a real meeting places of musical influences from around the world” says bandleader/violinst McKhool.  “At the same time, as a band we try to tell uniquely North American stories, putting forth our vision of the world as one family.”  Chris’ paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900s, and his Egyptian-born mother, an accomplished pianist, also has paternal Lebanese ancestry.  “Growing up, I was taught the values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture.”

McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, incorporating instruments and styles everywhere he went.

CD RELEASE TOUR SCHEDULE

Jan 5 – WDIY Radio Lehigh Valley Public Radio, Bethlehem, PA
Jan 5 – WDVR, Sergeantsville NJ
Jan 6 – WTBQ Warwick, NY
Jan 6 – Gene Shay Presents Sultans of String at Psalm Salon, Philadelphia, PA
Jan 7 – WJFF Jeffersonville, NY
Jan 7 – Food Pantry-United Way Ellenville, NY
Jan 7 – APAP – Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference, New York, NY
Jan 8 – APAP – Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference, New York, NY
Jan 9 – WFUV, New York City, NY
Jan 9 – WVIA Theater – Homegrown Music Live Concert Series, Pittston, PA
Jan 11 – WBCR, Great Barrington, MA
Jan 13 – The Living Room, New York, NY
Jan 14 – WAMC, Albany, NY
Jan 14 – Folk Alley, Saranac Lake, NY
Jan 25 – South Holland Centre Spalding, Lincolnshire, England
Jan 27-29 – Celtic Connections Festival Glasgow, Scotland
Feb 4 – Welland-Port Colborne Concert Association, Welland, ON
Feb 5 – Cellar Jazz Club, Vancouver, BC
Feb 6 – Creekside Theatre, Lake Country, BC
Feb 7 – Charles Bailey Theatre, Trail, BC
Feb 9 – Ironwood Stage & Grill, Calgary, AB
Feb 10 – Festival Place, Sherwood Park, AB
Feb 11 – Lethbridge Folk Club @ The Wolf’s Den, Lethbridge, AB
Feb 12 – The Bassment, Saskatoon, SK
Feb 15 – E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts, Prince Albert, SK
Feb 16 – McNally Robinson, Winnipeg, MB
Feb 17 – Watson Art Centre, Dauphin, MB
Feb 18 – William Glesby Centre, Portage La Prairie, MB
Feb 25 – Victoria Jubilee Hall, Walkerton, ON
Mar 3 – Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, Oakville, ON
Mar 22 – WCVF, Fredonia, NY
Mar 22 – Nighttown, Cleveland, OH
Mar 23 – Chaplin’s the Music Café, Spring City, PA
Mar 25 – Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY
Apr 25 – Brantford International Jazz Festival Concert Series, Brantford, ON
May 5 – Full evening with Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Windsor, ON
May 6 – Full concert with Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Windsor, ON
May 12 – Spirit of Rasputin’s Art Society, Westboro Masonic Hall, Ottawa, ON
Jun 9 – Heartland @ Harmony House, Webster, NY
Jul 29 – “Music at Fieldcote” – Fieldcote Park and Museum, Ancaster, ON
UK – Sept/Oct, 2012 (pres. by Brookfield Knights Agency)
Feb 3, 2013 – Folkstage, Chicago, IL

Ann Vriend’s Love & Other Messes Is One of My Top 2 Favourite CDs of 2011

CD Review
Title: Love & Other Messes
Artist:  Ann Vriend
Label: Independent
Released: 2011
Stars:  4.5

I should have written this a LONG time ago but I generally don’t review the work of my clients once they’ve become a client as this could be seen as a conflict of interest and undermine the influence of my opinions, for all they’re worth.  However, I have to make an exception in the case of Ann Vriend’s Love & Other Messes.  Critically acclaimed by numerous major Canadian newspapers & publications, listed on CKUA Radio’s Top 100 of 2011, honoured among The Ottawa Sun’s Top 7 Indie Album Picks for 2011, and following successful Canadian, Australian, Dutch & German tours to showcase it, Love & Other Messes is one of my top two favourite CDs of 2011. I’m declaring this because Ann’s a superb talent and not because she’s my client.  I started out as a fan and I’ll be one of her biggest fans forever!

Love & Other Messes, Vriend’s 6th album since 2003, is a collection of 12 exquisitely crafted songs, punctuated by Ann’s unique and easily recognizable vocals, that can’t be defined by one genre.  It falls somewhere between pop, soul and Americana, and opens with the country ballad “Everybody Sings in Nashville”, a song with backing vocals by Coco Love Alcorn & Chloe Albert that should have been a hit in Nashville and would be if Dolly Parton sang it.  (There’s still hope!)  “Best Thing” is a sophisticated, upbeat pop ditty with echoes of Motown careening through it, also supported by the very gifted Alcorn & Albert, and highlighted by Ann’s keyboards as well as Alcorn’s trumpet and the distinguished organ of David Aide (which is the case for every track).  James Forrest contributes bass, Robin Pelletier and Alan Wall play guitars and Thom Bennett adds drums throughout.

“Don’t Cry” is a revamped, stripped down version of the same pop ballad that was over produced on Vriend’s 2nd album, Modes of Transport.  This is by far the superior version of the song but it’s one of my least favourite tracks on Love & Other Messes.  “The Way You Let Me Down” is bluesy pop with some of the best playing by the musicians on the album not to mention a prime example of Vriend’s spectacular ability to hit some really high notes!  The blues make another appearance on “Possession Blues”, a simply produced song with only piano, guitar & vocals, and its’ recording reminds me immediately of Robert Johnson.

“Excuses No. 1-8” is a stark, plaintive piano ballad depicting various excuses one may give for not wanting to marry that certain someone while “More or Less” reiterates the importance of accentuating the positive while gently letting a lover down by not lying to them about your feelings.  “Tin Man” is a splendid ballad, using a brilliant metaphor from Oz, the likes of which you may have heard from the star that is Jann Arden.  Love is messy after all.

“Graffiti On My Heart (You Must Not Love)” is the only song of its kind on this CD, recorded live with a gang of vocal participants who carry on the bracketed refrain, and with its memorable gypsy/carnival romping sing-a-long gives Ann a reason to play the kazoo when she plays it live.  Sheer fun!

There are so many great tracks to choose from that it’s hard to pick a favourite.  I have three favourites including the sultry & divine duet with Matt Epp, “If You Were Here”, a ballad dedicated to the incomparable Jeff Buckley; “Long Distance Call”, another impressive ballad with background vocals by Epp that reminds me of someone special from my past; and my very favourite, the gospel charged call for divine assistance that should impress even Van Morrison and was my mantra for 2011: “Somebody On The Ground.”

Love & Other Messes’ CD packaging design by Simon Farla is the best of all of Vriend’s collection and offers a 28 page lyric booklet with terrific sepia tone photographs featuring splashes of washed-out vermillion.  Oh, and I was very honoured to be mentioned in her Thank Yous too.

You will honestly be hard-pressed to find many other female, Canadian singer-songwriters who aren’t already a household word who deserve to be more than Ann Vriend.  If she stays true to her own vision and continues to write classy songs of this magnitude, I have no doubt that she will be a Canadian music legend some day.

I’m Thrilled To Welcome Canadian Bestselling Author of My Camino, Sue Kenney, As A Client!

One of the best things about my job is that I continually find myself working with some of the most inspiring, talented people (Ann Vriend, Dawn James, Darin Steckler, Shari Ulrich and Chris McKhool of Sultans of String just to name a few) and my newest client is no exception.

From the moment I spoke with Sue Kenney on the phone I knew she is special and that she will continue to inspire me with her enthusiasm, vivacious personality, intellect and authenticity.  Not only has she achieved some absolutely amazing things in her life, but she is someone whom I immediately feel a spiritual connection with and I know that she’s going to teach me a great deal.

Who is Sue Kenney?  Sue is a Pilgrim.  After being suddenly downsized from a career in the corporate telecom industry, she walked 780 kilometers over 29 days on a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  If that sounds familiar to you, you might have heard about Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen’s latest film, The Way, which is about an American doctor’s (Sheen) journey along the Camino de Santiago.

Sue didn’t just walk the Camino but she went alone, in the winter, on a spiritual quest that “guided me back to myself.” From a place of love, Sue uses her voice to inspire and guide others on their life journey.

Sue has written two books: My Camino and Confessions of a Pilgrim and  directed a feature documentary film called Las Peregrinas…the women who walked…that was released 5 years ago to 2,000 people on 5 continents and raised $16,000 for charities.  My Camino is currently in development as a feature film with Item 7 in Montreal and Sue and her writing partner Bruce Pirrie have co-written the screenplay.  Confessions of a Pilgrim is her second book about a journey on the Portuguese Camino on a quest to give away a sacred Eagle feather.

Sue also produced a couple of short films and most recently, she narrated an audiobook version of My Camino that is now available on CDBaby and will soon be available on iTunes.

Sue has walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela eight times and now coaches and guides a group on the walk each spring.  She’s an internationally acclaimed speaker and life coach who now walks barefoot.

You can learn more about Sue Kenney by reading My Camino, which you can order online at www.suekenney.ca, or by connecting with her on one of her social media sites:

Sue Kenney Official Website
My Camino Book Facebook Page
Suseya Facebook Page

Sue Kenney on Twitter
Sue Kenney on YouTube

Spiritual seekers, backpackers, walkers, hikers, barefoot enthusiasts, adventure travellers and fans of the Camino will undoubtedly enjoy Sue’s work.  If you are any of the above, I encourage you to to read the undeniably inspirational true story that is My Camino.