Book Review: Burt Reynolds on Screen by Wayne Byrne (Featuring Q&A with Author)


BOOK REVIEW

Title: Burt Reynolds on Screen
Author:  Wayne Byrne
Publisher: McFarland & Company Inc.
Released: December 19, 2019
Pages: 314
ISBN: 978-1476674988
Stars: 5

In 1972, Burt Reynolds became famous with his breakthrough role in Deliverance. The actor also posed as Cosmopolitan’s first-ever nude male centerfold in 1972, “marking a milestone in the sexual revolution.” From 1977 to 1982, Reynolds was Hollywood’s top box office-grossing movie star, appearing in the hits Smokey and the Bandit, The End, Hooper, The Cannonball Run, Sharky’s Machine, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas among other notable films that made him a household name. Anyone who was watching movies in the 70s and early 80s knew who Burt Reynolds was and they were reminded again in the 90s through his hit television series Evening Shade and 1997 comeback film, Boogie Nights.

Burt Reynolds on Screen by Wayne Byrne is the definitive work of film criticism and long-form tribute to one of Hollywood’s most enduring and well-liked actors. It discusses, in-depth, “many films which haven’t been previously covered in critical, historical or aesthetic contexts of any great scope or consideration” and covers his most popular films as well as some of his “most interesting works which have been grossly overlooked or forgotten.” The book “analyzes Reynolds’ films and television series in chronological order, relating behind-the-scenes production information and discussing their respective places in history, while making sub textual allusions between the man and the characters he played.” It also features exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and many films’ stills in black and white.

Its Foreword was written by American cinematographer Nick McLean, Sr. who worked with Reynolds as his camera operator and director of photography on several movies as well as his television series B.L. Stryker and Evening Shade and went on to be DOP on the television series Cybill, Friends, and Joey among other well-known shows. Byrne has since written a book about him, too, entitled Nick McLean, Sr. Behind the Camera.

Cinematographer Nick McLean and author Wayne Byrne in Naas, Co. Kildare, March 2019


Burt Reynolds on Screen
features an Afterword by C. James Lewis, who, as well as being an actor who graduated from the Burt Reynolds Institute of Theater Training (BRITT), also worked as Burt’s stand-in, photo double and stunt double for many years. It’s this kind of insider knowledge as well as the author’s remarkable attention to detail that establishes the validity of this book.

Although you’re probably aware that Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. was best known for being an action star, you might not know that Reynolds was originally typecast as a Native American in many of his early films or that he gave successful performances in almost every genre of film from romantic comedy to satire to film noir.

Film historian Joe Baltake was quoted in the Introduction for his “astute estimation of the actor’s appeal”:

Burt Reynolds, in a nutshell, is the movie star who’s a pal…but there’s something else, something deeper, something sad that makes Reynolds’ playfulness and flippancy wrenching…In his eyes, we see Reynolds’ integrity. They’re what make him original in a business full of clones. We look at Reynolds and we see a man who’s believed in old movies, the American Dream and loyalty; we look in his eyes and we see how difficult it’s been. Today’s devoted film aficionados and even our critics can’t fully appreciate what Burt Reynolds represents. Yes, he’s out of joint. He may be too good for today’s movies. His secret with audiences is that he’s one of us.

Wayne Byrne grew up a child of the 80s and first saw Burt Reynolds in a trailer for the film Heat in 1988 when he was “roughly six years old.” He spoke to numerous friends and collaborators of Burt Reynolds for this book, and one word recurred more than most: generous. Many of them recall with wonder the actor’s resolutely giving nature – giving of his time, talent and experience; giving financially, emotionally and morally. These interviews are absolute gems for Reynolds’ fans, and one which particularly surprised and delighted me was with actress Rachel Ward, Burt’s co-star in Sharky’s Machine and the made-for-TV movie Johnson County War. I became a fan of Rachel’s when I saw her in Against All Odds and The Thorn Birds in the 80s. Rachel’s career might have never taken off without the influence of Reynolds who cast her in Sharky’s Machine which he also directed. Byrne also interviewed Bobby Goldsboro, Bill Bennett and Adam Rifkin, among other Hollywood producers and directors.

Reading this book completely reinforces what kind of man Reynolds was. Throughout his career as an actor and a director, he often worked with friends (Jerry Reed, Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning, stuntman turned director, Hal Needham, Nick McLean, Sr.) and was loyal, kind, good-natured and unfailingly generous which is something one doesn’t hear much these days about the movie stars of the 21st Century.

I considered myself to be a fan of Burt Reynolds to a moderate degree, but after reading this book, I fully understand his appeal as an actor and how very talented he really was. I find myself wanting to make a trip to our local video store to rent some of his most distinguished, memorable films and watch them (some for the first time) to experience the genius that Wayne Byrne has so reverently and respectfully reviewed in this exceptionally well-written book. However, if you are a big fan of Burt Reynolds, this book is a must-read, must-own treasure for your collection.

Nick McLean and Wayne Byrne

Q&A with Wayne Byrne


Wayne, why did you choose to write a book about Burt Reynolds for your second book?

My first book, The Cinema of Tom DiCillo: Include Me Out, was written out of absolute necessity. Tom is my favourite director and I really wanted a book on his career. I couldn’t buy one, so I wrote one. I never set out on a path to become a writer of books but working on that book and seeing it be published was the greatest thing to me. So, I wanted to write more, but the question was ‘what do I want to write about?’ I couldn’t ever imagine writing about a filmmaker, a film, or any art or artist, which I don’t adore. I’ve experienced that in shorter form when writing for magazines and newspapers and you are profiling someone you aren’t particularly interested in, or they aren’t particularly interesting, and it’s a drag; I definitely couldn’t imagine writing something in book-length on something or someone you aren’t in awe of. So, I thought, ‘okay, that’s my favourite director taken care of, how about my favourite actor?’

And I’m not really a “film star” kind of guy, as in I’m not usually overawed at film stars, I am usually much more interested in the people behind the scenes – directors, cinematographers, editors – those guys are the heroes of cinema, they craft what we experience. Which is all to say I have a very short list of ‘favourite’ actors, and in that I would include Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Groucho Marx, and maybe a few more. But at the very top of that list is Burt Reynolds. I guess I had more of an emotional connection to Burt. While Eastwood and Wayne can make you excited and rouse the senses with their heroic feats, they would rarely make you laugh or cry. Burt can rouse excitement and make you laugh and cry, sometimes all in the same film. I’ve been aware of Burt’s presence since I was very young, he has always been there, even when I wasn’t fully paying attention, and then when I began to pay attention I just fell in love with this absolutely compelling performer whose mere presence commands your attention.

I understand how you feel about not being able to write about someone or something that you’re not in awe of as it is very difficult! As a big fan of Tom DiCillo as well, I thank you again for writing such a fantastic book about his films! One can certainly tell from reading this book that you truly love Burt Reynolds. 

How hard was it to write a film synopsis for every film?

Plot synopses are always a grind, and there are a hundred-plus films covered in this book. They are the most laborious thing about writing on film, whether you are reviewing for a magazine, speaking on the radio, or writing in a book. I mean all you are doing is hammering out the plot and trying not to reveal too much or to simply explain the film to people. And that inevitably ends up happening, because in the case of a book like this, you know most of your readers have not seen every film in there, so you do have to offer a lot more than a brief overview; you want them to feel that they have a substantive enough idea of the film so that they can appreciate the author’s commentary and criticism. Although, admittedly, some of the films only needed a cursory account of the plot.

Did you watch every single movie and television series that Burt starred in? 

You could say I re-watched 99% of them all. I had already seen and owned them before the book began. There weren’t that many films that I had to track down specifically for this book. There were a small handful of films he did in the last few years of his life, in which he mainly provided a cameo, and I literally couldn’t get my hands on them to see them. In most cases, they hadn’t yet received official releases in theatres or on DVD. So those few are the only films with Burt that I haven’t watched. And for the TV shows, I went back and watched the ones he was the star or co-star of, which are the ones which have chapters devoted to them – Riverboat, Gunsmoke, Hawk, Dan August, B.L. Stryker, Evening Shade. But for my own sense of completion, I also watched the shows where he is in one episode, such as Route 66, M Squad, The Lawless Years, The Twilight Zone, The Lawless Years, Naked City.

Wow, that is truly impressive and a major commitment on your part, as well!

How long did it take you to write the book?

From signing the contract to publication, I would say that was a little less than two years. The writing took around fourteen months. It was a very intense time. I was working two jobs – librarian and journalist – and halfway through the Burt Reynolds book, I signed a contract for another book, which I began work on during this period. Then I went on a nationwide tour of Ireland with my subject, Nick McLean, appearing at events all over the country celebrating his career. Nick has a lot to do with Burt’s career as well, so it tied in nicely. So, I had all of this going on, plus interviews with directors, actors and friends of Burt’s, and re-watching every film and TV show again, sometimes repeatedly. They were the busiest two years I’ve ever experienced, and I loved it. I came out of it with two books and some wonderful friends.

How did you choose which quotes to use from Reynolds’ characters in each specific film?

They had to tickle me somehow, if they were funny or if they encapsulated some intrinsic characteristic of the film. One of my favourite quotes is from The Last Movie Star, “You were the one who loved me before anybody even knew my name,” because it is loaded with a sense of history and a lifetime of regret, tinged with the melancholy and wisdom of someone who experienced the zenith of fame, fortune, and adoration, that which came at the price of losing people who cared for them long before the stardom and stature. I also love the quote from A Bunch of Amateurs – “Richard III it is! – What’s that about again?” – because it speaks to the absurdity and irony of Burt’s humour. He was so playful. I don’t know anybody in today’s Hollywood who has such a mixture of beauty, humour, grace, volatility, masculinity, and humility all in one package.

You interviewed some very interesting people for this book. How did the interview with actress Rachel Ward come about?

I was lucky to get Rachel because she was hard enough to find. She didn’t have any social media, so I couldn’t make direct contact with her, and none of my Hollywood friends or acquaintances knew her personally anymore, so it seemed like a dead end. But then I remembered that she is now a producer and director, which means she must have a company listing. So, I found out the name of her production company and approached them. My letter eventually found its way to Rachel through that avenue and we arranged some Skype chats, which were fun. These things can be a little surreal at times, and one instance of that with Rachel was when we were chatting it was breakfast time over in Australia and at one stage in our conversation her husband came into view bringing her a cup of coffee. I’m just sitting there thinking, “That’s Bryan Brown from that movie F/X!” She is gorgeous and graceful and all the things you would expect of her. I know many people fell in love with her in Sharky’s Machine, and it’s very hard not to, though I think she was even more beautiful and brilliant in Johnson County War twenty years after Sharky’s Machine.

Your interview with Tempted director, Bill Bennett, was also quite fascinating because of his unusual method of filmmaking and what he asks his actors to do. Can you tell us a bit about that? 

Bill was a very intriguing guy to talk to. He made some really interesting Australian films throughout the eighties and nineties and then he made a Hollywood rom-com with Denis Leary and Sandra Bullock called Stolen Hearts (which is titled Two if by Sea in North America) which seems entirely random in the middle of his filmography, and then made another cool Aussie film called Kiss or Kill before doing Tempted. Anyway, he is the kind of filmmaker I love to talk to. Someone who has experienced both sides of the industry: the indie hustle and the studio system, and he has ideas on doing things differently, and one of those was to shoot his film using only improvisation. His “script” laid out scenarios and had a structure, but he wanted his actors to create their own dialogue based on the relationships which they built early in rehearsals. Given that he was working with a star of the old studio system in Burt, and with some hot, young up-and-comers, it was interesting to hear how they reacted to this method and how Bill made it all work. Tempted is a fiercely underrated film in the Burt canon, a very well-made contemporary noir.

Was Charles Durning, Reynolds’ most frequent co-star? Were they close friends in real life? 

Charles was certainly one of Burt’s most frequent co-stars. Then again, there were a few people who worked with Burt just as often. Burt and Charles had immense love and affection for each other, and I think you can see that throughout the work. It took on a bittersweet note in the later films when you see them as older men; you could see Charles wasn’t in the best of health in some of the films, but they still have an immense spark between them, amazing chemistry. My favourite story of their friendship was one Burt told about Charles being a brilliant dancer and dance teacher – which not a lot of people knew about – and one night at Burt’s house, during one of his famous shindigs, Fred Astaire and Charles Durning danced the night away. The way Burt described it; it was magical. They sounded like good nights at Burt’s place.

Many people may not know that Reynolds taught acting for many years. Can you tell us about what you know about that?

A lot of people that I spoke to for the book told me that, first and foremost, Burt was a teacher. At the height of his fame, in the midst of him being one of the world’s most famous film stars, he opened an acting institute in Florida and a dinner theatre. It became an apprenticeship program for many people who would go on to have great careers, and many established stars and Hollywood legends would grace his theatre stage or go and coach the students. Burt was hands-on in the early days, he would nurture and develop the talent, offer them a chance at acting in his films if they succeeded at the audition, of course, it wasn’t just handed to them. They had to work hard, and when they did, Burt offered them a chance at something great. I think Jim Lewis, who wrote my afterword is a great example; while he was at the acting program he ended up with roles in The Cannonball Run and Sharky’s Machine, which meant he got his union card, but Burt insisted he still go back and finish his apprenticeship. Jim then became Burt’s stunt man and stand-in, was offered even more substantial roles, and later became a camera assistant. And they remained close friends until Burt passed away. That’s an amazing career, and amazing life, all because of Burt. But Burt really gave himself to people, both onscreen and off.

What did you find out about Reynolds during your research that you didn’t already know as a fan of his work? 

The extent of his teaching work, and the sheer scope of his generosity. And that he made a really lovely album in 1973 called Ask Me What I Am. It’s now one of my favourite records, but I had never been able to find a copy of it until halfway through writing the book, and I ended up interviewing its producer, the legendary Bobby Goldsboro because of it. It went from something I had only ever heard about, to something I was digging deep into with Bobby.

I found Ask Me What I Am on Spotify so I’m happy to have a chance to listen to it. 

Reynolds died before your book was published. What do you wish you could have asked him if you’d had the chance?

I would have asked him if I could shake his hand.

What do you think Reynolds was most proud of in his career?

His students. I would imagine that seeing his students become successful actors and writers and directors was a great source of joy to him.

What do you think he regretted most? 

He has famously regretted several things publicly, such as his failed relationships with Dinah Shore and Sally Field, and he has also regretted not taking roles in big movies such as Star Wars and Terms of Endearment, but I think – and this is only me speculating – that his biggest regret may have been not having had the chance to enjoy a solid life with a family of his own, a life that he clearly yearned for. It is there all through his films, it is in his books, and it is on his musical album. Just when it looked like he had found that life with Loni and their adoptive son, Quinton, it was ruptured through the divorce; it is unfortunate that it ended the way it did and that all the upheaval was documented in a very messy and very public way. I think he must have been heartbroken to see it all come apart. But that’s only my observation; he may have said that he regretted something else entirely different. Perhaps not having had the chance to become the professional football player that he seemed destined to become. To have that taken away after an injury hurt him immensely. But then again, without that injury and his subsequent embrace of acting, he never would have become the greatest movie star in the world. 

What are your Top 5 favourite Burt Reynolds films?

I’m terrible at this question, which is one most interviewers ask of me. It depends on what day of the week it is, but today is Monday, so here goes, in no particular order…

Stick – Objectively speaking, it’s not exactly a classic film, but I’m not being objective, and I love it dearly. I think some of Nick McLean’s best cinematography is in there; I love the score; Burt nails the image of Elmore Leonard’s character of Ernest Stickley, and the villain Moke (played by Dar Robinson) is so menacing. Just a great 1980s action film. Candice Bergen and Burt make for a hot on-screen pairing.

White Lightning – Burt just as he was taking off into the stratosphere. He could be effortlessly charming and loveable while being mean and uncouth, as he is here as the iconic Gator McClusky. I love both this and its sequel Gator, which is a completely different film, it’s loud, brash, and big whereas White Lightning is taut, lean, gritty, and suspenseful. And Ned Beatty is a beast in it. I just gave you a two-for-one there: White Lightning and Gator. I’m feeling generous today.

Hustle – Now this is what you call a classic neo-noir. Directed by Robert Aldrich, who he worked with on the brilliant The Longest Yard, but this is a serious film, a great murder mystery with political intrigue and a sleazy journey into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Aldrich’s visual style is superb, and Burt gives a brilliant performance as the fatalist, cynical, morally questionable anti-hero detective. As a neo-noir film, I much prefer this to the likes of The Long Goodbye and Body Heat, both of which tend to be much more lauded than this. Hustle needs to be rediscovered.

Stroker Ace – Most people, including Burt, didn’t think too fondly of this, but for me, it encapsulates that period where Burt had this great Saturday matinee thing going that I recall fondly and nostalgically, where it was all about silly gags, fast cars, wild stunts, and some beautiful women. It is totally lowbrow stuff, but it helps when you have Burt being Burt, Loni looking gorgeous, Hal Needham directing, and Nick McLean shooting it.

Starting Over – For when I’m feeling a little bit more sophisticated, I put away Stroker Ace and reach for Starting Over, which is a classy melodramatic comedy featuring Burt as a down-on-his-luck loser-in-love, cast aside by Candice Bergen and embraced by Jill Clayburgh. Burt is playing against type here, a comfortably middle-class and urbane writer, shorn of moustache and masculine virility, and he really fought to get this role, because nobody would believe that he could play such a churlish loner who couldn’t find love. Alan J. Pakula directed it, and erstwhile Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen cinematographer Sven Niekvist shot it, which means it looks stunning. A beautiful, warm, funny, and tender work, featuring some of Burt’s finest acting.

And a bonus sixth film – Sharky’s Machine – because it’s Sharky’s Machine and needs no other reason.

Multi-JUNO Award Nominees Canadian World Collective Sultans of String Send Special Birthday Wish to Neil Young by way of “Heart of Gold” 

Sultans of String Heart of Gold

TORONTO — November 12, 2019 — To celebrate Neil Young’s birthday, multi-award-winning and New York Times and Billboard Magazine charting Canadian world music collective Sultans of String could have gone with the classic well-wisher tune. 

Instead, the Internationally critically acclaimed five-piece have released their live rendition of Young’s 1972 classic, “Heart of Gold” — available now! 

Sultans of String are currently marking their 12th year with an extensive national tour and, additionally, the release of their forthcoming album — their seventh and most historic to date, Refuge (Spring 2020). 

While not on the album, the Neil Young cover lands on Neil Young’s birthday — today — as a fitting tribute to both the iconic artist, and the song’s full-circle meaning for Sultans of String co-founder Chris McKhool, in particular. 

“‘Heart of Gold’ has a lot of meaning to me personally,” McKhool shares of the track. “For context, I grew up in a ‘classical music-loving’ house; my mother was a piano teacher and all the kids from the neighbourhood would come to our living room for lessons. My first instrument was a classical violin which was amazing for ear training. I was even in a string orchestra called the National Capital String Academy, and I loved it. 

“But by the time I was a teenager, violin was kind of a ‘square’ instrument,” he continues. “When I got to high school, I had learned enough about music already that I could teach myself how to play guitar. I bought my first steel string guitar from Steve’s Music in my hometown of Ottawa — a plywood model by Yamaha! 

“Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ was the very first song I learned on it.” 

At the time McKhool worked as a short-order cook at a place on Holland Avenue — TJ’s Speakeasy Café. “It had a great open stage night,” he recalls. “I saw some amazing Ottawa folk performers there. 

“One night during my shift at TJ’s, I came out from the back and played ‘Heart of Gold.’ I didn’t have enough money for a guitar strap so I was just kind of clutching the guitar under my arm as I strummed away. I was so nervous in my first public singing/playing appearance that my arms were trembling a little bit, and halfway through the song I literally dropped the guitar. The crowd went wild with applause!  

“So, I decided that was a good place to leave it. They all knew and loved me at TJ’s — it was a very supportive place. But I slinked away back to the kitchen and practiced a lot more before I tried that again.

“Now I play violin in this band, but I still own that old Yamaha guitar and love singing this song!  I hope Neil gets a chance to hear this — a birthday present from me and Sultans of String!”

Sultans of String are McKhool (has collaborated with Richard Bona, Béla Fleck), Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook), Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), Eddie Paton, and Rosendo Chendy Leon (Alex Cuba). Together, their musical synergy strikes inimitable, explaining their three JUNO Award nominations, four Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus many more, as well as International touring at notable venues (including JUNOFest, Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, NYC’s Birdland, and selling out Koerner Hall several times over), and appearances on BBC, CBC, Irish National Radio, NPR, SiriusXM, and then some.

Set for Spring 2020, Refuge is Sultans of String’s seventh and most historic album, and features talent that arrived to Canada and the U.S. as immigrants and refugees — many of whom are GRAMMY and JUNO Award winners as well. 

“Heart of Gold” is available now. https://orcd.co/heartofgoldlive

// ABOUT SULTANS OF STRING 

Since releasing their debut album Luna in 2007, Sultans of String have continually strived to make each chart-topping album more original and meaningful than the last. That includes working with an orchestra (2013’s Symphony), teaming with Pakistani sitarist Anwar Khurshid (2015’s Subcontinental Drift) and even crafting a world-music holiday album (2017’s Christmas Caravan), which landed them on the Billboard charts and the New York Times. Their ambition and work ethic have garnered them multiple awards and accolades, including three JUNO Award nominations, first place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), three Canadian Folk Music Awards, and countless other honours. 

Their live resumé is similarly stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, jazz club or festival setting, the Sultans have gigged at the legendary club Birdland in New York, the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K. and the San Jose Jazz Festival. They have performed with symphonies across Canada and the U.S., and played live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, World Cafe and SiriusXM in Washington.  

// TOUR:

November 23 @ Fergus Grand Theatre, Fergus ON
November 28 @ Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff AB
Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell November 29 @ Fish Creek Concerts, Calgary AB
Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell November 30 @ Festival Place, Sherwood Park AB
Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell December 1 @ Beneath the Arch Concerts, Turner Valley AB
Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell December 5 @ Wolf Performance Hall, London ON
Christmas Caravan w/ Guest Rebecca Campbell & Lynn Miles December 6 @ Live Wire Music, Kingston ON
Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell & Lynn Miles December 8 @ Concert Hall at Victoria Hall, Coburg ON
Christmas Caravan December 12 @ Empire Theatre, Belleville ON
December 13 @ Sanderson Centre, Brantford ON
Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Donné Roberts & Ken Whiteley December 14 @ Oakville Performing Arts Centre
Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts & Ken Whiteley
December 15 @ Kingston Road Village Concert Series
Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts & Tamar Ilana December 19 @ Shenkman Arts Centre, Ottawa ON
Christmas Caravan w/ Guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Kellylee Evans & Kristine St-Pierre

// CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees– Producer of the Year 
  • 2018 Music featured in the acclaimed film, “Hotel Mumbai” 
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts  — # 6 
  • 2017 JUNO nominees – World Music Album of the Year 
  • 2017 New York Times Hits List 
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts  — # 15 
  • 2016 Canada’s High Commission in London UK presents SOS at Trafalgar Square
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats  
  • 2016 ISC – Honorable Mention
  • 2015 JUNO nominees – Instrumental Album of the Year     
  • 2015 TIMA winners – Best World Album
  • 2014 SiriusXM Independent Music Awards Winner- World Group of the Year   
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental 
  • 2013 ISC  International Songwriting Competition Winner- Instrumental 
  • 2013 Festivals & Events- Performer of The Year  
  • 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year  
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental 
  • 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental & World Beat Album 
  • 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist-  Instrumental & World Music 
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees –  “Instrumental Album of the Year” 
  • 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees- Favorite World Group 
  • 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place – Instrumental 
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries)
  • 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental 
  • 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act

For more information, please contact:

Eric Alper
Publicist  I  Music Commentator  I  Shameless Idealist
647-971-3742

www.ThatEricAlper.com
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Singer-songwriter David Leask Releases New Music Video for “When You Think No One Loves You”

Canadian Singer-songwriter David Leask Releases New Music Video for
“When You Think No One Loves You”

David Leask When You Think No One Loves You

“Six of the best from the award-winning wordsmith…All the songs are superbly crafted and David Leask possesses fine vocal talents.” ~ Maverick Magazine

As someone who often struggles with loneliness, when I first watched the new music video for “When You Think No One Loves You” by David Leask from his album Six in 6/8, I was moved to tears. I can’t imagine how this video could NOT touch people emotionally if they take the time to watch it. David Leask and Daryl Burgess have written a really beautiful song and the music video conveys scenarios that most of us are all too familiar with. It shares a very important message that loneliness IS an epidemic and we need to be mindful of that and treat people with kindness and compassion. Please watch and share if the spirit moves you.

David Leask: There’s an epidemic of loneliness out there and a large number of people on this planet who at some point in their lives feel unloved. This song and video is for them. I hope it moves you in a way to share it widely and spread some hope around the world.

Big thanks to my co-writer Daryl Burgess, producer Justin Abedin, Jonathan Goldsmith on piano & B3 Organ, Quisha Wint on BG vocals, engineer Jeremy Darby for capturing the tracks live off the floor, Chad Carlson for mixing, Peter Moore for mastering, Lee De Lang & the video production folks Big Red Oak for doing such a great job telling the story including, Producer: Will Murphy; Director: Alistair Simpson; Production Manager: Tejasvi Bhalla; DoP: Tyson Burger; Gaffer: Nikita Brusnitsyn; Production Designer: Eunice Hung; Art Director: Alexandra Hutton; Production Assistant: Ernesto Travieso and the actors, Teenager: Janet Tung; Elderly man: Daniel Coo; Single mother: Marta Pozniakowski: Child: August Pozniakowski

Finally, special thanks to FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters for their generous support to help make this video possible.  

“the 6/8 time signature..underpins six beautifully mature songs, naturally & ingeniously”
Rock n’ Reel Magazine – 4 STARS for “Six in 6/8”

“Indescribable is top down, hot day on the highway Nashville Music, with Leask’s vocal a masterclass in emotional major league Rock.  Caught In The Tide and When You Think No One Loves You feature that voice, in Prog mode against squalling guitars or gutsy soulful like a Mark Cohen or Liam O Maonlai from The Hothouse Flowers, but always interesting.”
Northern Sky Magazine – 4 STARS for “Six in 6/8”

Connect with David Leask at www.davidleask.com or on:

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3X JUNO NOMINEES/3X CFMA WINNERS SULTANS OF STRING’S new single The Power of the Land out TODAY!

SOS_POWER_OF_THE_LAND_COVER_3000x3000_300DPI

3X JUNO NOMINEES/3X CFMA WINNERS SULTANS OF STRING’S new single
The Power of the Land out on October 25, 2019, ON MCKHOOL/CEN/THE ORCHARD,
A DIVISION OF SONY MUSIC

Sultans of String – The Power of the Land
Available now here: https://smarturl.it/PoweroftheLand
Artist:  Sultans of String
Song: The Power of the Land (feat. Duke Redbird & Twin Flames)
Upcoming Album: Refuge

“Energetic and exciting music fest from a band with talent to burn… the very epitome of world music: no boundaries, no rules!” – Maverick Music Magazine

NY Times and BILLBOARD charting band Sultans of String are releasing their new single on October 25, 2019. Entitled The Power of the Land, it features Ojibway Elder Dr. Duke Redbird and Indigenous artists Twin Flames.

Sultans of String are 3x JUNO Award nominees (Canada’s Grammys) and 4x Canadian Folk Music Award winners. They recently celebrated their 10th anniversary as a band, criss-crossing North America and UK, and performing at many taste-making forums such as JUNOFest, Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Birdland in NYC, and California’s hip music scene, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. They have sold out Koerner Hall three times (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. Sultans of String were recently recorded live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and internationally syndicated shows including SiriusXM in Washington DC.  At the core of the band’s sound is Chris McKhool’s (Jesse Cook, Pavlo) bold and fiery fiddle, melded seamlessly with founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s (Jesse Cook) rumba rhythm- together their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. Added to this rich foundation are bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), guitar wizard Eddie Paton, and Cuban percussion master Rosendo Chendy Leon (Alex Cuba).

This collaborative single The Power of the Land, with lyrics by Duke Redbird and music by Sultans of String band, will be part of a larger upcoming album entitled REFUGE to be released in 2020, featuring incredible talents from the USA/Canada, many of whom arrived as recent immigrants and refugees. We feel it is important to highlight the extraordinary contributions of those that have arrived here from around the globe, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you, featuring special guests from First Nations, Turkey, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Syria, Mexico, Portugal, Cuba, and Sudan.

Refuge’s potent and poetic single The Power of the Land features the interwoven vocals of Indigenous spoken-word artist Duke Redbird and married Ottawa folk duo Twin Flames. “I actually heard Duke recite that poem years ago,” McKhool says. “I was so moved that I introduced myself to him after the performance and said, ‘Have you ever thought about putting this to music?'” Fast-forward three years, to the day when McKhool realized he had finally written the right backdrop for Redbird’s stirring words. “It was just one of those beautiful moments where I realized those lyrics might work perfectly.”

This single is co-produced by the multiple award-winning team of bandleader Chris McKhool and John “Beetle” Bailey.  The beds were recorded on First Nations land at the Indigenous-owned Jukasa Studios. Founded by Ohsweken’s, Kenneth Hill & Jerry Montour, Jukasa Studios is a multi-million dollar studio created for world-class and developing artists to make music in surroundings rich in spirit and tradition. The legendary 8072 G Series Vintage Analog Console which spent 12 years of its life in studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios in London England, was purchased and moved to Jukasa Studios in 2009.  Overdubs and mixing were done at The Drive Shed with John “Beetle” Bailey and mastering by Harry Hess at HBomb Mastering.

“It seems that Sultans of String can’t get out of bed at the moment without finding themselves nominated for one award or another. In a word: Magnificent!”
– Rock n Reel – UK Music Magazine 5* review

TEAM:  We are working with an amazing team to promote this single/tour

US Agent: Kevin Peters, GL Berg
US Management: Dave Wilkes
US Radio: Max Horowitz, Crossover Media
CDN PR: That Eric Alper
CDN Management/Booking: LW Communications
Social Media: Scully Love Promo

BAND: Sultans of String
Chris McKhool – LEBANON / CAN
Kevin Laliberte – CAN
Eddie Paton – CAN
Drew Birston – CAN
Rosendo Chendy Leon – CUBA / CAN

Extraordinary special guests on REFUGE include Grammy and JUNO Award winners:
Béla Fleck – USA
Edmar Castaneda – COLOMBIA / USA
Ifrah Mansour – SOMALIA / USA
Imad Al Taha – IRAQ / USA
Yasmin Levy – ISRAEL
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY

Ahmed Moneka  – IRAQ / CAN
Amir Amiri – IRAN / CAN
Anh Phung – VIETNAM / CAN
Anwar Khurshid – PAKISTAN / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Demetrios Petsalakis – GREECE / CAN
Duke Redbird – OJIBWE ELDER / CAN
Fethi Nadjem – ALGERIA / CAN
Majd Sukar – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Matias Recharte – PERU / CAN
Michel DeQuevedo – MEXICO / CAN
Nagmeh Faramand – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally – INDIA / CAN
Robi Botos – HUNGARY / CAN
Rosendo Chendy Leon – CUBA / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Selcuk Suna –  TURKEY / CAN
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS / CAN
Waleed Abdulhamid – SUDAN / CAN

LINKS:

YOUTUBE EPK https://youtu.be/fnog2CowXqQ

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN https://igg.me/at/sultans

http://www.sultansofstring.com
http://twitter.com/sultansofstring
https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring
http://www.instagram.com/sultansofstring

DISTRIBUTORS:
Canada – Fontana North
USA – C.E.N. (SONY/Red)
UK/EUROPE – Proper Distribution

UPCOMING TOURING PLANS:

01 Nov 2019 – Warren, PA (US) – Struthers Library Theatre
02 Nov 2019 – Stroudsburg, PA (US) – Chester Concerts
04 Nov 2019 – Durham, NC (US) – ArtsMarket Official Showcase / Showcase A6
08 Nov 2019 – Toronto, ON (CA) – OMEA Showcase / Quartet
23 Nov 2019 – Fergus, ON (CA) – Fergus Grand Theatre
28 Nov 2019 – Banff, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Banff Centre for the Arts / with special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
29 Nov 2019 – Calgary, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Fish Creek Concerts / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
30 Nov 2019 – Sherwood Park, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Festival Place / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
01 Dec 2019 – Turner Valley, AB (CA) Christmas Caravan – Beneath The Arch Concerts / w/ special guest Rebecca Campbell
05 Dec 2019 – London, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Wolf Performance Hall / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
06 Dec 2019 – Kingston, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Live Wire Music / Double bill– 1st show w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell & Lynn Miles; 2nd show featuring Lynn Miles
07 Dec 2019 – Oswego, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Oswego Music Hall / w/ special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell
08 Dec 2019 – Cobourg, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Concert Hall at Victoria Hall / pres. by Les AMIS Concerts & The Loft
13 Dec 2019 – Brantford, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Sanderson Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Donné Roberts, Ken Whiteley
14 Dec 2019 – Oakville, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Oakville Performing Arts Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts, Ken Whiteley
15 Dec 2019 – Toronto,  (CA) Christmas Caravan – Kingston Road Village Concert Series / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Donné Roberts, Tamar Ilana
19 Dec 2019 – Ottawa, ON (CA) Christmas Caravan – Shenkman Arts Centre / w/ special guests Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, Kellylee Evans, Kristine St-Pierre
20 Dec 2019 – Nelson, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Nelson Odeon / w/ guest Campbell, at Catherine Cummings Theatre
21 Dec 2019 – Saratoga Springs, NY (US) Christmas Caravan – Caffe Lena – by invitation only – become a Caffe Lena member today!
08 Feb 2020 – Mississauga, ON (CA) Symphony show – Living Arts Centre / w/ Mississauga Symphony Orchestra
07 Mar 2020 – Cobalt, ON (CA) – Classic Theatre / Quartet
19 Mar 2020 – Ely, MN (US) – Mesaba Concert Assn @ Washington Auditorium /
20 Mar 2020 – Thief River Falls, MN (US) – Thief River Falls Concerts / – Lincoln H.S. Auditorium
22 Mar 2020 – Redwood Falls, MN (US) – Estebo Performing Arts Center /
24 Mar 2020 – Dixon, IL (US) – Historic Dixon Theater /
27 Mar 2020 Concordia, KS (US) – Brown Grand Theatre /
28 Mar 2020 – Pratt, KS (US) – Pratt Community Concerts @ Carpenter Auditorium /
29 Mar 2020 – Lamar, CO (US) – SouthWest Colorado Concerts / Trio – Lamar High School Auditorium
30 Mar 2020 – Columbus, NE (US) – Nantkes Performing Arts Center /
31 Mar 2020 – Rapid City, SD (US) – Rushmore Plaza Civic Center /
02 Apr 2020 – Anaconda, MT (US) – Washoe Theatre /
21 Apr 2020 – Burlington, IA (US) – Burlington Memorial Auditorium / Quartet
02 May 2020 – Gravenhurst, ON (CA) – Gravenhurst Opera House / Quartet

RECENT AWARDS:

  • 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards– Producer of the Year nomination for McKhool
  • 2017 New York Times Hits List
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts – Christmas Caravan CD hits #6
  • 2017 Canadian Nielsen World Music Charts – Christmas Caravan CD hits #3
  • 2017 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Sing For Kwanzaa” from Christmas Caravan
  • 2017 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Road to Kfarmishki”
  • 2017 ISC International Songwriting Competition- World category – “Sing For Kwanzaa”
  • 2017 JUNO Award Nominees for “World Music Album of the Year” – Subcontinental Drift
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts – Subcontinental Drift CD hits #15
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats
  • 2015 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) – Subcontinental Drift
  • 2015 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Symphony!
  • 2015 Toronto Independent Music Award – World Music
  • 2014 SIRIUSXM Independent Music Awards Winner- World Group of the Year
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental Song – “Josie”
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Vox Pop Award – Music Producer – Symphony! -Chris McKhool
  • 2013 ISC International Songwriting Competition- Instrumental category – “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award for “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Festivals & Events- Performer of The Year
  • 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
  • 2013 SiriusXM Canadian Indie Awards Nominee for World Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Instrumental Group & Pushing the Boundaries
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee- Producer of the Year for Chris McKhool
  • 2012 Folk Music Ontario- Songs From the Heart Winner
  • 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year
  • 2011 Ontario Contact – Artist of the Year
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental
  • 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental Album & World Beat Album – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist- Instrumental & World Music categories
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees- Favourite World Artist/Group
  • 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place Winners – Instrumental
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year (also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries)
  • 2009 Toronto Exclusive Magazine Award 2x Winner- Best Toronto World CD & Artist of the Year
  • 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental
  • 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act
  • 2008 Canadian Independent Music Awards Finalists- Favourite World Music Band
  • 2008 International Independent Music Awards Finalists- Best World Fusion Song
  • 2007 Musique du Monde Award
  • 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees – Best Instrumentalist Group
  • 2007 Ontario Independent Music Award winner- Best Song & Best Instrumental
  • 2007 Toronto Independent Music Award nominees – World Music Category

This recording was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council. We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and Canada Council for the Arts.

 

 

Melodic Pop Singer-Songwriter Abby Zotz Releases Official Music Video for “See Your Face” from Local Honey

Abby during See Your Face video shoot

In her debut solo album, Local Honey, Abby Zotz takes an exhilarating leap … with arms wide open … and soars. Infused with a spirit of freedom, her new sound is a satisfying union of wistful pop blended beautifully with gospel, folk and blues; all filtered through her gift for emotional and philosophical contemplation. Abby’s is a voice that is at once authentic and pure, yet time and experience have lent a new edge to it; a broader vocal range and maturity that adds dimension and a touching honesty to her lyrics and emotional depth to her songs.

Launched in October of 2018, Local Honey has been touring Ontario and Quebec and enjoying healthy airplay across Canada. In early 2019, the album garnered two LA Music Critics’ Award nominations and a win for Best International Artist. Its three video singles – Big Hope, Good Bones and See Your Face – capture Zotz’s effortless stylistic adaptability and poeticism of her lyrics without compromising her universal appeal.

SEE YOUR FACE is Abby Zotz’s third video from her award-winning debut solo release, Local Honey, and is an homage to the songwriter’s creative spirit, which often returns to her in the spring, like a banished child finding her way back home. Directed by Sheena D. Robertson and featuring Zotz, Laura Cardeno, Baker Albach and Anntonia Marcucci-Robinson, it is tender and dream-like, leaving the cold Ontario winter behind in favour of love and inspiration blossoming in the warming air. It’s a state that brings us to a sense of homecoming, a return to ourselves, guided by Zotz’s warmly wise lyrics and sweet vocals. SEE YOUR FACE was shot in Northumberland County in late May – after a particularly long winter and wet spring – with photography by Dakota Wotton and editing by Jordan Crute.

“Teems with immense soulfulness…the poetic flourish of her lyric writing elevates the material to a higher level.” ~ NO DEPRESSION

“…a fantastic and cohesive album…that embraces you, while you embrace it.” ~ THE SPILL MAGAZINE

“…she is bar none the most listenable and accessible to fans of all ages, backgrounds and tastes.” ~ VENTS MAGAZINE

“…”an album that sums up all she’s learned as a musician and human being with singular beauty. Substantive musicality and commercial appeal in the same package…natural sounding magic.” ~ THE MUSIC REVIEWS

“…the indie folk album that we’ve all been waiting for…” ~ THE INDIE SOURCE

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre presents BILLBOARD charting/4x CFMA winning SULTANS OF STRING as part of BPAC’s Cultural Diversity Festival — feat. the newly named Burlington Symphony & special guests Anwar Khurshid & Shannon Thunderbird

Sultans of String with the Burlington Symphony Orchestra

WHO:  BPAC presents Sultans of String at their Cultural Diversity Festival—featuring the Burlington Symphony & s/g Anwar Khurshid & Shannon Thunderbird

WHEN: Sunday, September 29, 2019, 4:00 pm

WHERE: Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Main Theatre, 440 Locust St, Burlington ON L7S 1T7

TIX/INFO: 905-681-6000, $39.50/$34.50 members, https://burlingtonpac.ca/events/sultans-of-string .

VIDEOS:

Enter The Gate

Palmas

Luna


FACEBOOK EVENT: 
https://www.facebook.com/events/2226004087513179


QUOTES:

“Chris McKhool and the boys are fantastic!” ~ Bob Ezrin (Producer, Pink Floyd. Peter Gabriel)

“Your set was sensational. Loved it.” ~ Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary)

“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.” ~ International Celtic Connections Festival, UK

“Sultans of String are so extraordinary and put on a sensational show—one of my favorite bands on the planet!” ~ Todd Barkan, Lincoln Center, NY

WEB/SOCIAL MEDIA:

Official Website
Facebook Page
Instagram
Twitter

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Producer of the Year
  • 2018 Music featured in the acclaimed film, “Hotel Mumbai”
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts  — # 6
  • 2017 JUNO nominees – World Music Album of the Year
  • 2017 New York Times Hits List
  • 2017 Billboard World Music Charts — # 15
  • 2016 Canada’s High Commission in London UK presents SOS at Trafalgar Square
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners – World Music Group of the Year
  • 2016 Global Music Awards – World Music / Beats
  • 2016 ISC – Honorable Mention
  • 2015 JUNO nominees – Instrumental Album of the Year
  • 2015 TIMA winners – Best World Album
  • 2014 SiriusXM Independent Music Awards Winner – World Group of the Year
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental
  • 2013 ISC International Songwriting Competition Winner – Instrumental
  • 2013 Festivals & Events – Performer of The Year
  • 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners – World Music Group of the Year
  • 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental
  • 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental & World Beat Album
  • 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist-Instrumental & World Music
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees – “Instrumental Album of the Year”
  • 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees – Favorite World Group
  • 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place – Instrumental
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year
    (also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries)
  • 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental
  • 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act

BIO:

3x JUNO nominees and Billboard charting Sultans of String are “an energetic and exciting band with talent to burn!” (Maverick Magazine UK). Thrilling audiences with their genre-hopping passport of Celtic reels, Flamenco, Gypsy-jazz, Arabic and Cuban rhythms, fiery violin dances with kinetic guitar, while funky bass and shimmering sitar lay down unstoppable grooves. Throughout, acoustic strings meet electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound.

Since forming 10 years ago, Sultans of String’s music has hit #6 on Billboard’s world music charts, #1 across Canada on Top 10 national radio charts, landed the New York Times Christmas Hits list, and received multiple awards and accolades, including 1st place in the ISC (out of 15,000 entries), 4 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (for bandleader Chris McKhool). They have also performed/recorded with such luminaries as The ChieftainsAlex CubaSweet Honey in The Rock, and Ruben Blades.

McKhool (ancestral name Makhoul) has an Egyptian-born mother who happened to play piano, teach classical theory, and feed her young son as much Middle Eastern cuisine as she did music lessons. From there, the powerful violinist developed a taste for multi-genre string sounds and found a like-minded crew of all-world enthusiasts. When McKhool first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s (Jesse Cook) rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo grew, featuring such amazing musical friends as in-the-pocket bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), the jaw-dropping beats of percussionist Alberto Suarez, and sitar master Anwar Khurshid (Oscar winning Life of Pi).

Sultans of String have been criss-crossing North America and UK for the last several years at many taste-making forums such as JUNOfest, NYC’s legendary club Birdland, Boston’s Scullers, and London’s Trafalgar Square. They recently sold out Koerner Hall (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall), and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Stratford, Ontario and Niagara Symphony Orchestras, as well with Kingsfield POPS in Maine and Maryland’s acclaimed Annapolis Symphony. Sultans of String have also been featured on MPBN’s Maine Arts!, and performed live on BBC TV, BBC Radio, Irish National Radio, and the internationally syndicated shows WoodSongs, World Cafe, and on SiriusXM in Washington.

Please Help Support This GoFundMe Campaign for my Friend, Fred Chapman

Fred ChapmanI donated to this Go Fund Me campaign because Fred Chapman has been a good friend of mine for many years and a great supporter of both me and my musician clients. He’s a wonderful, smart guy (he has his PhD in Math!) who really just wants to work and get his life back and I know very well as a self-employed person, that when the chips are down, we need help like this! Someday it could be me.

If anyone I know or that this post reaches can help with tips for a job for Fred (his LinkedIn profile is in the campaign description), a donation (any amount is appreciated) or simply by sharing this post, we would both be very grateful! Thank you so much!

All my best, Christine 🙏

DONATE HERE: https://www.gofundme.com/downsized-looking-for-work-cannot-pay-rent

Ilona Pal’s Americana Single “A Farm In Indiana” Pays Tribute to James Dean’s Hometown

Ilona Pal cd single cover artwork

What you have written, and written well, obviously came from the heart and, for me,“A Farm in Indiana” has that same haunting quality as Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”. And it’s not because it’s about James Dean, it’s just a great song.  I have now listened to it repeatedly and I don’t tire of hearing it.” — Jim Hayes

Ilona Pal has travelled the rails between Montreal and Ottawa many times over, but in November of 2017, that train ride, and a movie about friendship, love and loss inspired a song that gave her wings to fly.

The movie was the 2015 feature film “Life”: the story of photographer Dennis Stock’s historic 1955 photo shoot of iconic actor James Dean in Fairmount, Indiana, for that still famous spread in Life Magazine.

“The song was a gift,” says Ilona. “I wasn’t looking to write a song about James Dean that day, the song was looking for me.” But when the last frame of the film faded to black and the words ‘James Dean died 6 months later’ appeared on the screen, she felt a wave of emotion well up in her chest. That wave soon reached her creative spirit, and all at once, most of the lyrics and melody that would become A Farm In Indiana were born.

Pal, an insightful singer-songwriter from Montreal, first emerged as an independent Canadian New Country artist with her debut single, Hold On Heart, and self-titled album. She landed a spot on the roster at Peter Asher Management in LA, alongside such notable artists as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. French recordings of her songs have ranked #1 in Quebec and received ADISQ award nominations. Film credits include the closing theme song for Time At The Top (Showtime, HBO).

Produced by Les Cooper (The Good Lovelies, Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky, Craig Cardiff, Meaghan Smith, Madison Violet and David Myles, among others.), a Juno award-winning producer, Les is a songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, whose arrangements have frequently been compared to those of past greats such as Nelson Riddle and Duke Ellington, earning him a reputation as a composer with a classic and timeless sound.

A Farm in Indiana is their first collaborative writing effort.

Les brought in the magnificent Drew Jurecka to play violin. His soaring emotional solo was a first take, and captured the essence of the song beautifully. His passionate playing conjures up images of love and loss, as well as the sweetness of home and longing to be there. Stylistically, the down-home feel evokes genuine feelings of comfort. The solo is the heart of the arrangement, which features Cooper on guitar, lap steel and banjo, rounding out the ‘Americana’ folk tune.

“The train had a huge influence on this song. It was born on a train, inspired by a train ride when at the age of nine, James Dean brought his mother’s remains back to Fairmount, Indiana from LA, and it was the train that took me to Les in Toronto to produce the song,” mused Pal. “One thing I knew for sure was that the train had to be represented in the rhythm of the song.”

Pal then contacted the Main Street Fairmount organization in Indiana to propose a partnership. She would attach their fundraising initiative to her music video to aid the town of Fairmount in its ongoing effort towards the restoration and preservation of James Dean’s hometown. This was a complete leap of faith on their behalf, but the proposal was met with incredible enthusiasm and excitement, and soon, plans for a performance at the annual James Dean Festival in September were also underway.

“The highlight of making this connection for me was the day I called Marcus Winslow,” says Pal. Winslow, James Dean’s cousin, was like a little brother to him. To this day, he lives on the farm that both inspired the song and figures prominently in the photos of Dean from 1955. So, on a lovely summer afternoon, she called Marcus and told him all about the song. “He’s a gracious man of few words. He listened intently as I explained what I was trying to do,” Ilona recalls. It all seemed to come full circle as she recited the lyrics to him. The song had ultimately ‘come home’, to the place of its inspiration—the dream of every songwriter. 

In September 2018, Ilona performed A Farm in Indiana at the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana. Appearing on the Main Street stage and at the James Dean memorial service at the Back Creek Friends Church, a huge privilege and honour!

According to Ilona, “this song has legs and it’s moving on a mission unto itself.” She’s just very grateful to be along for the journey and happy the song chose her.

Today would have been James Dean’s 88th birthday.

www.ilonapal.com

Ann Vriend Wins Cobalt Prize for “It’s Happening” at 2019 Maple Blues Awards

Ann Vriend wins Cobalt Prize

Edmonton based singer-songwriter Ann Vriend won the Toronto Blues Society‘s 5th Annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award (her second win!) at the 22nd Annual Maple Blues Awards on Monday, February 4, 2019 for her song “It’s Happening”, an empowering and gritty, inner-city soul anthem.  Paul Reddick, the founder of the award and a Juno award-winning musician and songwriter, and the panel of judges chose Ann’s song from 55 different entries!

“It’s Happening” was recorded June 4, 2018, with students from the Sifton Elementary School ChoirSifton Elementary is a school in North Edmonton where some students come from war-torn countries and traumatizing and/or impoverished situations. The funding of this recording was made possible via an anonymous donor who saw the students and AV perform at a school fundraiser May 4, 2018. The donor was so moved and inspired by the performance of the song that he immediately asked how it could be immortalized by a studio recording of it. A week later he graciously provided the funding for this endeavor. A month to the day after their debut performance, the students, AV, and her producer and videographer, Tino Zolfo (Poppa Champagne), were in the recording studio recording the song and making a music video for it. None of the students had been in a recording studio prior to this date, but have since inspired many people with their talent, hope, and enthusiasm for this venture. AV and all involved in the making of this video would like to thank everyone for listening and being part of this experience. 

CREDITS

Words, Music, Choir Arrangement, Lead Vocals, Keys: AV
Choir: Sifton Elementary School Choir, directed by Music Teacher Kristina Kuchta
Bass, Percussion, Programming, Music Production, Video Filming, Video Director, Video Editing: Tino Zolfo (Poppa Champagne)

Music recorded by Randor Lin at Velveteen Audio, Edmonton
Music mixed by Brandon Unis, Edmonton
Music mastered by Peter Letros, Wreckhouse Mastering, Toronto
Video filmed at Velveteen Audio, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Camera Assistance by Brad Nelson, Cylinder Sound & Film
Project Coordinated by AV, Highlands Jr High Principal Brad Burns, Sifton Elementary School Principal Martin Fechner, Music Teacher Kristina Kuchta, and the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation via Tracy Poulin

You can purchase the song at: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/annvriend6

ARTIST LINKS

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/3vjHMysd98leqhwDotu9fZ

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnVriend

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnVriend

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnVriend

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annvriend  

In Conversation with Bob Geldof’s Drummer of 25 Years and Author of Timing Is Everything (a Memoir), Niall Power

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There aren’t many people who know me who don’t know how much I love Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats. Even though I’m not always up to date with the latest camp Geldof news, it’s a love that has lasted for 40 years. So, when Bob’s drummer of 25 years (for his solo career), Niall Power, wrote to me through Facebook to advise me of his story since their last Canadian tour, I was at first delighted and then saddened by the news of his retirement from drumming due to Parkinson’s disease. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this is a man who doesn’t let life get him down, which is evident upon reading Timing Is Everything, Niall’s inspiring memoir, published in 2017.

Niall, after reading your book, I was left with the impression that you consider yourself an ordinary man, perhaps quiet and shy, certainly easy-going, who just happened to have a passion for drumming. However, although you never had a plan for your music career, you ended up having quite an extraordinary experience as a session musician, playing for many bands, including Stepaside, Les Enfants, Ordinary Man, Eamonn Gibney, Westlife and most notably, Bob Geldof, with whom you performed for 25 years.

How does a musician get as far as you have in his career without a plan?

I can sum that up in one word, ‘Luck’.

I never set out to be a session drummer and end up playing with so many bands.
As a teenager in the early 1970s, my ambition was to form my own band with my friends, write our own songs and hopefully be the rock gods of the future, like our idols, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple.

Niall Power 1960

Niall Power in 1960.

My dad was a soldier in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, and there were two army marching bands who paraded past our home on most days. I loved their drummers from an early age. There weren’t many teenagers playing musical instruments in the area, so it was always going to be difficult to finalize a lineup for the band.

I was playing the unfashionable accordion and wearing a kilt in the school band during

Niall Power in 1970 on left with accordion.

1970, on left, with accordion.

the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. But as soon as I heard The Beatles on the radio, I realized then that I had to learn how to play another instrument to be in a rock band.  I chose the drums after seeing Mickey Dolenz, drummer with The Monkees on television, larking around and generally having fun.

After a few years of practice, much to the annoyance of the neighbors, I finally mastered the art of drumming and set out to join any band that would have me. I had no plan of action for how I was going to achieve this. My armory consisted of my dodgy first drum kit, long hair, a smile and buckets of enthusiasm for the task ahead.

For someone who clearly states in the preface of your book that you are not a writer, I congratulate you on the great achievement of having compiled your memoir, Timing Is Everything, which was written on an iPad with the index finger of your right hand! That, in itself, is a testament to your passion and determination to see a project through to its completion, and your resilience in the face of adversity. You are truly an inspiration, not just because of your drumming prowess, but because of the strength of your character.

I couldn’t help but notice your incredibly positive attitude about life in general and wondered to what would you attribute it?

My attitude to life has never changed from the outset.

I had a very safe and happy childhood and I seem to have kept that feeling with me throughout my musical career. My parents always encouraged me to follow my heart, even though they probably didn’t understand how you could possibly make a living from hitting things, whilst hoping I would come to my senses and get a proper job.  I don’t worry about stuff, including Parkinson’s. Above all, I love playing and creating music, just seeing people in the audience responding in kind to the noise that we make is good enough for me. Not many people get to live out their dreams every day…it’s been some trip.

“And what a drummer. Without question one of the best. I know from whence I speak. In the course of my 40 years playing rock ‘n’ roll, Niall Power is up there/alongside/on par with/equal to literally the Big Hitters. He’s a fucking amazing player.”

 

“Man he can sing.”

 

“He glued the band together. Everyone loved him. He was the spirit of the thing. The joy of it. The love of gigging. The fierce ecstasy of playing music…What a man to travel the world with for over 25 years. What a friend to share so much of your life with. The things we’ve done and seen and been together. He’ll remember. I won’t.” 

~ Bob Geldof, Introduction to Timing Is Everything

In the introduction of your book, written by Bob Geldof, he says that the tedium of touring never seemed to affect you. How was that possible? 

Sure, life on the road can be tedious at times. You’re living in a bubble with other musicians and roadies with deadlines to meet every day. Things can get a bit out of hand, tempers flare, we’d do a bad gig, one person thought the gig was great, the other five thought it was crap. Musicians live for the road and as much as I like travelling on the tour bus (your home away from home), it’s only okay for a few weeks. I loved waking up in a different country each day and going for a walk down the Champs Elysees in Paris after being in Amsterdam the previous night. But you also need to stop touring, stop moving at the speed of sound and be at home with your own family. I have always kept a low profile on the road and steered clear of any aggravation that may have been brewing from time to time. As our tour manager ‘The Mick’ (RIP) used to say, “we’re only up for the day.” 

You played with Bob for the Live 8 concert on 2 July 2005 which was undoubtedly one of, if not the biggest, career high of your life. I know that the experience must have been surreal, but what singular treasured memory do you take away from that event? 

I have many memories from that great day in July at Live 8.

The one that sticks in my mind the most is the fact that I had to play someone else’s drum kit without seeing it first. As I play left-handed, the kit was set up right-handed for the previous band’s drummer. So, I walked on stage in front of thousands of people in Hyde Park, live to the world on television, with no time to swap things around.

The song was ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and was probably the only song that I could play with the kit being the wrong way around. There was also no vocal microphone, so I did the backing vocals, “tell me why”, into fresh air. You can view this video on YouTube.

It was amazing hanging out backstage with all the other acts including Beatle, Paul McCartney, who signed a copy of my Beatles White Album CD cover, which I just happened to have in my pocket. Timing is Everything! 

 

Do you know if Bob has any plans to record a new album? If so, will you be singing background vocals on it? 

As far as I know, The Boomtown Rats are due to release a new album in 2019.

There are no new recording plans for another Bob solo album this year. I would hope to make a cameo appearance on backing vocals, when and if the opportunity arises.

I cannot help but ask, is there anything you can tell Bob’s super fans about him that they wouldn’t already know? 

Niall Power and Bob Geldof

2011 London. Photo by Eddy Valdameri.

I don’t usually comment on Bob, but I will say it has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to keep the beat behind him for all those years. I never expected it to last more than one tour. A truly amazing time that I will remember forever. His most thoughtful words to me were when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He said, “You have a job for life in this band.” I replied, “What if I can’t drum?” He said, “We’ll find something for you to do,” so I ended up playing the spoons. 

Do you think that your remarkable memory is simply due to genetics or a result of years having to remember so many songs? 

I put the memory thing down to the fact that I loved every minute of being in a band. It’s not just the Geldof band, but all the bands that I’ve been involved with. I can recall the musicians, most of the songs and how to play them, the venues, the years, etc.; it just seems to stay with me.

Don’t ask me to add and subtract as that part of my memory is definitely missing. 

Have you ever researched whether spicy food such as the Indian curry you so love, may have a positive effect on your brain?

I never looked into the benefits of spicy food on the brain.

Many musicians have a fondness for Indian curry and while visiting a new town with the band, someone would always be on the lookout for the best Indian restaurant.
My DNA tells me that way back many centuries ago, my ancestors are likely to be of Middle Eastern origin, so that’s good enough for me.

I love that your favourite television program during the 1960s was The Monkees! I was born in 1964 but I also remember watching that show when I was a kid and loving it. Have you ever been able to play with Mickey Dolenz? Did you know that he and Mike Nesmith went back on tour last year as The Monkees Present: The Mike and Mickey Show before Nesmith had a quadruple bypass? It might not be too late for you to jam with them! 

Yeah, as mentioned previously, The Monkees were a big part of my musical influences. Every Saturday evening, they were featured on our RTE channel. We only had one TV station in the sixties and music programs were few and far between. It was always ballad singers or light entertainment TV shows with very little choice for young people. Radio was the only option to hear the pop tunes of the day like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Monkees were a breath of fresh air in a dull television schedule.

I met their drummer Mickey Dolenz in Nottingham, England in 1985 when he was working for a TV station. Charming man, and I told him how I would copy his drumming style with my air drumming in front of the television. He’s likely responsible for me being a left-handed drummer as he never seemed to set his kit up the same way twice. He wasn’t a drummer at all, just an actor who played drums in a TV show.

It would be cool to catch up with him again.

One of my favourite sections of your book was on the Thin White Duke. As a lifelong fan of David Bowie, your recollection of having once been his driver delighted me! Do you regret not telling him that you were Bob’s drummer? That was surely a big lesson that timing is everything!!

No, I don’t regret not telling David Bowie that I was a drummer. First rule of employment is that you do the job you were asked to do. My brief was that I wasn’t allowed to speak or ask questions unless I was spoken to. This is normal with celebrities and their hired drivers.

When the opportunity arose and I was just driving David on his own to rehearsal, we did have conversations about various things during the three weeks that I was his band’s driver. Anyway, he did find out that I was a drummer for Bob when both bands played at a concert in Paris a few weeks after my driving job finished.

He was a charming man and I’m so glad I was able to be that close to an icon of the music world.

Niall Power Dubai

Niall Power in Dubai. Photo by Mark Cowne.

Your book contains a very matter of fact outline of your career as a session drummer who travelled the world with many bands, but I noticed that you refrained from including saucy road stories about the types of antics that go on between traveling band mates. Surely, you have one or two amusing anecdotes to share in this regard? 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase, “What happens on the road stays on the road.”  

Well you can’t blame a girl for trying!

On the road, you’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the greats in the music world. What was the single most exciting moment that you experienced and who was it with?

It has to be my first ever time to play live onstage, at the Liverpool Irish Centre in 1975.

Niall Power age 17.

1975 London, age 17.

For the previous four years I’d been bashing away at home, wondering if I was ever going to get it together as a drummer. I was a roadie for all of 1974 with a local band called Just Four. They invited me to go to England on tour with them and I managed to befriend their support group called Midnight who were based in Birmingham. I stayed in England after the tour and moved to London to stay with my friend Jim Sullivan and his family. Jim was the guitarist when we tried unsuccessfully to start our band in the Curragh some years previously. I had told Midnight that I was a drummer looking for a job, and if they were ever changing their drummer to get in touch with me in London.
I received a letter in the post a few months later to ask if I would like to return to Birmingham and join Midnight. I couldn’t believe it, I had never played onstage with a band before and that first gig in Liverpool was a blast. I was probably terrible on the night, but you have to start somewhere and that was where it all began. 

If you could have played with any musician in the world that you haven’t played with, who would you choose?

It has to be George Harrison.

I just loved his music and his vibe. Over the years I have played in many cover bands who performed Beatles tunes in their sets, but it would have been magic to get a chance to play “Here Comes the Sun” with George. 

You have travelled all over the world in your career. What is your favourite place to visit and why?

It would have to be India. We played there on three separate occasions and I loved it. The music is enthralling, the food is incredible, the friendly nature of the people and the sheer size of the place is amazing.

Driving anywhere is a task only to be undertaken by a kamikaze.

The sounds, smells, colours and the poverty have to be seen to be believed.
A truly wonderful country to visit.

Since you retired from drumming in 2015, you have been absorbed in genealogical research, both for yourself and others. What have you been doing in this regard since the publication of your book?

Initially, I only undertook the genealogical search for my own family tree. I found this process to be very helpful for my Parkinson’s situation as it gave me something positive to do after my diagnosis.

I needed a task to engage the brain, almost like doing a crossword puzzle and trying to find answers to the clues. There are many discrepancies on old documents, and it is painstaking work trying to decipher the handwriting and make sense of the information. I’m sure it helped me take my mind off the fact that I was losing the fine motor movements on my left side and my drumming skill was disappearing fast.

I have helped some friends with their own family research, but I’m not going to make a career out of it as it’s very time consuming.

Many Irish documents relating to births, marriages and deaths were destroyed by fire in the Irish Civil War, and only the 1901 and 1911 census records are available to view.
I’m still active with regard to my own family tree and I’ve traced many relations, in Canada and the USA. 

Are you and your wife, Michelle, still farming or working as entrepreneurs? 

Unfortunately, I can’t work anymore with my left hand shaking. It’s now 11 years since

Niall Power at home

Niall in 2016.

diagnosis and the motor skills on my left side are gradually disappearing. For example, I cannot put a letter into an envelope or hold a newspaper without my hand trembling.

I’m so used to the shaking that it that doesn’t bother me anymore, and even though it’s a progressive and incurable disease, I just get on with it and make the best of every day usually tending to the garden. Michelle is my career. 

Can you tell us more about your diet and exercise regime and anything else that has enabled you to make the best of your life with Parkinson’s disease?

Most people will tell you that they altered their diet after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, which I did. I did it as a reaction rather than a necessity. It’s a scary time and the need to do anything to solve the problem is great. My first move was to get supplements from the chemist and I also tried a course of acupuncture and meditation. No real benefits from any of these.

I was aged 50 at the time of diagnosis and in reasonably good shape, so I joined my local swimming club and gym. I rarely miss a day and workout on the treadmill and the bicycle, with some light weights. Then it’s into the pool where I power walk in the water and generally have some fun. This activity may not suit some Parkinson’s patients who have issues with their walking, but I find it very rewarding. You have to find something that works for you and stick with it. Never give up. 

How would you like to be able to help others who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? 

During the last year I spoke at a few Parkinson’s related events and basically, I just informed the patients about my exercise routine, and how good it can make you feel to do something for yourself that gives you enjoyment and has many other health benefits. 

What have you been doing since your book was published in 2017?

Since the publication of my book I’ve been trying to keep busy. I went to Australia last October and cycled around 1,200 kilometers in the glorious sunshine state of Queensland. My symptoms decreased significantly, and I will be informing my neurologist about this at my next checkup.

Timing Is Everything will be featured in the book nook at the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto this year, and who knows, a cure may be soon be found.

Niall Power in 2018

Niall Power in 2018. Photo by Frank Smith.