Help Sultans of String Record Their New Christmas Caravan CD!

I have been working with Chris McKhool and 3x Juno-nominated Sultans of String for the past six years and I love these guys, but I have a confession to make. I’d love this group of Canadian musicians if I’d never worked with them. I would still be a super fan because they’re superb musicians at the peak of their craft who blend genres of music like a gourmet chef creates new recipes, and with each album they release, they astonish me with their talent more and more.

Sultans of String is in the studio recording their 6th CD… a world music Christmas Caravan and they’re really excited about and proud of this project! This is a Christmas album but approached from the perspective of a world music band. We would love for you to take a look at the EPK video for this album at:

http://kapipal.com/projects/recording-our-christmas-caravan-cd/

Sultans of String explore diverse genres, from Quebecois fiddle tunes to collaborating with a traditional Turkish string ensemble. They jump from the classic sounds of the Andrews Sisters to a Himalayan sleigh ride to African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, and ska, to the grandeur of the symphony.  They made a dream list of their favourite vocal artists to join them, all of whom agreed to join in the fun! This is their most exciting album yet, and the vocal guests infuse a tremendous amount of energy into their music. You’ll have to watch the video to find out who they are!

These independent recording artists have no record company support, so they need to raise money to finish production… but they are not asking for handouts. Rather, they are offering fun incentives to encourage your support – and you can truly become part of this journey with them. You can pre-order the album, get advance concert tickets, even the Executive Producer credit is up for grabs, along with the front row of seats at their banner CD release concert at Toronto’s Isabel Theatre on December 2, 2017!

If you love what you hear, we would be grateful if you’d share this link http://kapipal.com/projects/recording-our-christmas-caravan-cd/ with your friends.

Sultans of String wouldn’t be able to continue to make new music without you.

Thanks for listening!

www.sultansofstring.com

Toronto Singer, Songwriter & Actress Melanie Peterson Launches 3rd EP ‘Two’ at The Artists’ Garden in Toronto, July 26

 

New lyric video (premiered by online music publication Canadian Beats) for the first single “Been So Long”

 

Toronto, ON, July 17, 2017 – Toronto singer, songwriter, and actress Melanie Peterson launches her new EP ‘Two’ (about two sides of love) at The Artists’ Garden outdoor stage in Toronto (presented by AGC/Plein Air Garden Concerts).

‘Two’ (now available; official album release date, July 14, 2017) continues to embrace Peterson’s catchy folk-pop sound and love inspired lyrics. As with her prior records (2013’s first full-length album ‘Unbreakable’, 2014’s six-song cover EP ‘Read It On The Radio’, and second full-length ‘Anywhere From Here’ in 2016), it was produced by Mitch Girio (Emma-Lee, Tamara Williamson), and was recorded at Union Sound Company and Slow Cooker Studio, Toronto.

For the lead single/lyric video “Been So Long”, video motion graphics are by Andrey Sorokin (also worked with Lindi Ortega), who is based in Kirishi, Russia.

WHO: Melanie Peterson (guitar/lead vocal) as her trio, including Mitch Girio (guitar/backing vocals), Peter Collins (bass/backing vocals) – all of whom performed on the new EP.

WHERE: The Artists’ Garden, 345 Balliol Street, Toronto, ON, M4S 1E1

WHEN: Wednesday, July 26, 2017; Doors at 7:00 p.m., Melanie at 7:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $10.00 at the door. Advance tickets at; https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/agc-plein-air-concerts-present-melanie-peterson-folk-roots-tickets-35239897482

ARTIST QUOTE: Melanie Peterson, who in 2016 received two FACTOR grants, states, “My new summer EP is about two sides of love. The, I can’t believe it, I’m falling in love side (#1, Been So Long) AND the now that the honeymoon is over, are we going to make it as a couple side (#2, Kiss Me Like You Mean It). My hope for the album release show is that folks enjoy the evening in the outdoor setting and they like the new songs!”

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1297715740347599

ARTIST INFO: http://melaniepeterson.ca

Peterson earned her spot within Toronto’s independent music scene when she was invited to host and perform her original songs in the monthly female singer-songwriter night called ‘Girls Girls Girls’ at the renowned Cameron House (September 2010 to December 2012) and in March 2012 when she initially showcased at Canadian Music Week. She was invited back to perform two showcases at CMW 2013 and in that same year she launched her first full-length album ‘Unbreakable’ in Toronto. Melanie followed that up with a triumphant 2013 NXNE showcase and a successful southern Ontario tour.

MEDIA QUOTES:

Feature for new video “Been So Long” – http://www.fyimusicnews.ca/articles/2017/07/12/music-news-digest-july-12-2017 ~ FYI Music News, July 12, 2017.

Video premier feature; http://canadianbeats.ca/2017/06/27/premiere-melanie-peterson-releases-lyric-video-for-been-so-long. ~ Jenna Melanson, CanadianBeats.ca, June 27, 2017.

“Melanie Peterson is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter with a lovely lilting voice and strong songwriting chops.” ~ Kerry Doole, FYI Music News, 2016

“The songwriting is genuine and self-aware, and there is a positive tone even in the heartbreak.” ~ Cate McKim, Life With More Cowbell, 2016

“This is an artist who knows how to entertain an audience, playing three 45 minute sets to a packed house of admiring fans.” ~ Frank Mcfadden, Snapd Beach/Danforth

“…we have very much enjoyed playing a variety of tracks from ‘Unbreakable’, and my Saturday morning listeners have been quick to let us know they enjoy what Melanie does!” ~ Monica Winfield, host, BBC Radio Leicester, 2013

“A melodically enchanting songwriter and musically adept guitarist, she has the crowd eating out of her hand. I’d call her music smooth pop as it is as inviting as it is sweet.” ~ Gary 17, Toronto Moon Magazine

“…check out Melanie Peterson, a terrific singer and songwriter. She sounds just as good live as she does on her album. She has a beautiful voice.” ~ Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun, 2011

“I can hear the Joni Mitchell influence in her voice, but there is a significant difference —Joni’s voice is cool, introverted and detached, whereas Melanie’s is warmth personified.” ~ Altrockchick.com

UPCOMING TOUR DATES:

August 5 – Bancroft, ON at Millennium Park, Bancroft Art & Craft Guild Summer Show and Sale
August 18 – Ottawa, ON at Avant-Garde Bar

ABOUT:
Blessed with a voice reminiscent of an early Joni Mitchell, and an ability to imbue her vocals with palpable and authentic emotion, Saskatoon born, Toronto based singer-songwriter and actress Melanie Peterson has become one of the brightest lights on the Toronto music scene. Previously, she has released a five-song EP called ‘After the Fall’ (2010), her first full-length album ‘Unbreakable’ (2013), a six-song cover EP titled ‘Read It On The Radio’ (2014), her second full-length album ‘Anywhere From Here’ (2016), a holiday single “Santa’s Sleigh” (2016), a single “Sunshine” (2017) and most recently, her newest EP ‘Two’ (July 14, 2017).

–30–

For media info, CDs, digital albums, photos and interviews please contact:
Laurie Lockhart
GET THE MESSAGE Publicity
Tel: 416-988-2530 / Email: publicity@getthemessagepr.ca
Facebook.com/GETTHEMESSAGEpublicity / Twitter.com/getthemessagepr
getthemessagepr.ca

For more artist information please visit:
melaniepeterson.ca
Facebook.com/misswatermeloni
Twitter.com/MissWatermeloni
YouTube.com/user/mellysings
Soundcloud.com/melanie-peterson

The Bombadils Release “The Fountain” Official Video

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Today’s the day! Borealis Records recording artists, The Bombadils, are so excited to share this video for their song, “The Fountain” from their album New Shoes!

Written by Sarah Frank and Alan Mackie about summer travels and adventure, the video came together last summer and fall, featuring shots of Montreal, Quebec, and St John’s, Newfoundland. It’s a dreamy display of fountains and mountains, cool old buildings, fish, birds, and other summertime delights, all wondrously captured by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin.

Although The Bombadils made the video long before they had any plans to move to Halifax, it’s interesting that the locations that Nasuna filmed create a parallel to their recent move from Montreal to the east coast. Looks like Nasuna was one step ahead of them!

Video ~ Nasuna Stuart-Ulin
Audio ~ James Perrella & Julia Graff
Songwriting ~ Sarah Frank & Alan Mackie (aka Berty Lancaster)
Band ~ The Bombadils (Sarah Frank on fiddle and vocals, Luke Fraser on guitar and vocals)

Big thank you to Borealis Records and The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) for making this possible.

New Shoes available through Borealis Records, iTunes, and Spotify.

 

Lily Frost’s Rebound Bitch Getting Ready To Make The Switch

“Rebound Bitch”, the new single and video from Aporia Records recording artist, Lily Frost is KICK-ASS.  The video was shot in Joshua Tree, California with Michelle Boback and stars burlesque dancer Red Herring. The song was co-written with Matt Lipscombe and produced with Tom Mckay and appears on Lily’s new Rebound EP, available now through Aporia, iTunes, and Spotify. With its Spaghetti Western surf guitar, retro style, and a powerhouse performance by Frost, it explores the idea of switching to the other team after being mistreated by men and burned by love one too many times.

A prolific songwriter, Lily Frost currently has 12 albums under her belt, under 5 different labels — Warner, Nettwerk, Aporia, Boxton, and Marquis.  Lily Frost comes from the Montreal underground mod scene. She moved to Vancouver in 1992 after singing in Cairo for 6 months on a ship on the Nile and went from busking rockabilly to spearheading the Cocktail Nation with her band The Colorifics who led the Blue Lizard Lounge scene throughout the 90’s.

Lily then signed to Nettwerk as a solo artist before moving to Toronto where she was born.  She has been working hard with Aporia and Marquis for the past decade.

Lily is a dramatic, stylish performer who draws from the aesthetic of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the soundtracks of Quentin Tarantino, and the hot and bothered emotional drama that goes on between us fascinating humans.  The poetry of Rimbaud, the erotica of Anaïs Nin, and torch singers like Julie London and Juliette Greco all serve as strong influences.

Frost has toured from Paris to Los Angeles and has shared stages with the likes of Pink Martini, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Coldplay, among others. Her awards include the Video Silver Sun through Bravo, a Gemini nomination for her theme song co-write for the hit TV series Being Erica, and Vancouver Female Vocalist of the Year in 2003.

Lily’s songs have been frequently placed in TV shows and movies such as Grey’s Anatomy, Crazy Beautiful, Chevy Cobalt, Charmed, Felicity, and many more.

Her efforts are now focused on curating a show that combines swing, rockabilly, burlesque, dance and fashion in an event called Big City Social.  Ideally, this show will hit the road to her most responsive markets of Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

“Lily Frost’s Rebound EP is the sexy, sassy story of a woman confidently exploring her romantic alternatives, told with bold horns, twangy guitars, and smoky vocals, in a moody, cinematic atmosphere. Utterly compelling.”

~ Howard Druckman, Editor in Chief, SOCAN

 “Lily Frost’s newest musical offerings are brassy, tantalizing and deliciously fresh. If James Bond were a woman, this would be the soundtrack to her epic, kick-ass existence.”

~ Ami McKay, Author of The Birth House and Witches of New York

Rebound Bitch on Spotify: http://bit.ly/2sfmpAk
Rebound Bitch on iTunes: http://apple.co/2ou5UdC
Lily Frost on Aporia: http://bit.ly/2s08D08

 

Out Now: Chris Antonik’s New Release ‘Monarch’

Sarah French

The Toronto-based bluesman’s third album is available on iTunes

Monarch by Chris Antonik

Preview Chris Antonik’s “I’d Burn it All Down (For You)” here

Toronto-based guitarist and songwriter Chris Antonik releases his third album today and has already garnered extensive airplay and positive reviews from critics both at home and abroad.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

“Monarch is a classic modern blues album made with wisdom and style.  Antonik has a transcendent understanding of modern electric blues.” – Indie Folk Americana
 
“Antonik’s guitar playing is masterful.” – Toronto Blues Society
 
“One of the best artists we’ve heard from the Great White North.” – American Blues Scene

About Chris Antonik and Monarch:

What does it take to forgive? When is it time to let go and let live? The answers to these questions are always found in deeply personal, closely guarded corners of every heart and mind. Until we shine a light to explore those corners, we just might be driving blind on a collision course with heartbreak.

We can all suffer setbacks in life, but it is in the aftermath where the heart and soul can find healing. While creating his third album Monarch, critically-acclaimed guitarist/singer/songwriter, and Maple Blues award nominee Chris Antonik focused inward on his own deeply personal corners, against the backdrop of a marriage coming to an end.

Following up his self-titled debut in 2010 and his sophomore release Better For You in 2013, (named Blues-Rock Chris Antonik Blues GuitaristAlbum of the Year by Canada’s Blues Underground Network), Monarch closes a trilogy of self-expression. Traveling from an earnest desire to give more and make things better to a destination of peace and forgiveness, Monarch embodies an artist moving on with newfound energy, momentum and an understanding of the past. While forgiveness is free, there are most certainly tolls to pay along the journey. The songs on Monarch cover every mile of that emotional terrain as they ride through a rich and varied blues landscape punctuated by Antonik’s searing guitar work.

Joining Antonik are Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck) on drums, Guenther Kapelle (Wild T and the Spirit) on bass, Jesse O’Brien (Colin James) on keyboards, Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar on harmony vocals, and many others. Monarch was recorded by multiple Grammy and Juno award-nominated engineer Jeremy Darby (U2, Pink Floyd), and co-produced by Antonik and Ted Onyszczak.

While Kris Kristofferson may have surmised that “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,” then perhaps forgiveness is just another word for everything to gain. As we all face increasingly uncertain and unforgiving times, it is Chris Antonik’s sincere hope that Monarch can provide something personally valuable for everyone to gain from the music.

Monarch Track Listing

1. I’d Burn it All Down (For You) (4:56)
2. You’re Killing My Love (3:08)
3. Slow Moving Train (4:25)
4. Gold Star (3:55)
5. The Monarch and the Wrecking Ball (5:19)
6. Love, Bettike (7:07)
7. Forgiveness is Free (3:34)
8. The Art of Letting Go (5:48)
9. All Our Days (4:38)
10. New Religion (5:11)
11. Hungry Ghost (4:45)
12. A Slip in the Rain (4:15)
13. Everywhere I Go (2:49)

Upcoming Tour Dates

April 18 – The Casbah, Hamilton, ON
With special guest Jesse O’Brien
April 21 – Bar Spectacle Le Quartier de Lune, Quebec, QC
April 22 –  The Rainbow, Ottawa, ON
April 26 – The Rivoli, Toronto, ON
With special guests Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar, and opener Spencer MacKenzie
May 5 –  RCHA Club, Kingston, ON
May 18 – Spinoza’s, Riverside, OH
May 19 – Redstone Room, Davenport, IA
May 20 – The Flatted Fifth, Bellevue, IA
May 21 – Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago, IL
May 22 – The Alamo, Springfield, IL
May 25 – Chrome Lounge, Omaha, NE
May 26 – BB’s, St Louis, MO
May 27 – BBQ Blues & Bikes Festival, Elizabethtown, KY
June 4 – Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival, Orangeville, ON
June 9 –  Moriarty’s, Lansing, MI
June 10 – Paddy Flaherty’s, Sarnia, ON
June 23 – The Boathouse, Kitchener, ON
June 24 – The Bar Upstairs, St Catharines, ON
Download hi-res album artwork here
Download hi-res promo photo here
Download liner notes and lyrics here
 
Chris Antonik is available for interviews and station IDs.

For CD or MP3 copies of Monarch contact Sarah French Publicity

3X JUNO Award Nominees SULTANS OF STRING release their 10th Anniversary Vinyl Retrospective, entitled 10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2017

3X JUNO Award Nominees SULTANS OF STRING release their 10th Anniversary Vinyl Retrospective, entitled 10

Ten Years of Music by Sultans of String

[Toronto ON]  For the past 10 years, 2017 JUNO Award nominees and triple CFMA winners Sultans of String have thrilled audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Gypsy-jazz, Cuban rhythms, South Asian and East Coast Celtic music, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity.

They are celebrating this decade of music making with a limited edition vinyl-only release, 10, featuring re-mastered cuts from their 5 CD catalogue,, as well as an unreleased track from their upcoming Christmas Caravan album.

Artist: Sultans of String
Title: 10
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Barcode/UPC: 823674059415
Cat. #:  MCK 2070

Pre-order available now: https://merchmrkt.com/music/10/

“We all grew up listening to vinyl, everything from Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd, to the great folk singers”, says bandleader/producer/violinist Chris McKhool. “I took a break for a number of years when CDs were all the rage, but came back to records a few years ago when exposing my daughter to cool music. There is something so special about the ritual of listening to vinyl– the sound, the smell, the feel of it.  Time and space are put on hold, and I lose myself. After making and performing on countless CDs, we can now cross off making a vinyl album from our bucket list!”

Folk Radio UK recently described their music as “an enthralling, adventurous celebration of the power music has to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries, and Sultans of String wield that power with grace, eloquence, and spirit.”  Indeed 10, is more than a global sonic tapestry. It is a musical promise that embraces differences while finding common ground across culture, land, and time.  While the album treks across all kinds of musical terrain, the fertile soil beneath each track is fed by hope unhindered and freedom found.

At the core of the band’s sound is Queen’s Diamond Jubilee recipient Chris McKhool’s 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 core band members bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), guitar wizard Eddie Paton (ReDuX:RMx), and Cuban percussion master Rosendo Chendy Leon (Alex Cuba). This album features special guest performances by Anwar Khurshid on sitar (Life of Pi, Love Guru), Andrew Collins on Mandolin (Foggy Hogtown Boys), Bassam Bishara on Oud, Ernie Tollar on Bansuri, The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney on tin whistle, and a Turkish String Collective from Istanbul.

Sultans of String are celebrating their 10th anniversary crisscrossing North America and the UK. They have recently performed at many taste-making forums such as JUNOFest, legendary jazz club Birdland in NYC, and California’s hip music scene, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. They recently sold out Koerner Hall (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Maryland’s Annapolis Symphony Orchestras. Sultans of String have performed live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and the internationally syndicated shows WoodSongs, World Cafe, and on SiriusXM in Washington DC.

SIDE ONE

  1. Auyuittuq Sunrise (2:21) – From Yalla Yalla!
  2. Stomping at the Rex (3:23) – From Yalla Yalla! – Feat. Andrew Collins – mandolin
  3. El Kahira (3:32) – From Luna – Feat. Bassam Bishara – oud, Ernie Tollar – bansuri
  4. Luna (5:08) – From Symphony!
  5. Sable Island (4:45) – From Symphony! – Feat. Paddy Moloney tin whistle/Uilleann pipes

SIDE TWO

  1. Blowin’ In the Wind (3:42) – From Subcontinental Drift – Feat. Anwar Khurshid –   sitar
  2. Enter the Gate (3:30) – From Subcontinental Drift – Feat. Anwar Khurshid – sitar
  3. Road to Kfarmishki (3:30) – From Subcontinental Drift – Feat. Anwar Khurshid – sitar
  4. Josie (3:17) – From Move
  5. Turkish Greensleeves (4:29) – From Christmas Caravan – Feat. Turkish String Collective

Included inside is an 8.5×11” full colour poster autographed by the band.

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

 “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

 “You get the feeling this is Willie & Lobo or Gypsy Kings taken to the next level of the game, sometimes all at once… a sure bet to notch a JUNO and any other award winning hardware to come its way.” ~ Midwest Record, Chicago

“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

RECENT AWARDS / HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 2017 JUNO Award Nominees – World Music
  • 2017 American Billboard World Music Charts – #15
  • 2016 Canada’s High Commission presents SOS at UK’s Trafalgar Square
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards– World Music
  • 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats
  • 2015 International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
  • 2015 JUNO Award Nominees for – Instrumental
  • 2015 Toronto Independent Music Award – World Music
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees – Instrumental


http://www.sultansofstring.com

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

Media Inquiries and Interviews:

Lisa Weitz @ LW Communications 416-624-3466
or call bandleader Chris McKhool directly at 416-567-7110 (cell)

Composer, Pianist Arash Behzadi to Perform at the Bali Spirit Festival March 19th to 26th, 2017

Arash Behzadi With Closed EyesTORONTO, March 16, 2017 /CNW/ – Toronto-based New Age composer and pianist, ARASH BEHZADI will return to Bali for a command performance at the coveted Bali Spirit Festival from March 19th to 26th, 2017 after his successful three sold out shows in January.

The musical narratives from Behzadi’s newly released CD, WITH CLOSED EYES, will be emitted through the keys of his piano during his Bali concert. As in the past, audience members will be deeply transported into a natural healing state that Behzadi’s pieces are known for. “Piano is very warm,” states Behzadi. “With one instrument and the emotion I pour into the ivory, I am able to touch people’s hearts no matter their age, era or culture. It’s important to me that my music moves people, has a lasting impression and is universal.”

Behzadi’s compelling solo piano performances have resonated with audiences in North America, Europe, and The Middle East. Whether performing in the middle of a frozen Canadian lake, in pouring rain in Geneva, or at The World Trade Center Club in Dubai, Behzadi intuitively understands how to captivate audiences young and old, often moving most to tears.

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, The Bali Spirit Festival is one of the globe’s most inspiring events, gathering world-renowned musicians, yogis and dancers from every continent while attracting an international following of fans that are consciously invested in both spiritual and healing practices.

One World One Stage Bali Spirit Festival

For More Information:

http://www.balispiritfestival.com/programs/presenter/arash-behzadi

http://www.arashbehzadi.com

https://www.facebook.com/abehzadipiano

SOURCE Arash Behzadi

For further information: Media Enquiries: Irene Carroll | pr@arashbehzadi.com | 416.366.5473

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot SeeBook Review

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author:  Anthony Doerr
Imprint: Scribner
Published: 2014
Pages: 544
ISBN: 978-1-5011-0456-5
Stars:  4.0

I am not usually drawn to novels set during World War II.  Maybe it’s because I am half German, and have no desire whatsoever to read anything about Hitler, particularly now that we are living in a political climate fuelled by a buffoon dictator just south of the border, in 2017. I do, however, love stories set in Paris, which is why I decided to give this book a try, although it was also enthusiastically recommended to me by my good friend Deborah Ledon who did not steer me wrong with her last recommendation.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 novel, is a work of art in more ways than one.  Each short chapter is like a photograph come to life, filled with colour, texture, and light, revealing one image, a small piece of the story. Doerr’s prose is so beautiful that we cannot put the book down for wanting to experience, with all of our senses, that next piece of the story. And all of our senses are heightened as we do.

The book begins on 7 August 1944 as Germany is bombing France, or more specifically, Saint-Malo, France, as a 16-year-old blind girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc kneels over a table at Number 4 rue Vauborel, holding a model of the city in miniature. She knows every centimetre of the model by touch and has memorized its street names. She can hear the bombers, who are three miles away, approaching Saint-Malo.

“Five streets to the north, a white-haired 18-year-old German private named Werner Pfennig wakes to a faint staccato hum.” He is in the Hotel of Bees, a once cheerful address where Parisians would stay on weekend holidays. Werner is in the building when bombers brandishing high-velocity anti-air guns known as 88s start to destroy everything in the vicinity of the hotel. What, we wonder, could possibly happen next?

Compelled to turn the pages of each short chapter, we study them as if they are photographs on exhibition in an art gallery. As we move through each chapter in the first 90 pages of the book, a ten-year history of these two main characters is revealed in snapshot after snapshot.

We learn about the curse of an ancient blue diamond containing a touch of red at its center, known as the Sea of Flames. The 133 carat diamond has been locked up in a cleverly disguised vault in the basement of the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris where Marie-Laure’s father works as the principal locksmith.

We also learn that Werner was raised with his sister Jutta, in a Children’s Home in Zollverein, a coal-mining complex near Essen, Germany by a kind woman named Frau Elena, and that young Werner, who has a love of science, also possesses a knack for repairing radios, which may just save him from having to work in the coal mines like all of the other 15-year-old boys in the region.

Sergeant Major Reinhold Von Rumpel, a gemologist before the war, now works for the Reich. It is his mission to find the Sea of Flames for the Führer for his proposed empyrean city in Linz, Austria, at the center of which he plans to build a kilometre-long museum filled with the greatest treasures in all of Europe and Russia.

The author flips us back and forth between what is happening to Marie-Laure and what is happening to Werner from 1934 to 1944, his exquisite writing moving with the pace of a suspense thriller. And then he starts to weave in the story of Von Rumpel and we slowly discover how all three characters’ lives will intersect.

Werner’s story is particularly heart-wrenching as he is recruited by the Reich – who force 14-year-old boys to train for their Machiavellian purposes – always weeding out the weakest, with unbelievable cruelty, while staying focused on building their superior Aryan race. Werner is small, sensitive and very smart and he dreams of becoming an engineer. He tries with all his strength to hold onto those dreams as the grim realization of his situation becomes evident and he slowly understands just how evil the force that he has had to follow and support really is.

By the time I read half of this novel, my guts were gripped by the horror of how vicious human beings can be and I cried as I was reminded that although we earthlings have endured two World Wars, so many of us don’t seem to have learned anything from them as the current political state of affairs in much of the world can attest to.

However, it is the indestructible optimism and resilience of the spiritually strong, like Marie-Laure,  who give us hope that things can change for the positive in the future. When one’s will to live is as strong as hers, there may be no limit to what we can endure. However, the price we pay for surviving the struggle is steep.

By the time I read half of this book, I was filled with sadness. This is not the type of book I should be reading as throughout this winter I have struggled with stress and depression. I read on because I had to know what happens to these characters in whom I had become deeply invested. There has to be some light at the end of this literary tunnel, some redemption, joy even. After all, the title is All The Light We Cannot See…but by page 400 there is still no light.

By the time I had almost finished the book, I could barely read the last 50 pages because of the ugly, depressing, soul-destroying events that occur page after page in relentless succession. Surely there can be no light in reliving this dismal history? I understand Doerr’s metaphors and by the end of the book I could see the light he refers to in the title, but that light just didn’t shine brightly enough to make me feel that reading this book was a gift and something that I shouldn’t have missed out on. The novel has its share of beauty and light, to be sure, but the cold, hard facts of what people endured in World War II at the hands of a fascist dictator are definitely not something I ever want to relive in a story, of any kind, ever again.

Sultans of String’s 2017 JUNO Nomination & 10th Anniversary Tour – AB/BC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 7, 2017

Canada’s genre-bending string slingers SULTANS OF STRING take their 2017 JUNO nomination & 10th Anniversary & Tour to a host of Alberta & BC venues this Spring!

sos-standing-desert-promo-1600-x-1600

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

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

Canada’s genre-bending string slingers SULTANS OF STRING take their 2017 JUNO nomination & 10th Anniversary & Tour to a host of Alberta & BC venues this Spring! Serving up a feast of raucous reels, ragas ‘n’ rumbas on disc and stage is special guest/sitar master Anwar Khurshid (whose music is featured in the Oscar-winning Life of Pi). Punctuated with a quick trek to Ottawa for the Awards Gala, the band’s tour stops include:

Mar 31 – Vancouver BC – Centennial Hall
Apr 1 – Ottawa ON – @ The JUNOs!
Apr 2 – Oliver BC- Frank Venables Theatre
Apr 3 – Nelson BC- The Capitol Theatre
Apr 4 – Fernie BC – The Arts Station
Apr 5 – Kimberley BC – Kimberley Arts @ Centre 64
Apr 6 – Invermere BC – Pynelogs Cultural Centre
Apr 7 – Calgary AB – Fish Creek Concerts @ Southwood United Church
Apr 8 – Canmore AB – artsPlace
Apr 9 – Stettler AB – Stettler Variety Showcase @ Stettler Performing Arts Centre (concert details @  https://www.facebook.com/events/1838798186358384)

“We are honoured to receive a JUNO nomination for our new album! We could not have made this recording without the support of the whole Canadian roots community, and our special collaboration with Anwar,” states bandleader/violinist Chris McKhool. He adds, “there is something magical about joining world music rhythms that we often play, but with pop sensibilities and forms and lengths, and blending that with the music of the East.”

Yet, Subcontinental Drift is more than a genre-hopping passport. It is a musical promise that embraces differences while finding common ground across culture, land, and time.

“Together we started writing songs about freedom and equality, and our hope of creating a better world. I feel in some way that these songs reflect our own personal hopes and journeys towards finding a world peace. This is a message that is needed more than ever at this time.”

The CFMA win and JUNO nomination come on the heels of the band’s whirlwind North American and UK Subcontinental Drift tours, including a special appearance organized by the High Commission at London’s Trafalgar Square. Distributed by Fontana North in Canada, the album hit #1 in Canada on Earshot’s international charts, top 10 on the American CMJ charts and top 15 on Billboard’s World Music charts in the U.S. It also got picked up for distribution in the U.S. by CEN/SONY and by Proper in Europe.

The band has been on the road non-stop and will make their debut in The Netherlands and mainland Europe this summer. Sultans of String are celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band, crisscrossing North America and performing at many taste-making forums such as JUNOFest, legendary jazz club Birdland in NYC, and California’s hip music scene, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. They recently sold out Koerner Hall (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. Sultans of String were recently filmed by MPBN’s Maine Arts! in a feature concert and performed live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and the internationally syndicated shows WoodSongs, World Cafe, and on SiriusXM in Washington.

They are currently recording a festive, world music-inspired Christmas Caravan CD featuring Canada’s singer to the stars Rebecca Campbell (Bruce Cockburn, Alanis Morissette, Emmylou Harris), 5x Platinum selling Nikki Yanofsky, The Chieftains’ very own Paddy Moloney, JUNO winner Alex Cuba, Cameroon’s Richard Bona (Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock), Panamanian 7x Grammy-winning Ruben Blades, and more!

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/subcontinental-drift/id1031300898

STREAM CD:
http://tinyurl.com/jew6es6

VIDEOS:
“Enter The Gate” (Roots Country meets South Asia in this high energy fusion foot tapper)
https://youtu.be/y8mKJL4SvpQ

“Rakes of Mallow” (Raucous Indo-Celtic mash-up!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tUM9ifOaQw

“Blowin’ In The Wind”
(Bollywood meets Bob in this Dylan classic)
https://youtu.be/2CfQOrdOB3U

“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

“You get the feeling this is Willie & Lobo or Gypsy Kings taken to the next level of the game, sometimes all at once… a sure bet to notch a JUNO and any other award winning hardware to come its way.”  ~ Midwest Record, Chicago

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

FACTOR and Arts Council Logos

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

Lisa Weitz,  LW Communications  lw@lwcommunications.ca  416-624-3466 | 416-846-6877 (cell)
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays

 

The Light of Their Lives by Boris Glikman

 

The Light of Their Lives by Boris Glikman

“Delighted by Light” by Michael Cheval

It was perhaps inevitable that some bright spark in the Research and Development Department of a certain, internationally famous company would, during a brainstorming session, come up with the idea of a beverage consisting solely of pure light. The essential concept behind it was simplicity itself: Why, in these modern, fast-paced times, go through the lengthy and convoluted process of needing the Sun’s light to be photosynthesized by plants into chemical energy, which then has to be converted into carbohydrate molecules, which we then have to consume and digest in order for us to finally incorporate the energy from the Sun into our systems? Why not bypass all the intervening stages and just capture, bottle and imbibe the sunlight energy directly?

The management loved the proposal and supported its realization by all means possible. Thus, less than a year after the go-ahead was given, the product appeared in the shops: a soothing, delightful elixir of natural sunshine, free of any preservatives, added sugar or artificial flavours.

The drink provided an instant energy boost, sating hunger without any necessity for digestion, as well as immediately quenching thirst and making one feel warm all over. And, of course, it was suitable for all types of diets including but not limited to kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, gluten-intolerant and fruitarian. No one could take any issue with it, for it was pure light straight from the Sun. And, fortuitously, it was also very suitable for those dieting, for according to the famous E = mc^2 equation, even a tiny amount of mass released a tremendous amount of energy and thus one could quaff great quantities of this potation with hardly any weight gain.

Amazingly enough, apart from satisfying the most basic physical needs (food, water, warmth) in the hierarchy of needs, this beverage also enabled the consumer, and this was a completely unforeseen consequence, to become instantly spiritually enlightened once they have drunk it and thus fulfil the highest need in the hierarchy of needs –  the yearning for self-actualisation. (Perhaps it should not have been so unexpected, for, by ingesting light one, ipso facto, became illuminated within, which is exactly what enlightenment is, and also as the very morphological structure of the word “enlightenment” indicated its intimate connection to light.)

This serendipitous effect was perfect for the contemporary society, for given that the online world now provided instant information, instant communication, instant entertainment and instant gratification of needs and desires, it was only natural there would also be a great demand for instant self-realisation. And with this product, one no longer had to spend countless hours meditating and repeating the mantra, or sit at the feet of a guru, or clamber up the Himalayan mountains in search of monasteries. Instead, there was the convenience of immediate spiritual awakening in a bottle, accessible to all.

The advertising campaign was built around the slogans “Instant EnLIGHTenment™ in a Bottle!”, “Fast Food for Body and Soul!”, and “Let the Light DeLIGHT You!”. For once the reality corresponded exactly to the promotional claims, as it truly was a unique kind of an invention the likes of which had never been seen before.

And so, as was to be expected, everyone flocked to buy the new drink, for, apart from its obvious appeal to the general public, its attraction was also irresistible to a diverse range of people with specific needs, such as the athletic types looking for an immediate energy fix, the spiritual seekers looking for the truth about themselves and the Universe, and the weight-conscious dieters, who immediately added it to their fastidious regiments. Of course, children loved it too, given its novelty value and its almost-magical properties.

This unqualified success gave the company the freedom and the impetus to experiment with new varieties of the product. The flavour of the original sunlight brand was a mixture of melon and orange. Later on, many more flavours became available, as the company’s researchers went about capturing and bottling light from other celestial objects, as well as from man-made sources.

It was discovered that each planet and star had its own unique taste: Moonlight was cooler on the palate than sunlight and had an indefinable element to it one couldn’t quite put a finger on; Mars tasted a bit like tomato juice; Venus was quite tart and almost vinegary, and thus was best drunk in combination with light from other sources; Jupiter and Saturn, as befitting their gaseous nature, were like the finest bubbly champagne; and supernovas had a mouth-exploding, extremely hot chilli flavour that only the very brave and the foolhardy dared to sample. It was also found that the illuminations of every city had their own particular flavour, although the health-conscious preferred only drinks made from natural sources and scorned the artificial flavours of light globes, fluorescent lights and neon signs, which invariably tasted like cheap wine.

With this product on the market, many believed the world was surely heading towards a utopian existence in which humanity would finally be liberated from its burdensome, imprisoning dependence upon plants and animals for nutrition; and the common man, having become instantly enlightened, would see beyond the constricting confines of self-interest and self-preservation and realise everything is inextricably connected and we are all one.

Yet, those who were optimistic that an idealistic state of being would, at last, be achieved had forgotten all about a deep-rooted and paradoxical aspect of human nature, namely that anything that brought pleasure and enjoyment was open to abuse, misuse, and overuse. Consequently, the very source of gratification and bliss, like for example alcohol, could and did mutate grotesquely into a dire threat to one’s very existence. Thus, obesity and all the maladies it caused was rife in those societies in which food was in ready supply; alcoholism was the scourge of many a land; addictions to both legal and illegal substances destroyed countless lives.

Given the way this beverage immediately satisfied, in one neat package, a person’s needs on so many levels, it was inevitable some would become hooked on it. As is often the case with addicts, they found ways to bypass the option of legally purchasing a limited quantity of the product, instead consuming for free limitless amounts by staring directly at the Sun and letting the light flow both into their open mouths, as well as into their eyes. Imbibing light through the eyes was something non-addicts would never do, and that particular experience was likened to mainlining heroin, giving an even greater kick.

These addicts quickly became known as “sunkies” (a portmanteau word blending “sun” and “junkie”), and this word coincidentally had the additional connotation of “sinking” which was very apt, for no drug addict had ever sunk as low as these sunkies. Most of those hooked on narcotics could be rehabilitated and again become respected members of a community. The Sun junkies however voluntarily gave up their sight and their mobility, two of the most precious and vital features a human being possesses, and assumed a static, plant-like existence, remaining rooted to one spot. They cared for nothing else but to follow with their turning heads the Sun’s daily progress across the sky, using their sense of warmth to locate it, their retinas having been burnt out, and to drink in the light.

“In Sol Veritas”, in Sun all Truths lie, was their motto and guiding principle, believing as they did that the Sun is the portal to the ultimate reality and the sole source of eternal, absolute truths. Their proselytising spiel to the non-addicts was quite persuasive, claiming that once you started staring at the Sun, you would quickly realise how petty and drab are the affairs of daily life, and how overflowing-with-meaning and magnificent are the inexhaustible revelations and infinite beauty emanating from the Sun, the place where perfection, transcendence, purity lies. The sunkies also extolled the stability and the security their lives now possessed, for the Sun’s motion, perfectly regular and unvarying each and every day, scorched away the unpredictability and the uncertainties of their previous everyday existence.

One saw these sunkies everywhere one went, sitting, standing or lying on the pavements, roads, grass, in the mud, in puddles, in gutters, totally oblivious to their surroundings. Their limbs became atrophied from complete lack of movement and turned into something resembling gruesome, withered tree branches, further accentuating their plant-like appearance. The sight of these addicts was both sickening and unspeakably sad, especially as many of them were young people who had sacrificed all the promises the future held out for them.

The greatest tragedy was that the sunkies denied their lives had turned into an irrevocable tragedy. Not only did they become physically blind, they also became blind to the reality of their situation, convincing themselves into believing they were the superior beings living superior lives, and the only ones in possession of the ultimate secrets of existence. They saw themselves as part of an elite caste, the vanguard of an egalitarian utopia to come, for, before the Sun everyone was equal. These Sun’s Sons (as they preferred to call themselves, in reference to their claimed filial kinship with the star, for they felt reborn through gazing unwaveringly at the Sun, and also in reference to the brotherhood they felt they had entered into) were totally untroubled by their loss of sight and mobility, for there was nothing down on Earth they wanted or needed to see or do. Indeed, they considered their blindness and immobility to be a godsend, for not only did it stop them from being distracted from giving all of their attentions to the Sun, but, even more importantly, it prevented their minds and souls from being contaminated by the imperfections and iniquities that so marked and defined earthly existence.

Thus, light in a bottle, previously the greatest blessing to mankind, became its greatest curse, causing a calamity the likes of which could not be imagined before its arrival on the market, for who could ever envision healthy people willingly becoming immobile vegetables, sacrificing their lives just so they could stare at the Sun and feel its warm smile upon their faces. The sunkies were now completely lost to society, both bodily and mentally, and no kind of rehabilitation was possible for them. In the bitterest of ironies that occur so often throughout the course of history, mankind, having liberated itself from its dependence upon plants, and thus attaining the greatest freedom it had ever possessed, now found an ever-growing proportion of its population choosing to lead a plant-like existence.

But this unfolding global tragedy was of little concern to the company that brought the beverage into the world, for its technicians were busily working on an even greater creation which would undoubtedly trump the bottled sunshine for popularity. Inspired by instant coffee, the new invention-in-the-making already had the brand name of Insta-Life, and, once completed, it would allow a person to experience their whole life in an instant. This surely was, or so the management thought, the ultimate desire and goal in this instantaneousness-obsessed era, for by condensing all of your life into one single moment, you no longer would have to trudge through decades of endless drudgeries and tediously repetitive routines of daily existence, through all the banal and boring stretches of life, and instead get it over and done with in a jiffy. Additionally, you would gain an unbeatable upper hand over your rivals in the field of fast living.

With the lure of holiday profits in their minds, the management kept prodding its engineers and scientists to work harder and harder, so that Insta-Life could appear on the market around Christmas time. And so, it was only a matter of time before this new invention swept the world, and people would begin to live and die faster than mayflies.