BTW with badbadnotgood/Ghostface Killah, Joel Plaskett, Zeynep Ozbilen, Swamperella, Pelletier/Freedman/Patel/Fekete and Mimi O'Bonsawin

Ghostface Killah and BBNG.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Big big night for the T.Dot hip hop community when the inimitable Ghostface Killah joined forces with local genre smashers and hip hop collaborators badbadnotgood to celebrate their collab album Sour Soul. That the joint was jammed and buzzing was a given. That it was a free show upped occupancy all the way to Fire Marshall level and a set of original jams by badbadnotgood pushed the excitement to red line level.

Highlights of their too-short set were a blazing Flying Lotus cover; a similarly energized reworking of III's "Kaleidoscope," and the new BBNG single, "Four Shots," featuring an impassioned throwdown from drummer Alexander Sowinski.

When GhostFace and sideman Killah Priest took the stage, it wax a strange visual, the gangsta -rap icon sporting a blood-red bubble jacket and shades/ball cap fronting a trio of gangly, white jazzy and hip hopped up Canuck kidz. Who were barely noticed once GK got on the mic. The sprawling set took in the collab material, GK solo stuff, Wu Tang classics and rejigged covers. Which got us Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," performed note-perfect by BadBadNotGood, with Ghost and Killah Priest actually singing, "Shimmy Ya.", complete with crowd singalong and a heartfelt take on "The World Is Yours". The standards included: "I Can't Go to Sleep," "Run," "Daytona 500," "We Made It," "Mighty” and "New God Flow." The encore was all Wu Tang classics "Can It Be All So Simple," "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit," and "C.R.E.A.M." The vibe is beyond ecstatic In closing, ChostFace K made it known he’d be back for a gig in the T.Dot later this month or maybe in April, on a bill with GZA and Cappadonna.

Joel PlaskettJoel Plaskett

Joel Plaskett returns Mar. 17 with one of the most diverse albums of his career. Proving that he can be all things to everybody, the amiable rock veteran offers up a wide mix of styles on Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test. It touches on his solo acoustic side, his guitar rock work with the Emergency, his happy-go-lucky rhyming talents, carefree memories of growing up in Nova Scotia, and a little bit of anger at the forces making life tougher these days.  There are many moments that draw on previous classic Plaskett, from beloved albums such as Three and Ashtray Rock, right back to his Thrush Hermit days.  Having recently revealed the title track to his upcoming album, one of Canada’s most celebrated songwriters is now sharing the album’s first official single. “On a Dime is a reminiscence of the ‘good old days’ of the Halifax music scene and the joy of traveling around North America with friends” muses Plaskett. “Misty water coloured memories.”

On Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test, there are plenty of hints as to where Joel’s head is at these days -  39 and holding, looking back at how he got there, and ahead past that milestone birthday.  Even the title holds a clue in its anagram: Joel Plaskett and the P.A.S.T.  You'll find references to his salad days, like “On a Dime”,” which starts with a blast of downhome Celtic fiddle from Cape Breton great J.P. Cormier.  Then there’s Plaskett riffing on memories of playing road hockey in the liquor store parking lot, and later, traveling to Memphis with his band Thrush Hermit to make their first album.  It's not truly autobiographical though.  These are more observations that have piled up over the last twenty-plus years of being a touring musician, traveling and meeting folks coast to coast to coast, mixing it in with his own life.  If anything, it's the teenager from Ashtray Rock, all grown up.

The Park Avenue Sobriety Test is the multi-award winning artist’s ninth studio album and the follow up to 2012’s widely acclaimed Scrappy Happiness. Plaskett will take to the road once again on a coast to coast Canadian tour with Mo Kenney.

Tour dates :
April 28 - Miramichi, NB- Carrefour Beausoleil

April 29 - Saint John, NB- Imperial Theatre

April 30 - Charlottetown, PE- Confederation Centre for the Arts

May 7 - Victoria, BC- Alix Goolden Performance Hall

May 9 - Edmonton, AB- Union Hall

May 10 - Lethbridge, AB- University of Lethbridge, University Theatre 

May 11 - Medicine Hat, AB- Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre

May 14 - Saskatoon, SK- Broadway Theatre

May 15 - Regina, SK- University of Regina, The Darke Hall 

May 16 - Winnipeg, MB- West End Cultural Centre
May 19 - Waterford, ON- The Old Town Hall
May 20 - Kitchener, ON- Center In The Square

May 22 - Toronto, ON- Danforth Music Hall

May 23 – Toronto, ON – CBCMusic.CA Festival

May 26 - Parry Sound, ON- The Stockey Centre
May 27 - St. Thomas, ON - Elgin Theatre 

May 28 - Montreal, QC- The Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre

May 30 - Moncton, NB- Tide & Boar Ballroom

June 4 - Halifax, NS- Rebecca Cohn Auditorium

And now for something pretty dang different. Meet Zeynep Ozbilen who sngs in Turkish, English and Spanish and sings to a backing melange of Turkish, Spanish, Mediterranean, South and North American musics.

For more than a decade, Zeynep Ozbilen performed lead vocals for the first, and best-known, Latin group in Turkey — The Latin All Stars. Working with one of the most highly-respected salsa bandleaders and composers in Canada, Roberto Linares Brown. Ozbilen brings to Lula a completely new project which she describes as "Latin with Mediterranean spices."

The singer-songwriter's latest album, Z [zee]drops Mar.5 with an album release party at Lula Lounge.that night, It’s a highly interesting fusion of melody and harmony, context and abstraction, roots and exploration. It gives new meaning to the cliché term of "world music", no matter what level you're listening to it at.

The singing alternates between English, Spanish and Turkish, while the instrumentalism borrows on aspects from cultures all over the world. Standout tracks on a first listen include"Alufte", a five-minute number that's highly energetic and infectious. It starts off deceptively with Middle Eastern-like twangy strings, setting up an almost eerie mood before the percussion section sets in and takes the song in another direction. Ozbilen doesn't start singing until roughly the one-minute mark but once she does, she shows a voice that's throaty yet silky smooth. It's an instrument capable of rapid articulations in one passage before swiftly switching over into a sensuous glissando.

"Oh, the Places I Go" is another upbeat track that hints at something almost dark, but this English-sung song, unlike "Alufte", starts off with the same rhythm and tempo that it carries throughout. There's a bit of a disconnect as Ozbilen sings "the touch of spring is in the air/honeysuckle smell is everywhere" to music that sounds like it's in a minor key, making it a song that's not quite as upbeat as the title suggests.

One of the most intriguing tracks on Z [zee] is "Smile", from Charlie Chaplin's movie "Modern Times" and made famous by Nat King Cole in 1954. It's one of the best known tunes in music history and singers who choose to cover it acknowledge the inherent risk of being overshadowed by its greatness. Ozbilen very nearly manages to overcome this obstacle by reworking the musical intro and then singing much silkier than Nat King Cole ever did, but she can't quite shake the song's history from her voice. The album’s other cover is even more clever, reimaginging the David Clayton Thomas funkster “Spinning Wheel” as a smokin’ salsa joint replets with fiery trumpet solso from Luis ‘Papo’ Marquez  If you’re gonna go to the Lula Lounge show, go early as Zee already has a room-filling rep in the hipster community.

SwamperellaSwamperellaSwamperella, Toronto's own Cajun and Zydeco dance band can still bring it, now better than ever. Swamperella will be celebrating 20 years of partying up Toronto with their 20th annual Mardi Gras Masquerade at the Tranzac Club, on Saturday, March 7. Dance lesson will commence at 8:30 pm and the band goes on at 9:00 pm. After the dance, Swamperella will host an acoustic Cajun jam session starting 11:00 pm. For more information please visit

The original mandate of Swamperella, "to honour the Cajun music tradition,” has never been compromised. The integrity of the traditional form and sentiment has always been maintained even as their originals and Zydeco elements began seeping into their repertoire. But there’s nothing stodgy about this band and after 20 years the Swamp-stew just keeps getting yummier.

In addition to playing multiple unique venues over the years – including a wedding in a freezing cold barn at a sheep farm where the bride didn't actually show up, to a high profile evening with the Niagara Symphony no less – for 13 years Swamperella held regular monthly dances at The Gladstone Hotel. They performed at the hotel when the dust-covered moose heads and beaver traps still hung on the stage. The band drew much attention to this venue, always keeping it filled to capacity and was instrumental in popularizing it long before it got gentrified. In fact, Swamperella's song “The Gladstone Hotel 2-Step” from their first CD was used for years in the hotel’s promotional video material.

Mardi Gras audiences are always encouraged to dress in costume and be ready for prizes and surprises. Core member of the band are Soozi Schlanger (vocals & lead fiddle and washboard), Conny Nowe (guitar and vocals), Rachel Melas (bass), Peter Jellard (vocals, accordion and fiddle) and Dave MacDougall (percussion). With this kind of instrumentation and powerhouse talent, it’s likely this energetic dance band will be making history once again, when they take the stage at the Tranzac.

Mimi O'BonsawinMimi O'BonsawinG2R, Ontario’s most celebrated genesis tribute act brings the vastness of Genesis music to the pitch-perfect intimacy of Hugh’s Room (2261 Dundas St. West) without losing a nuance of the greatest progressive rock music ever recorded. This must-see show from Genesis to Revelations on Tuesday March 10, 2015 at Hugh’s Room, brings the music of art-rock sensations Genesis to life, faithfully recreating all eras of the music of one of the greatest bands of all time. 

Led by vocalist extraordinaire James Hastings who captures both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins with ease, Doug Chase whose wall of sound will have you convinced that keyboardist Tony Banks is in the room, and guitarist Bob Wegner who has been hand picked by Queen's Brian May to work on numerous projects, you are guaranteed a night of excellent music.

Master bassist Tom Nagy and veteran drummer John Walker round out this set of some of Ontario's finest musicians. With progressive classics like In The Cage and Watcher Of The Skies alongside smash hits like Land of Confusion and Mama, G2R delivers a full spectrum of great Genesis music from beginning to end. Don't miss this special performance!

For more visit:

Here’s a couple of below the radar gigs you should know about. Rising Roots rockin’ singer songwriter Mimi plays Musideum (401 Richmond St. West) Thurs.March, 12, in a set mixing tunes from her self-titled debut album and new material. Mimi’s not to be missed especially in such an intimate setting. The show goes 8:00 pm-10:00 pm, check FACEBOOK for tickets, $20 advance, $25 at door.

Mimi @ Friends in Concert @ MUSIDEUM  Check her new vid for the lilting and uplifting Brave

Jazz cats Pelletier/Freedman/Patel/Fekete show their stuff Sun. Mar. 15 at 9 PM. At Gate 40s Bar & Grill in Toronto, Ontario, performing music from Miles to McCaslin including original material from the band. Should be a hot show from a quartet that knows its way around a good time.