Toys Toys Toys Are Made to Love!

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Submitted by Don Graham

Toys!! Just saying the word can bring a smile to your face and a rush of childhood memories. Who doesn’t like toys? We talk about toys, we write about toys, we reminisce about toys and we SING about toys. This time of year seems like a great opportunity to write about the songs that talk about the toys of our lives. The earliest I can find of recorded songs would be Al Jolson’s 1916 song, “The Broken Doll.”

This being the Christmas season,we at CB Magazine Canada thought we’d explore the world of “songs about toys” and maybe get you thinking of some we may have left out. Plus with the news of the 2012 inductees to the Toy Hall of Fame (yes it exists) the timing seemed right. To date, 49 toys have made the cut to the HOF. They range from classics, like Play-Doh and Slinky, to the less obvious, like the stick and cardboard box. Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the 14-year-old hall.

And now on to the toy songs, the obvious and not so obvious.

Soca to Soul – Who Let the Dogs Out? – Anslem Douglas

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

To say rock n roll is a vicious game is under statement when it comes to Anslem Douglas, composer of the biggest selling single of the last decade,” Who let the dogs out”. On the eve of his latest release, “Project A.D.”, we talk about his life in music and where it began.

MW: When did the music hit you, in Trinidad?
A.D.: Yes in Trinidad. I was in kindergarten and I was asked to sing a duet with a girl, “Under the blue bridge, under the sea”. When it was my turn I ran off stage.

MW: What was it about music that captured you?
AD: I remember from a little boy growing up I was exposed to local artists like Sparrow, Kitchner and Mighty Duke. So being exposed to so much different music I would always try to mimic them. I would tell my mom, “Look! I can sing just like the Mighty Sparrow” and I would slide across the varnished floor like James Brown. Those things stuck with me! My mother ran a school where she had a drama program. They put on concerts every summer. Most of my teenage life I spent singing, in church and on stage.

MW: When did you start to record?
AD: My first recording, “The Neighbor”, was with a band called Firefly. I wrote  the song. Shortly after that Kenny Phillip, a local producer, heard it and wanted me to voice a medley of Carnival hits of the day and that was really the beginning. From there I got a contact with the band Atlantik, the biggest band in Trinidad at the time.

The Sultry Sounds of Hot Spot and Donna Greenberg at Musideum

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Sometimes in the current environment of new releases, we forget that this business started with timeless songwriters who have managed to stand the test of time. That makes the work of Donna Greenberg so much more special, as she does remember, and performs these classics with her own flair and delivery. As a singer/songwriter herself, she feels the dynamics of a good song, and knows how to embrace it with her own style.

On Tuesday, December 18, Donna will be presenting the workings of her new cabaret style show at the unique venue, Musideum in Toronto, an eclectic musical instrument store turned entertainment venue at night by owner Don Quan.

Flying Monkeys and Barenaked Ladies: A Review of the BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout

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Submitted Courtesy of Robin Leblanc – The Thirsty Wench

November 28, Toronto, Ontario - There was quite a commotion going on at the LCBO’s Summerhill location today as the iconic Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies made an appearance for a signing not for the release of a new album, but for the release of their new beer.

Around September Canadian beer lovers and music fans alike were excited to learn of a collaboration beer being made with Barrie, Ontario-based Flying Monkeys Brewery and the legendary Barenaked Ladies. With quirky hits such as “One Week”, “Get in Line” and even the theme song for The Big Bang Theory, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that they would team up with a brewery called Flying Monkeys.

What makes this fun is that BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout, which hit stores across the country to coincide with the "Symphony Barenaked" Canada tour starting November 30th, isn't just a matter of the boys sticking their names on the beer and leaving it be. They kept well connected with the folks at Flying Monkeys, working out what they wanted the beer to represent, supplied box and label art by band member Kevin Hearn and even showed up for the first day of brewing. "The guys got a crash course in the brewhouse. Honestly, we’ve never collaborated with a better bunch of guys!” says Flying Monkeys founder and brewer Peter Chiodo.

Grey Cup Madness and Music


Submitted by Bill Delingat

Photo Credits: Tracey Savein/South Paw Productions

A Rare Human Being & Canadian Music Treasure – Dougie Richardson

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

It was the spring of 2004, I was listening to the playback of a track Chris Hall was producing. When I heard the sax solo, I immediately stopped and asked who was playing.  It was Dougie Richardson.

We had met before. I had heard him playing in the streets of Toronto, in clubs, at sessions with the multiple Juno Award winning Jazz Band, Kollage, and at the Motherlode reunion at the BlueNote Club with (Smitty) William D. Smith.

One afternoon, we were sitting in my studio and I decided to interview him. Years later, I found the tapes and here are some excerpts and insights into one of the greatest saxophonist, band leader, and session musician ever to come out of Kensington Market, Toronto, Canada.

MW: Let’s begin at the beginning, when did the music hit you and you knew you had to do it?
DR: I was 11 years old. When I started high school, I got into a music program because one of the social directors at the community centre said “Why don’t you guys start a band?”  We were on the verge of becoming juvenile delinquents so rather than see us all go to jail he suggested music. So we said ‘’yeah’’. When asked what I wanted to play I said saxophone. My mother could not afford an instrument so I went to the school and there weren’t any saxophones. They gave me a clarinet and one lesson a week. I thought it was great; it was better than nothing. My mother hated it and I agreed.

Robyn Ottolini The Face of the Future

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Submitted by Don Graham

There is lot of concern about the future of music in general and country music specifically but Robyn Ottolini, a 17 year old Canadian singer/songwriter, will go a long way to putting those concerns to rest. There seems to be a trend today for cookie cutter, manufactured young artists who are groomed to fit a mold, have songs hand-picked for them and an image cultivated for them by a team of experts. The finished “product”, with emphasis on the word “product” is then conveyed to the media and public hoping it will strike a chord. Problem is a lot of these acts can’t even play a chord and lack the honest and believable factor. Enter Robyn Ottolini. This young lady is the exact opposite of the aforementioned trend. Robyn writes her own songs, plays her own guitar (and piano) and is responsible for her own image and marketing. Don’t be fooled by her young age, her songwriting is at a mature level, well thought out and well crafted tunes, musically and lyrically, well beyond her 17 years.

Robyn Ottolini lives in Uxbridge, Ontario, a perfect locale for a young songwriter to spread her creative wings with the lush country side and fresh air, far enough away from the city to enjoy the rural life but close enough to be within easy commuting distance to stay in touch with her music affairs.

She is living her dream, starting off her recording career with the self penned ‘Ring Around the Roses’ and filming her first video to the same song.

A Shining Night for Anti-Bullying Scars That You Can’t See


Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo: Frankie Hart, Lisa Hartt, Bobby Cohen, Don Gaham, Zita DaSilva

On Thursday, November 15th, on the shores of Lake Ontario at the Balmy Beach Club in Toronto, a Bullying Awareness night titled ‘Scars That You Can’t See’ was front and centre. Singer/songwriter Don Graham put a call out to his friends and fellow performers to put on a show to aid a great cause, a bullying prevention concert/fundraiser. With the staff of the company that manages his career, Entertainment Music Group, Graham assembled a cast of singer/songwriter talent from different genres of music and put on a fine display of caring and human kindness. The talent ranged in age and diversity and musical styles with seasoned performers and up and coming stars of the future.

Lisa HarttLisa HarttThe evening was based on a Graham/DaSilva song ‘Scars That You Can’t See’ with a chorus of “ Sticks and stones may break their bones, but broken bones will heal…but the words we use when we abuse, leave scars that you can’t see.”

A candid conversation with Rick James Manager, Brother, Lawyer, Leroy James Johnson

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

MW: How did Rick get started?
L J: It was in Buffalo. Rick was a born talent from the time he was five years old banging on the pots and pans. His first performance was in Chicago, with the Buffalo Afro Society, as a percussionist .The difference between Rick and a lot of people was that Rick took music seriously. It was the only thing he was serious about and he stuck with it until he made it! He made it when he was 15-16 years old in Canada and he did not make in the States till he was almost thirty.

MW: when he came to Canada he was dodging the draft?
LJ: True. He signed up in the Navy at 15. Our mother said “get out of the house, take my son and make him a man’’. He went to the Great Lakes Training Center in Michigan. That lasted three weeks and he ran up to Toronto where he played with a number of bands. He was influenced by everything and everybody that was here in the 60’s and 70’s including Joni Mitchell, Mainline, Neil Young, Steppenwolf, the Mynah Birds…that is where he got his real music talent from. A lot of people don’t know that he learned so much in those years as a musician, performer and songwriter in Canada from the Canadian Musicians he was exposed to and played especially Neil Young in the Mynah Birds.

They Also Served………. From Rock and Roll to Lock and Load

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They Also Served From Rock 'n' Roll to Lock and Load
Submitted by Don Graham

More so in the United States than Canada, due to conscription, it wasn’t unusual for musical stars to become active members of the Armed Forces. From Tony Bennett to Elvis to Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson to Jimi Hendrix all the way to Shaggy in Desert Storm,they also served.

We hear a lot about famous athletes who served their country, sometimes interrupting booming careers to enlist and do their part, athletes like baseball’s Ted Williams and Bob Feller. And of course Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio. Boxing sent Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. There were many, many more. All were proud to do their patriotic duty.

The field of music also had its share of men who traded guitars for rifles and rhinestones for fatigues.

Tony Bennett aka Anthony Benedetto was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944, during the final stages of World War II. Upon his discharge from the Army and return to the States in 1946, Benedetto studied at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill.

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