On Hiatus!


Hey all you beautiful people!  I just wanted to let everyone know that Lipstik Indie is going on hiatus. I’m not sure how long or what format we will be, if we return.  I’m focusing on writing, performing and producing shows and felt it was time to let Lipstik Indie go on a vacation.

A great big hug to all the artists who have been part of the site, a bigger hug to the writers.

Cheers for now!


February 2013 Issue



The Shoe’s fits of laughter @ Red Sandcastle Theatre
The Alice in Blunderland Panto Players Co-op is back this holiday season with more family-friendly panto fun at Red Sandcastle Theatre with their production of The Shoemaker and the Pant-O-Mimes!

Poets & songwriters & a holiday love-in
Last night was a double pleasure – for the art and for the company. First up was The Beautiful & The Damned (TB&TD) at Glad Day Bookshop, where a gang of my best pals (Liz, Lizzie, Kat, Janis and Kira) and I gathered to catch the first set before continuing our evening’s cultural festivities.

It’s A Wonderful Life delights onstage
A delightful, magical evening of holiday fun last night at Alexander Showcase Theatre’s (formerly the Alexander Players & Singers) encore production of It’s A Wonderful Life, remounted for a three-day run at the Papermill Theatre after a very successful run last season.

Fond farewell to The Drowning Girls
Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of The Drowning Girls closed on Saturday night to another packed house at the end of an incredible run – and I was lucky to be able to see it one last time before our closing night celebration at Betty’s and the inevitable set strike the following day.


reviewed by Viki Ackland

New hands are five young men from Hamilton, Ontario who are invested in a year long commitment to record an album without concessions. Over this term, they hope to take their songs in multiple directions, expanding on their previously released single, This I’ve Heard. Tulips, produced with Michael Keire (Apostle of Hustle, Wildlife, Dark Mean), is the first song in this new territory. All five met during our high school years with the exception of Gordy and Evan, who long before then had met due to the fact that they are brothers. Early on in high school, Ben, Pat and Spence met through a friend and through their mutual love of music quickly started a band. Within a year, they met Evan. After an initial mix-up had been settled he became the next member of the band. For one reason or another, Evan was misled to believe they were a Christian-rock band. For a while they practiced and played around town, fine-tuning our songwriting skills and our performances. After a year or so of collaboration and many generations of songs they invited Gordy. Finally they finished two songs and decided to have them professionally recorded.

First off I have to say they all look great half naked. Perhaps not a musical noteworthy observation but one that makes me happy.

I stumbled upon ‘Whichever Way You’ll Have It’ first while looking for Tulips, I immediately was taken with the singers strong voice, and the strong rock aspect of the song with its many twists and turns.

Tulips is a lovely song, eclectic and original, a song about love, betrayal, coping and living our lives while trying to find happiness.

“Take me to my first school dance, show me your apartment 
Shake your head and hold my hand, say I’m still important 
Make a name just as we land, all the papers calling 
This idea could have been, but we never focused”

For more information about New Hands follow the links below!


reviewed by Viki Ackland

This St. Catherine’s based band Lambs Become welcomes their new  release, Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.  When I researched the band more extensively I found the talent behind the band, drawn from Alexisonfire and Journey to Aspen, Lambs Become Lions have been around the music industry’s  so called block, and have embraced the artistic delight that can be found in doing something you love.

The lead song “When I open my eyes” is a love song, full of truth and believability, What surprised me was how I was pulled right into this song, the strength of not only the lead singer bur the thought provoking lyrics. A lovely original ballad. I listened three times.

“Someone Else’s Dream” is a song that speaks to many, the pressures of everyday life, walking a path that we did not foresee, not living up to our potential or being true to ourselves. Heavy stuff.
“Postcards” is a festive tale about escaping from the daily grind into the mysterious life on the road, endless gigs in an tough business.  A bit of kiss my ass humor also, great song all around.

The EP is a mixture of upbeat that is definitely mixed with the feeling that dreams are there for the taking and require fortitude and hard to work to achieve them, something that may be forgotten in a world where people often fall into a rut to survive. It is about doing what you love thereby living the life you dream of.

Looking forward to hearing more. Roar.

To find out more check out their FB  and website for information.


Our 2012 wrap up


Top 3 of 2012 – from Cate @ life with more cowbell

I was a bit freaked out when Carolina asked us to pick our top three events of 2012, but was relieved to hear that the universe was narrowed down somewhat to the blogs I contributed to Lipstik Indie. But still! I saw so many amazing plays, music acts and poetry/spoken word artists this year – not to mention movies and t.v. shows – this was a tough decision.

In no particular order: 1) Help Yourself (Theatre Brouhaha – Kat Sandler, playwright) at Toronto Fringe blew me away with its extremely quick-witted script, dark comedy, plot twists and outstanding cast. Shouts to Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival 2012 Week Three program and Gay Play Day.

2) Little Creatures for Little Creatures PAWS benefit at the El Mocambo was an amazing, big positive energy evening of talented musicians raising money for a good cause. First time hearing Tom Wilson, Little Creatures, Sarahbelle and Noah’s Arkweld live, and always a pleasure to hear Angela Saini. Also loved seeing Tin Star Orphans at the Horseshoe Tavern.

3) The Lesser Blessed at TIFF was a beautiful, disturbing and inspiring coming of age story of a Native teenager coming to terms with a horrific past while navigating a high school crush and a bully in a small NWT town. Gorgeous camera work and an incredible cast, featuring first-time actor Joel Evans. Shouts to Sarah Polley’s documentary film Stories We Tell for its brave, personal and multi-format storytelling. Also want to give shouts to The Beautiful & The Damned poetry cabaret – Day of the Dead edition, Lizzie Violet’s The Undead Night readings for Theatre Local’s Small Audiences program for Nuit Blanche and the Blair Sharpe Recent Paintings exhibit at Fran Hill Gallery. Dammit. I knew I couldn’t just name three. God knows I tried.

Viki’s Top Picks for 2012

Troy Western’s latest EP “Rocks In A Bucket” put him on the road from his home in St. Catharine’s, Ontario to Canada’s east coast with his “Rocks & Fields” tour. “Feel The Love”, the lead track, can be heard in a series of videos from Commonplace Eco-Village on environmentally-friendly lifestyles. You can often find Troy performing around southern Ontario ranging from solo acoustic shows to those with the full band, as well as with a variety of guest musicians.”

Full review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/july-issue-of-lipstik-indie/

Meghan Morrison’s ~ We are all born naked

“The ever charming and versatile Meghan Morrison is back with her new album, “We are all born naked.” I just love this girl; she is soulful, lovely, talented and unpretentious in life and in her art. Her voice always reminds me of a young Alanis Morissette, with her own distinctive style and presence of course.”

Full review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/february-2012-new-issue/

Nik Beat’s Top Picks for 2012

Laura L’Rock

“Did you know that the Eighties is Back with a vengeance!!!???

Well just take a gander and a listen to L’Rocks debut CD, Law of Attraction! Actually Laura L’Rock gives you the 80 ‘s NOW!!! That is the sound that reverberates-whereas 80’s rock and hair band metal rock gave you girls girls and fame and fortune and it’s all about us making a lot of bread. L’Rock actually writes almost entirely about other artists other voices and other rooms so to speak. Very few of the songs on her new CD are about her right!!!??? Wrong, they are all about her take on life in the fast lane of 2011 and going. The lady is the lead singer in a Top Forty band called Rock Candy, but is on her own here.”

Full Review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/january-2012-new-issue/

Sarah Smith

“David Byrne lead singer of 80`s New Wave Wunderkind Talking Heads, famously remarked that most songs from bands that mentioned love as subject matter really had ‘fucking’ behind it. I can only concur and the trend keeps on coming with the usual measure of hypocrisy and slime but, there are exceptions. London, Ontario singer songwriter and former member of The Joys, Sarah Smith, actually means it, i.e. that the love she sings about in her songs represents the true love in her heart. IT is not some clever substitute for what she really wants!! Emphatically no!!”

Full review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/september-issue-of-lipstik-indie/

Sex without Souls

“Goth rock has always been a tricky proposition, as almost by definition, it is a parody of itself or at least it gently and sometimes not so gently skirts over the line into self parody, in spite of itself. In fact, that is one of the biggest dangers that so many Goth rock bands face: how to do doom rock without having your audience indadvertedly laughing at your Peter Murphy sepulchral tones, basso gargoyling and world weary strum and drag lyrics.”

Full review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/february-2012-new-issue/

Carolina’s Top Artists for 2012

Melting Pot is one hot Toronto Commodity.

“Have you ever read a book, watched a movie, listened to a CD or a live band and upon realizing it was almost done, tried to will it to go on just a little bit longer?  That is exactly how I felt after listening to a compilation of Melting Pot’s music and even more so each time I see them play live.  With their cool, vibrant, slick addictive sounds, wicked guitar riffs and clever lyrics, Melting Pot is a hot Toronto commodity.”

Full Review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-fringe-issue-august-2-12/

Brandon Pitts the Rock and Roll Poet

“There is a new movement, a new style of Poet emerging in the city of Toronto.  A movement I hope goes viral.  Poets who are becoming the rockstars or our literary scene in every sense of the word.  Brandon Pitts is one of these Poets.  On the page and in performance, he fills the stage with a lyrical presence, oozing a sensual vibration of power in his chosen words.  His voice an instrument.  Pressure to Sing is Brandon Pitts songbook, his album, his concert.  His poetry images of his past, present and future.”

Full review https://lipstikindie.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-fringe-issue-august-2-12/

Power Women of Music

2012 was the year of powerful, independent female musicians.  I was honoured to have reviewed some of Toronto’s top female musicians.  I’m cheating here a bit.  I was only supposed to pick my 3 top artists, but I had a helluvah time only picking one of these women, so…. I’m choosing them all!!!  These women rocked Toronto and many other Canadian cities this year!!!  My top picks for Power Women in Music for 2012 is, Kat Leonard, Heather Hill, Jessica Speziale, Arlene Paculan, Andrea Machett, and Scarlett Jane.  I am looking forward to hearing more from them in 2013!

October/November Lipstik Indie


Feature Artist








Reviewed by Carolina Smart

When I close my eyes and listen to certain songs or artists, I find myself being transported to a different place, world, time.  A temporary escape, if only for a few minutes.  My last trip lasted 47 minutes and during my journey I saw images of an old blues bar, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, The Devics, harmonica blues and a well travelled six string.

Beautiful, emotional, vivid lyrics  are accompanied by strong acoustics that dance in your ears. The songs of Down, Record are like a Sunday morning on a porch, drinking in wishes of the past, present and future. Mark Martyre is a true story teller, whose words flow on poetic river and a well rounded musician who masters the art of captivating an audience.

Anyone who is a fan of Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits will immediately fall in love with this album.  For those of you who aren’t, after listening to Mark Martyre you will have a new found appreciation for these artists.  Mark Martyre’s musical style is uncomplicated, allowing the listener to not only hear the messages in the songs, but the music that accompanies it.  So many top 40 artists have forgotten that aspect of music and Mark Martyre’s music brings it back to us.

For an even greater appreciation for this artist, see Mark live.  He plays regularly around Toronto and to stay up-to-date, join his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/markmartyre).

Toronto-area singer-songwriter, Mark Martyre, is excited to announce the release of his latest album Down, Record.

The artist, who’s lyrics draw comparisons to fellow-Canadian Leonard Cohen, has been hold-up inside Thirteenth Street Sound studios in Toronto, emerging only recently with his all-new 10-track, all original effort. Down, Record marks Martyre’s first studio album as a solo artist, and his most anticipated release thus-far. Down, Record is a follow-up to the six live albums that Mark released in 2011. The album will be available as a CD as well as on iTunes.

Mark Martyre has been a regular on the Toronto music scene for nearly a decade. Mark has become an accomplished songwriter in that time, even garnering praise from industry mainstays like Peter Katz who said that Mark has, “fantastic lyrics. He clearly has a really warm soul and a passion for writing and music.”

Mark is also a poet, and has produced two volumes of poetry entitled Wondering Down the Road (2008) and Drifting Magnetically (2009). “Brilliant songwriter. His songs just stick with you.” (Sandi Marie – singer-songwriter).  Fans should visit www.markmartyre.com for more information.

Track List
Nowhere Else To Go, But Up
All This Time
Another Deja Vu
Lauren Bacall
The Devil On Your Back
Flowers at Your Door
Only the Road
Like the Horizon

Where to find Mark

The latest reviews from Life With More Cowbell (click on links to read the reviews!)

TB&TD: http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-beautiful-the-damned-the-day-of-the-dead-edition/

Artsy week off (music, movie, theatre): http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/my-big-fat-artsy-week-off/

Piece on Niagara on the Lake places: http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/niagara-on-the-lake-some-places-i-like/

Nuit Blanche: http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/wandering-the-night-in-toronto-nuit-blanche-2012/

Gay Play Day: http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/inaugural-gay-play-day-charming-witty-touching-lgbt-works/

Between the Sheets (theatre): http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/world-premiere-of-nightwood-production-of-jordi-mands-between-the-sheets-riveting-heart-wrenching/

February (theatre): http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/lisa-moores-february-transformed-for-the-stage-in-world-premiere-alumnae-theatre/

Frankenweenie:  http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/big-sweet-dark-comic-fun-with-frankenweenie/

Stories We Tell:  http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/beautiful-brave-touching-family-storytelling-in-stories-we-tell/

September issue of Lipstik Indie



Rawkin’ for PAWS @ the El Mo

by Cate McKim (www.lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com)

Little Creatures for Little Creatures rawked the house for PAWS last night at the El Mocambo, folks. And this music event rawked it big time. Such a good time for a very good cause. PAWS rescues and cares for homeless animals and is a no kill shelter. That’s right. For this one, we’re spelling it “rawk.”

Tom Wilson

Rawk veteran Tom Wilson, former lead singer of Junkhouse, kicked off the evening with a rawkin’ blues-feuled set you could feel in your chest, backed up Ray Farrugia on drums and Thompson Wilson on bass. Wilson served up some originals and some stories too – like how his dad, a Lancaster tail gunner in WWII came home from the war after being seriously injured and hooked on morphine, and came to hang out at the newly opened El Mocambo. Wilson is now working with two bands: Harlan Pepper (http://www.myspace.com/itsharlanpepper) and LeE HARVeY OsMOND (http://www.myspace.com/lhosmond). Keep your ears out for them.

Noah’s Arkweld

Noah’s Arkweld took to the stage with some drivin’ indie rawk in a guitar, drums and keys combo, with Noah Mintz on guitar and lead vocals. At times playful – especially on Lily’s keys arrangements – love their tune about the guy who falls for a girl who works in a bakery, but he’s so shy he can’t talk to her and just keeps ordering cinnamon buns and butter tarts, and gets fat. Check these guys out here: http://www.noahsarkweld.com/

Angela Saini with Vanessa James-Locke

Angela Saini, on guitar and backed up on keys and vocals by Vanessa James-Locke (a third of Saini’s band, The Residence), rawked it kicky and soulful, treating the audience to some tunes from her Cakes & Callouses CD, as well as new song “Little Black Dress” (love it!) and one of my personal faves, the ballad “Raindrop.” http://www.angelasaini.com/fr_home.cfm


Sarahbelle has been rawkin’ it in the studio recently, working on her debut CD of mostly original tunes. I’ve had the pleasure of wrapping my ears around the first five tracks, and it was awesome to see her bring it onstage last night. Accompanied by Chris Ioannou of Little Creatures on guitar, she launched her blues-infused country mini-set with the sweet, romantic duet “Why O Why,” then went solo on the ballad “Miss Me.” Sarah introduced “Bad Girls” with the story of how the song came to be: in a dream in which Johnny Cash, a personal music hero of hers, invited her to write a song together. And that’s pretty high on the scale of awesome for awesome dreams. Just a sampling of this lady’s vocal range – from passionate to vulnerable to sexy rockabilly growl. You can find out what Sarahbelle’s up to via Twitter: @sarahbellemusic

Little Creatures – Chris Ioannou

Little Creatures with guest Angela Saini

Little Creatures rawked the house with their powerhouse sounds, fueled by Chris Ioannou’s vocals and guitar, kick-ass drummer Alison MacLean and Chris Sytnyk pounding it out on bass, inspiring fans to dance in front of the stage. Another band I’d only heard but hadn’t seen perform live – driving beats, gritty and passionate vocals with powerful harmonies – I like these guys a lot. http://littlecreatures.deezproduction.com/

Looks like I may have missed one final band last night – sorry to have missed them, but had to be mindful of the time, since I needed to get this post up this morning and head out to see The Lesser Blessed at TIFF today.

Kudos to all the musicians and folks who came out to support PAWS. For more info on PAWS, please check out their website and give them your support: http://www.pawscanada.org/

Sarah Smith


reviewed by Nik Beat

David Byrne lead singer of 80`s New Wave Wunderkind Talking Heads, famously remarked that most songs from bands that mentioned love as subject matter really had ‘fucking’ behind it. I can only concur and the trend keeps on coming with the usual measure of hypocrisy and slime but, there are exceptions. London, Ontario singer songwriter and former member of The Joys, Sarah Smith, actually means it, i.e. that the love she sings about in her songs represents the true love in her heart. IT is not some clever substitute for what she really wants!! Emphatically no!!

Recorded in London, Toronto and Collingwood, her newest CD, Stronger Now, posits love as a trip an escape a way back to one`s roots a home and a fly by night catcher of dreams all on one album.

From the very first song, The Stars (a pop hit song if there ever was one), Sarah invites you to disappear with her to where to wherever!!! The stars in The Stars are both her and her mate, her and the audience and her cosmologically, as if reckoning the truism in Joni Mitchell`s song, Woodstock, that we are stardust. A matter of scientific fact it has been proven that Joni was right all along and so is Sarah.

The journey continues with rocker Shine Bright– which thematically is an extension of the opening song. In fact, this whole album has a thematic groove to it that runs through almost all the song with the debatable exception of Down and Dirty.

Produced by famed producer and engineer Kevin Doyle, this CD is literally the best produced recording since, dare I say it, Laura L`Rock`s Law of Attraction produced by noted producer and musician, Brian Gagnon.

The hit songs are the following: the aforementioned, The Stars, Shine Bright, Wake Me Up, Lucky One Stronger Now and the best hit song bar none on the album, More, which is the best song pop-wise!!!!

Supported by Canada Factor grants — this CD is a shining example OF WHERE YOUR TAX DOLLARS ARE GOING —— BEST OF ALL PLACES!!

Don`t forget to support the lady with payable downloads and by attending her personal appearances.

Her performance at HMV in Toronto not three weeks ago showcased her as a `ball of fire’ to crib a phrase from Laura L`Rock thumbs UP ALL THE WAY FOR THIS!!

All reviews by Life With More Cowbell

TIFF film The Lesser Blessed:

A beautiful & painful coming of age story – The Lesser Blessed

I had the great pleasure of attending the premiere of The Lesser Blessed yesterday afternoon at the Isabel Bader Theatre, part of the TIFF 2012 program – and left the theatre incredibly moved.
Based on the novel by Richard Van Camp, and adapted for the screen by Van Camp and director Anita Doron, The Lesser Blessed is the story of Larry Sole (Joel Nathan Evans), a quiet and shy young Tlicho man, a misfit outsider navigating the social mine field that is high school, trying to make friends and fit in, and desperately crushing on classmate hottie Juliet Hope (Chloe Rose) while trying to avoid getting beat up by bully Darcy McManus (Adam Butcher). He loves heavy metal and is an excellent illustrator. And he’s struggling to overcome a horrific and violent incident in his past. Set in the fictitious small town of Fort Simmer, NWT (shot in Sudbury, Ontario), Larry lives with his mom Verna (Tamara Podemski) and her boyfriend Jed (Benjamin Bratt), a father figure dedicated to instructing Larry in the traditional ways of the Tlicho (aka Dogrib) people. Life takes an interesting and exciting turn for Larry with the arrival of cool new kid Johnny Beck (Kiowa Gordon), a hunky Métis bad boy who’s just moved to town with his mom and smart-ass kid brother Donny (Lucius Hoyos).


Cabbagetown Theatre’s panto production of Cinderella at the Cabbagetown Festival:

Panto-style comedy fun for all ages – Cabbagetown Theatre’s Cinderella…if the shoe fits!
So much fun this afternoon at the 1 p.m. matinée of Cabbagetown Theatre’s Cinderella…if the shoe fits!
Writer/director Kim Sprenger had a hand with the script from Liam Doherty, Stephen Flett and assistant director Basil Tamkei, as well as the cast; this is a show that was written with both adults and kids in mind, with plenty of laughs and fun for everyone. Cinderella features an amazingly funny and talented group of actors, including Cabbagetown Theatre veteran Wendy Akerboom (Fairy Godmother), Adriana Crivici (stepsister Willa), Michael Man (Prince Charming), Jennifer Monteith (Cinderella), Eunjung Nam (stepsister Nilla) and Tennille Read (Stepmama).


Blair Sharpe: Recent Paintings exhibit at Fran Hill Gallery:

Vivid colourful escape to a faraway beach – Blair Sharpe: Recent Paintings @ Fran Hill Gallery
People like – and buy – art for a lot of reasons: they like to collect, it goes with their couch, they like the style, they like the artist or they just like a particular piece. For me, it’s about style and artist, and especially just liking the piece. It moves me, it draws me in, it takes me to another place. Use of colour is really important for me – and not because it goes with my couch. Though, hey, if that’s what you’re into – enjoy.


The Fringe Issue – August 2012





Have you ever read a book, watched a movie, listened to a CD or a live band and upon realizing it was almost done, tried to will it to go on just a little bit longer?  That is exactly how I felt after listening to a compilation of Melting Pot’s music and even more so each time I see them play live.  With their cool, vibrant, slick addictive sounds, wicked guitar riffs and clever lyrics, Melting Pot is a hot Toronto commodity.

Their bio only touches on what this bands sound is, “On a good day Melting Pot tries their best to blend Otis Redding & Booker T & The MG’s with Led Zeppelin…in the process taking a little bit of country, pop, rock, soul, blues, r&b and then throwing it all at the wall to see what sticks.” Melting Pot is more than that, and the name of the band captions exactly what their sound is, a very large melting pot of all the best parts of each type of music genre.  It’s almost as if one morning Nelson Sobral woke up and realized what the world needed was a style of music that had a touch of Pollack. Many artists would have failed at the attempt to blend these many styles together, Melting Pot succeeds with a powerful sound that reverbs loudly why are they are such a popular band.

Songs to check out from Melting Pot, Slippin’, Love You Loving Me, It’ll Be Alright, Jebediah, What You Need, The Light and Somewhere In This Debris.  Their catalogue is a fair size.  These are a fine sampling of the amazing music this band has to offer and can be purchased on iTUNES (www.youtube.com/meltingpotband ). You can find out more about Melting Pot by checking out their website http://www.meltingpotband.com or better yet, join their Facebook page  www.facebook.com/meltingpotband.

THE FRINGE EDITION by Cate McKim (click title links for full article)

Rowdy rollicking good times & a pint – The Taming of the Shrew

There’s nothing like having a pint with your Shakespeare – and the Victory Café was a great venue for the Shakespeare BASH’d production of The Taming of the Shrew. I caught the closing night of their Fringe run last night – and it was some big loud raucous fun.

A magical, joyful celebration of souls – Soulo

Back at Toronto Fringe early last night to catch the closing performance of Soulo at the Robert Gill Theatre.

Conceived and directed by Tracey Erin Smith (doing double duty this Fringe with her own show Snug Harbor), and inspired by Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, Soulo features three solo performances – all developed at Smith’s SoulOTheatre workshops, where participants learn to mine their own lives to create a theatre piece.

It’s not easy being a smart comedy fan – Fake News Fangirl

When I went to see the late-show performance of Fake News Fangirl at the Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM) Backspace last night, I was expecting to see a dark comedy about a fictitious crazed fan. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Well, not about the comedy part at least.

Not your childhood princess story – The Princess of Porn

So I don’t normally need to do these here at life with more cowbell, but…

WARNING: This post contains adult language and content.

Okay, so now that you’ve been warned, here goes.

Vikki Velenosi’s play The Princess of Porn: The Musical, directed by Chelsea Ferrando, with “bow-chicka-wow-wow” (music?) by Adam Sakiyama and playing at the Randolph Theatre, is a tale of post-happily ever after, where some very recognizable princesses are finding themselves extremely disappointed and wondering what the heck they’re doing with their lives. All told in a decidedly sexy, adult content way. With song and dance numbers.

Dark comic hilarity as sibs plot to kill granny – Ways to Kill Ethyl

First trip out to Factory Theatre this Fringe for my visit to the mainspace last night for Grayson Moore’s Ways to Kill Ethyl. And what a trip it was!

Mind-bending the bad things – Help Yourself

Everybody lies and everybody cheats. Some of these actions are along the more benign points on the scale of good and bad as many of us understand it – and some of us use sliding scales to separate the white lies from the bold-faced ones, the minor incidents of cheating versus the criminal. Sorting out good from bad in a very grey area.

Flawed relationships & breast cancer in funny sweet romcom – Mum & the Big C

Tonight’s Fringe adventure took Lizzie and I to the Randolph Theatre, where we bumped into Philip and Darren from The Judy Monologues – like us, there to see Lynne Kamm’s Mum and the Big C.

Sweet & hilarious romcom-flavoured journey – One Night

Fringe adventures began this afternoon at the George Ignatieff Theatre (GIT) when I met up with pals Kat, Lizzie, Janis, Laurie and playwright Brandon Pitts to see One Night  – co-written by Pitts and actor Angela Brown.

Big mind-bending absurd fun – Then He Wakes Up

Did some late night Fringing this evening and caught Twisted Chaos Productions’ performance of Then He Wakes Up at the Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM) Mainspace.

A brave & beautiful hero’s journey – snug harbor

I fell in love with Tracey Erin Smith’s work when I saw her one-woman show The Burning Bush, and the sequel Two in the Bush, at Toronto Fringe several years ago, and had the pleasure of participating in one of her weekend-long solo show workshop intensives. So it was very exciting to see that she had a one-woman show at the Fringe this year: snug harbor, directed by Anita La Selva and running at site-specific venue The Centre (316 Dupont St.). And she performed to a sold-out house tonight.

Charming & poignant musical – Life in the Raw

While working with her at Alumnae Theatre, I remember Barbara Larose talking about family stories and memories, passed along via word-of-mouth by aunts and her mother, and how it would make a great play.

The Judy Monologues – simply fabulous!

While Judy Garland was not my first love at the movies (that distinction goes to Ms. Julie Andrews), she certainly figured prominently in my love of movies and music. The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis were early favourites – then A Star Is Born. From “Over the Rainbow” to “The Man That Got Away.” And I have “Judy at Carnegie Hall” in my CD collection.

Art & inspiration in Piecing Together Pauline

For my first show at this year’s Toronto Fringe, I had the pleasure of seeing the opening night of Piecing Together Pauline at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace with my good friend Lizzie Violet. The play is a historical drama about the life of 19th century opera singer Pauline Garcia Viardot, who was the younger sister of opera star Maria Malibran and the muse of novelist Ivan Turgenev. The writing team and cast feature well-known Fringe vets: co-writers Chris Coccoluzzi (who also directed) and Roxanne Deans, and a fine ensemble of actors, including Bil Antoniou, Tara Baxendale, Rob Candy, Stephen Flett, Damien Gulde, Elva Mai Hoover, Chris Irving, Alex Karolyi, Scott McCulloch, Shannon Shura, Brenda Somers, Steve Switzman, Blake Thorne and Kristen Zaza.

July Issue of Lipstik Indie


Reviewed by Carolina Smart

By pure serendipity I came across this CD.  It was mixed in with another package sent to me for review.  Another reviewer was supposed to review this CD but once I started listening to it, I claimed it for my own.  A mix of Motown style 50’s rock and roll such as Stone Cold Man to a 1930’s blues twist with In My Time of Dying and Skinny Girl, Soul Stack is the kind of music you listed to in on a sweaty July night. 

I am thick in the indie music scene and am surprised I haven’t heard of this band till now.  With strong blues guitar riffs reminiscent of Eric Clapton and Howl’n Wolf, Soul Stack has a very smooth sound with tight production.  According to the bio on their website, this album was recorded over a two day period in the winter of 2011. Two day recordings would be reminiscent of artists of the 50’s/60’s due to production costs, I’m not sure if this was the reason here or they were just in the groove, but this is one of the best two day recordings I’ve heard in a very long time.

Band members Jonathan Knight (vocals/guitar) and Tom Bona (vocals/drums) with the addition of Mark Wessenger (vocals/keys) and Josh Knight (vocals/bass) are a group of amazing musicians, who have pulled off what has become one of my favourite album’s of the year.  The album can be purchased through their website http://www.soulstack.com or through CD Baby. 

If you are in the Toronto area, they have a show coming up at The Dominion on Queen (July 14).  More info can be found on their Reverb Nation page (www.soulstack.com).

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Stone Cold Man
3. In My Time of Dying
4. Desperate Times
5. Since You Came Around
6. Skinny Girl
7. In Your Mind
8. Just a Natural Thing
9. River of Love
10. Holy Roller
11. Your Only Man
12. Let Me Be Your Fool
13. Miss Me

Reviewed by Carolina Smart

Scarlet Jane is a collaboration of two well know Canadian Indie artists Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.  Dark, edgy and beautiful, when their songs reverb out of your speakers you visualize these two raven haired beauties playing in equally beautiful and intimate venues.  I’ve seen Andrea play a few times at the famous Dakota Tavern in Toronto.  The duo would definitely fit in at any Nashville type setting.

Songs such as Aching Heart, Burning Up and We’ll Never Be Found are emotionally wrenching, the lyrics written by two amazing storytellers.  Each song on Stranger are poetic masterpieces, painting vivid descriptions of experiences that all listeners can relate to.

The albums title song Stranger and Can’t Come Back have a much more upbeat feel. Can’t Come Back has a strong Rockabilly sound, reminiscent of a 50’s country rock and a very danceable tune.  Though I hate choosing favourites from any album I review, Can’t Come Back is at the top of my list.

Smooth, tight production value places this album in list of some of my favourites of 2012.  I can’t wait to see these ladies perform live.  They are currently on a cross Canada tour, details are on their website, if they are in a city near you, they are a must see.

Two beautiful women, two powerful voices, one absolutely amazing album!

Track list:

Wild Fire
Aching Heart
We’ll Never be Found
Ride On
Can’t Come Back
Oh Darling
I’m Gone
Burning up

Reviewed by Viki Ackland

Troy Western’s latest EP “Rocks In A Bucket” put him on the road from his home in St. Catharine’s, Ontario to Canada’s east coast with his “Rocks & Fields” tour. “Feel The Love”, the lead track, can be heard in a series of videos from Commonplace Eco-Village on environmentally-friendly lifestyles. You can often find Troy performing around southern Ontario ranging from solo acoustic shows to those with the full band, as well as with a variety of guest musicians. Festival highlights include the Niagara Food Festival, the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, the Fort Erie Friendship Festival, the Fort Erie Music Festival, the Highland Creek Heritage Festival, and the Sammy Sugar Day Festival. He helped organize and performed at the hugely successful fundraiser “ANDREW’S FIGHT” in support of a friend and paramedic fighting cancer. Troy was featured on Brock University’s radio station, CFBU 103.7 on the show “Inside The Rhythm Hive” and on television on “The Source”, a community news and entertainment program in the Niagara region, wherein he talked of his passion for music, family, and creative inspiration. Some past experiences found Troy opening for Canadian rock group Big Sugar with an exciting acoustic version of “Oh Canada” that was met with exuberant cheers from the 200+ crowd. The 2006 Toronto Independent Music Awards recognized Troy with a nomination for “Best Classic Rock” for his song Into The Sun. He also earned by popular vote, the coveted “Featured Artist” spot on BreakingLocals.com, a networking website for musicians and fans alike. 

Find out where Troy Western’s journey is taking him now at http://www.TroyWestern.com. Join the adventure on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or ReverbNation, or get his e-newsletter by emailing troynews@troywestern.com with the words “ADD ME” in the subject heading.

This passionate acoustic based performer has a melodic lovely voice that will haunt you long after you have listened to him. The first track “Feel the Love” is an upbeat rocking song with strong instrumental and vocals telling a tale of love and finding ones way home. The second track “Til the sunrise comes near” is a bit calmer but not lacking in story telling. My favorite was the final track “Look Around.” I love the beginning and I found it quite lovely to listen to, from the acoustic guitar to the harmonies. All in all, an enjoyable experience.


Troy Western is a singer-songwriter putting the ‘thunk’ into his folk-rock grooves. His music seems to have a slightly different edge that likely comes from his eclectic music tastes. While some have compared Troy’s sound to the Dave Matthews Band or Neil Young, many say they just can’t quite put a finger on it.

Feel the Love
Til Sunrise Comes Near
Getting Home
Look Around

Life With More Cowbell

Big rollicking fun & magic @ You Can’t Take It With You

I want to go live with the Sycamore family.

Some big magical fun at the Young Centre last night when I went to see Soulpepper’s production of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You, directed by Joseph Ziegler, where we spend a few days in the family’s living/dining room witnessing the comings and goings of various family members, friends and even prospective in-laws in this rollicking circus of a household.

Set in the late 30s, the living/dining area of the Sycamore home is surprisingly neat, considering all the various pursuits and work going on in the house. Mom Penny (Nancy Palk) has been turning her hand to playwriting of late – this after giving up painting – with several scripts in progress, moving from one to another when she gets writer’s block. Dad Paul (Derek Boyes) plays with Meccano erector sets in his spare time, and designs and creates fireworks in the basement with friend/colleague Mr. De Pinna (Michael Simpson), an child-like unmarried chap, formerly the ice man who came into the house eight years ago and never left. Daughter Essie (Patricia Fagan) works at home as a candy maker and is an aspiring ballet dancer, but not particularly good at it after eight years of studying with Mr. Kolenkhov (Diego Matamoros), while her husband Ed (Mike Ross) who delivers the candy, accompanies her dancing on the xylophone and enjoys printing things – everything from the family’s dinner menu to phrases that catch his fancy. Daughter Alice (Krystin Pellerin), the most conventional member of the family, works at an office, where she meets and falls in love with Tony (Gregory Prest), the boss’s son. Grandpa (Eric Peterson) decided to quit the rat race 35 years ago and has been having loads of fun ever since attending circuses and commencements, playing darts, collecting stamps and caring for his snakes. In addition to the family members are Rheba (Sabryn Rock), the Sycamores’ maid/cook, and her boyfriend Donald (Andre Sills), the handyman – who in their way are both family as well.

Tony and Alice want to get married, but Alice is worried that her unconventional family won’t fit in with prospective – wealthy and conservative – in-laws Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (John Jarvis and Brenda Robins). And her nightmare comes true when Tony brings the folks over a day early for dinner and, despite her family’s support of the match and wanting to make a good impression, all hell breaks loose.

Kaufman and Moss have written a highly entertaining piece about family, acceptance and finding your bliss. Do what you love even if you’re not particularly good at it – as long as you’re getting a kick out of it, it’s all good. Like Grandpa says of money and position: “You can’t take it with you,” so you may as well relax and enjoy yourself – a very forward-thinking notion for the time.

A thoroughly charming play, with lovely performances all around. I especially enjoyed Peterson, an audience favourite who gives us a brilliantly funny and real performance as Grandpa, commenting on the household goings-on and calling folks on their silliness, his pre-dinner grace more like a state-of-the-union chat with God. Additional cast include some fun turns from Raquel Duffy as a drunken actress who comes to read for Penny, Maria Vacratsis as a displaced Russian royal now working as a waitress, and Brian Bisson and Tim Ziegler as the G-men who raid the Sycamore’s dinner party (with Ziegler also playing Henderson, the IRS man who comes to see Grandpa about his unpaid income taxes).


Absurd family tragedy in The Goat

WARNING: This post contains adult language and content.

Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (subtitled: Notes Towards A Definition of Tragedy) is one absurd, darkly funny, mind-fuck of a play. And if you hadn’t been aware of the play’s subject before arriving at the theatre, you sure as hell get the idea when you receive the program. The cover is a veritable Kama Sutra of man/goat lovin’ illustrations. I went to see Atic Productions’ run of The Goat, directed by Carter West, at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space last night.

On entering the theatre space, you see a set composed of white pedestals, each with an empty plate frame – plates are set at the top of the show when the cast sets the stage, the family home – and a pair of white column/lintel entrances, the lintels askew atop uneven columns. Bringing to mind ancient Greek architecture. The pre-show music is a mix of love songs throughout the decades. Love and tragedy are coming.

Martin (Tim Walker) and Stevie (Rosemary Doyle) are a well-off, well-matched and happily married 40-something couple. Their sweet and handsome 17-year-old son Billy (Ben Hayward) has recently come out as gay, and they’re being pretty cool about it. Their domestic bliss is shattered when Martin reveals to his best friend Ross (Benjamin Blais) that he’s been having an affair – with a goat named Sylvia – a confidence that Ross proceeds to share with Stevie in a letter. You can imagine the family discussion that arises from this revelation.

What is interesting about this play is that Martin and Stevie, in addition to being very intelligent, open-minded people, have the sort of relationship in which they can actually have a discussion about Martin’s unusual infidelity – as painful and enraging as it is for Stevie. As the audience, we are presented with the notion and left to our own judgements – about bestiality and adultery, and even unintentional, spontaneous moments of incest and pederasty. Ross is the sole voice of conservative convention in the play, passing harsh judgement on anything beyond a well-hidden affair with another human, preferably of the opposite sex. And yet his hypocrisy shows as he coaxes the details of Martin’s affair with Sylvia – and despite his protestations and crying moral foul, he takes the taboo scenario in with a sense of scandalized glee.

The play is about 100 minutes long with no intermission and the actors – especially the family members – are taken on a physical and emotional roller coaster ride. Martin and Stevie are fun, affectionate and easy in their relationship – and love each other so big – and the hurt of Martin’s affair crashes so hard that every plate in the room lays broken in the end even as Stevie herself crumbles to the floor in agony. Even young Billy, who tries to intervene and is especially protective of his mother, is reduced to a balling mess after Ross returns to poke the wasp’s nest he’s already kicked at.

Walker is lovely as Martin, a good-humoured, gentle and loving man struggling with the onset of middle age and tormented by his desire for Sylvia. He has great chemistry with Doyle, who brings a funny, smart and sexy Stevie – loyal in love but fierce in betrayal. You really believe that Martin and Stevie have a big love for each other. You also believe that Martin really loves Sylvia too – an extremely painful truth for both Martin and Stevie. Hayward is adorably smart-ass as the teenager Billy, an intelligent and good-natured kid who is aware of just how cool his folks are – and he loves them both a lot. He brings a nice sense of Billy’s conflicted feelings  – torn between the child’s response of running away and the man’s response of stepping in to protect his mother. Blais gives us a nice combination of humour and cynicism as Ross, a character who’s really the outsider in this grouping, espousing a socially moralistic attitude towards fidelity and honour – but it’s all okay if you don’t get caught. Except one must stay within one’s own species with an age-appropriate partner and opposite sex is best. Really strong performances all around – you’re constantly wondering what will happen next. What will he/she do now?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, The Goat has a very short run at the Tarragon Extra Space – it closes tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, June 24). There are still a few chances left to see it, though, with matinées today and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., and an evening show tonight at 8:00 p.m.

For more info, visit Atic Productions at: http://aticproductions.com/


Raw heart sounds – Tin Star Orphans @ the Horseshoe

Shortly after my friends, Kat, Lizzie, Lizzie’s friend Janis and I entered the back room of the Horseshoe last night, we met up with drummer Johnny Rowe, who was set to do double duty with two bands: Inlet Sound and Tin Star Orphans in back-to-back sets at the top of the evening – which is just fine by him because, stamina challenges aside, he loves to play.

Inlet Sound

First band up was Inlet Sound, a folk rock band from Hamilton with a great Celtic, violin-backed, east coast sound, bringing to mind great east coast bands like Great Big Sea and Rawlins Cross. Dream Awake, a lovely collection of lyric ballads, is their EP release – I picked up a copy at the venue last night – and their first full-length record The Romantics is nearing completion. Check them out and give them a listen here: http://www.inletsound.com/

I’d heard Tin Star Orphans once before, at the end of 2011 at the Rivoli, and was struck by the band’s raw, driving sounds – packing a big punch, but with a big heart – largely due to frontman Zachary Bennett’s lyrics and vocals, strong guitar arrangements (Bennett and Dean Marino) and Johnny Rowe’s percusssion. And I was very happy to purchase a copy of their recent recording The Days of Blinding Fear – lots of which we got to hear live last night.

Bennett’s vocals are alive and raw, going from soft and introspective on ballads like “Fire” to a ferocious growl in “Year of the Wave,” a prophesy of impending environmental disaster, warning of a Momma Nature losing patience, trigger finger twitching. Love the final line of that one: All fanatics may bow their heads and pray but I’m only hoping someone brings champagne.

Songs like “Fire” and “Jaw Wired Shut” – among my favourites – have a U2 sound, reminiscent of The Joshua Tree. Haunting and visceral. And “Three Cheers for the Coward” has an especially haunting sound, while “We Are Lions” is pure driving beat. Johnny Rowe was showing no signs of slowing down on the skins during that second set. If I were writing this about a classical concert, I’d characterize his playing as “robust.” The man can play – and he was still givin’ ‘er right to the end of Tin Star Orphans’ final chords.

Tin Star Orphans

Tins Star Orphans – Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Dean Marino & Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Johnny Rowe

You gotta give these guys a listen: http://www.tinstarorphans.com/