Category Archives: Features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!


September issue of Lipstik Indie



Rawkin’ for PAWS @ the El Mo

by Cate McKim (

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 ( and LeE HARVeY OsMOND ( 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:

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.”


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.

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:

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 ( ). You can find out more about Melting Pot by checking out their website or better yet, join their Facebook page

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.