Category Archives: nik beat

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.