What Do Authors, Musicians & Uber Have in Common?

What Do Authors, Musicians & Uber Have in Common? Indie.

Saturday, I went to a book reading for the book “Wake Up and Smell the Shit”, a book edited by Canadian travel author, Kirsten Koza.

Movie set on Bay Street, Toronto
Movie set on Bay Street, Toronto

I needed to travel from north of the city to McNally’s Book Store . I plugged the address in on my Uber app and the lovely lady who picked me up proceeded to the DVP where we got stuck behind an accident for an hour. I became very anxious about being late, but she was a doll and chatted with me while we inched our way down the highway. She told me all about enjoying life as an independent Uber driver, and said Uber is trying to encourage more female drivers. She finally dropped me off at Richmond and Bay, and I jumped out and started running toward McNally’s front door when I noticed a horrific scene of a burnt-out car on Bay Street. I thought “what’s with the driver’s in this city!” when I looked back and realized there was a large green-screen behind the fire truck. Movie set. Toronto. Of course.

I got to McNally’s on time to hear 3 final readings from the book. The book is made up of short story submissions of travel misadventures from several writers. One of the writers, filmmaker Kyle Keyser, told a story of getting up close and personal with a Peeping Tom rock star…hint: “Love in a Black Jeep Wrangler…Livin’ it up when the pants are down”. You really should get this book. It’s funny.

Kyle Keyser
Kyle Keyser

One feature of the event was guest musician Jorge Miguel. He found out about the event from his friend, Juno award winning album designer Michael Wrycraft, who is a mutual friend of Koza’s. Miguel added some sweet flamenco guitar to the room. McNally’s book store, in my opinion, is the most beautiful book store in the city, and being in that space with Miguel’s spanish flamenco guitar music felt very relaxing. I bought both his CDs.

Jorge Miguel
Jorge Miguel

If you’re ever looking for a new way to enjoy Toronto music, check out Toronto literary events. Take an Uber car to get there. Things will crash and burn around you in this crazy city and it won’t matter because it will be so much fun.

Pick up your copy of “Wake Up and Smell the Shit” here: Amazon

Get a copy of Jorge Miguel’s music here: Website

Kirsten Koza says good night to Jorge Miguel
Kirsten Koza says good night to Jorge Miguel

STEVEN ADLER’S TRIP TO TORONTO (everyone loves the drummer)

Jacqueline Lovey Perras can be very persuasive. She sent me an invite through Facebook, sent me an inbox message and even, somehow, got her drummer/boyfriend Serge Wisotzky to roll over an ATV and land in hospital with stitches and minor fractures, so that her fans could all follow the adventure online. (Kidding! I hope you’re doing okay, Serge.) Jacqueline was very excited about opening for Steven Adler and his band Friday night at The Rockpile West. She knows how to draw a crowd to her shows and she knows how to be heard. She got the message out loud “Steve Adler, everyone!”. The call out was clear, I needed to attend the show.



When I first arrived at The Rockpile, I came in just as the first band, SISSY SPACESHIP was finishing their set. Besides the pink-haired girl, Janine Taylor, centre stage rocking out with a surprisingly big voice for such a petite girl, just behind her was the cutest blonde female drummer! Lexeverything was so pretty I was mezmerized and she played drums with a huge smile on her face, which made me involuntarily smile as I watched her. I love when I see a female drummer. Toronto has a few good ones (i.e. Lindsay Bird of DIRTY JEANS, Renee Couture of THE STANDSTILLS). Now I’ve seen one more. Because I came in at the end of their set, I’m going to have to check them out at their September 5 gig.

SISSY SPACESHIP (Toronto): Janine Elizabeth Taylor (Vocals), Joey Clement (Lead Guitar), Justin Mervyn (Bass), Duncan Brown (Guitar), Lexeverything (Drums) – next gig: Sept 5, The Rockpile West


Next up was THREE QUARTER STONE. Their drummer Ev Locke is one of my personal favourites. He’s fun to watch. Always looks like he’s having the time of his life behind the kit. Blonde hair flying, sticks twirling, big huge grin on his face. His enthusiasm is contagious. I haven’t seen THREE QUARTER STONE for years and it was nice to see them again.

THREE QUARTER STONE (Guelph): Danny Wray (Vocals), Chris Drone (Guitar), Scott Clarke (Bass), Brian Musgrave (Guitar), Ev Locke (Drums)

Serge Wisotzky


The band I came for, ARON CROSS, were the next set. The thing I love about this band is they are so theatrical. Jacqueline Lovely has major pipes and starts the show by grabbing the mic and yelling out to stir up the crowd. The crowd returns with a cheer. She’s always dressed in her long blonde rocker-chick hair with flowing middle-ages style dresses. Her band looks like a travelling troupe of gypsies who just climbed out of their wagon to entertain us. On stage they perform like they’re in a Shakespeare play. Jacqueline even pulls out a large cross that she chains herself to while singing her original “Unchained”. Serge had a sore arm from his ATV accident, but he was drumming like a trooper, grimacing a little, but didn’t miss a beat.

ARON CROSS (Barrie): Jacqueline Lovely (Vocal), Serge Wisotzky (Drums), Jeremy Parker, Jon O’Connor, Martina Fasano, and Roxy Luciani

Serge Wisotzky with Steven Adler


When the ARON CROSS set was over, a dramatic curtain was hung over The Rockpile stage and the crowd waited anxiously. Then AC/DC played full blast over the speakers with the crowd singing along enthusiastically before the curtain was dropped and ADLER appeared.

Steven Adler was the drummer and co-songwriter of GUNS N’ ROSES from 1985-1990 (It’s So Easy, Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, Patience, Nightrain). His current band ADLER was formed in 2011.

Steven Adler was at the drums all smiles. He was smiling and having a good time through the whole set. His front man Jacob Bunton impressed me with his rendition of Mr. Brownstone. He nailed it. He was charming to watch. Tons of personality and totally adorable from his black rimmed eyes all the way to his black nails. They’re a good looking rock band and give a great show. Adler’s sense of swing is what makes it fun party music. The crowd was rocking out and having a great time.

ADLER (California): Steve Adler (Drums), Jacob Bunton (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Lonny Paul (Guitar), Johnny Martin (Bass)

I was wishing I’d brought my camera. I forgot to pack it in the morning and only had my cell phone to take pictures with. All the drummers were blonde (and so metal hair!) and it would have been a fun collection of pictures to capture them all properly, or maybe even get the drummers to pose together. Missed the chance. There was no shortage of cameras at the gig though. Everyone is a digital photographer today. There will be lots of lovely pictures available online. The crowd loved all of them.

July 28: Jim Gelcer Trio @ The Rex

Screen shot 2015-07-27 at 7.48.15 PMOn July 21, I went to The Rex and met up with drummer Jim Gelcer and asked him why he calls his band a jazz trio, when there are 4 of them. He explained that all of July at The Rex, he’s hosted a different “special guest” saxophone player for 3 performances and on July 28, he will have all 3 back to The Rex for a special show.

Jim told me he’s played all over the world and toured with some great musicians. I asked him if he wanted to drop a name, and I was surprised when he said “Lee Aaron”. He asked me if I knew of her. I told him I know Lee Aaron is singing jazz now and I remember her from her rocker chick days. He said he played with her 30 years ago when she was a rocker chick, and he didn’t play drums, he played keyboard. He did it for the money.

Jim and his “trio” are a lot of fun, and if you like saxophone, you’ll find the show July 28 a real treat.

You’ll also find The Rex’s “Jazzy Fingers” a treat. Compliments to the chef!

Website: http://gelcer.com/

July 28: Ewen Fancombe-Piano Marc Rogers-Bass Jim Gelcer-Drums


Show Details:
 Date: Monday, June 29
 Venue: Smiling Buddha, 961 College st , Toronto
 Cost: $10
 Doors: 7pm
 Age Limit: All Ages/19+
 Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/369583003233440/
 Slumlord (Edmonton, AB)
 Fall City Fall (Calgary, AB)
 Masakura (Mississauga,ON)
 Speaker (Toronto,ON)
 Out of My League (Bowmanville,ON)

Calgary’s FALL CITY FALL is performing in Toronto at The Smiling Buddha  on June 29th  as part of their cross-Canada No Parents, No Rules Tour from BC to Quebec. I checked this out-of-town band out online and I discovered they’ve created a trilogy of videos from their album “Victus” (2013), which is much in the spirit of that released by M83 in their connected trilogy of epic mini-movies. Each video in the Victus trilogy captures imagery from some of Netflix’s better shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead. The lead singer sounds a lot like Offspring’s Dexter Holland, when he’s not doing screamo. Their music is a little chaotic. Some hints of rockabilly mixed with hardcore…and then there’s that voice that reminds me of Offspring. It’s an interesting mix.

While I was checking out the lineup of the show, I took a look at OUT OF MY LEAGUE (Bowmanville, ON). They have a video for their song “Six Feet Under” that I just love! In fact, I listened to it over and over and the best part comes at the very end. It makes me laugh every time. I asked them on Facebook to give me the lyrics so I could screamo along, but they didn’t respond. I guess they’re too busy rehearsing for the upcoming show to talk to fans on FB. I recommend the video! As another blogger once put it “tapping into our crazy and embracing the silly is just downright necessary and I support that!”

FALL CITY FALL https://www.facebook.com/fallcityfall
Keenan Pylychaty – Vocals
Jordon Storey – Guitar
Nathan Pope – Drums
Andre Urquidi – Bass

OUT OF MY LEAGUE https://www.facebook.com/OutOfMyLeagueBand
Dom Paron (Vocals)
Taylor Comeau (Guitar,Backup Vocals)
Ali Bayat (Bass, Backup Vocals)
Steven Simpson (Lead Guitar)
Anthony Rizzuto (Drums)

Why Indie Labels Are Inspiring

CLOTHING LABELWhen I was a teenager, rock mags were my world. In small town Manitoba the only thing rock n roll was the radio…and rock magazines…and me. In an advertisement I saw then (I think it was for guitar strings), there was a picture of a futuristic museum and there were two people looking at an exhibit. This exhibit was of the now extinct “Rock Musician”. There was a guy holding a guitar behind glass and of course it was a well known guitarist of the day, the name of which name escapes me now. But I looked at this ad and I thought in my teenage mind: “Man. That would suck if rock was a thing of the past, if it ever died, or disappeared.” It was indeed an alien concept to me back then.

Now, I’m much older and I think of the all the changes that have happened to music since then. Of course everyone’s mind goes to the internet, Napster, etc. and yes, these are some of the changes that I am speaking of. I want to talk about something of rock music that has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to write about the record labels that were responsible for helping to shape my childhood. I have always been the type of person that needs to de-mystify things. I took an interest in music early on. Soon it became boring and so I turned my mind to the things that happen behind the curtain and record labels were the ultimate in this regard.

I wanted to know everything: How do they work? How does a band get paid? What is publishing? What is a royalty? How do different contracts work? How are they structured? I wanted to know all of it. I read many books on the subject and I de-mystified as much as I could for myself.

When the internet iceberg hit the music industry, I was one of many who all of a sudden felt like the world had ended and I remembered the ad I saw in the rock magazine of my youth. It was jarring to think that it really was possible for rock to become…extinct. But with the revolution that was happening around me (digital downloading replacing all distribution of music, streaming replacing all forms of downloading), it became apparent that the internet was something liquid.

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.                Alexander Graham Bell

The internet is always updating itself and replacing old models every week. It’s exciting and maddening both at the same time. Just when I think I’ve figured it out, the damn thing updates and my mode of thinking needs to change to accommodate the “new thing”, be it an app, or a trend, or a new piece of software that completely changes the game.

But what of record labels? How are they handling these changes?

Record labels have always been about business. I have always been interested when, over the years, one giant label ate a bunch of smaller labels. Watching as behemoth corporations absorbed little business was always fun. I was in awe of such goings-on in the music business. Often times I was like: “wow, they signed Metallica and now look them…wonder what James Hetfield thinks about this…whoa”

The one thing I know to be true in all the years I’ve watched all of this go on is this: The independent record labels will always be the only ones limber enough to make some cool shit happen in the music industry. The big corporate labels are far too big to move very quickly when it comes to all things. But the indies? Boom!

When I figured that piece out I always made it a priority to keep my eyes on independent labels.

I have taken a look around at what independent labels are up to these days. Some are doing cool things. I am on the lookout for ideas that will help the situation we find ourselves in. I’m happy to see what they are doing. Not everyone is thinking forward, but the ones who are? They’re inspirational.

One label produces an annual Block Party that pops up around the U.S. every summer. That’s very cool. There are also a group of many labels that have joined forces and created a retail outlet and recording studio in their major city. These are the kinds of things that I love to hear about. I love hearing about independents that are so small that they revel in how small they are. I read about one label that works out of their apartment. There are labels that double as event production companies and lifestyle brand & merchandiser as well. Diversification: good idea, always. There is another label that throws it’s own parties year round and writes a great music blog. The coolest idea I’ve seen so far has been a label that has started it’s own film company.

Since I’ve been working with Ohjusteatit.ca covering bands in Toronto, I’ve marvelled at how most musicians have become hobbyists. I had this strange idea once upon a time that bands were all together in this mess. But, bands are not the game changers in any of this. Not that I’ve seen anyways. That distinction goes to independent record labels. Bands will always do what they have always done – create music. It’s up to the indie labels to take that music and promote and release it.

There are some good labels and there are some “meh” labels. But from what I have seen, just by taking a little look around this last week, it’s gonna be a long way off ‘til we’re all just a memory of an extinct civilization that once had these mythic creatures known as Rock Bands that created the most mythic sounds. If we keep thinking  forward toward the future of music, and if we keep creating new ways to keep music alive, much like the labels i’ve mentioned here, dammit…dammit, the kids are gonna be alright.


aarontumblrAaron Peters is an award winning 
singer/ songwriter/ performer and 
filmmaker, originally from Winnipeg, 
Manitoba, currently living in Toronto, 

Musicians and Missing & Murdered Women

Since Aaron Peters started working seriously as a filmmaker in 2011, he has collaborated on two important Canadian films. The first was when he was asked to support the film project “Occupy Love”, by Ontario filmmaker Velcrow Ripper, with his aerial shot of the Toronto Dundas Square “Idle No More” flash mob round dance. More recently, Peters was asked to help capture an interview while he was in Winnipeg.

The interview Peters filmed was set up by Cameron Monkman who was putting together the documentary film “Missing”, a film about Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women. Cameron Monkman is known in the Toronto music scene as hip hop artist “Young Jibwe”. I’ve seen Young Jibwe perform and I knew of him, but I never really cover hip hop or rap music (I just personally don’t prefer the genre), so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to him. I didn’t know that Monkman also worked on film projects. I didn’t know that he also organized music events.

Monkman had organized filmmakers across the country (Aaron Peters, Jeremy Oliver & Jenny MacIntosh) to interview people he couldn’t reach. He arranged interviews that included BIF NAKED (Canadian musician), ROBBIE MADSEN (Toronto Musician), QUESE IMC (Hip Hop MC) & MELISSA SPENCE (Canadian radio DJ/Music Director).

I was wondering how this project would turn out. It was several one-on-one interviews captured by different people with different cameras. I thought it might look like a home movie. I wasn’t sure if Monkman would do a good job with the editing and presenting of this collaboration. When the movie was released I was impressed! It turned out beautiful. Not only did Monkman use the collected footage well, he told the story well. It’s a difficult story to tell and included interviews with Gladys Radek, advocate for Missing & Murdered women cross Canada, and Murna Abraham the sister of Sharon Abraham who was a victim of Robert Picton. Horrible stories, but presented in such a way we could feel like we were in the room with these people holding their hands while they talked to us. Cameron, like a smart musican should, added his own music to the soundtrack. It all came together well.

Musicians And The Passion For Film

Musicians have long been dovetailing their film and music. Neil Young, under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey (Greendale ), Rob Zombie (Halloween), Blane Thurier (Low Self-Esteem Girl). Wayne Coyne (Christmas on Mars), Thom Yorke (Pixies), and I’m sure you could add to the list. Then there are the filmmakers that you may not realize are also musicians like David Lynch, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks. As a friend of mine eloquently put it “you can see the cinematic scope in Morrison’s lyrics”. Even Jim Morrison of The Doors was a UCLA film student.

Long & McQuade, the “Musical Instruments” store, is now carrying video equipment. I spoke with Steve Long about it. I was curious to know what their take was on it. Did Long & McQuade see a trend? Was the equipment simply for making Youtube videos or was there more to it?

Long said they started selling and renting Go Pro cameras about a year ago. Go pro has a package  that makes it easy to attach a camera to a mic stand, drum kit, trombone and capture a live performance at interesting angles.

I told Long I had purchased my Zoom handheld recorder at Long & McQuade 3 years ago. It’s what Aaron Peters and I use for the audio recording of videos when we’re interviewing on the street. It’s a great little affordable audio recorder, but not a great video recorder. The Go Pro is good for capturing video, but not so great for recording audio. The equipment at Long & McQuade is affordable and you have the option to buy or rent most items. Recording gear, video gear, and lighting gear. So in combination this equipment can give you a high quality video. Steve said “I like to say, even the most affordable system we sell is equal to what the Beatles used to record Abbey Road.”

“I like to say, even the most affordable system we sell is equal to what the Beatles used to record Abbey Road.” Steve Long, Long & McQuade

We talked about music as content for television and videos. How relevant is it anymore? Isn’t everyone turning to sports these days? Long pointed out how many commercials he’s seen lately that include guitars, like the TD Bank Sunday Hours commercial. Our own Midland band Born Ruffians recently created a new 2015 ad with Honda.

Cameron Monkman understood the relevance of music in his film. Music is a community. The film was a collaboration created by several artists who came together simply because they were asked to. The purpose of the film “Missing” is not to garner our sympathy, but to communicate the need for change. There is something wrong with a country who has literally lost women for the past 30 years and doesn’t bother to look for them or the criminals who stole them from us. “Missing” is a piece of art and a well told and important Canadian story.

My question to musicians is what topic is your next film going to be about?


9:00 – Crocodile Rock was already filling up nicely. Their patio is popular and comfortable. It was my job to go around the bar and sell raffle tickets and let people know about the event happening on the 2nd floor. I received a warm welcome every time I mentioned either Miss Cougar Canada or Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. People laughed, handed over their money and thought the event was a great idea.

gilda groupAugust 2013, my friend Jules “Cougar Meow”, a Toronto event planner, was diagnosed with cancer. When she told me this spring she was working on the event Miss Cougar Canada, I let her know that I wanted to be involved and help any way I could. She was happy to have the company. Working on the event was keeping her mind off of what was happening with her health and gave her something fun to look forward to.

Jules organized prizes and sponsorship. She worked with Gilda’s Club to make the event a fundraiser to support Cancer patients. She organized a celebrity author and actor, and a music producer to attend. She organized women to participate in the competition and received commitments from enough men who were looking forward to a fun night. We had done a good job promoting through social media and received lots of feedback.

As the date of the event, June 26, drew closer, Jules’ doctors told her they wouldn’t be able to put off operating on the tumor in her neck that had now wrapped itself around her thyroid. Jules had no choice, but to reschedule the event.

group9:30 – Jules came to find me on the patio to tell me none of the Cougars had arrived yet. I had been doing really well selling raffle tickets and people were heading over to the second floor to see the competition. Unfortunately, when they got to the second floor, nothing was happening. I needed to stop working the floor and wait.

Rescheduling the event to July 24th wouldn’t have been a problem if the operation had gone well. The surgeon tested the tumour he removed and found Jules’ cancer had progressed to the next stage. Jules had a hard time coping emotionally with this new information. She became depressed. She wasn’t able to stay on top of communicating with everyone about the event. She closed herself in her room for a while and disappeared. Unfortunately, Jules also developed a blood infection. The complications from cancer treatment can often times become as deadly and hard to manage as the disease itself. She was very sick.

Finally, Jules reemerged and contacted her team to finalize the event details. Her doctors were telling her she needed to get into the hospital for treatment for the infection, but she wanted to have the event. She was looking forward to it. It was going to be fun!

contestant 110:30 – Crocodile Rock had filled up. The band was on stage and the crowd was having a good time. Still no Cougars. The men that were there for the event were having fun anyway. Socializing, drinking, eating, and playing pool. But everyone was waiting for a show that apparently wasn’t happening. I sold more raffle tickets and we just made the most of it. Vice Magazine was there and Jules sat down for an interview.

contestant 2A group of young ladies representing Gilda’s Club were in attendance. Jules asked the ladies, there were lots of prizes, why didn’t they compete for them? The girls agreed. I took pictures while the judging took place. It was a laugh. The girls were announced, pirouetted and smiled. The men laughed and clapped and one Cougar was crowned.

winner111:15 – Miss Cougar Canada received her crown.

Kelly Arruda, Miss Cougar Canada 2014
Kelly Arruda, Miss Cougar Canada 2014

It was disappointing that the Cougars who had committed didn’t show up to compete, but in the end, it didn’t matter. The event made a very loud statement about people working together through difficult times and continuing to smile and have fun. It made the point that you are not always in control; things can go wrong – persevere. It made the point that when you need support, Gilda’s Club is there.


Donations of money, time and talent have kept Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto open since 2001. Their free support program exists entirely thanks to volunteers, revenue from special events and the financial support of inviduals, foundations and corporations. To donate, clink on this link.