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Summer days

Spending some magical summer days traveling in the Maritimes this month. In the Halifax area I got the chance to join the legendary Hopping Penguins onstage for their 30th anniversary show at the historic Shore Club in Hubbards. Also traveled to beautiful Cape Breton for the first time. Drove the amazing Cabot Trail, and seized the chance to join the talented locals at MacBouch’s in St. Peter’s to play a few tunes.

On August 31st I look forward to a rare opportunity to play my hometown, Saint John NB. I’ll be there at The Somerset joined by bassist Peter King, and local artist Marcy Mabee.

Then it’s back to Toronto to perform my new show at the Holy Oak on Sept. 20th with regular band members Cheryl Reid, Chris Stringer and Rob Macdonald.

hubbards
Stage-view at the Shore Club

Hello friends, and welcome to my long overdue update! As winter blew through Toronto it brought a few changes, and I took a little time to climb up some learning curves and shift some gears.

Payback time. One of the projects I took on this winter was to teach large gaggles of school kids how to play ukulele. I first learned to read and play music the same way in New Brunswick – in grade 5, at lunch, with 25 other ukulele-wielding kids (read: loud!). Setting up these groups across Toronto is an initiative of my pal Melanie Doane. Now Mel and I have always known the uke rocks, and I still play my flying-triangle ukulele at shows every so often. But teaching and conducting big ensembles of kids is a new thing for me – I’ll admit, it ain’t always easy to wrangle a large bunch of youngsters armed with small 4-stringed instruments. But in the end, to hear them all play and sing arrangements together as a band is pretty sweet.

In addition I spent some time setting up a new home studio and great new rehearsal space. Most recently I’ve received FACTOR grant money to record one of the tunes I’ve co-written with Ron Sexsmith. I’ll be working with producer Chris Stringer on that one.

This month we play a show with Toronto indie singer-songwriter Bob Sheppard and his band Then It Hit Me – in support of their new cd release “Back Road to Hereafter”. We’ll be kicking off the evening at The Piston on April 19th.

Playing a couple of fun country tunes at Naco in Toronto as part of Laura Repo’s monthly residency on Thurs. Oct. 27th. I’ll also be playing a set at the Drake Hotel on Oct 23rd as part of the PNC Fundraiser, raising money to help out the disadvantaged in the Parkdale area.

Years ago I played my very first show of original material at the Freetimes Cafe in Toronto. Next month the Freetimes celebrate their 30th anniversary, and on Sat. Nov. 19th I’m excited to be playing a solo show as part of that, sharing the evening with Chris Rawlings.

 

Join me at the Big on Bloor Festival in Toronto on July 23rd – we’ll be hitting the stage at 8pm.

bloor-300x224

Later this month I head out to the Maritimes for some R & R, and ocean! Those of you in the Halifax area can catch me at the Celtic Corner on August 4th.

Spring… almost… here! I’ve been hunkering down with my synthesizer and my kalimba, working away on new music. Getting back into the creative process has been my focus of late, and I’m loving it. I’ve also been grabbing any chance I can get to work with others. Recent collaborations have included writing a couple songs with Ron Sexsmith, working on music with The Prince Brothers and contributing vocals to their latest single “Winter”.

In the live show department, I’ve been very fortunate to have drummer/ percussionist Cheryl Reid join us. You can catch her in action this month along with the rest of us – including guest vocalist Linda Maruta – on March 16th at the Tranzac Club in Toronto.

2011. Finally! The year has come to realize my dream – the formation of a ukulele super-group. A trio of ukulele nerds the likes of which Toronto has never seen. Melanie Doane, Cheryl Reid and yours truly, have been practising up our instrumentals and three-part singing, and we got some real old time shit to lay on you. Don’t blame us, blame the system. We’re all just a product of the school music program in the Maritimes. We’ll be making our debut on Jan. 19th at the Tranzac.

Also coming up this month, an appearance at The Press Club with The James Clark Institute on Jan 28th.

Coming up this month:

Sun. Dec 12th – Echo Women’s Choir Winter Concert. I’ll be singing with the choir,  performing a solo number, and the choir will be performing two of my arrangements – really looking forward to this! Sunday, Dec. 12th in Toronto at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Starts at 7:30 pm, and tickets are $15 at the door.

Wed. Dec 15 – The Jennifer LFO X-mas show!  Takes place at the Tranzac Club and will feature the <a href=”http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/The-Prince-Brothers”>Prince Brothers</a> and special surprise guests. Starts early at 7:30pm so you can come out for some musical Christmas cheer and still have time to hit the party circuit.

Sat. Dec 18th – The Christmas Show Benefit at the Rivoli, hosted by Mia Sheard. I’ll be performing with Kate Rogers. Other guests will include Andrew Cash, Selina MartinDave Bidini, Alan Park and more. Always a great event, and the proceeds go to the Daily Bread Food Bank relief for Pakistan. Doors at 8pm – tickets $18

Have a fantastic holiday!

Hmmm, what would it be like to hear 80 voices singing my songs in four part harmony?  The Echo Women’s Choir of Toronto has invited me to arrange two of my songs as part of their next concert. Arranging my music for choir has been a really great challenge and I look forward to performing with this amazing group on Dec. 12th – I’ll keep you posted as the date approaches.

Good things come in pairs – I recently sang on the new Prince Brothers single “In Pairs”. Listen and see the video here.

I leave you now with a blast from the past. I recently went to a ukulele workshop held by James Hill , known as one of the best players of that instrument in the world and the creator of a new ukulele music teaching program. I’ve been a big uke fan most of my life – starting in grade 5 when I joined the school uke band. So I’m brushing up on it now and feeling inspired. Maybe I’ll write some new uke tunes. Here’s one I recorded a-waaaaay back…

Ukulele Dropout

Catch us this month at the Tranzac Club on Thurs. October 21st.

Summer news:

Last month I played the North By Northeast Music Festival in Toronto – always fun to be a part of. I also played NOT NXNE on the same night at the Tranzac – my own upstart music festival – and it was a smashing success if I don’t say so myself. I had my bases covered and good times were had by all.

I recently sang on an upcoming release by b*BOSS, which will be coming out this fall. You can check them out here – http://www.myspace.com/thisisbboss. (“You Kill Me” – I’m the she-voice singing those sultry choruses)

I also acted in a short mockumentary film called “Chere”, which was recently nominated for three Canadian Comedy Awards. Directed by Brian Smith.

Catch us this month at the Tranzac Club in Toronto on Thurs. July 15th.