Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Favourite Time of Day, is Night

One of the perks of being a mom to small children... being announced when you enter the room. It's fun while it lasts. Simply going upstairs and coming back down with the laundry basket used to be enough to warrant a nice big, enthusiastic, "Ma-ma!!!!" upon reentry. Nowadays, if my kids even notice my comings and goings, the most I invariably get is "Can I have a snack?"
And that is why it's so nice to be received by a smiling friendly person at the airport.

And so began a fun filled trip to Winnipeg last weekend, the geographical mid point of our fair and vast country. We were there to perform this concert:
(Just below Mr. Short, and... there we are) 


Speaking of Martin Short: 
(spot the tie-in below)

If I could've fit these Godzilla sized superfab platform showstoppers (as seen here displayed on my current summer reading) in the dollhouse attache case that passes for allowable carry-on baggage these days, well you'd better bet I would've.

Yes folks, we flew to Winnipeg to perform a "Disco Fever - Motown Dance Party" at the Club Regent Casino Event Centre, with our friends, the wonderful Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

And what a party it was! There was even a dance floor! With dancers! Gavin Hope, Rique Franks, Stephanie Martin and myself sang many great Motown and Disco hits, making sure to dress appropriately at all times.

The dress I'm wearing here is a vintage 1960s beaded mini, given to me by my grandmother many years ago, as originally bought by my glamourous, couture-loving Aunt Helen... very Supremes I think.

I love Steph and Rique's looks here, and isn't it wonderful when a plan comes together?

Stephanie Martin, me (Kathryn Rose), Rique Franks.
Gavin Hope, Rique Franks, the WSO's Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate,  me (Kathryn Rose), and Stephanie Martin. 

Because I didn't make it on to the promo poster for this concert (what am I, chopped liva??), I'll give myself an extra plug with one more shot, because I am rather fond of this new dress... and Gavin Hope is great at posing me backstage!!  ;) 

(Just pretend, won't you, that that nifty pocket door to the loo upon which I was draped was nicely closed...) 

Other highlights of this trip included a sweet surprise from Stephanie Martin, when she presented Rique and myself the gift of these Jellyfish and Jellybean socks (soon to be stolen by our respective young daughters I'm sure).



...a strange and perverse obsession with Lauren Bacall's High Point Coffee commercials of the 1970s and '80s. Credit must go to Rique Franks here. She started it. ;)

We were quoting from this one all weekend:

It got so bad that just the sight of coffee, or the word Decaffeinated would get us going again.

But you know what? 

My favourite time of day...

...really is night.

Thanks for joining us Winnipeg. See you again.
xo kr

Canada Day fireworks the night before the trip to Winnipeg

Monday, February 23, 2015

Another ABBA post!

Another ABBA post!
From Stephanie Martin (Dancing Queen #1)

I did have my phone out and took a few pictures in St. Catherine's of this alarming (fire-alarming) ABBA show at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre in the Brock Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon.

Here is the offending piece of ringing machinery that was not part of the regular orchestra configuration but started blasting its piercing and very UN-musical tone during Andrea Koziol's end of set Super Trooper. Come to think of it ABBA does have a tune called Ring! Ring! Ring! that was one of their early hits. This is not what they intended, I'm sure!

I was ushered out one of the fire doors to stand out in the cold with orchestra members clutching their precious instruments. We waited 20 minutes while the fire department came in and inspected the building. We had a grand time!

Thankfully our audience stayed with us and we picked up where we left off and proceeded to play our second set and we were on fire! By the time we got to the encore, Dancing Queen of course, the whole place was on it's feet jiving. Even the lady on crutches in the front row was jiving! You can dance you can jive having the time of your life....

She had such a good time she had us all sign her instrument!

Lis Sodeberg signs the crutch

Andrea Koziol signs the crutch (that's Katalin Kiss in sequins!)

Stephanie Martin signs the crutch

Nothing can keep us from ABBA...

I had a wonderful time this weekend singing the music of ABBA with the Niagra Symphony Orchestra and brilliant JnC vocalists Katalin Kiss, Stephanie Martin and Lis Soderberg.  Wicked company, great tunes, very satisfying harmonies, was not a weekend for the faint of heart.  (Read that last sentence again in a scary Vincent Price voice, and then continue.)

We drove through an epic lake effect snow storm to get to the gig.  Whiteout conditions, jackknifed trucks, icy treacherous highways...but even an arctic hurricane couldn't keep us from ABBA.  A surprise mid tune fire alarm did require the complete evacuation of the building into the frigid cold...but even impending disaster couldn't keep us from ABBA.  There were also monsters and aliens that we had to fight off with our bare hands, even they couldn't keep us from ABBA.  (OK, that last part was made up, but I'm an artist...I'm built to embellish.)

Our audiences were nothing short of amazing this weekend.  There was copious dancing in the aisles (even by the lady with crutches in the front row!) and a few feather boas liberally applied to our gorgeous conductor Bradley Thachuck.  As the dust settled, and the fire trucks retreated, I couldn't help but feel fortunate.  Three very sincere cheers for the outstanding Niagra Symphony Orchestra and its' administration.  Three cheers for the fantastic crowds that came out to these snowy dangerous shows.  Three cheers for the killer JnC band that always makes it look so easy, and so handsome.

I can't explain why, in the midst of all this excitement, I didn't have my camera handy.  Alas, I have no pictures...but I decided to draw a very realistic and artful sketch of what you might have seen if you had been there.  Enjoy! 

See you down the road...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Halifax! Not for the faint of heart!

Entry by vocalist Stephanie Martin
Re: The music of Michael Jackson, January 16 & 17, 2015
Jeans 'n Classics with Symphony Nova Scotia

It was cold on the latest JNC trip to the Maritimes. Not just your regular, dead o’ Canadian winter cold, but arctic vortex polar freeze your wind chill face off cold!

We were in Halifax from January 15th to 18th performing with the sublime Symphony Nova Scotia. 

All JNC peeps present: Jeff Christmas, Mitch Tyler, Bob McAlpine (fittingly), Don Paulton, and on vocals this weekend, singing the music of Michael Jackson, Gavin Hope with backing vocals by Stephanie Martin, Kathryn Rose and Lis Soderberg.

We mostly stayed on the inside of the Lord Nelson Hotel and the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium as we prepared and gave our two sold out concerts. Here is the crowd doing the cellphone/lighter rock concert thing to "I'll Be There".

It was a special birthday weekend for me as my son was celebrating his 15th birthday back home in Toronto without the one who actually did all the work giving birth (me!). I got KR and Lis to help me send wishes back home.

Click right HERE to hear and see Steph, Lis, and KR singing Happy Birthday to Oliver!

Still photo of us singing Happy Birthday... to see the video, click HERE.

Also, I had invited my best childhood friend Manon from Montreal to join me in Halifax to celebrate our mutual big milestone birthday (guess which one!) ...Hers was in November, mine in April.

I’ve known Manon since I was in grade 2 and we’ve stayed friends all these years through thick and thin, boyfriends, heartbreaks, husbands, babies, careers, aging parents. We’ve weathered every storm together and this cold Halifax chill was not going to stop us from doing a little sightseeing. We got down to the harbour and walked along the famous Halifax boardwalk, then stopped at the gorgeous new public library and enjoyed a warming cappuccino and spectacular view from the rooftop café.

Time for a quick goodbye at the airport after a great weekend and back to our lives and families! See you next time, Halifax. Preferably in the summer! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Thanks Omaha! (A blog entry by Katalin Kiss)

Entry by vocalist Katalin Kiss
Re: A Night at Woodstock, January 17, 2015
Jeans 'n Classics with the Omaha Symphony

Katalin Kiss

It was a lovely weekend in Omaha Nebraska in many ways.

I had the pleasure of doing the music of Woodstock on January 17th to a packed house at the Holland Performing Arts Centre, which seats 1200 people.

Omaha's Holland Arts Performance Centre, our office for the day...

My partners in crime on this show were (Left to Right): Neil Donell, Rique Franks, Jean Meilleur, and our special guest Dave Dunlop. 

Neil DonellRique Franks
Jean MeilleurDave Dunlop

Everything lined up quite nicely, starting with on-time flights (gasp!), and weather that was a lot warmer than Toronto.

The accommodations were stellar, which included our own little kitchen. Along with the kitchen came a lovely package of microwaveable popcorn that pleased me to no end. It's the small gifts that make the world just a little happier for me.

In the 4 or 5 times I've been to Omaha, we've always been greeted by the sweet smiley face of Kristin Patch, Artistic Manager of the Omaha Symphony. Always eager to make sure we were happy, she set us up with some great food backstage, and a brief little tour through the quaint Market district, pointing out the best places to eat.

Omaha Symphony's fabulous and friendly Artistic Manager Kristin Patch.

I never fail to appreciate these opportunities to travel with the people I work with and the people I get to meet. Music has always been a  big part of my life, and it's experiences like the one I had in Omaha that remind me that I'm one lucky girl.

Thanks Omaha, and hope to see you again sometime soon.
Love, Katalin.

The Green Room... tasty backstage lunch at soundcheck / rehearsal!

In the front: Paul DeLong (drums) and me (Katalin; vocals). Back row, left to right: Jean Meilleur (vocals), John Regan (keys, host), Dave Dunlop (guitar and vocals), Rique Franks (vocals), Darryl Stacey (bass), Peter Brennan (guitar/King of JnC!), Neil Donell (vocals).

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 2015 - Kathryn & Rique in a Double Whammy New Year's Eve!

Hi friends, Happy 2015!

Kathryn Rose here.

The women of JnC are all pretty close, and we can often be found hanging out even when we are not on the road.

Rique Franks and I do a few things together at home in Toronto... a very scenic 6k nature walk in her midtown neighbourhood, Bikram hot yoga classes, egging people's houses and running away... the list of favourite common pastimes goes on.

Rique and I were not on the same New Year's Eve show this year. But we were both on 2 different exciting concert trips that Jeans 'n Classics had this year for New Year's Eve, and (along with Katalin Kiss on my gig), we were outnumbered by the men of JnC for both of our shows. That meant for a lotta lips to kiss at midnight! ;)

...Comparing notes afterwards, we thought we'd join forces here, for a joint Blog entry.

Here's mine:


Back to Back: the music of Billy Joel and Elton John in Reading, Pennsylvania, with the Reading Symphony! Kathryn Rose

Smartphones have made it very easy for the women of JNC to answer the all important musical question, "what are you wearing for the show?" 

Before most shows, no sooner is the question uttered before a photo of sparkly outfit #01428369.87 goes hurtling through cyberspace from one phone to another. Sparkly variations are culled, shortlisted, and one or two make the final cut, and we have a plan; suitcases are packed, and shows are performed.

This past New Year's Eve, Katalin Kiss and myself turned the Sparkle Factor all the way up to 11:

Preview of Katalin's dress
Preview of Kathryn's dress indecision

Katalin's treadmill nor the edge of my bed don't really do these dresses justice... here we are on the day... you'll see I chose the silver jobby... 
(but the black dress did make an appearance at our post show dinner/champagne hangout, didn't get any shots of that!)

Our dresses in action!

Katalin's dress was originally a vintage '80s dress she spotted and snapped up, with the foresight to have the long hem shortened and the sleeves taken up to 3/4". Great vision, Miss Kiss!

Some rehearsal shots, at the pretty Santander Performing Arts Centre: 

Love this one of Katalin

Okay, I'll add some boys...

Don Paulton
Jean Meilleur and Darryl Stacey
Who's cuter than Jeff Christmas?

When we rolled into town, our driver pointed out the tall Christmas tree on a street corner near our hotel, saying that the tree had made the news as one of the saddest Christmas trees in North America, being compared to Charlie Brown's infamous Christmas tree.

I couldn't help but take a stroll over to take a closer look after rehearsal. Poor thing, it's not so bad. Maybe a little droopy. But very tall!

Aw, don't you just kind of want to hug it?

Before I sign off... a quick thought on two of my favourite topics, Coffee & Massage:

Road Tip for (good) Coffee Lovers:
Originated by Lis Soderberg
Endorsed by Kathryn Rose
Activated by Katalin Kiss in a moment of need on this trip!

If you love coffee, and hate bad coffee, get a pack of these. Especially if you travel. Bad coffee is rampant on the road. Next time you are drinking a cup of inferior coffee, add one or part of these little puppies into your cup of brown water, stir, and enjoy the fact that you now have something no one else around you has: a better cup of java, at least by half.

And lastly...

What on earth is looks like something... for the bedroom...?

This rather assuming-looking device may draw stares in the airport, but can provide much relief to your sore bits and bobs while traveling. If you don't believe me, ask Don Paulton! He allowed me to use it on him in plain view at the Philadelphia Airport on Jan 1, to the curiosity and possible jealousy of the rest of the band, and world at large. I used to have 2 of them, but lost one on a plane a few years ago.
That's it from me...

Happy New Year!
xo kr


Fine Jean, be that way.


Rique's NYE concert blog entry:

Shaken Not Stirred in Lima, Ohio (with the Lima Symphony) Rique Franks

We had a great NYE show in Lima, Ohio.

It was my co-star Gavin Hope's first shot at the Bond show and he did us proud.

[Neil Donell usually sings the male lead on this show; David Blamires has also been an awesome pinch hitter.]

After an epic Odyssey of a travel-day getting there, we flopped into our beds and were welcomed by the bright morning sun on New Year's Eve day.

Rehearsal was almost more fun than the show itself thanks to the brilliance of the symphony and exuberance of conductor, Crafton Beck. With Steve Heathcote driving the beat, Peter Brennan on guitar, Mitch Tyler on bass and John Regan as always doing a great job on piano and as emcee, the show went off without a hitch. We received standing ovations both at the end of the show and after the encore.

The Lima Symphony's Executive Director, Elizabeth Brown then took us to the Met, a local fine dining establishment owned by former Chicago residents, Nicole and Ron, to ring in the new year in fine style.

That's the fair Elizabeth, 3rd from the left, beside me. 
I had one of the best meals I've ever had in that restaurant, and one of the biggest most delicious martinis, aptly named The Bond!!

The downtown core is filled with beautiful old buildings that have not yet all been revitalized the way they have in Toronto.  One such building, Lima Square, was completely vacant and chains draped the front door.

I cannot help but think that Lima had a glorious past.

One remnant that has survived and is thriving is the original Kewpee Hamburger joint.

Cars still line up down the street to get a burger and fries. Once inside, you're greeted at the counter by lovely old gals who have probably been working there since they were fresh out of high school 65 years ago.

As you can see, this place is so BEYOND! Steve Heathcote simply can NOT!!
- I have to say it was the best burger I've ever had.

I can't wait to go back to Lima again!

Happy New Year!


See you out on the road in 2015!
(Upcoming Concert Dates)

xo Kathryn and Rique.