Dancin’ Barefoot in Peachland

Ooooooo Roxy Roller! 

That’s right, Nick Gilder and Sweeney Todd are coming to the Okanagan as Peachland holds their annual Dancin’ Barefoot music festival tomorrow (Saturday, July 20) 

Shoes are optional for this hot Okanagan night of music that starts with The Newks at 5 p.m. followed by Gorden James and the Good Guys Band at 6:30 p.m.



After Gorden James Shawn Hook takes the stage around 8 p.m., followed by headlinders Nick Gilder & Sweeney Todd at about 9:45PM

Tickets are just $39 for the evening unless you want to do the VIP thing, in which case they’re $50 and include better viewing, more beverage choices plus one each food and drink ticket. You can get tickets online at http://www.ticketbreak.com or from the Peachland Chamber of Commerce or the Bike Shop Cafe in Kelowna.

Get all the details of the festival at http://www.dancinbarefoot.com

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Curtains for Jazz Cafe Quintet?

Sadly, a note from Anna Jacyszyn arrived in my inbox today, saying July 22nd will be the LAST SHOW EVER for this quintet of talented musicians which includes: Anna  on vocals, Bernie Addington (Double Bass), Neville Bowman (Keys), Craig Thomson (Saxophone) and Scott Gamble (Drums).


 “We are individually getting so busy with other projects there was just no time to schedule rehearsals or any writing sessions,” said Anna, “and we started becoming just a bunch of musicians jamming on a stage and faking our way through it.”

Those who know and love the quintet will no doubt argue that “faking” their way through it just means playing jazz at a higher level of improvisation, and listening to them, they have never sounded like they were “faking” anything. However I do know that trying to assemble five busy musicians is like trying to herd kittens.

On the bright side of things, Anna (who is founder & host of Jazz Café) says the trio will continue to do smaller shows around the Okanagan and BC, “but as far as the full band, it’s too much work for one person to be responsible for,” she continued to say.

You can catch the full Jazz Café Band  performing their last show on July 22nd during the DARKDAYSLIVE Monday night series that is happening as part of the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. Tickets are $25 each and you can order yours through the www.kelownasummertheatrefestival.com website. 

What about season 6 of JAZZ CAFÉ? Anna says, “There is a lot of great talent coming through Kelowna and I have gained the reputation for giving audiences the highest caliber of Jazz entertainment.  I will NEVER Let them down.” 

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Debby Helf Wins the Hamber!

Ask anyone in Kelowna who knows anything at all about our theatre scene and it doesn’t take long before the name Debby Helf surfaces. A former president of Theatre Kelowna, Debby has lived, breathed, dreamt and starred in theatre productions here in Kelowna since the 70s and on Saturday night, she was publicly recognized for her efforts at Theatre BC’s Mainstage event, by being awarded the Hamber Award – a sort of lifetime achievement plus outstanding commitment award.

I was honoured to have the privilege of being asked to write one of the nominations letters for Debby and was holding my breath Saturday evening, in hopes there would be a text or call with the good news.

Debby, WE LOVE YOU!!!!

The following is the letter I sent in with her nomination (and a HUGE thank you goes to Sharon and Eugene Leveque for taking the time to nominate her!!!) along with the photo I put together (thanks to Tiffany Bilodeau for the use of her beautiful ballerina body!) when I created the “Debby Awards” mentioned in my letter.
2010 Debby AWard

Re: Support letter for Debby Helf for the Eric Hamber Award

I have been covering the arts in the Okanagan for various media since March 1990 – for Kelowna Daily Courier (1990 to 1999), Okanagan Life Magazine (1991 to 2001), Kelowna Capital News (1999 to 2009) and eVent Magazine (2009 to 2013). Throughout all of these years, I have had the honour and privilege of dealing with Debby Helf numerous times per year – always to do with Theatre Kelowna.

Debby was president of Theatre Kelowna for many, many years and even the years she hasn’t been president, she has still always been involved handling the media for them and helping out whoever is president. For every single production, she gleefully tracks me down to tell me with her usual infectious enthusiasm about whatever production it is they are working on at the time. Nobody has ever had a more charismatic drive or energetic enthusiasm level then Debby when it comes to community theatre!

When I first met Debby, she was busy championing to create an arts centre in Kelowna where the old Growers Supply Building was. It was where Debby and the Theatre Kelowna volunteers used to rehearse but Debby being Debby, was certain it could be so much more. It was in part thanks to Debby’s hard work and perseverance that Kelowna now has the beautiful Rotary Centre for the Arts.

As an actor, Debby has always shown great skill and her talents have earned her many awards over the years including several Ozone best supporting actress awards as well as a Theatre BC Mainstage award in 2004 for best supporting actress, so when I decided to create my own theatre awards for the City of Kelowna, I decided they should be called the Debby Awards in her honour.

Debby was the first to win a Lifetime Achievement Debby Award and rightfully so. I don’t know how Theatre Kelowna would ever get along without her. She truly is a gift to our theatre community and I can think of nobody more deserving of the Eric Hamber Award than Debby.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any more gushing about just how amazing this woman is!!!

Thank you for your time,

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Butterflies and Garden Art for Hospice

Coming up on Sunday, July 21, you have a great chance to not only check out some amazing “fresh” art but to also help raise funds for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

An “organic” gathering of artists at the Okanagan Lavender Farm will feature the works of some of the valley’s favourite artists, showcasing pieces that incorporate pieces of the farm. For example, Julia Trops has carved a peacock and created its tail out of lavender; Annabel Stanley has created a Cinderella dress using grapevines and lavender; Alex Fong will have one of his paintings framed in a barn window; and other artists are busy creating sculptures out of natural materials as well.

Annabel Stanley, the artist coordinating it all, noted that, “It is a great cause and the work that these artists are creating will be a feast for the senses.” 

The day will begin with a family-friendly event at 10 am with an Artisan Marketplace and the Art in the Garden exhibit, with a butterfly release at 12:45 pm by families who wish to take part in honour of a lost loved one. Harpist Caroline MacKay and the Diamond Harts Trio will be playing and there will be children’s activities as well. Guests can pre-purchase butterflies for the release through the Central Okanagan Hospice Association at: http://www.hospicecoha.org/EventsFundraising/ButterflyEffect.aspx



The event will conclude with an optional dinner from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Tickets for the Art in the Garden Dinner are $75 and feature a meal created by Waterfront Wine’s chef, Mark Filatow. You can get tickets in advance from Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm,  or on-line through the Central Okanagan Hospice Association website at http://www.hospicecoha.org/EventsFundraising/ArtintheGarden.aspx 


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Calling All Parrot-heads!

If you’re a big Jimmy Buffet fan, you’ll love the Rum Runners, playing at the Minstrel Cafe this Thursday night, July 11. Playing the best “trop-rock” and tons of Buffet tunes, they’re the perfect backtrack for summer. And really, there is just no place better for live music in Kelowna on a hot summer night then on the patio, under the shade of that magnificent tree at the Minstrel. The food is always amazing as well.

At this time of year, everyone wants to get onto the patio so your best bet is to make reservations in advance by calling the Minstrel Cafe at 250-764-2301. If you can’t get onto the patio, not to worry as they’ll most likely have the folding walls flung open to the night air.

I’ve caught the Rum Runners a couple of times before. Have fun with it, wear your favorite Hawaiian shirt, pin a flower in your hair and dance barefoot in the grass.

Also coming up at the Minstrel you’ll find Kenny Blues Boss Wayne with Sherman Doucette on Sunday, July 14. 

There is always something good going on at the Minstrel, with live music six nights a week now that summer has hit. Check out their website for the complete line up. www.MinstrelCafe.com 

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Go Overboard at The Party Aquatic Friday Night at Kelowna Art Gallery

If you’re looking for something fun to do tonight, The Party Aquatic sounds like a lot of fun, happening at the Kelowna Art Gallery starting at 7 pm. It’s the next installment of their popular GO Party events. People are being encouraged to dress is nautical inspired attire such as navy stripes, but for those not afraid to dive in a little deeper, you can go overboard and dress as sailors and mermaids, captains and crew. Don’t be surprised if you see tattoos of anchors and pin-up girls, tiki bars & grass skirts, or feel like you’ve suddenly set sail on the Love Boat. Any attire inspired by the big blue briny sea will do!

Tickets are $30 but you need to get them in advance from the gallery. Give them a call 250-762-2226 or go online to http://www.kelownaartgallery.com and get ready for a big splash of fun!


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Chris Botti at Mission Hill Winery – Nearly Sold Out!

ImageThe old saying of, it’s not what you know but who you know, may have had some influence on Chris Botti’s life, at least, that’s the way he tells the story, but anyone who hears him play knows, it was only a matter of time before he got discovered and vaulted into stardom. But Botti still gives none other than Sting credit for his rise to fame.

“All of my successes lead back to the doors he opened for me,” said the Grammy award winning jazz trumpet player who will be performing at Mission Hill Estate Winery on July 12.

“Sting has been such a big part of my life and success,” said Botti calling from New York for a recent interview, “I was in his band for a long time, then he had me as his opening act.”

Our interview was, in fact, postponed by an hour as he was in the studio laying down tracks for a recording Sting was doing. “We’re like brothers, I just love getting to play with him,” he added.

Although Sting was the one to shove him into the limelight, he is only one of a long list of world-renowned musicians Botti has graced stages with. From the classical worlds of Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell to Paul Simon and Steven Tyler, he’s been a much-welcomed musician by so many performers in all different genres.

In a recent review, he’s described as being “the new Chuck Mangione but with much nicer hair…and sex appeal,” and credited for his jazz improvisations as always knowing when to hit just the right “twisted note.” And David Foster, the man who has launched countless artists to date, called Botti “the next great living legend of the trumpet.”

Known primarily as a jazz and blues artist, Botti said, “I’ve done my fair share of references to classical music as well as jazz and hip-hop music. I think that it’s the variety that I bring to my own show and the people I play with that has made a name for myself more than anything else.”

His live concert repertoire can span from Chopin and Puccini to Sting and Miles Davis before reversing into Burt Bacharach.

Botti was about to head off on tour in London with Barbara Streisand when we spoke, then heading off to China after the West Kelowna show. In London with Streisand, he noted, “She really doesn’t have an opening act,” he said, “so it’s Barbara Streisand featuring Chris Botti – I come out and do five duets with her, then do two songs on my own with the orchestra, then that’s my night.”

While neither Streisand or Sting are expected at the Mission Hill show, what you can expect is to find an absolute first rate jazz band that can hold their own and keep up with Botti as the strains of his trumpet pour out like wine for your senses to drink in. It’s going to be a magical night!

Tickets are almost all sold out but a few are left in the Loggia Lounge, which includes reserved front section seating, an abundance of delectable hors d’oeuvres and of course, the award winning wines from Mission Hill Estate Winery.

Tickets are online at www.selectyourtickets.com



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