Noxshi (Pronounced Knock-she)

Noxshi Mercury Lounge – March 7, 2011

Part performance art, part grunge, part psychedelic band, Noxshi are a hard to define, five piece from London. Known for their innovative and a bit off the wall live performances the band did a showcase at the famed Mercury Lounge in New York recently.
Singer Yoriyos Adamos (son of Yusef Islam aka. Cat Stevens) leads the band with a commanding stage presence.  Not to be outdone his bandmates do their damnedest to make their presence felt as they rip through the wall of sound they’re building.
If you’re in Austin at SXSW this week they are playing a showcase at The 512 on March 18th head over and check them out!

The Martha Stewart Show

After our day trip adventure to The Ellen Show in November, my friend May applied for tickets for other shows to give us an excuse to make other mini adventures.
This time is took us New York City and The Martha Stewart Show.
Although the trip itself was longer the experience at the taping was much shorter and smoother. As one would expect of Martha Stewart it was very well organized. We had confirmed tickets so had to arrive at the Chelsea Studios at 0830 for a 1000 taping. (vs the hours we had to wait for Ellen to start).  It was just a short wait outside as they checked in the guests in small numbers and took them through an airport style security check.  An efficient coat check and pick up of release forms lead us to a couple of small but comfortable waiting rooms.  Shortly after everyone was in the rooms warm up comedian Joey Kola came in and gave the rooms the few simple rules and how to’s about the taping.  We found out that Joan and Melissa Rivers would be the guests as well that there would be cooking segments, segments on allergies and contest introductions.
After the introduction, we were taken in groups into the studio, the studio itself is an amazingly detailed recreation of a New York City loft. Seating just 175 people it felt intimate even with the massive number of crew on set as well.  This was a live broadcast so everything had to be seamless and the set changed quickly in commercial breaks. It amazed us how efficiently everything happened, for each change over there was a people cleaning, prepping and primping the moment the tape stopped rolling.
Joan and Melissa were as humourous as expected and were part of the cooking segments with Martha. Joan has been on the show more than any other guest so there was a comfortable comeraderie between the two ladies. After their segments, Dr Dean Mitchell discussed allegens in the home, this segment was a highlight as it featured two sets of audience gifts. Everyone in the audience recieved a Honeywell Air Purifier and new Martha Allergy-Wise Bedding pillow and pillowcases from Macy’s. The following segment featured Lori Sandler of Divvies Bakery an allergen-friendly bakery making Blueberry Cake.  The audience all recieved a copy of the Divvies Bakey Cookbook plus chocolates.
At the end of the show Martha stayed and took about 10 minutes worth of Questions from the audience.  It was impressive how accommodating and interactive the show was for the audience. We were allowed to take photos right up to and after the cameras rolled as well there was another Ask Joan & Melissa segment during the show that took questions from the audience and the show photographer took pictures for the show’s Facebook.  
As the show wrapped and Martha finished everyone departed the studio in an orderly fashion to be met at coat check with our pillows and a gift back with the rest of the ‘goodies’ including a certificate to mail in for the air purifier (thankfully we wouldn’t have to fly home with that in our luggage).  It was quite an amusing sight to see a hundred plus people walking down 26th Street with pillows under their arms.
In the same amount of time we had to wait for The Ellen Show to allow us into the set, we had completed our Martha Stewart Show experience. We both agree that we would totally do it again.
You should try it too if you’re heading to NYC, in addition to the confirmed tickets there’s usually a few stand-by tickets available on the day of taping.
We’ll see what show we can get on to next and keep you posted on our next TV taping adventure!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Currently in previews at The Palace Theater on Broadway, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical is based on the 1994 movie of the same name.
The a rousing tale of three drag queens discovering themselves as they take a road trip across the Australian outback in the title character…a big pink bus.
While camping is a part of their journey across the country, CAMP is a big part of the show! While not in the traditional Broadway musical style, the show highlights some great choreography and vocals to some of everyone’s favourite pop songs.  Starting off with a rousing rendition of “It’s Raining Men” sung by ‘The Divas’, a threesome of ladies who sing the numbers when drag queens perform & lipsync; “Sempre Libre”, “Shake Your Groove Thing” “MacArthur Park” or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.  A number of these big production numbers are ‘drag shows’ within the show and feature over the top costumes, in fact there are 320 costumes used in this production. From a movie that won the Oscar for Best Costumes, the musical has a lot to live up to and indeed it does.
Other smaller numbers, like “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Always On My Mind” and “We Belong” help the story along, featuring the vocal talents of the very capable casts.  Leads Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and Nick Adams have spent the last 12 weeks in Toronto before bringing the production

Leads: Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson, Nick Adams

to Broadway. This trial has given Swenson and Adams time to grow into their roles and I’m sure it helped them get used to the small costumes and very high-heels, Sheldon has played Bernadette in every production since the show debuted in Sydney in 2006 so was already ‘wearing’ the role like a dress.
Familiar music, outstanding sets and costumes along with a good story make Priscilla Queen Of The Desert a feel good, dancing in your seat, sing-along (but please don’t) rousing good time!
If you get the chance to see it when it in previews or when opens on Broadway March 20th, or even in London’s West End, you will have a smile across your face when you leave.

48Hrs In The Big Apple

Recently, my friend May & I had an opportunity to make a quick getaway to New York City.  After our recent daytrip to LA for The Ellen Show, she applied for a variety of other talk shows that we thought might make good excuses for excursions and adventures.  This time she got tickets to The Martha Stewart Show in NYC.  While we could have done this as a day trip too we decided that we’d stay overnight and have an extra day in the big city.
The timing of the Cathay Pacific flights from YVR to JFK are perfect for a quick getaway as being red-eyes, they maximize your time in the city.  We headed out on Sunday night at 10pm PST and arrived in NYC at a bright an early 6am local time (if you are able to sleep on the plane, which I rarely do, it’s even better).  Luckily we both have NEXUS so can speed through customs and were out on our way immediately.  Taking public transit from JFK to midtown Manhattan is easy, in less than an hour we were off the subway at Penn Station and walked the four blocks to the Fairfield Inn Manhattan/Chelsea which was super convenient located in the Flower District on the edge of Chelsea and Midtown.

Flower shops line 28th Street

  Being so early we expected to just leave our bags and then head back out to the city but happily the room was ready and they allowed us to have the complimentary breakfast too. Bonus!!
After a quick change, shower and bite we were recharged and ready to go.
This was only May’s second trip to the Big Apple and my 4th so we pooled our experiences to show each other parts of the town that we’ve found and liked. First we headed uptown to Columbus Circle and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the lobby lounge has one of the best views in the city. Located on the 35th floor and open to non-guests it’s a great spot to take in a (reasonably priced for NYC) refreshment and enjoy an amazing view of Central Park. 

Central Park from the Mandarin Oriental Lobby Lounge

After a pot of tea and some star spotting…Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries was having breakfast at the next table…we were back on our adventure.
Walking along Central Park towards The Plaza Hotel and Fifth Avenue, we tried for some more star spotting as Gossip Girl was filming in The Plaza but just saw a big group of extras and none of the cast. Wandering down Fifth Avenue browsing in the boutiques and shops we ended up at Rockerfeller Center, we’d both done it before

Skating Rink at Rockerfeller Centre

and we’d highly recommend visiting the Top Of The Rock and taking in the amazing views from the roof the the Center. We stopped in at the nearby branch of the famed Magnolia Bakery for some mid-morning sustenance. Then over to Times Square for the true tourist experience and the amazing hustle and bustle.  While there we checked at the box office of The Palace Theater to enquire about tickets for that evening’s preview of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, we’d seen discounted tickets on Travelzoo and luckily the box office was able to honour the discount and save us the $9.50 Ticketmaster service fee!

Marquee at The Palace Theater

It was now midday so we thought we’d venture into a new area of town and headed downtown to the FI-DI (Financial District) to check out Wall Street,

In the Fi-Di

I’d told May a few times about Stone (Pearl) Street and what a great place it is too hang out…in the summer it’s better as the street is filled with tables and all the restaurants serve in the street. In the frigid winter everyone is indoors.
From the FI-DI it was a short walk over to Century 21 for some discount shopping, if you don’t know about it check it out next visit…it’s madness!
After a few purchases we meandered through SOHO and into the West Village for more boutique browsing and bargain purchases at Uniqlo and Marc Jacobs.  All the while on our ventures the sights, sounds and smells of the city filled our senses, people watching is a major sport in a city like New York.
While roaming the West Village a friend emailed to say he had us on the guest list to check out a band showcase at the Mercury Lounge at 7pm. Since it’s an iconic venue we jumped a the chance but it was already 5pm so we needed to hurry back to the hotel to drop off our shopping and again refresh for the rest of the evening’s adventure.  Catching a taxi to the Mercury was a classic New York moment, from standing in the street to hail it to the ‘edge of your seat’ drive through heavy traffic to the lower east side.

Noxshi at Mercury Lounge

The band Noxshi, was late coming on so we only got to catch a couple of songs of their showcase but still interesting and entertaining even in that small of a dose.
The next taxi was again a thrill ride as it raced it’s way up the east side to get to Times Square, but the driver made up twice the distance we’d gone earlier in less than half the time.
Getting to The Palace Theatre with time to spare we found our seats for Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.  Still just in previews the

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

musical, based on the 1994 movie of the same name, is an amazing spectacle: over-the-top costumes, outstanding vocals and choreography plus a big pink bus onstage…what more could you ask for?
After a great time at the show we met another friend at Junior’s in Times Square, famed for it’s cheesecake, we had to try a slice! Yum! Besides the tasty food and good company, people watching was the order of business as all walks of life cross through the Time’s Square area.
Finally after lingering at Junior’s for a couple hours we made a quick trip into Times Square for a ‘tourist’ pic under the lights

Alex, May & Jay in Times Square

 and a quick jaunt into the massive Forever 21 branch so I could get a second opinion on a jacket…shopping never sleeps either!
Back to the hotel for a little shut-eye, morning came too soon as we quickly packed up again after breakfast and then made our way a couple blocks to the Chelsea Studios for The Martha Stewart Show taping.
An incredibly organized experience (would you expect any less from Martha?!), even waiting for the show was an experience. 

Martha Stewart

Well known stand-up comic, Joey Kola, is the warm up guy and also tells us what we should expect and what’s expected of us during the show.  Quickly we are whisked into the studio where we are still able to take photographs right up until the taping starts. Martha’s celebrity guests for this live episode were Joan and Melissa Rivers, they were a fun duo for Martha to cook for/with. Other segments of the show were about Allergies and Sensitivities, featuring specialists in these fields.  After the taping we were again allowed to take pictures while Martha answered questions from the audience members. We were quite amazed at how unexpectedly interactive and accommodating Martha was to her audience. We really enjoyed the show, we’d do it again.
After the taping we roamed around the Meatpacking District,

Chelsea Market

through Chelsea Market and the East Village on the way to Union Square.  From there it was a quick subway uptown to Grand Central Terminal and again to sit and people-watch in Times Square before making our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out of the city to our flight home from JFK.  Overall we packed a whole lot of seeing the city into our 48hour trip, we were worn out but would probably do it again in a heart beat!

Elton John – Rocket Man, Rocks Victoria

Elton John – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – February 15, 2011

Elton John kicked off his North American tour with his only Canadian dates and first ever visit to Victoria.  The back to back shows filled Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena with 16,000 fans over the two night, the largest crowds the 6 year old venue has experienced.  The buzz was definitely good for local business as many, like myself, came from out of town to catch the ‘Rocket Man’ perform his 45+ years of hits. 
And did he ever perform…3hours of non-stop hits! Elton sat down at the piano exactly at 8pm and belted out hits until 1059 (a City noise ordinance means concert events must end at 11pm).  His voice hasn’t seemed to have changed at all over the decades and still maintains the tone and strength to make each hit sound as familiar as ever.  The sound in the Save-On centre was outstanding as well, I’d heard that the building had good acoustics but this was even better than expected.  I’m sure the experience of 40 years of touring, many with the same band members, helps the songs sound perfect time after time. 
This tour is in support of “The Union” Elton’s new album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell. The concert features many songs from the album but although these were the first time the band was performing them live they sounded so familiar and tight they fit right into the set without missing a beat. 
As the 2.5 hour mark approached, the hits rolled on and the audience was on it’s feet dancing for The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing and finally Crocodile Rock (featured in the new Elton John produced film; Gnomeo & Juliet) wrapped up the main set.  After a quick minute break (the only one of the show) the band returned as Elton took the time to acknowledge the fans, spending a few minutes signing CDs, programs, t-shirts, even a glittery shoe.  To close the show the encore began with the 41 year old Your Song…sounding as fresh as ever…and finally Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me wrapped up a remarkable evening of music by a consummate performer.  

Now is the time to catch Elton as he tours across the USA
Upcoming shows include:

Feb 17  – Eugene, OR
Feb 19  – Reno, NV
Feb 24  – Kahului, HI
Feb 25  – Kahului, HI
Mar 11  – Uncasville, CT
Mar 12  – Worcester, MA
Mar 16  – New York, NY
Mar 18  – Norfolk, VA
Mar 20  – New York, NY
Mar 23  – Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 25  – Philadelphia, PA
Mar 26  – Baltimore, MD 
Mar 27  – University Park, PA
Apr 06  – Bismarck, ND
Apr 08  – Spokane, WA
Apr 09  – Boise, ID
Apr 10  – Billings, MT
Apr 22  – Wilkes-Barre, PA
Apr 23  – Rochester, NY
May 06  – Duluth, MN

2010 Olympic Memories

From February 12 – 28, 2010 Vancouver welcomed the world but more importantly woke up to the world and became a global city! The 2010 Winter Olympic Games finally arrived in Vancouver after a decade of pitches, plebiscites, planning, building, protests, decorating and some more protests.

In typical Vancouver fashion the very vocal naysayers seemed to have the ears and eyes of the public while the organizing committee went about their business.  Economic boom years at the start of the process gave way to an unprecedented economic bust right at the eleventh hour…sponsors went bankrupt, builders financing collapsed, income dropped & unemployment skyrocketed.  Were the Games in trouble? They weren’t in the financial shape they’d hoped to be but the committee persevered, they’d come this far…the finish line was in site
[cincopa AsNAxfKiQ2rF]
By the time the Olympic Torch completed it’s epic journey along the longest relay in history, none of the ‘issues’ mattered…this was The Olympics and judging by the spontaneous euphoria that the people of Vancouver displayed they were in need of a party! Party they did…every moment for 17 amazing days thousands poured into downtown Vancouver! The pavilions were lined up with crowds wanting to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Medals at the Royal Canadian Mint or watch a concert at LiveCity Yaletown or even just enjoy the camaraderie of having a beer and watching the game on a big screen in Celtic House.

After years of being “No-Fun” Vancouver and being wary of congregating in large groups the populous had had enough and they got their wanted to show that it was indeed OK to have fun and enjoy the moment. Never in Olympic, and certainly not in Vancouver’s, history had there been such an exuberant display of national and civic pride!

Those who left town or stayed away realized they missed out, those who participated will never forget and everyone now knows that Vancouver, has what it takes to be a World Class City.

What were your favourite memories of the Games?

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the 2010 Games, relive your memories with lots of activities throughout Vancouver. Check out where to “Share the Spirit” this weekend by visiting the City Of Vancouver website

Where are you going to “Dine Out”?

Dine Out Vancouver is one of the city’s tastiest events!

Dine Out is your chance to try that place everyone’s talking about but you keep putting off! Now’s the time, choose from a multitude of restaurants offering $18, $28 and $38 fixed price menues.

It’s already begun and only runs until Feb 6th, so if you haven’t booked a table you’d better take a look through the amazing list and make your choice(s) now! 

This year Dine Out is also holding a number of exciting and unique cullinary events…Brasserie Mystere, Dine In The Dark, Secret Supper Soiree, Dine Academy are just some of the fun…visit the Dine Out website for details.
From out of town? No problem, Tourism Vancouver has coordinated some amazing Dine Out Accommodation specials with Vancouver Hotels…so you can have a night out after you Dine Out!

Let me know what restaurants you’ve tried or are planning on trying…hopefully I’ll bump into you at a table!