Sunday, 10 April 2011

An Evening with Matt Dusk and Anna Wilson

An Evening With Matt Dusk and Anna Wilson

     I had never been to the Shenkman Arts Centre since it had opened on June 18th 2009 . It is located in the east end of Ottawa near Place d`Orleans Shopping Centre.


It was a long bus ride from my home near Bayshore. I finally arrived and was amazed by how beautiful the building is.

     I went inside and a small crowd had gathered for a meet and greet with Matt Dusk. I waited around to take some photos. Matt arrived and posed for some photos and said his hellos to all the guests.(Photo: Matt Dusk and the winners of the meet and greet and a few of the Wild Vines ladies)

     Matt then left to get ready for the show. I went to buy a ticket for the show which only cost me $12. I felt bad paying so little. I then went downstairs and visited the Wild Vines booth which was giving out free wine samples. I tried the Strawberry and the Blackberry and to my surprise I liked the Strawberry. I am usually a Blackberry kind of a guy. There was just something so refreshing about the Strawberry that will have me searching for it in Ottawa very soon. The show was about to begin so I made my way back upstairs.

     The show began with the replacement MC introducing Anna Wilson. He was having trouble reading his notes which brought some chuckles from the crowd but it was all good fun. I enjoyed the part where he walked in a full circle as too re-enter and started over. Finally Anna Wilson arrived on stage. (Photo: Anna Wilson just after the show and Anna Wilson's autograph)


 Anna started out by singing Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight". She followed this up by singing Brenda Lee`s "You Can Depend On Me", which had a very nice piano solo. She then introduced the soulful and touching song "A House a Home" which is the official song of Habitat for Humanity. Anna helped on building 10 houses in 5 days in Nashville and Habitat for Humanity is an organization that Anna and her husband Monty Powell hold near and dear to their hearts.



 (Photo: Anna Wilson and myself after the show)(Photo 2: Monty Powell's autograph)

      Anna then sang "Night Life" which is written by Willie Nelson and is her favorite Willie Nelson song. On her new CD Countrypolitan  Duets, Larry Carlton is on guitar but taking his place on the guitar this night was her husband Monty Powell. Next up was her #1 hit song, Eddie Arnold's "You Don`t Know Me" which she sings on Countrypolitan Duets with Matt Giraud the 5th place finalist from Season 8 of American Idol. This song also had a very nice guitar solo by Monty Powell. (Photo:Monty Powell and Myself)

      Anna then thanked the audience and left the stage but would be back again for a few songs with Matt Dusk.  There was a short intermission but nobody left there seats. There was a little confusion about whether this was a real intermission or not. They would have sold more of that awesome Wild Vines wine if it was announced that it was a true intermission. (Photo: Anna Wilson with some of the Wild Vines ladies)
     So once again the MC came out and said a little bit about were Matt had been lately and then introduced Matt Dusk. (Photo: Matt Dusk and Anna Wilson)
     Matt started out with the very upbeat and fun "Back In Town". He then followed this with "Live Till I Die". I particularly liked the change of pace part way through the song.  He then followed this by singing "Start of Something Big". (Photo: Matt Dusk autographed photo)

      Matt then started chatting with the audience. He said the question he got asked the most was whatcha been up to. He said he was in Warsaw where "the women are beautiful". Paris where you just eat and drink all day eating baguettes and red wine. Amsterdam.... he doesn't remember Amsterdam ;) Myself and some of the crowd chuckled at this and he followed this up by saying "Oh I see some of you have been to Amsterdam". I think it is more like we heard about Amsterdam because if we went to Amsterdam we wouldn't remember we went either. He then mentioned Las Vegas and the show girls the big band the full productions in the style of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darrin, Lady Gaga.... He then says.... "NO!! I stop at Lady Gaga" and the crowd roared with laughter. He then went on to thank Wild Vines for sponsoring the tour. He said it was their new strategy... "FREE BOOZE... The more you drink the better I sound". (Photo: Some of the Wild Vines crew)

     He then started back into his act with the smooth sounding "I Wouldn't Change a Thing". The audience got into the song part way through by clapping along. He then started into "On Vacation". This song had an awesome sax solo performed by Steve McDonald. The audience also had a part in the song at the end when Matt asked everyone to sing the lyrics after him. Next was the very upbeat Feels Good.
     Matt then slowed it down with his huge hit "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad". It was written by U2`s Bono for Frank Sinatra. It was then given to Matt to sing on his debut album. On the DVD from Las Vegas Matt is actually standing beside Frank Sinatra's piano. While in Las Vegas he also teamed up with Judy Garlands daughter Lorna Luft

      Matt then asked the audience if there were any Italians in the audience. Only a few people said yes. He said "this song is for you". He asked the husband if he ever spoke Italian to his wife, the man said no to which Matt replied "This is falling flatter and flatter". He then sang the song that was a hit in Italy,"Americano". He stops part way into the song and goes to the couple that said they were Italian and says "Like what I`m singing.... you don`t have a clue what I`m singing.....You just agreed to wash the bands laundry." He then continued into the song at a torrid pace, fast and fun. This must be a tough song to sing but it sounds great when performed well and Matt was at the top of his game for the speedy finish to the song. After the song was finished he said "Everything sounds better in Italian. I have to go to the washroom"... he then says some Italian sounding words an the audience laughs. (Photo: Matt Dusks autograph)

      He then slowed it back down with "A Million Kisses Late". Which for some funny strange reason reminded me of the chorus of Billy Idols "Eyes Without a Face".  (Photo: Anna Wilson's autograph")

     He then brought back out Anna Wilson who had changed into the full length dress you see in the photos. She had been in a shorter just above the knee length dress in a similar style as the full length one. (Photo: Anna Wilson autographed photo)

     Matt and Anna introduced their duet from the Countrypolitan Duets Album. It is the Jim Reeves song "Welcome to My World" which they had performed earlier that day to a national audience in Toronto on the sound stage at Canada AM. She had met Matt 6 months earlier and knew he was the one singer that would be perfect for this song. (Photo: Anna putting the Wild Vines signature fedora on Matt)

    Just before they sang the song it got a little spicy on stage with the back and forth dialogue. They had been up since 3 am getting ready for the Canada AM spot and so Matt says "We are happy to sing this song and then we will be very happy to go to bed" then Anna says "Absolutely..... Not together of course". The house broke out in laughter. "Monty's just back stage, you know the guitar player" Matt then comes back with "Shot down in Ottawa" and Anna shrugs her shoulders and says "Sorry". Matt then moves to the far part of the stage away from Anna and Anna moves to the other side of the stage just to be safe from Matt's advances. Anna then says she was kidding and Matt comes back with "What, about sleeping together?" So Matt replies"Let's go" signaling to start the song but by now Anna is bursting with laughter and has to take a few moments to compose her self. She says "I can't do it" and Matt keeps on trying by saying "The sleeping together part?"(Photo: Matt and Anna posing for some photos)

    Anna starts the smooth sounding "Welcome to my World" using long pauses to add to the effectiveness of the mood of the song. Their body language, the looks they gave each other added to the overall classiness of the moment. After the song is over Matt replies" So you're saying there's a chance" and she says "How bout we just be friends, which leads into the next song.(Photo: Anna Wilsons autographed photo)

     They introduce the next song about friends written by Randy Newman. From Toy Story "You Got A Friend In Me" and the audience starts clapping along right away and a good time was had by all. They even did a little dancing together during the number.(Photo: A photo of Randy Newman and I from March 28th/2011)

     Matt then started talking about the DVD special from Las Vegas that was on PBS. It could not be aired in Canada until after the official release date on April 1rst but they could do it earlier by putting it on pay-per-view on Viewers Choice. So he had a viewing party and invited his family. When he accessed it through he menus it was listed right at the top.... of the adult film section. He says "So picture this. Matt Dusk: Live from Las Vegas....Forrest Hump.....I can't win". His mom was sitting there and says " You know what the say?...That's life baby". True story (Photo: Matt signing autographs for fans)o

     He then starts into "That's Life" part way through he stops singing jumps down off the stage and into the audience to talk with a very special guest, Marianne Scharf. She is a long time Special Olympian, a veteran of 22 years with over a 100 medals. She competes in track and field, cross country skiing and swimming. Matt then starts doing some back and forth singing with Marianne and on the last line of the song she held it like pro as the band played to a big finale. (Photo: Marianne's best friend and fellow Olympian Christina Judd Campbell, Marianne Scharf and myself)


 Matt had met Marianne at a Special Olympics function and he was singing for mostly a corporate crowd. Singing for a corporate crowd is boring. He is working the crowd and he invites anyone to to come up and sing a song with him expecting nobody would. Marianne said "I want to sing a song" so she walks up with conviction. Then she says "I want to sing "Wind Beneath My Wings" Him being a Jazz singer he had no idea what that meant. Matt said he went over to his piano player Marty and with a face of shock and helplessness of not knowing the words, Marty started right into the song and Marianne gave the performance of a lifetime. I cried at the show and I am crying as I am typing this part of the blog. This is why.... Matt had received an email from Marianne saying that her dad had just passed away 2 weeks earlier and that when she was singing "Wind Beneath My Wings" she was singing it for her dad.  Matt asked her if she wanted to do a duet on his next record. Matt's band member Steve said that Matt couldn't afford Marianne because she was a Gold Olympian.(Photo: Marianne Scharf's autograph and Christina Judd Campbell's autograph)

     Matt then performed the multi paced "The Coffee Song" "They've Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil" followed by the slow smooth sounds of "Please Please Me".  He then sang the up beat, peppy song "Good News" which had the audience clapping at the end with a little encouragement from Matt. He then Introduced the band. On piano Marty Anderson. On Drums Ben Riley. On the Bass Ross McIntyre. On Saxophone, Musical director and Ottawa native Steve McDonald. (Photo: Matt signing some photos for me after the show)

    Matt then sang the big Vegas sounds of "Luck Be A Lady Tonight" followed by "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Mack the Knife" (Photo: Meeting Matt Dusk)

     The show is coming to the end and Matt says the best is yet to come. That being all the merchandise you can buy down stairs. Which brings laughter from the fans. He then talks about the CD and the included DVD. He says " It's not Forrest Hump... but it's really good." He then says he was watching this guy in the front row and in a kind of surfer/stoner kind of voice he says what he thinks that guy is thinking " It's not Forrest Hump..then forget it". (Photo: Matt Dusk Anna Wilson and myself with the Wild Vines signature Fedora)

     He then finishes off with his first radio hit "All about Me" says goodnight and in true Ottawa fashion people start to leave. It's called an encore people!!! So we whistled and clapped and Matt came back out for one last song. (Photo: Matt Dusk, Anna Wilson and I goofing around for the cameras)

     He explained that this was one of the best songs ever written and it was written by a Canadian. (Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (as usual) performed by Claude Fran├žois, while on holiday in the south of France. Acquired the rights and rewrote it for Frank Sinatra. Matt ended off the night with "I Did It My Way"

      After the show all the fans got to meet Anna Wilson and Matt Dusk. They stayed till all fans had there photos taken and autographs signed. I said my goodbyes and headed off into the night and a long ride home on the bus.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Genie Eve at the Arc Hotel



It was a snowy night in Ottawa but the Stars started appearing one by one and sometimes 3 or 4 at a time. The Genie Awards were being held in Ottawa and were being planned and promoted better than ever  thanks to CBC the NAC and many more businesses in the downtown area. I had made my way downtown to view the film Barney's Version which was up for 11 awards including Best Picture. When I arrived at the theatre I was told that there was only a 9:30 pm showing. So I headed over to the Arc Hotel where I had heard through my Twitter connections that the celebs were going to pick up their swag bags. It was quiet for a while and then they started to arrive.

The first celeb to arrive was one that I had been tweeting with in the days leading up to the Genies. It was Jian Ghomeshi of CBC's radio show Q. I introduced myself and shook his hand. Since I was going to be in the fan zone the following day I did not ask for an autograph.

A few people started to come out of the Hotel and move toward the SUV parked alongside the hotel. I noticed someone getting a photo with one of them so I hurried over to see that it was the very friendly Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent. I asked for his autograph and before he did he removed his glove and shook my hand. He is such a warm and gentle human being and it was an amazing experience to meet him. The person who had his photo taken with Mr. Pinsent was a young man I will call J. He was well informed in the field of movies and very interested in the arts and especially in film making.

Mr Pinsent was heading over to the NAC for rehearsals with Allan Hawco from "The Republic of Doyle" as well as Zaib Shaikh from "Little Mosque on the Prairie". When Mr Pinsent arrived back at the hotel he asked us if we carved these Genie Ice Sculptures when he was gone.

A short while later William Shatner showed up and quickly whisked by us into the Arc.It turns out Mr. Shatner is a going to be one celeb that might be difficult to land an autograph and photograph.

Next to arrive was the lovely Shannon Tweed. J said Hi and she pleasantly said hello back. She was not with Gene and as you will read in my next blog, she had Brett W Wilson from CBC's Dragons Den as her date for the Genies.

A few other autograph seekers had arrived by now and we all stood politely and quietly by the Taxi stand outside the Arc Hotel. It was really snowing heavy now and we were all getting soaked and our toes were freezing but we did not care.

George Stroumboulopoulos arrived and stopped to talk with us a bit. I asked for his autograph and I was treated to one of the coolest works of art in my autograph book.

The next person to arrive was a bit of a surprise because I did not see him on any of the Genie lists. It was also cool that I was the only one that recognized him which gave me a bit of an advantage to talk with him.  It was one of my favorite Canadian actors Don McKellar. As soon as he came out of the car I think I said "Don McKellar, Holy S#*t, it's Don McKellar". He came over and we chatted for a bit and I asked him for his autograph. I like it when people who sign my book add extra messages to their autographs. Don McKellars had such a message included. I met him 3 or 4 more times over the next 30 hours at the different locations that the Genies and the after parties were held.

The DJ for the Genie Awards was Kardinal Offishal. He was in and out a few times during the night and when he came back the final time at around 11 pm I asked him for his autograph and he signed this pretty cool autograph.

A car pulled up and stopped at an angle in the middle of the street and out jumped Jay Baruchel wearing his dark grey embroidered Montreal Canadians cap. He quickly went into the hotel.

One of the final groups to arrive was Kirsten Kreuk from Vancouver who portrays Lana Lang on Smallville as well as 4 episodes as Hannah on one of my favorite shows Chuck. She was accompanied by Tyler Labine who stars in Mad Love with Jason Biggs. He was also in Anti-Trust and Zac and Mira make a porno. Below is Kirstens autograph.

Tyler Labine is a really cool guy. He came out a bit later for a smoke and talked with us for about 15-20 minutes.

A few other stars that arrived were Sook-Yin Lee and Jodele Ferland.

A little after midnight I headed to the bus stop, soaked to the bone. I now had to regroup for the next day as I was trying to be first in line at the Fan Zone and then hopefully get into the Genies. I made it home at about 1 am and had a long hot shower to warm my body back up ready for more adventures on Genie day. BTW I never did make it to see Barney's Version but it is on my to-do list.