Category Archives: Entertainment

London Fringe Festival 2015 – Show Recommendations

For the first time in its 16 year history, London Fringe Festival is coming to the Old East Village and is already off to a fantastic start! There wasn’t an empty seat in the house at the Palace Theatre for the Performer Showcase last night as the artists took to the stage to promote their shows in three minutes or less. If the reactions of the house say anything, this is going to be a FANTASTIC Fringe!

Whether you are a first time festival goer or a seasoned pro, you will find this year’s Fringe promises something for everyone. From explicit comedy to family friendly fun, Fringe is spread across seven venues including three in the Old East Village: The Main Stage and Procunier Hall at the Palace Theatre, and the newly acquired space called “The Bank” at 762 Dundas Street.

Based on tonight’s showcase and performances I’ve been lucky to review in the past, I’d like to give you a few early recommendations on shows I feel you might not want to miss. I will be posting reviews with Theatre In London over the opening weekend, so check back for more recommendations later!

Family Friendly Fringe

AbraKIDAbra – The Bank
– Peter Mennie presents a comedy magic show that is fun for all ages. You can’t go wrong at $8 per ticket!
Only 3 shows: June 6, 7 and 13th.

Caws & Effect – McManus Studio
– Described as large scale shadow theatre from a bird’s eye view. The three minutes we saw at the preview were highly intriguing!
June 3, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 13th. – $12

Holka Polka – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– From the Palace Theatre’s very own LYTE program comes this delightful tale about a good little witch. It’s always a great show when it’s put on by Theatre LYTE.
June 4, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 13th – $10.

James & Jamesy in the Dark – McManus Studio
– Okay, based on past performances I find they aren’t quite my cup of tea but the kids (and the crowd!) go wild for them. Highly silly humour that drives the kids wild! $12 per ticket.
June 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11th.

Dance Adventures – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– I love dance, so this one was a given for me to add. This is an energetic and entertaining group of young dancers from London that you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $10 and they perform June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13th.

Adult Fringe

Some of these aren’t strictly adult, but most would be suitable for older children/teens. Check the Fringe program for more details on content that may be questionable in each show.

God is a Scottish Drag Queen II – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– I was fortunate to review the first installment of this at last year’s Fringe festival. Not only did I bust a gut, I bust a move with God! Be careful raising your hand at a comedy show….
June 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. – $12

Die Roten Punkte: Best Band in the World – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– They had me busting a gut in just 3 minutes. I can’t wait to see what they do with an hour!
June 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 – $12

Grade 8 – The Bank
– Raw and heartfelt stories told through spoken word and monologues. I highly enjoyed the preview and can’t wait to review this one for you. Stay tuned!
June 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. – $10

Underneath the Lintel – Spriet Family Theatre
– I reviewed this show in 2012 and loved it. Can’t wait to see it again this week! Don’t tell Patrick O’Brien, but I think I’ve got a strange little crush on his character. You’re going to love this one. (You’re welcome!)
June 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13. $12.

Lest We Regret – The Arts Project
– I’m choosing this one for several reasons. 1) The subject is compelling. 2) The preview was fantastic. 3) I’ve worked with Tim Bourgard and Tim Condon and I adore them. and 4) The woman in the show walks her dog past my home. Keepin’ it OEV!
June 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13. – $12.

Northern Daughter – McManus Studio
– Keeping it with OEV, you must, must, must see our very own Donna Creighton’s presentation of Northern Daughter. Compelling, funny and absolutely gritty, you will run the gambit of emotions with this one I think. Enjoy!
June 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13. – $12

I could go on, I’m sure, but there is a start for you. Come back and let me know what shows you check out and what you think of them.

Don’t forget about the Old East Village Street Festival and Sidewalk Sales on June 6th between Dundas and Rectory Streets, and the Dundas Street Festival on June 13th followed by Nuit Blanche! Happy Fringing, everybody!


What’s Happening?? OEV Listings to June, 2015

Get out and support the arts and entertainment scene in this incredible neighbourhood. There is so much good in this ‘hood!

If you have an event in the OEV that you don’t see listed here or an update for one of the events below, get it promoted by sending an email to


April 25th – Shakuntala – Palace Theatre, Main Stage
A dance drama based on the Indian epic, Mahabharta.

April 30th – May 9th  – One Actmanship – Procunier Hall, Palace Theatre
One Actmanship is comprised of two Foster One Acts: My Narrator and The Death of Me. Laughs abound as Foster pokes fun at human foibles.

May 22nd – 30th – Talley’s Folly – Palace Theatre, Main Stage
“A Victorian Folly becomes the setting for, what many call, the most beautiful love story seen on stage. Filled with comedy and wonderful dialogue, this Pulitzer Prize winning play is set during one of the most delicate times in American History; this is a production you will never forget.”



Musician Mondays – Open mic every Monday night at the St. Regis Tavern

Wednesdays at the  St. Regis Tavern, EV’s Thick Fat Sound Choir – Bar Choir meeting  $5

Saturdays, 11am – 2pm, live music at the Artisan Bakery, 864 Dundas Street.

Sundays, 11am -2pm, live music at The Starving Artist Cafe, Dundas at Elizabeth St.


18 – El Sistema Aeolian – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
19 – CCH Has Got Talent – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
20 – Genticorum – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
21 – Pyscho Daisies – Musical Chairs, 9pm, St. Regis Tavern
21 – Marty Kolls and Fraser Teeple – The Root Cellar Organic Cafe
22 – Remembering Stan Rogers – 6:30 pm, Aeolian Hall
23 – London Food Co-Op Sustainable Food Systems speaker series – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
26 – Hot Music for a Cold Night – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
27 – Heartaches Country String Band – 8pm, St. Regis Tavern
28 – Outcasts – 3pm – 7pm, St. Regis Tavern
28 – Sunfest performer to be announced ** – 7pm, Aeolian Hall


1 – London Concert Band – 2pm, Aeolian Hall
5 – Amelia Curran – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
8 – Alison & Laura – 12:30pm, Aeolian Hall
10 – The Kruger Brothers – 8pm, Aeolian Hall
12 – Marc Jordan Trio – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
14 – Aviva Chernick – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
19 – Valdy, 8pm, Aeolian Hall
20 – Andre Laplante, 8pm, Aeolian Hall
22 – Sara Davis Buechner – 7:30pm, Aeolian Hall
27 – Heartaches Country String Band – 8pm. St. Regis Tavern
28 – Outcasts – 3-7pm, St. Regis Tavern
28 – Tal National – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
28 – Spring Concert of Piano Concertos, 12:00pm,  Aeolian Hall
29 – Harry Manx – 6:30pm, Aeolian Hall


15 – Great Lake Swimmers, 8pm, Aeolian Hall
16 – Great Lake Swimmers, 8pm, Aeolian Hall
17 – Sylvia Tyson – 8pm, Aeolian Hall
19 – Men At Words – 7:30pm, Aeolian Hall
24 – Pierre Bensusan – 8pm, Aeolian Hall
25 – Laila Biali & The Radiance Project – 7pm, Aeolian Hall


1 – Lemon Bucket Orkestra – 7pm, Aeolian Hall
6 – Buffy Sainte-Marie – 8pm, Aeolian Hall
8 – Manteca – 8pm, Aeolian Hall
23 – Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, 8pm, Aeolian Hall

6 – Peter Katz – 8pm, Aeolian Hall

Events For Music Makers

  • Ruby Tuesday – “Song swap, drop-in for hummer, strummers, listeners.” 7-9:30 pm Tuesdays at Life*Spin.
  • Ukulettes – “Music that makes you smile 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  February 6th, Life*Spin
  • Musician Mondays – Mondays at 7pm, St. Regis Tavern
  • Roots & Soul Sundays at the Reeg – Sundays at 4pm, St. Regis Tavern
  • Bi-weekly open mic night at the Root Cellar starting September 11th, 9pm to midnight. All singers, musicians, poets, storytellers, performers welcome–sign up when you arrive.
  • SOUP – Southern Ontario Ukulele Players – 7:15 pm – 9pm at Aeolian Hall. $5
  • Community Jam – Wednesdays, East Village Coffeehouse. Contact the Coffeehouse to get on the performers list.
  • Starting Friday January 23rd – 7-9pm, EVAC Friday Night Music Jam Circles; jam circles at EVAC every other Friday evening. (They are looking for a ringleader to lead the circle this night.)
  • Open Mic Jam Night – Every Thursday, The Town & Country Saloon. 9 pm – 1:30 am Bring your instrument or your voice. Karaoke singing available. Everyone is welcome.



  • February 12th and April 8thIgnite London – The Aeolian’s Ignite London is a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea – and the guts to get on stage and share it. Run by local volunteers, Ignite London is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in our city. Ignite is a style of presentation where participants are given five minutes to speak on a subject accompanied by 20 slides.
  • Beginning Friday January 30th 6-7:30pm – EVAC Lecture Series: Jane Jacobs & Urban Design. This is a five-part lecture series on urban design, focusing on the works of Jane Jacobs. The talks will be:
    Friday, January 30th: Streets
    Friday, February 6th: Neighbourhoods
    Friday, February13th: Preconditions for urban diversity
    Friday, February 20th: Landmarks & historic buildings
    Friday, February 27th: How cities change

The talks will be presented by Benjamin A. Vazquez, U.E. Cost will be $10 for EVAC members, $20 for non-members for all five talks. PWYC if need be. The proceeds will go directly to support EVAC.

  • January 25 – March 9th – The Aeolian Winter Art Exhibit – Open to the public from 10am – 3pm weekdays. Featuring the art of Wendy Reid and Don Earle with guest artists, Dawn Johnson and Tracy Root.
  • March 11th, Hopping Into History Art Show Opening Reception. 6:30 pm, Aeolian Hall.
    Hopping Into History, London’s Old East Village art show opening reception and book launch will be held Wednesday, March 11, 2015. We are pleased to welcome the artist Cheryl Radford and the author Kym Wolfe to our newest exhibition. The opening reception will be held between 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at The Aeolian Hall. Everyone is welcome to attend this free event, light snacks and refreshments will be served, and a cash bar will be open. The book will be a selective glimpse into the history of Old East Village, from the Dundas Street commercial corridor and Heritage Conservation District to the factory district. It includes interesting facts/trivia about the area and a bit about the current culture, accompanied by Radford’s ink and watercolour illustrations.
  • April 17th – 19th – 2015 London Artists’ Studio Tour – Various locations around London. OEV locations include: Metal In Fusion, 630 1/2 Lorne Ave; Amanda Rowe, 630 1/2 Lorne Ave; Jayne Cornelis, 630 1/2 Lorne Ave; Chris Snedded, London Clay Art Centre, 664 Dundas St.

Hot Summer Nights & Cool, Classic Movies

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

The Palace Theatre is inviting you to kick back, relax and beat the heat with them this summer. Step into their climate controlled theatre and enjoy a series of cool movies throughout the month of July.

Click on each highlighted film name below for a link to iMDb film information and reviews.

Friday JULY 4: Metropolis 8PM $10 – includes free popcorn

Friday JULY 11: Summer Wars (Anime) 8pm – $8

Tuesday JULY 22: Y tu Mama Tambien/Vanishing Point 1 for $5/2 for $8

Wednesday JULY 23: Now and Then/Thelma & Louise 1 for $5/2 for $8

RESCHEDULED! Friday JULY 25: Weird Science/ Pretty in Pink 7pm – 1 for $5/ 2 for $8

RESCHEDULED! Thursday JULY 24: The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth -1 for $5/2 for $8

Tuesday JULY 29: To Wong Foo/The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert 1 for $5/2 for $8

Did you know?

Air conditioning was born in a Brooklyn, New York publishing company in 1902 by Willis Carrier, a mechanical engineer. Just over 10 years later, the world renowned “Carrier Engineering Corporation” was founded to manufacture and sell this technological marvel that had an almost revolutionary impact on the Americas.

When cinemas began noticing a downward trend in ticket sales during the summer months, Carrier encouraged the use of his air conditioning to cool the theatre and draw in patrons looking to beat the heat. The first to try this cool solution was Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1925, in their flagship Rivoli Theatre. It was a huge success and within 5 years, Carrier’s cooling systems were installed in over 300 theatres across the United States.

Yup! That movie theatre is cold for a reason.

In its early history, air conditioning was an unaffordable luxury that many could not enjoy. When movie theatres began catering to people with a cooled and comfortable environment, the summer movie season was turned on its heels. People were looking to escape the heat in an affordable manner thereby creating a whole new market and sending ticket sales skyrocketing.  The history of movie sales increasing in the summer can ultimately be attributed to air conditioning, as can the advent of what we have come to know as the “summer blockbuster”.

What’s Good: Ev’s Thick, Fat Sound Choir

It’s a Wednesday evening in the Old East Village and a group of friends, neighbours and strangers have come together to form an informal bar choir. They have gathered at the St. Regis Tavern to enjoy a beverage or two and sing a few tunes from a colourful duotang that is filled with a wide variety of songs from the 1950’s to the present.

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
No whispers allowed here!

I open the book and the inside cover says “No whispers allowed here!” I grin and hope nobody will notice if I whisper, because I’m not feeling confident enough to sing tonight. The bar is slowly filling and a young man named Lewis sits perched at the front of the room with his acoustic guitar while Gina Farrugia, organizer and local voice coach, welcomes everyone and prepares to begin.

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
Lewis and his acoustic guitar, ready to play.

Before we start I ask where the name “Ev’s Thick Fat Sound Choir comes from”. When I first learned about the group I read it as “EV’s” and of course associated the EV with “East Village” as in Old East Village. “No, no, no.” says Gina. “It’s named for Ev (Everett) Smith.”

Ev Smith sits in the Guy Lombardo speedboat. Photo courtesy The London Free Press.
Ev Smith sits in the Guy Lombardo speedboat.
Photo courtesy The London Free Press.

Everett Smith, I learned, was a local musician, television personality and a World War II private who would trade his rations for percussion lessons. He loved music and the “thick, fat sound” of voices joined in harmony. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word who was very well respected in the city of London. Everybody I’ve spoken to recently who knew Ev speaks highly and wistfully of him, instantly making him someone I wish I had known before he passed unexpectedly at the age of 82. “But why did you name it after him?” I asked, “Just because he loved music so much and was so well respected, or…?”

“Because I admired him.” Gina explains. “He was inclusive – he never differentiated between music genres — he treated all musicians the same … age, gender, music type — and that’s what I wanted in my choir. He was always kind to me – appreciated my piss and vinegar in music union meetings, always offered excellent feedback when I sang classical solos at his church, when he saw my jazz gigs. Very supportive – he was loved by all.”

Suddenly, I’m aware that this man I never had the privilege of meeting would have loved this choir that has been named for him, and I’m ready to sing instead of whisper: for Ev.

This is Ev’s Thick Fat Sound Choir, and as they will tell you, this ain’t no church choir!

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
The Choir

Ev’s is approaching its first anniversary of existence, having started at the APK in downtown London just over a year ago. When the opportunity arose to move the choir to the St. Regis Tavern in the Old East, Gina says she jumped at it. She explains to me that this is a social gathering. No attitudes, egos or technical terms are allowed. Well, maybe one or two now and then, but for the most part they just aren’t used. It is easy to see that this is totally meant to be fun, relaxed and simply celebrating the joy of song.

Each week a new musical theme is chosen and on the particular week that I joined them the theme was “Ev wants his MTV”. The group is broken down into three registers: high, middle and low, all done by a show of hands in an easy going way. And with the sip of a drink, a clearing of the throat and a call from Gina at the front, the group is ready to sing. I decide to take notes and photos while glancing at the book, and whisper-sing along.

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
Video Killed the Radio Star

The first song for the night is the Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star, followed by Queen’s Radio Ga Ga and then, for something completely different, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. I determine I could like this group, put down my camera and pen and sing along.

With the core “theme” songs out of the way, the group starts browsing through the book naming songs at random. Free Fallin’, Runaway, I Will Wait and Take It Easy are soon added to the list, as well as a little bit of David Bowie. Everyone is singing and having a good time and Gina has a smile of satisfaction as she leads and encourages the group providing this thick, fat sound that Ev would love.

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
Gina Farrugia

“It’s easier when we have more people.” she says. “People sing louder and it’s more fun. Less chicken-shitty.” She encourages the group to gather more people, bring a friend, tell them to bring a friend and so on. “People make music complicated,” she quips. “Musicians are the worst for it. Why make it complicated? Just FEEL it.” I was feeling it. The bar was feeling it. And I’m sure Ev, wherever he may be, was feeling it with us.

And here’s the good news: You can feel it too. Every Wednesday evening at the St. Regis Tavern from 8pm until about 10pm. The cost to join is just $5 which covers the overhead costs of the books/printed pages and venue. Once the nice weather arrives the choir will move to the patio at The Reeg which will result in the Old East Village being filled with the beautiful sounds of singing voices. That itself will be worth turning out for on a warm summer night, and those warm memories will carry you through the fall and winter when the group is forced to return inside the St Regis to sing once more.

But remember: no whispers allowed. Only the thick, fat sound of song that Ev loved so much, please. Bring a friend, your courage and come thirsty. Nothing else is required.

Jo-Anne Bishop, 2014
Ev’s Thick Fat Sound Choir


We’re a bar choir.

Yeah-you read that right.

•No auditions
•No long term commitment – come the evenings you can make it and not feel guilty about the ones you miss (but we’ll be having fun without you!!!!)
•No SATB…just melody and harmony parts – this ain’t no church choir sweethearts!
•Solos by lottery
•Pop tunes 50’s to the present – think Cheap Trick, Lighthouse and Lady Gaga in one evening
•Moderate beer drinking encouraged
•Fun mandatory

Wednesdays @St. Regis Tavern
8pm – we start singing our A$$es off!
5 Bucks

Everything Old is New Again – The Root Cellar Organic Café

The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive markets out there. Several elements are needed in order for a restaurant to be successful: an enticing menu, outstanding customer service and a welcoming dining atmosphere. Since its inception in July of 2012 as a 19 seat cafe, the Root Cellar Organic Café has certainly offered all of this and more, but recently they unveiled a stunning expansion of their space that has made the dining atmosphere that much more welcoming and in a word: incredible.

Recycled, upcycled and innovatively designed are apt descriptors of the elements you will see when you walk into the new space at 623 Dundas Street East. Everywhere you look you will notice something old that has become new again. From bike frames welded to a counter at the front window to bicycle rims acting as a hanging cup rack. From rebar that has been welded into gorgeous and unique light fixtures on the ceiling, to sheet metal that has been bent and fused into a stunning line of flowers, or a handrail that now holds menu boards. The décor is intriguing and beautiful to say the least.

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Many of the upcycled items were uncovered in the renovation process while others, such as the handrail that now holds the menus and an old yellow counter section, have been recycled from buildings at the Western Fairgrounds that were recently demolished. This space is a feast for your eyes and soul, and it’s easy to feel quite satisfied before you even set eyes on the menu which has an offering for every appetite and every diet. From vegan entrees to water buffalo burgers, local and organic are the two most important words to keep in mind as you peruse the delectable bill of fare.

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With a focus on “from-scratch” seasonal menus, in house artisan baked goods made from local and organic grains, supporting small local farmers is important to the Root Cellar. The concept for the restaurant grew out of a desire to create a relationship between local organic producers and food consumers. To this effect, they began to source local and organically produced items in an attempt to create as small a food chain as possible. All items on their menu are organic (with very few exceptions), and 80% of the food they use on their menu is local. To achieve this they frequent farmers who use season extension techniques such as hoop houses, allowing certain vegetables to be grown during the winter months.

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But the food, décor and incredibly welcoming staff aren’t the only enticements for customers at the Root Cellar. Their walls house a six week rotating art display featuring local London artists. The current display is a collage of local miscellany featuring 30 different artists. The Root Cellar doesn’t collect a commission on anything sold putting all the profits into the pockets of the artists. I was told a story about one of the artists whose actions reflect the values of the Root Cellar, and I would say of the Old East Village as well. Upon selling one of his pieces of art and knowing they weren’t taking a commission, the artist asked who he could make a donation to on behalf of the restaurant. They chose the Unity Project located just up the road from the Root Cellar.

Root Cellar 059Community focused. Local. Sustainable. Responsible. These are words I would easily use to describe the Root Cellar, and the neighbourhood in which it opens its doors to every day: The Old East Village. They are such a good fit for each other that at times I find it hard to believe the Root Cellar only opened its doors two years ago. It has become such a staple of the OEV that it feels like it has been part of the streetscape forever. And if the renovations and future plans for the restaurant are any indication, they don’t plan on leaving any time soon either. With an extended menu that now includes dinner and longer hours from Thursday to Saturday, a new chef, Dani Murphy, who is described as “amazing” by General Manager Ellie Cook, the Root Cellar has said “We are here to stay!”

Root Cellar 053And if that wasn’t enough, there are even more exciting developments in the works for the Root Cellar Organic Café. Soon their old, tiny kitchen will become London’s first co-operatively owned nanobrewery: a very small brewery operation that is defined by a brew system less than 4 US beer barrels. It will be the first worker owned brewery of its kind in Canada and will offer the beer on tap in the Root Cellar, and perhaps in a growler size that you will be able to take home later in the game.

Oh, and about that sign! Whenever I mention the amazing Root Cellar to friends and neighbours they comment on the sign that hangs above the old entry. “When are they going to get a new sign??” everyone questions, so I asked Ellie – who was the sign’s creator, in case you didn’t know.

“SOON!” she assures me, though she says it with slight hesitation. Asrootcellar the sign is being done by the same folks at Reclaimed Innovations who did the new space makeover, it might take them a little time to recover from the hard work they put into the Root Cellar space before the sign is completed. For now, look for the modest yellow hand painted sign that still adorns the front of the building. You can’t miss it and I promise you, the food will still taste just as good.

Drop in to see the folks at the Root Cellar today, and tell your friends about it tomorrow. This is truly a business to get behind in London, Ontario. With breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and a mandate for local, sustainable and responsible partnerships, you can’t go wrong with the Root Cellar Organic Café.

Bon appétit!