Disney Out? Disney In

Jack Singer Hall

Jack Singer Hall

The quickest way to get some culture in you is to attend a concert at the Jack Singer Hall. Last week, I got free tickets to see Disney in Concert performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (or CPO). I would have easily skipped the event because after living in Anaheim for a year and going to Disneyland almost every other week, you can say I was Disney’d out.

The tickets I received were pretty good. It was dead centre and in the orchestra section in Row O. From where I was sitting, I had a commanding view of the entire orchestra and stage. I felt sorry for the people in Row A and B because they were too close to the stage. If it was Celine Dion then they would have had an advantage over me but for the Disney Concert, I think I had the best seats in the house.

There’s something magical about the Jack Singer Hall. First of, it’s cozy and intimate versus the Jubilee Auditorium which is too large for this kind of venue. Second, the sound is incredible in the Jack Singer Hall. Everything sounds so natural and real. You could hear every instrument in its clarity and tone. And that’s why the CPO plays here and not at the Jubilee.

When the concert started, I was amazed at myself. I was actually enjoying the tunes and singing along too. They played all the favourites including Colour of the Wind from Pocahontas, Circle of Life from Lion King and A Whole New World from Aladdin. Along with the CPO, there were four vocalists that sung their hearts out. And they were good too.

The vocalists were Candice Nicole, Whitney Kaufman, Aaron Phillips and Andrew Johnson. One of them used to work for Disney and I can tell you, she played the part of Belle in the Beauty and the Beast and Ariel in the Little Mermaid very well.

A Jovial Nite with Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi

I miss attending concerts and so when Bon Jovi came to town, I picked up some cheap tickets for $10 and enjoyed a night of music from up high. I didn’t even know there were seats up there. They called it the Media Section but I was as high as the guy who operates the spotlights.

The one thing I don’t do anymore is to spend big money on concert tickets. I’m through lining up at ticket booths for tickets or fighting the crowd online. I don’t want to pay more than a CD for a few hours of blasting my eardrums.

Jon was very good that night. Of course, I was hoping to see Richie Sambora but he had to cancel out at the last minute. Jon had said something about him not being able to play for a long, long time. And he added that he was ok, not being at a hospital or hurt. For Richie not showing up, Jon did an awesome thing. He donated $100,000 to the Calgary Homeless Society. Good of him for doing that. Awesome!

Jon has aged since the last time I saw him but he still can hit the notes. He sang a few of his classics such as “It’s my Life”, “Living on a Prayer”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and he sang a few new hits from his Because We Can album.

I’m looking forward to the next concert where I can score some cheap tickets.

Chinese Festival

Lion Dance

Lion Dance

After attending the Chinese Festival on Saturday in Chinatown, I have to admit that it was better organized than the first year. My day started at the James Short parking structure with a nice surprise – free parking. That was very nice of the City to provide that to alleviate parking woes in Chinatown.

We were greeted by the dragon or at least the kung fu master who was holding the dragon’s head. He said we had some time before they started the dragon dance so we decided to wonder and browse the kiosks selling knick knacks.

There were the usual stalls that were selling iPod cases for $5, $10 and $15 for the premium cases. One stall sold Angry Birds slippers, Angry Birds pillows and Angry Birds keychains. There was even t-shirts that read Save the Birds – not sure if that was a play on the Angry Birds franchise.

Our friends from Asia Snacks were setup, but not selling our favourite egg puffs. They were too busy with taking orders for their Vietnamese sandwiches, to fire up the waffle-like maker so they kept telling us to come back later. We ran out of patience and ended up at the Dessert House for the egg puffs which were excellent. The mini doughnuts van was out and so was the Noodle Truck, both were very popular. TD Canada Trust were giving out personalized zodiac pins, ZipCar was promoting their new hourly car rental service in downtown Calgary and GlobalFest was selling tickets at their booth. There was something for everyone that attended the festival. Too bad it was only for one day, August 11th but I’m glad they ran it from 10am to 8pm.


Recycled Percussion

Justin Spencer of Recycled Percussion

Justin Spencer of Recycled Percussion

We attended the Stampede the other day and had a chance to catch the popular act at the Bell Centennial Plaza where Recycled Percussion from Las Vegas performed. These guys are awesome! If you get a chance to see them, do so. They are so energetic, funny and talented. They were on the fifth season of America Got Talent and now they are performing in their own show in Vegas at the Tropicana hotel.

They are all percussionists. Justin Spencer is the lead percussionist and is the world’s fastest drummer. Ryan Vezina is the second lead percussionist and duels against Justin in their act. Matt Bowman is the guitar player and Todd Griffin (aka DJ Pharoah) is the Media Director.

They play everything from Queen to the Beatles. They accompany the music by beating on makeshift drums, made out of barrels, garbage cans, hub caps and an aluminum ladder. Justin and Ryan climb up and down the ladder, beating on the steps while Matt and Todd beat on the barrels. It is high energy and good sound.

Catch them at Stampede until Sunday or see them in Vegas.