Feel Good Feelin’ Music

I’ve been meaning to post something about my talented, beautiful singer/songwriter friend Jenni Doyle ever since I first met her in Palm Springs the last time I was there.  She and her husband live in Vancouver and also have a home in Palm Springs.

I feel like I’ve known Jenni a lot longer than I have because I’ve heard so much about her through two friends that we’ve both known forever, although these two other friends have never met.  Our mutual friend Susanne has written lyrics to some of Jenni’s songs, while our other mutual friend Michael, wrote music for her album “Night Angles.”

Talk about a small world and having something in common aside from our love for dogs and Palm Springs.

Her single “Only One Cook” was filmed at philanthropist Joe Segal’s breathtaking waterfront mansion in Vancouver and directed and edited by Dave Benedict. Jenni’s make-up by Safina Kataria.  Photo from her website.

Jenni has been entertaining people since the ripe age of two, when she donned her first pair of tap dancing shoes. After her early years in musical theatre and dance, she was accepted into Canterbury High School for the Arts in Ottawa, which then led her to Vancouver where she studied acting at Vancouver Film School. In the years to follow, Jenni was one of the top 25 finalists out of 4,000 girls, to make it onto the Global T.V. reality show “Popstars.”

This experience propelled her into the music industry, where she worked with producer/songwriter John Dexter (Carly Rae Jepsen, Bif Naked, D-Cru). She recorded two songs on the D-Cru album “Into the Future” which was released in stores across Canada. She went on to sing in a duo called “JeLL” where they performed their “Night Angles” songs and  “The Star Spangled Banner” live on ESPN in Los Angeles. 

Jenni has also had the honour of singing “Oh Canada” and performing her Shania Twain act in front of thousands of people at B.C. Place. 

With Gloria Macarenko, longtime host of CBC Vancouver’s supper-hour television newscast at 6:00, and Tina Turner and George Michael lookalike performers. Jenni does a tribute to Shania Twain. That’s her up on the screen.

Jenni also shared a heartwarming story about meeting her cute little Shih Tzu named Bella.  This is her second Bella.  Her first Bella passed away from cancer at a fairly young age.  Jenni loved the dog and was completely heartbroken.  About two years after Bella’s passing a friend suggested it was time Jenni get another dog.  She wanted another Shih Tzu. When she went to look at a litter of pups one got very excited, ran right up to her and jumped into her arms.  The owner said the dog’s name was “Bella.”  On her birth certificate was written “Bella Comes Back.” True story!

I just heard this song Feel Good Feelin’ for the first time yesterday.  I thought since the title has Feel Good in it, how appropriate for an uplifting Friday note.  Hope you enjoy it even if you’re new to country music.  Be sure to check out the Kelowna, B.C. scenery (and the tattoo on her arm in the very beginning).

Have a great weekend!  The last one before Christmas.


Feel-good Friday: Echo in the Canyon

This is the most feel-good I’ve felt ALL WEEK

(left) Tom Petty gives his last film interview to Jakob Dylan (son of Bob) in “Echo in the Canyon”, (right) David Crosby recalls the neighborly “social network” that made Laurel Canyon special – images The Argonaut (by Bliss Bowen).

This is music history in the making with a loving look at Laurel Canyon and the California Sound back in the day.  ENTERTAINING to say the least.

This NETFLIX rocdoc is a must for all music and rock fans in general.  It’s a well thought out documentary about the history of music in L.A. with interviews going back and forth with some of music’s greatest.  Uplifting, funny and most of all, fantastic music.  You won’t want to miss it.

Now on Netflix

“Amazing Grace” – Amazing Aretha

The Gospel according to The Queen

Imagine uncovering lost footage of a young Aretha Franklin making a live recording of gospel music which turned out to be the best selling gospel album of all time?  Music that was deeply rooted, because of her upbringing with having a baptist minister father.

And then finding out that Director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie, The Way we Were, etc.) was the director of a two part evening filmed before a live audience at the New Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles in 1972. But for technical reasons the film was never released.  That is, before now.

Finally unveiled, I was excited to view “Amazing Grace,” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, watching a 29 year old Aretha at the peak of her vocal powers.  You can see Mick Jagger amongst the audience members clapping away and getting everybody to stand. They call it a documentary but this was more likely a musical of a soul-stirring experience.  A powerhouse, Aretha certainly earned her title “queen of soul.”

Gospel music is unlike anything else.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  I wanted to experience gospel in person. So on my first visit to New Orleans I made sure to visit a Baptist church on Sunday for the sole purpose of listening to a live gospel choir. My two friends and I were the only Caucasians in the church. I’m not religious but I enjoyed immensely a room so alive and full of spirit that you rarely, if ever get to witness.  It was moving.

The bottom line is that the purpose of this music is to uplift and preach the Gospel through music with the hope of bringing salvation to non-believers; and entertain all people with positive messages and values.

Uplifting and Entertaining with the most incredible voices, it was.

Music/Culture: OPERA in the PARK

Opera unites music, poetry, drama, and spectacle in the most elaborate of all art forms.

So it was an absolute pleasure to finally attend “Opera in the Park“, the Palm Springs premier cultural event in April .  This is the first time I’ve stayed here this long.  Usually I’m gone by the end of March because it gets too hot here, but this time I decided to stay a little longer. The event takes place at Sunrise Park which is a very short drive from where I live (part-time of course).

I originally had a spot reserved under the big white tent but decided to sit on the grass just outside it in a shady area with my lawn chair and the lunch I packed because I wasn’t sure they’d have food.  But they did have food and drinks.  And souvenirs. Most people were sitting outside the tent. It was lovely.

This live concert with arias from operas by Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi draws thousands of people from all over Southern California every April in a celebration of great music with a professional orchestra conducted by Valery Ryvkin. In addition, a special tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s Centennial featured music from West Side Story and Candide.  It also marked the 20th Anniversary of Opera in the Park.  Oh, did I mention that it’s free? 

The Palm Springs Opera Guild Orchestra performed from 1-4 pm with famous operas including  Carmen, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Faust and more.

There were food vendors from well known establishments offering delicious sandwiches, salads, platters, wine, beer, and cocktails.  You could even pre-order online from Trio restaurant.

Presenting Sponsors: The Augustine Foundation and

*Newman’s Own Foundation

Using the power of philanthropy to transform lives*Newman’s Own Foundation is all about supporting people doing great things.  People whos stories inspire us.

This month there’s also Coachella, a more famous and  enormously profitable music festival with a great long lineup.  A lot of musicians whom I’m familiar with and many I’m not.  But it was actually Opera in the Park that I really wanted to go to.  Coachella maybe another time.

Have you been to either?

Opera in the Park: Music Director: Mona Lands.  Artistic Director: Andrew Eisenmann.

Monday Mood Board #12

ART Immortal – the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries to be auctioned at Christie’s.  If only I had an extra 100 million dollars to spare…. 

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” unveiled recently at Christie’s. Credit: Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In something of an auction coup, Christie’s has secured two blockbuster works for its November Contemporary sale: the last known Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, “Salvator Mundi” or “Savior of the World,” and Andy Warhol’s final silk-screen, “Sixty Last Suppers.” – The NY Times

Andy Warhol’s “Sixty Last Suppers,” at Christie’s New York. Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie’s Auction House

The Leonardo da Vinci work is estimated at $100 million and the Warhol at $50 million. Each has been guaranteed by a third, undisclosed party.

Read the whole New York Times article here:



L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière,

At the unchanged atelier of L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière, you might find yourself sitting in the very same chair where Pablo and a few of his friends, such as Manet and Cezanne, sat sketching their model a century ago. It’s open to the public for sketching workshops in the afternoon, Monday to Saturday, except on Wednesday when there’s an evening session from 7-10pm. No reservations are necessary, just show up with paper and pencils, no teacher, just the model. (14 rue de la Grande Chaumière, 6eme; See the ‘Free Workshop’ and ‘School’ sections of the website for all prices and timetables: grande-chaumiere.fr/en).  Oh by the way, this is in Paris.

L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière,

Channel Gabrielle, the eternal rebel (new Chanel perfume teaser) with a message


It’s madness out there

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they’re ok, then it’s you.” – Rita Mae Brown

There is no great genius without some touch of madness – someone said.



Feel-good Friday: Listen up

My friend went to Cuba and all she brought back was this fine bunch of Cubans. They’re called Brisas del Palmar.

If you live in Vancouver you have the opportunity to watch them perform this evening.  I’ve seen them before – they’re amazing! In Vancouver for one concert only before returning back to Cuba for Fall/Winter is EL GRUPO CUBANO – BRISAS del PALMAR.

Fresh from engagements in Victoria: these Cuban musical ambassadors have performed for the Pope and granted diplomatic passports to represent Cuba in international music competitions. Their traditional music and danceable tunes are featured daily on the nationally broadcast Radio Taino. Their winter engagements include Bodequita del Medio, the Havana bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway!  Yes, I’ve been there too. And yes, I had a daiquiri (a temporary departure from mojitos).  Havana little more:

Where: St. James Hall – 3214 West 10th Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

When: Friday, October 13th at 8 pm. They start on time. Doors open at 7:30.

Cost:  $20 at the door

Sampling: 5 years ago at the Vogue Theatre:




Culture/Art/Film: Landfill Harmonic

This is the best feel-good movie I’ve seen in a long time.

landfil2 I just watched it with my film buddy who I met at VIFF. landfil1This film is not about garbage, it’s about making the best of the junk that surrounds you.

The reason it’s uplifting is that it points out that no matter what your living conditions are like, through the power of hope and dreams you can build on becoming what you desire and we realize that music is that unifying force that binds all people.  It’s pretty powerful.  It’s actually a film on the power of music through very unusual circumstances.landfil5landfil4

These kids play everything from the BIG THREE (Mozart, Bach, Beethoven) to heavy metal (play heavy metal with heavy metal) favourites.

Land Fillharmonic was showcased last year at various film festivals but was recently re-released in many cinemas worldwide (you’ll have to check in your hometown).  If so, I highly recommend seeing it.  WATCH TRAILER:


Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical youth group who live next to one of South America’s largest landfills. This unlikely orchestra play music from instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. With the guidance of their music director, Favio Chávez (a most amazing man), they must navigate this new world of arenas and sold out concerts. However, when a natural disaster devastates their community, the orchestra provides a source of hope for the town.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king – one of the instruments taken in the lobby of VanCity Theatre Tuesday night.

Instruments Beyond Borders...harnessing the power of music to better children’s lives.  Many schools have now very unfortunately cut music from educational programs.  It’s good to give back.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

An entirely volunteer, charitable Society dedicated to delivering donated musical instruments and funds to music education programs in disadvantaged communities at home and abroad.  In Vancouver instrument donations can be made at Tapestry Music (3607 West Broadway).  Tax receipts for donated instruments are available upon evaluation.

Music heals the world.  So will recycling.

Shaking things up – prose and cons

Bob Dylan was just awarded the Nobel prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2016
Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2016

What’s so wrong with that?

To the person who asked “does this mean that I can win a Grammy?” No!  It just means that people are taking more notice of great songwriting and poetry which have their place (or prose) in the writing world.  If so, then in my opinion Rodriguez (of searching for Sugarman fame) & Leonard Cohen should be next in line.

Maybe they should open it up to noteworthy artists who paint for a living.  They are like literature for the soul.  Open up a new category?  Something to think about?  I think so!



Feel-good Friday: go Crazy!

Oh man; it’s hard to believe that Prince is dead.  A trailblazing talent with such avant-garde style, he was almost impossible to categorize.  Prince will continue to live on through his feel-good music.  Love his music!prince2

In the opening lines of his Billboard Top 10 1984 single “I Would Die 4 U” he sang:

“I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand”prince1

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called “life”

Electric word, life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else,
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life,
You’re on your own

And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy (Punch a higher floor!)


If you don’t like
The world you’re living in
Take a look around
At least you got friends

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no lets go!

Let’s go crazy
Let’s get nuts
Let’s look for the purple banana
Until they put us in the truck, let’s go!

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s cause
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all for (What’s it all for)
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door

Tell me, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let’s go!

Let’s go crazy!

(shortened – lyrics by Prince & taken from the album Purple Rain)


On another note……it’s EARTH DAY Todayearthday2

Let’s each do our part to make the world we’re living in a BETTER PLACE!

Eat.Drink.Dance.Listen – Blue Martini Jazz

my first (not completely) unhappy review – and hopefully my lastbluemartini1

Last Saturday I went with a friend to the newly opened Blue Martini Jazz Café  to listen to live music – the wonderful Dawn Pemberton and her band were performing and they were excellent; a mix of R&B, Jazz, Funk and World Beat music which I love. The ambience was reminiscent of a true dinner/jazz club which is lacking in Vancouver.  I can also walk to this place from home which is a big plus.bluemartini3

The friend I went with had been there for Dine Out Vancouver and said the food was great.  Here’s the complaint:

We only wanted to order one glass of wine and share some appies while listening to a few sets.  I only complain when necessary and hate to do so; but I became that woman for the duration of the evening.  And I believe that it only helps for the owners to know when a customer is not satisfied.

So we decide to order a glass of red wine each, a salad and an antipasto platter for two.

The waiter tells us the wine we want (which is on the menu) is not available (they just haven’t yet taken it off the menu) but he can bring us a comparable one in its place.  He wasn’t planning to tell us that the one replacing it will cost us each $4 more  – something made me ask (I must have felt suspect because I do not normally ask the price of something that should be a given).  We order a glass anyway.

He brings the bottle and starts to pour directly from bottle to wine glass.  It looks like a taster.  Which brings me to question how many ounces they serve.  He says six.  I say it looks more like four.  I finish in five sips and decide not to order more wine.  Maybe should have gone with a martini.  Waiter comes back and says “sorry, my mistake, we pour five ounces only.”  I still think my pour (like how would he really know since he didn’t measure and the pours were not even) was less but don’t want to start complaining as the company and music are perfect.

We order a zesty Caesar salad to split.  It was good even though the croutons were from a box. It should be noted that this place charges $4 to split orders although that either does not count for salads or they decided not to charge us.

The shared Antipasto Platter was a different matterit was a total disappointment.  Why? Because the menu reads: Italian Cheeses, cold cuts, pickles, smoked salmon, artichokes, olives, arugula and buffalo burrata.  At $16 per person (total $32 for the platter) Sounds great right?

It came with no bread.  We had to ask and they brought us 4 little pieces.  It came with no cheese that we can recall (remember we were not the least bit tipsy on 4 ounces of wine) except for two teensy tiny slices of mozzarella (believe me when I tell you there was no way on earth it was burrata – it was not the least bit creamy) on a slice of tomato.  One slice was double the size so we had to flip a coin for fun to see which one of us would be the lucky one to have it – I won.  There was a pile of arugula in the middle of the plate with a few pieces of artichoke underneath, a few of the tiniest gherkins we’ve ever seen, 4-5 regular sized green olives, two slices of smoked salmon and an assortment of rolled-up deli meats (mortadella, pepperoni, the usual where I can’t pronounce the names) but it didn’t even out with the rest of the plate.

I ask the waiter to see the menu again just to make sure there was mention of other cheese or cheeses in this case.  Sure enough the first thing mentioned on the antipasto platter is Italian Cheeses (see, it’s even plural  which suggests more than one kind). So I question him – where was the cheese? He tells us there was a little shaved parmesan on top of the arugula (there may have been but neither of us noticed).  I asked about the burrata.  He said it’s buffalo burrata.  I say it’s a way of misleading customers – it’s just another word for regular mozzarella cheese – of the plainest kind. The couple sitting across from us said the same thing – “why would they write cheeses on the menu when they only give you three little pieces?”  I said you got three pieces, we only got two?” They only complain to us that they’re not satisfied.

We ask for the bill. We’re still hungry but don’t want to order anything else.

Because it was obvious we were not satisfied we got a piece of dessert on the house to share – which was tasty. We laugh it off to an unpleasant experience – like something crazy out of a Seinfeld episode or Sex and the City.

We go back to my place and my friend asks if I have any food so I go into the fridge, take out some stuff and we sit on the sofa and watch an episode of a 4-part documentary series on Netflix –  Chelsea Does on Racism. It lightened up our evening.

Will I go back to Blue Martini? 

I really wanted to love this place.   I understand that rents are high and there is no cover charge but please do not take advantage of good customers who may become regulars.  I like to support live music and buy CD’s. I’m crazy enough to go back at some point, sit at the bar, order one martini and just listen to the live music….maybe.

What do you think – Am I nuts?