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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crispy, Well Cooked, and Very, Very Addictive

Just a week ago tonight I was in Vancouver, slogging through the Downtown Eastside core in the rain carrying a self-erasing placard behind aboriginally-inspired community dancers, Morris Men and fake cows in a parade called The Procession of Performing Circles that's part of six weeks of Public Art in the Downtown Eastside ( And I came back sulking, since "everything neat happens everywhere else."

Wash my mouth out! As I finally got un-lagged, I was immediately immersed in my art-filled new world of the Art Rental Gallery and Shop at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre ( and I got a reminder about the Apple Crisp 2010 Music Festival. Gadzooks! We just made it to a free - FREE - concert from the great Gertrudes at Chalmers Church, and was admonished that whatever we did, we had to stay for The Happiness Project with Toronto's Charles Spearin and his group. Extraordinary. In short, the music came about after Spearin interviewed his neighbours for their stories, prompting them to discuss things that made them happy and he and the group captured the cadences in their voices and built music around the words and tonal patterns. As he said. "they start singing their own thesis" --the experience was more than infectious, it was utterly transformative. Gorgeous. Laugh making. Happy happy happy and unique. Not since I first heard Laurie Andersen live have I had such a buzz. Get the music at

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE- At 108 Charles Street, 4-7 p.m. until March 20, you can wander through a lovely little house for The Happiness Project Art Exhibit, and see rooms done by artists to suit each of the pieces. Ceramicist Marney McDiarmid and fabric artist Annie Clifford set a table for lovers and friends ...Josh Lyon has three videos to go with the piece about the joy of challenged children... and the uber-cool artist Don Maynard does an amazing bathroom piece (including a painted tub, babies, and bubbles) to go with the story/song of the Trinidadian neighbour. Seriously, nothing in the world should keep you from this. I first decided the high was second only to hearing Leonard Cohen here --but after seeing the art show (and buying the CD) it's now actually pulling out ahead of Leonard. Yes, it is -since it's a feast for literally all the senses (free cookies, too ). And while you're still zinging from the inspiration, go two blocks away to see the newest Swamp Ward Window installation at 448 Bagot Street. As good as it gets, this stuff.

More Apple Crisp stuff every night this week...including False Face at the Mansion, then especially the Friday Night Flux with the Cedar Tavern Singers, co-presented this Friday March 19 at the Baby Grand Theatre ( ( Limited seating there - I'd buy early. But, there's something about small city life. When something good hits -- you're right in the middle of it, it's almost like a command performance. Congrats, Apple Crisp people. You keep it up, and we just might stay!