February 2009

Operation Springboard's Winter Blues Fest
February 19, 2009 Lula Lounge Toronto
A SOARing Evening of Talent and Community
by Laila Boulos with photos by Chris Ramsay
The camaraderie and all-for-one sensibility was evident as Operation Springboard staff, friends and families came out to Lula Lounge in support of the worthy causes under the Operation Springboard banner. In solidarity, the owners of Lula Lounge were generously donating part of the evening's food and beverage sales. Howard Laurie was amiably adjusting the sound and moving equipment as acts were altered. There was a Facebook group signup allowing people to offer their talents at the last minute, giving the possibility of an even greater "something for everyone" evening of entertainment.

For the activists, Allan and Alec Steinwall opened the evening with a cozy, laid back version of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" that was only missing a campfire and a couple of Labatts, or Sleemans.

And, although his fans in the crowd were yelling for CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) Allan later continued on vocals and acoustic guitar with his comforting rocking chair version of John Prine's "Illegal Smile".

Beginning his version of the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" quietly and methodically, George Lewis later commanded his audience to join him in singing the last few verses, resulting in musical therapy with the raising of voices in unison and ending with a swaying and rousing finale.

Chris Lam's "Prison of the World" was a heartfelt and solemn tribute he wrote to a man, once a client of Operation Springboard, who was just getting his life together when he was randomly and cruelly stabbed to death.

Conjuring up the ghost of Buddy Holly as he performed the lively "Accidentally in Love" by the Counting Crows (from the Shrek 2 soundtrack), Chris Lam lit up the stage with his enthusiasm.

Framed by its exquisite musical tapestry and earnest vocals reminiscent of Dan Fogelberg, the lyrics of Peter Eastmure's "New Year's Eve" wich cautions that every day we make the choice to turn things around and make a difference:
“Blown like a leaf... I was on a cosmic ride
There’s the rich with the beef
And the poor on the streets
Soaked in humility and pride.
What tomorrow brings let the Peace Bells ring
But tonight it is New Year’s Eve.”

Once again, Mr. Eastmure's lush melodies were a treat in "The Fresh & The Dry (The Essence of Shine)", a slow, emotional piece that laid bare romantic disappointments.

For spoken word fans, Rose Allen-Gordon gave a reading of the well-known Reason, Season, Lifetime which attempts to make sense of why people flow in and out of our lives. Ending with the thought-provoking question: “When did you last take a stand for something you believed in?”, Ms. Allen-Gordon referenced some of the true revolutionaries (Che Guevara, Ghandi, the Dalai Lama) and the tragic events (hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, innumerable wars) of our lifetime.

As Carolyn T. took over the stage with her spiritual version of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry", and an especially soulful take on Bill Withers's "Lean On Me", the room heated up with clapping and singing along as her praise-the-Lord gospel vocals flowed freely forth.

In a duo reminiscent of Hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie, Paul Persyko and Bert Steenburgh, the "Soul Brothers of Downtown Brampton" conjured up a couple of O'Keefes, a shack, and, yes, that campfire in their comical version of "Long Shadow" of Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros fame.

Allan Steinwall

Alec Steinwall

Emily Steinwall
For heavy metal fans, Alec Steinwall (on bass) proudly joined his children Emily (on electric guitar) and Jack (on drums) for a head-banger's paradise that included covers of AC/DC's, “Back in Black”; Heart’s “Barracuda”; Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”; and, Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” (also known as “Over The Top” and “Pat’s Delight”). Bursts of flashing lights (during the rock stadium drum solo); electrifying guitar riffs, a slick bass solo; and, lots of screeching vocals garnered hoots and hollers from the crowded dance floor.

For the romantics in the audience, there were many moments to get, uh, romantic about. Alec Steinwall's lush orchestral rendering of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer", although simply delivered with keys and vocals, was a rich aural oil painting. And his upbeat take on John Mayer's "Daughters" brought lightness to the melody.

Emily Steinwall, in her version of Norah Jones' "Sinkin' Soon", highlighted her playful Madeleine Peyroux-esque vocals with subtle guitar accents.

The cool jazz trio of Corey Beckford, Eric Hagley and John Vanloo brought to the stage sophisticated renditions of Donnie Mcclurkin's "Great is your Mercy" and Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa". Their breezy arrangements transitioned effortlessly from Latin sensibilities, to gospel-inflected flavours.

Corey Beckford

There were also inspirational stories among the performers. Once homeless, Shawn Glynn is currently signed with Chakra Records and his songs are played widely on commercial radio. Mr. Glynn performed an uplifting acappella version of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's "(Somewhere) Over The Rainbow" blending it effortlessly with R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly".

Dan Boyer, whose snappy comedy and pointed pauses kept the crowd laughing with social insights such as, "Single people have something that married people do not...HOPE".

Darryl Silver gave a very physically anguished performance that was a cross between Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park" and the Arrogant Worms' "Security Guard". Mr. Silver's energetic cabaret style delivery of "I'm not doing this for me", "Darryl's got your number" and "I love you to pieces" had his audience in disbelief, fear and guffaws as his sidekick, Ivory Hernandez quietly prayed not to get hit by flying limbs.

In an explosive ending to the evening, Chris Ramsay's emotional photo-video collage was presented. As dramatic photos of the warmongers and the war-ravaged were projected onto the screen, Allan Steinwall sang accompaniment with Bob Dylan's "Masters of War". And as Mr. Steinwall sang, "All the money you made will never buy back your soul", George W. Bush's face stared back blankly.

The Performers
Rose Allen-Gordon - Inspirational Reading
Corey Beckford - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Dan Boyer - Comedy
Peter Eastmure - Keyboard, Vocals
Shawn Glynn - Keyboard, Vocals
Eric Hagley - Keyboards
George Lewis - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Paul Persyko - Guitar, Vocals
Chris Ramsay - Video Presentation
Darryl Silver - Vocals
Burt Steenburgh - Guitar, Vocals
Alec Steinwall - Bass, Keyboard, Vocals performed Ivory Hernandez
Allan Steinwall - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Emily Steinwall - Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Vocals
Jack Steinwall - Drums, Vocals
Carolyn T. - Vocals
John Vanloo - Alto Saxophone, Trumpet
Pete Windrem - Performed Darryl Silver
Winter Blues Fest was held in support of operation Springboard's services for the developmentally disabled. These include:

SOAR (Seeking Opportunities Accessing Resources): assists 18 to 28 year-olds making the transition from school to community-based or work environments.

Lifeskills Residences: Frank Drea House and North Beaches Residence offer individual support to males, 16 years and older, to assist them in leading healthy lives within the community.

Special Olympiad: which teams inmates at Collins Bay with participants. Exceptional Peoples Awards Duke of Edinburough Silver, Bronze and Gold awards for community service

For further information or to donate, please visit the website: operationspringboard.on.ca

We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
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