Posts tagged ‘joya paul’

June 6, 2011

What a great day in Toronto!

Woodbine Beach Park volleyball

Keep your eye on the ball.

It may have been the easiest round of applause Johnny Rawls has ever earned. The long-time Mississippi bluesman threw his hands in the air halfway through his set at the Waterfront Blues Festival and asked the crowd to give it up for Sunday.

It was hands down the finest morning, afternoon and night of weather Toronto has seen all year and we were all delighted to respond to Rawls’ plea. He got palms clapping and voices cheering and feet hopping when he shouted, “Let’s hear it for today! What a great, great day!”

Rawls grooved through a terrific set beneath the bandshell while a few hundred of us blues fans gathered at Woodbine Park to take in the third and final day of free concerts in this year’s festival. Fun-loving and cheerful, Rawls and his songs — which included several tunes from his acclaimed “Red Cadillac” CD — were perfect for the sunshine. He turned the stage over to the explosive Teeny Turner, who closed out the festivities to more cheers.

The crowds were even larger down at Woodbine Beach Park, where a volleyball tournament drew loads of teams and the 27 Celsius temps (no wind, no rain, no joke) got plenty of others out onto the sand.

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March 21, 2011

One night at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto

[My review for the Toronto Star on March 17, 2011 of the $6,000-a-night Ritz-Carlton Suite at 181 Wellington Street West in Toronto. Thanks to all the folks at the Ritz for making this happen.]

Like a lot of people, I wondered who would rent it.

At $6,000 a night, the Ritz-Carlton Suite at the luxury brand’s new Wellington Street location sounds outrageous and out of step with these times, when wounds of the recession remain fresh. The suite is intended for political dignitaries as well as business executives and celebrities who want to show off. So, when I was offered the opportunity to be the first person to spend a night in the suite, I first pondered what I would do with it, and then I thought of “Risky Business” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” the film’s signature song whose first few chords evoke musings of mischief behind closed doors.

I concluded that I should test the 2,500-square-foot space by using it for a party — one without Hollywood-inspired shenanigans. The suite has a full kitchen, dining room for eight and living room with a 50-inch LG HDTV. A handful of guests from different walks of life joined me.

The Ritz is exquisite, of course. Chef Tom Brodi, whose restaurant Toca (the name stands for Toronto, Canada) is on the second floor of the hotel, and his team prepared canapes that included bite-size bison tartar topped with a sunnyside-up quail’s egg and tasty portobello carpaccio with pinenuts, argula and parmesan.

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