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March 8th, 2016

By Philip Turner in: Canadian Books & Authors

Will Canadian Literature Finally Be Featured at the Frankfurt Book Fair?

Until this March 4 article by Globe & Mail Books Editor Mark Medley, I’m sure it wasn’t widely known outside of Canadian publishing that two years ago organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair had invited Canada to be the fair’s featured country for 2017, a plum opportunity for any country’s book sector; nor that the Harper government, in typical fashion, stupidly declined the invitation (it would have required some investment).

Harper was horrible, and the government he created did too little to put cultural industries forward as economic generators. Glad to see that with PM Justin Trudeau leading Canada since last November the Book Fair has renewed the invitation. The Ministry of Heritage is considering it, with a decision possibly due this month on whether the funds required (around 4 million dollars CAN) will be provided. It would be for 2020. As an American editor who loves Canadian books, has published many Canadian authors in the US, and worked with many Canadian publishers, I’m very excited about this. It would be great to see Canadian literature recognized globally, even more than it is already. I’m hopeful this initiative will move forward.

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March 8th, 2016

By Philip Turner in: Media; News, Politics, History & Media

Justin Trudeau Was Great on 60 Minutes, While CBS Correspondent Lara Logan was Terrible

TrudeauI was eager to watch Justin Trudeau on 60 Minutes Sunday night, and indeed he handled himself very well, but I gotta say I disliked the attitude adopted by interviewer Lara Logan, which had a noticeable American rightwing edge to it with tendentious questions about the 25,000 Syrian refugees Canadians have admitted to their country since last December, and about ISIS. Prime Minister’s Trudeau’s executed a rapid turnaround in Canada’s international reputation, and is showing Canada and the world how to lead one’s country in a new direction, cultivating core social values, all with welcoming inclusion.


Update: During the CBS broadcast, I heard Lara Logan refer to Margaret Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s mother, and they showed a picture of a young woman with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The only problem with this? Turns out, they had shown a picture of a different woman (Kim Cattrall, then a young actress). This reminded me that Logan has long been prone to making serious errors as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, like she did in 2013 when she promoted a faux memoir of a security operative who claimed, falsely, he had been in Benghazi when the US embassy there was attacked in 2012. I wrote about this at the time on my other blog, The Great Gray Bridge.

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March 2nd, 2016

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics, History & Media

All the Ways Justin Trudeau’s making Canada Canada again, Contrasted with the Trump Platform

Since Canadian PM Justin Trudeau took office a few months ago I've been cheering his work at bringing his country back…

Posted by Philip Turner on Tuesday, 1 March 2016

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January 6th, 2016

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Canadian Books & Authors

George Elliott Clarke, a Stellar Ambassador for Canadian Poetry

Very pleased to learn via CBC News that George Elliott Clarke—”a seventh-generation Canadian of African-American and Mi’kmaq heritage, whose work has explored the African experience in Canada”—has been named the new Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada. In 2006, I published the US edition of his amazing novel George & Rue. He is an immensely likable person with an ebullient, inclusive personality, and a hugely talented writer.
 
 
Video of Professor Clarke:

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January 3rd, 2016

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio

A Favorite Year-End Music List

The music blogger with the Twitter handle @PhillyPartTwo did a terrific year-end list, with 60 great songs. I tweeted about it earlier today, and am happy to share it here. He gives top billing to one of my most favorite bands, Rah Rah, who makes his two top faves songs from their 2015 album “Vessels.”

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December 12th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio

Another Tip of the Hat to Stompin’ Tom

This must’ve been a great live show—the tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto Thursday night. It was the third tribute to him since his death in 2013, at 77. A bunch of musicians and acts including Dave Bidini, Paul Linklater, Kevin Hearn, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Shawn William Clarke, Doug Paisley, Terra Lightfoot, Serena Martin, Ron Leary, and Wax Mannequin dug in to the songbook of the prolific poet who often sang about Canada’s overlooked places and people. For American friends, imagine if Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie were somehow fused into one dynamic and storied performer, that’s who Stompin’ Tom was. The whole show must’ve been superb, like this part (from the great write-up in Toronto Now by Sarah Greene, who also took good pictures (like the one below):
“Horseshoe first-timer Shawn William Clarke sang an obscure ballad called Isle Of Magdalen, while Paul Kolinski (of Heavy On The Willie) dragged a slow, dramatic build out of 1989’s I Am The Wind, demonstrating a whole other side of [the] Canadian icon.”
I hope to be in Toronto one year for this celebration, which was also a fundraiser for the worthy organization Bidini’s involved with, Street Soccer Canada, which fields a team in the Homeless World Cup, a real tourney that helps people use soccer, and travel, to turn their lives around. Bidini, musician and author, wrote ‘Home and Away: In Search of Dreams at the Homeless World Cup of Soccer.’

If you’ve never heard a Stompin’ Tom song, here’s a live version of “Sudbury Saturday Night,” from the Horseshoe Tavern, where Tom once played 25 nights in a row, writes Sarah Greene.

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November 23rd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life

Frazey Ford Brings Her Soul-Soaked Sound to Joe’s Pub

Entering Joe’s Pub the night of Nov 11, I saw this great photo of the recently deceased Allen Toussaint, playing with Elvis Costello. It seemed a suitable inspiration for one of my most anticipated shows of this fall: Frazey Ford playing her first Manhattan show in several years. Ford’s recent album, “Indian Ocean,” is an infectiously listenable collection of songs that brings a unique fusion of Canadian folk and southern soul and R&B to listeners’ ears. The new record was triggered when filmmaker and Muddy Waters biographer Robert Gordon heard Ford’s warm, dusky voice on a Memphis radio station, and missing an ID of who he’d just heard, called the station for her name. Soon, he’d helped arrange for Ford to record at Royal Studios in Memphis, home base for soul master Al Green, where she got the chance to play with his backing band the Hi Rhythm Section, working with Green’s longtime producer Willie Mitchell.

When I saw the stage set-up at Joe’s Pub, I was glad to see room had been made for horn players, so I knew the sounds of the new album would be faithfully rendered in this show. When the band came out, I saw Ford, decked out in a retro-looking hat and sparkly pant suit, flanked by players on trumpet, sax, lead guitar, bass, and drummer, with a back-up singer and Ford playing acoustic guitar. The six-piece outfit made for a very full sound. They launched in to songs from the current album: “Three Old Trees,” “September Fields,” “Natural Law,” “Done,” and “You’re Not Free,” as well as “Bird of Paradise,” from her earlier album, “Obadiah.” Her stage banter was fun, and funny, centering on the “draft-dodging” hippie family she grew up a part of in Canada, having presumably fled the US at some earlier point. Just like her recorded work, I found her singing consistently interesting in this live show, with a broken sort of phrasing that always projects her lyrics into interesting sonic space. I highly recommend you check out Ford on the video of “Done” and on her current tour.
https://youtu.be/PXRrySTujn8

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November 20th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics, History & Media

What a Way to Start a Life Together!

What a way to launch their life together—a Toronto couple canceled their swank wedding reception, got married at City Hall, then donated the money saved to sponsor a Syrian ‪#‎refugee‬ family of four, while encouraging friends and family to donate, too. Most of their goal has been met, and now, it being so public, I’m sure they’ll go way over the top. A true feel-good story on the CBC website.

This story is meaningful to me for many reasons, even beyond the generosity the happy and handsome couple have shown to people in need, and the example they’ve set for the rest of us. In 1991, when my wife-to-be and I were deciding how we’d be married, we had some money provided to us by our families, and instead of holding a big reception we used it to travel in Italy for six weeks, a honeymoon for the ages. We backpacked and took trains up and down the country, from Bergamo in the north down south to Rome, with stops along the way in Florence, Arezzo, Siena, Padua, Perugia, Verona, Venice, and places too tiny to remember. Kyle is a painter, and spending so much time seeing Renaissance art and architecture was a veritable graduate course in seeing for her, and for me, too. Here we are during that long honeymoon of ours.

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