Echoing a Life: Celebrating Chris Graham Through an Evening of Music (article by Doug Snider)

article written by Doug Snider
Snider Litigation

all photos by Nick Harding
Nick Harding Photography


Sean Jones & the Righteous Echo celebrate the life of Chris Graham

Harbour Street Fish Bar, Collingwood ON

August 24th, 2019

I am one of a dedicated group of Collingwood lovers of live music.  We also loved Chris Graham, who passed on March 7, 2019. Her sweet smile and her friendship will be missed, always but in particular at our local music events. Her daughters Kim and Miku Graham brought an amazing cast of friends to share in a celebration of her life at the Harbour Street Fish Bar, Collingwood, on Saturday, August 24, 2019.

We were blessed to share an stellar night of music, love and celebration with some incredibly talented musicians, including a cast of Juno and Maple Blues award winners and nominees!  

We started off with Sean Jones and the Righteous Echo. Classic and classy R&B.  Great singer, great band. Jeff Halischuk (drums), Joel Joseph (keys), Miles Raine (Sax), Thomas Reynolds (guitar), Michael Shand (bass, keys).

We were also blessed with the amazing voice and talent of Serena Ryder. What a treat!  This lady can sing.

Jordan John showed us some love and shared some special moments, dedicated to our dear Chris.

The talent, the soul and the heartfelt moments continued, with;

Divine Brown

Shaura S'Aida
Joan Smith (and the Jane Does)
Melanie and Karen Durrant

And of course Miku Graham and Kim Gaham.

Joanne and Jay Lapetina deserve our thanks and praise for creating a really special place for great live music at the Harbour Street Fish Bar.   They will have a hard time ever matching the amount of talent assembled to celebrate the life of Chris Graham.  But they have developed and continue to present great live music at  a wonderful friendly and special place.  Thanks for Saturday, but also thanks to them for the talent they deliver all the time!


I Went to Diner En Blanc South Georgian Bay and Had a Good Time.

I’m a 28 year old lady. Diner en Blanc tends to attract an older demographic of shmoozers.

But hey, I like to shmooze too. So when Lori D’Agostino–host and organizer of Diner en Blanc South Georgian Bay–invited me to attend, I perked up.

I’m a big fan of costumes, interesting people, good food, and (duh) excellent music. She told me that the special musical guest was a surprise (as is the location) until the day of the event for this exclusive party, but I knew that last year it was Lemon Bucket Orkestra, who are fricking dope. I wondered for a while about who it could be… who fits those perfect metrics of being somewhat known, from Ontario, writes original songs, is great for a party atmosphere with a wide age-range and taste demographics, and is also willing to come up to Collingwood for a Saturday night in the middle of the summer?

The Sadies? Samantha Martin? Jenn Grant? Rich Aucoin?

I have to admit that it was my partner, Nelson Beattie, who said “Maybe they’ll have KC Roberts & the Live Revolution”.

It was KC Roberts & the Live Revolution.

The band has just come off of their European tour. We spoke with trumpeter Brian Walters (who Nelson used to play with in My Son the Hurricane.. #wellconnected), who explained that the band had been flown in to Germany to play in a castle in front of thousands of people. Apparently they had been championed by a big fan, so they turned the experience into a full-blown tour. Don’t believe me? Here’s the festival event page for KC Roberts’ performance in Oldenburg, Germany.

Bear with me and let me gush about this band for a sec. K thanx.

THESE GUYS ARE TIGHT IN TWO MEANINGS OF THE WORD. They are tight as in very cool and hip and educated, and also tight as in extreeeemely well-rehearsed with nailed down grooves, rhythms, abstractions, harmonies, etc., etc.

If you haven’t heard them before, you just have to press play on this right now:

(sidenote: I had never seen this video before, and holy god I am even more in love now)

NEEDLESS TO SAY, they rocked it. Phenomenal band. Kudos to the event organizers for bringing them out. There was plenty of dancing and carrying on.

————————- Music rant done.

Even if they hadn’t had such a fantastic band, I still would’ve had a dope time.

Any of my friends will tell you that I’m obsessed with Halloween. I pretty much start thinking about my costume on November 1st. It’s just so much fun to dress up in costume and step into a different persona for an evening. (Secret: I think this year I’m going to be Tweety Bird and Nelson will be Sylvester. I may or may not have already placed the kigurumi order.)

Basically, if there’s any excuse to have over the top, elaborate costumes, and focus a party around a theme, I’m down.

So down.

And most of my evening this past Saturday night was spent marvelling at the beautiful people around me. I saw lots of gorgeous people wearing gorgeous clothes. I hardcore ogled them because they deserved to be ogled. (I’m looking at you, ladies of Cora Couture.)

I even DIYed myself a floral crown from Walmart goods (don’t @ me) to get into the spirit. Steven Vipond (owner of Bruce Wine Bar and Crow Bar & Variety) didn’t hesitate to comment on the fact that the greenery in my floral crown made my hair look green. Thanks Steve. I know you’re reading this.

It was really fun to just wander around with Nelson, talk to some local buddies, make new friends (like the lovely ladies of The Spa Truck), and enjoy a beautiful summer evening.

I will note that we didn’t have the full dinner experience (*cough* westoppedatWendy’sonthewayhome *cough*) so I can’t speak to that part of the event, but it looked like people were having a great time.

There was champagne.

———————————— What I WILL Say…

This is a very special night, and a very special experience.

What I WILL say, is that I wish it were more inclusive.

‘Diner En Blanc’ originated in Paris, France, where now over 15,000 guests attend each year. It has spread to many countries and cities across the globe.

To attend, you must be a ‘member’ or sponsored by a member. After doing a little research, I see that it can cost as little as about $50 (event entrance plus ‘membership’ fee) to attend in some cities. I think that’s awesome.

Collingwood, and South Georgian Bay in general, is growing in population and developing specifically in the areas of small business, entrepreneurship, and the Arts. I would like to see it full of open-minded, curious, welcoming people like myself. (And hey, if they happen to be great conversationalists and have a keen interest in the Arts, that’s cool too.)

I think that what that means is making events like this open and welcoming to a younger demographic like myself.

Now, hey, I did not organize this event. I don’t know their target demographic. But that’s my two-cents. Make it more accessible and more fun for younger people.

The Collingwood I want to live in is forward-thinking and hip. I think that this event is forward-thinking and hip. But I also think that there weren’t too many people there under the age of 30.

—————————————- Pictures.

As followers of this page will know, I’m not really a photographer. I like music. But I did borrow my Dad’s camera for the night to take some photos.

Q&A with Carole Pope: On Sex, Politics, and Humour in Music (plus her Favourite Bowie Albums!)

Interview by Laura Conning

Carole Pope is best known for her work as the frontwoman for the ‘80s punk pop band Rough Trade. A legend in LGBTQ* representation in art & music not only for her home country of Canada, but worldwide. Check out these highlights from her website:

Short listed for the Polaris prize, her work has been recognized with three Juno Awards, multiple independent music awards, a Genie Award. 4 gold, 1 platinum and 1 double platinum album. Her latest single This is Not A Test (Sony Red) is available everywhere. A new collaboration with Kevin Hearn (BNL Lou Reed) RESIST IT is out now.

Pope has toured with David Bowie and performed at Roskilde, World Pride, MOCCA, Fashion Cares 25 with Elton John, Largo, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The AGO, ROM, Arts Wells, Luminato, Joes Pub, The Global Cabaret Festival, The Frostbite Festival, Reykjavik, The Vancouver Folk Festival. Riverfest, Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Diego, San Francisco Prides, the Michigan Womyns Festival and the Viper Room. She appeared in SUCK a Vampire movie along with guest stars Moby, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins

Pope has contributed music to film and television, including Transparent Season Two, Love or Whatever, Never saw it Coming, The L Word, General Idea Art AIDs and the fin de siecle The Trailer Park Boys Movie, This Revolution, Queer As Folk, The Five Senses, and Cruising. Her seminal band Rough Trade was on the short list for the Polaris Prize and were inducted into the Indy Hall of Fame during Canadian Music Week.

On June 25 and 26, Pope is gracing Collingwood with her presence on the Crow Bar & Variety stage. She was kind enough to answer some of my burning questions.


carole pope route 26 collingwood

LC: When you have such a known body of work in a sexual-political space, do you feel expectations (or pressure) to continue to create art that speaks to that landscape?  And if so, is that okay?

CP: I don’t feel pressured to work in a sexual political space but I naturally gravitate towards it. My last single was a collaboration with Kevin Hearn entitled Resist It, which is rant against sexual and political predators. We also made a lyric video. Before that  I worked with Clara Venice (theremin goddess) on a song and video entitled This is Not A Test. A love song for the apocalypse. We’re currently working on a new track. 

LC: Why do you think humour and pop punk work so well when you're talking about some pretty heavy stuff (like this twisted, ballistic world)? (Reference to Resist It by Kevin Hearn and Carole Pope — see video link below)

CP: I think people need some relief from the constant onslaught of crap that’s thrown at us and humor is something that speaks to most of us. 

LC: On that note–are you into any feminist comedians like Amy Schumer and Hannah Gadsby who confront audiences about gender and sexuality?

CP: I’m into Amy Schumer and still haven’t watched the Hannah Gadsby special but I’m into almost anyone who pushes the gender envelope especially Jill Soloway, who’s not a comedian but makes one question the huge disparity between cis males and everyone else. I worked with her on Transparent.  I met her through Peaches. She contributed to one of my fav tracks; Lesbians In the Forest

LC: So I absolutely love SUCK: A Vampire Rock Musical Comedy (so much so I wrote a paper about it in university and I regularly cover Mamabolo's "Night After Night" at gigs).  Loved the Toronto vibes, the punk legends appearing all throughout the film (like yourself, Iggy Pop, and Henry Rollins), and the killer soundtrack.  Do you have any anecdotes to share about that experience?

CP: Suck was a great experience for me because of the director Rob Stefaniuk. He’s such a pro. I didn’t get to see any of the scenes he shot with the rest of the cast. I met Moby later with Rob and some cast members for drinks. I thought Moby was brilliant in the film. I also hung out with Jessica Pare in a party in LA. That’s all the dirt I have.

LC: Do you feel different energy performing in Toronto vs. performing in LA (or more broadly, Ontario vs. Cali)?

CP: LA audiences are great. They’re very knowledgeable about music and let you know they appreciate what you’re doing. Same for Toronto. Performing in the rest of Ontario depends how drunk the audience is. But it’s usually good.

LC: You recently had surgery for Spinal Stenosis, which is an intense procedure with lots of physical therapy.  Despite the pain involved in recovery, you're back in action with touring and performing.  What drives you to keep performing through that pain? (And I hope you're feeling better!)

CP: It takes a year to recover from spinal stenosis surgery so I’m halfway through. Just started a stenosis boot camp at Mount Sinai which is making me feel like crap, but that’s how you know it’s working. I think/hope performing will be very therapeutic. It’s been a physically exhausting experience. It’s made me appreciate life a little more. Had no idea stenosis existed till last year. Lots of people are getting it now because of staring at iPhones and bending their necks. 

LC: What traits catch your attention (in a good way) when you're listening to a new song or artist that you haven't heard before?

CP: A well written song is everything to me. I’m always impressed with intelligent lyrics. I hate almost everything that’s on the radio, but I’m digging St Vincent,  Kurt Vile, and Janelle Monae at the moment. 

LC: Last but definitely not least, best Bowie album?

CP: Oh that’s a hard one, but I’m going say Scary Monsters.....and Low.