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lilith fair

Hot Dates: Ali Milner

Ali Milner photo copyright Jennifer Picard Photography

Local girl Ali Milner may be just 19 years old, but she already boasts a powerful resume, filled with gigs at Lilith Fair, the Toronto International Film Festival and the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Hear her unique blend of indie pop and jazz at Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club (Oct. 14)—and keep an eye out for this rising star in the future.—Sheri Radford

Weekend Roundup, July 23 to 25

Come rain or shine, Toronto has a bustling weekend ahead with entertainment for everyone!

Friday: Sting gets serious

Friday, July 23
World-famous pop tunesmith Sting has entered the stage of his career where reinterpreting old hits seems enough to satisfy his creative spirit. And so he arrives this evening at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre with a coterie of classical musicians: The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra accompanies the former Police man in a unique performance of his most memorable songs, from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” and much more.

Whet your appetite for Caribbean culture as part of the ongoing Scotiabank Caribana Festival. The big parade may be a few weeks away, but you can get in the mood at the Royal Ontario Museum, which showcases more than 100 works by African-Canadian artists in its “From the Soul” exhibition.

Get ready to (affordably!) strut down the streets of Toronto. Frugal Fashion Week offers an evening of food and apparel at the Bata Shoe Museum, including an exhibition of celebrity- and designer-created shoes, a silent auction and more.

Get to know your prairies as Love, Saskatchewan kicks off at Harbourfront Centre. This weekend-long event features an exhibition on cowboy culture, author readings and performances by such bands as Wide Mouth Mason and Little Miss Higgins.

Saturday: See some stars in Love, Loss and What I Wore

Saturday, July 24
Celebrate women in music with the return of Lilith Fair. The Sarah McLachlan–founded festival was popular in the late ’90s, and has been revived for 2010 with performers including Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk and, of course, McLachlan herself.

Take a close friend or loved one to a performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore. The production features a star-studded cast of women who relate dynamic, often hilarious, and always poignant stories from the popular book of the same name.

Steer towards the Young Centre for the Performing Arts to check out the venue’s Saturday Night Cabaret Series. Tonight, acclaimed vocalist Heather Bambrick will have you tapping your toes to infectious jazz rhythms, and on your feet applauding by the end of the evening.

Prepare your best Elizabethan laugh for Canopy Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most affecting romantic comedies. Fall in and out of love with the timeless characters as they’re brought to life under the stars at the University of Toronto’s Philosopher’s Walk.

Sunday: The Bolton Shop sheds light on early photography at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sunday, July 25
A visit to charming Black Creek Pioneer Village is a journey back to the 19th century. The experience is even more immersive thanks to the venue’s new Bolton Shop photography studio. Here, you can put away your digital SLR and discover the fascinating techniques used to capture and develop images more than a century ago.

“Who let the dogs out?” indeed! Prepare to have your heart melt at Ontario Place—the Purina PropPlan Dog Show is in full swing with canines of all shapes and sizes strutting their stuff.

Finish your weekend with some funny—a night of stand-up comedy—as emerging troupe NBAcomics presents its somewhat strangely named Summer Fest 97’ at Toronto’s renowned giggle garage The Second City.

Hot Entertainment: Women on Top

Canadian songbird Sarah McLachlan. Photo by Jennifer Tzar

After a 10-year hiatus, Lilith Fair (Jul. 1) has finally returned. It was formed out of pure frustration in 1997, after both concert promoters and radio stations refused to play two female musicians in a row. Lilith Fair ran until 1999 and was once the highest grossing touring festival of all time—not to mention it raised more than $10 million for charity. Catch founder Sarah McLachlan (pictured), Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu and others as they reclaim their rightful place atop the festival throne. Girl power! —Jennifer Patterson

Tegan and Sara: The Calgary Sister Act Comes Home

By Ryan Duncan

Though Calgary natives Tegan and Sara Quin have been filling concert halls and dominating college radio with their punk rock attitude and folk pop sound,  you might not have heard their music. They’ve played for audiences across the U.S., Canada and Australia, are performers in the 2010 resurrection of the all-female music festival Lilith Fair, and have just released their sixth studio album, The Sainthood.

We talk to Tegan about the double standards for female indie bands, working with DJ Tiesto, and being a gay role model.

THE NEW ALBUM

WC: There is an obvious change in your sound on The Sainthood, what inspired you to take a more pop approach?

TQ: When we first started we had to be very economical. Our first records reflected our band at the time, we had to record music to sell tour dates and hit the road.

Our style of song writing hasn’t changed, but our ability to adapt, change and add things has. Ten years, and several records later we are more confident and although it was not always intentional, we emulate the things we like to listen to. We are creating our image with every new record, and it’s important to create music that people can relate to–when I listen to music on the radio now it doesn’t reflect me or my friends. I grew up in the ’80s listening to Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper.

MUSICAL ARMAGEDDON

WC: What is the best part about performing at music festivals?

TQ: That depends on the type of festival. The concept of Lilith Fair is incredible. As a feminist it’s amazing to see a group of women taking over the main stage. We just got back from a festival tour in Europe, and although we had a lot of fun, it was pandemonium. Thousands of people, all kinds of weather and liquor—people get so fucking unhinged and crazy, it’s like Armageddon with music.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

WC: Do you think there is still a double standard for women in the music industry?

TQ: It has always been there. There is no shortage of indie rock boys, but the women tend to be unheard of. There are some amazingly talented and intelligent women out there, but they are still half naked trying to sell records. I used to wonder how we would ever make it, there was no way I was going to be able to put on high heels and sell sex in order to be heard. I mean, Beyonce’s a babe, I can’t compete with that.

We get lots of press and very little radio play. That is why I say we are the most famous band you’ve never heard.

WORKING WITH DJ TIESTO

WC: You and Sara are featured on Tiesto’s track “Feel it in My Bones.” How did your collaboration with Tiesto come about?

TQ: We first worked with Tiesto for the “Back in Your Head” remix, we ended up performing with him at a festival. His tour later brought him through Vancouver and he told us that he was going to be making a dance record featuring artists that weren’t in that genre. We are always up for experimenting with different kinds of music; it’s great to play for a different audience so we were in for that.

GAY ROLE MODELS

WC: How do you feel about your sexuality being a common topic in the media?

TQ: Well 10 years ago, the perception of society was to not talk about our sexuality, it was too “racy” for local press. But somewhere between 2002 and 2004 it seemed to be the only thing we were being asked about. We are both very proud to be role models, and if we are helping it to be ‘not as hard’ to be gay for our audience, what’s the problem? The fact is I have been criticized for not talking about it, and for talking about it too much, it’s weird, it’s not like wrote the article that I am being quoted in, you know?

HITTING THE ROAD

WC: How do you feel about being on tour?

TQ: I get nervous about heading out on tour because I love being home, but once I return, I miss the road; it’s a double edged sword. I have grown accustomed to touring, and nothing equals being on stage and playing our music, so in that sense, I have become dependent on it. Touring can be humbling though, it hits us when we hit a city we have never been to before, I mean I wouldn’t roll into Los Angeles, play one show, leave and expect that it’s going to explode all over the country. I am looking forward taking this record on the road. We have an epic tour planned taking us all over Canada, to America and Australia.

BRINGING THE SHOW TO CALGARY

WC: You have two sold out shows in Calgary. Has the experience of playing your hometown changed?

TQ: Playing in Calgary used to present me with a lot of pressure. We would have so many friends and family members to see, and we would have so little time to do it. This year we have two dates in Calgary, I am humbled by that. Putting together our own stage show is something I really like to do, I was in drama as a kid, and really liked putting on plays. That is where the passion for performing stems from.