Birds of Bellwoods

Toronto is lucky to be home to to so many fantastic bands and music venues, and a few weeks ago I got to visit a new-to-me place to see a band with a brand new name. Habits Gastropub played host to the newly coined Birds of Bellwoods, featuring Stevie Joffe on mandolin and vocals, Adrian Morningstar on guitar and vocals, Kintaro Akiyama on Upright Bass and Backup Vocals, and Chris Blades on Banjo and Backup Vocals.


The night opened up with a trio of opening acts with the standout being Kenisha Humber. The gal has an incredible set of pipes and wowed the crowd with her vocal abilities and awesome vibe. I was so impressed and look forward to making a point to see her perform again.

The Birds of Bellwoods' set did not disappoint. There have been some changes in the band and I was stoked to see the addition of the banjo and upright bass; The dynamic of the four-piece certainly suits the folk sound that they've been honing. The four of them are solid musicians and bring great energy and talent to the group. Joffe's lyrics are heartfelt and often heartbreaking, giving you the sense that he is an old soul who has seen a lot in his time. Their harmonies are stellar and Adrian and Stevie do a good job at keeping the crowd engaged and appear to be having a ball whilst doing so. Their songs are charming and enjoyable and the crowd was with them every step of the way.


The boys have a gig coming up tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern at 9pm along with some residencies at Round Venue and Habits and are currently in the midst of recording an EP. I'm stoked to see how the band evolves now that they're a four piece and look forward to attending more of their shows in the future.

You can find Birds of Bellwoods all over the internet to keep up with their music and upcoming shows

Another November 11th

Today is November 11th. This means it is another birthday that my mom is not here to celebrate; another birthday that I am left to reflect on her life and how much I miss her. 

As I've worked on getting my new show together, I've been thinking a lot about my mom. I did an interview about the show a couple of weeks ago and the interviewer asked me what my mom was like. I hate the fact that as time goes on, I find it more and more difficult to answer this question. In the years that she's been gone, I've worked hard to hold on for dear life to the memories I do have of her, but realize that they're assembled more like an abstract painting than a photograph; Some things about her are blurry and others are fading entirely. I try desperately to hold on to the sound of her voice or her laugh, but worry that as time goes on they will disappear completely. 

I often think about what she would be like now if she were still around. Would she still wear high-waisted jeans and have epic hair? What kind of music would she like? I think my mom would have liked some of the incredible female artists that I listen to including Feist, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Florence and the Machine which is how Cosmic Love found its way into the set list. I think the epic hair may have stuck around too. 

I recently found myself thinking that my mom would have really liked my boyfriend (which was later solidified when my aunts met him and expressed how much they liked him). It was a pretty emotional moment that completely caught me by surprise. I don't know that I've ever really thought that about a person previously and it's hard to come to terms with the fact that my mom will never get to meet so many of the people who are important to me in my life now. 

I'm thankful to be doing the new version of my show in three months as it's an opportunity for so many others to learn about my mom and her story. When I set out to do the show last February, I didn't realize what a profound experience it would be for me or the effect it would have on others. In her time here, my mom touched a lot of people, but the show and the blog is an opportunity for her life to have an impact on even more people. It's also a chance for me to keep the memories that I do have top of mind and close to my heart. That's incredibly important to me. 

Today is November 11th. While my mom may not be here to celebrate her day, I'm here to reflect on her life and celebrate the time that we did have together. She was such a special woman. Happy birthday. 

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I'm currently working to put together another month of blog posts for February to run in conjunction with my show, The Life is Sweet Project with Angelwalk Theatre. If you'd be interested in sharing your story of mental health or loss, please check out last February's posts and then send me an email through the contact me link. This year was a moving experience for me, and I'm looking forward to having even more people be a part of it for February 2014. 

I Know It's (Not) Today

You know what certainly wasn't today?
My latest show. 
Because that was July 26. 
It's now November. 
Oops.
I Know It's Today, Ashley Gibson
I'll blame a crazy couple of months, commuting to Mississauga for work and a month of hummus, but better late than never, right?!

Ashley Gibson, I Know it's Today

Putting together a show about the trials and tribulations (and hilarity) of my dating life ever since that time I was engaged was a ton of fun. The crowd was into it, and I had so much fun with them during the crowd participation bits, starting at the very beginning:

"How many of you knew me when I was engaged?"
A few hands were raised
"How many of you met me after I had been engaged?"
Many hands were raised
"How many of you have no idea who the f*$! I am?"
A whole table raises their hands
"Oh boy, you're about to learn a lot about me and we're going to have an awesome night"

I Know It's Today, Ashley Gibson, Corbin Smith, cabaret, Toronto

Tara did an amazing job arranging the tunes, including a version of Adele's Rolling in the Deep which was prefaced with a discussion about break up songs. The conversation had been sparked on Twitter over the days leading up to the show and culminated in a bar-wide singalong of Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" after the show. Ah-mazing.

My own Jewish Yente even made an unexpected appearance during the show to talk about what SHE thought I should be looking for in a man. Unfortunately she seemed to have missed the mark a little bit, bringing up men who I had already dated and broke my heart, slept with a friend or were just kind of terrible. Nevertheless, it was sweet that she paid us a visit, even if her suggestions were kind of the worst. No hard feelings.

I talked about being the Grid's Dating Diaries cover girl (and the aftermath), being auctioned off for charity and how my shoes should have actually made an appearance at my wedding that never happened (and how symbolic it was that I decided to take them off two songs into the show).
Betsey Johnson shoes

We talked about nicknames for the people I've dated that my friends had made up and the audience had some great contributions of their own on that topic! It was fun and therapeutic to share some of the silly tales of my dating history and also realize the learnings that I've come to along the way:

1. Relax
2. Have fun
3. It's okay to stand on the precipice and dive right it. Just choose love, right?

I Know It's Today. Ashley Gibson. Corbin Smith

I think the show had the potential to be bitter and angry, but that just wouldn't have been me. I have had some ridiculous things happen to me in my dating life, but I've also met some really neat people and learned a lot about myself and what I'm looking for (also, NOT looking for). I'm such an optimist and deep down a romantic at heart, so in spite of a handful of less than stellar experiences, some heartbreak and encounters with complete assholes, I've still continued to say yes to life and let serendipity run its course. And I've gotta say, I wouldn't have it any other way. Especially now.

As for the rest? At least I've got some great stories to keep friends (and strangers) entertained.

Ashley Gibson, cabaret, Toronto

And I'm still smiling 3+ months later. Thanks to everyone who came to the show and for the Flying Beaver Pubaret for hosting Tara and I once again!

And special thanks to Corbin Smith for the photos from the show