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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 of 2011

A year end tradition for me, for several years now, has been listing my top 10 gigs of that year. It's nice to reflect on what the year brought me, what kind of events I was involved with, and who I met along the way. Music and performance feeds the soul, and connects you to others, in such a beautiful way. This year was a full one, full of gifts in many shapes, and with those gifts I leave 2011 breathing a lot clearer then any year prior to this one.  

10. This is Twisted Theatre


I took part in the December edition of "This is Twisted Theatre", which is a great new theatre company in Victoria, British Columbia. Made up of a handful of talented folk, I had a great time doing my own monologues and acting in shared skits.


9. Christmas at Craigdarroch


Singing and dancing around with kids, while playing my accordion, in a beautifully decorated heritage mansion at Christmas time! Lucky me :) Thank you for having me, Craigdarroch!


8. Enchanted Halloween


I loved this event. It was suitably named for it was quite an Enchanted world that was created at the Heritage Acres. I loved dropping into a storybook setting and playing for families all dressed up in Halloween costumes!


7. Moon Lantern Festival


ICA Victoria does such a great job with family and community events, utilizing lanterns and the outdoors. This event was at the end of the summer, right when it finally heated up! I remember all the guests were in great spirits, and the lantern displays were all a-glow.


6. The Great Giffoni Magic Show - The Big Time Out Festival


The Big Time Out Festival was crazy! Everyone there was having a good ol' time, stomping around in a huge dusty field, dancing to a mix of music I hadn't heard in a longggg time...

Two performances in one day, I met several handfuls of awesome people and ran into some friends there too. Performing a magic show, with The Great Giffoni, always leaves me with a good story to tell. A good time the Big Time Out was, AND what better response is there while driving out from the festival and through a road-block and informing the Police "I'm coming from a magic show, Officer. I've got a chicken and bunny in the backseat too"?


5. The Fall of the House of Usher


Who wouldn't enjoy the pleasure of dying, being dead in a coffin, coming back to life, giving birth, and then murdering your own twin - all in one night?

The cast and crew were a pleasure as well, and performing in a life-like "Haunted Mansion" (one of my favourite Disney rides) had us all doing a fantastically ghoulish job of this Poe tale.


4. YMCA-YWCA Annual Family Christmas Party


Performing for families and children is always a good time. This Christmas party at the YMCA-YWCA of Greater Victoria was a blast! What a fabulous little group of kids I met that day!


3. The Grand Canyon 


This was a fun photo shoot/performance. Apparently seeing one of the world's wonders isn't enough for some. I became a part of the attraction, and Mr. Stone had plenty of photographic company as tourists, and visitors all had their cameras aimed at me as well.

Holding over 20 pounds of bellows, keys, buttons and reeds while wearing high-heeled patent leather boots isn't easy... did I make it look easy? I was about 3 feet from the edge in this photo, and that fear simmered down the second I had some man chat me up about Weird Al.

No offence, Weird Al! I wish you well in your career! Being pigeonholed with the guy that sang "Eat it" while experiencing one of the most exhilarating landscapes isn't my idea of awesome. I forgave the man that had to tell me all about how he won Weird Al concert tickets, and continued on with my romance with the canyon.


2. The Time Jumpers






Have you ever had your mind blown? My visit to Nashville, Tennessee did just that. Seeing true musicianship, talent, and comradery on stage is something the regulars of The Station Inn get to experience weekly. Hands down the BEST intimate live venue music performance I have ever seen.

The Time Jumpers are made up of 11 members. Fiddle players, guitars, bass, slide, singers, and of course the ACCORDION all make up this band. When the three fiddle players played in unison - it felt like you had sliced into butter. That's the best way I can describe it, so I hope that makes sense! Everyone on stage was having just a great of a time as those off-stage watching.

My friend Bob, who lives in Nashville, introduced me to The Station Inn, along with the great accordion player Jeff Taylor, as well as Vince Gill and Ranger Doug. If I could live in Nashville, I WOULD BE THERE RIGHT NOW.


1. The Ziti Sisters 




With over 1200 shows performed while at Walt Disney World, it's tough to pick out the best ones. This job was truly magical, and I'll remember it forever. I was the first "Katia Ziti", and I had a wild ride being her over the year I was performing in "The Ziti Sisters".

I miss seeing the children every day at work, having them run up to me and hug my poofy dress and dance around with me. I also think about the children that weren't always feeling that well, and watched the show from a wheelchair - and I wish them good health. The biggest joy of the job was meeting all the children every day, but the best part would be seeing a child, who was not in good health, smile because of our performance.

It was challenging to live in a different country and culture, to feel so outside of the world you're now a part of and to keep your wits about you, but that experience alone is invaluable. We need to keep ourselves on the edge of our comfort zones, if it scares you you probably should do it! You'll only grow from it! And, if you get a chance - live completely out of your comfort zone for a year!

I often think about the regular park guests that frequented our show, the Italian employees that would wave at us from the gift shops, the restaurant owners and managers who loved to chat us up backstage, and how surreal it would get when you'd be waving 'hello' to Mickey Mouse or getting a hug from Pluto while walking backstage. Hopping on the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom and riding my favourite rides over and over again... Experiencing the best fireworks of my life (I'm ruined now when it comes to firework displays!), and so many quality musical, vocal, dance and comedic performances, but also getting to be a part of one!


That is the end of my Top 10 list. I'm looking forward to 2012, and seeing where saving the world with the accordion takes me next :)




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