Monthly Archives: May 2011

Unique Festival in York Region


Brenda Muller is a woman with a vision – and someone who turns her visions into realities. The upcoming Blue Bridge Festival, June 3-5, is her brainchild. She’s also the founder and artistic director of the Ardeleana Trio, a York Region music-scene gem for over 20 years. Brenda herself is a classically trained cellist, but her own songs and music, like the festival itself, draw on a whole slew of other influences.

Taking place this year in Georgina, Newmarket, and Unionville, the Blue Bridge Festival combines various genres of music – from classical to jazz to roots & folk and more — for example, the Toronto Chinese Orchestra — with poetry and children’s workshops, for an unusual creative mix. Many (or most) of the performers either live in, or hail from, York Region, so this festival really is a celebration of where we live.

The gala concert Saturday night at Newmarket’s Trinity United Church is worth noting. It features an orchestra made up of both young music students and older professionals, plus an adult community choir, performing works by Brahms and Haydn. “The mix of generations is really a lot of fun,” says Brenda Muller. And of course a great learning experience for all.

Oh – and William Lyon Mackenzie will make an appearance at the festival too. Played by singer-songwriter and children’s performer Magoo, he’ll give you a tour of Newmarket’s Main Street from his own historical perspective, because Newmarket was a hotbed of foment during the Upper Canada Rebellion.

And yes, yours truly is one of the Blue Bridge artists. I’ll be performing Friday evening in Georgina Pioneer Village, and playing Saturday afternoon in Newmarket at Books Cafe & Things, 208 Main St. S., along with other musicians and poets. The poets and I are already trading poems and song lyrics to create some thematic links in the show – not for us a mere random jumble of pieces, oh no! – though we are leaving room for sudden flashes of improvisation and creative juxtaposition… 

Click here for tickets, schedule, venues and more. Come on out and be moved, amused, inspired and entertained by the eclectic artistic riches in your own York Region backyard!

Marie-Lynn Hammond is a co-founder of Stringband, a seminal Canadian folk group, and a critically acclaimed songwriter living in York Region. In past lives she’s written plays and magazine articles and hosted national CBC radio shows. In between working on two new CDs, she freelances as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction.


Leverage the Power of QR Codes

If you don’t already know, the latest smart phones and quick response codes (QR codes) are entering into online and offline marketing. QR codes are a hot item in mobile marketing as more and more advertisers add them to their marketing initiatives.

 More than just a ‘cool factor’, QR codes drive website traffic from print and direct mail. Magazine ads are using QR codes instead of asking their audiences to manually type in their information. Scanning the code into a phone automatically allows access to immediate information. By adding the QR code into a direct response piece, you can easily transmit the user to product information, websites, contact information and much more. This can potentially lead to an immediate sale or conversion, plus by using services such as you can track the success of your campaign.

 As the techno-savvy buyer travels by foot or motorization, realty agents can take advantage of immediate access to information about prospective real estate by offering the 2D barcode to those with a scanner app loaded on their smartphone. Sure beats typing in a phone number or address to view info on that newly-listed house you just jogged by.

 The immediacy of the QR code means quicker response. Imagine you have a video on YouTube. Post your QR code and immediately drive traffic to your movie trailer, commercial or music video. Add a QR code to your next event invitation so your uncle Bob can scan it in for Google map directions and not end up getting lost in some bar.

 So the question you should be asking yourself is: “why aren’t I taking advantage of QR codes, and what should I use it on to leverage my online and offline communications?” Contact me and I’ll show you how.


 Franklin Beecham is a visual artist. His paintings are collected internationally. He has also created branding solutions for the Markham Arts Council and the York Region Arts Council.

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Fundraising!  The word alone stresses me out. It reeks of ‘commitment’ ‘soliciting’ ‘organization’ ‘rejection’.  But I believe in fundraising. I want to give; I really do. I have a cause that I care deeply about, Doane House Hospice, and I’m also looking for a needy cat shelter to donate to at the moment.

Back to the question of fundraising… My theory is:  when a task seems too big to tackle, break it down into small steps and take one at a time.

It began a couple of weeks ago when my husband and I were invited to friends of ours for drinks. Actually it was for a game of euchre, but that never got off the ground. There were eight of us there.  I decided to make a loaf of bread that afternoon, a huge twisted loaf, which turned out ‘glossy magazine’ perfect. (That’s not always the case). I arrived at our friend’s house with the loaf beautifully wrapped in cellophane with a poster that read: “Draw – 1 ticket for $3 or 2 tickets for $5”.

 I made $31 from 6 people that night (someone threw in an extra loonie) which I proudly handed over to Doane House first thing Monday morning.

So now my mind’s reeling. I’ve got my annual girl’s party coming up next month and yes, you guessed it, I’m making a loaf of bread, I’m making some of my signature spicy beans which I’ll present in a cool dollar store dish, I’ll package some of my husband’s phenomenal curry nuts, and I’ll scrounge up lots of other interesting stuff. And it’ll be a win-win for all: the prize winners will be smiling, Doane House too, and I’ll be happy knowing that it sometimes only takes small steps to help giant causes.

Every time you gather people together for a workshop, a party, a barbeque, remember to seize the moment to fundraise. Simply tap into your talents: Are you a gardener? Divvy up your plants and raffle them in a nice pot. Do you cook? Have a draw for your wares like I did for the bread. Are you an artist? People love having something created by an artist they’ve met in person. Get resourceful. Break the ice. Have a blast.

I kinda like the word ‘fundraising’ now; I think of it more like ‘fun-raising’!