LOVE FEST: The March 13 benefit for comedian Jon Ljungberg, the former host of Breakfast Television, and his partner Lori Tresoor at Rumor’s Comedy Club was a love fest. Veteran comedians, fans, friends and family participated generously in the fundraising draws. Sheldon Mindell and the gang offered Rumor’s club for free, and the event sold out almost immediately.
Ljungberg, who almost died of severe ailments after Christmas, and Tresoor, who broke her leg in two places, both ended up in the same hospital. It was apparent these two would not be working again for a while, so friends put on a fundraiser, which is just what Ljungberg would have done for someone else.
Comedian Big Daddy Tazz was the night’s jovial MC and many comics performed, including Al Simmons, Dean Jenkinson, Clayton T. Stewart, Lara Rae, northern hillbilly Garry Ed Roy, Mennonite Elvis Corny Rempel, Heather Witherden and comic juggler Robin Chestnut. Ljungberg and Tresoor were visibly touched by the outpouring of love and support from the stage and the audience and the many huggers. And talk about Winnipeg generosity! Wine expert Shawn Brandson donated a bottle of wine worth hundreds of dollars and ended up bidding highest to buy it back. In the same spirit, classy CJOB radio man Tom Milroy, who won the 50-50 draw, immediately turned around and donated his winnings of $498 to the couple.
SPOTTED: Ljungberg’s daughter Brittney and son Christopher; Winnipeg Harvest’s Donald Benham;Mitch Dorge of Crash Test Dummies fame; Winnipeg Free Press humour columnist Doug Speirs and wife Diane Skogstad; Free Press publisher Bob Cox and his occupational therapist wife Lena Cox; lawyer Bob Sokalski; Jim Ingebrigtsen; and Linda Proulx of the Love Nest sex shop, who donated a $750 basket full of potions, lotions and buzzers, which drew lineups at the auction table.
MS. PAT HITS THE PEG: Comedian Ms. Pat will be busy blowing the roof off at Rumor’s Comedy Club this week, starting Tuesday. Ms. Pat grew up in a tough neighbourhood in Atlanta and has a lot to teach people about turning pain into comedy. She’s been shot twice and hit by a dump truck. She had a baby at 14 and another at 15, then suddenly had four more of her sisters’ kids to raise as well. Food stamps were a part their survival.
One day somebody in the welfare office suggested she had a way of telling funny stories about her life, and pushed her to try an open mic. Zoom! Ms. Pat got her first step up in what became a successful comedy career. She is a great example of the power of seeing the humour in whatever life throws at us. Tickets available by calling Rumor’s at 204-488-4520.
EYE ON THE ARTS: CNIB’s fun gala — an art auction and dinner — took place March 16 with a lively group of 350 at the RBC Convention Centre. Before the tasty dinner, everybody checked out the 150 art and jewelry pieces displayed in bright lights on one side of the room. After dinner, musician Curtis Newton took the stage, but not to sing. He was dressed in a black business suit, and well into his other persona as an Adesa auctioneer, masterfully selling paintings for the CNIB.
Hard on the voice? "No, not really. I also sold 100 cars earlier today," he said with a smile.
SPOTTED: Protocol expert Dwight MacAulay; Free Press reporter and avid art collector Kevin Rollason and his wife, lawyer Gail MacAulay; psychologist Teresa Sztaba with her auction win — a Donna Young painting called Morning; retired psychology professor Bruce Tefft; Humane Society puppy lover Johanne Pitura; funky jewelry collector Maggie McRae; and Camerata Nova PR type Carolyn Rickey.
CNIB event organizer Wanda Mills confessed they were worried about the new text-for-bid alternative for people who didn’t want to hold up paddles. But it wound up accounting for 80 per cent of the bidding action. Hosts were morning radio hosts Tom McGouran and Kerri Salki of 94.3 The Drive.
Speakers included CNIB president and CEO John Rafferty and Scotiabank’s Martin MacCool. Featured guest speaker Rhea Schmidt said as a young girl with little sight, she put up with a lot of bullying, with kids saying things like, "How many fingers am I holding up now? Hahaha."
But she finally found her best friends at a special CNIB summer camp for visually impaired kids, where they could do almost everything sighted children do, including go-karting. Later, she hit her stride in competitive swimming. She said proudly: "I have become strong, independent and always willing to take on a challenge."
XIMBOMBO: African-born drummer and singer Casimiro Nhussi is releasing a new CD called Ximbombo with a party release party guaranteed to shake the dance floor. It’s all happening with his NAfro Band at the Pyramid Cabaret, 176 Fort St., on April 7. Mariana Cañadas with Rod Hussey and Matthew Thot will open the show, and Cañadas will be singing her new single, Mrs. Right.
Nhussi, who is originally from Mozambique, says his rousing CD reflects the voices and sounds of the drums telegraphing to the people in surrounding farms and villages, with messages on many different topics. Nhussi met his Canadian wife Esther Argyle, a civil engineer, when she was working in his home country.
The performer is also well-known as a choreographer and founder of NAfro Dance group. He also teaches dance at a studio at 109 Pulford St., and does dynamic presentations for the Artists in the Schools program, as well as being a lively storyteller.
His band includes Sudanese bass player Binasio Wani, who was in the Guy Maddin movie Saddest Music in the World; percussionists Jay Stoller, Tim Church and Nick Kolisnyk (who also plays trumpet on the CD); sax players Dave Brown and Roger Cloutier; drummer Kelly Leveille; and Cam MacLean playing guitar, and percussion, and the wild Ewingi B. Kiki, who plays guitar and hails from Congo. Tickets are $15 at the door or in advance by calling 204-951-1685.
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