Winnipeg Fire Chief Reid Douglas will be front and centre tonight at a big blaze he has no intention of putting out. His wife, Nadia Douglas, a fiery singer new to the Winnipeg lounge world, will be playing the Palm Lounge in the Fort Garry Hotel Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 8:30. Well-known piano man Rick Boughton backs her.
"Out comes the gown and the big hair!" says the singer, who used to be a paramedic and an actress in Vancouver. "My husband keeps me going. Even if he's dead-dog tired, he's there for every show I do."
She backs his work 100 per cent, too.
Was she scared when he went to the big fire in St. Boniface Monday?
"I'm not scared because I was a paramedic, and I also have complete faith in him. You're not being a very good wife if he has to worry about you."
In just 13 months, Nadia has skyrocketed from live band karaoke to fancy solo gigs. With lessons from well-known Cindi Cain at the Voice Shack to polish her act, she started singing with The Dynamics and doing smaller gigs with Orest Dobinsky, and now she's getting solo gigs.
"It's been a great year and support from people has been unbelievable."
While she enjoyed playing in films (Making Mr. Right, Her Fatal Flaw), she says, "Those were what I did. This is who I am. This is my dream."
The former Nadia Alzubaidi says, "I went to Transcona Collegiate and Reid is a North End boy.
"I met him when I was a bartender before moving to Vancouver in 2000," she says. "I worked (at the Nor-Villa) in the late '80s when my hair was so big and sprayed so hard, I hurt people if I turned too quickly."
"All I want to do right now is sing. I'm thrilled that people are receptive! Winnipeg is the best city in the planet; people are so willing to help and they want you to succeed."
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NEW ARRIVAL: SoGa, a fancy art-soap company that gifts bag-toting publicists at the Oscars, is finally getting a store presence in Winnipeg. It's opening Saturday in the back half of Dan Madrid's popular Thrive Nutrition & Wellness store at 755 Corydon Ave.
"And we get part of the window space!" says Louise Vargas, who makes the fancy soaps, including their realistic-looking soap cupcakes. Husband Luis Vargas will be manning the shop with her.
SoGa enjoyed a big presence at the ManyFest street festival in Winnipeg in September, but they're best known for their gifting at Earth Day in L.A.
"We gave soap cupcakes to 30 A-list stars and their personal publicists, too."
This year's crop included Tom Hanks, Kate Bosworth, Leonardo DiCaprio, Woody Harrelson, Drew Barrymore, Ellen DeGeneres, Orlando Bloom and Sting.
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THIS JUST IN: West End's Ruby Slipper on Sargent Avenue, one of the biggest suppliers of retro fashion to movies shot in Winnipeg, is sneaking open a new location at 370 St. Anne's Rd. Owner Tracy J. Martin has a lot of customers in south Winnipeg. She's planning to be open in time for Halloween.
"I'm totally stoked about it. We just signed last Monday," Martin says. "We're painting and plastering over Thanksgiving weekend and my husband is madly putting up shelving and racks. We'll be having the grand opening Saturday, Oct. 13."
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COMPETITION BREWING FAST: Giacomo "Giac" Appice and his partner John Smook are about to give The Grove a run for its money at Stafford and Grosvenor. Their new Tre Vis Café has old Spuntino trappings flying out the back door and new building materials coming in after them. They're booting it!
"We could be open as early as Oct. 31," says Appice, who wants to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season. "Restaurants are already getting Christmas bookings," he says.
He and Smook are going for a whole new idea. Unlike the formal white tablecloths of elegant Tre Visi downtown, started by Giacomo and his parents Caterina and Giacinto, this bistro will be black and white, with an ebony-coloured table in the middle and a funky black chandelier hanging above it. As well as favourites from the downtown menu, the café will offer casual, moderately prices dishes such as lasagna and pizza.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@winnipegfreepress.com or send letters to Maureen Scurfield, c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.