BRING ME BACK! Jennifer Hanson, the blond bombshell from Flin Flon who sang O Canada at the last sad games for the original Winnipeg Jets, says "I'd love to be invited back to sing O Canada for the new Jets." If only they were back on the ice! Ironically, Hanson's adopted city of Atlanta gave up the team -- the Thrashers -- that became the new Winnipeg Jets, so she's stayed emotionally involved in Jets issues and Winnipeg. And she comes home to sing at the occasional Winnipeg Jazz Fest, most recently June 2011 at the Free Press News Café.
These days, Hanson is scoring goals as an unusual singer/drummer four nights a week at Ray's on the River in Atlanta. Think Phil Collins, only lined up in front, at the height of the band.
"It's kind of like I'm standing up," she says. Hanson started playing drums five years ago as a lark, but now she plays seriously on a raised seat with elevated drum pieces. "I play with Del Baroni on upright bass who sings like Frank Sinatra and with Charlotte Williams on piano." Hanson's voice can be low and jazzy, but she also has a rock 'n' roll background and can blow out the back of an arena.
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METAPHYSICS AT NEW YEAR: Bernice Bison, owner of the Soul Medicine Psychic Shoppe at 310 Nairn Ave., with 16 psychics on call, says business is booming in the new year, with people wanting to know what's is coming in 2013. "On Dec. 22, the day after the world didn't end, we had 27 people come here for readings instead of the usual 10 or 12."
And business has been brisk all through Christmas with bookings from people who want to "visit with the deceased." The store, located on the shore where Dan Ritchie used to park his riverboat, offers tarot card and flame readings, angel oracles, numerology, handwriting analysis plus photo and medium readings.
They have a big storefront selling exotic teas and gifts and are in the final stages of the required licences for building a tea shop on the second store, where they plan to serve high tea and offer readings this spring.
Predictions? Bison says 2013 will start to lighten up in the third week of January and it is a great year for anyone working on a business or romantic relationship to bring it to fruition.
No word on the Jets, though.
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UFO SIGHTINGS? Chris Rutkowski, Winnipeg's famous UFO-sightings investigator, said two new sightings were reported in Winnipeg on New Year's Day, early in the morning.
Were they just "seeing things" after a big New Year's party? Rutkowski said both people reported four or five flickering orange balls in the sky that were high and silent. The cluster of balls drifted to the northeast of the city and then down to disappear at the horizon. The whole thing took about five minutes.
Rutkowski says he thinks they were Chinese lanterns, which you can buy where fireworks are sold. "I know for a fact people have been sending up Chinese lanterns this year," he said. "In fact, we have been sending some up for ourselves to see what they look like. They just burn out and drop to the ground, no danger."
Rutkowski says there were about 1,000 reported UFO sightings in 2012. And they all seemed sincere. "It's very rarely people make things up. What's the point?"
The researcher says of all the stories he has heard over the years, he was most convinced by the story of Stefan Michalak, who was burned in 1967 in a reported UFO incident in Manitoba. The case was featured on Unsolved Mysteries.
"He was definitely telling the truth," says Rutkowski. For more on that story, see http://www.ufoinfo.com/news/michalak.shtml .
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ISLAND MUSICIAN: Dreaming of a desert isle as you unplug your car and sweep off the snow? Winnipeg musician Donny Bouchat of Big Roll Band fame, is makin' it work. He fell in love with the island of Eleuthera (which means Freedom) in the Bahamas in 1972, when he went there for a wedding. He bought land in 1977 and built a three-storey white concrete house in 1984.
"I came down here early this year -- about a week after hurricane Sandy. "There wasn't much damage, but I stayed on anyway!"
And why not? He enjoys the sun and plays regular gigs on the island, with famous guests often dropping by.
Last week it was famed London musician Bobby Tench, who's played with Jeff Beck, Freddie King and Van Morrison, and was a member of Gass, Hummingbird, Humble Pie and the Streetwalkers. Tench dropped into Tippy's, where Bouchat plays Wednesday nights. "Bobby is a really good guitar player," says Bouchat. "He comes down for the winters as he has a girlfriend here," a local Realtor.
Winnipeggers often drop in to see Bouchat at Tippy's, owned by Austrian-Canadian Peter Birkweiser, with a romantic location for the bar right on the water and he can also be found playing at the Beach House owned by another Canadian, Michelle Johnson.
Bouchat says Lenny Kravitz hasn't been down to his home there yet, although it's early. It's rumoured around the island Kravitz is busy shooting a movie. He has a house he inherited from his mother, Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, half of the first interracial couple on TV. (She was also the cousin of weatherman Al Roker). "It's quite a modest house really, about 20 kilometres away," says Bouchat. Kravitz famously built a 1970s-style studio near to the ocean, where Mick Jagger has recorded.
In Winnipeg, Bouchat is the frontman of the Big Roll Band, known for his gravelly Joe Cocker voice. Bouchat still comes home to Manitoba in late spring, just after being one of the acts at the Shake the Lake fest in St. Wolfgang, Austria, which starts May 29, should you be in the neighbourhood.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.