TASTE OF THE NATIONS: More than 350 people streamed into the Fairmont on Monday evening to nosh on delicacies cooked up in front of them at the No Kid Hungry fundraiser. Ironically, it was a chi-chi food and wine fair fundraiser, involving many of Winnipeg's stellar restaurants. All around the room were wines to sniff, swish and swallow from many corners of the grape-growing world. People balanced one-bite appetizers, desserts and samples of signature dishes on tiny plates, while they partied and visited. There was nothing stuffy about this fundraiser, which raised money for child-feeding programs. Promenade Cafe & Wine Bar owner Shawn Brandson knew how to attract a crowd to his booth -- by taking a blowtorch to dessert spoons loaded with crème brªlé, that's how.
Spotted: Bothwell Cheese CEO Ivan Balenovic, David Reid of Epic Information Solutions, Mariner Neptune's John Alexander, Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox, Sysco Food Services' Kim Doherty, the Richardson Foundation's Kelly Harris, Immigrant Centre executive director Linda Lalande, Fairmont GM Michael Pye and the hotel's director of sales and marketing Jacques Lavergne, Marco Deluca of Deluca's Specialty Foods, Leilani Kagan of Thompson, Dorfman & Sweatman and John Garcia of S&J Concrete.
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WOMEN ARE FUNNY! Nelson Mayer and Kurt Berger of Shut Up and Laugh organized a lineup of eight female comedians with the dubious event name of Women Aren't Funny, and waited to see what would happen. The place filled to capacity -- about 75 per cent women -- and the comics on stage were a scream. With so many women in the house for support, the humour was no-holds-barred on female topics, with very little of the male-bashing some guys were expecting. I know this because I was the MC and sang one of my comedy country songs. Was the applause for me polite or thunderous? Let's go with thunderous!
Headliner Cara Lytwyn, a winner of Rumor's Funniest Person with a Day Job, brought the house down, preceded by a stable of comics from tried-and-true to very new. The off-the-wall Anjali Sandhu charmed the audience with irreverent reflections; suburban comedy mom Heather Witherden shocked the under-30 crowd; and Melanie Dahling, of well-known blog Girl About Town, went the intelligent comic route. Up-and-coming comics included Florence Spence, Veronica Ternopolsky, Anna Jarosz and Ash Dhawan.
Amanda Glassock of Child and Family Services won the Dave Goldberg award for "audience member of the night" because of her infectious laughing talents.
The event raised $610 for Osborne House.
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THE CYRK CIRCUS: Big action at 254 Young St. as spring refuses to come! Local psychologist Darek Dawda, also known as poet Drek Daa, revs up the schedule for house concerts at his place (dubbed the Cyrk) at least once a week. Last Friday, people were clambering for street parking, while taxis pulled up one after the other to spill their contents at the three-storey house with covered-up windows and a subtle sign reading "This Is it." Last Friday featured the Crooked Brothers: Jesse Matas, Matt Foster and Darwin Baker. They're about to tour, of all places, Italy. (They don't speak a word of Italiano!) The rowdy back-porch blues/country band blew away the crowd, sharing 10 instruments and wailing out cryin', dyin' and whoop-de-do bluegrass tunes. The Insider caught them next morning on their way to check out the Cloverdale Bed and Breakfast. "We're going to record most of our new album up there in Selkirk in the next month," says Foster. They play Times Change(d) May 3, the night before they leave for Europe.
Everybody wants to play the Cyrk because of superior acoustics. And, singer-songwriter Claire Morrison, the house concert's opening act, says, "You have a group of people who are there because they want to hear what you have to say, and not just hang out and chat." Morrison, who is part of the Empirical Management team (the Weakerthans, Paper Lions and Imaginary Circles) releases her solo album April 26 at a soiree at 218 Roslyn Rd., that elegant red brick mansion with white pillars known over the years for being a ballet school.Want to check out the Cyrk? Tonight, it's JR Riley & the Magic Bears, with opening act Holly Ruth and the Jedhis, with spoken word by Craig Bednar. It's BYOB and munchies. Donations of $5 to $20 are taken at the door for the musicians. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. For details, email: email@example.com.
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, Winnipeg, MB
Morrison played the gig with bass player Mike Cann, 23, who recently moved to Winnipeg from Alberta. "We played together at session gigs. I find his music warm and buttery."
Spotted in the audience: Amanda Glassock of Child and Family Services who won the Dave Goldberg award for "audience member of the night" for her infectious laughing talents. Also noted, Kyle McClintock, a foster-care worker, Marc Robert of Great-West Life, plus Sara Hudek-Berger of 3 Graces event planning, cook Joshua Gosselin, daycare worker Lisa Grant and Scott Porteous, himself a comedy show producer and a patient transporter at Health Sciences Centre.