When is a bar not just a bar? When it’s a bar/cafe/lounge/restaurant/hotel. Like it or not (and your position may depend whether you’re asked on a midnight lunch or a weekend at 2am), the Drake is the epicentre of the new West Queen West. To get at the heart of its place in the city’s music community, we had Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning check himself in to one of their suites and give us the view up from up there.
Archive for the ‘Charles Officer’ Category
Singer Divine Brown grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan and Mariah Carey. But when she was turned away from a theatre audition as a teen and told to go learn the standards, she decided it was her job to master every genre of music. She later joined a fusion band, but it was at Queen Street West’s Rex Jazz and Blues bar where Divine encountered the “old jazz cats” that would let her get up and hone the voice and improv skills that would soon set her apart from all the other young singers in the city. Now a Juno-Award winning R&B/soul star and successful theatre performer, Divine returns to the low-key environs of the Rex to explain how jazz has influenced her pop music career and show her former teachers what she’s learned.
Charles Officer is the award-winning director of Nurse.Fighter.Boy as well as short films, and music documentaries. He has worked with K’naan, DJ Green Velvet and Bedouin Soundclash and when we asked him how he felt about filming Divine Brown for his second City Sonic he smiled a huge grin – turns out he’s known Ms. Brown since she was a very young lady. Another perfect match.
LL: Give us your “elevator ride” pitch: the concept for your film in three sentences or less.
CO: The film follows Divine Brown as she revisits her jazz roots at The Rex. There is a small reunion between herself and jazzman, John T. Davis, who she hasn’t performed with in over 10 years.
LL: You’ve known Divine for years. What did you learn about her on this shoot that surprised you?
CO: There is a beautiful little girl inside that woman, who loves to communicate through song. Well after we finished shooting at the Rex, Divine got up after the cameras had gone. She was like a kid in a candy store and we didn’t leave til’ close.
LL: Any advice for other filmmakers on how to work within the 4-minute time limit?
CO: Be specific. Because time flies when you’re having fun.
LL: How do you see the future of films made for mobile?
CO: I think its wide-open terrain for mobile films right now. It’s exciting because films can become more like a song. I think it’s only going to get better, as long as the medium isn’t bombarded with folks who only have money making on their radar.
This was our last City Sonic shoot, and it was pouring rain. When the lovely Ms. Brown pulled up in a classic Rolls Royce decked in her vintage finest for the retro styled shoot, there wasn’t a big enough umbrella to keep her from getting soaked. Thankfully the sun shone down on our crew soon enough, and Divine keep the good vibes going on stage at the Rex late into that night.