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Strings and Straps

This week on the X,  a house concert with the Sultans of String, Canada's ambassadors of musical diversity, and an intimate chat about intimate wear with Fort Qu'Appelle's Donna Caruso, plus an interivew with Brad Johner about his World Vision Canada experience.

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Sultans of String romp through an energized adventure of Latin, Gypsy-jazz, Middle Eastern and folk rhythms, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound. World rhythms excite audiences to their feet with the irresistible need to dance. Sultans of String have been called "groundbreaking...virtuoso...boundary pushing... infectious...visionary... brilliant...and absolutely stunning!" (The Live Music Report). Their debut CD Luna soared to # 1 across Canada on Top Ten national radio charts, and won the award for Best Variety Act from Festivals & Events Ontario. They were finalists in the Toronto, Ontario, Canadian and International Independent Music Awards, winning both the best song and best instrumental categories for the 2007 Ontario Independent Music Awards.

Six-string violinist and bandleader Chris McKhool grew up in a house bursting with music and diversity. His paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900's. His Egyptian-born mother is a piano and theory teacher. Growing up Chris was fed a steady diet of delicious musicality along with Middle Eastern cuisine and violin lessons. From a very young age Chris was taught the Canadian values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture. His passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, collecting instruments and styles everywhere he went. Travels to the Canadian Arctic, Indonesia, France, England, Cuba, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Indian Himalayas to perform and conduct music workshops have added to his depth of musical and spiritual understanding of our global community. Chris has also guest starred internationally with Jesse Cook, Pavlo, Amanda Martinez and Club Django.

 When Chris first heard founding guitarist Kevin Lalibert√©'s rumba rhythm their musical mind-meld created the Sultans of String's sound - the intimate and playful relationship between violin and the flamenco guitar.  Together, they  are the core of a band that has created the undefinable but instantly recognizable Sultans of String sound.  The pair have collaborated with many talented musical friends over the years, and for this concert bass player Drew Birston completes the trio.

This performance took place at a beautiful home in Regina's Hillsdale neighbourhood. This house concert was part of the Home Routes concert series. Home Routes has the lofty goal of bringing world class musicians into the comfortable intimacy of people's homes. It's a wonderfully satisfying experience to attend an intimate concert like this one featuring a multiple award-winning and Juno nominated group of such fine quality.


Listen to the whole Sultans of String concert again, courtesy of CBC Radio 2's Concerts on Demand, or listen to them on Youtube:




1207161173.gifDonna Caruso has been a unique part of the Saskatchewan art scene for more than a quarter-century. Donna Caruso is the daughter of immigrant Italian parents, who came from southern Italy to settle in the New York/ New Jersey area. Donna was born there in order to be close to her mother. But as soon as she could, she moved directly from New Jersey to Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, and has lived there everafter, raising her two sons, Jason and Elliot. Jason and Elliot are full-grown men now with families of their own. Donna is truly amazed that her children are so old, while she remains so young. In 1980, Donna, newly separated from her husband and, raising two children on minimum wage, needed some extra money to pay for fire insurance. She worried and worried. Happily, fate intervened when an ad in the Regina Leader Post caught Donna's eye....a talent competition offered a cash prize....Donna entered and won, paid her fire insurance, and launched a new career. Donna has worked as a stand up comedian, and a children's performer ever since; she started writing for radio in 1983, her comic skits, songs, and radio plays heard on CBC both locally and nationally. Donna also began writing children's musical comedies in 1987, and has written and toured a new original show each year in the Regina district since then. She also began writing short stories, which have been read on CBC radio, and which have been published in several literary anthologies. Donna has won several awards for her work, including an award for Erotic Literature from Prairie Fire Magazine in Manitoba. Her award winning story was entitled, A Woman's Guide To Personal Hygiene. Donna thought it was a funny story, and no one was more surprised than she that it was thought to be so sexy. That , however, should not surprise Donna, as people always seem to be laughing at her. But, never one to be pigeonholed, Donna also produces very serious video documentaries. Working in film and video since 1988, Donna formed her company, Incandescent Films in 1992. Since then she has produced numerous documentaries for broadcast on CBC, BBS, and STV, Vision TV, WTN, the Discovery Channel, and several educational channels across Canada. Her subject matter is usually people, although she has spent an inordinant amount of time most recently in doing a show about the Swainson's Hawk. But usually it's people......her work including Chasing The Cure (the story of Fort San as a Tuberculosis sanitorium), and profiles of Saskatchewan seniors such as Alice Jenner and Sr. Yvonne Toucanne. Her 1998 documentary, TOP BRASS, about the Regina Lions Junior Band, won a national award recently at the Can-Pro festival in Toronto.

All that's fine and dandy, but, what everyone really wants to know first and foremost about Donna Caruso, is that yes, Enrico Caruso IS her uncle.

Donna was supposed read her own work for today's broadcast--But became ill at the time of recording--KJB wants to personally send all her best wishes and good thoughts to Donna and her family.