Ila Vann’s 80th birthday celebration

On March 6, 2018, in Entertainment, by admin

Ila Vann performing at BluMartini in Kingston, ON for her 80th birthday celebration.
Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2018

Kingston, ON—On Sunday, March 4, 2018 a celebration for my friend, “Ila Vann’s” 80th birthday was held at BluMartini on Ontario Street in Kingston, ON. I have known Ila for years and she has performed with such greats as, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Over the years I have heard her perform at Brandy’s with the R ’n B Boys, and numerous places around the Belleville/Quinte area.

The Fade Kings (Ila’s backup band for years) opened the show at BluMartini and they featured the great, Ian ‘Koko’ Kojima, on saxophone, and Deborah Feeley on vocals. The Fade Kings performed a very groovin’ rendition of the O-Jays classic, “Love Train,” and showcased some amazing tight harmonies.

The show continued on and Deborah Feeley was introduced and was featured on a great B.B. King tune entitled “The Thrill Is Gone.” Deborah acknowledged Ila as being a great inspiration and that Ila is a huge deal!!

Spencer Evans was the next featured group and he said that he was going to play some Huey Lewis, and he quipped, not Huey Lewis & The News, but Huey Lewis & The Clowns, from New Orleans-I think he met Huey “Piano” Smith & The Clowns from New Orleans. Spencer wasted no time into going into a rockin’ version of Rockin’ Pneumonia—and really let loose on those 88 keys!!

“Ila worked with Louis (Armstrong), and Ray (Charles), and of course I like Ray,” Spencer said, “This one’s for you Ila!!” Spencer performed, What I’d Say, with his sunglasses on and then continued his portion of the show with Billy Preston’s, ‘Round In Circles which received thunderous applause from everybody in the club including all the great dancers.

I’d like to call another singer up – my sister, Heather Evans. We all like the blues and so does Ila!! – Heather was featured on Muddy Waters’ Hoochie Coochie (Wo)man and did a terrific job. Spencer went on to do Chuck Berry’s Teenage Wedding as well as Chubby Checker’s The Twist. Ila Vann – I love you – and I know you love Joe Cocker too, Spencer said and he then proceeded to play, With a Little Help From My Friends.”

Kingston loves Ila-we’ll all miss you he said.

My friend Julia Moore was called up to the stage and she performed a powerful, high-energy, version of Aretha Franklin’s Respect—wow what a highlight of the event!!

Heather Evans did a version of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode and Mike Myers (vocalist) was featured on the old R n B classic, “Mustang Sally.”

Ila Vann was also featured on a couple classic r ’n b tunes throughout the afternoon.

What an amazing afternoon of great music and celebrations of Ila’s 80th birthday. Ila is leaving Canada to be closer with her family in New York. We will all miss Ila Vann-such a loving person and great vocalist.

To see the gallery of photos, click on the picture of Ila.

All images by: Norm Johnstone © 2018


Christian McBride at Humber College

On March 13, 2017, in Entertainment, Jazz, by admin

Christian McBride performing at Humber College, Etobicoke, ON. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

Christian McBride performing at
Humber College, Etobicoke, ON.
Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

Etobicoke, ON—Humber College Music presented an unbelievable evening of music that featured the incredible bassist, “Christian McBride,” first with a medium sized ensemble, “Humber Christian McBride Project,” led by, “Mike Downes,” followed by the, “Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble,” led by, “Denny Christianson.”

It was great to see some friends and former teachers of mine such as, Pat LaBarbera, Mark Promane, Don Vickery, and Marsha Duggan.

The instrumentation in the first group consisted of, “Emily Steinwall,” tenor and soprano saxophones, “Matt Lagan,” tenor and soprano saxophones, “Alex Gambrel,” trumpet, “Shirsha Chakraborty,” vocals, “William Lamoureux,” violin, “Sean Clarey,” guitar, “Chris Tufaro,” piano, “David Steinmetz,” drums, and “Christian McBride,” bass.

The program for this group consisted of, “Brown Funk,” “Uhura’s Moment Returned,” Science Fiction,” “Butterfly Dreams,” and “Say Something.” All of these compositions were written by “Christian McBride,” with the exception of “Butterfly Dreams,” which was written by “Stanley Clarke.”

These Humber students performed with so much enthusiasm and passion which resulted in a top-notch performance, something that you don’t get to hear everyday.

The instrumentation for the second group consisted of, “Chris Dembski,” “Eric Carter,” “Matt Lagan,” “Emily Steinwall,” “Jonathan Lau,” saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and bass clarinet. “Megan Jutting,” “Thomas Upjohn,” “Stephen Griffiths,” and “Kyle Windjack,” trumpets and flugelhorns. “Nat Lazzarotto,” “Nick Marshall,” “Michael Callander,” and “Mitch Smith,” trombones and bass trombone. The rhythm section consisted of, “Chris Tufaro,” piano, “Chris Wiens,” drums, “Julien Bradley-Combs,” guitar, and “Christian McBride,” bass. This big-band also featured, “Elena Rawlins,” on vocals. Directing this wonderful big-band was the great, “Denny Christianson.”

The program for this big-band consisted of: “Brother Mister,” “Broadway,” “The Shade of The Cedar Tree,” “I Should Care,” “Bluesin’ In Alphabet City,” “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” and “Shake ‘N Blake.” All compositions were written by “Christian McBride,” with the exception of “Broadway,” “I Should Care,” and “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.” All arrangements were done by “Christian McBride.”

The “Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble,” played with passion and a great deal of authority. It is truly amazing to see such a “young” big-band perform with such musicality and brilliance!!

“Christian McBride’s” website is located here:

Humber College Music on Lakeshore Blvd in Etobicoke, ON presents numerous music concerts throughout the year. For more information you can checkout their website at:

To view the complete photo gallery, click on the image of “Christian McBride.”


Art & The Automobile

On February 28, 2017, in Auto Show, by admin

"1956 Monarch Richelieu" Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

“1956 Monarch Richelieu”
Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

Toronto, ON—The “Canadian International AutoShow 2017,” featured a room full of some of the finest “classic,” cars over the years as a salute to Canada as Canada ramps up to its 150th anniversary this year. Some of the cars that were featured were a 1867 Seth Taylor steam buggy, 1910 Mckay, 1914 Russell, 1927 Mclaughlin-Buick, 1956 Monarch Richelieu, 1903 Columbus Electric, 1935 Packard 1207 Dietrich-bodied coupe roadster, 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca De Ville, 1949 Cadillac Concept, and a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Superleggera.

This exhibit was hosted by, “Cobble Beach Councours D’Elegance.”

Another feature of this exhibit was a beautiful black grand piano in the center of the room playing (by itself), some nice light piano music that set the mood as we all took in these fabulous sites of, “Art & the Automobile.”

Click the 1956 Monarch Richelieu to see the gallery of photos.


Canadian International AutoShow 2017

On February 27, 2017, in Auto Show, by admin

Canadian International AutoShow 2017. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

Canadian International AutoShow 2017.
Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2017

Toronto, ON — The Canadian International AutoShow was held once again at the Metro Convention Centre (North and South buildings), and ran from February 17 – February 26, 2017. As always, this was a truly spectacular autoshow and featured over 1,000 new cars and light trucks as well as some amazing, “concept,” vehicles. All the numerous auto manufacturers in the industry were represented very well.

Some of the special features of the show were the “classics,” with “Art & The Automobile,” presented by “Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegence, “ the “Formula One’s,” iconic cars, and “Auto Exotica,” which featured numerous red Ferraris, dated back to as early as 1972, as well as Mclaren, Bugatti, Lotus, Lamborgini, Aston Martin, a 1959 Sport Speciale Spyder Tribute Car, and many more.

I’m already looking forward to attending the, “Canadian International AutoShow,” in Toronto next year-it’s always a great time!

To see the full photo gallery, click on the image of the Mercedes.


The Ugly Disco – Rochester, NY

On April 21, 2014, in Entertainment, by admin

Kevin Tierney

Kevin Tierney performing with, “The Skycoasters,” at the Ugly Disco in Rochester, NY. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2014

The Ugly Disco was held March 8, 2014 at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, New York. One of my Humber College buddies, Kevin Tierney, invited me to come down for a visit, and meet the musicians, and check out this gala evening. I had never been to Rochester, NY before, so I thought I would drive down and check it out. Kevin plays a fantastic trumpet and performs with numerous groups including the internationally known, “Skycoasters” band from Rochester. The “Skycoasters” have been performing together for over two decades and is the ultimate 9-piece party band. They have performed at numerous NFL Superbowl parties, summer olympics, New York Yankees parties as well as numerous festivals, clubs, weddings, and high-end corporate events.

This was the 11th annual 2014 Ugly Disco Bash that featured, “Something Else,” “Atlas Band,” “The Skycoasters,” and Toronto’s own “Disco Nation.”

The Ugly Disco seemed like what a “Studio 54,” party would be like – everybody having a great time, lots of disco-dancing, and lots of great “live” entertainment. All of the groups dressed the part of the disco 70’s era and also there were numerous costume changes throughout the night. The Skycoasters wore these amazing “lit up glow jackets”–very hip to the disco scene!!

The Skycoasters closed the night with numerous disco hits such as: “Disco Inferno,” “That’s The Way,” “Funky Music,” “Dancin’ Queen,” “Rock The Boat,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Funky Town,” “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” and of course….Donna Summer’s famous ”Last Dance.”

Numerous cheers could be heard from an energetic, appreciative crowd of disco dancers – and all were in hip disco costumes enjoying the “party-of-the-year!! The Ugly Disco is held once every year. If you have the opportunity to go and see it, you will not be disappointed.

To see the full photo gallery, click on the image of Kevin Tierney playing the trumpet.


CNE 2013 – Elvis – If I Can Dream

On August 23, 2013, in Entertainment, by admin
Stephen Michaels performing, "Elvis - If I Can Dream"

Stephen Michaels performing, “Elvis – If I Can Dream” at CNE, Toronto, ON. All images by: Norm Johnstone © 2013

On August 20, 2013, I went to the Canadian International Exhibition in Toronto, ON to see the concert, “Elvis – If I Can Dream,” featuring the very talented, “Stephen Michaels.” Michaels performed numerous hits from Elvis’ Golden years, to the Vegas years. Near the beginning of the concert, a video clip was displayed on two huge screens of Ed Sullivan introducing Elvis to the world. Numerous costume changes were made throughout the performance–and by the cheers of the crowd, the all black-leather outfit that Elvis wore in the 1968 comeback show, seemed to be a definite favourite.

Some of the songs that were featured throughout the evening were songs like: “Don’t Be Cruel,” “G.I. Blues,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Unchained Melody,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “How Great Thou Art,” and at one point Michaels came out in a gold-glittered jacket, rocking out to the legendary, “Hound Dog.”

Near the end of the show, Michaels was dressed in the famous white sequinned jumpsuit, and was about to sing his next song, when he said, “Just a minute…I’m caught up…”–I think people thought he was kidding around, but he said, “No seriously…I’m caught up.” I guess his rings, or chains got caught up on his jacket, so one of the female back-up vocalists, came down and got him untangled….he was then ready to continue wowing the crowd with his great vocal ability, and all the “Elvis,” trademark moves.

If you have the opportunity to see Stephen Michaels perform, check him out as I’m sure you will enjoy the show!!

Click on the image of Stephen Michaels to view the gallery.


Viva Las Vegas

On March 12, 2013, in Entertainment, Travel, by admin

The Mirage casino and resort on Las Vegas Blvd. All images by: Norm Johnstone © 2013

The Mirage casino and resort on Las Vegas Blvd. All images by: Norm Johnstone © 2013

Viva Las Vegas – yes another trip to the magnificent Las Vegas, Nevada or as some people call it, “Sin City!!” This trip was back in October, of 2011, yes, that’s right, 2011. I know it’s been a while but I had a few other projects come up so the images taken in Vegas had to be put on hold until I had some time to edit through and process them.

As you can see in this gallery of images, I concentrated a lot on some landmark casinos, hotels, signs, and also worked on getting some “nighttime” shots on Las Vegas Blvd. I had planned on doing some “nighttime” photography on my previous trip, however after leaving the hotel with my photography gear, it started raining, so I was out of luck and it was my last night there. I thought to myself I guess it will have to wait until the next time I’m here. Most of my landscape shots that I took throughout the day, were taken with my Canon 5D and my Canon 17-40 f 4.0 lens, usually with a circular polarizer to help reduce reflections and also make the sky a bit more dark.

Went to the Cirque du soleil “O” show at the Bellagio, as well as the Cirque du soleil “Viva Elvis” show at Aria. Both shows were fantastic, although the “Viva Elvis” show has since ended and its last performance was on August 31, 2012. It has been replaced by, “Zarkana,” another Cirque du Soleil show which is fantastic as well. On my most recent trip to Vegas, I saw the new show, “Zarkana” and one of the feature segments was a woman who is a “sand artist.” I have never seen anything like it in my life. She was so talented and could come up with images using sand and her hands in split seconds—truly amazing!! The highlight on this trip was the, “Million Dollar Piano,” show featuring the one and only, “Elton John,” performed at Caesar’s Palace. The show was unbelievable and just out of this world—a must see if you have the opportunity. Elton really rocked the Colosseum theatre.

Cirque du Soleil has taken over the show scene in Las Vegas, as it seems like it’s everywhere. Cirque du Soleil was founded by two Canadians who were originally street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, and is based out of Montreal, Quebec.

As a travel destination, Las Vegas has so much to offer, especially in the entertainment industry, and is definitely one of my favourite places to visit.

Viva Las Vegas!!


Leroy Jones performing with his group, Leroy Jones and New Orleans' Finest on Bourbon Street in New Orleans - French Quarter Festival 2012. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2012-2013

Leroy Jones performing with his group, “Leroy Jones and New Orleans’ Finest,” on Bourbon Street in New Orleans – French Quarter Festival 2012. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2012-2013

New Orleans, Louisiana—wow, what a city!! I went down in April, 2012 to attend the French Quarter Festival, and had an amazing time. The festival always kicks off with a terrific “New Orleans” parade on Bourbon Street, with many great groups performing, numerous floats, people walking, people on bicycles, in vehicles, and pretty much any form of transportation that you can imagine. Marching bands, Dixieland bands, jazz combos, come from all over the world to participate in the parade, as well as perform at numerous venues throughout the festival.

This year I saw numerous groups as always, including, “Leroy Jones and New Orleans’ Finest,” “Bonerama,” “Doreen Ketchens,”(the female Louis Armstrong), “Duke Heitger,” “Bob Havens,” (lead trombonist for Lawrence Welk for many years), “ The Dukes of Dixieland,” “Kid Simmons’ New Orleans Jazz Band,” “Rick Trolsen & the New Orleans PO-Boys,” “New Orleans Classic Jazz Orchestra,” “Irvin Mayfield Big-Band,” “Leon ‘Kid Chocolate’ Brown, the original “Treme Band,” (that is featured in the hit HBO series, “Treme,” and the legendary clarinetist, “Pete Fountain.”

At Woldenberg Park, which is situated along the Mississippi River, there are several stages that feature continuous live music and there is also several food vendors set up along the Mississippi that feature some of the finest New Orleans cuisine.

My favourite club to visit in New Orleans is located at the “Royal Sonesta Hotel,”on “Bourbon Street,” and is called, “Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse.” It is a well-decorated place, and features some of the finest world-class talent that you will ever see. For more information on Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, check out the following link:

The French Quarter Festival is becoming bigger, better, and busier every year, and is one of those festivals that you should definitely check out. For more information about the festival, check out: “”>

That’s all for now…see you next time!! To view more images from the festival, click on the image of Leroy Jones.


White Lions at the Toronto Zoo

On August 22, 2012, in Nature-Wildlife, by admin

“Fintan” — the new white lion at the Toronto Zoo. Image by: Norm Johnstone © 2012

It was another great day at the Toronto Zoo on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. I had a great time walking around with my Dad, (Norm Johnstone Sr.)–his photo galleries can be viewed at: and taking numerous photos. We really enjoyed seeing the new white lions that the zoo owns now, and they “posed” for numerous shots. Two of the white lions are females and are named Makali, which means “daring,” in Swahili and Lemon—named for her yellow colouring. The one new male is named Fintan, which is an abbreviated Irish name that means, “little fair one.”

These lions are not albinos (which many people think), however they are unique to the Timbavati region of South Africa. These lions carry the gene known as a colour inhibitor and are from the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panterha leo krugeri). These lions are now classified as a vulnerable species.

The white lions are almost one year old now and I noticed that the male is starting to develop a beard and also a mane. It will be great as I go to the Toronto Zoo over the next few months to see these white lions develop and grow towards full sized adult lions.

If you get a chance to go to the Toronto Zoo, make sure to check out the new white lions that are currently out on display and be sure to see the zoo keeper’s daily talk at 1:30 p.m. Sometimes when the daily talk occurs, the lion keeper will throw them a “snack”—however the last time I was there he explained to me that the male has started to be more aggressive and so he didn’t give them a snack on that particular day.

For more information on the Toronto Zoo – visit:


Jay Cochrane – preparing for his “high-wire” walk in Niagara Falls, ON. Photo by: Norm Johnstone © 2012

I went to Niagara Falls, ON for a few days on my vacation and on July 4, 2012, went out sight-seeing with my Dad, Norm Johnstone. We started our walk at the Fallsview Casino, and proceeded to walk down the hill towards the falls. When we got near the bottom we ran into a young couple who asked us if we had seen the man near the top of the hill, as he was working on rigging cables. We told them that we hadn’t seen him, and then were told that he was the man that was going to walk on a cable from the Skylon hotel, over to the Hitlon hotel on Friday, July 6, 2012. We thought we had better go back up the hill and see if we could get some pictures of him.

I ended up getting a few quick photos of Jay, and then had the opportunity to talk to one of his crew about this upcoming event. I was told that Jay would do the walk 88 times (one show daily), (weather permitting), and that it was approximately 1300 feet and he would be 600 feet in the air walking on the wire, without a safety harness. The shows begin at 7:00 p.m. and the walk can take up to 45 minutes.

The rigging took 4 weeks to complete and the crew were a bit behind schedule, so I believe that there now will be 80 walks throughout the summer. I actually left Niagara Falls on the Thursday before he did his first walk, but am hoping to get back up there this summer to get a few pictures of him coming across on the wire.

Jay Cochrane is originally from Sudbury, Ontario, but now lives in the United States, and has been doing these “high-wire” walks his entire life. He has raised over 43 million dollars for charity, and at the age of 68 continues to do the walks.

Jay was doing a walk on the high-wire back in 1965 in Toronto, when the tower collapsed, he fell 90 feet and hit concrete. He ended up in hospital for 4 years, and the doctors said that he would be lucky to be able to walk with 2 canes the rest of his life. He ended up recovering, and is able to walk without any canes, and continues to do his high-wire walks.

For more images that I took, click on Jay’s picture to see the rest of the gallery.