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Whats On

Father and Son duo

I truly hope that the name Andrew Smith isn't new to you but if it is please take a moment and get acquainted by his award winning  tap style guitar playing in the first video here:
He has been performing around Kelowna for as long as I can remember. His son, Zachari Smith followed in his footsteps and has been carving out a musical career for himself over the past decade or so.
As you'll see below in the video for their Zach's song "Chemicals" he's a provocative lyricist whose also one of those multi-instrumentalists that can seemingly perform any instrument he lays his hands on. 
So this Saturday they are releasing their second album as a duo act, Stumbling Horse, at the Bohemian Cafe. Space is limited but they assure me it will be a fun night listening to music and socializing. Although not  listed publicly there will be numerous special guests joining them at the event. This show will kick of a long season of touring starting with some shows in the Prairies in the following weeks. The tickets are only $20 and they can be bought online at their website:
The album is being released online, on cd, and on the growingly popular vinyl. I sat down with them earlier this week to talk about their thoughts on culture in Kelowna and the lifestyle of being a full time musician touring alongside your dad/son:


What's On? Netflix Canada

Typically I talk about local entertainment and events but today I wanted to offer some other entertainment options. Its all about Netflix Canada, the most popular shows, some shows you may want to check out and an interactive movie selector.

Top Ten TV shows on Netflix Canada (by popularity, current as of March 31st, 2014) in order of popularity:

Suits - this is my current favourite show these days. Great writing, great characters, with a classic underdog, living the American dream, story rooted in a high end law firm in New York

Orange is the New Black - a female comedy/drama set in a women's prison. Its #2 on Canadian Netflix and tons of people love the show but I couldn’t get that into after the fourth or fifth episode. 

Family Guy - totally surprised that this was is the third most viewed show in Canada.

Good Wife - I’ve been watching this law-firm political drama since it came out. She’s dealt with her husbands sex scandal, re-entering the work force as a lawyer, political and court room drama. If House of Cards is a bit too much politics for you this is a better choice.  

Dexter - A serial killer who kills serial killers. For the first few years I wrote this off as a low budget cop show in the genre of NCIS but honestly it grows on you and if you can get through the first few episodes and you don’t mind the topic at hand its a decent show.

Downton Abbey - boring!! no idea how this made it on here, really want the 45 minutes back it took to watch the pilot but if you like Coronation Street then maybe this is for you.

Gossip Girl - I think its about girls who like to gossip but I don’t know as I’ve never watched it.

Breaking Bad - for all the folks who rave about this show as one of the best shows on tv I’ve honestly tried watching it but got bored to tears after episode 3. Maybe I missed something. 

Heroes - one of the initial Sci-Fi TV shows that I got into on netflix. It had a great first couple seasons but fell off the rails by season three in some rather stupid plot twists.

House of Cards - Truly the best political drama in a long time. Lets just hope Francis Underwood doesn’t run for Mayor in Kelowna this November. 

I asked my network on Facebook what their favourite Netflix shows were and got a ton of responses. See below:



My Suggestions (with some help from my fb pals) in no particular order:

Hell on Wheels - great “American frontier” based story about the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the vein of HBO’s Deadwood with less of the vulgar language.

Derek - Ricky Gervias stars in this quirky story about a 50 yr old man who works in a retirement home in England.
Luther - One of the darker cop shows out there but great non-the-less. A show about Luther who, though struggling with his own demons, is utterly brilliant in hunting down his targets.

Homeland - great show that weaves in the culturally relevant themes of terrorism, a lot of our stereotypes, and some good old fashioned politics and desire. 

American Horror Stories or Supernatural (for the teen early 20 audience - not my cup of tea)

The Killing - one of the slowest moving cop shows I’ve ever seen. If you want a fast moving show do not watch this one. This series is truly only moving forward with its fourth season due to Netflix throwing their support behind the show. 

Pretty Little Liars (recommended as a “chick series” by a friend of mine)

100 - is a new sci-fi show that blends together the themes from Lost, Hunger Games, and if it goes where I’m thinking it will Planet of the Apes. The first episode looked promising but you should be aware that it is only being released on a weekly basis so no binge watching for this one.

Mad Men - a couple years old but if you haven’t watched it and you are interested in the world of advertising set in the 60’s its a brilliant show. As much as folks tend to look back at the “good ol’ days” its also a nice reminder how far our society has come in the last 50 years ;) 


Discover some new Netflix Movies:

I found this neat interactive chart a couple years back. It was last updated in July 2013 so the “expiring soon” options don’t work but its a great resource if you want to find films with high star ratings, with certain age ratings, or from various decades


Comedy in Kelowna

Comedy in Kelowna. Ok lets start  this column with a little K-town comedy history. You really can't talk about comedy in Kelowna without starting with Herb Dixon. He's been doing comedy throughout the valley and North America for over 32 years and it was the Snickers Comedy Club in the Sandman that was the home to our first comedy show in Kelowna. Started in 1988  the club really got going by 1993 when it moved to two shows each weekend hosted by a guest or Herb Dixon. The show would eventually wind down in 2003 as Herb got busier on the road it made it tough to ensure the quality of the local show was up to the standards he wanted to see.
Before the Snickers Comedy Club wrapped up there was also a large effort in 2000 and 2001 to found a Comedy Festival in the summer. From what I could tell the first year went really well with over 6000 attendees reported. Unfortunately even the $50K from the City of Kelowna (over two years) didn't help ensure that the Festival lasted beyond its second year. Whether it was the wrong time of year or just bad luck I can't find much info on the reasons for its cancellation but now that a decade has passed perhaps its time to take another look at the Comedy Festival concept in Kelowna. What do you think?
After the comedy festival and Snickers Comedy Club had ran their course a Yuk Yuks show was launched in Angies. Eventually Angies shut down around 2010 and Yuk Yuks disappeared locally along with it. Interestingly a new comic at the time, Rob Balsdon had just launched his new comedy show, Train Wreck Comedy literally two months before Yuk Yuks closed down. Originally intended as an open mic the closing of Yuk Yuks presented an opportunity for the new comedic endeavor to expand almost immediately into booking larger acts touring through town.
More than four years later Train Wreck Comedy is going strong and hosts monthly shows at O'Flannigans and Lake City Casino. I caught up with Rob Balsdon to talk about all things related to comedy in Kelowna.

The next show at Lake City Casino's (Friday, March 28th) is most likely sold out so here is the info on next month shows
In chatting with Herb Dixon about this story it was interesting to hear him talk about some of his first times working with Rob. I'll refer to it as that invisible moment where the "torch was passed" but that's just my twist on the tale. Herb was inviited to open a big show with Norm McDonald in Kelowna but he had to turn down the opportunity. He suggested that they instead hire one of Kelowna's newer acts, Rob Balsdon. The rest is history.
One of my favorite ideas that Rob worked on last year alongside Keynote productions was the Halloween Howler at the Kelowna Communtiy Theatre. From what I hear its back on for 2014 so its great to see the appetite for the art of comedy in Kelowna grow. So is it maybe time that Kelowna take another look at the concept of a Comedy Festival? Do we have what it takes to make it successful?


Jann Arden at MapleFest

Good Mother, Unloved, Insenstive are just a few of the hit songs from Jann Arden. I'm confident you know her music and know that she is one Canada's funniest and engaging Canadian performers. The only thing you may not know is that she will be playing an intimate show at the Kelowna Community Theatre as part of the 30th annual MapleFest next weekend.

Presented by the Centre culturel francophone de l’Okanagan, Maple Fest is a celebration of all things Francophone whether it be food, film, music or kids activities. They have planned a two day extravaganza for the whole family, March 29th/30th. Its great to see the culture from our Francophone community in the Okanagan (over 6000 strong) spill over into this fantastic showcase event and most of the activities are FREE.

Here is an interactive poster that will give you an idea of all the free events and activities they have planned. There is also a ticketed dance party at the BlackBox Theatre after Jann Arden featuring DJ Eric Lenger on the Saturday night. 


I reached out to Claudie Valque, (Executive Director at to give us some more insight about this event. This interview has been edited and condensed. 

RD: Maple Fest had such a great response from the community last year. Its clear that there was a desire to expand the event. What drove the desire to book such a big act for this years event?

CV:We want to share maple sirup/sugar shack tradition with the community. Having more people at the festival is just natural. We want to create a big party around a Canadian tradition. Jann Arden is a fantastic singer and we wanted the Kelowna MapleFest becoming an annual “signature event”. This year, we also have more free activities for everybody. It is also about sharing Francophone culture. CCFO promotes French language and culture all year long in the Okanagan. This is a great way for us to show the community what we can do for them.

RD: Tell me more about the Centre cultural francophone de l’Okanagan:

CV:The Centre culturel francophone de l’Okanagan (CCFO) promotes the growth and conservation of the French culture among the residents of the Okanagan region. The CCFO is a non-profit organization offering a variety of French services and is involved in the promotion and organization of many events including:

MapleFest, Nuit Blance (September), Franco-Fete (Summer), Christmas Market, cultural and community celebrations (Canada Day, Culture Days, etc.), French classes, and Collective art exhibitions, etc. 

RD:What is your favourite aspect of the francophone culture that will be celebrated at Maple Fest this year?

CV: I think it’s just the fact of having free French activities all week-end long. It will be easy to share Francophone culture with the community, because there is no “financial barrier”. Young and old, poor and rich can come and enjoy a great show in French. They can come and watch a free movie on Sunday at the CCFO. They can share with artists and play drum or draw on the ground. 

We believe that food, music and arts are the elements of the culture that are the easiest to share.

Full event details are available on their website: 


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About the Author

Ryan Donn, singer/songwriter who started his career around the same time that cassette tapes were losing out to CD sales. He produces events such as Global Music Fest,, and Music in the Park (West Kelowna). You can also find him in local schools teaching songwriting or sharing the stage with many of our emerging local artists. He is a passionate supporter of all things creative and his column focuses on the creative community and events throughout the Okanagan.

The postings on this site are my own and do not represent the views or opinions any of my employers (Festivals Kelowna and Creative Okanagan).


Contact Ryan:

Email: [email protected]


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twitter @ryandonn

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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