Saturday, May 12, 2007

MAMAPALOOZA at Healey's tomorrow -
Mother's Day...doors at noon. Be there!


The mother of all concerts

More than 17 maternally enhanced artists set to rock the city with second Mamapalooza concert at noon tomorrow

May 12, 2007 04:30 AM Greg Quill, Entertainment Reporter

Of all the reasons to pick up an instrument and rock out in public, motherhood seems the most unlikely.

But membership in the Mama Nation is the prime qualification for performer status at tomorrow's second Toronto edition of the Mamapalooza Festival, the local offshoot of a growing New York-based franchise that boasts its own satellite radio program, a line of merchandise and 40 similar events staged in May all over North America, Britain and Australia.

You have to have your own material and some actual performing experience as well, says Toronto-born ex-pat, New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Lynda Kraar, co-organizer with seasoned local promoter Gary Topp, of the event at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse tomorrow.

More than 17 maternally enhanced artists – both homegrown and imported, they include Kraar, Ardene Shapiro, Zro4, Maria Kasstan, The B-Girls, Kathryn Rose, Arlene Bishop, Sandi Marie Porter, Heather Katz, Ilana Waldston, Michele Mele, Laura Fernandez, Lenka Lichtenberg, Sisters of Sheynville, The Sisters Three, Lara Berlin, Lynn Harrison, Naomi Macklem-Tremblay, Barbara Stokes, Marianne Girard, Zoe Chilco and host Erica (Yummy Mummy) Ehm – will hit the stage between noon and six.

"The original idea was for musical mothers to play for each other in a community that makes room for children and family members of both sexes," Kraar said in a recent interview from her home in Teaneck.

Like most of the acts on the bill, Kraar put her musical life to the side to raise children, but a series of coincidences in 2005 – the year her mother died – led her across the river to the heart of Mamapalooza territory in New York City, where reconstituted rocker Joy Rose had established an annual Mother's Day festival and a figurehead for the movement in her band Housewives On Prozac.

"It was a milestone for me, one of the best times in my life," Kraar said of her first Mamapalooza experience. "I just had to bring it back home to Toronto."

She did that for the first time last year, and with Topp's help staged a one-day festival that sold out virtually overnight and instantly became a fixed item on the city's cultural agenda.

"Toronto is ideally suited to Mamapalooza," she said. "It's an easy-access city for families with kids, it's liberal-minded and family-friendly, and the cultural mix is so rich – everyone is wide-eyed about everyone else."

For 50-year-old mother of four Joy Rose, who started the Mamapalooza ball rolling in 2002 in the belief that if people made more time for music, dancing and art they'd be less inclined to make war, the annual festival is "a celebration of the rearing momhead that has been with us throughout history.

"My idea was to create stages for women who had stepped away from their passion, women of a certain age, with a certain look, women who were no longer welcome in the music industry – professionals and semi-professionals who wanted to keep their music going now that their children are grown.

"And my hope is that it will grow into a women-owned business that will support itself and help careers blossom," added Rose, who won't be at the Toronto Mamapalooza.

That's exactly what former Toronto punk rocker Cynthia Ross hopes will happen with the reformed B-Girls, once darlings of the city's crash-and-burn culture and former touring mates of The Clash, no less.

With a son and a daughter in their 20s, Ross and her erstwhile bandmate Zenya, now a yoga instructor, have started playing again, partly in response to resurging interest in pre-grunge Toronto rock and power pop. They've already performed at the Radio Heartbeat Festival in New York.

"I was in a club in Brooklyn a month ago and they were playing our records, along with The Diodes and Teenage Head – all Toronto bands," she said.

"And apparently we're huge in Japan as well.

"I'd never heard of Mamapalooza, but when I checked out the website ( and saw they were serious about promoting women in the arts, we had to be a part of it."

Just the facts
WHO: Mamapalooza
WHEN: Tomorrow, doors at noon
WHERE: Jeff Healey's Roadhouse, 50 Blue Jays Way
TICKETS: $15,;
kids under 13, free


Mamapalooza: Celebrating moms! Moms show their artistic side and rock out at the second annual Mother's Day event!

By Karen Bliss

For the second-year, Mamapalooza's unique celebration of motherhood will take place in Canada this Mother's Day (May 13). The self-proclaimed movement encourages "moms who rock" to emerge from domesticity and day jobs and let loose their dormant artistic side.In this case, about 20 moms will hit the stage at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse in Toronto with families in tow to marvel from the sidelines.
"You never saw anything like it," says Lynda Kraar, founding coordinator of the Canadian event. "It's just moms getting all giddy and their kids are just looking at them like, 'I never saw mom having such a good time.'"

Kraar will perform and co-host the afternoon (1 to 6 p.m.) with Yummy Mummy television host Erica Ehm.

Other performoms include The B Girls, Kathryn Rose, Arlene Bishop, Heather Katz, Michele Mele, Lynn Harrison, Marianne Girard, and Zoe Chilco."It's a strong bond," says Kraar who stayed in touch with moms from last year's inaugural Canadian Mamapalooza.

"The thing that made us distinct when we were younger is you get the calling to be a musician and it really shapes who you associate with growing up. Your friends tend to be artsier than kids that go into professions or go into the work force.

"When you have kids, you get isolated and then when you have an opportunity like this to get your voice back -- because it's like you've had laryngitis all these years -- and it's great to associate with other people who experience what you do on a regular basis. And some of the people get into music a lot later in their life, but there's still that bond."

Kraar, now 47, fronted Lynda Marks & The Marksmen for 16 years in Toronto beginning in the late '70s, before moving to New Jersey in 1985. She has two daughters, ages 17 and 13, "both musical," she makes a point of adding.

She first read about Mamapalooza three years ago in a USA Today article.

"I thought, 'Wow, that's really fascinating. I'm just like a lot of other people who had a unique life before the kids came and then had a happily average mothering life.'"

Founded in 2002 in New York by Joy Rose of a band called Housewives on Prozac, Mamapalooza has a big mission statement, as posted on its web site,, a part of which reads: Dedicated to serving, promoting, celebrating, encouraging, inspiring and awakening ALL mothers through the media and performing fine arts. Musicians, authors, comics, dancers, filmmakers, designers, craftswomen, educators, and community leaders coming together in a collaborative effort to highlight the challenges of motherhood in an ever-evolving personal, social, cultural, sexual and political landscape.

"The whole reason I became involved was my mother was dying of cancer," recounts Kraar, "and she died 13 days before Mamapalooza and just before my birthday, so two weeks after she died, I found myself onstage. I had a house full of people, seven women from England who were performing in an punk-art band called The Mothers, and they stayed in the house with me during that time. It was an absolutely perfectly timed celebration of life -- just phenomenal."

Learn more about the event by going to
Photo courtesy Erica Ehm

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