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Debbie Gibson Brings Her “Winterlicious” Holiday Flavor to South Florida [Show Review]

Mad props to Debbie Gibson (and her talented troupe), who brought a sense of honest and pure peace and joy to Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre at the precise time we need it most.

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Soggy skies did little to damper their spirits. Temperatures approached arctic territory (for the Sunshine State) — plummeting to darn near 60 degrees, as fans eagerly sought drier, toastier conditions — packing into Clearwater, Florida’s intimate 800-seat Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre by 8 pm. At 8:10, the ever-elegant, sequin-clad pop princess appeared center stage — sparkling like a Christmas tree angel. Quaint and cozy, the ensuing holiday soiree would be a bona fide Yuletide “Glee Fest” — a fun and festive fender bender at the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Branson Avenue.

With only two more dates remaining on her current month-long Winterlicious concert trek, Debbie Gibson, along with her seasoned, six-member ensemble, hit the Capitol stage with all the vim and vigor one would expect to see from such a pro troupe — on the first night of the tour. “This is not a glamor tour,” the prolific singer-songwriter and actress announced early on. “This is a, ‘I wanna get back in the trenches and be with the people, tour.’”

The impressive, non-stop, two-hour production provided ample Gibson chart-busters while leaning heavily on her latest album, the peppermint-flavored Christmas collection, Winterlicious. (We reviewed the new album here). Brimming with electric youthfulness, the beloved performer proved delightful throughout the 20-song cavalcade — engaging the enthusiastic all-ages crowd with a slew of stories from her platinum-selling 36-year career. Along the way, she also offered holiday-fueled reflections of her personal friends and family.

Despite being essentially a glitzy track date (tracks “spun” by DJ Sean Delaine), the show owned a very “live” vibe, with the cast members all performing famously. Veteran stage dancers Buddy Casimano and Eddie Bennett brought nothin’ but “A” game. In fact, Gibson’s longtime dancer, 53-year-old Casimano, executed more than a couple of jaw-dropping backflips. Vocalists Ronda Reese and Jenna Gillespie were simply superb, while ace guitar slinger Ariel Bellvalaire was an absolute superstar.

Bursting with “WOW” factor (and multiple wardrobe changes), the show wielded highlights galore. Celebrated stage actor James Barbour joined Gibson to “wing” a karaoke rendition of “Something There” from Beauty and the Beast. Additionally, Barbour’s magnificent solo performance of “Oh Holy Night” made for a mighty show-stopper.

Working her way through the crowd from both sides of the theatre at various points, Gibson was vocally and visually red hot. Delivering more bang for the buck, she stated (somewhere around the 90-minute mark), “I don’t want to cut anything from my setlist tonight.” In short order, she rolled into yet another shiny highlight, the heart-stopping “Legendary,” from her acclaimed 2021 release, The Body Remembers (read this review here)— a standout album track that stood even taller live, partly as a result of the soaring guitar work from Bellvalaire.

Although the “Christmas Dreams,” “Shake Your Love,” We Could Be Together,” and “Only in My Dreams” pyjama party medley was a warm and fuzzy feel-good, the most moving moments of the night centered around Gibson’s family. A beautiful duet, “White Christmas,” united Gibson with her father, Joe, via a cozy big-screen video clip, while “Cheers!” offered a loving and emotional tribute to her mother, Diane, who passed away earlier in the year. The power of Gibson’s sentiment was made apparent by the lovely lifelong Gibson fan seated next to me, who literally was brought to tears.

In sum, mad props to Debbie Gibson (and her talented troupe). In today’s troubled and oft-tragic world, she brought a sense of honest and pure peace and joy to the people at the precise time we need it most. I guess anything is possible. Bravo!

Artwork for the album ‘Winterlicious’ by Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson Winterlicious Set List (12.15.22):

1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
2. Jingle Those Bells
3. Electric Youth / Feel It Still (Mash-Up)
4. Candy Man
5. Foolish Beat
6. Lost in Your Eyes
7. The Gift
8. Christmas Star
9. White Christmas (Duet w/ Daddy Joe)
10. Let It Snow
11. Jingle Bell Rock / The Christmas Song
12. Illuminate
13. Something There (Duet w/ James Barbour)
14. Oh Holy Night (James Barbour solo)
15. Legendary
16. Blue Christmas / Out of the Blue
17. Christmas Dreams / Shake Your Love / We Could Be Together / Only in My Dreams (medley)
18. I Wish Everyday Was Christmas
Encore:
19. Cheers!
20. Sleigh Ride

Christopher Long is an author, show biz analyst, TV / radio contributor, award-winning musician and entertainment personality. Referred to once as “the rock and roll Erma Bombeck,” Long is known for his conversational, common sense writing style and passion for sharing his unique perspectives on pop culture. Raised in Missouri's rugged Ozark Mountains and on Florida's sunny Space Coast, Long currently lives in Cocoa Beach. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)

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Max & Iggor Cavalera’s Blood Brothers Coffee Available Soon

Legendary metal brothers Max & Iggor Cavalera bring you a taste of home from the coffee bloodline buried deep within the sacrificial soil.

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Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee
Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee

The Tribe has spoken! Arise from the grave and drink from the lifeblood! Legendary metal brothers Max & Iggor Cavalera have gone back to their roots to bring you a taste of home from the bloodline buried deep within the sacrificial soil. Dubbed the world’s “bloodiest” coffee, this coffee lives up to its reputation as the heaviest of the Brazilian Legenders, with its deep, rich notes that will thump and chug your heart right out of your chest!

This bone-breaking brew was handpicked by the Cavalera Tribe themselves to inspire generations of headbangers to come. So, take your place on the totem around the tribal fires, and drink from the sacrificial lifeblood today, and experience an intense, immersive coffee experience like no other!

Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee Nitro Cold Can Brew

Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee Nitro Cold Can Brew

Concept Cafes tell us:

“Collaborating with the Tribe, we wanted to accomplish two things with ‘Blood Brothers’…: 1) further push the initiative that Metal has a place in the coffee world beyond the burnt leftovers from the factory floor & 2) share the often overlooked, yet some of the best coffee in the world, that comes out of Brazil. The collective challenge was how do you package 40 years of legacy from such an influential & integral part of Metal history into a bag/can of coffee…? Furthermore, how do you represent Brazilian culture, and most importantly, how do you humbly present the best offering to metalheads around the world? But Max & Iggor, and the rest of the Cavalera Tribe, actually made it pretty easy for us once we started working with them. When you see the level of passion & devotion they have for the music and touring for the fans, it really is awe-inspiring; so everything kinda just started to come together on this project ‘organically’. Marina (Concept’s head artist) & I had the initial idea that if we could make everything organic enough to pay tribute to Max’s love for camo, we might just pull this off. How’d we do…? LOL”

Max & Iggor’s “Blood Brothers” coffee was a semifinalist in the coffee industry’s prestigious 2023 Sprudgie Awards (the equivalent of the Grammys in the coffee world).

You can pre-order Max & Iggor Cavalera’s Official ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee Cold Nitro Brew Cans available in espresso, non-dairy latte & flavoured latte versions here.

Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee

Max & Iggor Cavalera ‘Blood Brothers’ Coffee

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Salah Bachir Publishes Titillating Memoir ‘First To Leave The Party’

Salah Bachir recently released his titillating memoir, ‘First To Leave The Party,’ offering intimate details about the rich and famous and Bachir’s gusto and lust for life.

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Salah Bachir, photo by George Pimentel
Salah Bachir, photo by George Pimentel

Author, entrepreneur, art collector, movie industry insider, and philanthropist Salah Bachir recently released his memoir, First To Leave The Party: My Life with Ordinary People…Who Happen to be Famous, a collection of stories revealing his joie de vivre, his love of human interaction, and his altruism.

After immigrating to Canada from Lebanon in the 1960s, Bachir started Videomania, Canada’s first video magazine, followed by establishing Premiere, a trade publication for video distributors and retailers.

For more than a decade and a half, Bachir was the president of Cineplex Media and boss of Cineplex Magazine, Canada’s wildly popular and widely read magazine, serving more than four million readers per issue.

Salah Bachir, photo by George Pimentel

Salah Bachir, photo by George Pimentel

A fixture in the world of film for decades, Bachir naturally met Hollywood’s superstars. Yet what sets him apart is his charisma, compassion, his personal style – chic hats, diamonds, pearls, brooches, and elegant scarves – and his full-blown zest for life and people.

First To Leave The Party recounts his relationships with a literal who’s who of Hollywood: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Joan Rivers, Mary Tyler Moore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Edward Albee, Orson Welles, Aretha Franklin, Norman Jewison, and Elizabeth Taylor — although it’s true that Katharine Hepburn once turned him down, very nicely.

There are also stories about Marlon Brando, Princess Diana, Muhammad Ali, Princess Margaret, Sean Connery, Ella Fitzgerald, and Doris Day.

Co-written with film critic Jami Bernard of the New York Post and Daily News, a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the LGBTQ+ rights program at Human Rights Watch.

Salah Bachir ‘First To Leave The Party’ book cover

Salah Bachir ‘First To Leave The Party’ book cover

Featured in numerous publications, including The Globe & Mail, Playback Magazine, Dolce, and Toronto Life, Bachir has received five honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Alberta, Ryerson University, York University, OCAD University, and Wilfrid Laurier University in recognition of his business expertise and philanthropic work.

Along with a long list of deserved awards, Bachir, because of his entrepreneurial spirit and advocacy of the arts and social justice, is a member of the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada, as well as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and two-time Grand Marshal of the Toronto Pride Parade.

The stories related in First To Leave The Party not only provide a parade of intimate detail about the lives of the rich and famous, the entertainment industry’s elite, but also bare Salah Bachir’s gusto and lust for life.

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Culture

Koodo is Stacking the Savings for Canadians with “Happy Stack”

Koodo stacks savings for Canadians by introducing Happy Stack, offering customers mobile, wifi, and entertainment at a $99 per month rate.

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Koodo logo
Koodo logo

Koodo is stacking the savings for Canadians by introducing its new Happy Stack, offering customers mobility, home internet and entertainment in one affordable package starting at $99 per month. For the first time ever, new and existing Koodo customers in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec can stack all three services at an unbeatable value, with monthly savings of up to 23 percent. After a successful pilot program in the Fall of 2023, Koodo Internet is now available to more than 7 million homes across Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, offering more Canadians access to unlimited home internet with no throttling or data overage charges.

Dwayne Benefield, Chief Product Officer at TELUS, comments:

“Happy Stack is the answer to today’s unpredictable economic climate. It combines reliable mobile service, dependable high-speed internet, and the best streaming entertainment at a value Canadians can’t find anywhere else. Our value-minded customers want to invest wisely in a practical, comprehensive connectivity and entertainment package, without sacrificing top-tier quality, and we’re proud to deliver that only at Koodo.”

Powered by Koodo’s award-winning network, and digital-first customer service, Happy Stack bundles together:

  • Pick Your Perk mobility rate plans
  • Fast and reliable unlimited high-speed home internet
  • The ultimate entertainment experience with the new Stream+, featuring three of Canada’s most popular streaming services, Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video

Happy Stack also gives new and existing Koodo customers the flexibility to upgrade their Koodo mobility, home internet and entertainment plan for the ultimate value. This includes a wide range of mobility plans with up to 5G speeds and perk options like Unlimited Data, home internet with download speeds of up to 1 Gbps where available, and Stream+ Premium.

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