Toronto Talent, Pavlo et al.

On February 24, 2012, Pavlo and his band rocked the house at the Roy Thomson Hall.  Pavlo, a self-made musician and world artist, Toronto-born Juno Award winner, and son of Greek immigrants, has created a niche in the  international market for what he terms a Mediterranean sound mixing the folkloric styles of Greek and Latin music with pop sensibilities. His band comprises Gino Mirizio (Percussion, Piano), George Vasilakos (Bouzouki, Guitar), and Randy Rodriguez (Bass Guitar) – all Canadian musicians. They played selections from his ninth album, Six String Blvd, and some classics songs such as Besame Mucho.

This was my second time attending one of his performances. Pavlo is a dynamic, charismatic and captivating performer who shows mastery of his instrument, able to flip the guitar over his head and play it backwards, á là Jimi Hendrix.  He goes out into the audience to dance with people and invites a lady or two onstage to dance with him. When he swings his hips to the right and to the left in a subtle manner, it makes you reconsider standing up from your seat to do the same. He encourages people to dance with him but only one or two audience members are brave enough to join in.  During the show, though, most people are hooting and tapping on their legs in rhythm with the music. At the end of each concert, a lucky person gets to go home with Pavlo’s guitar; it is customary for him to give away his guitar at the end of each concert.

Pavlo told the audience that the first time he saw a guitar, it changed his life. It was his uncle who introduced him the guitar at 10 years old, and since then, he has not stopped playing. After telling this story, he proceeded to invite his uncle onstage – the man himself who introduced him to the guitar – and they performed together.  Later, Pavlo had a duet with his 16-year-old daughter:  two guitars, father and daughter playing together. ­This was an emotional moment.

This concert was unique; Pavlo had many surprises for the audience, serving as the performer, the center of attention and the master of ceremonies. He introduced an array of outstanding Canadian musicians onstage. Making a one-time-only appearance were his guest singers John McDermott and Mark Masri. There were also dancers, and more performers who shone on the stage such as blues guitarist James Mann, trumpeter Brownman, and the amazing violinist G-Pinto, who plays pop music with his violin, turning the traditional classical expectations on their heads.

Sharing personal anecdotes, Pavlo described that at one point in his early musical career, he promised to himself that the day he became famous, he would share the stage with emerging musicians; thus, he introduced an emerging string quartet, Paganini Strings.

The hall was almost full with around 2,000 people or more in attendance. To everyone’s surprise, the iconic Gordon Lightfoot was sitting in the audience, Pavlo also recognized other honoured guests in attendance, such as the Greek Consul of Toronto. The concert was a real treat for audiences of all ages and lasted over two hours; it felt as an escape to the Mediterranean! Really well done.

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