Cootes Paradise is a collective of six musicians (see bios below) who chose to play together based not only on their talents, but who they are as people. The business of music can be a cold and punishing enterprise, so forming a group comprising of kind, enthusiastic, collaborative individuals was the goal that founding member Lily Sazz had in mind when she began to recruit the musicians. The hope was that if these gifted individuals gelled personally, great music would follow. And she was right.
Cootes Paradise specializes in roots based music that is bluesy, funky, and filled with soul. Featuring lead vocals by the legendary Sue Leonard (k.d. lang, Bruce Willis, Bon Jovi), and Wayne Krawchuk (Sidestreet, Tight Little Island) supported by Mark Volkov (a triple threat, playing flute, sax, and violin), Lily Sazz (keyboards, vocals), Amy Di Nino (drums, vocals), and Ian Taylor (bass, vocals), the result is an infectious, groove-based sound with a mix of super cool covers and originals that easily stand up to the rest of the repertoire.
Expect to hear some interesting covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, The Temptations, as well as Canadian artists like Jack de Keyzer, plus cool interpretations of well known hits, along their own strong material.
The name Cootes Paradise comes from a local wildlife sanctuary, named after Captain Thomas Cootes. It was also the original name of the community that later became the town of Dundas, now part of Hamilton, Ontario, where the band is based. According to a brochure published by McMaster University, against which Cootes Paradise borders, “people have been drawn to Cootes Paradise for centuries. From AD 500 to 1000 this area was occupied by the Princess Point people, named after archaeological discoveries which indicated they were the first to bring agriculture to the region.”
Band Bios (in alphabetical order)
Amy Di Nino (drums): Amy has degrees and diplomas from University of Windsor, University of Toronto, and Humber College, and is currently working on her Masters of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music. She teaches music, conducts, and is a board certified Music Therapist, having taught for years at the world renowned W. Ross Macdonald School for the Visually Impaired, Blind, & Deafblind, where she was the recipient of the 2012 Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Ontario. She is the music director and organist at Sydenham Heritage United Church in Brantford, and holds the position of Principal Percussionist with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. She’s just as comfortable rockin’ out with a full kit in a band as she is with a symphony orchestra. Amy has also recently launched her music therapy business, ADD Music Wellness.
Wayne Krawchuk (guitar/vocals): Wayne Krawchuk is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Hamilton, Ontario, who has been a professional musician for over 35 years. He started his music career as a teenager busking on the streets of Toronto, graduating to opening spots in coffee houses and clubs, where he was influenced by Canadian artists such as Brent Titcomb, David Bradstreet, Stan Rogers, Willie P. Bennett, David Essig, Scott Merritt, and others. Wayne has toured and performed extensively with numerous groups, including r’n’b favourites, Sidestreet, with whom he appeared at the World’s Fair in New Orleans, the Red River Festival in Shreveport Louisiana, and the Fiesta de October in Guadalajara, Mexico. Their EP was recorded with Canadian artist Ian Thomas. He also performed with Tight Little Island, performing at Mariposa, Summerfolk, and many other festivals, and recorded with Ken Whiteley. He is currently working on his second CD as a solo artist.
Sue Leonard (vocals): Before returning to her geographical roots in the Hamilton area, Sue Leonard was known as one of the most in-demand and recorded female vocalists on the West Coast. She has performed and recorded with a stellar list of headliners. As a member of kd lang’s backup band, The Reclines, (Voted CCMA “Best Back up Band” in Canada two years running, and Sue voted Canada’s best vocalist by readers of the Canadian Music Scene), Sue appeared on and toured the world in support of “Ingenue” and “Absolute Torch and Twang”, and has also appeared on albums by Bon Jovi, Billy Thompson, and many others, in the process, garnering seven international gold and platinum records. In addition, Sue placed in the top twelve for her song, “I Believe”, in the We Are Listening international singer songwriter contest. She’s appeared on myriad television shows, including Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, the Grammy Awards, the Juno Awards, and many more. You can read more about Sue, including her discography here.
Lily Sazz (keyboards/vocals): Lily is a seasoned veteran of the music business, having performed regularly with various groups since the mid 1980s. She has formed several successful groups garnering nominations, awards, and critical acclaim. She is a member of the prestigious Toronto Blues Society Women’s Blues Revue band, performing at Massey Hall every year, as well as performances at the National Arts Centre, and other major concert venues. Lily has performed with many notable performers, including Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson, Shakura Saidah, Kellylee Evans, Tom Wilson, Paul Shaffer (from the David Letterman Show), Lee Aaron, Serena Ryder, Ray Materick, Carole Pope, Sass Jordan, King Biscuit Boy, and many more. Besides Cootes Paradise, Lily is also performing with Rita Chiarelli (as part of her band “Sweet Loretta”. See www.lilysazz.com.
Ian Taylor (bass): Born in Southampton, England, Ian started playing guitar at the age of 8, and played his first gig at age 10. During his teens, he was the lead guitarist and vocalist with a local surfer band. When a rock band asked him to substitute for their emigrating bass player, he quickly learned to play simple lines on a borrowed bass to get the gig. Soon, he was hooked on the instrument and graduated to upright and fretless bass playing. Around 1979 Ian joined “Markus Stamp”, one of the top pop recording bands in the South of England featuring the wild Robin Stamp on lead vocals. He later played with “Movin’ On” a backing band for established country singer Dodie Carson, which featured Tommy Bannister, one of Britain’s best steel guitar players. Ian relocated to the US in 1980 and became good friends and rehearsal buddy with Brooks Wright (Pat Metheny’s first drummer and drummer in Mike Metheny’s band). Moving to Canada in 1982, saw the start of a long stint of playing bass in local Ontario bands playing blues, soul, rock and country. Ian has been fortunate to play Earth Day Festivals, Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival, Canada Day festivities, and got to showcase his talent with some great Canadian artists like Jack de Keyzer, David Johannesson, Shelley G, Chris Murphy, Shawn Brush, Jerry Doucette, Steve Strongman, et al.
Mark Volkov (flute, violin, sax): Mark was introduced to music at the age of 7 when his grandfather, a classical violinist, composer and teacher in New York City, gave him a ½ size violin and taught him the rudiments of music. He continued his studies in Hamilton, Ontario at the Royal Conservatory and then with the late Marta Hidy, a violinist of international renown. Mark took up the flute and saxophone while still in highschool, eventually landing positions in the Hamilton Philharmonic Yourth Orchestra, The McMaster Wind Quartet, the McMaster Symphony, and more. After university, Mark pursued a career in pop music, playing with numerous big bands with horn sections, and toured extensively throughout North America with many groups, including Crown Affair, featuring a young Molly Johnson, The David Sebastian Bach Show, and The Dublin Corporation. After returning to live in the Hamilton area, Mark played regularly with numerous groups, including Sticky Fingers, a Tribute to the Rolling Stones, Harrison Kennedy, Trickbag, Banned from Heaven, and many more. With his multi-instrumental versatility, he has contributed to many recording sessions and commercial jingles.
A little more about Cootes Paradise (the place):
Cootes Paradise is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve and links to the Bruce and Waterfront trails in the Hamilton Area. It’s also part of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here’s a brochure with more information.
The Town of Dundas, (originally called Cootes Paradise), is a fantastic way to spend a day strolling about. There are many unique restaurants and businesses that make for a great place to spend some time. We recommend parking your car at one end, and exploring both sides of the street at your leisure.
More interesting links: