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Cootes Paradise

roots, blues, folk, funk, soul Contact: Lily Sazz
Phone: 905-730-5459 Artist Website: Cootes Paradise
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Biographical Info

Cootes Paradise is a collective of six musicians 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 musicians 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 (kd 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 DiNino (drums): Currently, Amy teaches music, conducts, and is the board certified Music Therapist 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 also the Music Director/organist at St. John’s-on-the-hill United Church and teaches piano, guitar, and voice in her private studio. As a conductor, pianist, and percussionist, Amy has performed with ensembles and symphonies, and as a soloist throughout North America and Europe. Additionally, Amy is also an arranger and composer. She has written works for choirs, orchestra, chamber music, and songs both classical and popular.

Wayne Krawchuk (guitar/vocals):

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.

Waybe Krawchuk (guiar/vocals): Wayne Krawchuk is a singer, songwriter, & 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, Will P. Bennett, David Essig, Scott Merritt, and others. During the 1980s, Wayne was a member of a five piece R&B band called Sidestreet. Highlights for the band included performing at the World’s Fair in New Orleans, the Red River Revel Festival in Shreveport Louisiana, and the Fiesta de October in Guadalajara, Mexico with the band at CBC’s 4H Studio. They released one EP recorded with Canadian artist Ian Thomas. The band parted amicably in the late 80s. In the 1990s, Wayne heed form folky, rootsy trio, Tight Little Island. They performed mainly original music and eventually were featured at many Ontario music festivals, including Mariposa in Toronto, and Summerfolk in Owen Sound, Northern Lights in Sudbury, Festival of Friends in Hamilton, and others. They released one full length CD and recorded in Toronto by multitalented musician and artist Ken Whiteley. In the 2000s, Wayne has continued to perform with other musicians and as a single performer at club, special events, and corporate functions. He has released one recording of his own songs, entitled “Smile for the Camera”, and his releasing a second CD in 2016 called Love Hopped a Train. He looks forward to making music for as long as he can!

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 has been a member (and for 10 years musical director) 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 Rita Chiarelli (as part of her band “Sweet Loretta”, 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.

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. Now hooked on Bass he took music and bass lessons with a local dance band bassist who modified Ian’s guitar style to a bass players through the use of an upright bass. In later years with this knowledge he went on to gig regularly on 4, 5, and 6-string fretted basses including long stints on fretless basses. 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 plying 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, etc.

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 here in Hamilton at the Royal Conservatory and then with the late Marta Hidy, a violinist of international renown. Mark took up the flute in Grade 8 and studied with Hamilton flute instructor Erik Weiss during high school. Mark was the principal flutist in the Parkside High School Band for 2 years and started learning to play the saxophone in high school, as well as playing the violin in the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. After High school, stints in the McMaster Symphony, The McMaster Wind Quintet and as principal flutist in the McMaster Concert Band under the direction of the legendary Howard Cable completed Mark’s “Classical” music period.
After leaving University, Mark decided to pursue a career in pop music at the urging of friends who were professional musicians in the golden era of the show bands of the 1970s, big bands with horn sections. Mark took up the saxophone more seriously and then spent the next decade on the road throughout North America with a series of Bands including “Spittin Image” from Dundas, “Chocolate Affair” (later “Brainwave”) in Toronto featuring a young Molly Johnson, “Crown Affair”, “Wonderland” featuring Chrissy Lomax from Hamilton(now of L.A. fame), “The David Sebastian Bach Show” and eventually a 3 ½ year stint with “The Dublin Corporation” of London, Ontario, originally from Dublin Ireland. The Dublin Corporation had a large and loyal following throughout Canada. They featured Sean Fagan, one of the great Irish tenors of all time, as well as Mike O’Brien, a master performer and singer in his own right. With their eclectic mix of traditional Irish music, standards and up-tempo Rock & Roll they were always in great demand. They toured relentlessly for up to 50 weeks a year, usually playing 6 nights a week. He eventually slowed down the touring schedule to settle down and start a family.
Throughout the years, Mark has continued to play music whenever and wherever possible. He played on weekends with Mike O’Brien at his pub “O’Briens” in London after they had both left “The Dublin Corporation”. He appeared regularly with Kitchener’s “Sticky Fingers – A Tribute to the Rolling Stones” for many years. Since returning to live in the Hamilton area in 1995, he has performed on various occasions with artists such as Harrison Kennedy, Les Smith & Larry Feudo, “Trickbag”, “Banned from Heaven”, “Up Front”, Jim Italiano, Mark McNeil, Dan Medakovic, Matthew de Zoete and many others. Mark has also been involved in various recording sessions and projects over the years with artists such as, “The Rexford Mann Band”, “Heavenworth”, “The Dublin Corporation”, Harry Hibbs, Lynette Louise, “Syre”, “The Jim Italiano Band”, Mark McNeil and others, as well as recording commercials and jingles.

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