Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

All He Was Saying Was Give Peace A Chance

A Decade Later, They Shot Him

A Brief Commentary and Memory in Time by Doug Draper

Posted June 1st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

John Lennon, unplugged from The Beatles

In the spring of 1969 – now 50 years ago, believe it or not – John Lennon and his new friend and lover, Yoko (whose ever presence in his life annoyed the hell out of many Beatle fans) were doing what appeared to be some pretty crazy and avant garde things.

One of them was a “bed-in for peace” that they staged and a hotel in Amsterdam in late March of that year. As legend has it, when a journalist asked the couple what they were trying to say or do with the act, John Lennon replied; “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

That answer became the chorus of a song that John Lennon wrote and recorded with an eclectic cast of characters, from beat poet Allan Ginsberg, to comedian Tommy Smothers and pop singer Petula Clark,  50 years ago this June 1st at a second bed-in they stated staged in Canada, in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec.

John and Yoko, doing their bed-in for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec, 50 years ago this spring.

‘Give Peace A Chance’ was released as a single in July of 1969, as demonstrations against the War in Vietnam continued to grow and a generation of young people were getting ready to go to “three days of peace and music” at a festival called Woodstock, and rose up the billboard charts in North America to number 14, which was modest for a single by Beatles standards.

A sign that remains on the door of a room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where Give Peace a Chance was recorded.

Nevertheless, the chorus of the song went on to outlive its writer, who was shot to death in in gun happy America on December 8th, 1980 in front of a building where he lived in New York City.

‘Give Peace A Chance’ has lived on to this day as an anti-war chant as iconic as ‘We Shall Overcome’ lives on as a chant for social justice and civil rights.

I end here with what I know has become a tired old question. Why is it almost always the voices for a more peaceful world, in the persons of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon (just to name a few) who get gunned down.

Fifty years after John Lennon recorded ‘Give Peace a Chance’ the world is still looking for some.

I am coming to the conclusion that there is something in the DNA of humans or in the way humans are hardwired that sees us so often making war and killing each other, however honest and noble the sentiment in John Lennon’s song is.

Click on the screen below to hear and view the chaos in a room of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel on June 1st, 1969 as John Lennon was leading a cast of interesting characters in recording ‘Give Peace a Chance’ –

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders



The More-Cool-Than-You-Think Doris Day Dies at Age 97

One of the Very Last of the Pop Icons Whose Star Rose During the Big Band Era of the 1940s and Continued To Shine for Decades to Come

“Que será, será
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que será, será
What will be, will be.” 

– Lyrics from what became, for better or worse, Doris Day’s signature song

A Brief One by Doug Draper, Niagara at Large

Posted May 13th, 2019

Before I even begin this one I can just imagine all or most people under the age of 40 who might visit this site saying; “Doris Day? Who the hell is Doris Day, and why would knowing who she is even matter?”

And even people who do know who she is may say; “Hey Doug, I have read the odd tribute you have posted on this site on a rock star, or on a soul or a blues or a jazz artist, but Doris Day? I thought you were a little cooler than that?”

Doris, a little later on, around the time when she was still starring in her own TV show, The Doris Day Show, in the 1970s

Back in the 1960s, when I was still going to school and living at home with the parents, I thought I was at least a little bit cooler than that too. I’d be listening to records by bands like The Rolling Stones, Cream and The Kinks, and my parents would start listening to an old Doris Day song and I would say; “Hey, mom and dad, how un-cool is that?

It wasn’t until later that I found out that Doris Day, who died this May 13th at age 97, had far more gravitas to her than what, in my teenage eyes, that too-squeaky-clean-for-her-own-good image of her portrayed.

One of those entertainers who started out as a big band singer during the late 1930s and 40s (one of her first major hits was a song called “Sentimental Journey” that went over well with young lovers during the Second World War years), and who had enough talent and stage presence to make it in the movies and that then new medium called television, Doris Day emerged as one of the super stars of her generation. Continue reading

Ford Strikes Wrong Chord With More Cuts To The Arts

“This showcases just how out of touch the Ford Conservatives are with how important it is to support the local cultural sectors that contribute so much to our economy.”                                                      – Ontario NDP Culture Critic Jill Andrew

News from Ontario’s NDP/Official Opposition Party

Posted April 25th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Foreword Note from NAL publisher Doug Draper –

It never seems to fail how much the more hardcore right-wingers in Conservative Parties on the Canadian side of the border and the Republican Party in the U.S., show their contempt for the arts – unless, of course, they can personally find a way of making big bucks off of them.

They will poor all kinds of tax money into some phoney ‘war on crime’ or the military, and give no end of tax cuts or subsidies to the upper one or two per cent.

But if you have a program or business that has anything to do with encouraging or promoting or offering up the arts, look out.

So here we are with the following news release from the province’s NDP/Official Opposition Party about more cuts to the arts from Doug Ford’s Conservatives in Ontario.)

QUEEN’S PARK — Jill Andrew, Ontario NDP Culture critic, said it’s shameful for Doug Ford to step up his attack on the arts by cutting the Ontario Music Fund by more than 50 per cent.

Yesterday, Billboard reported that the Ontario Music Fund’s budget has been slashed to $7 million, down from $15 million. The fund is designed to promote the province’s music industry through funding streams that support everything from live music events to music company development. Continue reading

Chorus Niagara Presents Silent Film Masterpiece Peter Pan

 At Partridge Hall, one showing only May 4th, 7;30 p,m. FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, in downtown St.Catharines, Ontario.

News from Chorus Niagara

Posted April 24th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

CHORUS NIAGARA’S SILENT CINEMA is back with the enchanting lavish film fantasy Peter Pan, accompanied by a LIVE choral soundtrack curated by Artistic Director Robert Cooper, C.M.

This is the first-ever film version (1924) of J.M. Barrie’s magical boy who refuses to grow up, with cinematic effects of mermaids, mystical ships, secret hideaways, and the ever-popular flying sequences, that still delights today.

Chorus Niagara and Artistic Director Robert Cooper proudly present this fully restored masterpiece with LIVE soundtrack by the 100 voices of CHORUS NIAGARA and the keyboard artistry of Organist Edward Moroney and Pianist Krista Rhodes.

Artistic Director Robert Cooper says, ‘It was the lavish silent fantasy, the magic of flying children and the wondrous storybook land where kids never grow up, in this 1924 nearly-forgotten classic, that caught my creative fancy. Continue reading

On This Coming Record Store Day, Here Are Some Great Ones to Visit in Our Region

Cool Beat Music and Books in Cheektowaga, New York and Niagara Records in St. Catharines, Ontario

“There is nothing as glamorous to me as a record store.”                Paul McCartney

A Brief Call-Out for Record Stores  from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted April 10th, 2019

This coming Saturday, April 13th is a very special day for those of us who love music and, most importantly, for what are left of the marvellous and magical places in our regions that bring that great music too us.

This Saturday, April 13th marks the 11th annual ‘Record Store Day’ across North America and other parts of the world – a day when those of us who love music and the very special sense of community music inspires when we experience it together can do that coming together at favourite brick and mortar record stores, to support and celebrate t what Paul McCartney rightly calls the glamour and the joy they can bring to our lives.

Cool Beat Music and Books, one of the great stores for records in the greater Niagara region – this one in nearby Cheektowaga, New York

Those of you who regularly visit  Niagara At Large may already know that I like to advocate for supporting what are left of some of the great  independently owned stores in our region, and recently I highlighted three of the best used book stores, including Hannelore Headley Old and Fine Books and The Write Bookshop in St. Catharines, Ontario and  Rust Belt Books  in Buffalo, New Year.

This time, on the eve of this year’s Record Store Day, I want to mention at least a couple of the  coolest record stores on either side of the Niagara River.

And I’ll start with one called Cool Beat Music and Books that you can find on the American side of the border, less than a 10 minute drive from downtown Buffalo, New York on 2445 William Street in neighbouring Cheektowaga.

Inside the Cool Beat store with owner Wayne Zaganiaczyk, a veteran record and book seller in the region.

If you are wondering how you are going to find this very cool store, I will include a link for a map you can click on near the bottom of this post. For now, all you need to know is that Cool Beat is a store well worth finding. Continue reading

Brock University Proposal Sees A New Era For The Arts In Downtown St. Catharines

“A vibrant arts culture is crucial to the health and vitality of the entire Niagara region.” – Brock President Gervan Fearon

News from Brock University in St. Catharines/Niagara

Posted April 3rd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

The historic Rodman Hall art centre in St. Catharines/Niagara

Niagara, Ontario – Brock University is committed to advancing its pledge to help grow vitality and development in downtown St. Catharines.

The University and community partners are therefore exploring a plan to preserve historic Rodman Hall, provide modern space for the Rodman Hall art collection, and help create a new arts and culture hub in downtown St. Catharines.

The plan is based on commitments that would give the local arts community expanded space and long-term stability in modern, climate-controlled facilities that are conducive to storing and showing works of art, this despite the University needing to find more than $15 million in budget savings after the province announced tuition cuts on Jan. 17. Continue reading

If You Like Used Books Stores, You Will Love Rust Belt Books in Buffalo, New York

Visit Rust Belt Books this Coming Monday, April 1st thru Friday, April 5th for its annual ‘Backroom Book Sale’ where you can get a Bag of Books for just Five Bucks

One of the very cool cats you may meet at Rust Belt Books in Buffalo

Another Brief Call-Out for Supporting Great Book and Record Stores from Doug Draper

Posted March 28th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

If you are a regular visitor to Niagara At Large, as we hope you are, then you already know that we are strong supporters of locally owned book and record stores here.

We believe that the best of these great stores are not only good for the local economy, they also add, immeasurably, to heart and soul of any community worth living in.

Rust Belt Books on 415 Grant Street in Buffalo, New York.

That’s why we take a little time out to promote some of these stores for no compensation other than this. … For the sake of our communities, we want these places where people can go to share their passion for books and music to survive and thrive.

And one such place that serves as a great commons for book livers in Rust Belt Books, located right across the border from Niagara, Ontario, on 415 Grant Street in Buffalo, New York .

If you have never had the pleasure of shopping in this store, and meeting its nice owner, this coming Monday, April 1st through Friday, April 5th is a good time to start because the store is hosting its annual “Backroom Book Sale” where for five American bucks you can purchase a whole bag of books. Continue reading