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Songs of love and heartbreak, from Billie Holiday to Elvis

By Toni Ballard

To quote the Cowardly Lion, “Unusual weather we’re having, ain’t it?” For anyone disappointed by the cancellation due to rain of the much-anticipated concert “Songs of Love and Heartbreak, from Billie Holiday to Elvis” featuring Boston-based jazz vocalist Toni Ballard and local rock and blues favorite Stephanie Turner, there is good news. The concert is BYOP—Bring Your Own Picnic. No food or beverages will be sold at the event, so patrons are invited to bring their favorite food and drinks.

Music: Songs of Love and Heartbreak Featuring Toni Ballard & Stephanie Turner. Sun, Feb 26, 4-6pm. Gustos Gathering Grounds Amphitheater, Mezquite 7.5. 150 pesos

Gustos Gathering Grounds is a private residence in colonia Guadiana, one of the most beautiful and conveniently located neighborhoods in San Miguel, only a 12-minute flat walk to Centro.  Aspects of the grounds were created to share the exploration of art, culture, relaxation and celebration with others. In addition to the main house, the property includes an intimate amphitheater for outdoor events, a small art studio, a classroom area and a one-bedroom apartment. Casa GGG was completed in September of 2009. The artistic and cultural events are managed by Backyard Productions.

Toni and Stephanie will each perform with four of San Miguel’s most in-demand musicians: Ken Basman on guitar, Doug Robinson on piano, Beto González on bass, and Miguel Favero on percussion. Toni will perform jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, including “Night and Day,” “We’ll Be Together Again and “Make Someone Happy.” Stephanie will sing such blues and rock classics as “Suspicious Minds,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and “When Will I Be Loved,” with Toni joining in on harmony on a couple of tunes.

Toni Ballard, who is profiled in jazz writer Scott Yanow’s book The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide (Backbeat Press, available from Amazon), is a Chicago native who has been singing jazz in New England for over 25 years and has performed with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the White Heat Swing Orchestra, the Boston Big Band and the Ryles Jazz Orchestra, including an appearance in 2002 at the Boston Globe Jazz and Blues Festival. Toni was one of 10 singers invited to perform in New York City at the “American Song Stylists” concert, headlined by Shirley Horn. Her 1997 CD I’m Your Pal features jazz guitar icon Larry Coryell.

Stephanie Turner, at 23, traveled through Europe by train with her guitar, playing for change in the streets. She continued writing songs and playing them in coffeehouses and bars, and dabbled in theater and performance art back in Providence, Rhode Island. She followed the call of the road to the west coast to Portland, Oregon, where she combined her music with fire-eating and gained fame as “The Fire-Eating Folksinger.” At age 29, Stephanie embarked on an around-the-world trip and wound up falling in love with Mexico, spending a year and meeting her future husband. She left Mexico and taught Spanish in the States for two years, but on her second trip to Mexico, she fell in love all over again…. with her husband-to-be and San Miguel de Allende, where she has lived for the past 11 years, singing on many stages and performing in several theater productions, most recently Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Tickets are available for purchase at The Longhorn Smokehouse, Salida a Celaya 6, next to the Pemex gas station. People holding tickets for the February 12 event can use them for the new date. For ticket information, contact Stephanie Turner at 044-415-107-6543. This event is weather permitting. If the weather is questionable go to:

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