Gallery: Marianas Trench “Never Say Die” Tour

IMG_4161

Hi Peeps! As you have read my previous MoVernie BLOG on my adventures at the Marianas Trench “Never Say Die” tour that was held at Air Canada Centre (ACC) last month, I had taken lots of amazing photos up close and personal near the stage and other areas of the venue. Yes, I worked very hard, ALWAYS on the MOVE to bring you the best photos of your favourite band.

Below is a gallery of photos that I took at the Marianas Trench Concert. Hope you enjoy them.

Follow me on Instagram (@RealMoVernie) and Twitter (@MoVernie) for more awesome photos and videos of my coverage at the New Balance Toronto Media Event. Stay tuned!

Also follow me on SnapChat @MoVernie or Periscope @MoVernie for more interactive live-broadcast videos.

IMG_4223

IMG_4199IMG_4178IMG_4171IMG_4165IMG_4164IMG_4138IMG_4167IMG_4201IMG_4210IMG_9736IMG_9744IMG_9755

 

Advertisements

Marianas Trench “Never Say Die” Tour – Air Canada Centre (Toronto Stop)

IMG_9755

Marianas Trench, a well-established Canadian rock band was on a “Never Say Die” Tour in the past few months, making stops in many American and Canadian cities. Whether the cities were big ones or small ones, Marianas Trench made every effort to ensure its fans from all parts of the countries a chance to get up close and personal with them.

For those who wanted to know more about Marianas Trench, it’s a rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia that was formed in 2001. The band consists of members Josh Ramsay, Matt Webb, Mike Ayley, and Ian Casselman. This band has been in the music industry for 15 years and counting.

Personally, I am a huge fan of Marianas Trench, they are lovable, down-to-earth real, funny, cool, hip and really have its own unique character. Most importantly, this band has never ran out of music creativity, I have seen this band evolve over the years, thinking of new images, new ideas, new music direction, giving its fans something new to discover about the band while maintaining its own roots. That’s not easy to do for many bands but Marianas Trench just gets it done. In particular, I really like the singles called “One Love” and “Fallout“. You could hear the lyrics and how passionate Josh Ramsey interpreted in these songs. This band has so much to offer and so many hit singles that their fan base just continue to grow and grow.

IMG_9744

Last month, I was very fortunate to be invited to cover and review the Marianas Trench “Never Say Die” Concert at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in its Toronto stop. Another great Canadian band, Walk Off The Earth did the opening for them for the entire tour. It was a perfect choice to have them to open for the Marianas Trench. In particular, I really like one of their latest song called “Rule the World”, it’s just so powerful, strong instrumental music and just full of energy. And to be able to hear them live was a total pleasure. They had definitely hyped up the crowd that evening. I wish Walk Off The Earth best of luck and continue to pump out great music and hopefully, I will see them have their own tour in the near future.

The set list told us that the Marianas Trench concert will begin at 8:50 pm. To my surprise, the band was right on time. Wait, let me re-phrase this. The reason I was super surprised because most concerts that I been to in the past, they would never be on time, with some artists showing up 40 minutes later. Not for Marianas Trench, they didn’t want their fans to wait too long and suffer, thus, they began on time.

The background display of virtual images, lights and music were what made a live concert fun and entertaining. There is no comparison watching the concert live than by watching it on TV at home, it’s a total different experience. Josh Ramsey, as usual came out wearing flashy outfits, holding up his guitar and began jumping up and down throughout the stage. His fellow members positioned themselves at different places throughout the stage, playing their respective instruments.

The crowd at the ACC were jam packed, they were screaming, jumping up and down, moving their bodies along with the music. The vibe was awesome. You could see lots of young ladies, kids accompanied by parents were all singing along every song.

Marianas Trench released its latest album (Astoria) back in October of 2015 and they performed many of the songs from this album, including Astoria, One Love, Never Say Die and many more.

IMG_4164

As you know, MoVernie is ALWAYS on the MOVE, so I took some shots from my seats and I also got to experience what a concert was like standing close the stage. I got to take lots of closeup photos (check them out below), so that I can share with you guys.

There was a few highlights that stick in my mind during the Marianas Trench concert. The moment when Josh came down the stage from the centre spot, he ran along the barricades and I was able to see him up close and personal, that was a memory to remember. He basically went around the arena and high-five the fans along the way. You could see how excited the fans were. Some even cried after they shook hands with Josh. Another highlight was when Josh went to the centre floor area, go onto the platform, sat down beside the piano and began to play the song “One Love” in piano version. That was really cool! Last but not least, Josh tied himself on a zip line wire and zipped across the stage in mid-air, singing songs while doing acrobats. That’s multi-tasking folks! All those spins moves and moving upside down in mid-air? Josh made it look so easy. I would have thought that flying mid-air, spinning around will affect his breathing or singing. Nope! Not a chance, he was flawless, smooth breathing and he maintained his great vocal.

IMG_4167

You could tell this band appreciates their fans greatly. Throughout the concert, the band thanked the fans for their support. I recalled at one point, Josh said, “Thank you all of you for your continual support, without you guys, we won’t be able to last this long. We have our own tour across Canada and U.S.A. We have our own show at the ACC. I recalled 10 plus years ago, when we were performing at a tavern, there maybe only a handful who showed up. Thank you for your love”. I thought that was a powerful speech. I mean, think about it, imagine yourself performing on a stage at a tavern and only a handful show up and 10 plus years later, a jam-packed crowd at the ACC? That’s something to be proud of.

Also during the show, Josh thanked the parents who bought tickets and accompanied with their kids. He said, “Thanks to the parents who came here with your kids. Now, let me teach you a lesson, Pop 101”. The crowd cheered as Pop 101 is one of the band’s songs.

One of the perks of being able to stand near the stage was the opportunity for me to observe how the behind-the-scenes work crew operated throughout the concert. Staff members consistently had to move equipment along the stage, setting up visual effects and coordinating with each other to ensure safety comes first and everything was working. Special shoutout to the hardworking staff members that we often negectled but played an important role to the success of the show.

IMG_4201

Did you know that the band used more than one guitar for the entire show? I honestly don’t play instruments myself. It was fascinating to see an entire row of guitars being placed underneath the stage and the staff members carefully placed them in specific orders. They also hand out different guitars to the band members for certain part of the performance. That was interesting.

All-in-all, I had an amazing time at the Marianas Trench Concert. They have come a long way to establish themselves and built such a large following of fans around the world. I think it’s not easy for a Canadian band to be able to build such a successful brand in both the U.S. and Canada markets but they did it!

I will definitely go to the next Marianas Trench concert. If you haven’t watch them in person, I highly recommend you buy tickets to watch them in the near future and also buy their latest album, Astoria.

Special thanks to Live Nation and Strut Entertainment for giving me such a wonderful Exclusive VIP experience at the Marianas Trench Concert in Toronto.

Follow me on Instagram (@RealMoVernie) and Twitter (@MoVernie) for more awesome photos and videos of my coverage at the New Balance Toronto Media Event. Stay tuned!

Also follow me on SnapChat @MoVernie or Periscope @MoVernie for more interactive live-broadcast videos.

Until next time, MoVernie is outta here!

IMG_4210

 

 

 

 

Top 12 Best MoVernie Memories of 2015

Year of 2015

2015 has been an amazing year for MoVernie! All the goals that I planned during end of 2014 had been achieved. In fact, the results were beyond my expectations, I would say there were a lot of unexpected positive surprises throughout the entire year, giving me an unbelievable MoVernie adventurous journey. The end result for the MoVernie Brand was 10 times greater than I anticipated.

I have never thought that I would be able to work with so many big global corporations throughout the entire year. I would not expect so many of these corporations such as McDonalds, New Balance, Booster Juice, Skittles and much more, want to partner with MoVernie, making MoVernie a Global Brand. I thank all the wonderful PRs, Agents, Advertising Agencies, Corporations and Event Planners for believing in my brand and willing to give MoVernie a lift.

I am humble, grateful and thankful for all the wonderful opportunities. One thing for certain, I am still the same genuine guy. I am still true to myself and true to everyone around me. It’s very important for me to be a solid guy and I will continue to be a solid guy.

Every year, I always look back and reflect on the happenings throughout the year. Then I set realistic goals for the New Year. I will continue to improve. I will continue to work hard to live my life to the fullest as well as continue to expand my MoVernie Brand.

Below are my Top 12 Best MoVernie Memories of 2015. Thank you for your continual support and traveling along with me on my MoVernie journey. Happy New Year! Best wishes to you all in 2016!

MoVernie Top #1 Memory of 2015 – Kia Gear Up Campaign

Year of 2015

There were many great MoVernie memories throughout the year of 2015, but one particular event stood out from the rest of them. My top #1 memory of 2015 has to be the Kia Gear Up Campaign in which Kia Canada and Kia Motors flew me into Barcelona, Spain and participated in the Kia Gear Up Global Event.

Beating out hundreds of Canadian Social Media Influencers in the entire country, A panel of Kia Canada executives evaluated and decided to choose me to represent Kia Canada as the Canadian Global Ambassador, joining the other 12 Ambassadors from around the world to attend the Kia Gear Up Campaign. This trip was significant because I got to experience what a real celebrity would experience when staying at a 5-star hotel in Barcelona. Having my own assistants that helped you carry your bags, your belongings and taking care of you at all times. I got a taste of the paparazzi lifestyle when the camera crew of over 30 members snapping photos and videos of you at all times. It was quite an experience and I enjoyed it alot.

More importantly, I have always wanted to be a race car driver when I was a kid. Although it was only one day of being a race car driver at the Kia Gear Up Campaign, that was a dream come true. It was awesome especially when Kia Motors had thoughtfully presented the Global Ambassadors with their own personalized racing outfit and helmet. Having my name badge and the Canadian flag on both of my racing outfit and helmet was a touching moment.

Furthermore, this Kia Gear Up Campaign had elevated my MoVernie Brand into a global brand. Right after I returned from Barcelona, there were an instant spike of opportunities and partnerships with various corporations that I became so busy for the rest of the year. Thus, I am grateful and would like to thank you Kia Canada and Kia Motors for an once-in-a-lifetime experience that will forever live with me.

MoVernie Top #2 Memory of 2015 – Kissimmee, Florida: World Food Championships

Year of 2015

The media trip to Kissimmee, Florida gave me a number of “firsts” during this journey. It was my first time checking out the Disney World. I had been to the Disneyland a few years ago in California, but Disney World was just so much bigger, lots to check out and the Epcot Theme Park created lots of entertainment & food tasting opportunities. The best part? We didn’t know we were attending Disney World until we arrived that day to know we were given access to it. That was a totally unexpected surprise. It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you are a baby, a kid, a teenager or adult, Disney World was magical.

Covering the World Food Championships in Kissimmee was super special to me. A few years back when I was in Las Vegas, totally unplanned, I went to Fremont Experience and realized World Food Championships was happening there. Back then, I found it very interesting to have 50 different outdoor kitchen setup for chefs to compete in various food competitions. Never thought a few years later that I would be covering the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kissimmee, Florida, only 15-20 minutes (by car) from Disney World offers so many cool activities for couples and families to do. First of all, luxurious gated home rentals such as Global Resort Homes are excellent alternatives than staying in resorts inside Walt Disney.  Outdoor activities such as kayaking or peddle boarding in creeks were awesome. I got to kayak for my very first time. Sitting on a fast airboat checking out alligators and cows (yes, cows) in the water was quite fascinating. Did you know hot air balloons are a very popular in Kissimmee, Florida? I am always scared of heights but with other social media influencers with me during this trip, I had decided to give my “first” try on a hot air balloon. It was quite an experience and I was glad that I did. The peaceful and calm feeling of being “up in the air” was a memorable one.

MoVernie Top #3 Memory of 2015 – SW Virginia: Birthplace of Country Music & The Crooked Road

Year of 2015

A lot of peeps know that I like to listen to hip-hop, R&B and EDM but as most peeps also know that I am open minded and always willing to learn and experience new things that are out of my normal boundaries. When I was invited on a media trip to SW Virginia, covering the birthplace of Country Music, I decided to be on the MOVE to check out what this region has to offer. Before this media trip, every time I think of country music, I always think of Nashville, but Nashville is not the birthplace of country music. It was a group of talented singers and bands who made a visit to Bristol, Virginia in 1927 and recorded a famous sessions recording, paving the way for the evolution of the country music. As we toured along “The Crooked Road”, I got to visit various historic venues and museums and got a chance to know the culture and the traditions country music had brought to the region of this area. The Appalachians, the mountain tops and beautiful landscapes created a unique experience of my visit. Did you know Bristol is also famous for NASCAR? The Bristol Speedway can sits over 100,000 people at the race. I hope to check that out in the near future. Also, SW Virginia is also famous for making Moonshine, a high-proofed distilled spirits that was originally an illegal product has now been legalized 5 years ago.

MoVernie Top #4 Memory of 2015 – Ford NAIAS (North American International Auto Show)

Year of 2015

The Ford NAIAS (North American International Auto Show), aka Detroit Auto Show, was significant because it was my first media trip and it was a great way to kick starts the year of 2015. Growing up as a kid, I always love cars and Detroit Auto Show is one of the biggest auto shows in the world. Ford gave us an Exclusive VIP experience, they hosted parties at the historic Piquette Avenue Plant, birthplace of the Model T as well as showing us the manufacturing plant of where the award winning F-150 pickup was being built. My favourite part of this trip? That’s when we were all sitting in the front section of the Ford presentation when the CEO of Ford and his staff unveiled the Supercar GT right in front of our eyes. We are talking the precious opportunity for us to be sitting in the same venue with the heavy weights of various well-known publications and automobile journalists from around the world who got to see this supercar GT. We witnessed this car at the same time in person. That was an unbelievable experience.

Attending the Detroit Auto Show was an eye opener because many car manufacturers chose this event to unveil their latest technologies and vehicles to the world for the very first time. No offense to other auto shows, but many of those unveiled presentations at other auto shows were basically first seen from the Detroit Auto Show, so whatever we got to see in Detroit was definitely a first dip experience. Thank you to Ford Canada and Ford Motor Company for the kind hospitality.

MoVernie Top #5 Memory of 2015 – NBA Road Trip to the lone star state of Texas

Year of 2015

I had travelled to many different parts of the United States but had never visited the lone star state of Texas. Since I am a huge NBA fan and I often wear my beloved Raptors gear tour around the world, I thought it was time for MoVernie to be on the MOVE to check out the state of Texas.

We landed in Dallas and moment we walked out of the airport, we couldn’t find any cowboys or saloon or ranches in sight. Dallas has changed so much over the years that it is one of the cities that support pharmaceutical companies as well as technological companies. Art museums and culinary restaurants are everywhere in Dallas. Make sure you check out “Uptown”, an area young professional’s who loves to party and chill in this area. Off we drove from Dallas and made our way south bound to Austin, Texas. We heard lots of buzz about the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film and Music Festival in Austin. The 6th Street is a historic place filled with live band music one store after another. Did you also know you can do bat watching in Austin? Now you know. Then, we made our road trip further south, arriving at San Antonio. We checked out the historic Alamo and the river walk. Watching Tim Duncan and his Spurs battling Stephen Curry and his Warriors at AT&T Center was awesome! For your record, the Spurs won that game.

MoVernie Top #6 Memory of 2015 – Blue Jays Playoffs Game #5: Jose Bautista “Bat Flip” Moment

Year of 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. My bro (aka MoKenny) & I was very fortunate to attend playoff game #5 at SkyDome to witness Blue Jays Jose Bautista historic moment when he hit a 3-run blast out of the yard to help the Blue Jays win a come from behind series win over the Texas Rangers. And of course, now the infamous Bautista “bat flip” that will forever be a classic moment with the fans and Jose himself.

When I was young, I couldn’t attend any Blue Jays playoff games back in 92 or 93 because I was just a kid, I couldn’t afford to buy any playoff tickets. Besides, it was super difficult back then to even snatch a ticket or two. Fast track 22 years later, it was a great brother moment to remember for a lifetime when we got amazing seats over the 1st base and enjoy a memorable playoff win with my bro, MoKenny. That’s priceless!

More memorable was the fact that an inning earlier (before Jose hit his 3-run blast), the Blue Jays were down by 1 run due to a very rare misplay when Rangers scored a run on a baseball that was accidentally knocked off from Shin-Soo Choo’s bat. MoKenny & I feared that if the outcome was a Blue Jays lost that there would have been a major riot. Luckily, good things happen to a good team that the Blue Jays prevailed and beat the Texas Rangers fair and square with a comeback series victory to move on to the next round.

MoVernie Top #7 Memory of 2015 – My parents meeting MoPete for their first time

Year of 2015

Alot of peeps know that my stage name “MoVernie” was originated from my favourite Raptors of all-time, Morris Peterson (aka MoPete). “Mo” + my nickname “Vernie” equal MoVernie. After the Raptors playoff game #1 versus the Washington Wizards, our whole family went to SOCO Kitchen + Bar (located inside Delta Toronto) to grab dinner. Sitting across me, my mom excitedly said “MoPete! MoPete!” At first, I wasn’t sure what she was referring as my seat was facing a wall, so I couldn’t see anything behind me. Then, my mom said it again, “MoPete! He is over there!” Immediately, I stood up, I turned around and saw MoPete from a far distance, in his awesome custom made blue suit. I walked towards him and said “MoPete!”. He noticed me and he recognized me as I interviewed him a few times in the past. He gave me a big hug and a warm smile. I told him that my parents spotted him. MoPete came over, dropped off his belongings and t-shirts and he greeted everyone of us at the table. He was so genuine, down-to-earth and chatted with everyone. MoPete spent the time chatting with my mom and my dad. You should see the happiness and the excitement on my parents’ faces. And of course, we took a family photo with MoPete which is now framed in our living room. Thank you MoPete for coming over and spending sometime chatting with my parents. It meant alot to them and it was definitely a highlight of the night!

MoVernie Top #8 Memory of 2015 – Taylor Swift 1989 Concert at SkyDome

Year of 2015Year of 2015

I had attended to many concerts throughout my life but I have to say, Taylor Swift 1989 Concert at SkyDome was by far my favourite concert to date. Originally, I didn’t have any tickets and I was told by my friends that they purchased Taylor Swift concert tickets a year before. That is crazy! Anyhow, as the date of the concert was fast approaching, I did wonder what it’s like to watch her concert. A day after that thought, the dream came true! A sponsor called and asked if I like Taylor Swift, I was like “Hell ya! I like Taylor Swift”. The rest was history as I went to Taylor Swift Concert. What I didn’t know was how great the seats were, we were sitting 18 rows from the stage. That was huge as we all know, SkyDome sits 50,000 people, which means, you could be sitting at the nosebleed and far from the stage. Although, I would be happy to sit anywhere for Taylor, sitting 18 rows from the stage was totally unexpected. Each person received a special glow in the dark wrist band which will flash a different colour controlled by a central music rhythm system. My favourite moment was when the entire SkyDome was lit up with 50,000 of pink wristbands flashing in unison. That was quite a sight! Taylor Swift is just so talented and she can flat out sing. She is gorgeous and down-to-earth real. Her speech to motivate and encourage her fans “not to change” for the sake of impressing others was huge. She wanted her fans just to be happy and don’t let anyone changed the way they don’t want to become.

Taylor definitely had lots of great songs, hits after hits and her 1989 Album were full of great songs after another. It was a great evening! A night to remember! I will definitely go to another Taylor Swift concert in the near future!

MoVernie Top #9 Memory of 2015 – Winmar Toronto Buffalo Bills Tailgate Party

Year of 2015

The last time I went to watch a Buffalo Bills game in Buffalo was 8 years ago, but that was just purely walked into the Ralph Wilson Stadium and enjoyed a Sunday afternoon game. 8 years later, I was back again to Buffalo to watch the Bills game. But this time, we arrived in Buffalo in style. Winmar Toronto, the property restoration specialist, hosted its annual Buffalo Bills Tailgate Road Trip to Buffalo.

At 5:30 am, Winmar Toronto booked a super long party limo bus and picked up its clients to Buffalo. On the bus, there was a luxurious washroom, a high-end bar counter and rows and rows of comfy sofas. Disco light fixtures were lit up across the bus. I had been to many party limo buses but there were nothing like Winmar Toronto party limo bus. This was by far the longest limo bus I had seen, it sat 40 peeps comfortably. In the middle of the corridor sat a super big cooler. Inside the cooler were tons of beer cans and water bottles. What made this road trip memorable for me was that I just attended an awesome Taylor Swift concert the night before. I only had 2 hours of sleep before I woke up at 5:30 am to be on the Winmar Toronto party limo bus. So….beer for breakfast!

When we arrived at the Ralph Wilson Stadium, our party limo bus parked at the parking lot across the stadium. Apparently, Winmar Toronto sent their team of staff ahead of time, to occupy the space for our arrival. The staff setup the tent and BBQ equipment and prepared all the food and drinks for us. That was a very nice touch. As I walked around, I saw the rear Winmar Toronto van door, there was like a pop up bar filled with all the goodies from Jack Daniels, Jagermeister, Grey Goose and all other kinds of hard liquor you could name, they had it! The staff began to fire up the BBQ grill, in came thick piece of top quality steak after steak that they brought in. Sautéed onions, desserts, salads, all top notch food. After a nice lunch, the entire crew walked over to Ralph Wilson Stadium to watch the game. The Bills didn’t play a good game, instead they had a horrible game against the New York Giants. Nevertheless, the score really didn’t matter as we all had a great time with our peeps.

After the game, we walked back to our Winmar Toronto tailgate HQ, I really thought we would be heading home. Instead, Winmar Toronto got its staff to assemble an old fashion oven. They had their staff transport the equipment over and built the oven on the spot. Honestly, I had not seen anything like it. They made fresh pizza as a post-game tailgate party. Let me tell you, Winmar Toronto has spoiled me now. Because they sure know how to throw a top notch tailgate party that I don’t think anyone can match. Now, they had raised my expectation to the very high level that I don’t know how to go to another NFL game without this type of Exclusive VIP tailgate party. Until next time, see you Winmar Toronto in 2016 for another awesome tailgate party!

MoVernie Top #10 Memory of 2015 – Yacht Ride

Year of 2015

I had always wanted to go out in the water on a nice luxury yacht ride. Whether it’s in the lake or ocean, it’s fine with me. Out of the blue one evening at a friend’s place, I told him that it would be one of my bucket lists to sail out in the water on a nice luxurious yacht. He replied, “Hmmm, Vern….that actually is possible, let me arrange”. I have known my friend for a number of years now and I never knew his family owns a luxurious yacht. That’s how I roll, to me, it doesn’t matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, or whoever you are, all I care is you as a friend. Besides, I don’t really ask anyone detail personal questions, so that’s why I have known him for so long, yet I didn’t know sailing out in the water was a possibility from my friend, it was just a pure spontaneous moment.

On a nice warm sunny afternoon, off we went to meet his parents. We drove through a gated communities, parked our car in front of the nice yacht. It was cool to know each dock had its own piece of grass area that they can BBQ and a bon-fire area. The yacht was a beauty, multi-floors with a nice kitchen, a nice bedroom and a lounge area and a long L-shaped sofa. On the second level, that’s where the driver’s seat was situated and along with many comfy seats. My favourite spot was the front. As the yacht sailed out, I could see and peacefully soaked up the sun and enjoyed the breeze! Once the yacht was docked close to the beach shore, we had a nice lunch. Sipping Coronas and dipping my feet into the cool water was awesome! The best moment was when most of the time, beach goers will swim out into the water and they will have to swim back to the shore. In contrast, when we were on the yacht, we swam towards the beach shore and we had to swim back out to the lake to get back on to the yacht, that was quite a different perspective and experience.

MoVernie Top #11 Memory of 2015 – Hanging out with Hollywood Celebrity Daniel Bruhl at TIFF

(Photo: Tim Hollywood)

(Photo: Tim Hollywood)

I had attended many TIFF parties and film screenings over the years but every year, there was always something new and exciting for me. As I told many of peeps, during TIFF, anything goes, you just go with the flow, anything can happen. This year at TIFF was no different; I attended a super private TIFF party that was hosted by the film company promoting the film “Colonia” starring Daniel Bruhl and Emma Watson. As we arrived at the private party, we got to meet all the solid film producers, directors, investors and Daniel Bruhl himself. Daniel, in case you wonder, is an up and rising German actor who starred in films such as Rush, playing as Niki Lauda. He will be starring in the much anticipating film “Captain America: Civil War”.

Daniel is a very genuine and down-to-earth type of guy! Never knew he is such a funny and hilarious guys. He told lots of jokes. It was definitely a great evening. He has a restaurant in Berlin and he told me that whenever I go to Berlin for a visit, he will make sure I am taken care of. During our long conversation, there was a long 15 second pause in my head. I was telling to myself “Wow! Daniel is standing in front of me, chatting, having a good time, he is standing even less than an arm’s length in front of me. Who would have thought celebrity can be this personable?” That was in my head. We were at the venue for such a long time that the owner had to tell us kindly that they were closing for the night. Most of the time, celebrities would leave the party early but we must had a good time that no one wants to leave. Good times! Definitely whatever being discussed at the private party, stay in the private party.

MoVernie Top #12 Memory of 2015 – The Sher Club: Private Party with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri

Year of 2015

Drake, our Raptors Global Ambassador had quietly opened an exclusive sports club in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. It’s called the “Sher Club,” in honour of his grandparents Rueben & Evelyn Sher. The Sher Club has been under the radar a bit as it’s a members-only club at the ACC. The club itself was a joint venture between Drake, MLSE, the ACC and high-end architectural designer Ferris Rafauli.

Last month, I was invited to attend a very Exclusive VIP Private Party at this intimate 4,000 sq. ft. space. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri invited 30 Raptors Season Ticket Holders and their plus ones to check out the Sher Club. What makes this club special is the fact that it’s members only. This means in most occasions, you have to be a member in order to have access to this Sher Club. The only other times you can access this establishment is by invite-only to a private event.

This place is definitely a hidden gem, a paradise I should say with beautiful classy servers along with beautiful red velvet booths and shinny smooth marble floors. My favourite spot? There is a very private circular VIP room behind the bar counter which you could reserve this room and enjoy a very private intimate night out with your friends. There is a big flat TV screen, white leather circular sofa and arm chairs. Bottles of champagne everywhere and beautiful chandeliers hanged up in the ceiling.

I am grateful and thankful to be one of the first to tour and party at The Sher Club as not many peeps have a chance to check this place out yet. If you have the dough, I highly recommend you to be a member. Imagine all the celebrities and top people hanging out here during the all-star game? You sure won’t be disappointed and you will sure want to become an elite member accessing this place!

Continue to follow my journey on Instagram (@RealMoVernie) and Twitter (@MoVernie) for more awesome pictures and videos in 2016.

And MoVernie is outta here!

Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015 Year of 2015  Year of 2015

Year of 2015

Delta Toronto – Part 2: SOCO Kitchen + Bar – MoVernie VIP Experience

Delta Toronto MoVernie VIP Experience – a 10-Part Series

Intro:

A few weeks ago, MoVernie and his brother, MoKenny were kindly hosted by Delta Toronto for an Exclusive MoVernie VIP Experience. Within the MoVernie VIP Experience, they each got a high-rise hotel corner suite room, a big tour around all the facilities and amenities that Delta Toronto has to offer. Fine dining at SOCO Kitchen + Bar was part of the VIP Experience and of course, a relaxing Whisky Bar 101 at Char No. 5 was also part of the agenda.

In this 10-part series, MoVernie will share his adventurous journey of his VIP Experience with his followers and audiences.

Part 2 – SOCO Kitchen + Bar

It was around 7:00 pm and that means dinner time! Delta Toronto had made a reservation for us at its restaurant called SOCO + Kitchen Bar. SOCO Kitchen + Bar is a modern restaurant that features the best ingredients, prepared with thought and care, yet simplistic but with creative twist to it.

SOCO Kitchen + Bar is managed by head chef Daniel Craig. I was told that he is like the James Bond of the food world, showcasing the secret culinary skills along with secret ingredients. Chef Craig is an internationally trained and award-winning Chef that brings his love of local ingredients and simple, yet elegant, food to SOCO Kitchen + Bar. He basically let his ingredients speak for themselves, letting his creations to bring out the best of its natural flavours.

chef dan craig

At a push of an elevator button, off we go from our 33rd floor and down to the main lobby. There was a huge SOCO Kitchen + Bar signage that you can’t miss it. There are two ways to enter the restaurant. If you are already inside the main lobby, you can access it from inside. If you are walking outside the hotel, coming from the Bremner Blvd, you will see the “SOCO Kitchen + Bar” signage and enter from the street level.

As we entered the entrance from the main lobby, the hostess immediately greeted us and guided us to our reserved table. Our reserved table was located in a quieter, private area that was near the bay windows. I love the table as it was more private and I also got to check out the pedestrians and cars moving along the Lower Simcoe street. Along our walk, we spotted the kitchen area where the chefs and kitchen staff were working hard to prepare the meal for the patrons. Then we walked pass the bar area that had a nice long bar counter and long lineups of flat screen TVs, showing a variety of sports games. If you are on your own or with a buddy, I highly recommend the bar area because you can watch the games on TV as well as interacting with the friendly bartenders.

Our server came and introduced himself and welcomed us to SOCO Kitchen + Bar. He asked how our stay was so far and also gave a brief introduction about this restaurant. As a social media digital influencer, having a fully charged smartphone is KEY to me. Our server told us that many of the booths or dining tables at SOCO Kitchen + Bar have its own individual outlet, so that we can plug our cord to it while dining. Furthermore, throughout the entire Delta Toronto, it’s FREE Wi-Fi. With Delta Toronto motto of  “Expect Even More” slogan, free Wi-Fi is a nice gesture. Delta Toronto doesn’t believe in charging its own patrons and customers with extra internet service. Instead, they want us to have a good stay and a good meal without worrying about data usage on our phones. I am sure many patrons would really appreciate that.

The restaurant was lit by individual candle lights on each table, giving it a chic, modern, positive vibe for the patrons. As I looked around, I saw a good mix of demographics of patrons dining here. We could see couples enjoying a romantic dinner. Friends who were having a few pre-drinks and shareable before heading to the Air Canada Centre to catch a Leafs game. I also saw family of four having pizza and burgers. I think SOCO Kitchen + Bar is a very versatile restaurant that caters to a variety groups of people.

As our server handed out the drink and food menu, I realized SOCO Kitchen + Bar have a good list of wine, beer and specialty cocktails. I told our server to surprise me with a specialty cocktail and he got us a refreshing Cucumber Collins. The pour was generous, yet the proportions were perfect. Really enjoyed the drink to start off the evening.

IMG_7150

As we glanced over the food menu, the list was concise yet adequate. A great restaurant shouldn’t be offering hundreds of crazy items on the menu, but instead, provide enough variety so the chef can focus on preparing the high quality of food items to its patrons. I realized that most of the food items on the menu were food that was familiar by most people, nothing crazy or out-of-this-world. Instead, Chef Daniel Craig wants to bring out the best flavours from these high quality fresh local ingredients with his great culinary skills. Furthermore, SOCO Kitchen + Bar also offered vegetarian food items.

Here is the list of food items that we had selected as we wanted to be able to taste the variety of food items made by the chef:

Appetizer:

MUSHROOM SOUP – wild mushroom sauté / feta cheese / truffle oil

OYSTERS (half a dozen each) – mignonette / tobasco + lemon / horseradish

HAND-CUT BISON TARTAR – egg yolk emulsion / black pepper jam / crisp parmesan / mache

Shareable:

MARGHERITA Pizza – fior di latte / tomato / fresh basil / san marzano

Entree:

ROASTED SCALLOPS – housemade truffled mortadella / hazelnuts / sunchokes

MoVernie vs Food Verdict:

The mushroom soup first arrived and from a distance, you could see the steam coming out. I love hot soup & having it nice and hot is key to a delicious soup. This is one element that many restaurants often neglect and presented with a warm or cold soup, which is a no-no in my books. So, with the fresh ingredient of the mushroom soup, it’s nice and hot, good texture and colour. I thought there was a bit too much of the feta cheese, if it can cut down a little bit, then it will let the mushroom shine a bit more, otherwise, it’s a good soup. And of course, I love anything with truffle oil.

IMG_7151

NOTE: This soup has become my MoVernie MUST-HAVE food item whenever I eat at SOCO Kitchen + Bar. If I am super hungry, it’s a good appetizer. If I am not that hungry after watching a Raptors game for a post-game meal, the soup is a good snack. You can’t go wrong with a hearty hot soup in any situations.

Then the oysters arrived in a circular metal tray along with the horse radish and sauce. First glance, the oysters were in season as it was big and juicy and the water within the shell was fresh. Everyone who follows me on Twitter knows how much I love fresh oysters.

IMG_7155

Then came the hand-cut bison tartar. Usually, it’s either beef or tuna tartar, bison tartar is a nice twist. The plating was great as I could see the egg yolk sitting on top of the tartar. After mixing all the fresh ingredients together, the first bite was unforgettable because the bison tartar was rich in colour and texture. It was tender, juicy and melt in your mouth. This was a great dish, coupled with the crusty bread, it’s the perfect combo. The bison tartar was definitely a great dish to share.

IMG_7152

After munching down all the delicious appetizers, I had finished my cucumber Collins, so my server asked me what else I would like to try. I told him I love beer, in fact, fresh pint of beer. He recommended me “Blanche de Chambly” brewed from Quebec. I recalled I had a great experience with this beer when I was visiting Quebec City so I opted for a pint of this beer. (It’s great SOCO Kitchen + Bar is providing some unique beer and not all the mainstream ones which they still provide but I like a good variety).

beer

As for the shareable, the margherita pizza was fresh off the oven. I could smell the fresh aroma coming out from the pizza. When I was in Rome, Italy, the locals often told me that margherita pizza is the best. The simplest pizza is the best way to test out the culinary skills of the chef and I totally agree. This margherita was a great dish to share among friends. The cheese was perfect in portion, not too much or too little. It came with a thin crust but its perfect thickness. I hate those thin crust pizza by other eateries that it was so thin that you couldn’t even lift it up and all the toppings splattered on your plate. I love my toppings being supported by a solid thin crust and being able to consume it in one bite without leaving a mess. I think the chef at SOCO Kitchen + Bar was able to achieve that.

IMG_7158

Both MoKenny and I love seafood and when the food menu offered roasted scallops, we jumped on the opportunity and we both ordered the same thing. Each scallop was nice and big. The first bite was fresh and juicy and not overcooked. Scallop, overall, is quite a difficult ingredient to prepare, you want it to be cooked and not be too raw, yet you don’t want it to be over cooked and shrink and being overly chewy. Chef did a perfect job with the scallop. One ingredient that aren’t always be served by chef was sunchokes, but I love it. I think it worked perfectly with the scallops. To me, sunchokes looked somewhat like a mini-ginger but yet the texture was like mini potatoes.

All-in-all, the food items being prepared at SOCO Kitchen + Bar was top notched. It’s amazing how the team was able to retain the freshness of the ingredients and provide a delicious list of food to its patrons. The perfect combination of awesome food and a great vibe makes SOCO Kitchen + Bar a great hotspot for family, couples and friends. It is also a perfect place for people to come before or after watching a concert, Leafs or Raptors game.

Also to note is the prime location SOCO Kitchen + Bar is located. If you walk around the Lower Simcoe area, there is currently isn’t much to offer. There maybe a few fast food eateries but a sit-down, modern restaurant isn’t really available around this area. So, SOCO Kitchen + Bar is a great place to have a nice meal after checking out an Auto Show at the Metro Convention Centre or a CN Tower tour or even a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre.

Click here for more information on the SOCO Kitchen + Bar.

Follow me on Instagram (@RealMoVernie) and Twitter (@MoVernie) for more awesome pictures and videos on my adventurous journey!

_________________

Special thank you to Delta Toronto for your kind hospitality, providing a unique, customized VIP Experience for MoVernie & MoKenny.

Click here for more information on the new Delta Toronto.

Check out my previous article here – Delta Toronto – Intro: MoVernie VIP Experience

Also check out – Part 1: Hotel Room – MoVernie VIP Experience

Raptors Season Preview Party

Contributor: Khristian Padua

Not just any normal Sunday but the Sunday before the highly anticipated Raptors 2014/2015 season starts. Hundreds of passionate fans showed up an hour before the doors opened including my self to catch a glimpse of the event which is about to occur . This act of eagerness plus everyone wearing Red , Black , or White Raptors gear shows how hungry are amazing city of Toronto is for a winner ! Not only were the beautiful people of Toronto who came in all ages and ethnicities covered in Raptors attire but all around the Air Canada Center , buildings & walls were filled of Raptors murals & advertisements . Toronto as a city has morphed into a dynamic, excited & proud culture ready to embrace that next level of success after that brilliant year in which our Raptors broke many records .

My mentor and friend Vernon Chang & I started the evening by lining up to meet the Raptors Brazilian rookie Bruno Caboclo. Bruno is a very tall but sweet guy . As I shook his hand he had a smile that showcased that he was very excited but at the same time a little bit overwhelmed with all the attention. Which is totally understandable for a 19 year old whose life took an unexpected positive change being a draft pic to the NBA after being fairly new to the game of Basketball. As he adapts I believe he will be a steal for the organization. When it was Vernon’s turn Bruno shook his hand and happily told Vern ‘ Hey I like your style ! ‘ even though his English is broken.This is quite the compliment to Vernon’s style and overall persona , we were both very happy that Bruno had such a nice first impression .

Before we headed into the presentation we were offered our free food and drinks as a welcome gift to the organizations supportive and passionate season ticket holders such as Vernon. Our plates came with a burrito , mixed rice , poutine , banana bread and a chilled beer to wash it all down . After settling in our seats of the Air Canada Center out came Toronto radio hosts Tim & Sid mic’d up on the nice set up of a mega screen big screen TV , a leather couch & chairs. They started by introducing and thanking the fans for coming out while doing hilarious skits praising Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. Very funny start to the presentation . Next came serious business as Masai Ujiri gave his expectations to the upcoming season and his thoughts on the overall situation of Toronto and the amount of success we achieved last season . One thing he consistently pointed out in his rants was that our fan base was bar none the best fan base in the NBA which i can personally agree & say I am proud of being apart of . Our strong fan base is going to be the 16th man game in game out for the Raptors. After Tim and Sid picked apart Masai’s brain asking analytic and dynamic questions for the crowd the fans were given an opportunity to ask the Boss-man Masai questions about the upcoming season.

Next came out former Raptors Mugsy Bogues who talked about his experience playing for the organization and his love for the city . One thing that stood out in his time given in the presentation was his desire to back up Vince Carter’s jersey potentially being raised into the rafters, the crowd was a mix of positive and negative feedback. Personally speaking I agree with Mugsy and I believe that Vince Carter put Toronto on the map and he deserves the credit where it’s due.

Grand finale of this presentation showcased our beloved stars of the Toronto Raptors. Our captain Demar Derozan , our leader on the floor and general Kyle Lowry & our promising third year big man Jonas Valanciunas. Within this segment including interview style questions with a few laughs in between as all their personalities are different but all click together. They emphasized there thankfulness for the Raptors outstanding support and fan-base and included their personal thoughts on last season and what they expect out of themselves this upcoming season.

All in all the event was an amazing experience and made me this much eager for the season to start. This year is our year and I believe with the additions of certain players are bench is deep enough to take our team to the next level and progress to a long play-off run with potential to compete with any team within the N.B.A night in and night out. One thing that stands us out compared to other teams is our core returning and everyone understanding their roles and contributing to one goal , winning. With the support of a city, country and overall culture change as Kyle Lowry said throughout the presentation ” We fight together as brothers, we go to war together ” we are ready , we the north !

The contributions of Khristian Padua, in the preparation of this BLOG is gratefully acknowledged.kd1

kd2

kd3

Canadian Senior Men’s National Basketball Practice Session – Behind-the-Scene

The Canadian Senior Men’s National Basketball Team began its summer program practice session at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday. They were preparing for a tight packed four weeks of practices and games against top teams in Europe.  First off, Team Canada will have three days of practice in Toronto, then they will fly in Venice on Wednesday to begin a tour of friendly exhibition games against teams from Italy, Spain, Turkey, Slovenia, Georgia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Ukraine and Angola before returning to Toronto on August 13. Although the young exciting NBA players such as Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson weren’t available at the practice session, other guys such as Andrew Nicholson, Kevin Olynyk, Corey Joseph, and among others  attended the practice session. GM of Team Canada Steve Nash, Team Canada Coach Jay Triano and Corey Joseph addressed to the media about their goals and objectives with the practice sessions and the this Euro tour.

Here are some of the actions taken at the practice session at the Air Canada Centre, Raptors Practice Court, courtesy by photographer, Marcena Lau.

DSC_0322 DSC_0331 DSC_0348 DSC_0398 UntitledDSC_0413

Raptors Set Franchise Record With Most Home Wins in a Season

Yesterday, I was grateful to witness history as the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 110-100 to have a franchise record of 48 wins and counting (since Raptors have one more game to go against the Knicks in New York on Wednesday).

Nobody would expect this Toronto squad to do so well beginning of the season and what a turn-around after the Rudy Gay block buster trade. Life is good as a Raptorfan right now. We are in the playoffs baby!

Last night, we also got to see the newly minted 2013-2014 Atlantic Division Banner hanging high above at the Air Canada Centre, joining our 1995 inaugural banner and the 2006-2007 Atlantic Division Banner. It’s about time we got another item to our currently bare Raptors collection.

I was very fortunate that one of sponsors gave me last minute tickets to be sitting in those awesome seats. We were sitting 2 rows near the centre court, just behind the media and in-game announcer section. We felt like we were in the action. The speed of the game was quicker, the size of the NBA players were bigger. It was an awesome view and unbelievable experience. My best seats were still the courtside seats a few years back when I saw Tim Duncan inbounding the ball right in front of us, but these seats were awesome as it was a memorable night to be remembered! I cherished every moment!

Go Raptors Go! See you in the playoffs!

See below for some action shots that I took at our seats at the game last night!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Drake Night: Raptors vs Nets

 

First time in Raptors history that a Raptors game is featuring and hosting a rapper. And this special person is our local homeboy, Drake! That’s quite historic for a #DrakeNight.

Drake was sitting courtside with his buddies. OVO tee featuring black and gold theme showcasing a sneak preview on future Raptors merchandize. The tee is nicely designed, showcasing the Raptors and OVO logos. It’s long-sleeved, which is quite a good comfort design.

Drake did the hilarious Raptors player intro, along with giving away his “416” Raptors jerseys to the crowd. At half-time, his exclusive DJ, “Future the Prince” did a set and Drake was beside him giving two pairs of limited edition, OVO Jordans to 2 lucky winners!

The Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 96-80, snapping the Nets 5-game winning streak.

Overall, I think it’s a very success night, a victory, a nice OVO tee and great appearance by Drake! Everyone went home happy!

I would love to see a #DrakeNight event once every Raptors season!

Go Raptors Go!

Check out Drake Raptors Player Intro taped by me at the game below!

ImageImage

Image

Image

Image

Drake Raptors Player’s Intro on Drake Night:

Drake a great fit for the Toronto Raptors

Throughout this past weekend, rumours were everywhere as people were talking about the potential partnership of Canadian Rapper sensation, Drake, partnering with the one and only Canadian NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. The details of their partnership are still being discussed and tight-lipped but I think it’s a great direction the Raptors are going.

Ever since, the new president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & EntertainmentTim Leiweke arrived in Toronto, the culture of the sports franchise has changed in the positive direction. He hired new GM, Masai Ujiri, secured the 2016 NBA all-star game (first ever hosted in Canada) and now the rumoured partnership with Canadian rapper, Drake. Things are looking bright for the franchise. Although, one rapper can’t steer the ship, at the end of the day, the end product of the team has to do better on the court to get the hungy-thirsty fans back in seats. But it’s going to happen with the emergence of DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and fan favourite Amir Johnson and other great additions this summer on the bench.

Here are some points that I think will benefit the Raptorsfans, the MLSE & Drake:

1) Drake is a global music icon, so for those people who still doesn’t know the existence of the Toronto Raptors will get to know the nba team alot more.

2) Drake will launch his clothing line that will have inspiration from the his favourite nba team

3) Drake presence by just sitting at the courtside seats will bring more star power at the ACC

4) Drake will hype up the Raptors team with guys such as DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Rudy Gay all big fan of Drizzy.

5) More giveaways prizes to the home town crowd. Could I see his latest album “Nothing was the same” on opening night? The usual intro music of a Drake track would be nice! How about a Drake half-time show on opening night? That may not be too far fetched.

6) If Jay-Z is the american version of the musician-nba partnership, then Drake would be the musician-Canadian partnership!

As one of Drake latest hit single sums it up “Just hold on, I am coming home!”. Well, Drake is coming home alright, and instyle as well!

See this photo below, Drake posing the Raptor Mascot, get used to this image because you will see him alot more often at the Raptors game in the future!

Image

Drake posing with the mascot in the NBA, “The Raptor”

Raptors Rudy Gay Bike Ride – #RideWithRG

It’s been a big weekend for Rudy Gay, who was named as an ambassador for the Kids, Cops & Computers program on Friday as he donated 22 laptops for the well-deserved selected group of kids. Then on Saturday, Rudy followed it up with a fun event for his fans on a perfect Saturday in Toronto. Rudy would most possibly be one of the first Toronto athletes to host a bike ride that interacts with fans by riding the bike together along the path of Lake Shore & Ontario Place.

Image

Gay invited his followers on social media a few days ago for a bike ride along Toronto’s Waterfront and brought special guests such as DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy, Dwight Buycks and Chris Wright, who all came out and support Rudy. Hundreds of Raptorsfans came out to enjoy this special rare opportunities. Being able to ride a bike and interact with Raptors players don’t come often all the time.

Here are some of the photos captured by me and you can get a glimpse of how fun this bike event was organized by Rudy Gay. “Follow” me on twitter @MoVernie or “Follow” me on “MoVernie on the BLOG”.

Image

Raptors Chris Wright, Quincy Acy & Amir Johnson

Image

Raptors Dwight Buycks & Aaron Gray sharing a laugh

Image

Raptors truck delivered the bikes and helmets for the Raptors players, donated by the Canadian Tire

Image

The bikes are all setup and ready for the Raptors players