Saturday, December 27, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE MAGIC CASTLE





Magic Mike, Winnie, Desmond and Forgetful wish you all a Happy New Year from the castle!
Visit the official castle site: http://magicmikescastle.weebly.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greetings From Desmond And Forgetful

Merry Christmas from Desmond and Forgetful, inhabitants of Magic Mike's Castle...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Recent Magic Show At Place Maillardville Community Centre

From Friday-night's "Parents' Night Off [Kids' Night Out]" magic show at Place Maillardville Community Centre! Thank-you amazing kids, staff, and volunteers!









Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winnie's Joke of the Week

Enjoy Winnie The Bat's Joke Of The Week on Season 4 of "Magic Mike's Castle" starting in 2015! Tweet your joke directly to Winnie's Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/WinniesJokehttps://twitter.com/WinniesJoke and maybe we'll choose your joke for Winnie to share on the web-series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIUP6if_Et8jvMwxzKB_w_o6wA4R1lsP2, and on Winnie's page:  http://magicmikescastle.weebly.com/winnies-joke-of-the-week, and of course, right here!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

A History Of The Magic Mike Likey Wands



Watch the companion-video to this story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOQJzFMPXT4&list=UUSZjpb5N_D1IjAsd46YResQ


From Plastic To Wood And Back To Plastic Again

There was never just one first wand, there were several!

 I purchased my first magic wands from "The Browser's Den of Magic", when Len Cooper was still the owner, and they were situated in the Yorkville-area of Toronto, Canada, back in the summer of 1981. I had just turned twenty-five, and I was preparing to marry a girl from Winnipeg, Canada, and also relocate there. I was four years into my graphic design career in Montreal and Toronto, and I was succeeding as a published, professional cartoonist. Because I desired more full time graphic design experience, (and because I was offered a regular position at a Winnipeg weekly newspaper as their layout artist) I felt that after two years full time experience in Winnipeg, we would then return to Toronto. The return to Toronto was not to be, but the ensuing thirteen years in Winnipeg as a successful magician, cartoonist, and graphic designer was certainly unexpected but appreciated.

What an amazing summer in Toronto that was: I was earning hundreds of dollars a day drawing caricatures for patrons to "Ontario Place", a tourist destination on Lake Ontario, again, in Toronto. I was also feeding my magic obsession, performing, practicing and purchasing as many magic tricks as I could as I had no idea if there was a magic shop in Winnipeg; as it turned out, there wasn't; there was a small counter in the corner of a large independently-owned toy store selling some magic. Furthermore, when I informed a long-time friend of my future bride that I was a part-time magician, he told me to "forget about it, we already have a magician here." Naturally, I took that as a challenge, after all, Montreal and Toronto had dozens of part-time, full-time (professional) and hobbyist (amateur) magicians; surely I could add something to Winnipeg! As well, when I first moved there, there were only three yellow-pages listings for magicians, and by the time I left, there were approximately twelve or thirteen! I was told at the magicians' farewell party held for me there in 1994, that of all my magic-related contributions to that city, including increasing the numbers of magicians was one of them. Hosting and producing the longest-running magic-themed television show was one of the other ones. I'm particularly proud of the fact that I was responsible for their major magic-club's induction of their first female magician, my friend Colleen, as well.

But I digress.
 
The First Ones
 
The first wands I ever purchased included a standard black plastic one with white tips, and a plastic "gag" black and white one which when held by anyone else but myself went flaccid. I purchased that summer, as well, two "coin wands", as they are known in the business. One was a narrow metal one, covered with red glitter-tape, with a built-in rubber-band attached to a copper British coin. When the elastic and coin were secretly pulled down the length of the wand, with the coin held in place at the other end by my palm, it looked only as if I was holding that wand in my hand. with a slight release of pressure by that hand, the coin would jump up, and suddenly appear (as if by magic!) at the other end/tip of the wand. It actually looked good, but after some practice, the band broke, which I never replaced, nor did I end up using that wand for that purpose in my shows. It did however match the red motif of my close-up magic show, what with the red crushed velour close-up mat which was attached via Velcro to the makeshift close-up case. (a cutlery box I painted gloss black with white stars!) I did use the wand in all of my shows in Winnipeg from 1981 to approximately 1992 to misdirect audiences away from any sleight-of-hand I was doing in my shows.
The other wand was a longer, broader plastic-wand mainly black with white tips; this wand housed a secret plunger feature, which would secretly deliver into my hand, one-at-a-time, folding 50-cent pieces. It gave the illusion that I was producing coins out of thin air! I love that wand, and still have it, along with the red one.
 
The Camirand Wand
In Winnipeg from 1989 to 1993, I was also running a successful mail-order magicians supplies business, "Merry Minstrel Majick". One of my suppliers by 1992 was a magnificent business from Montreal called "Camirand Academy of Magic", named for it's founder, Guy Camirand. Their raison d'etre initially was to produce and teach splendid, elegant, and original magic material; their initial instructor/creator of new magic was Gary Ouelette, who went on to produce many magic specials for television, and he also became one of David Copperfield's principle designers/inventors! One of their products was the "Camirand Wand", which I still own to this day. It's solid-wood with silver tips and perfect balance makes it still one of the more superior wands of it's kind in the world. I used to always use it with my brass cups and balls (from Spain's "El Duco") and miniature baseballs from the late inventor Mike Rogers. I used a standard routine from the late Dai Vernon. again I digress.
I used the Camirand Wand for years, even after relocating to Vancouver, Canada in 1994.
A few years after that, I remembered magic-legend Harry Blackstone Sr.'s gorgeous redwood wand with brass tips, with his name engraved on it, reposing under glass, which I had seen in a magic museum located in the basement of "Twin Cities Magic" in Minneapolis, MN. circa 1991. I never forgot the history and energy resonating from it, and to this day I still associate classy, classic magicians with this style of wand.
By 2002, a local Vancouver magic-illusion builder and friend, Reg Donnelly, (by far, responsible for the highest-quality "Multiplying Bottles" magic illusion in magic history, by-the-way) was creating magnificent redwood-and-brass wands! I knew I had to own a "Donnelly Wand", and I still do!
 
 
 
The Donnelly Wand
I asked Reg to engrave on one tip in fancy script "Magic", and on the other tip, also in script-type, "Mike", thus insuring and carrying on some sort of "Magic Mike Likey heritage" once I'm gone. This, like the Blackstone wand, would be my official (generic) magician's wand.
But what of the "period", Celtic/medieval/"witchy" Magic Mike Likey of "Magic Mike's Castle" (TV-show) fame? What of his wand?
 
 
 
The Magic Mike's Castle Wand
In Winnipeg, circa 1990-1992, during my "Castle" (Celtic/"witchy") phase, I made my own wooden wand from a tree-branch.
Approximately three-quarters-of-an-inch in diameter, and ten-inches long, this sanded-smooth-and clear-lacquered wand also had a small crystal which I attached to one end, and some Viking Runes cut into the body of the wand, to give it a mystical "feel". Original in look and design, I always felt comfortable with this wand, counting on it's originality to match the originality of my medieval costume. Unfortunately, somewhere between Winnipeg and Vancouver, it "magically disappeared"! This is why I used the Camirand Wand for many years in all of my shows, "witchy" and otherwise. This is why I used the Donnelly Wand for other shows.
 
Today
Since 2013, I've been using an "updated" version of the "witchy" wand: a twenty-inch long branch, sanded, finished, and painted dark brown by myself, with a crystal at one end attached with glue and gold tape. The effect of this three-quarter-inch-thick beauty is that of "mystical majesty"; the end of which I hold even seems to have a natural, ergonomic shape which cups my hand as I hold it! This is the true, "re-born" and updated Magic Mike Likey of today, having come full-circle, so-to-speak!
In 2014, a plastic, tan-coloured (to simulate wood) "Wizard's Wand" from China came to my attention through "Magie Parfait/Perfect Magic" in Montreal. This twelve-inch long wand is one-inch-wide at it's base, and tapers to one-quarter inch at the other end. Here's the thing: it has a small button, which when pressed, causes a small blue light at the tip to flash, while a "twinkling" sound is emitted. What a great kids-show wand! I've included it in every single birthday-party/children's/family show that I've performed at! Perfect! To hear the audience go "ahhh" while I use the wand is worth way more than the original twenty-dollar price of the wand!
I've also integrated into my children's shows a short, (four inched) clear-coloured plastic, Chinese-made wand purchased at a Dollar Store, which pulsates various patterns of multi-coloured lights from inside of it, enhanced via the semi-transparent coloured plastic. It is the perfect wand for when I ask the audience to "throw their colors" at a black-and-white sad clown on a handkerchief, magically changing him to a happy, multi-coloured clown!
 
 
 
 

The Real Magic
I love magic. Of course, the "real magic" is not in the wands, but in the smiles, laughs, joy, and wonderment I see and hear from my audiences. What a privilege it is to perform, and work my own magic!
 
 
Visit the official castle website: http://magicmikescastle.weebly.com

 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Now Available! Retro Version, Magic Mike Likey 25th Anniversary Double-CD

By now, you all know about the 25th anniversary COLLECTOR'S EDITION of "Magic Mike", the self-titled debut album featuring the TV-themes from "Magic Mike's Castle" and "Magic Mike & Company".
This double-CD of the original album, features previously unreleased material, ( "Just Say No", straight from the original TV-show!) the original mono tracks, digitally-enhanced versions of the original tracks, plus bonus live performances of the songs, including Mike's version of "Puff The Magic Dragon" with Desmond the Dragon and Forgetful Lion backing him up!
ALSO: TWO BONUS TRACKS BY UNCLE DAN DEURBROUCK:
"Little Queen" and "Believe in Yourself" were on the original 1990 release but were rarely heard from again!
BOTH RARE SONGS are now available exclusively here, for your listening enjoyment.
Includes a print of the original cassette-cover, this Magic Mike Likey re-release is a MUST HAVE for any collector!
Only
$12.00
(plus postage and handling)


BUT DID YOU ALSO KNOW THAT THIS "MUST-HAVE" COLLECTOR'S EDITION IS
AVAILABLE WITH A RETRO CARDBOARD-SLEEVE, (INSTEAD OF STANDARD LUCITE-CASE) SIMULATED VINYL CD'S, PLUS FULL-COLOR ORIGINAL-COVER INSERT!
PLEASE SPECIFY WHEN ORDERING, "LUCITE" OR "CARDBOARD SLEEVE"
HERE


Monday, December 15, 2014

Magic Mike's 25th Anniversary Double-CD Collector's Edition

 
 
Listen to samples below, and order the double-CD collector's edition here:
  
 
The Story Behind The Album

How Time Flies
It's hard to believe that 25 years has passed since I commercially released my first audio-cassette of music. I recorded it the year before (1989) at my friend's home-studio: Dave Goodyear's label was called "Shoestring Productions", and was located in Winnipeg's "granola-belt" area, near where we frequented a deli called "Cousin's". Back then, "Cousin's" was owned by "Uncle" Stu Lavitt, and his lovely wife, Ruth. Down the street was my favorite Winnipeg blues bar and pizzeria, "Bella Vista", owned by Armin. I used to listen to live blues music almost every night there, and a friend, Ben Sures, was performing and selling his cassette of original blues tunes at the time. Musical genius Eli Herscovitch would drop in and jam with Ben, along with bands like "Innariddum", and others too numerous for me to remember. As a Montrealer, I believe that Montreal and Winnipeg are still cultural, musical, and artistic hubs in Canada. Everyone who was anyone there owned one of Ben's cassettes; yes, there were no CD's back then only cassette-tapes! This is what gave me the inspiration to record and distribute my own cassettes of original tunes, since I was somewhat of a television minor celebrity back then.

Everything Comes Together

I laid down the initial tracks at Dave's, and then added sound effects ("The People On The Bus") and other instruments (flute, synth) later, for the two other songs that would eventually become the theme-songs for two of my TV-shows! Folk Festival and Childrens' Festival performer "Uncle Dan" Deurbrouck contributed two original songs to the album ("Little Queen" and "Believe In Yourself") and also played the flute on "You Can Do Anything You Want". Because of the extreme "staccato"-nature of the flute on "Come Along With Me", we decided it was easier to use my synth instead of Dan's flute...to this day, many believe that it's a flute playing on that song! I was already singing "The People On The Bus" and "If You're Happy And You Know It" at my live shows, (approximately 200 a year) so it was natural to include those two songs with no multi-tracking or over-dubbing...simplicity itself! The same applied to a last-minute inclusion, "Brownie The Bear", an original song written by the puppeteer on my TV-show, Darrell Scarrett; he also authored "The Gift" and co-wrote with me "Come Along With Me".

The Debut

The master tape and cover all finished, it was time to copy (dub) dozens of copies for local distribution. Local musician and manager Ron Paley supplied me with blank cassettes for the task. (his son, known today as magician/hypnotist "Tyzen Paley" guested regularly on my television program at the time) I decided to re-write my children's book "Shiner & Moondogg", (giving it a Celtic-theme and illustrations) and included it with the tape, shrink-wrapped together as a package, after all, I appealed to kids and adults, and I wanted to (like with my TV-show) showcase all of my so-called talents and gifts. The first store to carry my new cassettes in 1990 was my friend "Red" Fergusen's stationary store in my old neighbourhood of River Heights, at Grant and Keniston in Winnipeg. What a thrill it was to see them displayed in his store! What an even greater thrill to have them sell out in a month!



25th Anniversary
2015 is the 25th anniversary of the release of my self-titled cassette, and although there have been a few more, plus numerous CD's, (see my catalogue of current albums here: http://magicmikelikey.weebly.com/music-catalogue.html) the first one holds a special place in my heart, being my first and all! Like the ad-copy says, "This is the 25th anniversary COLLECTOR'S EDITION of "Magic Mike", the self-titled debut album featuring the TV-themes from "Magic Mike's Castle" and "Magic Mike & Company".
This double-CD of the original album, features previously unreleased material, ( "Just Say No", straight from the original TV-show!) the original mono tracks, digitally-enhanced versions of the original tracks, plus bonus live performances of the songs, including Mike's version of "Puff The Magic Dragon" with Desmond the Dragon and Forgetful Lion backing him up!
ALSO: TWO BONUS TRACKS BY UNCLE DAN DEURBROUCK:
"Little Queen" and "Believe in Yourself" were on the original 1990 release but were rarely heard from again!
BOTH RARE SONGS are now available exclusively here, for your listening enjoyment.
Includes a print of the original cassette-cover, this Magic Mike Likey re-release is a MUST HAVE for any collector!" You can purchase it here: http://magicmikelikey.weebly.com/magic-mike-25th-anniversary-double-cd.html
You can listen to a few samples here: http://www.spreaker.com/show/magic-mike-likey-25th-anniversary-cds I've performed all of these songs at one time or another on my TV-show, live concerts, even reunion show, and now they're all here together in one place, after all these years.



I'm truly proud to share this with you.
Visit the official castle website: http://magicmikescastle.weebly.com


Sunday, December 14, 2014

A History Of Magic Mike Likey's Carpet Bags

The Beginning

Bev Bergeron is a world-famous Orlando, Florida, Disney World magician. He is known as an inventor of tricks, and successful entertainer. For these reasons I was exited to watch his show in 1989 at the "Red River Exhibition" in Winnipeg, an agricultural fair, whose equivalents include Toronto's "Canadian National Exhibition", and Vancouver's "Pacific National Exhibition". What struck me immediately, was that Bergeron walked out on stage with an oversized carpet-bag, also known as a "Mary Poppins Bag". He worked his complete act out of this large, attractive, tapestry bag, wearing a sort of "huckster/pin-stripe suit" . I've always had a fascination with carpet-bags, perhaps because they look so old and magical; how many times have we seen on television and movies magicians, witches, and other interesting characters carrying one, pulling from it potions and other magical artefacts? There is a sort of mystique about carpetbags, and I made up my mind right then and there that I would acquire one for my period-themed magic shows; up until that point, I'd been shlepping around a cumbersome trunk on wheels; how convenient and magical-looking would a carpet-bag look in my shows, what with colourful props and silk handkerchiefs coming out from it? I was once again obsessed.

 
My First Carpet-Bag
 
As luck (or fate?) would have it, modern carpet-bags, and carpet-bag luggage was all the rage in 1989! All I had to do was walk through any luggage department of almost any department store, and strike gold! "The Bay" in Winnipeg was my first stop, and 'lo and behold, there it was: the bag that would house, transport, and be instrumental in the look and execution of my live magic-shows! It was beautiful: a brown, paisley tapestry material, with brown leather handles! It even matched my medieval costume, with it's white and brown suede "feel".
This bag went through hundreds and hundreds of shows, and one of the handles was beginning to wear; I decided it was time to go back to The Bay and buy a spare one. This was easier said than done, as this style of luggage was beginning to wane in popularity; I had no choice but to buy a grey-paisley tapestry bag, but this one had longer handles, (a more feminine/hand-bag-look to it) but I didn't care, this would be the next bag once the current one wore out and would be retired to that great magic museum in the sky. The wonderful thing about this bag was that it housed all of my children's show props with ease; it even had a couple of interior pockets for carrying spare balloons and smaller props! Furthermore,  I made my show even more self-contained by carrying a folding side-table (known in the trade as a "Harbin" table) in the bag as well! The bag and my Cittern in it's case completed my set up, both of which I'd throw into my hatchback and drive to a half-dozen shows in a day, back in the day. I must admit I started to get a bit carried away with the "self-contained" theme (ie- not needing any additional tables or chairs once I arrived at a show, by screwing folding TV-dinner tray legs to the bottom of my guitar case, so that the case would rest on its own legs so-to-speak, while my carpet-bag rested on it's own tripod-stand, which was screwed/attached to a flange at the bottom of the bag; the whole idea of spontaneity (ie-the bag sitting on a chair) seemed lost, so when I switched to the newer grey bag, I dropped the use of a tripod-stand for it to sit on.
I debuted the set-up during the week of Halloween 1989 at a mall show in Winnipeg; it was also the first time  I sang an original warm-up song, "You Can Do Anything You Want", which later became one of the theme-songs of one of my TV-shows, "Magic Mike & Company". Depending on the size of the venue, I alternated using my carpet-bag with my trunk for housing and transporting my props in Winnipeg from 1989 to 1994, then into Vancouver shows from 1994 to 2004. I loved hearing the kids commenting that I "had a Mary Poppins bag", especially when I pulled an umbrella out of the bag to do a particular illusion...what a perfect tie-in! The illusion, by-the-way, is Abbott's "Mutilated Parasol".
 
I'd like to share at this point, a brief history of carpet bags in general.
 
 
A Brief History of Carpet Bags
 
A carpet bag is a traveling bag made of carpet, commonly from an oriental rug, ranging in size from a small purse to a large duffel bag.
 
The "carpet bag" was not invented as a pocketbook or handbag for women. Rather, it was the day's version of our modern "suitcase" that operated as a reliable traveling companion and carrier of a person's possessions.
Such bags were popular in the United States and Europe during the 19th century. They are still made to this day, but now typically as women's decorative small luggage and purses, although typically no longer out of old carpets. Carpet was the chosen material because, during the time, carpet in homes was a popular accent piece and the "remainder" pieces were easily bought to use for the construction of carpet bags. In a sense, the carpetbag was a sustainable invention because it used remnants of materials which otherwise would have gone unused.
The carpetbaggers of the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War were given their name from this type of luggage which they carried from the Scientific American Supplement, No. 561, October 2, 1886 "The old-fashioned carpet bag" is still unsurpassed by any, where rough wear is the principal thing to be studied. Such a bag, if constructed of good Brussels carpeting and unquestionable workmanship, will last a lifetime, provided always that a substantial frame is used.
Carpet bags sometimes also served as a "railway rug", a common item in the 19th century for warmth in drafty, unheated rail-cars. The rug could either be opened as a blanket, or latched up on the sides as a traveling bag. From Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the CĂ©vennes (1879): "... my railway-rug, which, being also in the form of a bag, made me a double castle for cold nights." [2]
One of the most popular carpet bag brands of the mid 1960s (known as "the California Carpetbagger" is Jerry Terrence Original Carpet Bag, aka: JT Carpet Bag.The company encouraged the use of brand new carpet material.
 
The Leather Doctor's Bag (Gladstone Bag)
After my hiatus from magic to earn a masters degree, then three doctorates in metaphysics, (I am Rev. Dr. Michael Likey, by-the-way...a clinical hypnotherapist, and Doctor of Theocentric Psychology among other things), I caught the "magic bug" again almost two year ago! To become obsessed with leather doctor's bags as an extension of my love for carpet-bags wasn't much of a stretch, thus, I own several standard black-leather doctor's bags, a beautiful brown leather one, and a vintage, (1920's, in almost perfect condition!) oversized leather doctor's bag imported from England, purchased through E-Bay. My intension was to replace the feminine-looking grey-paisley, long-handled tapestry bag with a larger, more masculine-looking, brown-leather doctor's bag, which suits me more nowadays. You'll almost always, when attending one of my live magic concerts these days, see me with either the large doctor's bag, or my steamer/upright trunk on wheels, and my Cittern or Dulcimer case, unless it's a non-period show, in which case, I'll have either my Ovation or Epiphone guitar, and props in the trunk or the bag. I should mention a brief history at this point of the Gladstone bag.
 
History of the Gladstone Bag

 
A Gladstone bag is a small portmanteau suitcase built over a rigid frame which could separate into two equal sections. Unlike a suitcase, a Gladstone bag is deeper in proportion to its length. They are typically made of stiff leather and often belted with lanyards. The bags are named after William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), the four-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Hinged luggage was first developed in the late 19th century. The first Gladstone bag was designed and manufactured by J G Beard at his leather shop in the City of Westminster.Beard was an avid admirer of Gladstone, and named it to memorialise his name.
Though the Gladstone bag developed into the typical flat-sided suitcase of today, modern leather versions are marketed which in fact are not Gladstone bags. Often these modern bags are made with soft, rounded sides, only opening at the top. This incorrectly named Gladstone bag is actually a kit bag, or a square-mouthed bag. The Gladstone bag has been mentioned numerous times in literature by Arthur Conan Doyle, J.D. Salinger, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, and many more.

 



There you have it! I guess you can say that magic is truly my "bag".

 

 


Friday, December 12, 2014

A History Of Magic Mike Likey's Guitars

From Aria To Dulcimer

A beautiful 6-string acoustic "Aria" guitar was my first guitar, purchased at "Steve's Music" in Montreal by my dad ( a professional Montreal show-drummer) for one of my birthdays. If they even make that particular model today, the closest is the Aria, Prodigy Series, AFN-15. It was a special experience, as a teen, to go with my dad to his favourite music store, and the great care he took in making sure they included a strap, pitch-pipes, and books of instruction. I learned many Cat Stevens songs on it, as well as my own original tunes. In those days, I also played Supertramp, Jim Croce, Meat Loaf, and many more. One day I went to the closet to play it, and to my horror, the entire bridge had lifted up, cracking (permanently) the fine wood finish and top of this guitar, which was ultimately ruined; I was heart-broken! I moved to Winnipeg from Toronto in 1981, bringing my nylon-string classical guitar with me; I forget who made it...my dad bought it for me from "Pascal", a Montreal hardware store when I was in my late teens! I was a big Cat Stevens fan, and his style had been a major influence in my burgeoning music career both onstage as well as in my song-writing style. I was obsessed with Cat's "Ovation" acoustic guitars, which I had seen him play in one of his Montreal concert tours. One day I walked into a music shop in a Winnipeg Mall, and 'lo and behold, there hung a very affordable (and previously owned) "Ovation"! Feverishly I snapped down my credit card to purchase one of the greatest loves and investments in my professional career: I still own and occasionally play this 6-string wonder, which along with my "Yamaha" keyboards were..."instrumental" in my song-writing career!



The Ovation

I played my Ovation guitar for every one of my live concert and television appearances in Winnipeg  and environs where I wasn't dressed up in my period costume from 1981 to 1994, for a total of well over 2,000 shows. I continued this tradition in my Vancouver appearances, (from 1994 until the present) alternating with my blond 6-string acoustic "Epiphone" as well, again, without my period garb. For the shows where I was in full period garb, I played my 12-string Cittern.

 
The Fisher Cittern
Larry Fisher is a gifted folk musician and instrument builder that I was fortunate to perform with in Winnipeg at hundreds of medieval feasts. Larry exclusively builds custom harps nowadays, (including one that Loreena McKinnet used in a tour) though in my time in Winnipeg he built a wide assortment of instruments. I loved the 7-string flat-back lute-like instrument that he constantly used in his shows; it looked so "folky", "celticy" and "period"...perfect for my medieval-themed TV-show and live appearances! Since I only played 6 and 12-stringed guitars, in 1989 I asked Larry if he would build me a 12-string "Cittern", (which is the proper word for that lute-like wonder) or "English Guitar". Larry agreed. I was over the moon with excitement and anticipation; I knew that this treasured instrument would be with me always and everywhere "period" Magic Mike Likey would appear. The year before (1988) I had built a 6-string flat-backed lute from a kit I purchased from "Lark In The Morning", but I felt that the finished product wasn't professional enough for me, hence I asked Larry about a Cittern. Darrell Scarrett, the voice-talent on my television show, suggested that we bring a mobile camera-crew out to video-record the making of the instrument at Larry's home workshop; both Larry and VPW agreed. It made for an educational and entertaining insert on my television show. By the time the instrument was finished, the public would have been exposed to, and expecting to see, this instrument in my live shows. It still to this days elicits "oooh's" when I lift it out of it's case.
 
 


The Epiphone
Another guitar besides the Ovation that I love which Cat Stevens (a.k.a. "Yusuf") plays, is a beautiful blond "Gibson" 6-string guitar. I was excited when my wife bought me for my birthday it's nearest relative, a 6-string acoustic "Epiphone", manufactured by Gibson. I love the look and deep sound of this guitar, since previously I was used to the sounds of the cittern and the Ovation, one shallower sounding, the other more "tinny". In non-period concerts, I alternate playing the Epiphone with my Ovation. I've had the Epiphone since 2012.
 
 
 



The Dulcimer
Around 2009, I saw two videos: one of Joni Mitchell and the other of Cyndi Lauper each playing their songs using a folk-instrument known as a Dulcimer. Although this instrument has 3, sometimes 4 strings, a full-range of notes and chords can be produced from it. This elongated, narrow-violin-shaped beauty has a Celtic/Maritimes sound/feel to it, and is traditionally played while you're seated with it sitting on your lap; for my concerts, I wear it like a guitar using a guitar-strap. This makes fingering the notes more difficult, but well worth it. It is also traditionally strummed using a pick (plectrum), while holding down the notes using a popsicle-stick-like flat piece of wood. I prefer using a pick, and using my fingers for the notes. I purchased this instrument online, along with a separate case for it, since local music-shops (at least in Vancouver) didn't even know what a Dulcimer is, let alone carrying a case for it! Sometimes I really miss Montreal or Toronto; I'm positive the Winnipeg Folk Festival store would also carry one. However, I digress. After receiving the instrument in the mail, I was anxious to learn how to play it, and as I did with guitar and electric keyboard, I taught myself. Note: my father sat me down at age three at his drum-kit, showing me the proper way to hold drumsticks, and even doing "rolls". He then had me play on the snare, tom-tom and cymbals; what a thrill that was! Regardless, in a short time I became relatively proficient with the Dulcimer, but I've only started playing it very recently in my live shows. Every time I remove it from it's case, it's exotic look elicits an "oooh" (as does the Cittern) from the audience. So far, I've only used it to play my still-trending song "The Bat", but I intend to play more songs with it in the future.
 
 
 


I intend to alternate between the Cittern and the Dulcimer for my period-shows, and the Ovation with the Epiphone for non-period concerts. After all, isn't variety "instrumental" for enjoying life?


HISTORY OF THE MAGIC MIKE LIKEY WANDS



From plastic, to wood, and back to plastic again! Yes, this is A History Of Magic Mike Likey's Wands...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday (12/11/2014)

#TBT #ThrowbackThursday #MagicMikeLikey #FamilyDay #NewWestminster Circa late 1990's
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

History of Magic Mike Likey's Costumes

From Tuxedos To Knee-Highs And Hoods

If you've been following my television show and live concerts since the mid-eighties, or my current web-series and live appearances, you'll notice a very similar look, or style, in my knee-high boots, shirts and vests (or waistcoats) with small variations very consciously planned as "Easter Eggs", for we nerds and trivia buffs out there! Who really cares? The answer, friends, fans, and nostalgia aficionados, is surprisingly more than we could imagine!

The Look Comes Together

From 1981-1987, sporting an afro and aviator glasses, I was performing in traditional, formal-wear magicians' garb, ie)-tuxedo with/without tails, tuxedo-shirt and tie, (either red or black tie with matching cummerbund) silver-tinsel waistcoat with tuxedo-pants, tuxedo-shirt and tie, or even tuxedo-pants, tuxedo-shirt and tie with gold-tinsel tuxedo-jacket!


I was completely ignoring the trend towards the more colorful "hippie-garb" popularized by magician Doug Henning, or the more relaxed (yet semi-formal) '80's-style of David Copperfield.
I had to be me, and if I couldn't me myself, then I'd at least be the more broadly accepted, clichĂ©-magician in formal-wear. I even added silver-trim around the collar of my black tux and swapped out black buttons for silver buttons, after seeing many magicians with that style performing at "Magie Montreal", a major magic convention. It was all a "good-enough" fit for me, but it was still not entirely "me". I tried wearing Kaftans, (I was deep into Eastern spirituality and meditation) sometimes even a silk red Chinese shirt, not quite me, but getting there.
 

 This is why, when doing magic-teaching seminars, I emphasize "finding your on-stage character/persona"; once you do that, everything else will come together: your dress, style/theme and music of your show, (if you use recorded music) even style and choice of props. You'll still maintain commercial-value without sacrificing art, and it will all become more original-looking than the next guy; agents will seek you out more; you may even have to alter your existing props (or even have custom-made ones) to suit your style, but you'll feel more comfortable, even more powerful on stage, but I digress.

Kiddie Cabaret

My original television show, "Kiddie Cabaret" (circa 1985-1988) featuring myself as a circus "ring leader" surrounded by clowns (literally) and puppets, and featuring blackout-skits a la "Laugh-In" was coming to an end; I was growing into another person, and as such, my first marriage was wrapping up too.

 
 
By 1988, my obsession with a combination of a little television-show from England, "Robin of Sherwood", and the Irish musical group "Clannad", (who also did the mystical-sounding soundtrack for the "Robin Hood" series, as it was called in North America) combined with the airing of a Simon and Garfunkel special on PBS, was (pardon the pun) instrumental in my transformation to the real me!
During the PBS special, Art Garfunkel was wearing a vest, unbuttoned, over his poet-shirt. (a poet-shirt looks Shakespearean, with puffy-sleeves, like in the "Seinfeld" pirate/puffy-shirt episode, but more understated; you know the style!) I still love that "Minstrel" style! Around that same time,  I was enjoying the mystical interpretation of the Robin Hood tale which was airing on TV, what with Clannad's moody, atmospheric soundtrack; I knew had to buy every single Clannad album available, and I did! You may have heard of Irish songstress "Enya"? She used to sing with her family, who called themselves "Clannad" before she went solo.
Again, I digress.

Merlin's Magic Castle

When my first marriage broke up, all of the clowns departed my TV-show, leaving me with Darrell Scarrett (a clown and puppeteer from that show) who decided to stick with me during the transition.
As I was already evolving into some sort of "wizard"/medieval character any way, (my professional name was already "Merlin", later changed to "Michael Merlin", "Magic Mike Merlin", then finally "Magic Mike") I decided that the "show must go on", and one week in July of 1988, "Kiddie Cabaret" went off the air, and the following week "Merlin's Magic Castle" debuted! It was too soon for me to paint the now-famous castle set and props, so we used "Chroma Key", a technique that turns a drawing/sketch/image into a background image; I used a cut-and-paste (old school, I might add) of a children's book castle interior, making it different enough to avoid copyright issues, and voila, the illusion of me sitting in a castle was complete! I was wearing a wizard's costume that I had recently commissioned, replete with shoulder pads! (after all, it was the eighties)


The show had puppet characters that Darrell had brought in from the Kiddie Cabaret series, and a regular guest to the castle included folk musicians, and "Ding-Bat", a screwball clown who talked to toasters and other inanimate objects. In time, "Ding-Bat" flew the coupe, I had painted an actual castle set, and I was evolving into a more medieval, "Robin Hood"-like character.

I decided that this "minstrel" image was "me", after all, I was also playing guitar and singing semi-professionally for many years! I also decided that I would add some live music into my shows which I'd play on my 6-string Ovation guitar! I started writing songs that both kids would like, and adults could relate to; Cat Stevens' "If You Want To Sing Out" (from the movie "Harold and Maude") and the "Reading Rainbow" television theme-song heavily influenced my style; I began singing these songs on my own TV-show, as well as wearing the minstrel-style poet-shirt (custom sewn by a private Winnipeg seamstress) and paisley-vest. By 1989 my "medieval" boots were actually brown cowboy boots; I shortly thereafter found a great pair of brown, suede knee-high boots (on sale at a Winnipeg mall!) which I still occasionally include in my costume, although I've added extra flaps and straps since those days. I started off wearing a moustache and "Geraldo" glasses with the costume, but shaved and began wearing contacts for the first time, thus eliminating any visual "barriers" to my audience they might have created. I also grew my hair out, a bit.

 
 
 
The home-made pouch hanging from my belt was replaced with a more authentic one, as well as a brand-new poet-shirt, both of which I purchased at a Renaissance fair in St. Paul/Minneapolis; in those days, the fair was held every weekend in July and August.
Inspired by the "Robin Hood" 1980's series, I sewed a brown suede hood which I added to the ensemble.
 
 
For some reason (perhaps "inspiration" from David Copperfield) by 1992 I dropped the period-style in favor of wearing the poet-shirt tucked into tuxedo-pants; I began wearing white dress-shirts tucked into either tuxedo-pants or tight black jeans and black biker-boots.
Another reason for dropping the medieval/period-look, was because I felt that a more contemporary style suited my regular weekly appearances on CTV-Winnipeg's "S'Kiddlebits" with Joey Gregorash, whose set was a contemporary attic; I decided to adapt a more contemporary look to my castle and also my garb there: rather than medieval days, the time was my castle "now"...not as much fun, as I eliminated the swords, cauldrons etc., but nonetheless an "evolution" of sorts at the time. I renamed the TV-show "Magic Mike & Company".
By 1994, both my own TV-show (which lasted 9 years total) and Joey's show were cancelled.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I decided that after having grown up for years in a cold, wintery climate (Montreal, then Toronto)  and in the case of Winnipeg, for 6 months of the year for 13 years, that I would seek gainful employment in the more temperate climate of Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada. (notorious for it's 9 months of rain, but milder temperatures)
 

 
In my move to Vancouver, I kept only the shirt, pouch, and boots, which are still in mint condition after 23 years, and I still wear them to this day in my current shows, alternating them with three other shirts/costumes...not a bad investment!
For some of my early Vancouver shows, (1994- 2005) I added a gold paisley vest and formal trousers, sometimes tucking my pants into my knee-high brown boots.
 
 
For those early Vancouver shows, (which included some malls, corporate, as well as kids shows) I also wore everything from a collarless white formal shirt tucked into either formal black pants, or black jeans, to suits and ties, to black tux, white shirt and white bow-tie. On other occasions, bolo-tie with short, black formal jacket combined with a white or black tuxedo shirt.
These variations in dress reflected my lack of personal direction; I know longer felt like the "Magic Mike" of old, so to speak; I was no longer a practicing graphic designer, (except for my own personal projects) nor caricature artist; (though still writing and illustrating my own self-published childrens' books) I had morphed into an alternative wellness practitioner and clinical hypnotherapist; as I earned my bachelors and masters degrees, I became qualified to be a metaphysical minister and author of self-help books. I started to phase out the magic shows in favor of eventually doing spiritual counselling. I forgot to just have fun!
After an eight-year hiatus from magic to earn a bachelors and masters degree, and three doctorates, (2005-2013) I resumed my magic career with a vengeance, resurrecting my magicians' supplies business, this time completely on the web: http://merryminstrelmajick.weebly.com Simultaneously I began to have a clearer picture of myself by the time I authored my third self-help book: I could see my "new-old" onstage persona and costumes again! This also coincided with the brand-new, updated versions of my original TV-show, in the form of a web-series and podcast! Full circle, but even better than before!
  
 
 
My generic costume (except at corporate events) today includes the poet-shirt (I alternate between the original Minneapolis Renaissance Fair one, a "witchy", pointy-sleeved, high-collar "vampire"-style shirt locally made, another one (sort of a combination of the poet's and vampire one) also locally made, as well as the white, collarless formal one, combined with a red-velour waistcoat with gold buttons worn over formal black pants or tight black jeans, with black cowboy boots, or pants tucked into my original brown suede knee-highs, or my newly-acquired black suede, or black leather knee-highs. The overall look and feel being visually consistent from show-to-show. I will sometimes appear at family shows wearing what I call "Magic Mike 1990": poet-shirt over pants with belt and pouch over that, my newly-sewn brown suede hood, and knee-high brown-suede boots. I've added a "dragon's tooth" on a leather string that I wear around my neck. In lieu of the tooth, I wear a replica of "Lily Munster's" oversized bat on a chain pendant. I usually wear either a goth-style ring on my right index finger, or a replica of Dracula's ring, styled from the old movie Dracula. I add a bat-stud earring in my left ear lobe to complete the "bat theme", as I also have written and perform an audience-participation, "trending" song called "The Bat"! As a lifelong fan of magic and old-school spooky horror movies, my "Magic Mike Likey" onstage identity is now whole and complete! 
Ironic that my original "Magic Mike's Castle" persona existed long before other magicians started calling themselves "Magic Mike ____", long before other wizards such as Harry Potter, or even the male stripper, "Magic Mike". I'm sure that as a result of all of this, there are numerous advantageous marketing opportunities that I've not yet explored!
 
Visit the official castle website: http://magicmikescastle.weebly.com