2019 Performers



After 25 years committed to a vision influenced by his culturally diverse world, Dominic sees himself sitting at the table with the 21st century and the global village.  His resume takes in several CDs, as well as several written scores for TV, films and theatre performances, numerous artistic collaborations and a great number of live shows in Canada and abroad.  After actively promoting Comfortably Mine, his JUNO and Canadian Folk Music awarded ‘World Music Album of the Year’, he realized there was an incredible chemistry forming amongst his touring band:  Tony Zorzi (guitars); Paco Luviano (basses); Chendy Leon (percussion); Jerry Caringi (B3 organ & accordion); Johnny Johnson (saxes & woodwinds).  Take them into the studio he did – Sub Urban Gypsy, the JUNO follow-up, was born!  The recording clearly communicates the group’s wandering spirit, musical prowess and pluriculturalism, while nurturing the contemporary idea of a global culture.

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“He wails with the best, crying the blues from the depths of his soul – bringing great measures of duende to the music.”  ~ Raul de Gama, All That Jazz

“Mancuso has made me shed tears from the sheer beauty and emotions of his voice.”  ~ Jeff Coffin, 3x Grammy Award Winner

“His group is a perfect example of the world savvy musical product Canada is producing.” ~ Dr. Elena Lamberti, U of Bologna

Dominic Mancuso Group (DMG) was one of several CONCERT FOR PEACE acts on that Sunday of the 2010 Labour Day weekend… the stage had a mystical magical atmosphere. They performed a remarkable set for an audience that hung onto every musical note and every emotional nuance. What a show!



Norah Dooley is a storyteller, critically acclaimed children’s author and educator who performs in schools, libraries, festivals and conferences and specializes in teaching people of all ages and backgrounds how important their stories are.  For the past 20-odd summers she has told stories to thousands of children through ReadBoston.org and the Boston Story Slam series.  She teaches storytelling at Lesley, Tufts and Suffolk Universities. Internationally, she has lectured teachers of English and graduate students in Tokyo, Japan on the role of storytelling in language acquisition, and in Arsuha Secondary schools in Tanzania as part of the African Storytelling initiative of worlded.org.  Norah is an active union member of SEIU Kicak 509 where she is a steward for her fellow adjuncts at Lesley University.  She works for justice and intends to comfort the afflicted.  She is unafraid to afflict the comfortable, as needed.


Variously described as one of the UK’s most unique and versatile guitarists, Steve Payne is also feted as a talented and unpredictable singer songwriter, multi instrumentalist, wordsmith, and storyteller whose compositions cross the musical boundaries from Blues To Folk to Contemporary Roots.  By 1976 he was touring Europe with Loudon Wainwright III.  The early 80s saw the birth of Paynekillers, a band which evolved into the longstanding regional Rock ‘n Blues favourite, The Parole Brothers. During this time Payne continued to work with other artists, most notably Dr. John and Blues legend B.B.King. In ’86 he moved to LA and played the west coast scene for three years, returning to the UK in ’89 where he teamed up with artists to perform at the Glastonbury Festival. In the late 90s, he focussed on his Acoustic Roots and released a succession of acoustic albums leaving electric behind.  With a long list of festival and club appearances not only in the UK, but regularly in mainland Europe and North America, a musical life’s worth of troubadour globe-trotting has resulted in Steve perfecting his particularly succinct and, at times, very tongue in cheek, live ‘in concert’ experience.

More team-ups:  Robert Cray, Los Lobos, Dave Mason (Traffic), Watermelon Slim (not to mention from the folk world Paul Brady, Loudon Wainwright, Steve Tilston, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Rosie Hardman  etc.) and an Ontario tour with David Knopfler / Dire Straits in 2006.

In 2010, Steve teamed up with Paul Hobday, a Westcountry gun for hire guitar player and producer to form a powerful duo which has been touring extensively in Europe and Ontario, Canada.  Steve’s solo appearance on our Concert For Peace stage this year caps off their recent Canadian tour.



A Chicago story: "I hit the open stage at Buddy guy's club and they wouldn't let me off. One of the guys there plays guitar with Koko Taylor and he kept calling me back up!"

Mike Branton made a name for himself as a young guitar prodigy in the Southern Ontario region evolving into a triple threat: inventive improvisational soloist, original singer and songwriter.  

Branton is a man in love with the blues.  It was his first musical passion and one that has remained in full flight throughout the years.  But the Oakville-based Branton is not just borrowing from the well-trodden classic blues repertoire; he is continually expanding on it by bringing fresh, innovative ideas and creating his own unique musical style.

Part of any musician’s education is backing up other people.  Branton has been featured by, played with, shared the stage, recorded with and just plain jammed with a who’s who of Canadian and American blues musicians including Jeff Healey, Michael Pickett, George “Wildchild” Butler, Chicago Pete, Pat Ramsey, Richard Newell aka “King Biscuit Boy”, David Clayton Thomas, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Lee Oskar, Jordan John, Steve Marriner & Matt Sobb (Monkeyjunk), Amos Garrett, Michael Fonfara (Electric Flag) and long time boss Stu Heydon. This is a man in love with the blues. It was his first musical passion and one that has remained in full bloom over the years.  His trio closes out Concert For Peace every year and absolutely never disappoints!

Photo: Grant Speight

Video:  Nick Harding


MARK POLIMENI (drums) is originally from Toronto where he studied music and theory at the Ontario College of Percussion.  He’s been gigging in various bands since 1981 covering a wide range of musical styles including jazz, rock, country, blues, etc. and is currently playing with artists such as Jeffrey Arthur’s jazz group and the legendary Big John T-Bone Little, performing mostly country and blues. His father was a jazz drummer and although he was raised on jazz, Mark loves many styles of music.

WALT SOPICKI (guitar) started playing guitar at the age of nine and studied with jazz guitarist Frank Gerard in the Buffalo, NY area.  He started playing professionally at the age of 19. After listening to a Pat Martino recording of Coltrane’s ‘Impressions’, he began studying jazz. Walt performs regularly in the Western New York area with various groups including David Kane’s Them Jazzbeards, DKQ, Petit-Bal, and the Walt Sopicki Trio which opened for Steely Dan at the RBL Theatre in Rochester, NY in 2016. He has recorded with Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Jones, Doug Riley (aka Dr. Musik), Vito Rezza, and Jack Prybylski.

ROB MCBRIDE (bass) has been active as a jazz bassist in the Toronto jazz scene for the last 15 years, playing at the city’s top clubs as well as venues in and around the Greater Toronto Area. His interest in jazz started in secondary school at the St. Catharines Collegiate where he played in both the big band and jazz combo. Rob continued his training at the Humber College Jazz Program where he studied with Canadian legend Don Thompson. Rob has played with Pat LaBarbara, Reg Schwager, Don Thompson, The Niagara Symphony, John Sherwood, Sarah Jerrom, Carissa Neufeld, Richard Whiteman, and many others.

We caught this trio at the Crystal Ball Beach Cafe in downtown Crystal Beach the other week when the band provided music for the  opening exhibit of local visual artist Valerie Penemen.  We were impressed with their performance, musicality, choice of material and invited them to open our event.

Mark and the boys have done many gigs together in the Niagara region including the TD Niagara Jazz Festival.