Blank Canvas Magazine – Thank You & Last Post

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

After 7 years of publishing in print and online, Blank Canvas Magazine added it’s last post in February of 2012.

Please check our ARCHIVES link on this page for past stories and the ABOUT page for past Print Issues.

Thanks to all who participated, read and contributed…it was a hell of a ride.

-jonnie coutu


February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment


by Steve Siddle

There was a time in my life during which I thought that Vincent’s was the coolest bar on Earth. I was two years out of college and living with a bunch of my friends in a beat down triple-decker on Vernon Hill. Vincent’s was within walking distance.

Every Thursday that year was spent drinking and laughing and dancing to the Dennis Brennan Band. At the time the Marlboro, Ma native was one of the rising stars of Rounder Records and his bluesy alternative folk rock fit perfectly with Vincent’s vibe.

I’ve seen a lot of great music at Vincent’s over the years, but no band has ever managed to bring back the magic of those Thursday nights so long ago. If you were lucky enough to have been there in those early years of Vincent’s, you know how special the bar seemed to those of us in Worcester. It was unlike any bar this town had seen and it drew a strange, colorful crowd.

Young hoods like myself, middle-aged hipsters, blues scholars, artists, and off duty cops. For a few hours every Thursday evening we all swayed in time to the tunes that felt perfectly scored for our lives.

I dropped into Vincent’s a month ago to catch the Celtics game and was startled by the crowd. I saw women my mother’s age and kids with hoods and baseball hats and even a couple of drunken politicians. Every one was having a good time. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why.

Cara Brindisi will never be a rock star, which is not to say she couldn’t be if she were so inclined. She is energetic, pretty and charismatic in an understated way. Her voice is clear and clean sounding and full of passion. Cara has everything it takes to be a star except for an inflamed ego.

I sat down with the 23 year old Shrewsbury native last week and spent some time talking to her about her calling. I tried talking to her about the music business and the hard life of chasing club gigs, but it soon became clear to me that Cara is more interested in a different life.

Cara is a music therapist and I would put all my chips on the bet that she is damn good at her job. She loves what she does and her enthusiasm about the healing power of music is irresistible. Her eyes brighten and she leans forward when she talks about habilitation and psychodynamic therapy and the Relationship Change Scale.

She graduated from Berklee, got her MT-BC and works with autistic children, and with terminal patients who are slowly dying in Hospices. She does not seem trepidatious about going to face people in deep pain. Perhaps this is why she does so well singing in bars.

After we spoke I kept thinking about something she had said about her work and I think it helps explain the warm, fun-loving atmosphere she has brought back to Vincent’s on Thursday nights. She told me that when she goes to meet a client, she approaches them according to their mood. If he is sad, she begins to sing a sad song and slowly bring his mood higher. Her success relies upon her powers of empathy and suggestion.

Perhaps what has drawn so many people to her shows is the feeling that Cara Brindisi does not just play for her crowd, she plays with them. Looking in the eyes of her many fans you see something more than the typical admiration of a performer. You see that special light that ignites when a deep connection is made. As if the songs she sings provide some measure of relief or encouragement the listener didn’t know they needed.

As you shake off the winter and lift your face to the coming spring, take an hour or two some Thursday soon and step into Vincent’s. It’s about time we had some magic back in this town.

Learn more about  CARA BRINDISI

Read More by Steve Siddle

Visit Vincent’s Worcester

AN IMAGE MADE by Jonnie Coutu

February 10, 2012 § Leave a comment


Find more work by jonnie coutu at:





February 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Check out Fourth Party Politics a blog by our dear friend Laura Nichols.

This week Laura tackles all the issues including Rick Santorum, the movie Shame, and the circus of campaign politics…

Check her out at


January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lend your support. HELP STOP SOPA & PIPA! Join thousands of individuals, websites and organizations to help fight for the future of the internet. The very freedoms we exercise daily on blogs, social media and websites are at stake should any version of this bill be made law. Help take a stand!

“WHO RUN IT?” by Steve Siddle

December 15, 2011 § 1 Comment



So Worcester, It Hurts.

“Who Run It?”

by Steve Siddle

I hesitate to continue. It’s hard to go on bitching about the city I live in the wake of such a devastating loss. Last week Worcester, Ma lost a young firefighter in an early morning blaze on Union Hill. The death of Fireman John Davies occurred only days after the anniversary of the historic Worcester Cold Storage Fire that claimed the lives of six Firefighters.

I believe that it is important for us to stick together and stay positive in the face of tragedy and, in many ways;Worcester is at its best during the toughest times. I will never forget feeling for the first time, true pride in my hometown in the days and weeks after the Worcester Cold Storage fire.

I stood silent, with thousand of others, on Gold Star boulevards the funeral procession for the six firefighters drove slowly by, and I listened on a small radio at work as President Clinton spoke at the funeral service. For the first time in my life,Worcester, Ma was on the national news.

Now, once again, our hometown is on CNN for the same damn reason. We lost one of our bravest in a fire that shouldn’t have happened. Twelve years ago it was an abandoned factory building that killed, this time it was a condemned triple-decker. These are the monsters that haunt our city.

Never the less, we must take the opportunity to look at our city through the eyes of outsiders. What would you think of Worcester, Ma if you only heard about it after some tragedy? What would you see in the brief clips shown on CNN, on Newscenter 5, and on Inside Edition? Would you feel anything more than pity for this old working class town?

In many ways,Worcester shows its best side in the wake of a tragedy. We show ourselves as a tough, dedicated community who stick together when times get hard. We look like a rugged, rough around the edges, but endearing bunch of old school New Englanders. And we are.

But in these important moments when, for whatever the sad reason, the nation turns their eyes upon Worcester, who speaks for our city? Where is our Mayor?

Look at a photo of last week’s press conference and try to find the leader of the city. Who looks like he (or she) is the one in charge during our hardest hours? Is it the Fire Chief; is it the City Manager or the Lt. Governor? Can you even see our Mayor standing behind everyone else?

Look, I like Mayor Joe O’Brien and I don’t blame him for his insignificance. I suspect that he senses the lunacy of his powerless position and that is why he decided not to run for re-election. Perhaps he has greater ambitions. I hope he does.

Part of the problem with Worcester is that the only people who would want to be Mayor must have little to no ambition. Because of our outdated City Government structure, we will never have a “Strong Mayor.”

In 1947 Worcester residents voted for a “Plan E” type government which takes power away from the Mayor and distributes it among 11 city councilors. It is a groupthink mentality applied to government and it breeds indecision and inaction. Essentially we have been denied a true leader and given instead a bunch of low-level bureaucrats. And it shows.

At 3 pm on January Second, the inauguration of Joe Petty as the new Mayor of Worcester will take place at North High School. I voted for Joe Petty but I couldn’t really tell you why. I know next to nothing about the guy.

Unfortunately, I found out after the fact that Petty has already been a city councilor for twelve years, so he must be entrenched in the petty (pun intended) bullshit that our city council chooses to focus on. Still, I have hope.

We need to let this new Mayor know how important his role will be in the fight for our city. Send Joe an email and encourage him to buy a new suit or take voice lessons or something. In other words, tell Joe that he needs to act like a real politician with grand ambition. Tell our new Mayor that we need a leader who looks and acts stronger than we know he really is.

Read more by Steve Siddle


December 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

20th Century Guitars by Dan Hunt

As with all good showings, the party must end (unless, of course you purchase a piece) and the work must come down to make way for the next installation. So, today at the Futon Company -129 Highland Street, Worcester, Ma- Todd Deal’s Passageways & Remedies, comes down from the walls to make room for 20th Century Guitars, a collection of refurbished & rebuilt guitars by local musician Dan Hunt. Sounds like business as usual at any given gallery, take one show down and hang another, one artist, one showing. But Elizabeth Hughes, owner of the Futon Company has managed time and time again to feature and promote an artists work while giving you a taste of everything the city has to offer. While Dan Hunt’s beautiful and  impressive collection of guitars hang in the spotlight, it will have a supporting cast of work from photographers, painters and craftsman from across Worcester that always reminds you of the creativity sprouting from the corners of our fair city.  The place is the Futon Company, the day is Friday the 16th of December, the time is 6pm until the party ends…


129 Highland Street

Worcester, Ma

2oth Century Guitars by Dan Hunt

A collection of refurbished & rebuilt guitars by local musician Dan Hunt. As each of Dan’s guitars is ascetically beautiful, the unique story that Dan brings with each is equally as absorbing, coming from a man who is truly in love with his musical instrument, he can tell you the places it has been, to whose pick-work made the groove in the body. For any fan of guitars, music or passion for details, this collection is a must see.

Passageways & Remedies by Todd Deal

New work from painter, Todd Deal. Todd has described this collection of Paintings as, “a break from his usual style and method of painting…where I allowed the texture and color to guide the painting…” Viewing this abstract, vividly pigmented work, one would think that his method was second nature, each drawing your eye into it, making you move around the canvas, leaving you with a small portion of what the author was trying to reveal, giving you just enough to make you think about each piece. It is exactly the feeling I enjoy taking away from a showing of work. Although the full show will not be on display, you can find parts of Passageways & Remedies hanging alongside 20th Century Guitars, starting Dec. 16th at the Futon company.