Last night I attended the West End Phoenix fundraising concert at Toronto’s The Great Hall.
Not only was it an opportunity to help fundraise for the local community newspaper that Dave Badini founded, the West End Phoenix, but it was also a great opportunity to experience some great spoken word performances and live music.
First up was a spoken word performance by poet, Nasim Asgari.
Next up was an hour long set by Juno award-winning band, Whitehorse.
Closing out the evening was one of Canada’s most unconventional, yet influential bands, Rheostatics. They were joined on stage by Kevin Hearn (also from the Barenaked Ladies), Alex Lifeson (of RUSH), Don Kerr (Toronto-based band Communism) and Tom Wilson (from Junhouse and Lee Harvey Osmond)
Baseball fans in Toronto will remember the date, October 9, 2005. It was when longtime Blue Jays broadcaster, Tom Cheek passed away after a heroic battle against cancer.
Summers would never be the same. The sound of Tom and Jerry (Jerry Howarth was Tom’s broadcast partner on the radio in the Blue Jays booth) on my radio actually made me feel warmer. Their voices meant that winter was over. And with that baseball was around the corner. and for a kid living in Toronto, summer was a welcome respite after a cold and grey winter.
After Tom, Jerry continued calling Blue Jays games and painting my favourite game with words that conjured up images of superhuman feats.
Today, Jerry Howarth announced his retirement. He had suffered from a variety of ailments recently including a bout with prostate cancer. Over the past couple of years he had also come across as culturally insensitive (to my ears) with a variety of remarks about the way some players played the game. He also once had Hazel Mae on and kept on referring to her as so-and-so’s wife rather than as the successful broadcaster that she is.
Nevertheless, the sound of summer has changed. Tom and Jerry will now be a story that I’ll tell my son. Thanks for the memories Jerry. Have an awesome retirement.
This past weekend I found myself in Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge to join my friend (and former rock star!), Gregg Tilston, and watch an 80’s retro cover band The Bomb. It turned out to be a reunion of sorts!
Back in the mid to late 80’s a new wave rock band was taking over Oshawa. Known as International Boundaries, the band featured Shaun Gillespie, Jeff Teravainen, Jamie Pugh, and everyone’s favourite keyboardist, Gregg Tilston.
Well, they were all in attendance watching as Shaun (bassist) was playing with The Bomb.
Also on that ticket was Said The Whale and Mondo Cozmo. Kahzmir and I saw Said The Whale again in Scarborough. Along with less than a couple dozen others braving a summer shower.
The smallest venue we visited was a couple of local community centres in Scarborough as part of SoFar Toronto (Scarborough). We saw a bunch of acts over 3 different concerts including the Saxaphone Brothers and Renee The Voice.
I went to NYC in September 2017. Besides seeing almost every taping of the New York late night talk shows I also visited the legendary Apollo theatre in Harlem. And this was during the famous Amateur Night where we witnessed more almost a dozen musical acts including the famous house band.
The Bach Children’s Chorus and Youth Choir also played multiple times during 2017. We saw them three times last year. It’s especially fun when our son, Kahzmir, is part of two of these performances every year!
2017 also introduced us to Kc Roberts and the Live Revolution (a fusion of jazz/funk/rock), A-Track and Chromeo (both DJs in the EDM space – I think!)
Headlining: Arkells. We saw Arkells for the second time in Oshawa. The venue was smaller than when we saw them in summer. Arkells is rock and roll. They have anthems, pop songs and love songs. They are tight but play with the enthusiasm and joy of teens. This was the most fun I’ve had at a concert all year. These guys are the real deal. And while they’ve arrived they will only get bigger and better. If you can, see Arkells.
In 2016 I was invited to participate on Newstalk 1010’s (CFRB in Toronto) morning roundtable segments with John Moore. Although I was only a fill in, I managed to make a half dozen or so appearances. These segments are 15 minutes long and are rapid-fire conversations.
I came away with one conclusion: Radio is hard. Much harder than doing my podcast. At least these types of segments are. Let me take you a little bit behind the curtain of talk radio:
We are asked to arrive 10/15 minutes before the segment is to begin. At that time the producer of the program will usually hand us a one-pager with the topics the host wants to discuss. Usually, there are a half dozen topics or so. After reading the topics at hand any maybe going online to catch up on them we are ushered into the studio to begin the segment.
I never know if the host is going to ask me a question or keeps things open ended. My first experience was frightening for me. The 15 minutes went by in a flash. And I left with my heart racing a million miles an hour!
I realized that the reason I was feeling this way is because I am forced to be quick on my feet, know what I’m talking about and be able to articulate myself in as few words as possible while also sounding smart. And for me, that’s next to impossible.
In my own studio, on my terms, I like to take things slow. That’s why I love podcasting. I may have themes, ideas or questions in my head or written down. However, I’m in no hurry to go to commercial or get to the next guest or segment. I can take my time actually having a discussion with the person in front of me. And I get to listen more than talk.
However, I am all about learning. I’m excited to get back in the Newstalk studio to develop and grow.
We finally went back to the library this weekend. It’s been a while to be honest. We used to go a lot when Kahzmir was much younger and when I still used to watch movies on my DVD player.
I used to spend lots of time at the library. In middle school I would go early to JB Tyrell and hang in the library. In high school I used to go to Fairview Public Library on the weekends. Yes, it was a place to do my homework. But it was also a place to socialize with my friends. In university I would travel over an hour to go to York University on the weekend. Yes, to do homework. Which I could have done at home. But also to hang with my friends.
Libraries are more than just a place that collects books. It’s a community hub.
The timing was right to get back to visiting our local library. We’re reading less. Yet, we know how important reading is. Both as entertainment and for learning. And Toronto’s libraries offer some really cool programming for kids and adults.
This weekend we visited Cedarbrae Library in Scarborough. Every weekend we’re going to try and visit a different library in Toronto.
Here are the books I took out:
If you have a book you’d like to recommend to me, please let me know in the comments section.
Yesterday was the 25th birthday of The Barenaked Ladies’ first studio album, Gordon. Formed in 1988, a few years prior to the release of Gordon, The Barenaked Ladies formed in Scarborough with Ed Robertson, Steven Page, Andy Creeggan, Jim Creeggan, and Tyler Stewart.
In 1991, thanks to the massive success of the band’s independently released cassette The Yellow Tape, Barenaked Ladies won the “Discovery To Disc” contest hosted by a Toronto radio station. The Canadian quintet used the prize money to record Gordon with producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda. Following its release on July 28, 1992, the Diamond certified album topped the Canadian charts for eight weeks. (AMAZON)
Recently, I was invited to speak at Toronto’s popular DevTO meetup. Here is what I shared on that special evening:
Stories from inside Girth Radio. I delve into some of the do’s and dont’s on how to be successful on the Podcast circuit!
“After being one of Toronto’s pioneers in podcasting in 2010 with SMS (aka Social Media show), Karim Kanji is back with his newest show. Welcome! features conversations with innovators, thought leaders, politicians, media personalities, entrepreneurs, and some of the most interesting people from around the world.”