Last week I had the opportunity to see one of the top musical acts of all time, RUSH. According to multiple sources, RUSH stands just third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band.
I’ve never been a huge fan. But I’ve been very aware of their musicianship, their hits on Q107 in Toronto, and the wizardry that is Geddy Lee on bass, Alex Lifeson on guitar and the most talented drummer to ever live, Neil Peart.
I’ve never been as amazed as I was last Wednesday night. Words cannot describe the experience. And photos cannot capture the energy and enthusiasm of both the band and the crowd.
This past Family Day long weekend, I attended the Stars show at Toronto’s historic Danforth Music Hall. The opening act was Hey Rosetta! from Newfoundland.
It was the first time seeing any of these bands live as well as attending the Danforth Music Hall. and I came away both pleased and excited.
Stars are a favourite local band that has been making waves both here in Canada and around the world for their fun pop anthems and energized live shows. Their 2012 album, The North, is in heavy rotation on my laptop. And they did not disappoint the thousands in attendance.
Hey Rosetta! are the “new kids on the block”. And I came away more than impressed. So much so that I truly believe that they are going to be one of the biggest indie rock bands in the world. Think the same level as Arcade Fire. They have a ways to go but there was something about them that impressed me.
Maybe it was the impressive vocal range of lead singer and songwriter, Tim Baker. I don’t want to jinx anything but he kept on reminding me of Coldplay front man, Chris Martin. Or maybe it was the durability of Romesh Thavanathan who played guitar, cello (I think) and guitar. Most likely it was that any band who has a french horn featured in multiple songs is a winner in my books.
Many of you who know me know that I am a huge Neil Young fan. To this day, he is one of Canada’s most successful and well-regarded songwriters and musicians. However, when it comes to Canadian rock royalty there is probably no one else who has penned and produced as many hits than Randy Bachman. He has fronted two of the biggest names is Canadian rock: The Guess Who and BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive).
I have had the opportunity to both hear him play as well as listen to him speak. Both live. And here in Toronto. Along with Canadian indie band, The Sadies, he opened for Neil Young a couple of years ago at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This past year, he published a book and was part of a speaker series at the Reference Library in Toronto.
Tales From Beyond The Tap takes an inside look at Bachman’s life. Everything from his songwriting process, his relationship with Burton Cummings and siblings, his popular CBC show Randy’s Vinyl Tap, and his thoughts on the future of the music business and everything in between are covered in this book.
Randy has penned some of rock’s most beloved anthems. Tales From Beyond The Tap is Bachman at his best. A must read for any rock and roll fan.
Scarborough’s favourite adopted sons are back at it again with “Did I Say That Out Loud?” The band that first gained prominence with “If I had a $1,000,000” recently released their newest single which was subsequently backed with a video.
At posting, this video currently has 1,010,579 views. Hope you enjoy.
I’ve spent most of my life living north of the 401. Even the past 8 years that I’ve lived south of the 401 I’m still close enough that if I listen very carefully, I can still hear the eastbound traffic.
That being the case, it’s near impossible for me to trek downtown to catch most of the festivals that Toronto has to offer. You see, Toronto’s festivals mostly take place downtown: Pride parade and events, NXNE, TIFF, Fringe Festival, Carnival/Caribana, Buskerfest, JFL42, Nuit Blanche and, until recently, the Toronto Jazz Festival.
And I’d like to thank the Shops at Don Mills for bringing “Toronto” to the “burbs”.
This year, Toronto’s Jazz Festival is returning and playing at the Shops’ Town Square. And Sunday’s afternoon performance by Montreal’s Lorraine Klaasen under a clear blue sky was amazing!
Backed by a four piece band, Klaasen sang numerous popular songs from her catalogue as well as songs from popular Southern African singers, including from her mom, Thandi Klaasen (one of South Africa’s most beloved singers).
If you didn’t know her (and I didn’t when I joined the hundreds of music fans on the green lawn in front of the stage) you would have thought you were listening to Soweto’s most popular music export. And while that’s partially true, Klaasen currently calls Montreal home. Just last year she won the Juno award for World Music Album of the year!
While I arrived late for her show, I enjoyed the last 5 songs of her set. Her songs kept everyone dancing (the people who braved the heat and sun) clapping and dancing in their chairs (the rest of us who didn’t want to drop from dehydration!). I would 100% recommend Lorraine Klaasen to anyone who is a fan of music.
She launched her career at a very young age, accompanying her mother to live performances all over South Africa and neighboring states of Mozambique and Swaziland. Later she got into musical theater and toured across Europe, eventually arriving in Canada where she settled in Montreal.
Klaasen’s musical repertoire has been steadily infused with a blend of Quebec, Haitian and French African influences, along with several African languages (Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Lingala) and her band musicians’ Caribbean roots to create an eclectic sound.
Lorraine Klaasen was nominated and subsequently won the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year for her album Tribute to Miriam Makeba, released in 2012.
On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Reference Library and listen to Randy Bachman tell stories like no one else can. But that is for another blog post. Today’s post – and photos – is from an amazing collection of photos, videos and posters which exhibit Toronto’s diverse and eclectic music scene from the 1960’s until today.
This jam is amplified. So just glide and let your backbone slide. Remember Maestro Fresh Wes from Scarborough? Now my favourite Canadian rap artist stars on Mr. D on CBC. Soon, he’ll be a guest on Toronto Mike’d with Mike Boon.
Toronto’s Broken Social Scene is perhaps the most influential musical collective and is headed up by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The group has helped with the musical maturity of acts such as Metric, Leslie Feist, and The Stars. You can actually see the latest incarnation of Broken Social Scene this summer at the Field Trip outdoor concert festival.
Classic posters and hand bills in the gallery.
Yorkville was once home to future musical greats such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
Coffee, Beer and Mosh Pits runs in the TD Gallery of the Toronto Reference Library until the end of this month. Visit the website for more information
1986’s Graceland by Paul Simon still remains one of my top ten favourite albums of all time. And Stewart Copeland’s distinctive drumming while with The Police made it cool for kids like me to air drum.
So when my sister gave tickets as a present for me to see Paul Simon and Sting (lead singer for The Police for those of you not at “mature” as me) this past weekend, I was more than excited.
While I thought that the sound system could have been improved upon (Neil Young’s last visit to the ACC may have blown a few fuses – I was at that concert too) the two did not disappoint the thousand in attendance.
Both eclectic songwriters performed hits such as Every Breath You Take, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, Walking On The Moon, Graceland, Roxanne, The Boxer (which was a Grade 5 favourite of mine), and You Can Call Me Al.
This is my fifth article in the Toronto Is Awesome series. I would love your comments, thoughts and future suggestions for this series.
Giving great music a home. This is the motto of Toronto’s newest radio station. Indie 88 is my go to radio music station for home, car and even office.
I love the music and the independent feel of the station’s hosts. Even the commercials sound “indie”. One of my favourite things about the station is that I can also listen to it online via their live stream feed. And if you visit it you will notice the online chat. In the chat, you can find people debating the merits of playing Arcade Fire almost every hour. Most of all you will find the deejay’s (I like to call them hosts) participating in these chats.
A real gem in Toronto. Give them a listen even if you live elsewhere.