Tag Archives: Toronto

The beautiful sounds of Lorraine Klaasen at #TOJazzFest

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”.

Shops on Don Mills courtesy of  Napkins and Nannies
Shops at Don Mills courtesy of Napkins and Nannies

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.

Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival
Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival

Here’s a bit of her bio from her Wikipedia page:

Lorraine Klaasen was influenced by South Africa’s musical giants of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Miriam MakebaDolly RathebeDorothy Masuka, Sophie Mgcina and Busi Mhlongo, contemporaries and friends of her mother, Thandi Klaasen.

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.

For more on this amazing singer check out her website at http://www.lorraineklaasen.com/

Klaasen and her mother were the favourite musicians of the late Nelson Mandela.

#FollowFriday – @PitchTalks

Pitch Talks - TED Talks with grass stains
Pitch Talks – TED Talks with grass stains

Think TED Talks with grass stains.

That is the message that greets you when you visit PitchTalks.ca. And you WILL visit that website. It’s one of the best new things on the internet today.

If you’re a baseball fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a sports fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a Toronto sports media fan, this site is for you.

And if you want to attend a PitchTalks go to the next one.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_byT4yQdNXM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

I met Olivia Chow…just inside Scarborough

On Sunday I spent the afternoon like many Torontonians did: at a barbeque. However, this particular barbeque was interesting. Toronto Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow was the guest of honour. My friend (who also happens to be the dad of two of my other friends – META!) was hosting an afternoon barbeque in support of Madam Chow.

She was dressed in a simple, yet elegant, yellow summer dress. She didn’t talk too long but did promise to bring respect and vision to City Hall. What struck me most was that Madam Chow didn’t speak like a populist. She didn’t promise to spend money nor stop spending money. She actually talked about building a city where people could get to work on time; a city that was clean and where the air was breathable; a city that cared for it’s young and elderly; a city that we could be proud to call home no matter if we lived in north Etobicoke or near the bluffs in Scarborough.

Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow

And, I think, that’s the type of city and leader Torontonians want: a city builder. I don’t want someone to cut services. I don’t want a Mayor who feels they need to fight to get things done. I want a Mayor who wants to build a city: a place where we can be safe to live, work and play.

Olivia Chow takes a selfie!
Olivia Chow takes a selfie!

a new direction. maybe

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time or even if you scroll through the posts over the years, you will find that I have written about so many things. And most of the time, nothing in particular.

I’ve blogged about real estate, banking, social media, books and much more. I’ve even used this space to re-blog other blogs in the WordPress community. I also re-post articles that I’ve written in other spaces such as Catalyst (where I work) and itbusiness.

Recently, I’ve been itching to write about so much more: theatre I watch, places I visit, politics, music, and even podcasts I listen to. So I figured I’d rename the blog. The url is not changing – karimkanji.com (or karimkanji.wordpress.com). But I thought the title should.

So allow me to introduce you to “observations from just inside scarborough”. I live in Scarborough. Or, I should say, just inside Scarborough. Fred Patterson – co-host of The Humble and Fred Show – once asked me where I live. I replied, “Just inside Scarborough.” Why? You’d have to live just inside Scarborough to understand.

Well, that’s enough rambling.

Hope you enjoy the show!

Just Inside Scarborough - photo from Toronto Star
Just Inside Scarborough – photo from Toronto Star


Book Review: Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story

Robyn Doolittle
Robyn Doolittle

To say that I was glued to this Robyn Doolittle’s book until I was finished reading it would be an understatement. It’s taken me longer to start (and finish) blogging about the book than it took me to actually read it.

Crazy Town us the perfect title for this book. It’s not so much as Toronto being a crazy town as it is a play on the bubble that the Ford family has created for itself over a generation.

Everything that you would expect to be in this book is there. Everything. Including the research process and behind the scenes meetings and conversations between Doolittle and her superiors at the Toronto Star.

What struck me the most about this book were two things that have nothing to do with Ford.

The first is the amount of research and discussions that occur before a word is even typed and subsequently printed. For every piece that Doolittle has written there is literally a team of editors, (sometimes) publishers and even lawyers (especially when reporting on Rob Ford) that need to go over her research and submission. Nothing is left to chance and all sides of the story are discussed and dissected. Reading her book gave me a new found appreciation for the news reporting process that the Toronto Star follows.

The second, and most disturbing, revelation has to do with the seemingly archaic laws in Canada surrounding access to information. Our public institutions (government and public services such as police) gather so much information in the name of the greater public good. However, accessing that information is next to impossible for ordinary citizens such as me. And the media? Well, they have the resources and the knowledge on how to ask and what to ask. Yet even they have the hardest time getting access to information.

As a book, Crazy Town has it all. And by all, I mean everything you could ever want to know about Rob Ford. His parents (enterprising), upbringing (silver spoon), siblings (crazy people usually influenced by drugs it seems), career before politics (nada), his brushes with the law (international and usually involving booze) and his current political life (unbelievable).

This October, Toronto will go to the polls to vote for who they want as their Mayor. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. Unless you ask me. However, I do have one suggestion: READ. THE. BOOK.

7 Things To Do With Your Kid During March Break in Toronto

March Break
March Break

March Break is finally upon us. That means two things.

First, the weather should be improving. I’m not holding my breath on this one. Second, parents (like yours truly) will be scrambling to figure out how to keep our kids occupied, engaged and alive.

Here are SEVEN ideas (as I type this at 12:55am) for you to try. You can thank me later.

  1. Go to the Royal Ontario Museum. They have a really cool March Break camp. And for those not inclined for a full week of museum programming, they do have drop in sessions.
  2. The Hockey Hall of Fame is always a popular choice. And this March Break features Olympic hockey!
  3. The Toronto Zoo has a March Break camp. But cooler than that are baby polar bears. And pandas. Did I mention BABY POLAR BEARS? 🙂
  4. I’m taking my son to the Arcade Fire concert. Why? It’s his 8th birthday on the 13th. What else should we do? 🙂
  5. Skating. Looking for public rinks that are open? Check out the City of Toronto website.
  6. Trails and hikes. Going on hikes to discover Toronto’s urban wilderness will be an adventure you and your kids will never forget. Here’s one suggestion for Monday. Search on your favourite search engine for more ideas.
  7. There is nothing more rewarding and lasting than reading. And there is nowhere better for that than Toronto’s Public Library system.

Do you have anything else to suggest?

Concert Review: Paul Simon and Sting at the Air Canada Centre

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.

Paul Simon and Sting
Paul Simon and Sting

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.

Watch some of my Vine’s from the concert:


5 sessions I’m excited about – #PCTO14

PodCamp Toronto 2014
PodCamp Toronto 2014

This year I’ll be attending PodCamp Toronto again. However, I won’t be presenting as in year’s past. This time I’m on the organizing committee. I’m also excited to be attending a number of the sessions. Here are my top 5 sessions I’m most excited about:

  1. How We ruined Radio and the Internet – hosted by the dynamic duo Humble and Fred. These former Toronto DJ’s now have one of the most listened to podcasts in Canada as well as a show on Sirius Radio.
  2. Blogging Across Canada – Katharine Stanbridge rode her bike across Canada in the summer of 2013. Every night she wrote a blog post. I’m very excited to listen to her experiences!
  3. My Name is Barbara – Saul Colt will be at his usual best (read entertaining and informative) in this session from one of the world’s best word of mouth marketers.
  4. Working Justin Trudeau’s Digital Campaign: A Case Study – In what could be a glimpse into how the next prime minister of Canada used digital.
  5. Podcasting 101 – Mike Boon has one of the most popular blogs in Toronto and is a local pioneer in podcasting. Learn how he has helped others get started and what he’s doing on his own show.

Hope to see you there! If you have not registered do so NOW!

Toronto is Awesome: Reason #14 – Toy Mountain Show

Toy Mountain
Toy Mountain

This article was updated on Dec 1 2014.

This is my 14th submission in the Toronto Is Awesome series. I would love your comments, thoughts and future suggestions for this series.

Every year, since before time began, Uncle Neil and his friends have been putting on a concert to raise money and toys for children during Christmas. Tomorrow, Sunday December 8th, is their next event.

Last year I met Neil and had the chance to go to the Toy Mountain Concert. I was floored. There was toys (thousands of them) all over the place. From the floor to the ceiling. All over the place. And the place was packed with people of all ages. Especially children.

Neil and his friends are truly one of those groups of people that make Toronto Awesome!

Hope to see you at the concert on Dec 14 2014. Click on THIS LINK for details.

Toronto Is Awesome: Reason #11 – Coworking Spaces

This is my eleventh submission in the Toronto Is Awesome series. I would love your comments, thoughts and future suggestions for this series.

I’ve written about co-working spaces in this blog a number of times before:

  1. http://karimkanji.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/the-incomplete-list-of-coworking-spaces-in-canada/
  2. http://karimkanji.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/the-incomplete-list-of-coworking-spaces-in-canada-part-two/
  3. http://karimkanji.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/my-favourite-co-working-spaces-in-toronto/
image courtesy of theemployable.com

These lists are far from complete, so if you find a place in Toronto that offers co-working space let people know about it. And consider adding it in the comments section below.

Coworking venues have given small startups and even independent professionals an opportunity to grow and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs. And Toronto is home to plenty of coworking spaces, startups, independent professionals and budding entrepreneurs. And that’s another reason Toronto is awesome!