Who in the very merry month of May ?


Reading the Toronto listings mag last week I was totally gutted to realise that I’d missed out on a rare opportunity to see Bonnie Prince Billy performing the previous night. You really have to do your homework before you hit a town in the way we have. In the past I’ve been reliant on colleague Jake’s ability to sniff out a good gig – as was the case when we visited Los Angeles with the Rice Show in Dec. 2007. We found ourselves at a little club called The Echo in Echo Park watching Vampire Weekend, just a couple of months before they hit it big back in the UK. A week later we were watching Richard Hawley at The Troubadour (that had supposedly launched the phenomenon known as Bon Jovi, I think). Even though Jake’s entertainment schedule has been tempered with the presence of cute-baby prize winner Molly, he managed to suss out that Leonard Cohen was visiting neighbouring Hamilton, ON and so we went, taking new Rice recruit culturati Frank O’Connell with us.

Copp's Colisseum

The gig was fantastic, though something of a stadium affair, as the accompanying pic shows. Nonetheless, Leonard’s unique energy had the audience wrapt. Not to mention the fact that no one could possibly begrudge any commercial angle on the event, given that Leonard was so royally ripped off by his former manager. Hunger certainly hones the performance pitch.  I found it mesmerising at first and was blubbing by track 4 (There ain’t no cure for love). There followed an impressive playlist and the show concluded after 3 hours or so of music.

The impact of Toronto on the music scene was not well known to me – though I’ve had occasion to crank up Rush’s Spirit of Radio at times in the prelude to coming here. I managed to find a brilliant music shop on College St called She Said Boom. The first 2 things that drew my attention were Plastic Ono Band – Live Peace in Toronto 1969 and the Brian Eno/Jon Hassall Ambient Music IV (I think). On reading the reverse of this I found out that one of the tracks had been recorded at The Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto (!). ’nuff said.

Last night we joined fellow rice-worker Nilan Pereira for an evening of experimental music at The Music Gallery, which involved a solo extemporisation by Nilan with Telecaster, pedals and samplers, in which he prepared the guitar with various props and invoked the spirit of gamelan, tabla and rock shredder through his subtly shifting soundscapes. It was very fine. 

Tonight we join Nilan and friends again – this time to join in a SunRa impro celebration. Apparently this is the anniversary of Sun Ra leaving the planet. I’m looking forward to also leaving the planet, albeit temporarily, as I have the Niagara train to catch early tomorrow.


One Response to “Who in the very merry month of May ?”

  1. 1 Alison

    This comment is to prove that I’m reading and enjoying and hoping for more. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Toronto, and I hope we’ll be able to welcome you back sometime!

    -Alison (your Canadian rice helper)

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