Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot Times Summer in the City!

I am really glad I set out this summer warning everyone that I would be blogging when the urge hit me and not to a schedule this summer. It has been hectic and I have felt less urge to write - I think something to do with the 60-70 hour weeks I have been putting in at work. I come home from work so mentally tired I just have no mental capacity left to put together a blog.

But I am feeling guilty - so to keep you up to date here is a full blog covering the goings on in my world for the past few days and a look forward to next weekend - and for good measure a blast from my past in the year 1966.

My next blog will be after the Pow Wow - probably late in the day on Monday Aug 2nd - a holiday here in Ontario!

Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival

Whilst I haven't been doing mental gymnastics in my spare time, I have been in this last week immersing myself in music. On Thursday I wandered Queen Street to enjoy our Beaches Jazz Festival Street Fest. As usual, I had a great time and listened to a sampling of a song or two from each of the 38 bands which were playing a stretch of what I would guess to be 2 km of Queen Street East.

A lot of the usual bands were performing there - so many are oh so so good it is hard to move on to the next one. They each play 3 30 minute sets and bands alternate playing times so that the two bands on either side of a given band are on break whilst the one in the middle of the lot is playing. Repeat this for every 100-200 feet and you get the gist, one or two songs and move on ... We got all the way to the end and had time do do the same on the way back - and heard a different band in each direction!

Lost Fingers
I heard just about every style/era of jazz, blues and funk music that there is - all for free!  I am sure the bands sell a great deal of CDs and so are amply compensated that way for their time - I always buy one or two CDs to do my part in making sure that is so.  It was a feast for the ears.  We have so many great bands in Toronto that it isn't hard to fill a venue like this. Bands also flock to Toronto from other locations for this festival as well - I heard a great band from Quebec with the moniker "The Lost Fingers" who were very distinctive with their French lyrics - I am hoping that their name is a poor translation of some Quebecois phrase - because lost fingers is not what you would want a musician to have and they didn't sound like they had lost any fingers.  LOL

Of course Montreal has the premier Canadian Jazz festival, as I understand, but our Toronto  Beaches festival, now running a full 10 days, must be getting pretty close.  I haven't heard what the attendance was for this year's festival but it would be interesting to compare the two in size.

A couple of others which caught my eye - the young musician on pint sized guitar in  Puente del Diablo to the right on the pic below  and also the ZZ Top Look alike in the Neil Chapman Band.
Peunte Del Diablo
Neil Chapman Band
Erin McCallum Band
The best "new find" during my Queen Street stroll  was one band which just blew me away and I don't recall catching at the Jazz Street Fest on previous years .  The band was fronted by Erin McCallum "Big Voice - Big Sound" as her banner read.  She was a tall lanky lady (I would guess she was great at b-ball in school) with one helluva Tom Waite's/Janice Joplin, without quite so much gravel and whiskey blues voice. I immediately purchased a CD - she was fabulous. I found a You Tube video of a performance from 2008 - I will note that this recording is not the best and in addition I think she has honed her style just a tad since the Barrie performance was recorded.

I wrote an extensive blog about the Jazz Fest last year - Go here if you want to know more.

Collingwood Elvis Festival
I rushed up to Collingwood on Friday and arrived in good time to go see Frankie and the Favourites perform some great 50s and 60s top tunes in the outdoor beer tent on one of the side streets.  I had a great time as I mingled with a bunch of friends who had all come out to enjoy the great music and the hot evening.

The main street hosted the large stage upon which the 30 or 40  Elvis hopefuls poured out their one or two Elvis covers as their bid for selection to compete in the semi final competition the next day.   I declined to get out to the remaining  Elvis Weekend events in favour of R&R at my Shangri-La.  So many Elvi... So little time.  :)

Next Weekend: The Wikwemikong Pow Wow - Manitoulin Island
I spent much of the day Saturday planning and organizing my trip next weekend to Manitoulin Island's First Nation Wikwemikong Cultural Festival and Pow Wow. I have booked an early  Ferry for Saturday morning and a campsite is reserved for Saturday night.  I was really happy to learn that there is a beach side campgrounds on the Reserve within a 10 minute walk of the Pow Wow.   My friend Leslie and I are very much looking forward to the road trip, the Chi-cheemaun Ferry ride to the island and 2 days of immersion in the Anishnabeg culture.  We will be setting off at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am early Saturday morning in order to be at the ferry the requisite 1 hour before sailing time.  It will take us 2 hours to cross from the Tobermory at the end of the Bruce Peninsula to South Baymouth at the south east corner of the island.  The plan is to get up there, tent pitched and sitting happily in place in time to watch the Grand Procession, which opens the days dancing competitions.

Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve (usually known as Wikwemikong or Wiky) is an Indian reserve in the north-eastern section of Manitoulin Island - Check out "Where Am I" if you are not sure of the geography.  Wikwemikong is an unceded Indian reserve in Canada, which means that it has not relinquished title to its land to the government by treaty or otherwise.

The 50th Annual Wikwemikong Cultural Festival and Pow Wow is held every year during our August long weekend holiday.  This year that is July 31-Aug 2nd.  I attended once maybe 10 years ago.  It is one of the largest Pow Wows in Canada - and the various  dancing contests are fabulous to watch as is the opening ceremonies when the Grand Procession takes place!

You can find out more by going to the web site here.

Flashback: 1966
I am going to finish off with a song which for some reason I have been humming a lot. We are having a very hot summer up here and the weather,  time of year and wandering through the crowded city streets remind me of this song.  It brings me back memories of my younger teenage years when I lived on a country road 3 miles from the nearest village.  Every summer my Mom would ship us kids out to stay for a few weeks with various Aunts and Uncles.

I can remember 1966 and it was a "hot time in the City" for me as I was embarking on my teen years - just turning 13 that summer and making lots of new friends and experiencing new things in "the big smoke". That year I was staying with my Uncle Frank (a guitar playing honky tonk Newfie guy) and my Aunt Jeannine (a Franco-Canadienne from Cochrane in rural Northern Ontario) who lived right in the centre of the City. I had a wonderful adventuresome time that year for sure - my first exposure to counter-culture.   My Mom and her brother were making a 5 week heritage trek back to Newfie for the 1966 "Come Home Year".  That was the same year as Arthur R. Scammell wrote the famous Newfie "Come Home Song".   I am trying to remember who made it famous - was it My Mom's cousin Dick Nolan or was it another of the Newfie Troubadours?  I smile as I remember the slogan which I had heard from my distant Newfie family circle -  "Don't stay where yer to, comes where we'rse at!"

So, how's that to a segue to a real hippie 60s tune!  This was the greatest hit of The Lovin' Spoonful, Summer in the City from 1966, written by Mark Sebastian and Steve Boone, Charts: US1 UK8 GER5.

1 comment:

  1. I love that song "Summer in the City"! It sounds like you spent a few days enjoying music, as I did, last week. We enjoyed different kinds of music, but music all the same. Have fun at the PowWow; looking forward to seeing pictures and hearing about your experiences there.


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