When Torontonians think
"blues", we usually think of the
Silver Dollar, the
venerable and funky club at Spadina & College. As of next week,
we'll have to think again, as the club has switched modes from
blues to rock. Veteran bluesman Gary Kendall is no longer
booking acts there.
This Saturday, Aug. 28
features the last blues show, with
It will be sad to see that
Toronto institution pass. While some other clubs, like Hugh's
Room no doubt will pick up some of the slack, few will have the
atmosphee of the Silver Dollar. Note the next item for mention of a
Equally well-known in both the
blues & African music worlds of Toronto, the
seems to be popping up in various places this week. Adam of
course is known locally for his varied work here over the years: with the
ground-breaking band The AfroNubians, his own band, Tikisa, the
Juno-winning African Guitar Summit, and for his series of solo,
"African blues" CD's. His latest, Africa and the
West II, is now out.
But before coming to Toronto,
Adam had an extensive and notable career back in Kenya.
Below is an excerpt from a
recent review from Roots
Keith Richards and Mick
Taylor. Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers. Duane Allman and
Dickie Betts. Johnny Marr and himself. Add to this brief
and selective roster of great guitar duelists Adam "Adamu"
Solomon and Abbu Omar Prof. Jr. Who might they be, you
may reasonably ask, and why am I including them among the
ranks of stellar axmen?
Adamu and Abbu are the
guitarists featured on most of the tracks on World
Defeats the Grandfathers, a compilation of recordings
made between 1982 and 1986 by Issa Juma, a Tanzania-born
vocalist and bandleader who became a star in Kenya.
The review isn't posted yet on
the RW website, but you can listen to one of the CD's songs
It's available in all good local record shops (see next
item below) and on iTunes.
Meanwhile, you don't have to
travel in space or time to catch "Adamu". He's playing live at a
couple of places this week:
a) "On the Rocket"
Many know Adam well for his
subway busking in Bloor, Eglinton and other stations. He's a
guest this week on TTC Chair Adam Giambrone's TV show,
On the Rocket, talking about the subway musicians
program and playing some songs.
The show is actually filmed
live on a streetcar as it travels the city, and you can comment
or ask questions of Councillor Giambrone either by phone, email,
or in person on the streetcar (it's free). The streetcar will be
leaving the McCaul loop around 9pm Thursday.
The show is on CP24, Thursday,
9pm, Check the show's link above for info.
b) Highway 61
Highway 61, perhaps now
Toronto's main "blues-only" club, it also serves up Southern BBQ
food. Adam is doing a gig there this Saturday, Aug, 28 at
8pm. No cover.
Get out and see this "stellar
axman", and help support live roots music before another venue
goes under. www.highway61.ca
institution that disappeared recently was This Ain't The
Rosedale Library, one of Toronto's best -- and one of my
favourite -- independent bookstores. (I'd been shopping there
for close to 30 years). They started out on Queen East, then
spent many years at Church & Wellesley, and more recently moved
to Kensington Market.
This past summer, they finally had
to close, or more accurately, were closed up by their
Although this isn't directly a
"musical" item, the lessons about the precarious nature of
unique, knowledgeable and irreplaceable independent businesses
is pretty universal. From the last entry on the store's
June of this year), in response to queries about how to save the
store, Charlie & Jesse Huiseken wrote:
encourage all those who have shown such enthusiasm for the
store to consider helping us and stores of our kind but in
are open to suggestions, we are hoping that our own
unfortunate case might offer others the opportunity to
seriously consider the factors which combine to make
creating and running a bookstore such a challenge in North
America. Predatory pricing of Amazon, inflated rents in
urban centers, remaindering of excessive print-runs demanded
by big-box stores and corporate publishing have had a
devastating effect on smaller entrepreneurs. We are still of
the feeling that without big changes the best and most
satisfying way to support indies is to explore the stores in
your city, browse their selection, trust your own curiosity,
and buy gift certificates if nothing suits you.
certainly miss that store, as I miss other similar businesses.
On a musical note, it's worth seriously considering the next
time you're CD shopping, and find Amazon is selling some CD, DVD
or book noticeably cheaper than the small shop you really like
visiting. Save the money now, and it's likely that in a few
years, great shops like Soundscapes
on College with their unique inventory, service, and perspective
just won't be there as a choice.
last newsletter, I'd mentioned
this unique Malian singer who is making her first North American
the previous newsletter for more about her).
There were unconfirmed reports
she'd be playing Toronto Labour Day weekend at the Ashkenaz
Festival at Harbourfront. I've been getting more excited as I've
been reading great reports about her shows and her excellent
band. (eg, see
this Afropop article by Banning Eyre).
The good news is that she will
be performing in Toronto; the bad news (for me) is that it won't
be with her band, and it won't be a "Khaira Arby" performance.
She'll be a "guest star" with the band
playing at 11pm, Sunday, Sep. 5 in the Brigantine Room. Not to
take anything away from the band, or the performance... I expect
it will be certainly worth catching. However, I would very much
like to see a full show by her fronting that excellent band.
The Cuban vocal
group is a long-time favourite of mine, and has often been
mentioned in this newsletter and website. Their beautiful,
largely acapella 10-part harmonies, have long been deserving of
wide recognition. As noted in an
earlier newsletter this year, that may finally be happening.
Following their tour of the UK
last summer, they caught the attention of Peter Gabriel, and
have now recorded a CD on his Real World label. The CD will be
out this fall. (In the UK, they are known as The Creole Choir of
Cuba, reflecting their Haitian roots).
recent update from The Guardian. I'm happy for them,
and look forward to their next visit to Toronto.
Desandann's previous CD, Pwan Dife,
produced by Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer and released in 2009
unfortunately got virtually no distribution.