Some event notes

See the newly updated event listings (www.events.to-music.ca), for details of these and many other shows. A few items of note: The Lula Lounge has a number of interesting shows coming up: “world jazz” on Friday nights (early show before the salsa takes over) including& Haitian roots (Feb. 24) & Mexican jazz (Mar 2) in the next couple of weeks Benefit for the Peruvian migrant workers killed recently in that traffic accident. Mar. 1 Akwaba Dance Company, Feb 26   Batuki Music Society with a couple of shows to watch for: The first of an “Africa Up Close” series in the … Continue reading

Etta James & Johnny Otis

It’s been more than a week since the deaths of those two giant figures of American R&B: Johnny Otis, and his greatest discovery, Etta James. My initial comments on Otis’ death are in a post below, and they’ve both received significant media coverage, especially James, although Lynn Crosbie in the Globe & Mail this week wondered why it took her death for James to receive such wide recognition. “But if she is such a legend, why was she not pushed forward more in her life?” There was nothing simple, or easily mainstreamed, about the way James sang. Pure soul is … Continue reading

RIP, Johnny Otis

A giant of American popular music died on January 17 at the age of 90. Johnny Otis discovered, produced, recorded Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Esther Phillips and so many others; He helped create the R&B sound in the 1950’s and kept many of its early stars touring and performing through the 60’s and 70’s. Otis was the son of Greek immigrants, but as an obituary in the LA Times noted, ” in the 1920s, Otis decided as a youth that he’d rather be black”, and, according to one YouTube commenter he claimed “I was Greek by birth but black … Continue reading

CKLN gone; Radio Regent now online

A parallel story to the post below about CIUT’s 25th anniversary, and a lesson about the vulnerabilities of local, non-commercial radio… As most readers know, what was Toronto’s first and longest-running community radio station, CKLN (88.1) sadly went off the air last year and lost its broadcast license. It continued broadcasting online from a studio in Regent Park, but officially dissloved at the end of September. On January 1, many of its programs and hosts moved to Radio Regent, an online radio station. Check it out and tune in at www.radioregent.com For some background on CKLN and what happened see … Continue reading

CIUT FM: 25th Anniversary Open House and party: Jan. 15

Given the precarious state of community and other non-commercial radio, this Sunday marks a remarkable event: 25 years since CIUT began broadcasting on the FM dial. So the station is inviting all listeners & supporters to a 25 anniversary celebration: Sunday, Jan 15, 1-6pm Music Room, Hart House, University of Toronto (Map) CIUT hosts, staff, alumni and others will be there, along with live performances by Donné Roberts Los Caballers del Son Memoryhouse Barry Livingston & Darren Moore Canadian Space Opera Company See this page for more goodies & details. The station’s history actually goes back much further, to the … Continue reading

Assorted Notes: Duke Ellington, Khaira Arby, Cesaria Evora, and more

From here and there… Duke Ellington: Jan 2 – live concert only $1.00! I found some parts of the Dec. 31, 1942 Toronto Star stuffed into a crack in my basement wall recently. While the war dominated headlines, the ad for Duke Ellington’s January 2 performance at the Royal York — advance tickets $1 — was the best find for me. We’re 69 years late for this bargain… Also on the same page: – New Year’s Eve — “Toronto’s gayest frolic”– for only $2 at the Humber Pier Ballroom, a “Fireproof building” – Yehudi Menuhin at Massey Hall on Jan. … Continue reading

Etta James: Last chance to catch radio documentary

One of the greatest R&B singers ever is now dying. Last week, the BBC rebroadcast an excellent 2006 radio documentary about her life & career. I highly recommend it. There are 3 30 minute episodes; Part 1 will be taken off line about 8pm EST Monday (Dec 26), and Parts 2 & 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Catch it if you can: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xynwv For some more of Etta on You Tube: With Dr. John, in a memorable duet of one of her greatest songs, “I’d’ Rather Go Blind” Also live, from 1962, “Something’s Got A Hold on Me“ “Rock n … Continue reading

Bombino: Nov 29 concert archived online & interview

Update: Full audio of this concert is archived here The excellent new Tuareg guitarist, Omar Moctar, known as Bombino, played a blistering set this past July at the Lula Lounge, to a highly enthusiastic, but much-too-small audience. He’s touring again, but unfortunately will miss Toronto this time around. Catch him live online though, in a concert webcast by NPR from New York club, Le Poisson Rouge tonight at 8pm. Link & article here Also read an interview and catch some of his album, Agadex, plus some video on Okayafrica here

Benefit concert for John Collins with Afrafranto: Dec. 11: Updated Dec 10

One of the greatest archivists and collectors of West African music, Professor John Collins of Ghana last month experienced a severe flood and mudslide, which damaaged and destroyed much of the material he has been assembling since the 1970’s. His home is in the same premises, and his family narrowly escapted drowning. The Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation (BAPMAF) is a Ghanaian NGO established in 1990. BAPMAF’s function is to preserve African popular & traditional performance and provide a resource centre for arts projects in Ghana and the international community. BAPMAF archival holdings include 700 photographs, 700 publications, as … Continue reading

Odds, ends & catchups

As noted previously, I haven’t been able to post updates or newsletters recently. The events page (www.events.to-music.ca) now has extensive updates through the new year. Below are a few scatttered items that have been accumulating recently, in no particular order: “Music for Peace” Steve Paikin, on TVO’s “The Agenda” interviews David Buchbinder (Flying Klezmer Bulgar Band, Ashkenaz and the new organization, Diasporic Genius) and Bassam Bishara (oud player and musical director of Arabesque Dance Company). The guests discuss (to a rather naive Paikin, in my view) their thoughts on Israeli/Palestinian conflict and connections, politics and music. They had collaborated on … Continue reading