Gary LaRocca getting noticed for his superb guitar instrumentals
From very early on in the very first instrumental song that Gary LaRocca performed as a participant of one of my open stages last fall, I knew that this earnest and unassuming young man had a very bright musical feature ahead of him. I announced as much to the crowd after his performance –but the audience didn’t need me telling them to know they had been graced by the presence of a very talented artist.
His sweet, delicate and inventive Classical, Latin-tinged and other stylings on his Ibanez six-string are a delight to the ears and his versatility of style means that you won’t easily tire of his performances. His material, much of it original, doesn’t really need lyrics –you can hear voices in the cascade of the music, which also conjures up images and makes you feel.
He’s been appearing at open stages in various locales since he first came to mine in October –and I definitely plan to have him do a feature for me at my new one. Now that perseverance is paying off for him, as the past couple of months he’s been hosting a semi-regular open stage at Only Café, scored a recent gig at a club near where he lives in the Main-Gerrard E. area and, this week, is opening for all of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival acts appearing at hip tapas eatery and music bistro Relish.
The Relish TDJF shows (tonight it’s Jordan Glick & The Usual Suspects) take place early, starting at 7 or 7:30, so LaRocca does a warmup for the dinner crowd starting around 5:30 or 6 until the featured group is ready to play.
It’s a great step forward for this budding star, who told me he’s also been approached about doing a similar series for a venue in the Beach area for the forthcoming Beaches International Jazz Festival.
Looks like I’m going to have to get him to do that feature at my open stage soon, before he gets scooped up by a big-time promoter and can only be seen for a hefty cover charge! You should make sure you catch him too at one of this week’s no-cover sets (he’ll be there till Friday at least) in the room at 2152 Danforth Ave. a block east of Woodbine.
Don’t be surprised, btw, to see him also pop in to Hirut (2050 Danforth Ave. a bit west of Woodbine) after his set tonight to take part in the Fingerstyle Guitar Association open stage held alternating Tuesdays in that warm and inviting room by charming Mai-Ling Loo. And likewise it’s a good bet he’ll also turn up at another nearby weekly open stage where he’s been a regular: Jody Ferrer hosts a weekly open stage a half block further west at Groove Bar, a less refined but pleasant room at 1952 Danforth. This week he has a stellar feature act as talented indie artist Shikah Sehgal is joined by Nelson Sobral of Melting Pot and I Hate Todd fame for the showcase starting around 10.
Listings preceded by an asterisk (*) are repeating weekly events. (Double asterisk indicates repeating event with different hosts/guest/etc.). Admission prices followed by a slash and minus (/-) after the amount indicates door charge with availability of cheaper rates for some purchases. /+ indicates stated price is minimum.
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TDJF = Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival; cover charge/pass entry for most shows except where specified otherwise by $0 in listing.
Noon> TDJF: Happy Pals @ Shops at Don Mills (New Balance Side Stage), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East ~Jazz; $0
*5-8> Piano Jazz @ Sauce, 1376 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
5> Roots ‘n’ Branches @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~rootsy Blues
5-8> Toby Hughes Jazz Band @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
5> TDJF: Alisson Au @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
5> TDJF: Jazz jam @ Shops at Don Mills (New Balance Side Stage), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East; $0
5:30> Hugh Oliver @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick St., TO
6> TDJF: Gary LaRocca @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~instrumental guitar; $0
6> The Seasons @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
*6:30-11> The Woodshed jam with Don Niblett & Frank Zochodne @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
7> TDJF: Rhythm and Truth @ Shops at Don Mills (City Cadillac Stage, Town Square), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East ~Jazz; $0
7> Randy Hill @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
7:30-9:30> TDJF: The Usual Suspects @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz; $0
7:30> Friendly Rich @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick St., TO
8 > FingerStyleGuitar.ca open stage @ Hirut, 2050 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Roots
8> The Ditch Horses featuring Reid Pickering @ The Only Café, 972 Danforth Ave., TO East ~original Country
8> Toronto Folk Singers Club @ Tranzac Club (Tiki Room), 292 Brunswick St., TO
8> TDJF: Dave Young Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
8-12> tba @ Monarchs Pub in Eaton Chelsea Hotel, 33 Gerrard St. W., TO
*8> open stage with host Iain Leslie @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville; $2
8?> Sean Hully Jazz Group @ The Red Garnet, 231 Hunter St. W., Peterborough ~
8:30> Greg Wyard album release for Encore @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Pop songwriter; $25/-
*8:30> Django Jam @ Dominion On Queen, 500 Queen St. E., TO ~Django Jazz
8:30> Jasmine Netsena + Missy Knot @ Free Times Café, 320 College St., TO ~songwrtiers
*8:45> Tyler Yarema & His Rhythm @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues
**9> open mic with host Jody Ferrer & 10 p.m. feature by Shikah Sehgal & Nelson Sobral @ Groove Bar, 1952 Danforth Ave., TO East
9> Mercy Flight feat. Steve York; Girl On Girl; Costume Party for Two Four Tuesdays @ The Pison, 937 Bloor St. W., TO West ~indie
9> Danny Marks & Alec Fraser Blues Night @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Blues
*9> open mic with host Nikki Lemonbeat @ Kitch, 229 Geary Ave., TO West
9> Angie Gunn @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~classic Country
9-4> TDJF: Nick Morgan Quintet showcase & late-night Jazz Jam; @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West ~Jazz
*9> open mic with Manny D, Andy Earle & Dave Breckels @ Big Chris BBQ, 17380 Yonge St., Newmarket
9:30> Nicola Vaughan hosts jam @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave., TO
*9:30> karaoke with The English Rose & The Mad Scotsman @ The Fossil & Haggis, 790 Military Trail, Scarborough
*9:30> Peter Verity @ Black Swan, 154 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Folk Roots
*9:30-12> open stage hosted by Jennifer Brewer @ The Old Nick, 123 Danforth Ave., TO East
*9:30> jam with Derek Downham @ Axis, 3048 Dundas St. W., TO West ~eclectic
9:30> Kirsten Hawley Band @ The Corral, 433 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa ~Country Rock
*10-2> The Sattalites @ Orbit Room, 580 College St., TO ~orig. & cover Reggae/Funk
10> TDJF: Jamey Haddad @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~NY Jazz
10> Nick Fraser @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick St., TO
10> Sinners Choir @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
*10-11> Nik Beat’s Howl radio show @ CIUT 89.5 FM, ~spoken word & music
*10-2> Marshall Dane Trio @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~New Country/Pop
10:30> The World Is Yours Unplugged @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
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