Is C’est What planning return to center of songwriters’ universe?
Some of my fondest memories of open mics and presenting songwriters on stage go back to the couple of years during which I hosted a Sunday night open stage at TO’s C’est What on Front St. at Church back in the late 80s.
That was before I started this magazine project and shortly after I began to hang out around the TO live music scene. I had been hosting a Tuesday open stage in the Grapevine Room at what was then The Diamond Club (today The Phoenix) when I got connected with C’est What owner George and we got talking about having me do a similar event in his room on Sunday nights, which needed a boost.
In those days last call on Sundays was at midnight and at 1 a.m. other nights and there was no such thing as “festival exemptions/extensions” that today allow bars to stay open till 4 a.m. or even later for almost any reason you can think of if it’s likely to produce tourism dollars. Other than jams and open stages, there wasn’t much on in “Toronto The Good”.
My event was a huge success and set the template for all my subsequent similar undertakings. I operated on a small guarantee plus a percentage of the bar sales —and they were really good as I brought in Roots/Pop and Rock acts such as Laura Hubert’s Leslie Spit TreeO (long before their Juno), Bob Snider and many others who would later go on to achieve wide acclaim. I only gave it up because in late ’89 I moved out of the city the hinterland and by early ’90 the trek back and forth during the winter had gotten to be too much.
But I was running only one event there as part of a calendar that was chock full of songwriting talents every night of the week. (I know, because I helped George prepare the printed out calendars he did each month.) It was a wonderful time to be a songwriter in Toronto.
You can possibly imagine, then, how dismayed I’ve been to see the club gradually lose its cachet as a venue dedicated to live original music. Don’t get me wrong —it still has a lot of great what-we-now-call-indie talent appearing every month (including tonight, as I shall eventually get around to telling you about). But it’s an unusual week when there are more than four such shows taking place and many weeks there are only two or three —I know this because for some time I’ve been checking their website every day and including their shows in the Moon’s daily listings.
But given tonight’s show (as well as the one that took place Tuesday) I can’t help but speculate —and hope— that perhaps the pendulum has reached the apex of its amplitude and is starting to sway the other way.
Tuesday night featured three young female songwriters who each, based on their bios —which the club does helpfully include in full on its website— sound very interesting indeed. And tonight’s lineup of three indie-Roots-Pop acts, I can personally attest, are all definitely of interest and high calibre.
While I’m not personally familiar with T.C. Folkpunk, I’ve heard good things and they’ve appeared in places and with other acts that I know to be of good quality. But I’m very familiar with the stellar talent of Danger Bees head drone David Macmichael, about whom I’ve written many times and shall no doubt write many more. His buddy Dean MacKinnon (who’s a regular at David’s weekly Sunday jam at Relish in East York) is an understated, under-known and probably under-appreciated talent with the fearlessness of a Jody H. Ferrer and poise of a Bryan Van Dusen, all the while doing totally his own ineffable but highly enjoyable thing.
What’s more, in addition to the fact that the club is even offering this TC/DMac/DeMKin combo pack, I’m told that tonight may be the beginning of a new weekly songwriters’ series there —which would be an outstanding development if it should transpire, particularly if DMac will be involved in selecting the artists.
Maybe the easiest way to find out if this indeed is what is in the cards —and possibly to help ensure that it is— would be to go tonight to this very hip (this was one of the very first TO bars to offer craft beers on tap when the term didn’t even exist yet) basement club and check it out. Show starts around 9, the $10 cover is a steal for this level of craft and don’t be surprised if, given the irrepressibly creative nature of the participants, it ends up going well beyond whenever it’s scheduled to end.
-Gary 17, TorontoMoon.ca
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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Noon> Kevin Jollimore stars as Nixon in “Elvis and Dick” @ Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, 30 Bridgman Ave., Toronto, TO ~musical theatre; $10
*5-8> The Mediterranean Stars @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~Jazz
5-9> Shannon Butcher Quartet for MOSAIC BIA Jazz series @ East Lynn Park, East Lynn Ave. @ Danforth Ave., TO E. ~Jazz
6> The Morals @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
6> Comhaltas Irish Slow Session @ Tranzac Club (Tiki Room), 292 Brunswick Ave. TO ~folk dancing
6:30> Kurt Neilsen @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
7-11> Blues Night with Julian Fauth & guests @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~original Juno-winning Blues
7-9> Al Tuck @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
*7-11> open jam with Wayne Buttery Band @ The Beacon, 146 45th St., Wasaga Beach
7> Bill Dickinson @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough ~Country
*7:30-10:30> Peter Griffin & BTBs @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
7:30> Ryan Brouwer & friends @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave. TO
*8-12> Girls Night Out Jazz singers jam with Lisa Particelli, Peter Hill et al @ Chalkers, 247 Marlee Ave., TO North-West
*8> open jam with Juggernaut Jam Band featuring Andy Narsingh @ Rockpile East, 2878 Eglinton Ave. E., Scarborough
*8-1> open jam with Wednesday’s Child feat. Johnny Bootz Hutt @ Lola, 40 Kensington Ave., TO
8> Emily Steinwall Jazz Band @ Monarchs Pub (Eaton Chelsea Hotel), 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Jazz
*8-11> Fraser-Daley @ Inter Steer, 357 Roncesvalles Ave. TO West ~Roots/Blues
8> R&B jam with Carolyn T @ Jazz Bistro, 251 Victoria St., TO ~R&B
8-1> Christopher Plock Trio @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Jazz
*8-12> all-ages jam with The Brand New Low @ Sixth Line Pub, 1500 Sixth Line, Oakville
8-12> open mic night @ Fionn MacCool’s Ajax, 32 Kingston Rd. E. Ajax
*8-11> open mic @ Frank’s Pasta, 426 King St. E., Cobourg
8:30> Xave Ruth; Zippy Doiron @ Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., TO ~indie songwriters; $5
*8:30> Crazy Strings host High Lonesome Wednesdays with opening acoustic act @ Silver Dollar 486 Spadina Ave., TO ~Bluegrass
*8:30> open mic with Jenn Fiorentino @ Earl Of Whitchurch, 6204 Main St., Stouffville
*8:30> Something Country @ The Endzone, 1900 King St. E., Hamilton ~Country
*8:45> Bradley & The Bouncers @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues/R&B
*9> jam with David Grunsky & friends @ Melange, 172 Main St., TO East ~Rock/Blues
9> David Macmichael; T.C. Folkpunk; Dean McKinnon @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO ~indie Pop; $10
9> Ron Leary @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Folk troubadour
9-12> Sean Peever @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO ~Roots; pwyc
*9?> open mic with Skip @ The Queen’s Legs, 286 Eglinton Ave. W., TO North
*9?> open mic with Sean Barker @ Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St., TO
9> The Rucksack Willies @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
*9?> jam with Michael Zane @ Shakers, 580 Kerr St., Oakville
*9-12> jam with Damage Control @ St. Louis Bar & Grill Ajax, 11 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
9> Pete @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
*9-1> open mic jam with Whiskey Birds @ Sweetz Lounge, 5289 Hwy 7, Woodbridge-Vaughan
*9:30> open stage with Nicola Vaughan @ Black Swan (downstairs), 154 Danforth Ave., TO East
9:30> Michael Skinner Quartet @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
*9:30-2> jam with Live Animals @ The Unicorn, 175 Eglinton Ave. E., TO North
**9:45> Wednesdays Go Pop showcase with tba @ Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., TO ~indie
10> J. Swinnerton @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
10> Local 164 @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave. TO
*10-2> Blues-Rock jam with Bruce Domoney @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave. TO
*10-2> Paul & Curtis @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Rock/Pop
10:30> Jerry McCabe @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
*10:30> The LMT Connection @ Orbit Room, 580 College St. TO ~Funk/R&B; $10
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