September 16th @ Free Times Café

When I was in law school a few years ago (OK many years ago – OK many, many years ago) the Dean of the law school (which I won’t name but let’s just say it was a law school in Toronto that wasn’t downtown) was fond of saying that we were “the best law school in the Commonwealth.” Now I’d only been at that law school but I thought that might have been a bit of a reach. I was fine with “the best law school in Downsview” or perhaps even “the best law school in North York” (this was pre-amalgamation Toronto) but I didn’t understand the need to try to make something that was perfectly fine and serviceable into something more.

Later, post-amalgamation, the mayor of North York became the mayor of Toronto – and I know some of you said at the time “this is worst mayor we could ever have” but I guess you were wrong on that one. Anyway, this mayor was obsessed with Toronto being seen as a “world-class city” again, with no real thought of what that meant or why it should even matter.

I bring up these examples because this obsession with Toronto being the best, biggest, etc., continues to this day. We see this in three different events that are taking place in this fair city this coming weekend (September 15 – 16). Obviously there is the Toronto International Film Festival which regularly bills itself as the largest firm festival in North America and one of the one of the largest publically attended film festival in the world. But it’s not just TIFF.

Did you know that this coming weekend will also see the Toronto Ukrainian Festival which is, you guessed it, “North America’s largest Ukrainian Festival” and also the Toronto Polish Festival which, brace yourself, is “North America’s largest celebration of Polish culture.” In the interest of journalistic integrity I should tell you that I have no idea if these claims are totally accurate as my cursory Google searches failed to tell me where the second largest Ukrainian and Polish festivals are in North America. But really, does it matter? Would your interest in attending drop if you learned that they were only number 2 or number 3? Does the fact that something is the largest – insert name of country/culture here – festival mean that it is necessary any good. Is bigger always better?

This then leads me to other entertainment option of the weekend. Yes there is even more do after catching some films at TIFF, painting an Easter egg at the Ukrainian festival and eating a pierogi or twelve at the Polish festival. And let me say right now that I realize that what I just set out were quick caricatures of cultures that are much more vital than simply those stereotypes and I would certainly have a better idea of the full richness of the cultures if I visited one or both of the festivals but I’m busy this weekend with that other entertainment option. And that other entertainment option is – of course – Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room’s monthly show at the Free Times Café (College just west of Spadina).

Now in the spirit of bigginess that seems to be part of the Toronto hype machine I could say that this show is part of North America’s longest running monthly residency by a 10 piece band in a small club that doesn’t charge a cover and features all different types of music played on an incredibly wide variety of instruments, including the bagpipes, but I’m not going to do that. Instead let me say that the show starts at 8 and I’d love to see you and that I think you’ll have a good time.


P.S. The reason I specifically mentioned the bagpipes in the previous paragraph rather than any of the other instruments played by the band (the mandolin for example) is because bagpipes are unique in that they are the only one that can be seen as both a musical instrument and an instrument of torture.

September 16th Set List:
Set #1: Set #2:
Meditation / Roselma
Excuse Me…
Rocky Top
Ghost Riders
On Our Last Date
Nigel’s Love Song
Wild And Blue
Drifting Away
Long Black Veil
Summers End
Until I Met You
Unchained Melody
Glenora Ferry
Harbour Le Cou
Volcanic Jig
I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight
Crazy Red
What’s Up
Famous Blue Raincoat
New Speedway Boogie
Tumbling Tumbleweeds
I Don’t Look Good Naked
That’ll Be The Day
Home For A Rest