There was a period of time when Toronto was obsessed with being seen as a “world class” city, whatever that means. Fortunately, that almost pathological desire to be recognized by people outside of Canada’s borders (because within Canada’s borders hating Toronto is pretty much the order of the day) seems to have faded away. It does need to be acknowledged however, that there’s a lot about Toronto that has legitimately led to international recognition – if not notoriety. Two particular examples leap to mind.
First, are there the many outstanding musical venues in this city. There is, for example, the much venerated and newly renovated Massey Hall as well as the lovely Koerner Hall. The neon palms of the famous El Mocambo are lit up again and there are many smaller clubs and bars opening up regularly (also sadly closing regularly). One of the real jewels of the bar/club scene is the legendary Free Times Café (located on College just west of Spadina). The Free Times regularly hosts international, national, and local artists of great repute. But more about the Free Times later.
The other international claim to fame Toronto possesses is electing mayors who flame out in scandal. I could go back in history and set out all the various scandals that have beset the mayors of this city over the last 150 years, but that would require research and I’m too lazy to do that. So, let’s just look at the last two mayors the city has had shall we.
First there was Rob Ford. What can be said about Rob Ford that has not already been said or depicted in a really bad movie? A blustering, crack addicted alcoholic whose life always seemed on the verge of collapse and who lived in a state of denial. Ford’s antics or exploits or whatever term you want to use became regular fare on news shows across the globe. It got so bad that Toronto City Council had to essentially take away his mayoral duties.
And then, following Rob Ford, John Tory was elected mayor. Tory was often touted as the anti-Ford – his antithesis if you will. But John Tory and Rob Ford had an awful lot in common for two people who were considered opposites. They were both white men whose families had a long history with the Conservative Party and had also amassed significant amounts of wealth before they came on the scene. They also both had four letter last names. Sure, Tory is thin and Ford was rotund, but other than that they’re pretty similar. If you were asked to imagine the anti-Rob Ford, it probably wouldn’t be just a slightly taller white guy who is also a life-long Conservative and who too is heir to a family fortune.
The big contrast that was touted between Tory and Ford was, apparently, that Tory’s personal life was above reproach – he might be boring, he might be bland, but he wouldn’t get put the city in the spotlight in the same way the previous mayor did. Well guess what, after being elected to his third term as mayor just last year, Tory had to resign because of an affair he had with a junior staffer just before it was revealed in the press. So, as it turns out, that’s one more thing he had in common with his predecessor.
If we look at the Toronto ledger then, on the negative side we have recurring mayoralty scandals, on the plus side we have wonderful musical venues, so let’s focus on the positive shall we. And in particular, let’s look at the Free Times Café (I did say where it was located, didn’t I?).
I’m very pleased, indeed honoured, to let everyone know that on Sunday March 19th, Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room, the band that I am proud to be a small part of (I’m not being modest here, there are 10 people in the band so I’m just 1/10th of the whole) will be returning to the legendary Free Times Café to once again provide a wildly eclectic evening of songs in many genres delivered by musicians who would love nothing more than to play for you. Because we are so happy to be back at the Free Times after a couple months of being away, there will be no cover. The show starts at 8 and we hope to see you there.
PS. If you didn’t catch our virtual Robbie Burns show on January 25th, please go to our website – www.galr.ca – and you can watch the whole thing. Just a warning, as if you didn’t expect it, there are a hell of a lot of bagpipes in that show. And as an additional warning, those same bagpipes – along with the person who plays them – will be at Sunday’s show as well.
March 19th Set List:
Mist Covered Conundrum Bad Hand Navajo Rug Wheels All My Tears It’s A Sin Faces In The Frames Something Golden Ring Big Rock Candy Lodestar I Don’t Look Good Naked Barbara Ann Glenora Ferry
Pretzel Logic Better Be Home Soon Sucks To Be Me Where Does Love Go Word For Sky People Get Ready I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight Golden Ring Give Me Love Bitter Green Lay Down Sally There Stands The Glass Have I The Right Midnight Choir