Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Uncovering Canadian rock's early years

The story of rock and roll’s arrival in Canada has often been reduced to this: a good ol’ boy from Arkansas named Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins blew into Toronto with his Hawks in 1958 and cast a hypnotic spell on unsuspecting Canadian audiences. While it’s true that Hawkins did much to popularize rock music north of the 49th parallel, there were other, often unsung pioneers here already laying the groundwork. And that’s the strength of Greig Stewart’s new book Hawkins, Hound Dog, Elvis and Red: How Rock and Roll Invaded Canada. Stewart pays tribute to performers like Bobby Dean (Blackburn) and the Gems, Frank Motley and his Motley Crew, Little Caesar and the Consuls, Les Vogt and th...
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Music in Downsview

Everyone knows that SARSStock, featuring the Rolling Stones, AC-DC, Rush and others, took place in Downsview. But few are aware that Downsview is also notable for once having Canada’s largest nightclub and an auditorium featuring Toronto’s biggest bands. In fact, Downsview at one time was a go-to destination for music lovers, who ventured uptown and “out west” to attend weekly dances in the neighbourhood’s community halls, church basements, and YMCAs. Country music and rock ’n’ roll were the early draws. But, later, the area also became a major breeding ground for hip-hop and R&B.A deeper dive into this history reveals how live music in Downsview began in the late 1950s with country...
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Jackie Shane - Toronto's answer to Little Richard

The North American rhythm-and-blues circuit of the 1950s and ’60s had a surprising number of artists pushing gender boundaries. Macon, Georgia’s Little Richard, who’d once performed as Princess Lavonne in a traveling tent show called Sugarfoot Sam's, was certainly the best known. But Richard was heavily influenced by Esquerita, a flamboyant and feminine pianist from New Orleans. Also from New Orleans were two other artists who were gay or transgender or nonbinary: Patsy Vidalia, born Irving Ale, hosted the city’s legendary Dew Drop Inn and recorded as Pat Valdelar; and gay soul singer and impresario Bobby Marchan regularly switched between male and female clothing—complete wit...
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Obituary: Soul singer Jackie Shane

Photo courtesy of Gerry Miskolczi
Jackie Shane broke all the rules. An American-born, black, transgender woman, Ms. Shane first came to Canada in the conservative early 1960s and won over audiences with her glamorous image and soulful singing. For the next decade, she packed clubs in Ontario and Quebec and landed one memorable song, the slinky, sassy “Any Other Way,” near the top of the charts. But then Ms. Shane disappeared and erroneous rumours circulated of a possible murder or suicide. For the next 40 years, the mystery grew until word came that the retired performer was living back in her native Nashville.Ms. Shane’s rediscovery resulted in a massive comeback that the former singer never planned – nor actively participa...
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