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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Mod Club memories

Far too many Toronto music venues have been dying, with owners falling victim to the double whammy of prohibitive rents and crippling taxes. The covid pandemic is just the latest nail in the coffin. First hit were the clubs; now it’s concert halls.The news that the Mod Club is closing has hit the music community especially hard. The 700-capacity concert hall in Little Italy,  at the corner of College and Crawford streets, was the perfect size for mid-level international acts and local artists whose stars were on the rise. It boasted brilliant sight lines, state-of-the-art lighting and exceptional sound and became one of the venues of choice for the Canadian Music Week and North By North...
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Remembering Toronto's Colonial Tavern

The illustrious history of Toronto's famous Colonial Tavern, once one of North America's top music clubs, is now etched into the sidewalk at 203 Yonge Street on a fabulous granite disc, thanks to the Downtown Yonge business association and MOD Developments. The disc, which features the names of over 130 artists who performed at the Colonial, was unveiled on Oct. 29, 2020.So many Canadian artists—of all genres— played Toronto’s storied Colonial, from Cy McLean & his Rhythm Rompers (who broke Yonge Street’s colour barrier in the late ‘40s) to The Viletones (who simply tore up the place in the ‘70s).Through the 1950s and into the '60s, the world's top jazz artists played the Colonial, inclu...
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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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Truths & Rights - The Great Lost Album

At the dawn of the 1980s reggae music was bubbling up in Canada, finding an audience among fans of punk and new wave. Toronto, in particular, was a reggae hotbed, thanks to the city’s large West Indian community and a healthy club and concert scene that thrived on diverse sounds. Reggae legend Bob Marley had already visited Toronto four times, while many other Jamaican stars came and performed concerts. Some, like Jackie Mittoo and Leroy Sibbles, even stayed and made Toronto their home.Several groups from Toronto’s Jamaican community, including Earth, Roots & Water and Ernie Smith & Roots Revival, staged regular shows at downtown venues like the Horseshoe Tavern and Hotel Isabella. A...
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Beatlemania and the Toronto Sound

The Beatles changed the world in countless ways, but they also dramatically changed Toronto over three consecutive years of performances (1964 to 1966) at Maple Leaf Gardens. Almost overnight, the city was hit with a cultural shift of seismic proportions: Boys grew Beatle bangs, girls pinned photos of John, Paul, George and Ringo on their walls and parents worried about the sanity of their teenaged children. Canada’s folk darlings Ian & Sylvia had ruled up to that point, but as the male half of that duo, Ian Tyson, remembers, “the minute the Beatles arrived, it was over—well and truly over.” The folk boom slowed, as every kid on the block rushed to form rock bands.Toronto’s music scene f...
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