Tag Archives: Goddo

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IS LIVE MUSIC IMPORTANT TO TORONTO? You betcha!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a special panel discussion regarding the live music strategy being undertaken by the Downtown Yonge BIA in partnership with Music Canada, City of Toronto’s Economic Development & Culture Division, Canada’s Music Incubator and Heritage Toronto. The focus of the discussion was the historical and contemporary importance of Yonge Street as a music and cultural hub for the city (see end of blog for web addresses).

Hosted in the Hard Rock Cafe (originally known as the Friar’s Tavern in the 60’s and 70’s), the venue overlooks the world-famous Yonge-Dundas Square (below).20150924_182802The event was part of the Yonge Street Speaker Series sponsored by Downtown Yonge BIA and presented by Yonge Street Media who publishes an online newsletter containing information and news pertaining to the Yonge St corridor (I highly recommend you subscribe to this).  http://www.yongestreetmedia. ca/

Introduced by Yonge Street’s Ritu Bhardwaj and supported by Downtown Yonge BIA’s Exec. Director & Chief Staff Officer Mark Garner,  the panel of music industry experts (pictured below) included moderator Amanda Martinez – singer/songwriter and media personality; Greg Godovitz – long-time recording artist whose hard rock band Goddo was a big fave of mine back in the 70’s & 80’s when I was a weekly clubgoer. Greg is now a radio personality, producer and author; Amy Terrill, VP of Public Affairs for Music Canada; Nicholas Jennings – music journalist and author of one of my fave books Before the Goldrush (the story of the Yorkville scene in the 60’s), and Mike Tanner – Music Sector Development Officer for Toronto’s Film & Entertainment Industries office.20150924_193055Several topics were addressed including the state of viable live performance stages in the city (or lack thereof), as well as the value of Yonge Street as the touchstone for the city’s music history. A number of initiatives have already been launched including designating the various locations of important venues from the past along the Yonge strip that will receive plaques acknowledging their contributions to the city’s and country’s music industry. See map below:img278Soon to launch is the Canada’s Music Incubator initiative, which is the next phase of Downtown Yonge’s music strategy. Partnering with Coalition Music, they are introducing an Artist Management program – something I myself taught for several years at one of the city’s music & film schools.  One of the missing components in these days of online music distribution and social media marketing is the professional artist’s manager who guides artists and negotiates liveable performance fees for them, so hopefully this program will result in a more professional approach to music marketing and gigging esp. for emerging artists who need this important support.

It was great to watch the introductory video that reminded us of Yonge Street’s heritage – The Colonial Tavern, Le Coq d’Or Tavern, Ronnie Hawkins and other legacy musicians…see below20150924_191124 20150924_191259

20150924_190910…and attendees were very enthusiastic with their own questions and commentary- below20150924_203258One important issue that was brought to the fore is that musicians gigging around town these days are not paid by the clubs and bars that take advantage of the fans’ booze and food sales. Back when the city’s live music venues had a thriving attendance (70’s- early 90’s) bars would pay the artists and promote/advertise their own venue – these days bands have to either work for the door or sell tickets provided by the club owners who pocket the revenue generated. Bands also have to promote themselves using whatever publicity vehicles they can afford (social media is free but few artists really understand how to target the market outside of their own “circle of friends” to attract new fans). The panel all agreed this is a serious issue, however, as one of my musician friends pointed out, last night’s event was held in just such a venue where bands have to rent the space (for a substantial fee) plus meet a bar sales minimum. So instead of operating as true bars and live music venues, many are now operating as corporate event spaces. Musicians lose out and in the long run, so do the fans who are not exposed to as many talented homegrown artists as we did back in the day.

I hope to participate in more discussions and activities in support of this “Music Strategy/Downtown Yonge BIA” project and I encourage you all to go out and see/hear a band this weekend. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

Important websites for fans of Canadian music:
www.downtownyonge.com   www.musiccanada.com   www.toronto.ca   www.canadasmusicincubator.com   www.coalitionmusic.com

Spirit of Yorkville Festival Logo

GET YOUR GROOVE ON @ THIS WEEKEND’S SPIRIT OF YORKVILLE MUSIC FEST

Any plans for this weekend? No? Well, you do now!  Join the groovy folks from Yorkville’s 60s and 70s as they launch the first annual SPIRIT OF YORKVILLE MUSIC FESTIVAL on Friday May 22nd and Saturday May 23rd with shows at The Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland St. (at Yonge & Bloor). www.spiritofyorkville.com

SpiritofYorkville2015Poster WED PROOF - high quality available upon requestI was thrilled to speak with one of the Festival’s founders, CATHY YOUNG, the Juno Award winning Canadian folk singer/guitarist from Yorkville’s golden era. Billboard Magazine named Cathy’s A Spoonful of Cathy Young (below) as its ‘Pick of the Week’ in 1969 .

Cathy Young albumSince those hippy-dippy folkie days, Cathy (pictured below then and now) toured constantly throughout the 80’s and 90’s and has diversified into theatre & television work including roles in the Canadian touring version of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ (as Mary Magdalene) and vocal work on ‘Rita MacNeil & Friends’. She has also worked around the world including headlining shows in Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Then and Now-Juno Award Winner Cathy YoungCathy, who are the organizers of the Spirit of Yorkville Music Festival?
CY: The founders are David Depoe, Linda Goldman, Brenda Armstrong, Ken Stower, John Brower, Rosemary White and myself.

What inspired you to launch the Spirit of Yorkville Music Festival?
CY: Linda put on some events at the Yorkville Library, and then she gave me a blowup photo of the Yorkville street scene which I posted on Facebook and tagged everyone I knew from back in the day… it caused a commotion!  A guy named Richard Olds put a Facebook group page together and the rest is history. From the posts we realized that people wanted to get together and feel the spirit again, so that’s what we did. We formed a committee two years ago and are going strong now.

So what qualifies you to present such a 60’s/70’s era-specific festival?
CY: WE WERE THERE from the beginning to the ‘ end ‘. (Cathy is pictured below kneeling bottom centre)

Sunday Oct 12 1969 front of Penny Farthing includes Cathy Young centre bottom, Danny Marks Top row 3rd from right and many other well known musiciansWhy do you think it’s important to remember Yorkville and the musicians from back in those days?
CY: Many careers were launched there and still enjoy World fame today. We built a community, and with David Depoe and the Diggers, we set up the very first Love-In in Queen’s Park on May 22 1967. Almost 8,000 people showed up for the free festival, including members of the Jefferson Airplane who were in town – they enjoyed the concert sitting on the grass and feeling the spirit. Leonard Cohen and Buffy St. Marie performed. It was also my first big public performance. (Cathy went on to win a Juno Award in 1974) It’s important to remember all the musicians who were part of a thriving community, also the poets and artists of the time. Their work goes on and Yorkville is represented well by them.

map RiverboatApart from the concerts, any other activities or displays for visitors to enjoy?
CY:  We will have a video Tribute to the artists we’ve lost. There will be displays of photos and artwork, donated to the Spirit of Yorkville.

Do you have plans for continuing this Festival next year?
CY:  Next year and every year. We’re building up to the 50th anniversary of the original Love-In and we are creating a YORKVILLE WALK OF FAME complete with stars!

Can people buy tickets ahead of time and if so, where/how?
CY:  There are a limited number of tickets for each show – Friday and Saturday evening shows are $37.00 and the Saturday afternoon folk fest that starts at 12 noon is $15.00.  There are some tickets still available online at www.spiritofyorkville.com and there will be a few tickets available at the door for those who prefer not to not buy online. We’re looking forward to seeing you all at The Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland St. in the Heart of Yorkville.

Some of the greats from back in the day will be performing or dropping by, including Luke and the Apostles, Johnnie Lovesin, George Olliver (below)…..Then and Now-Luke and the Apostles Then and Now-Johnnie Lovesin-credit Library & Archive Canada 1980 and Yorkville Village Alumni Association 2014 Then and Now-Juno Award Nominee George Olliver…as well as Greg Godovitz (a.k.a. Goddo) and Ken Whitely (below)

Then and Now-Greg Godovitz from Goddo-1978 in band Goddo Then and Now - Canadian music legend Ken WhiteleySo get your tie-died T’s, jeans and earth shoes outta the attic and join me at the Love-In this weekend!