BOFF’ing on Bloor West

Inaugural Bloor Ossington Folk Fest shines light on local talent

Putting together an entire music festival from scratch might seem like a daunting feat best left to corporately-sponsored pros like NXNE and CMW. But the staff at Saving Gigi, a cozy café on the corner of Bloor and Roxton with some serious can-do attitude, beg to differ.

This past weekend, they unveiled the Bloor Ossington Folk Festival, a new, three-day event that saw 45 bands play 10 venues scattered around the bustling Bloor West neighbourhood, including their café, the nearby office of Exclaim!, Menalon restaurant-even a neighbour’s backyard. The festival, which was free for attendees, was made possible entirely by artists and the venues donating their time, effort, and resources.

Through these efforts, a larger-than-expected mix of café regulars, neighbours, and curious walk-ins, was introduced to a veritable treasure trove of emerging local indie/folk talent like up-and-coming troubadour Eamon McGrath (a staff member at Saving Gigi and one of the festival’s main organizers), Kristen Cudmore (Language Arts) who played some quirky and catchy loop-assisted tunes, and Culture Reject’s awesome weirdo acoustic pop. Some better-known names played the fest too: Julie Doiron, Will Kidman, and Wayne Petti, to name just a few.

“Folk” did accurately describe the majority of the artists who participated, but there were some louder sounds there too: the sinister, doomy swells of Gates, for one, and a sweaty, eardrum-shattering double bill consisting of Metz and Cancer Bats at the mysterious Theater of Human Health, which might have been the best-attended show of the weekend.

Refreshingly low-key and low-to-the-ground-and in many ways a labour of love by the organizers-Bloor/Oss Fest seemed primarily about appreciating music and community building-a commendable ethos often espoused by larger fests, but rarely achieved in practice.

If the number of cameras, digital recording devices, and bodies in each of the venues constituted something of a metric, it looks like this grass-roots celebration of music and Bloorcourt has legs. Let’s hope to see it back again this time next year.

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