LIVE NEAR BELLWOODS: THE CMW DAYTIME LIVING ROOM SESSIONS at the Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music (821 Queen West), Thursday to Saturday (March 10-12), 2-6 pm. Free. cmw.net.
Round up 18 of Canada's most promising indie acts, squeeze them into a tiny venue over three afternoons, make the shows free and all-ages and what do you get? An event you might want to start lining up for stat.
This year CMW has added a dedicated all-ages series to its festival programming. Live Near Bellwoods, features intimate "living room" performances by Allie Hughes, Pick a Piper, Olenka & the Autumn Lovers, Hooded Fang, Paper Lions, the Wilderness of Manitoba, Rich Aucoin, the Elwins and many others.
"We did an all-ages unplugged series in Bellwoods Park for NXNE last year," says the MuseBox's Bobby Kimberley, who hand-picked the bands, "and it was such a huge success that we're basically taking the same concept and putting it indoors - because March is cold."
Unlike the open-air, lots-of-elbow-room Trinity Bellwoods series, Live Near Bellwoods takes place inside the teensy-weensy Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music (821 Queen West), where each band will play a stripped-down mini-set. Expect some surprises and squishiness.
Self-described "weirdo pop princess" Allie Hughes plays a bunch of times during the festival (March 11 at Sneaky Dee's, March 12 at the Ballroom, plus an in-store March 13 at Sonic Boom), but she's particularly looking forward to her living room session (Thursday, March 10, 4:40 pm) at the Enjoyment of Music, a venue with which she's more than a little familiar.
"It's where I work!" says Hughes, who teaches voice at the Institute. "My favourite job ever. The premise of the school is that there isn't a curriculum. It's just about enjoying music. I do technique with some, songwriting with others, pop songs, vocalises, music theatre."
For her show, she'll play pared-down versions of a few songs, with guests including guitarist Thomas Gill and Kelly McMichael, whom Hughes describes as "the girl with the sexiest voice in Toronto."
"I get excited about intimate sets like this because it's a completely different approach than the showy, over-the-top live set I normally do with my band."