Toronto Loves Tibet at Revival (783 College), Sunday-Wednesday (April 25-28). Sunday, $20 (includes film), Monday $15 (includes film); Tuesday $15, Wednesday $20. 416-535-7888. www.honsoul.ca Rating: NNNNN
Toronto loves Tibet. yes, it does. And to prove it there will be a four-day concert series at Revival to coincide with the Dalai Lama's Canadian visit during which, yes, the Canadian prime minister will meet with him. Toronto Loves Tibet features breakdancers Supernaturalz, a fashion show by True Essentials and myriad local artists from DJs to Taiko drummers to worldbeat, electronica and a Kraftwerk cover band.
"Tibetans are an endangered species," says the producer of the series, Jhames Lee, quoting the Dalai Lama, and Canadians, he believes, are not nearly as aware as we should be of what's going on over there.
"I don't think it's ignorance per se, since there are so many situations in the world that deserve attention, and I think Tibet gets overshadowed by all the media coverage of the Middle East."
There was a time, he points out, during the mid-90s when Tibet was a hipper cause, when the Beastie Boys held their Tibetan Freedom concerts, a precedent for the Toronto series. Remember?
"For about for or five years they were really huge, successful events, with people like Foo Fighters, Alanis, Rage Against the Machine, U2 - there's a huge list."
But, like trends, causes have a lifespan as well.
Composer and DJ Mikey Dorje Halpern, who performs Tuesday both solo and with the band HouseMusique, concurs and adds that it is not just Canadians who are shamefully ignorant.
"There's not enough awareness anywhere in the world. Even the UN and all the major countries refuse to recognize it as genocide because everyone depends on China for economic reasons."
As a child, Halpern was a student of the late Buddhist teacher and founder of Shambala, Chogyam Trungpa, who escaped Tibet at the age of 19, leading a group of 50 across the Himalayas.
It was Trungpa who gave Halpern the middle name Dorje, a Tibetan word meaning thunderbolt.
"Because I believe strongly in the Buddhist path, I feel very connected to the situation in Tibet. You hear about what's going on in Iraq and other parts of the world. That's obviously horrible, but this hits me even harder because it feels like I'm related to these people in some way."
He says that as Dorje, his performance runs along the lines of a DJ set.
"I mix in some tunes and trigger loops and do all sorts of stuff. My laptop has a bunch of knobs and complicated things attached to it. On Tuesday I'm going to gear the music toward Tibet with a kind of worldbeat sound with tabla samples and sitar."
HouseMusique is a live band featuring Halpern, a bass player, keyboards, vocals and a DJ spinning beats.
"I'm gonna fade out my laptop, pick up a guitar and keep it going with them," he says.
On the same bill are the aforementioned Kraftwerk cover band Die Roboter and Bluesativa, who offer up electronic-based R&B with undertones of jazz, urban and drum 'n' bass. Kind of like Thievery Corporation meets Erykah Badu.
The opening gala on Sunday, hosted by G Stokes, includes a fashion show, NYC's Jellybean Benitez, Subliminal, Yakudo Drummers, iDrum, J TEC, Strickly Salsa and breakdancers Supernaturalz.
"This is an important night because it's the first night the Dalai Lama will be here," says Lee. "And it just follows the birthday of the Panchen Lama," who will be turning 15 on April 25, still in the hands of the People's Republic of China, who kidnapped him at age 6.
Proceeds from Toronto Loves Tibet benefit the Riwoche Society. For more information about Toronto Loves Tibet, go to www.honsoul.ca .