Make cut for Sydney Olympics
The members of Blue Rodeo had such a good time in Australia last month, they're heading back to kangaroo country. Only this time it's in an official capacity, as part of the music delegation representing Canada at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
They'll be non-competitive participants, but guitarist Greg Keelor has been seen getting out of bed before noon while bassist Bazil Donovan is rumoured to have sworn off flaky pastries until further notice. They should be in tip-top shape come September 15.
"We knew we were on a shortlist of bands the Canadian Trade Consulate were considering for the Olympics," allows singer/guitarist Jim Cuddy. "So while we were there touring with the Whitlams recently, we met with some people at Canada House and compiled all this compelling evidence to suggest that we'd be the best band to send over.
"When we were about to do the Calgary Olympics, we were thinking, 'Oh, man, this is gonna just be some stupid corporate crap,' but we ended up having a blast. I'm sure the Sydney Olympics are going to be totally amazing -- that's a town ready to entertain. It's a plum assignment, I'd say."
Forced to move
The condo crunch marches on.
New high-end building projects have already bumped a number of arts organizations from their long-term spaces, the most recent high-profile eviction being the Gas Station Studio. Now, renegade downtown performance studio the Music Gallery is being forced to look for new digs.
The Gallery's 179 Richmond West building is being demolished in August to make way for condominiums. Finding a new venue for artist-oriented programming is no easy task and could easily put the Gallery's music on hold for a couple of years, but drastic changes demand drastic actions.
This summer the Gallery launches a one-year program called Guerrilla Gallery: Audio Survival. The premise is simple. While a new space is being sought, the Gallery will become mobile, moving among a variety of locations and continuing to host live new music. Temporary venues include St. George-the-Martyr Church, Theatre Passe Muraille and a space on Ward's Island.
"There is some excitement in being able to drive around in a truck that says Guerrilla Gallery," Music Gallery director Jim Montgomery laughs, "but ultimately this is a temporary situation. We need stability, and hopefully that will come sooner rather than later."
The current Gallery location goes out with a bang this weekend (Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22) with a two-day global electronic music festival. Performers include Vienna's Pita, Marcus Schmickler, Sook-Yin Lee and John Oswald, Daniel Lui, Warp recording artists Phoenecia, Blotto, Chris Twomey and Oval Roaster.
Tickets are $10 advance for each night. Call 204-1080 for details.
Comfort Zone, Wed, July 12
The chance to see one of hiphop's most inspired figures never quite materialized when Prince Paul decided not to get on a plane Wednesday afternoon. Apparently you can do that in hiphop.
In a move more suited to the Wu-Tang Clan than the famed De La Soul sidekick, the man behind those annoying between-song skits opted out of his Comfort Zone gig at the last moment with no real explanation. Phone calls went unreturned and e-mails unanswered. It's just a hunch, but don't expect a makeup date.
Ted's Wrecking Yard, Sat, July 15
The converted early-70s Crown school bus parked outside Ted's Wrecking Yard could only mean that Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys -- due to play Harbourfront Centre Sunday (July 16) -- were about to make their Toronto debut a day early. As special guests of masked instrumental marvels Los Straitjackets, the honky-tonk swingers employed precision picking to rock the sweltering house with swank slicked-back style. It must've been tough getting a drink at the Horseshoe, since nearly all the club's staff were getting tight at Ted's with the Fly-Riters.
As delightful as Big Sandy and his boys were, it's difficult to top any band that performs in Mexican wrestling masks. And the image-conscious Straitjackets don't stop at flashy-finned headgear -- no, sir. They've got matching black T-shirts, black denims and black canvas Converse Chuck Taylor basketball shoes to boot. It just made their foamy surfside salvage of My Heart Will Go On (Theme From Titanic) that much more impressive.
SON OF SOUL
On the Rocksteady tip
Big up to Toronto vinyl wizard Son of SOUL. The T.O. hiphop DJ will be representing Canada in New York July 27 to 30 at the annual Rocksteady Picnic.
Rocksteady is perhaps the premier hiphop party on the planet, organized by the crew that's been in hiphop from the get-go. Son of SOUL got the nod from legendary Rocksteady dancer Crazy Legs following a Toronto gig in May. T-dot on top again!