Toronto launches new concert series live from empty music venues

The free City Hall Spotlight series kicks off on January 14 with Lido Pimienta at the Phoenix Concert Theatre and continues weekly until May


In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as musicians struggled to replace their abruptly cancelled revenue from shows, the city launched a virtual version of its City Hall Live Toronto concert series to help local artists fill the void.

It’s a new year and Toronto’s musicians and music venues continue to struggle amidst the pandemic. And so, the city is launching a new Toronto concert series called City Hall Live Spotlight.

Where the original series took place at lunchtime and featured mostly self-recorded laptop and phone performances (as was the style at the time), this new series will feature professionally shot and recorded concerts live from local music venues – many of which, shuttered since March, have now embraced livestreaming. All the musicians and music venues will be compensated for the shows.

The series kicks off on Thursday, January 14 at 7:30 pm with Lido Pimienta performing live from the Phoenix Concert Theatre. That will be followed with Little Magic Sam at the Dakota Tavern on January 21, Vi at Hole In The Wall on January 28 with and Azalyne at Poetry Jazz Café on February 4.

The series will run weekly on Thursday nights through May with a total of 25 concerts overall. There will be double bills on the first Thursday of each month.

The concerts will be free and they’ll stream live on Facebook and on HappinApp, a new Toronto-based livestreaming platform. Like last time, viewers can also choose to make donations to Unison Benevolent Fund, which supports music industry workers in crisis.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for paid performances have been few and far between for Toronto musicians and music industry businesses,” says city councillor Brad Bradford, who recently took over for Joe Cressy as chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee. “Like many Toronto businesses and residents, it is critical for us to support this industry now so that it has a future.”

The city also encourages you to order takeout from a restaurant on its online directory ToGoToronto.com and make a night of it.

@trapunski

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