Canadian country music star Brett Kissel performs Thursday in Bowmanville

Singer with eight CCMA nominations kicks off Boots & Hearts Festival Thursday night

Nick Krewen

Music, Published on Wed Jul 30 2014

When Canadian country star Brett Kissel hits the road for a nationwide tour with headliner Brad Paisley in October, the eight-time Canadian Country Music Award nominee will be financing the trek by selling a few of his cows.


The 23-year-old Kissel, who was raised on a 100-year-old cattle ranch in Flat Lake, Alta., about two-and-a-half hours outside Edmonton, reveals he was once paid for a concert by cow instead of cash, a newer breed called Speckle Park.

“All my cows calved out, so the herd has increased from 30 to 60 since then,” Kissel explained yesterday from a Calgary recording studio, where he’s working on new material.

“There’s a plan for us to keep what’s called a ‘replacement heifer’ so you keep your heifers, which are female, to increase the herd, and you sell the steers and make some money on that.

“The good news is that a few of those steers I’m going to sell are going to help fund my participation on the Brad Paisley tour.”

Before he hits the road with Paisley, however, Kissel appears at the Thursday night opening blast-off of this long weekend’s Boots & Hearts Festival in nearby Bowmanville, warming up for fellow Canuck Dallas Smith.

And although the fest is headlined by such veteran acts as Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Kissel isn’t intimidated. He says he and the former singer for rock band Default plan to give the country greats a run for their money.

Kissel says the homegrown stars are quite capable of kicking butt onstage.

“Dallas Smith and I are performing the show together and, even though he’s the headliner and I’m opening, we both have the same collective goal: we are there to play the kickoff party and we are there to set the bar very high for the rest of the weekend. We want to make sure we put our foot on the gas pedal and don’t let it off.”

The “gas pedal” reference could apply to Kissel’s career. The public largely knows him through his debut album, Started With a Song, the energetic hits “Started With a Song,” “Raise Your Glass,” “3-2-1” and “Tough People Do,” and winning a Juno Award in March for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, but he first picked up the guitar at age seven, performing Johnny Cash covers at talent shows at the age of 10 and releasing his first album at 13.

Before he signed with Warner Music Canada, Kissel’s independent album sales were each in the five figures and he had headlined Canada’s largest country music festival, The Big Valley Jamboree, in Camrose, Alta.

He also had the distinction, at the age of 15, of being the youngest ever CCMA Award nominee, for Rising Star. So you can imagine his excitement at being nominated for eight CCMA Awards this year. He’ll be in Edmonton on Sept. 7 to hopefully hear his name called.

“There’s no better feeling really, because a lot of hard work has gone into my career in general over the last few years,” says Kissel, who is co-managed by Bob Doyle, Garth Brooks’ manager.

“It’s great to feel this recognition, but in some ways it doesn’t even feel real because it’s a pretty outstanding feeling to get eight of them. We expected maybe one or two. To quadruple my expectations is remarkable.”

Aside from the usual nods for Male Artist, Single and Songwriter (for “Started With a Song”), and Album, one award that Kissel is curiously up for is Interactive Artist of the Year.

He says that his social media activity is one of the more important aspects of his career.

“In this day and age, it’s one of the most important factors to determine success,” Kissel notes. “I now have a direct link to 25,000 people who follow me because they’re interested in what I’m doing, whether I’m hanging out on the farm with the cows or I’m out on the road with my Young Guns tour. These are the people that care about me and it’s important for me to show them that I care about them back.

“Whether they’re confiding in me about a tough time that they’re going through or they’re expressing their excitement about coming out to Boots & Hearts, for example, it’s just important for me to engage. I know the feeling I get when Brad Paisley or George Strait will tweet me back, and say, ‘Thanks, Brett, for the comment.’ I still get giddy myself.”

But whether he wins or loses, Kissel is hoping for one thing at the telecast: good seats.

“The first year I attended the CCMAs was over in Edmonton 10 years ago and I swear I had second-to-last-row seating with my mom,” he says. “Fast forward 10 years and I hope I’m somewhere close to the front row. At least if I have some good seats, I’ll be happy.”

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel performs Thursday in Bowmanville | Toronto Star

Katy Perry is pure spectacle at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre

California pop goddess Katy Perry literally used every shade and hue on the colour spectrum – and maybe even invented a hue or two – during a visually stunning two-hour spectacle that was actually better eye candy than ear candy.

Nick Krewen

Music, Published on Sat Jul 19 2014

Now, that was colourful.

California pop goddess Katy Perry literally used every shade and hue on the colour spectrum – and maybe even invented a hue or two – during a visually stunning two-hour spectacle that was actually better eye candy than ear candy.

Not that the music she serenaded the 6-to-60-aged crowd at the Air Canada Centre for the first of three shows on Friday night (Saturday and Monday follow) was lacking in any way: with the exception of “Waking Up In Vegas,” Perry managed to squeeze in every chart-topper she’s thus far generated as well as a generous portion of her latest No. 1 album Prism.

But channeling her inner Broadway gene as she did, Perry unleashed a multi-costumed, multi-wigged, video-dominant, inflatable-filled extravaganza that will rank as an unforgettable experience for the estimated 14,000 in attendance, including her legions of dedicated fans, the KatyCats.

Perry’s Prismatic World Tour opened with a sequence worthy of The Lion King: spear-chucking Day-Glo clad Ninja warrior dancers with spiky Mohawk-type headgear flew through the air and stalked the triangular stage that extended three-quarters into the audience (several hundred enjoyed a special vantage inside the “pit” that was surrounded by platform) as Perry, wearing her hair in a ponytail with glowing rainbow bead extensions, launched in “Roar.”

That was just the introductory number: Teenage Dream’s “Part Of Me” and “Wide Awake” followed as Perry and her elaborately-garbed troupe shimmied down the treadmill-laden catwalk, giving everyone in the audience a pretty good vantage point.

By the time the “This Moment/Love Me” medley had been performed 20 minutes in, Perry had out Gaga-d Gaga and out Pinked-Pink, as her dancers performed aerial gymnastics high above the crowd and even the singer herself being hoisted into the air from a triangular “cage” and singing from a respectable altitude.

However, she was just getting started: again, taking a page from Lion King costume puppetry, Perry emerged from below the stage dressed as Cleopatra and riding a golden stallion for “Dark Horse.”

It wasn’t all serious show: as Perry yelled out “this is the song that put me on the map,” she launched into “I Kissed A Girl” and a bevy of pneumatic female “mummies” with exaggerated parts of their anatomies offered some hilarious twerking moves.

“Hot N Cold” and “International Smile” found “Kitty Purry” and her accompanying felines (perhaps Andrew Lloyd Webber should check the Cats closet for missing wardrobes) taking to the catwalk and stroking their tails.

As one might guess, except for an acoustic-driven set midway through the show, subtlety would be playing a minor role in the proceedings. Perry’s seven-piece band pumped the volume up to take advantage of the music’s throbbing dance beats as the superstar continued to engage in her theatrics, songs about love, self-image and vulnerability continually wielded with the impact of a sonic hammer.

The kitchen-sink approach with props and effects reached over-saturation a few times, and bordered on ridiculous when Perry brought her sunflower “garden” to the front of the triangle just prior to “The One That Got Away/Thinking Of You,” watered it and a pepperoni pizza box appeared. For some reason, a speech on how she was allergic to gluten followed as she invited a young fan on stage to relieve her of the pizza.

At another point, she implored fans to lift a finger and promise “to never break up with me,” that was a little creepy, to be honest, as it smacked a little of desperation from the ultra-confident Perry.

There were many moments, however, that were spot-on in terms of excitement and delivery, with butterflies, inflatable cars, balloons and Perry “flying” around the arena, and by the time “Firework” came around to end the 20-song evening, her followers were pumped up enough to drown her out with their leather-lunged enthusiasm.

Whether it was the constant costume changes (some humourous, some provocative), the green, rainbow-hued or black wigs, or the sense of playfulness that permeated the show, the audience lapped up the big-budget display as Perry proved herself to be a visually astute and entertaining performer.

Colour them impressed.

Katy Perry is pure spectacle at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre | Toronto Star

Music promoter Richard Flohil reflects on a six-decade career

Music promoter Richard Flohil reflects on a six-decade career
He’s helped launch the careers of Loreena McKennitt and k.d. lang. At 80, he’s finally agreed to slow down his famously tireless pace.

Nick Krewen

Music, Published on Fri Jun 27 2014

Now that he’s turned 80, Richard Flohil swears he’s going to slow the pace a bit.

What that actually means is anybody’s guess, because those who know the publicist and promoter extraordinaire — a master raconteur who corners the market on British charm and has helped the likes of Loreena McKennitt, k.d. lang and many others achieve global stardom — are flabbergasted by his tireless work ethic that includes a five-night-a-week commitment to hearing live music.

In a personal note distributed via email to colleagues last week, Flohil said he was “beginning to pull back a little,” but would stay involved “especially with special projects that inspire and/or amuse me.”

At this point, those projects include finishing a crowdfunded book he’s tentatively titled Louis Armstrong’s Laxative and 100 Other Mostly True Stories About a Life In Music and actively promoting up to 15 shows a year (Hugh’s Room is a favourite venue) with fellow promoter Tom Dertinger. Flohil also travels across Canada to attend folk festivals and mentors his own publicity clients in ways that exceed his job description.

So if he is contemplating some relaxation, there’s a strong possibility the public at large won’t notice it: music is clearly Flohil’s elixir of youth.

“I wish I knew who I’d stolen this from,” he says, his eyes twinkling as he quaffs a pint of ale at a Roncesvalles watering hole one recent sunny afternoon.

“But the age you go into music is the age you stay forever.

“I’m 34,” he grins.

His unbridled enthusiasm for the art form is no less diminished from the days of his early fascination with American jazz and blues. If anything, it’s grown exponentially, fueled in part by an eye-opening visit to the Mariposa folk festival in 1965, where he met Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Buffy Ste. Marie, Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs and The Staple Singers, acts he said “widened my head and almost made me evangelical.”

That passion has played an integral role in the formative years of many Canadian and U.S. acts, some who have gone on to become global superstars: McKennitt, lang, the Downchild Blues Band, Serena Ryder, Ani DiFranco, Laura Smith . . . the list is impressive.

“I think he has a particular talent for nurturing young artists, particularly when they’re starting out,” says Juno Award winner Loreena McKennitt, who has sold more than 14 million copies of her unique brand of world music.

“I think he’s got a good ear, and he’s very enthusiastic, which may sound kind of trite but being enthusiastic is a large part of developing enough confidence to move forward. And he’s very familiar with setting up the right circumstance for someone starting out. I think that takes a very particular nurturing hand and mind.”

And those nurtured artists have loved him back.

One need only to glance at the lineup that’s rocking the Horseshoe Tavern stage this Friday night to fete “Flo” into his ninth decade to realize how warmly and affectionately he’s regarded: Tom Wilson, Alejandra Ribera, Roxanne Potvin, Scarlett Jane, Ariana Gillis, Paul Reddick, Shakura S’Aida and others are volunteering their time to pay tribute to their champion, who in turn is transforming his birthday bash into a fundraiser for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counseling, emergency relief and benefit programs for the Canadian music community.

“I like being part of the music community — they’re all really good people,” repeats the founder of publicity and promotion firm Richard Flohil and Associates, a few times over the course of the next 90 minutes.

Flohil says he loves hearing and working with musicians so much that he would jump on stage if he could. But he figures the public would fare better with him remaining behind the scenes.

“The reason I’m on the business side is because I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument and I dance like a pregnant elephant. Not a pretty sight and not to be done in public.”

The Richard Flohil story begins back in Selby, Yorkshire where he was born to Dutch and English parents. He attended private school and eventually apprenticed as a reporter for the Yorkshire Evening Press, moving on to work at three other papers.

When he hit 20, he tried his hand at publicity: his first client, future James Bond theme composer John Barry.

But he wanted out of Britain.

“I wanted to rediscover American jazz and blues musicians, because in the ’50s they weren’t allowed to come to Britain very often,” Flohil admits.

“Occasionally Louis Armstrong came and Lonnie Johnson came, and I met Big Bill Broonzy, but by and large the British Musicians Union wasn’t going to let American musicians come to Britain unless British musicians were allowed to come to America.”

In 1957, he arrived in Toronto with $300 in his pocket, and was instantly smitten by the thriving music scene.

“The first afternoon I walked down Yonge Street and I saw a sign saying, ‘All this week: Earl Hines and his All-Stars,’” Flohil recalls. “I walked in the bar and I said, ‘Earl Hines is playing here? The same Earl Hines who played with Louis Armstrong in the ’20s? How much is it to get in?’

“The bartender said, ‘It’s free, but you must buy two drinks.’ And I thought, ‘this must be the Promised Land.’

“The next night I found a New Orleans jazz club, and the night after that I wandered down to King Street East, and the Town Tavern. It was April ’57, and on stage underneath this silent black and white television airing a hockey playoff game is this rotund black pianist from Montreal called Oscar Peterson, who I never heard of. Blew my lights out.

“Then I went to Maple Leaf Gardens, the Irving Feld Parade of Stars, for $2.50, featuring the 16-year-old boy wonder from Ottawa, Canada:  Paul Anka, and Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Fats Domino, LaVerne Baker and Clyde McPhatter.”

After a series of jobs editing trade magazines, Flohil eventually branched out into publicity and also landed a gig as the editor of CAPAC’s (a forerunner of SOCAN) membership music magazine, keeping that gig for 20 years.

When he decided to move into concert promotion, Flohil capitalized on the Chicago blues sojourns he had made while living in England.

“If I have a claim to fame, I’m the guy who was involved in bringing Buddy Guy here for the first time, lesser known artists like Robert Nighthawk and Sleepy John Estes, and later on B.B. King and Bobby Bland. So that got me into small level promotions.

“I was also involved with bigger shows — Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, the Chieftains — with mixed results, but that seed has become the preserve of giant companies who have endless resources. And I couldn’t compete with that. “

In 1980, he co-founded respected music industry trade magazine The Record, handling reviews but still entrenched in publicity, and in 2002 became editor of Applaud, a magazine aimed at promoting Canadian music outside Canada, that lasted five years.

As much as he loves music and the people that make it, Flohil does have criteria when it comes to taking on clients (“good songs, a distinctive voice, ambition”), as well hearing music that emotionally touches him.

“To me, music has to hit two parts of the following four parts of your body: head, heart, groin, feet,” says Flohil, whose numerous accolades include the Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award and SOCAN’s Special Achievement Award.

“Any two of those — if it’s just one, it won’t work for me.”
As for secrets to his success, Richard Flohil says his personal catalyst is anticipation.

“I think the key, apart from listening to lots and lots of music (he boasts a music collection of 12,000 discs) is to have something to look forward to,” says Flohil, who is tentatively planning a trip to India in 2015.

“I still want to do intriguing special projects. For example, Stony Plain Records, who I’ve worked with forever, has a 40th anniversary coming next year. I want to be involved in that, and if there’s a CD, I want to help choose the music and write the liner notes.”

While Flohil laments that he’s never “made very much money at” his career, his days have been filled with entertaining memories.

“I’ve had this amazing life with all these people, these stories and adventures and misadventures. So I just keep going.”

Music promoter Richard Flohil reflects on a six-decade career | Toronto Star

Violinist Lindsey Stirling credits YouTube with meteoric rise

In four short years, the classical crossover sensation reached the top with the help of viral videos.

Nick Krewen

Music, Published on Fri Jun 13 2014

In four short years, classical crossover sensation Lindsey Stirling has gone from anonymity to star stature without the help of the usual star-making machinery.

There is no major label, prominent manager, radio station or concert promoter that can claim responsibility for the elfin dubstep violinist’s meteoric rise to fame. Even her 2010 appearance on America’s Got Talent, which averaged 7 million viewers a night and saw her reach the quarter-finals before getting turfed by judges Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, had a negligible impact on her career.

So what is the primarily catalyst that has allowed the Santa Ana, Calif.-born Stirling, who appears at the Kool Haus on Saturday night, to independently release two best-selling albums (her latest, Shatter Me, entered The Billboard 200 retail chart at #2, debuting the same week on the Canadian album charts at #5), tour the world, collaborate with stars like John Legend and Christina Perri and snag Lady Gaga’s former manager?


Since the May 18, 2011, launch of the California native’s Lindseystomp YouTube channel and her first original song, “Spontaneous Me,” Stirling has amassed more than 600 million views and almost 5 million subscribers with a 64-video mixture of originals, cover songs (her rendition of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has been seen more than 72 million times) and downright tomfoolery.

It’s certainly an unexpected windfall for the 27-year-old Stirling, who admits her career was in tatters, especially after America’s Got Talent, before YouTube kick-started it into overdrive.

America’s Got Talent has this huge audience around the world, and when I was on the show, I thought it would change my life,” Stirling recounted Tuesday over the phone from a Louisville, Ky., tour stop.

“But after that, the world had completely forgotten that I had existed and I went back to square zero. I kept hustling for six months and doing things like getting really low-key gigs at college campuses, playing at noon in cafeterias.”

Fate intervened when filmmaker Devin Graham, known professionally as Devin Super Tramp, a YouTube viral video maker, reached out.

“He said, ‘Hey, I would love to make a music video for you — I think you’re really talented and I want to put it on my YouTube channel,’ ” Stirling remembers. “I didn’t quite understand what the incentive was for him and I didn’t really know what YouTube was and what it could do for people.

“But we did the video (“Spontaneous Me”) and I was amazed. As soon as he put it up on his channel, my music, which was just sitting around on iTunes, suddenly started to sell. People were requesting more of my songs and they were loving and sharing them.

“I was amazed that putting out that one video on a YouTube channel by some random guy would do more for me and sell more tracks than America’s Got Talent. It all just blew my mind.”

It helped that Graham and Stirling, who both studied filmmaking at Utah’s Brigham Young University, made world-class videos on shoestring budgets.

“For the first year, I didn’t have any money,” says Stirling. “So luckily, I went to BYU and made a lot of talented friends. I helped them on their projects; they helped me on mine.

“Also, I had the skills: I knew how to produce; I knew how to edit. All I needed was a cinematographer and pretty locations. If you notice, the first year of my videos are almost all shot outside, because I lived in Utah, which is beautiful. I’d go to these hiking trails that were 15 minutes from my house. And I’d go with Devin, who was my boyfriend for the first year, and he’d film all my videos for free. Then I’d direct, edit and produce them. So pretty much for the first year of my channel, my videos were all free.”

Stirling’s fan base grew like wildfire, charmed by her self-choreographed vignettes that showcased music incorporating elements of hip-hop, Skrillex-influenced EDM, dubstep and electronica, as well as her charismatic and photogenic personality, as her songs “Transcendence,” “Electric Daisy Violin,” “Shadows” and “Crystallize” began racking up impressive numbers.

Corporations began to take notice and offered to underwrite certain videos.

“Once we started to make a name for ourselves, people started to reach out and offer to fly me and Devin places,” Stirling explains. “They saw us as a team. A travel company paid all our expenses and paid us on top of it to make a video and go to Kenya. The same thing happened in New Zealand. That was the amazing thing — once we were creating such high-quality content, we were able to fund our travels.”

The couple has since split personally and professionally, but the Stirling juggernaut keeps rolling, with videos that alternate among her own originals, covers of pop hits and video game scores. The videos are often tagged at the end with personal endorsements for products provided by her sponsors.

Stirling, who first picked up the violin at age 5, says she has no issue with pushing brands.

“I don’t have a problem with it and my fans don’t have a problem with it, because they all know I’m an independent artist,” Stirling explains. “This is just my way or being able to do what I do, and my fans are very supportive of that. They know that’s the way a lot of YouTubers survive. As long as it doesn’t taint my art, or it isn’t some shameless promotion in the middle of a video, and as long as I can create my art the way I want and I’m not ashamed of the brands I’m promoting, I’m good.”

She may have a point: YouTube income has gifted her with artistic freedom and allowed her to bypass major labels.

“It’s kind of funny that when I was starting out and trying to make it, I went to all the labels and I was turned away,” Stirling recalls. “Nobody was interested. Now that I’m doing it and I’ve been able to prove that it works, they’re all knocking down my door.

“But I don’t need them anymore, I really don’t, because I’ve figured out how to do it by cutting out the middleman, and I love it. I love the fact that I have 100 per cent creative control. I love that I can self-fund everything. I don’t have anybody I’m indebted to. No one colours what I do. It’s awesome. I love it and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I stumbled upon YouTube because I didn’t know what else to do, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Violinist Lindsey Stirling credits YouTube with meteoric rise | Toronto Star

Toronto’s transit of venues (or, weep not for the bop)

Veteran rock writer Nick Krewen takes a tour through defunct Toronto concert venue history – from the ’60s in Yorkville, to the subsequent decades when the action was mostly around Yonge St., to the rise and apparent decline of Queen St. W. 

Nick Krewen and Garnet Fraser
Published on Sun Jan 03 2010

On Queen St. W., the concert scene is changing, and it’s leaving some fretful. Hard-rock hangout the Big Bop – home to early shows by Alexisonfire and Billy Talent, among others – is closing at the end of the month, and a few blocks to the east, the Cameron House – site of early gigs by Blue Rodeo, Ron Sexsmith and more – is up for sale, with its future uncertain.

But it was always this way; with a few exceptions, good concert venues typically have a golden age, make a few memories – and then lose their backers, their audience or possibly their liquor licence. The city sees bits of its musical history disappear every year in this way. The Rural Alberta Advantage, 2009’s rising stars, cut their teeth at the now-closed Winchester; the Constantines played their first local show at now-gone Ted’s Wrecking Yard; Ultrasound, a Queen St. W. venue that was a sentimental favourite of the Barenaked Ladies and the Rheostatics, is now a spa; and much more.

On this page, veteran rock writer Nick Krewen takes a tour through defunct Toronto concert venue history – from the ’60s in Yorkville, to the subsequent decades when the action was mostly around Yonge St., to the rise and apparent decline of Queen St. W. There are also newer concert spots at the Garrison (on Dundas St. W.) and Studio BLR (on Lower Sherbourne St.) that are drawing attention; check them out but know that you’ll probably be saying goodbye to them, too, someday.



Location: 134 Yorkville Ave.

Heyday: 1964-1973

Known for: A breeding ground for folk and blues music’s most influential talents, this sizeable coffeehouse earned a global rep during its hot streak. Oh yeah, and people would actually be polite enough to stay quiet and listen to the music.

Notable headliners: Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, John Lee Hooker.

Closed: 1978

The historical plaque commemorating the existence of the Riverboat in Yorkville


Location: 21 Scollard St.

Heyday: 1983-1986

Known for: Flavour-of-the moment world music and pop acts in the midst of 15 minutes of fame, with sporadic detours into not-quite-ready-for-soft-seater veteran acts, sporting crowds of regular Joes, well-coiffed yuppies and the occasional Flock Of Seagulls hairstyle.

Notable headliners: Fela Kuti, Erasure, Herbie Hancock, Berlin

Closed: 1992

A concert ad from the days of The Copa on Scollard Street


Location: 888 Yonge St.

Heyday: 1983-1996

Known for: Its lack of air-conditioning, this humid sweatbox (also known as Rock Pile and Masonic Temple) offered intimate rock in semi-cramped quarters, although the balcony provided first-come, first-serve step-seating. Great showcase space for breakout acts and Rolling Stones rehearsal space until CTV bought it and made itThe Mike Bullard Show studio.

Notable headliners: Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, INXS and Tin Machine (with David Bowie)

Closed: 1996, although recently resurrected for Polaris Music Awards and a few episodes of Spectacle



Location: Hudson’s Bay Centre, Lower Level, 2 Bloor St. E.

Heyday: 1980s

Known for: If you were a headbanger when rock `n roll was all spandex, leather and hairspray, Rock `N Roll Heaven – not to be confused with the current North York nightclub – was the place to be: Plenty of mirrors, leather seats, and hot vixens.

Notable headliners: Skid Row, Paul Stanley, Killer Dwarfs, Black Crowes

Closed: 1992



Location: 121 Carlton St.

Heyday: 1978-1984

Known for: Being a fleabag hotel (although fleas themselves cowered in fear of suffering infestation) and Petri dish of nihilism; a basement perfect for hosting outsider punk/ska/new wave gigs.

Notable headliners: R.E.M., Bauhaus, Bad Manners, Sun Ra

Closed: 1986

Larry’s Hideaway on Carlton…frankly, I don’t remember it being that opulent.


Location: 585 Yonge St.

Heyday: 1971-1986

Known for: Being the resident training ground of some formidable Canadian rock bands that went on to sell millions of records, as well as the inspiration behind Mike Myers’ Wayne’s World franchise (“The Gasworks! Always a babefest,” Wayne once exclaimed) and frequent stopped for irreverent comedy duo Maclean & Maclean. Lunch-bucket ambience and etiquette ruled the day in a mishmash of wall-paneling and poster décor.

Notable headliners: Rush, Triumph, Saga, Platinum Blonde

Closed: 1993

One of the Gasworks’ last facelifts…


Location: 70 Gerrard St. E.

Heyday: 1977-1982

Known for: Living up to its name in terms of eclecticism: a dark, spacious abode facing Gerrard that housed tastemaker promoters Gary Topp and Gary Cormier, who booked punk/new wave acts like 999 and The Mods with the occasional jazzy Don Thompson/Ed Bickert or folkie Ralph McTell date.

Notable Headliners: The Police, XTC,Ultravox, and what would have been the first Joy Division performance if singer Ian Curtis hadn’t offed himself a week before the gig

A poster from the heydays of The Garys Cormier and Topp


Closed: 1982

Location: 203 Yonge St.

Heyday: 1947-1978

Known for: One of Canada’s most famous jazz and blues venues later stretched into rock in the late `60s and, in the 1970s, punk. Pillar-free, it provided great sightlines everywhere.

Notable headliners: Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Captain Beefheart, Muddy Waters, The Jam

Closed: 1987

Credited to the site of John Chuckman
Another look at the Colonial prior to demolition…


Location: 249 Victoria St.

Heyday: 1990-2005

Known for: Jazz acts with an odd foray into pop and rock in a classy atmosphere. Steps leading up to venue were covered in jazz portraits.

Biggest Attractions: Diana Krall, Terence Blanchard, Cassandra Wilson, John Hiatt

Closed: 2005


Location: 312 Queen St. W.

Heyday: 1982-2001

Known for: A venerable home for roots and reggae music and spoken-word shows, the Bam Boo had a decent sized dance floor to go with its Jamaican/Thai cuisine.

Notable headliners: Messenjah; Lillian Allen, The Sattalites

Closed: 2002

The Famous BamBoo cookbook


Location: Canada’s Wonderland

Heyday: 1983-1999

Known for: As an outdoor venue, this 16,000-seater competed with Exhibition Stadium as an incentive to attract folks to the theme park. Hence you could be dazzled with Depeche Mode synth-pop one night; be serenaded by James Taylor the next, then be rocked like a hurricane with the Scorpions or shimmy to the sounds of a heavily choreographed Paula Abdul concert when she was still forever your girl.

Notable Headliners: Neil Young, Kim Mitchell, Barry Manilow

Closed: 1999, but still used sparingly


Location: Ontario Place

Heyday: 1971-1994

Known for: With a 360-degree revolving stage, this picturesque, hilly 8,000-capacity outdoor venue offered a variety of acts for kids and adults alike without costing an arm and a leg. The scene of a Teenage Head riot and a stellar annual weekend jazz festival that boasted everyone from Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald to Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny, it hosted shows by Blondie, Sharon, Lois & Bram and Bill Cosby with equal aplomb. Sorely missed, in spite of being replaced by the Molson Amphitheatre.

Notable headliners: The Tragically Hip, Tom Jones, B.B. King

Closed: 1994


Post mortem:  As of 2018, both The Senator and The Concert Hall have been resurrected…