Brazilian funksters Curumin w/ Toronto's Repercussions, July 10

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Last Friday, local Brazilian beverage outfit Rio Mate, in conjunction with burgeoning monthly Uma Nota and Dos Mundos Radio, put together a special showcase at the El Mocombo with São Paulo based pop funk outfit Curumin, who slid down to Toronto for a gracious late addition to their current North American tour.



Ian Kamau & Andy Williams at The Brigantine Room

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Ian Kamau

What up, what up?! This is just a quick note to those who neither went down nor stuck around to catch Montreal-based platter-spinning musicologist Andy Williams and profound local wordsmith Ian Kamau for there knowledge spreading wrap party to the busy Femi Kuti set at Harbourfront last Saturday. What you missed was a hot offering of some of the deepest, genre-splicing, afrocentric jams around, served up by a DJ referred to affectionately as “the Teacher” in Williams, along with a live preview of cuts that will no doubt form the basis of Kamau’s official full-length due in the world this coming September.

Previously: Ian Kamau – September Nine Mixtape


Telmary @ Lula Lounge – NXNE (and beyond)

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Saturday, July 4th, 2009

To take things in a different direction, I decided to stray off the beats and rhymes path for last month’s NXNE festival and check out some live hip hop-influenced Cuban funk flavour from Telmary, a self-described jazz poet who has been doing big things around the city for a minute now in the world of Latin music. Long standing haven for Latin and South American acts based both here and abroad, Lula Lounge on Dundas St west hosted the event, which was red-hot from the moment I stepped in the place shortly after the beginning of Telmary’s first of two sets on the Friday night of the festival. With her 8-piece backing band in tow, the charismatic MC played more James Brown-styled groove director than lead vocalist, guiding her musicians through a blistering set laced with face twisting solos and body-moving funk-centric, salsa infused groves, splicing in her snatching vocals and motormouth lyricism to good effect whenever necessary. Blessed with a second set due to a performance mix-up earlier in the night, the crew took full advantage of the extra face time, stretching rehearsed cuts into crowd-pleasing jam sessions that had the dance-floor filled from beginning to end, a feat as admirable at Lula as it is anywhere else in this often cement-footed city.

If you hurry, you can catch Telmary tonight at Corso Italia up on St. Claire before she jets off for a cross-country tour with Cuban-influenced big draw jazz artist Jane Bunnett and sultry local Elizabeth Sheppard. Don’t worry if you’ve got plans, though, ’cause her crew will be back for a return engagement at Lula Lounge on the first of August.


Telmary @ NXNE '09 2

Telmary @ NXNE '09 1

Telmary @ NXNE '09 3

Telmary @ NXNE '09 4

Michael Jackson: A Toronto Tribute – Canada Day at Dundas Square

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Friday, July 3rd, 2009

“Don’t stop til’ you get enough” seems to be the theme song to the last week plus, given the seemingly endless outpouring of love and respect shown in the wake of Michael Jackson’s untimely passing. With the blogesphere on fire and everyone from local DJs to radio and TV personalities, and even the BET Awards, pushing aside scripts in order to get just a few more words in about the landmark artist and apparent fallen hero to everyone’s inner child, it seems only fitting that Toronto’s Manifesto crew would take over the largest chunk of concrete in the downtown core to pay the man his proper respects as only they could.

With DJs Starting From Scratch, Son of S.O.U.L., Mensa, Sean Sax, and Jason Palma on-hand to ensure a non-stop break in the MJ love, the Manifesto party train rolled on for 3 hours straight in front of a Dundas Square packed to the H&M change rooms. Through both rain and shine, young kids and grown folk alike got their collective groove on to Jackson gems from all periods and phases, with the love-in broken only by the short interlude given to local dance unit Rated X, who turned out a special, spot-on routine in tribute over a collage of hits as evening pushed into night. It was no doubt one of the liveliest Canada Day events in the city, though all the little disposable flags in the world never quite nudged it into the realm of being a celebration of Canada Day, but that’s another conversation for another time. For those who made it out, though, count that as a warm-up for what will surely be a long summer of special moments dedicated to the original smooth criminal himself.

Dundas Square crowd for Michael


dancers on stage

children of michael jackson

Rated X 1
Rated X 2

Rated X 3

The Main Ingredient presents: The Foreign Exchange

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The Main Ingredient presents: The Foreign Exchange

June 5, 2009 – Revival, Toronto

This one’s for those who slept, and though it was nearly a month back now, it must be mentioned that this show was one of the hottest sets this year to date. The Foreign Exchange, the vessel through which witty tongue lasher Phonte (of Little Brother) lives out his soulman dreams along side Dutch producer Nicolay, brought their near perfect sophomore record to life for the lucky enthusiasts who packed cozy Revival on that memorable Friday night. Joined on stage by sultry singer Yahzarah, Justus League crooner Darien Brockington, fellow producers Zo! and Nicolay, and fill-in Toronto drummer Ricky Lewis, frontman Phontigalo played preacher and relationship therapist, comic relief and even dhancehall chatta as be basked in the glow of a lead role he was simply born to play.  ‘Te lead the enthusiastic crowd through instant classics like the shuffling left-field soul gem “Sweeter Than You”, broke down the importance of the weighty open phrase of “I Wanna Know” (“Okaaaaaayyyy”) and even took unabashed grown folk back to the 80’s with the revamped Zo! and Tigalo version of retro mainstay “Something About You”. I of course was right up front, cheese-grin and all, getting’ my groove on to the live incarnation of a record I admittedly forgot about for a near two months after it’s release late in ’08 (one of the best of last year, I might add), so, needless to say, I got my money’s worth with change, which is always a good thing. But what more can I really say – this was definitely one not to be missed, and my condolences go out to those who did.


Yahzarah & The Foreign Exchange

Phonte of The Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange

A City In Focus – The Launch

hyperadmin | A City In Focus | Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

July 1, 2009

What it is, What it is?! Canada 2009 – the launch date. This is it, the chance for an inspired group of indelible music scribes, cultural documentarians and, most importantly, citizens of the good City of Toronto to throw our individual hats into the ring in support of a city that has provided so much to us, yet continues to be culturally undervalued and discounted both from the outside and by many of it’s own. Many waves of musical prospects and “contender for the elite” entertainers have come up through the years offering the hope of finally putting Toronto on the map of global respect and fame, yet the resulting success has long been, for the most part, a tiresome exercise in interpretation of that success and debate about what it would take to actually get over.

But success and failure are subjective measures. What we really need to focus on when thinking about what’s “making it” in terms of the city’s cultural output  is how that culture impacts those living within it’s direct vicinity, and the fact is that most of the big things this city’s been up to go uncelebrated simply because they’re happening in places many just aren’t looking. Our hopes with City On Or Back is to point people in the right direction and to turn attention to the artists, events, movements, on general goings on that make the T-dot such a fruitful and inspiring place to live.

A City In Focus is my humble contribution to that goal – an attempt to capture the breadth of Toronto’s urban cityscape with a bag full of lenses and a notepad, and what a better time to get started than summertime. But as I’m sure y’all know, summer in Toronto don’t wait for nobody, and if you hit that snooze button one too many times, you just might wake up and find yourself shivering in that loathsome late September coolness.  So, with the summer’s midway point fast approaching, I’ll offer a few subsequent posts on some of the things that have happened thus far.

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