Thursday, June 13, 2013

Introducing The Toronto Historical Jukebox

For the last few months I've been hard at work on a new project, combining two of my favourite things: our city's history and our city's music. It's called the Toronto Historical Jukebox and I'm finally ready to launch it — just in time for North By Northeast.

Here's the deal. There are two parts to the Jukebox:

1. An MP3 blog where I'll be sharing songs from some of the greatest bands our city has ever produced, along with the stories behind them. There will be 1960s rock 'n' roll from the Yonge Street strip. Folk music from the legendary Yorkville scene. Funk and reggae from the early days of Jamaican immigration. Hip hop from the '80s. Swing music from the '30s. And a whole lot more.

2. The Toronto Historical Bathroom Sticker Jukebox, which will be a series of stickers left in the bathrooms of music venues around town. Each one will have a URL and a QR code linking to one of the songs on the MP3 blog. They're essentially a musical version of the sticky plaques I launched last year.

Eventually, I'm planning on making some other stickers, too, leaving them in places related to the history of those bands — like, for instance, the sites of old music venues where some of Toronto's greatest-ever shows happened. Say, maybe Crash 'n' Burn, which was the centre of the Queen West punk scene for a few glorious months in the summer of 1977. Or Friar's Tavern on Yonge Street, where Bob Dylan first met The Band. Or Chez Monique in Yorkville, where Jack London & The Sparrows played every night back in the days before they changed their name to Steppenwolf.

Hopefully it will be one small way to share the musical history of the city, which I think is woefully under-appreciated. I've been writing about Toronto's music scene for years, but even I had no idea some of these songs existed until I started researching this project. And they're pretty amazing songs.

You can check out the Toronto Historical Jukebox here.

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