Once you’ve been out and about in Toronto, you start to see it where you wouldn’t expect. It’s bluegrass: an American roots music, a sub-genre of country music mixed with Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, not untouched by jazz… This isn’t a genre that screams “urban Toronto”, but, be that as it may, one of the most interesting things about this city is its thriving bluegrass/folk community. Once you know it’s there, you start seeing it everywhere. Here’s some places to catch live bluegrass in the city:
This trendy pub on Roncesvalles showcases live music all through the week, but staff will attest to the popularity of their bluegrass night. With the Hamstrung String Band typically starting at 9:00PM, (and it usually is that band), it’s tough to find a bar that attracts more people on a Monday evening.
Featuring local musicians, the Dakota has bluegrass brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10AM-2PM, and it‘s the sort of event that makes you feel good about living in Toronto. Some bring their girlfriends or boyfriends, others their friends, and parents bring their kids. Be warned that there can be up to a 20 minute wait if you don’t show up until noon.
The Cameron House
First opened as a hotel in the 20s and now the loveable music venue described as a “Toronto crossover of CBGBs and the Chelsea Hotel in New York”, this is also a place where you can catch bluegrass acts such as the American Pour and others, typically in the front room.
The Silver Dollar Room
The Silver Dollar Room isn’t pretty, but it is a mainstay. Although rock is featured Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Wednesday night is bluegrass night and home to one of the city’s “longest running residencies”, Crazy Strings (formerly known as the Foggy Hog Town Boys.) Also to keep in mind is the annual Christmas celebration featuring “drunk fiddling Santa”, which is more fun that words know how to describe.
(main image: www.harvestingkale.com)