Blast Radius

It’s time we cranked up the amps and let the good times roll

Town Crier Arts and Life Editor, Brian Baker
Town Crier Arts and Life Editor, Brian Baker

Check one, two. Hello, midtown!

After a late night of tending to my newborn daughter and her whims — I didn’t get to sleep until 6 a.m. — a movie with Toronto actor Mike Myers flashed through my head.

It was Wayne’s World 2 and in it protagonist Wayne Campbell, along with his sidekick Garth Algar, set about putting on a rock concert in Aurora, Ill.

I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t Eglinton Park be a happening spot to stage an epic rock concert in the heart of midtown, bringing some of the city’s most talented musicians and promoters to the heart of the city?”

Alas, there is plenty of red tape to machete through. And who else to share some of those trials than North By Northeast director of operations Mike Tanner?

In October, Tanner joined Mayor Rob Ford on his venture to Texas to discover what the City of Austin has done to improve its relationship with its music base.

Tanner’s tour was all about opening city hall’s eyes to what can happen when the city and music industry work together. Toronto, he says, does way too much in the way of regulation.

“Money is generated in a variety of ways and Toronto, right now, seems to be choosing to generate it through regulation versus letting the sector operate freely, and that’s something, frankly, that interested the mayor, because when you say things like ‘red tape’ in front of the mayor it’s like waving a cake in front of his eyes,” he told me recently. “He’s all over letting the private sector do its thing.”

Ford’s trip has already had a blast radius at city hall. In December, council approved a Toronto Music Industry Advisory Board in order to support the cultural and economic development of Toronto’s very vibrant music scene.

Even better, an individual job was created in November to liaise between the industry and the city. Though the position has yet to be filled, it’s one small success for music advocacy group 4479 Toronto, which was established by Music Canada to raise awareness to the rich music scene.

Spokesperson Amy Terrill says she’s encouraged by the initiative.

“It’s a really positive sign, both at the political level and at the staff level,” she says. “City hall has been really receptive to what we’ve been trying to do, and sees there’s a lot of value in the music industry in Toronto.”

Which brings us back to Eglinton Park, and my suggestion that it would be one hip spot to have midtown artists perform. Perhaps even Forest Hill’s Aubrey Graham (otherwise known as Drake)?

Tanner says NXNE once considered the spot for its music in the park segment.

He said he likes that it’s a nice big park, is esthetically pleasing and is easy to get to.

“I think it would be a great place, all other things considered,” he said, though acknowledging the issue of noise would have to be thought through.

“I almost guarantee … there will be noise complaints from residents,” he said.

There is the problem with noise, to be sure. And, of course, those “nimbyists” who like to rain on everyone’s parade.

For those frosty proponents, Terill suggests considering just how good film and television is for Toronto in spite of the inconvenience of street closures when filming is going on. Music falls under the same reasoning, she says.

I say, after crossing all the Ts and dotting the lower-case Js on the paperwork, crank up the amps to 11, and let the good times roll.

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