50 Years of Toronto the Good-Ass

Our friends over at The Varsity — who have been doing such a fine job of covering local culture lately that you’d be forgiven for forgetting it’s a University of Toronto student paper — have just launched their Independent Arts issue. The special edition features interviews with legendary film subversive Reg Hartt of Cineforum, author Sheila Heti (as part of a trio of profiles of artistically successful U of T grads) and indie-disco collective, Foxfire, who play the first-ever Varsity Rock Show tonight (Jan. 22) at Hart House’s Great Hall, alongside Ruby Coast and Boys Who Say No. Foxfire will also be taking part in our 9th anniversary at Sneaky Dee’s on Feb. 15.

But allow us our moment of vanity: we’re tickled to have been included as part of “Sites and Sounds,” Rob Duffy’s amazing 50-year-old chronology of independent culture in Toronto, as seen through the eyes of the music scene. This series of interviews starts with Avrom Isaacs, whose gallery opened at Bay & Gerrard in 1955 and led to the creation of this once-stodgy city’s first “artistic neighbourhood,” Gerrard Village — a scene that I knew little about before reading the piece. Duffy makes the links between Gerrard Village in ’50s, Yorkville in the ’60s (as told by folk promoter Richard Flohil), punk and new wave in the ’70s through the eyes of The Diodes and show impresarios The Garys, and Queen Street in the ’80s and ’90s as seen by William New, founder of the original indie band night, Elvis Mondays. Wavelength enters to represent the ’90s and 2000s, and Duffy brings us into the contemporary era with the Blocks Recording Club and the ironically now-deceased Bad Bands Revolution

It’s a fun game of connect-the-eras, and very flattering to be but one link in the chain. Here’s hoping it inspires some bored chemistry students to put down their beakers and start envisioning the next era in Toronto independent culture — who or what will represent the 2010’s??

— Jonny