May 25th, 2010 · No Comments
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May 13th, 2010 · No Comments
Make Media, make change – rock your mouse
May 3rd, 2010 · No Comments
December 10th, 2009 · No Comments
CityArts will be holding the Toronto Rock Camp Holiday Party and Benefit on December 17th, 2009, at The Gibson Artist Lounge, courtesy of our sponsors Gibson Guitars and Epiphone Guitars and Amplifiers.
About The Gibson Lounge: The Gibson Artist Showroom and Lounge is a private facility which supports Gibson Artists worldwide on their tours. With centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto, and London, England, our bands will hit the stage at the 2009 Holiday Party and Benefit in an intimate venue which has hosted some of the biggest names in Rock and Roll!
Where: Gibson Artist Lounge at 1205 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: December 17th, 2009, 7 PM to 11 PM.
Tickets: $20.00 *
* Get a $20.00 coupon for any CityArts program with your ticket.
* Proceeds to the CityArts Learn to Play and Scholarship programs.
Purchase Tickets Online through Eventbrite:
August 20th, 2009 · No Comments
Following a shortened session due to the August civic holiday, when a few students from Toronto Rock Camp had the opportunity to perfect their chops in the recording studio, CityArts regrouped for one final summer week. Groups are assembled on Monday based on playing ability, and other factors, followed by the five-day dash to the Friday afternoon live concert finish line. A number of faces called the Our Lady Of Lourdes School their second home for the better part of summer. Some others just recently became aware of what was happening at the otherwise inconspicuous corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley all summer long and wanted to leap into the action. Regardless of their musical background, just about everyone at the Rock Camp felt energized to continue such creative pursuits, whether by staying in touch with the others they met over the summer, or rustling up new bands in the fall.
The final performance of the session was the most celebratory of all, where campers spent as much energy applauding their band leaders as their own parents and siblings relished the performances, and the proverbial roof was raised on the school auditorium. During a summer in the city that will go down in history for its temperamental weather, a civic workers strike that kept the streets strewn with garbage, and plenty of bad news stories, it was reassuring to know that kids working on rock ‘n’ roll in a few downtown classrooms could generate enough enthusiasm to change the world — or at least change the way you could hear some familiar songs.
A FLAT MINOR (Joanna, Lucas, Karsten, Aidan) was a music-minded group deriving their name from an admittedly awful joke: “If a piano falls down a mine, what do you get?” Their choice of cover material was a bit more cerebral, though, doing two signature songs from acts that are still relatively young: “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer and “Last Night” from The Strokes.
FUNERAL HOME FUGITIVES (Alexander, Sam, Shay-Lin, Lucy) looked out the school window and notice the other side of the circle of life across the street. But they picked a name that was a bit more sinister to represent their mixing both Bob Marley‘s original and Eric Clapton‘s cover of “I Shot the Sheriff,” along with their ambitious approach to the danceable rock smash by the Burlington group Finger Eleven, “Paralyzer.”
HOMOGENIST AND THE HIVE QUEEN (Miffy, Daniel, Kai, Elsie, James) may well have outdone any previous Rock Camp act when it came to an eccentric name, proving that all the science education in high school can be good for inspiration. The material they perfected was rather radio-ready, though: “Cross My Heart” by Vancouver pop-punk band Marianas Trench, and the progenitor Green Day‘s tear-jerking ballad “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
KINGS OF NEON (Patrick, Garnet, Eason, Eggy, Skyler, Javier) identified themselves with a play on the breakthrough rock act of summer 2009, yet collaborated on some defiantly original material, kicking out the jams with their driving metallic urgency. The evidence was committed to tape in the form of two tunes: “I’m Gonna Getcha” and “Watch Me Burn” — maximizing the collective electricity.
SIDE EFFECTS (Nick, Carmen, Samara, John, Adam, Sebastien) brandished the kind of collective attitude for which musical envelopes are easily pushed. So, not only did they tackle the decade-old intensity anthem “Celebrity Skin” by Hole, but reached way back to 1940 for the Woody Guthrie chestnut — albeit one updated years later by Bruce Springsteen — “Vigilante Man.”
THE STANDBYS (Victoria, Josh, Connor, Rebekkah, Tred) took a more lighthearted approach to their material, challenging themselves to the brighter side of rhythm and blues. Naturally, that meant “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown — taking the Godfather of Soul style way down an improvised instrumental road — but also “Smooth Criminal,” saluting the man whose legacy was a topic of conversation for all generations, all summer long, Michael Jackson.
More photos of week #6 here.
August 4th, 2009 · No Comments
And on the fourth week of Toronto Rock Camp, the summer humidity started to peak outdoors, making the students — not to mention staffers — all the more grateful for the air conditioned interior of Our Lady of Lourdes School. The trend toward more eclectic, if not eccentric, cover tune choices continued as well. A large part of the creative conversation involved discussing the context in which new and old rock songs were written and created. These legacies influenced what every band member brought to the concert performance on Friday afternoon — if you’re going to take on a well-known song, the motivation is to do it some justice.
But the more seasonal weather also increased the irreverence level throughout the classrooms. Songs with heavy messages were approached lightheartedly, fun numbers were given a bit of extra weight, and band names generally reflected these contradictions. Rock Camp instructors were typically appreciated for their ability to connect with their charges — all musicians themselves, they helped crank up all the attitude that rock ‘n’ roll has to offer. And, with time crawling into the last days of July, everyone was ready to turn down the volume for a long holiday weekend.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE (L to R: Jonathan, Joanna, Charlie, Logan T., Logan K.) focused on a pair of grandiose modern rock songs, putting their collective showmanship on display, yet harming no eardrums in the process. Their performance consisted of MGMT‘s recent spirited hit “Kids” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” via the fractious siblings of Oasis.
THE E IS SILENT (Chloe, Max, Eric, Adam) brought some intensity to the proceedings with a couple of ambitious history-filled covers from the early 1970s: Led Zeppelin‘s “Misty Mountain Hop” and the immortal Kent State current events report by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Ohio”.
THE JONAS BROTHERS COVER BAND (Jaden, Lucy, Miles) was the band name they chose on a lark, but stuck to it, helping immortalize the teen pop sensations of 2009 for years after they’re forgotten. Living Colour‘s “Cult of Personality” would probably be out of the Jonas Brothers’ grasp, though, to say nothing of the anxiety-filled “Everlong” from the Foo Fighters.
THE TRIO (Austin, Desmond, Cindy) dabbled in some heavy-thinking melodies to show off their collective musicianship. They channeled the legacy of Bob Dylan‘s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” — although they were just as partial to the Guns N’ Roses version from a generation later — and lightened things up to tackle “Can’t Stop” by Toronto Rock Camp perennials the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
UHH (Sean, Thomas, Derrick; not pictured: George) picked the most guttural name of all the bands during the summer, wanting to reflect the primal attitude of their music, with a noise for which there is no word in the dictionary. You can hear evidence of their intensity in two rounds: an original “Blues” and “She Said” by Nirvana.
WHEN PIGS FLY (Zack, Ben, Livia, John) is a suitable description of the circumstances that would find fans of Nirvana and the Scorpions getting along with one another, but things change after about 20 years. For this group, “In Bloom” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” proved to be part of the same rock ‘n’ roll vocabulary when all was said and done.
More images of week #4 here.
July 26th, 2009 · No Comments
Trends started to emerge in the selection of songs being worked on inside the classrooms at Our Lady of Lourdes School by the third week of Toronto Rock Camp. Several students returning for another round combined with others showing up for the first time this summer — resulting in a more advanced collaborative dynamic. Within a day or two of getting together to jam for the first time, new creative bonds are established, and getting every last detail down for the Friday afternoon concert becomes a shared goal.
Conversations about the songs are also a large part of the creative process, as campers compare notes about their own tastes, trading trivial anecdotes they picked up along the way — whether from a parent’s record collection, or researching YouTube clips and Wikipedia entries. Midway through each week, the bands sit down before the camera for a journalistic interview, answering questions about what is making each band click. Toronto Rock Camp wouldn’t be a legitimate experience if it weren’t all being captured for a rockumentary.
THE ESQUIRES OF NUIK (L to R: Matt, Ethan, Tom, Daniel, Joseph) assumed a British Invasion-inspired handle which suited their decision to play the Beatles song “Taxman,” along with “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer — both acts that other bands picked to cover this week.
FALLING BRAINS (Nick, Ryan, Garnet, Patrick) took their moniker from a biology classroom model that tumbled to the floor, perhaps in response to the original 12-bar blues-metal songs they were pummeling into shape on these summer days: “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” and “Hero of the Night.”
FUNKYZEIT (Julian Lee, Chris, Adam, Alex, Ryan) were somehow inspired by the “cracking voice chords” of their 14-year-old singer in picking a name for the group, but their selections went from one extreme to another: Queen‘s highly-nuanced “Somebody to Love” and the rave-up “Still Take You Home” by the Arctic Monkeys.
L.O.A.P. (Xavier, William, Charlie, Zack, Victoria) was an acronym taken from one of their performed songs, Bon Jovi‘s “Living on a Prayer” — although it alternately stood for “Life on a Panda” or “Lords of Atomic Power” — but tacking “Is This Love?” by Bob Marley showed off their diverse range.
MARCO POLO 5 (Joanna, George, Nolan, Michael, Eric) was named in tribute to their band leader, Marco, who helped them perfect two different sides of the rock ‘n’ roll anthem canon: “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin, and Nirvana‘s lyrically nonsensical “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
MRS. FEATHERBOTTOM AND THE BROKEN TABLES (Hannah, Amy, Lily, Sam, Nate, Dylan) were inspired by the show Arrested Development, and a character that found David Cross dressed as a British nanny — fitting for a band equally comprised of both genders — but they were partial to playing what they called “hippie music”: the Beatles‘ “Come Together” and “School’s Out” via Alice Cooper.
STAGE FACE (Daniel, Sam; not pictured: Elijah, Joe) also helped set the trends of the third week of Toronto Rock Camp, doing yet another Weezer tune, “Beverly Hills,” and “Another Brick In the Wall (Part Two)” by Pink Floyd — whose “hey, teacher, leave us kids alone” refrain was a reminder that there were still some weeks left to go before school would not be about rock.
More images of week #3 here.
July 18th, 2009 · No Comments
Cooler temperatures, moodier skies and a garbage strike haven’t made the city streets the ideal playground this summer, but overall conditions made it more conducive to staying indoors and rocking out, the ambition of all those enrolled in these five July days of Toronto Rock Camp. And the sources of inspiration were increasingly diverse by the time the bands took to the stage of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School during the last couple hours of Friday afternoon.
This week, there were some familiar influences in the set lists, along with some unusual twists: a salute to the recently deceased Michael Jackson, a reggae-fied spin on an old guitar-lesson favourite, and a band who couldn’t decide on one of two proposed names — so went by both. But the feeling throughout the otherwise empty school hallways was increasingly familiar: young people connecting through the language of rock ‘n’ roll, guided by CityArts staffers and professional musician visitors, gaining creative insights that may inspire them forever. A few of them might end up joining that rare breed that ends up playing this kind of music for a living. (With parental permission, of course.)
ARIZONA ICE (L to R: Dylan, Nick, Aaron, Mike, James) took their name from the collective favourite brand of iced tea — 99 cents for a tall can — quenching their musical thirst with something relatively new, and not so new: “The Pretender,” a rave-up from the Foo Fighters, and the original shuffle arrangement of Eric Clapton‘s “After Midnight.”
BRACE (Julian, Susan, Keaton, Santiago, Adam) settled on their monkier because of the amount of metal in their mouths: three members are regulars at the orthodontist. While they tried some original songs, their final performance numbers were Weezer‘s “Pork and Beans” and a spin on “The Way You Make Me Feel” by the late King of Pop.
CARMEN DIOXIDE (Charlie, Derrick, Carmen, Garnet, Dale, Eason) deferred to their lead singer to provide a band identity, along with the lyrics to an original song, “Scream at You.” The quintet also channeled The Ramones through their kinetic take on “Blitzkrieg Bop,” possibly better known to generations young and old as the “hey, ho, let’s go” song.
DESTROY DETROIT a/k/a VINTAGE FEEDBACK (Brian, Max, Quinn, Charles, Emmett) couldn’t decide on one handle, because both choices perfectly described the tunes they played: “Search and Destroy” by Motor City feedback legends Iggy and the Stooges and the tourist anthem “Detroit Rock City” by visiting New Yorkers KISS.
THE LIKELY JOHNS (Andrei, Sean, Chris, Ridley, Michael) proved that you’re never too young to rock hard, taking on “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses along with AC/DC‘s “TNT” — another group attesting to the staying power of music popular before they were born, arguing that few acts have come along to match the potency of the originals.
MONKEY BAR SOCIETY (Daniel, Ethan, Nick, Eric, Alexander) chose a name that mixed their playground attitude with a more seasoned perspective on classic rock: “House of the Rising Sun” via The Animals was given some fizz with a reggae arrangement, and they perked it up further by tackling the James Gang‘s “Funk #49.”
More images of week #2 here.
July 10th, 2009 · No Comments
Those walking past the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School on Monday, July 6 might have assumed it was an empty, tranquil, unoccupied space for the summer — when, in fact, the second annual Toronto Rock Camp was firing up inside the classrooms. Bands were assembled on the first day — determined by instrument choices, playing ability, and campers who wanted to play together — and they quickly got to work on picking, and perfecting, a couple of tunes for the Friday afternoon CityArts showcase.
A concurrent electric guitar workshop during the first week, run by We Will Rock You bandleader Tristan Avakian, schooled a group on fretboard fundamentals — and conversations about the history of the instrument. Their collective talents were displayed at the concert with a medley of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix, playing tribute to a rock legend who might still be ahead of his time.
BEWARE OF KITTEN (L to R: Olivia, Ben, Jordan, Joanna, Ridley) lived up to their name by unleashing the complexities of 1990s angst-rock on the crowd of family and friends: “Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins, and the Guns N’ Roses hit “Don’t Cry.”
INSOMNIA (Nicole, Aidan, Chris, Erik, Sarah) took on the nuances of the 1980s via “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits and Queen and David Bowie‘s “Under Pressure” — classic rock songs with multiple parts that could keep any player, or listener, from falling asleep.
THE PRIESTS (James, Sam, Susan, Jaden, Myles) might have been inspired by the Catholic school environment for their handle, interpreting the intricacies of “Time to Dance” by Panic! at the Disco, and The Police‘s straightforward singalong “Message in a Bottle.”
THE PUSHES (Michael, Max, George, Alexander, Eason) brought their garage band-style intensity to the stage with a different spin on the 1990s: contemplating “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and bashing out Green Day‘s “Brain Stew.”
STEALTH (Julian, Oliver, Arahant, Carmen, Quinn) brought their rebellious attitude to the proceedings, as the one first-week group to thrash out an original, “Johnny” — about vocalist Carmen’s ex-boyfriend — and “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica.
Five days of collaboration and conversation culminated in five decades of music history on the school auditorium stage for a music recital like no other — under the direction of spirited bandleaders and expert clinicians. Week one of the 2009 Toronto Rock Camp provided everyone with a feeling of possibility for this summer.
More images of week #1 here.