Posts Tagged ‘toronto’

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My favourite Nuit Blanche Toronto installation of 2014 was Portal Potties, in Old Fort York.

While appearing to be a simple row of facilities for humans to rid themselves of material for which (most of them) have no further use, the façade is an illusion. It is an interactive metaphor disguising the many fundamental conflicts between the private and public faces Torontonians must wear, and demands each participant choose how they will compromise themselves to conform to the community.

What are these seeming booths about? The participant will assume each is a dark, close, malodourous space; a parallel social universe where each is utterly alone with the consequences of their own consumption – that very conspicuous consumption which is so valued in the context of Western capitalism. No matter how many times before they have performed this ritual, this time is different, as the piece does not allow the automatic repression of dissonance, but forces awareness by the nature of the choice.

It is an art installation – what is beyond the doors cannot be known in advance. Perhaps the doors do not lead to the expected – the installation name gives a hint. Perhaps they are portals to a separate universe in each: one with flowers, one a desert landscape, one a swirling kaleidoscope of bright light. Perhaps there are just two kinds – one acceptable, one not. There are grey portals, and blue portals – perhaps the grey and blue are but a trick, unrelated to the interior.

But each door has a little red or green indicator, showing whether or not another participant has chosen that door, and is experiencing what is behind.

Here the beauty and complexity of the piece is revealed. Each participant must choose to use, or not to use, the reactions of those exiting the portals before them. Would you choose a booth where someone exits smiling? Are they smiling because the universe inside was a good one, because they are just relieved the ordeal is over, or are they just putting on a brave face? If they appear haunted, is it because that portal’s universe was frightening, their ritual was just personally difficult, or they want to project a suffering face, either because they always do, or because they want to protect the secret of a wonderful place they might return unmolested? Do participants want to assist the greater good by sharing the truth of themselves, or maintain their own illusions at the expense of the next one in? How can their community spirit be gauged?

The participant cannot ignore their own prejudices and anxieties in trying to ascertain what is really going on from other members of the community. They must assess their own trust levels, and what behavioural clues they use to judge the actions of others. Or become so frustrated with recursive self-analysis they choose a door with a green dot, and hurl themselves into the unknown. But then – grey or blue? There is no choice with no choice.

And it is no less profound for the passive voyeur, who, standing watching the choices made by the braver participants, is faced with their own reticent nature, and what this public failure will mean to their place in the community. No one approaches this installation without being consumed by its Gestalt.

The setting in Fort York also speaks volumes. This is a place where Ojibway, American and British fighters lost their lives in 1813 in an engagement that was by any measure futile. Whatever different choices these young men made, all ultimately led to the waste of their own lives. To evoke this historical echo in the piece is nothing less than brilliant.

Which would you choose?

Well done!

pic junction 140916
TWN says Saturday should be sunny and warm. I hope so, because I’m going to be standing in whatever weather happens from 12-2 at the corner of Quebec and Dundas for the Junction Music Festival. Standing and playing banjo and singing, of course.

If you’re in town and want to catch a few minutes, please come on by and say hi. With over 60 other performances happening in venues all over the Junction, including a number of well known and up-and-coming indie artists – there will be some great listening whatever your tastes in music, .

There are also over 20 local eateries putting on special menus and street food. The Junction has become a real foodie strip in recent years – if you haven’t sampled it yet, you’ll be in for a big treat.

Click HERE to see the festival writeup.

And, yes, I’ll have some CD’s for sale if you need one …

graffitis 140911 poster

Never surrender. The schools may be full, the roads may be full, the leaves may look a bit less green than last week. But we shall prevail – summer is not yet done. Help us make it linger by joining us for some musical spell casting next Thursday at Graffiti’s. The more people, the more likely summer will last at least another few weeks; these spells require participation.

For this fine evening, we will be joined by Lost in Sparse, namely Neil Kitagawa on saxophone and bass, and Martha Aykroyd on percussive things and background vocals. As usual, we have a unique 3-set grouping of tunes, 36 to be exact, that we have never played in this way before, nor will again. Some new very cool tunes, too.

First set starts at 7:30, we’re probably done by 10:30 or so. So come on down – it’s Thursday night and you’ll be fine on Friday, even better because you will know deep inside you have helped extend summer.

September 11th, 2014
7:30PM until 11 or so
Graffiti’s Bar & Grill
130 Baldwin Street (Corner of Kensington, in The Market)

A nice writeup

Posted: June 30, 2014 in music
Tags: , , , ,

kates streaming

Click HERE – a nice writeup of me from Kayt Lucas of the Kayt Lucas Band

I have been fortunate enough to get to know Kayt, and she has asked me to back her up on some of her songs. On her recent live streaming contest, I helped her open her show for the first two tunes. She’s also working on doing some of my tunes with me – we’ll see how that turns out – stay tuned.

In the meantime, she is doing some research for a songwriting project, interviewed me, and wrote the following article.

Thanks Kayt!

Hicks & Dawe at The Old Nick Toronto

Hicks & DAwe at The Old Nick


On Monday February 3rd, We have been honoured to be invited back to do a set at Elana Harte’s M-Factor Mondays at the Old Nick. With one set, we’ve compressed a whole night’s worth of goodness into a dozen tunes that will literally blow you away.

A rare east-end appearance for us, so all you East Yorkers and Scarberians get your dancing shoes on for this one! Get out of the house – you’re used to winter now …

Elana is kicking it off with some of her excellent rock, and we’ll be trading sets with Bri-Anne Swan after that. Come early and have a pint while we’re watching Elana.

Hicks on banjos, Dawe on guitar, Kitagawa on sax and bass. No cover.

The Old Nick
123 Danforth (south side just east of Broadview)

A big round of thanks to the many people who filled up Grafitti’s last night. What a great time we had. Still full when we closed up at 10. We played shorter sets so we had more time to chat with friends and patrons. We gave away two Deerslayer mugs, two Hicks & Dawe holiday mugs, and two vintage vinyl – a rare Willie Nelson and The Secret Policemen’s (Other) Ball. Thanks to Marti Aykroyd for helping with the decorations and raffle tickets. We’ll be doing this again for sure. Maybe next time someone will by the band a round without being prompted – it’s thirsty work under the lights …