“My Town” is a feature wherein friends and family of Brownswood, from around the world, give us the lowdown on their home town – favourite bars, restaurants, record shops and more. Forget Time Out – this is the only city guide you need.
Leanne is a Canadian artist/designer and dj. She lived in London from 1991-2004 and in that time worked behind the counter of Honest Jon’s Records
and on Patrick Forge’s Kiss 100 Radio show. As one half of Wadada she designed the t-shirt line inspired by iconic musicians, as well as record covers and brand identity for luminaries like Talkin’ Loud/Innerzone Orchestra, Bebel Gilberto
, People Records / Main Squeeze, 2000 Black
, Bugz in the Attic
, the mighty Coop Sessions (West London Massive stand up), Charlie Dark’s Blacktonica, Benji B’s deviation
and of course, Brownswood Recordings.
There’s a real range of nights in Toronto:
Pressure Drop - a heavy, monthly reggae session at the Magpie
- a great shake-a-leg at this monthly, vinyl-only soul/r&b party
Poetry Jazz Cafe , This intimate spot in Kensington Market is a favourite place to go for a ‘pre-drink’ where young, emerging jazz musicians are given an enthusiastic audience to play to.
Great cocktails too (recommended – Bitches Brew).
Another great little spot (923 Dundas West). Fantastic cocktail concoctions and a beautifully curated interior
Toronto is a true multi-cultural city which also means we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food. I could eat for hours, so here’s a hit-list of some of my favourite spots:
cool,friendly canteen-style, asian mash-up on Queen West
- for fancy asian, Susar Lee is the don
really yummy veggie restaurant – has locations around the city
veggie chinese in kensington
Odd Seoul - great for a late Korean snack, drinks and sometimes dis (Ossington)
- for a taste of open-fire Canadiana
: both Pho Tien Thanh
and Golden Turtle on Ossington are good for vibe and pho
- toasty almond tea!!! (Queen West)
CAKES! their Belgian Chocolate -ok, pretty much ALL of their cakes are amazing. Three locations around the city to feed your addiction.
- not cheap but worth a flick through Aki’s overflowing selection of jazz, soul, latin, house, hip hop etc
Planet of Sound
- also a tad expensive and also sells sleek equipment for audio design geeks (Queen St East)
on Bloor – dusty, old school emporium, huge selection of 7′s
There’s a triangle I always walk on Ossington Avenue:
Jonathon and Olivia - a boutique for both the boys and girls (labels like Acne, Isabel Marant, PAM, Surface to Air)
Miss You - nicely curated vintage
- if you’re in need of a trim, this is one of the friendliest salon’s I’ve ever encountered; and they’re really good too (ask for Jay!)
For The Boys:
- in swish Yorkville (we used to sell Wadada tees here)
Lost and Found
: otherwise known as ‘coffee and clothes’ because they sell coffee and well, clothes (Ossington Ave)
For The Girls:
- 10 points for guessing what kind of shop it is (Roncesvalles Village)
Love of Mine
: fantastic bespoke costume jewellery (Queen West)
Toronto Only Experiences
Bike culture is big in Toronto. In June, July and August this art/bike crawl sees over 300 people on bikes touring specially curated performances and galleries across the city – one of the bikes even carries a full-on sound systerm. ().
In the winter, ice skating on outdoor rinks seems like a typically Canadian thing to include. There’s a great outdoor skating trail at Colonel Sam Smith Park that weaves amongst trees and the rink at Harbourfront enlists some great dj’s (like the Footprints crew – General Eclectic, Stuart Li and Jason Palma). http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/djskatenights/
This international, multi-arts festival takes over Toronto for 10 days in June (June 6-15, 2014).
Sum up your town in 3 words?
Friendly? It might be a bit of cliche, but I do think it’s true – we’re generally pretty nice.
LOCAL DELICACY: Mmmmaple Syrup
Be sure to check output from my good friend Koray Ozel’s label: Istolethesoul Records
. He’s always championing quality, emerging Canadian talent.