Summer of Street Music

Ok, been a while. After an extended bout of depression over the winter, I’ve recently begun getting back on my feet, as well as on the horn and on the drum.

Long story short: in April I joined two samba groups (Samba Squad and Samba Elegua), in which I play a snare drum called caixa (“kai-sha”); in May I joined up with Street Brass on alto sax.  My first gig was with Samba Squad on May 11 as part of a worker solidarity parade. But this musical summer really began with the first Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market on May 28th.  Early that afternoon I played a set with about 10 other members of Street Brass on the corner of Kensington and St. Andrew.  We collected enough money to buy a pitcher of beer at a nearby bar called Lola (good thing there were only four of us band members sticking around).  Later that day I played with Samba Elegua and the crowds were thicker and more intoxicated.  People danced in the street with us as we paraded around the market.  I’m having a blast with all this and I’ll be writing more about it.  Being involved in these community groups has been wonderful for my mental health and I feel warmly welcomed.  It’s interesting to note how members of a group bond around a gig much more so than in rehearsals.  Some meaningful friendships emerge.

On Saturday, June 3rd, Street Brass played as part of the Dundas Street West Festival.  What an amazing event.  The street is blocked off from Ossington to Lansdowne (about 1.5 km) and it’s lined with colourful vendors, food establishments, bars and music stages.  You can hear one kind of music fade into the next as you walk from end to end, all the while enjoying the scents of culinary delights and the colours of dancers, jugglers, puppeteers and so on.

Chris Butcher, the director of Street Brass put out a call to the city’s available horn players to join in for this event.  Some of us did a spot for the Friday 6pm news on CBC to promote it.  You can check out the clip here (it’ll give you a good idea about what the group is all about):