Hello From Toronto – Free Music, Great Food And Street Life At Toronto’s Taste Of Little Italy

05. November 2016 Music 0
Hello From Toronto – Free Music, Great Food And Street Life At Toronto’s Taste Of Little Italy

Festival season is in full swing. Summer is a great time to be in Toronto since there are multiple events going on at the same time. I had just heard about the “Taste of Little Italy” street festival and decided to partake of a little free-admission Italo-style celebration.

When I got there yesterday at about noon the restaurants and bands were still setting up. Streets were closed all the way from Euclid to Shaw and everyone was working feverishly to prepare for the 3rd and final day of this year’s Taste of Little Italy. All the major bars and restaurants had big screen TVs to beam the live Brazil-Australia World Cup match to a crowd of avid soccer fans.

At the heart of Little Italy is the CHIN Building, headquarters of Toronto’s first multicultural / multilingual radio station, founded by famous Italian-Canadian entrepreneur and community leader Johnny Lombardi. CHIN broadcasts in more than 30 languages in Toronto, in more than 18 languages in Ottawa/Gatineau and is available via satellite all across North America.

Little Italy is one of Toronto’s most popular entertainment areas with a great variety of Italian restaurants, trattorias, bars and cafés. Other cultures have also made culinary inroads and you’ll find Japanese, Mexican, Peruvian and Portuguese eateries as well.

Since the festival wasn’t quite off the ground yet I decided to treat myself to a little lunch and chose a nice window seat at “El Bodegon”, one of Toronto’s foremost Latin restaurants. Although the menu is dominated by meat and seafood, I opted for a light meal, combining a savoury avocado salad with fried plantains, one of my favourite vegetables. I had a perfect view from my little table by the window and caught a glimpse of two celebrities making a brief appearance: Jack Layton, federal NDP leader, and Olivia Chow, now a federal Member of Parliament. Toronto’s foremost political power couple, made an appearance on their bikes at the street festival.

At about 1:30 pm the music started to get going and right across from my lunch spot a two-man band started to play Latin rhythms and flamenco. After a very satisfying mid-day meal I started strolling through the area and chatted with a few of the bands. One of the music groups, Los Imbakayunas, is from Peru and tours all throughout Eastern Canada during the summer months and plays at various street festivals and special events. The hot Peruvian rhythms and melodic sounds of the pan flute were enchanting the crowds and hips were started to gently sway. Even a woman in an electric wheelchair started to dance exuberantly to the music.

I talked to a gentleman from the Coro Folcloristico Italia di Toronto who informed me that his group has been singing for more than 15 years and their repertoire includes the whole gamut of Italian folk songs, from the north to the south. I also had a brief chat with Pablo Terry, bandleader and flute player of Sol de Cuba who has been brightening up the Toronto music scene for the last 11 years.

Across the street was another band playing Latin Jazz, followed by a group playing contemporary Italian music. A few steps down from Terry was the Jeanine Mackie Band who got the street cooking with their funk, blues and R&B tunes. Further east another Italian choir, the Coro Abruzzo, was setting up for its performance.

A street festival always attracts interesting people. An older gentleman on a bike decorated with a tiger tail, a green plastic superhero adorning the handlebar and a tyrannosaurus rex made an appearance. Of course I had to talk to him. He said his name was Mickey, he’s retired now and he figured decorating his bike would be something to do in his retirement. From dressed-up dogs to dogs in baskets on bikes, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

Various entertainment areas were set up for children: young ones were running back and forth inside a very large inflatable train, a soccer challenge was set up and at “Hoop It Up” people could test their basketball skills. Various games of chance were enticing the crowd to try their luck.

Low-cost shiatsu massages were available and henna tattoos could also be obtained. Many of the local stores participated in the festival by providing special sale-priced items on the street.

The Nicorette girls, dressed in devilish red dresses, adorned with diabolic tails, were handing out free stop-smoking chewing gum, trying to entice the smokers to give up their filthy habit.

More freebies were to be had in the form of “clodhoppers”, a truly delicious concoction of fudge and graham wafer crackers. I have to admit I walked by the Clodhoppers truck four times just to scrounge up another free sample of these delicious sweet treats. Another bunch of people were handing out free taste bags of Doritos, containing the new Jalapeno flavour. Later on I bought a pop at Kalendar Koffee House and was promptly given a free hot Nutella sandwich. The generosity was appreciated.

Freebies were available everywhere, free music and very reasonably priced food samples (costing between $1 and $5) made for a great low-cost outing on a hot June weekend.


The Benefits of Early Piano Lessons

08. October 2016 Music, Piano 0
The Benefits of Early Piano Lessons

The trope of children going to piano lessons is one hard wrought into the framework of a majority of television shows and movies and other consumable media, but it seems as though the reality of that concept is dwindling. How many kids nowadays are going without any musical education at all because of governmental cutbacks and schools prioritizing literally anything above the arts? In times like these, it is important to be aware of how beneficial and important music is for children. By learning how to play an instrument, such as piano, and being instructed by a competent individual, a skilled piano teacher for example, kids will gain skills and unlock areas of their brains that would potentially remain stagnant.

Music Education

By being exposed to a wider variety of things early on in life, many people can grow and develop in healthier ways. Listening to Bach does not necessarily mean your child will grow up to have an IQ of 205, but because it engages so many areas of the brain and stimulates physical reactions, there is research that suggests it aids with cognitive development. Language acquisition is especially helped by a young introduction to music. Piano lessons can only benefit the progress of children, mentally and physically.

Piano for Kids

If you have ever tried to play the guitar, it has occurred to you that this kind of instrument would be somewhat more difficult for a five year old to attempt. Because of its awkward shape and the temperamental way the strings refuse to sound exactly right each time, it can be disheartening and detrimental to a beginning music learner. Alto saxes are heavy, and they require a significant amount of physical stamina not present when dealing with some other instruments. While there are many different musical ways to instruct your kids, piano is by far the best. With a talented and inspiration piano teacher, children become motivated by respect and a desire to be better themselves. It instills good habits, like consistent practice on a daily basis and harmonizing hand-eye coordination. Because the piano requires no additional or complicated work to make it sound normal, it can be an excellent self-esteem booster for children. It gives them something to be good at while helping cognitive function and fine motor skills in the young.

Classical Tunes

It has been proven in numerous research studies that classical music improves cognition. Young adults are encouraged to listen to Mozart while studying for the ACT or SAT, because this form of music excites the brain. Specifically, Beethoven and his contemporaries created music that directly targets the stress and sleep centers of the brain. It promotes good sleeping patterns and causes a direct correlation to relaxation from a heightened state of stress. If simply listening to classical music is that beneficial for growing children in formal and academic settings, just imagine how much more benefit is to be gained by being able to play that music!

Our Referral

We recently ran into gentleman during a local music event, from Las Vegas, NV.  Brad Seagle provides in-home piano lessons in Las Vegas and Henderson NV.  You can check his website out at http://www.vegaspianoinstructor.com/


Buying Used Musical Gear

09. August 2016 Music 0
Buying Used Musical Gear

Buying Used Musical Gear

You cannot become a successful musician without the right gear. Whether your dream is to become a rock star to an audience of thousands or a hobby musician to an audience of one, the right gear can make an immense difference. It allows you to explore a wider range of sounds and techniques that you could not otherwise. Guitar pedals are a perfect example of this, and something that every guitarist should own. If you are currently on the market for good gear, then try looking into used musical gear. The beauty of going used is that you get all of the functionality without the price.

Used Gives You It All and More

Most professional musicians will tell you that used gear is just as good as new. You do not have to purchase brand new gear, top of the line and the most expensive available, just to get the sound that you want. This is not like buying a new phone where you get all of these new features and updates every year. Used gear can offer the same functionality as the new counterparts. Used also comes in at a much lower price. If you are on a budget or hoping to save some money on this purchase, used is always the way to go. You are not sacrificing anything with used musical gear.

The Perfect Used Gear

Used guitar pedals are one of the easiest buying options here. You have a wide variety of pedals available out there, from basic to high-end. You can find used pedals that provide the exact results that you want. Since guitar pedals are relatively low maintenance, you should have no trouble finding an option that is in perfect condition. You do not have to worry about extensive abuse of the gear. It will sound exactly as it should and it will help you to achieve the sounds that you want.

As stated, there is a wide variety of pedals out there. This means that you will find pedals at all skill levels and budgets. For beginners who want to start learning pedals, used is the best option. You are not spending a lot on the pedal but you can still get a good entry level one. Professionals, too, can benefit from using used guitar pedals. Find high quality pedals that work exceptionally well and that have all of the features that you need, just at a lower cost. Used guitar pedals, and used musical gear as a whole, are rising in popularity for everyone because there is so much to gain.


The Best Microphones for Voice Over

20. July 2016 Voice Over 0
The Best Microphones for Voice Over

The Best Microphones for Voice Over

Voice over work gives you the opportunity to work in video games, movies, animation, politics, commercials, and any other industry that needs a powerful voice. You may already focus on the quality and strength of your voice, but you need to think about your equipment, too. The best voice over artists all have good equipment helping them. This equipment can elevate you as an artist, allowing you to do more with your voice and the work that you are doing. If you have the right voiceover microphone, you can create exceptional quality. Below are some of the best microphones for this.

Low-End

Beginners or voice over talent on a low budget do not want to sacrifice quality. While you cannot get the high-end equipment, you can find some great microphones that will give you some amazing results. The Rode NT1-A Vocal Condenser Microphone is one of the better options. It costs a little over 200 dollars and comes with everything that you need for a basic home setup. Professionals oftentimes recommend this for beginner or light voice over work as it does a great job. It will pick up and isolate your voice while keeping the sound quality high.

Mid-Range

If you can spend a little more, the Harlan Hogan VO: 1-A Microphone is the best voiceover microphone. Designed for voice over actors, it allows you to create crisp, clear sounds. At around 300 dollars, you will have the ability to bring out the best in your speaking voice.

At over 500 dollars, the Rode NTK Tube Condenser Microphone offers a lot for the price. If you need a wide range of sounds, changing pitch and voice type, you will want to go with this microphone. It is the best voice over microphone at this price range.

High-End

If you are willing to spend about 1,000 dollars, you want to pick up the Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Tube Condenser Microphone. It is what you find with professionals in nearly all industries. It gives you the clearest, highest quality sound with the widest range. It focuses only on your voice with no background noise affecting the quality.

The Neumann U87, coming it at over 1,000 dollars, is perfect for voice over talent. Built for voice over work specifically, it allows you to use your voice work to your best ability. From a hushed cry to a boisterous laugh, you can convey the exact emotions and thoughts of your character. It the chosen voiceover microphone for most professionals.


The Brief History of Guitar Effects

25. March 2016 Music 0
The Brief History of Guitar Effects

The evolution of the guitar has brought about new sounds and opportunities for musicians. What was originally a simple instrument with a few strings gradually changed over time. It changed in material and string amount, as well as overall shape. Several modifications occurred to alter the sound that you get with it. As guitars became electric, these changes progressed more quickly. First they perfected the sound for the electric guitar, making it clean and loud, and then they started to muddy it. Using guitar effect pedals, and other tools, guitarists have found new ways to alter the sound of the guitar. The new creation has become a critical aspect of many songs from the 40s and beyond. When looking through used guitar pedals and older guitars, you can see the evolution. When playing them, you can hear it.

Big Joe Classic Flange
Big Joe Classic Flange Effects Pedal

Origin stories for the pedal and similar guitar effects differ. You have stories involving Rickenbacker, Les Paul, and Jimmy Page. Stories that go back to the 30s. The goal for each of them, especially in the very early days of guitar effects, was to make the electric guitar stand out and become a powerful instrument. These effects provided musicians, companies, and producers a way to build a more powerful instrument that could easily stand on its own and gain popularity. These were just the beginning, though. As they developed these individual effects, the desire for more started.

As the desire for more impressive and a wider range of sounds developed, we started to see the rise of the amps. Amps had their original purpose and, like nearly everything, that purpose grew to include a variety of other uses. Major musicians, such as Ike Turner, began to play with distortions as a way to “evolve” their music somewhat. It produced sounds that they could not have with the guitar alone. It is what drove major acts, including The Who and Led Zeppelin, and helped them to become the greats they are, and helping to develop the vintage guitar pedals.

The next step was the many vintage guitar pedals and similar tools. While the Rolling Stones certainly led the way, everyone from Jimmy Page to Jimi Hendrix to smaller acts began playing with it. The guitar effect pedals quickly became a necessary tool for guitarists who wanted to produce gritty sounds. Few things compare to what you get with the pedal, especially with what we have today.

Today, pedals have grown and improved. You can achieve sounds and effects easily with the available pedals, and you can find a variety on the market. They have become commonplace in music. Even with used guitar pedals, you still get that raw and amazing sound you crave.


Music, It’S All Around You – Discover It

05. March 2016 Music 0

johnny-automatic-music-groupEveryone loves music – it’s nice, it’s beautiful, it’s strong and powerful and in different times, it can be everything that you want. For those who can’t live without music, discovering its secrets is wonderful and it offers them the satisfaction that they need.

However, to find that music that makes your soul vibrate, you’ll have to know where to look at, so we’re going to teach you some tips and tricks for finding the right music for your ears. It’s not at all difficult and it can be extremely satisfying to know how to get access to something that you love so much, so let’s get it started.


The Online

That’s right, the online environment is the first place where you can start looking for the right type of music. There are plenty of choices available there, but you’ll have to know exactly what you’re looking for. The different genres are for everyone, but not everyone likes the same music, so you’ll get to make a thorough research to get what you want. As you certainly have something in mind already, when you make your online search, use the words that describe your favorite music genre or the band that you like listening to.

 


The Radio Stations

There are dedicated radio stations that offer you just music. When you see this, think about a radio station that has no commercials, no news, no talk shows – nothing to distract you. All they give is good music, but this is also divided – some give you country music, others give classical music or pop music and so on.

png_man_hearing_music_by_selenator003_by_selenator003-d5mt0kkThere are also online radio stations, and you can access them from any computer or mobile device that has access on the internet, so you’ll be free to listen to anything you like. The trick here is that you can hear new songs as soon as they are released, so it’s a good place to start looking for the music that you love.


Learning How to Play

If you’re willing to learn how to play an instrument, look online for different music schools or teachers who organize open classes. You will surely find something in your area, and the price is usually accessible. However, the musical instruments and gears represent what will be more expensive, as those are something that not everyone can afford.  There are also a number of online guitar gear stores that provide big discounts on guitar effects pedals, that can provide an alternative to buying costly new gear.


The Reviews

When you’re looking for music or for music gear, it’s important to also look for quality. If you want to have a prior opinion, look for reviews on websites. This is valid for anything that you’re looking for online, as the reviews are the first impression of people.

There are two types of reviews – some are presented by the users of the websites, who leave their Country_Musicpersonal opinions after listening to one type of music or using a certain musical instrument, while the second type of review is given by the dedicated review sites, who present opinions given by people who are specialists in that area – they will give you all the details that you want to know about a certain music gear, along with pros and cons for using it, along with other things that you’ll might be interested in.

All these reviews are useful, because you will get to know first-hand opinions of direct users, but also reviews that are a little more explanatory. It’s great to hear personal opinions when it’s about a band or a certain song, but it’s also great to know all those important details about a certain music gear. The most important thing is that a dedicated website for music gear reviews will give you the opportunity to compare different things and your choice will become a lot more easier when knowing what’s important.