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Lula Lights Up Dundas West

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Dundas West is once again percolating with the annual LulaWorld Festival and things will get even hotter in the lead-up to the Dundas West Fest June 7 on Dundas between Lansdowne and Ossington.

Lula Lounge is an undisputed neighbourhood hub and a nexus for world music across the city and beyond. After 12 years in business, Lula has become synonymous with salsa and Latin American music in the same way the Bamboo Club was a centre for reggae and African music in the late 1980s and ’90s.

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One of the highlights of LulaWorld was Wednesday’s show with NYC-based Latin Grammy winner Dafnis Prieto and his Proverb Trio (above) featuring keys innovator Jason Lindner (left) and Washington, D.C.-based vocalist Kokayi (right).

LulaWorld co-Artistic Director Tracy Jenkins, confirms that the club has really found its voice and its audience after a difficult decade of moving from challenge to challenge.

“None of us in the core group who started Lula had any real experience running a venue,” Jenkins confesses. “We weren’t restaurateurs, we were driven by the desire to create a space where amazing music could be presented. We made a lot of mistakes. Finally, now it’s really coming together — we’ve got a great kitchen and menu, we’ve got good front-of-house management and now we can concentrate on the programming while the other stuff takes care of itself.”

“Faith in the club is more evident now, too,” adds Jenkins. “People trust our programming, they’re willing to take a leap of faith because maybe they don’t know the artist but they like Brazilian music so they come and try it out.”

Lula Lounge is also benefiting from interest in music from the Caribbean and Latin America in the lead up to the PanAm Games. Jenkins’s co-AD, Jose Ortega, is an advisor to the PanAm cultural committee and Lula Music and Art Centre was awarded one of 26 cultural commissions for the Games — staging a powerhouse collaboration that will pair Danilo Pérez with other big Latin Jazz stars from across the Americas.

“Jose is very knowledgeable about the salsa scene in Toronto and internationally,” confirms Jenkins. The Lula programming team also relies heavily on the input of local musicians who come from and have ties to an array of other countries and cultures around the globe, not just in Latin America.

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“The model we’ve been working with for a number of years is a collaborative one where we talk to local musicians about who they’d like to work with,” explains Jenkins. “Often the artists from outside are brought to us by local artists and we haven’t even heard of them. We hadn’t heard of Fred Martins before Luanda Jones said, ‘This is the guy I really want to work with.’”

“Similarly Roberto Occhipinti brought Dafnis to our attention and when we heard the CD we were blown away. There’s a quote on the internet to the effect that when Dafnis moved to New York it was like the city was hit by an asteroid. He’s really amazing. This is the first time the trio is playing in Canada and I wouldn’t have found them on my own if Roberto hadn’t brought them to our attention. The album is a really unique combination of sounds with crazily fantastic drumming.”

“We have a lot of people coming from New York this year,” notes Jenkins. “For us it’s a little bit easier than bringing somebody up from Brazil, for example.”

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Another highlight of LulaWorld 2014 is a celebration of Mexican women in song featuring Latin Grammy winner Martha Gonzalez (left) with special guests Amanda Medina Pinedo and Mamselle, backed by Toronto’s own Café Con Pan.

Jenkins reserves special praise for the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Celebrate Ontario, which is supporting the club’s powerhouse pairing of Jimmy Bosch & Ralph Irizarry and the Lula All-Stars at Dundas West Fest. “CBC Radio, CIUT and Jazz FM have also been amazing to us,” adds Jenkins.

“We always say how lucky we are to be working in this ecosystem, we get support from the city, we get support from radio and we enjoy the support of the musical community. There’s such an openness between the musicians to work with people from different cultures and different genres. It’s really, really exciting.”

WHERE/WHEN:
LulaWorld 2014 at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, 416.588.0307 (Ticket prices vary)
Dundas West Fest is June 7 from 11AM-11PP (FREE)

Shared content by Christopher Jones for livewithculture.ca

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Toronto Street Signs For Sale

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Over the next year more than 1,500 decommissioned City of Toronto street signs will be up for auction, with new signs being added each week. Each sign will live online for a maximum of 60 days, with the minimum opening bid starting at only $30 and increasing in $5 increments. For those of you on the Mayor Rob Ford bandwagon, there are currently 16 autographed signs available for purchase, with Yonge Street currently listed at a bid of $2,010. How much would you pay for a piece of Toronto?

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CLICK HERE TO SEE SIGNS

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Open Roof Festival 2014

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Toronto’s Open Roof Festival is back for its fifth season running every Thursday from June 19 through to August 21. The 10-week festival offers up a curated set of films along side local emerging artists and food/drink vendors. This year, ORF has moved to a new location at 99 Sudbury, just south of Queen Street West near Dovercourt.

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For the past two years we’ve had the pleasure of co-presenting a film during ORF, fingers crossed we’ll have something special again for this year! Film and artist announcements are coming soon… but we can tell you that tickets go on sale June 2 ($15 per person) and can be purchased here: OpenRoofFestival.com

Previously: Open Roof Festival 2013

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Ride For Play

This summer, Toronto’s very own Glen Hempstock and Jonathan Haskins will cycle from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland in order to raise awareness and funds for Right To Play. The ride, called Ride For Play, begins on June 1st and aims to raise $25,000 to go towards Right To Play’s youth sport and play programs.

Right To Play is an organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. The fundraising goal of $25,000 is an amount that would provide 500 children with weekly sport and play programs for an entire year.

“This ride combines my desire to give back and do something that’s bigger than me, with my passion for pushing my body to its limits,” said Hempstock. “Right To Play is an organization that embodies my belief that play and sports are the basis to a healthy, well-rounded individual. And the larger-than-life and highly challenging geography of Canada will serve as the perfect backdrop to this challenge!”

Ride For Play was born out of Glen and Jon’s love of sport. Since the two met nearly two years ago, they have been through many trials together, including training for three marathons and numerous long-distance cycling challenges. Ride For Play is the logical extension of these previous trials, and it promises to be the most exciting experience yet.

For more info: rideforplay.com/righttoplay/

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On Saturday May 17th we were given the opportunity to visit the House of Hoops in Square One for it’s official launch. House of Hoops, the basketball specific branch of Foot Locker, opened its first location in Toronto on Yonge street last year and with the continued popularity of basketball and sneaker culture within our city it was only a matter of time until a second location sprouted up in TO.

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The launch was especially cool because it gave the opportunity to 30 young ball players from the area to sit down and learn about Nike’s product line (Shouts out to to Joshua Graham, Duane Watson & Akil Augustine on the engaging and informative banter), something that as a 13-year-old baller would be a dream come true. It also gave them the opportunity to interact with Tristan Thompson who was the guest of honour and spoke effortlessly to the kids about the importance of hard work, dedication and school work. Tristan is a great role model and is especially effective at getting across a positive message because of his hometown hero status.

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We got a chance to sit down for a quick chat with Brampton’s finest. We talked about Jurassic Park, the importance of being a Role Model and how Amir Johnson has really strong feet. Take a read for yourself below.

You being a dude from Toronto, how proud does it make you feel seeing something like The Raptors ‘Jurassic Park’?

When you sit back and look at it, it just makes you proud to be Canadian first and foremost. You know the Raptors having that success and you know the Leafs weren’t in the playoffs this year which is unfortunate, but with that being said, having the game grow like that, having people gravitating towards it, it just helps build the game of basketball, it helps build the brand basketball but it makes basketball even cooler in our city, people being able to watch and see the Raptors have success and to see Jurassic Park it makes you want to be a part of that, it makes you want to play basketball and someday, you know, be the guy that’s on the big screen playing.

Did you ever have an experience like this as a kid? Were there any guys that did for you, what you did for these youngsters today?

Well no, we never had that or a local pro since Jamal Maglore, so you know, I never had the opportunity and so that’s why I feel like being able to come back and teach these kids it’s my duty. Being able to be there for these young kids, cause you never know, in a couple years from now when I’m 37 and I’m ready to call it quits and these young kids here might be ready to come and beat my tail, so imm’a tell them I talked to you at house hoops, you gotta take it easy on me young fella!

How amazing would it be to be sitting on that stage talking about your own shoe and being the first Toronto dude to get his own shoe?

See that, that’s it! We gotta start punching at Nike about that! Gotta let them know Canada is growing, we gotta get that Canadian content. That would be a great feeling, that would be a great accomplishment and I guess that would say a lot about my game growing and becoming a better player, so it would definitely be an honour if one day I had the opportunity to have my own signature shoe.

Do you wear the same shoe all season?

No, I wear the same line of shoe, the same Lebron soldiers, not the exact same shoe because one shoe won’t last.

How often, how often do you switch them up?

Probably after about five games.

We wish Tristan the best for this summer and going into next season!

Posted by Jesse Ingalls

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MayoralRace3

On October 27th 2014, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to cast their vote for the next Mayor of Toronto. You’ve probably heard about front runners like Olivia Chow and John Tory but did you know there are about 35 other candidates? Meet Mayoral candidate Dewitt Lee the third.

Name: Dewitt Lee III

Age: 36

Occupation: President of L.E.A.P. Branding Publishing & Marketing Company

Founder of the Toronto Community Advisory Board, Canadian Hip-Hop Caucus, Christian Canadian Caucus, Leadership Experience and Development Institute.

How do you hope to change Toronto?
I will introduce several accountability measures that will add a newfound pursuit of excellence and commitment to efficiency that will create a culture of work ethic, teamwork and community engagement. I will meet with every councillor monthly to make sure they are serving the citizens and their needs appropriately. I also make myself as assessable as possible. In order for them to achieve a greater demand of service, I will push for by-law changes to remove councillors from some executive committees and replace them with qualified citizens who will go through an election process – they will serve 2 year terms.

The most immediate change I believe I can control as mayor, is leading a much more motivated city of Toronto. This will be a workforce that serves the almost 3 million citizens who call it home, with a more citizen centric philosophy.

Why did you decide to run?
I first decided to run for mayor of Toronto in 2010, when I felt overwhelmed with a very clear calling, an epiphany even, to enter into politics. To finally be the bridge our city needed to connect the haves and the have nots. The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6; in all ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths and I did just that and finished 12th out of 40 candidates with 1,699 votes.

I decided to run because Toronto is ready to be represented by someone who understands the true plight of the people. I have struggled and know what it feels like to be without As a 2014 mayoral candidate, I decided to run again because I am ready to lead the city past its soiled reputation by being a moral and level headed leader. As well as one who is ready to make critical decisions in regards to transit, public housing and an aging infrastructure by bringing in the world’s greatest thinkers and ideas.

What should the public know about you?
I was born in Toronto but was raised in N.Y. I’ve moved back to Toronto in 2003 as an entrepreneur with an iron will to succeed. I’ve had a fascination with the city which would be expected of someone visiting for the first time. I have never felt like a visitor, everywhere feels like home and everyone felt like family. During my pursuit of fulfilling my publishing dream, I’ve had to endure homelessness, shelters and food banks. I was able to build the team that eventually helped me build the business that is currently celebrating its 10th year anniversary. I have dedicated my life to helping serve the less fortunate and I bring to City Hall a heart for the homeless and the hungry.

I want this generation to be known as the people who decided to serve and sacrifice to leave our city better than we found it. In Isaiah 58:12 it says we will “rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age old foundations; … be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of the streets to dwell in.”

Your City. Your Vote.

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Follow @1LOVETO #TOpoli

Doors Open Toronto 2014

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Doors Open Toronto is back this weekend for its 15th year, allowing people access to explore a variety of unique buildings across the city. On Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25, the public can visit more than 150 of these culturally relevant buildings, including over 40 new destinations than in previous years. We’ve included a short list of new buildings worth checking out!

1. Pachter Hall and Moose Factory

2. The Great Hall

3. Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

4. Artscape Youngplace

5. Fort York Armoury

And of course there are some classics that never dissappoint…

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St. James Cathedral

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Commerce Court North

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Sick Kids Hospital

For more info CLICK HERE

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MayoralRace4

On October 27th 2014, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to cast their vote for the next Mayor of Toronto. You’ve probably heard about front runners like Olivia Chow and John Tory but did you know there are about 35 other candidates? Meet Mayoral candidate Richard Underhill.

Name: Richard Underhill

Age: 53

Occupation: Musician (sax player)

How do you hope to change Toronto?
I hope to help Toronto unlock the vast potential of it’s citizens and to harness the creativity of the residents of this great city. I hope to change transit in this city so it resembles the modern cities of Europe and increasingly America. That means complete streets that include space for pedestrians of all abilities, dedicated bike lanes, transit corridors as well as space for cars.

I hope to create a sustainable city where housing is affordable and available in close proximity to jobs and schools, where transit is affordable and efficient and where the waterfront is for recreation, not jets. Most of all, I hope to create a city where decisions are based on consultation with residents and experts, not cronyism and lobbying.

Why did you decide to run?
I decided to run for mayor because I was fed up with the current mayor of Toronto. I was tired of him making a mockery of the office and most of all I was horrified by his slash and burn policies. He has cost this city money while destroying perfectly good plans like transit city and the Scarborough LRT. I was motivated to deputize during budget meetings at city hall and from there was energized to run for office. I hope I can bring good ideas and positive discussion to this campaign.

From years of observation and participation in the political process at the grassroots level, attending community meetings, deputizing at City Hall, participating in campaigns and discussing issues with candidates, I have learned much about how the city functions and how to effect change.

What should the public know about you?
What makes me unique in this mayoral race is that I have had the opportunity to travel the world as a musician. I have toured over 30 countries and have seen first-hand how other cities are modernizing far more quickly than Toronto and reaping the social and economic benefits from better transit, increased green space, complete streets and human scale development. Have any of the other candidates in the race traveled from New York to New Delhi, Amsterdam to Auckland, Helsinki to Havana, Berlin to Budapest or Goa to Guadalajara?

As a musician I also bring to the job the ability to improvise and to come up with outside-the-box solutions. The goal of a musician is to compromise, to cooperate and reach a common goal. My campaign is non-partisan and not wedded to the doctrine of any political party. I owe no favours for past support. For those tired of politics as usual, I provide a chance to break the mold and start fresh, to begin again with someone who is willing to listen, who is compassionate and believes in fairness, who has an open mind and who will not shoot the messenger and shun a good idea from an opponent.

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

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Name: Saeed Selvam

Current Occupation: Candidate for City Council.

Last Occupation: Campaign Manager for the Your32 Transportation Campaign with CivicAction

How do you hope to change Toronto?
If you’ve ever been downtown during rush-hour and tried to get onto a streetcar/subway or even waited for a bus in -30c weather you know that we could definitely do transit better. I’m pushing for a Downtown Relief Line that’s desperately needed to keep our city moving. Among the many other issues some of the top include affordable housing, youth unemployment and promoting our Toronto brand to the world. With thousands of young people graduating from college and university each year, it’s almost impossible to find a meaningful job.

We also have a massive housing challenge on our hands, it’s getting extremely expensive to live anywhere close to downtown Toronto, but this also includes increases in rent all over the city and with that increase, guess what, there’s often no value improvements to offset it. Similar to increasing TTC fares, people are tired of seeing costs increase without any visible improvements.

Why did you decide to run for council?
I first got involved with the Toronto Youth Cabinet while I was in high school because I was tired of waking up to headlines like “another shooting, another death” during the ‘Summer of the Gun.’ After years of local advocacy, I learned quickly that while you can make a lot of change from the bottom up, there needs to be some support from the top down. I also learned that politics in Toronto did not reflect communities and our diversity in the way it should. When I say diversity however I refer to a diversity of ideas, a lack of willingness to work together and a lack of bold ideas. We suffer from a leadership deficit, dirty politics and an unwillingness to take risks that could make our city even greater.

I decided to run to represent those who didn’t feel they had a voice in politics, who felt it was inaccessible and didn’t apply to them. The issues I’ve mentioned are just a sample of what I felt I could offer in terms of solutions, however the bigger piece was about changing our political culture, not just in Toronto but in Canada.

What should the public know about you?
I like short walks on the beach, I don’t have a barber and I tweet daily to stay in shape.

To learn more visit: saeedselvam.ca

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Follow @1LOVETO #TOpoli

MayoralRace1

On October 27th 2014, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to cast their vote for the next Mayor of Toronto. You’ve probably heard about front runners like Olivia Chow and John Tory but did you know there are about 35 other candidates? We spoke to some of the less known of those contenders to understand their positions and perspectives. First up, meet Mayoral candidate Robb (not Ford) Johannes.

Name: Robb Johannes

Age: Recent graduate to the 30s.

Occupation: Singer/musician in Paint, social justice worker. Currently living precariously as many Torontonians do.

How do you hope to change Toronto?
I am completely in support of investment and development in infrastructure but there seems to be a neglect of investment in citizens. Toronto is a world-class city that is worthy of world-class infrastructure and social services. Reducing congestion with better and more effective transit, beginning with expanding the reach and frequency of bus service, is an immediate priority. Allowing for more pedestrian and cycle corridors in the downtown core will also help not only with congestion but with the environment.

A concerted effort to eliminate homelessness through social services but providing tax breaks to developers to designate units for social housing (as is being done in Vancouver and Calgary, for example) is a social and economic responsibility.

Embracing nightlife and arts and culture are also means to connect communities, as well as tap into the rich cultural industry and talent that Toronto has to offer.

Why did you decide to run?
The 2010 Civic Election in Toronto was a potent example of what happens where there is a disconnect between candidates and communities. I felt that simply voting in 2014 was not enough. The Robb Not Ford campaign had its nucleus in the principle of civic engagement, and giving citizens of Toronto, especially young voters and citizens otherwise alienated from the political process, a candidate who is a regular citizen and not a career politician.

What should the public know about you?
Whilst I would consider myself a “youth” candidate, I am by no means limited in my hands-on experience and have an extensive background in legal reform, organizational management, public outreach, program facilitation, and, most significantly to the role of a mayor: acting as a bridge between communities of people who may otherwise be highly polarized.

As a community social justice advocate with government-funded organizations in Vancouver, I’ve facilitated and contributed to changes in federal laws and improved relationships between service providers, representatives, and citizens.

To learn more visit: robbnotford.com

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Previously: 10 Reasons Why You Should Vote

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40YrsHipHop_May 02, 2014_12

We aren’t all photo buffs. With that said, we intake photography on a daily basis whether we consciously acknowledge it or not. Music and photography are synonymous. Think of all of your favourite albums, whether you downloaded it or purchased a hard copy, there was a visual that accompanied that album, and that visual set the tone for what you were about to hear.

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We got the opportunity to listen to Jonathan Mannion speak with Che Kothari at the opening of the “40 Years of Hip Hop Photography” exhibit, being showcased from May 2nd to May 30th at the Gladstone Hotel. Mannion is responsible not only for some of the most iconic album visuals ever, (see: Jay-Z “Reasonable Doubt”, DMX “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of my Blood” & Aaliyah “Aaliyah”), but more importantly proudly carries the torch as a true ambassador and grass roots developer of hip-hop and it’s culture. Mannion’s overwhelming positivity and passion was the perfect energy to open a show that pays equal homage to both the past and present of hip hop. If you love hip-hop go see this exhibit. If you love photography go to this exhibit. If you love both, well, you already know. PS: The exhibit is completely FREE of charge, so no excuses!

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For more info: 40yearsofhiphop.com

Posted by Jesse Ingalls

Photos by Marshall Cole

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10 Reason Why You Should Vote!

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VOTE OR DIE — not literally, of course, but you’re not really living if you don’t exercise your rights. It is more important now than ever, for young people to be voting and getting a grip on the issues at hand. Why? Because knowledge is power and power creates change.

1. You’ll help steer the way your city/country is governed
2. You can benefit financially by placing the right person in power
3. You’re paying respect to our history which has made the right to vote available to you
4. You’re helping to build a better future/city/country for your kids to exist in
5. You won’t be considered a hypocrite when you complain about city policies/procedures
6. You have a say about how your taxes are used – no more mandatory municipal manicures!
7. You can save your city from being embarrassed and parodied on multiple platforms worldwide
8. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment/bragging rights when the person you vote for, wins
9. Know someone who’s voting for a nut job? You essentially cancel their vote out with yours
10. It makes you a part of conscientious collective that pushes for progress

The win/lose margins come so close, so all that BS about your vote not counting, is just that…BS. Take a moment out of your day and make an effort to see who is running and what their ideas are. Be an active citizen and take pride in having the liberty to head to the polls and make an informed decision. Your City, Your Vote.

For more info follow @torontovotes #TOvotes14

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Follow @1LOVETO #TOpoli #VoteOrDie