Louis Saldenah is remarkably calm for a man with so much responsibility pressing down on him. A Caribana bandleader since 1977 with 15 Band of the Year titles under his belt (and 11 second place finishes), this Saturday he will bring the largest band in the festival’s 43-year history, more than 2,000 players dancing in 15 fantastically colourful sections.
Provided that Saldenah’s band places in the top eight — a panel of judges scores each group — he’ll be awarded $35,000 from the Festival Management Committee (FMC), the organization that owns and runs the event. Bands scoring in 9th – 14th place receive $21,000 each. If that sounds like a good chunk of change, consider that Saldenah’s 20,000 square foot mas camp (mas is short for masquerade) near St. Clair and O’Connor rents for nearly $7,000 per month. And that’s just the tip of the financial iceberg; there’s material and vehicle costs, a website and brochure to produce, the list goes on and on. Players in each band pay for their own costumes, anywhere from $140 – $175 in Saldenah’s case; the elaborate steel-frame King and Queen costumes are in the $6,000 neighbourhood with the hope that prize money — up to $4,500 — will offset the cost.
By the time I caught up with Saldenah a week and a half ago, things were already winding down at his camp; costumes needed to be ready for pick-up starting this week with different sections booked to collect their glittering gear each day.
One of the highlights of this weekend’s Masala! Mehndi! Masti! festival will be the MyBindi Comedy Night at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sunday featuring a slate of South Asian comics. Toronto’s Jazz Mann will be representing the home team on a bill topped by New Yorker Vidur Kapur.
Live With Culture interviews are nearly always done face-to-face but scheduling challenges meant that my conversation with Mann had to be done over the phone. The actor/comedian is clearly at ease in the promotional ring because we were bantering like old chums inside of five minutes.
“A true comic has to have some marketing skill or promotional ability,” he says. “A lot of comics think it’s enough to be funny without making the effort to really understand the business. You can be the funniest comedian in the world but if you don’t know how to market yourself you’ll be the funniest comedian in the world in your parents’ basement.”
Born in Toronto but raised in B.C., Jazz moved back to TO in 1998 after completing a business degree. “That was the deal,” he says. “My parents said, ‘You can do what you want to do but you’re going to get an education.’ So now I know what I’m doing, apparently; now I’m giving other comedians a ride in my Audi (laughs).”
Calling all Torontonians and visitors alike! One of two main culinary events in the city, Summerlicious is back beginning tomorrow!
Sister festival to Winterlicious, this program offers amazing three-course prix-fixe menus at three different price points that spare your budget while letting you expand your culinary horizons!
Now in its eighth year, the City’s ‘licious,’ programs continue to be hugely successful year after year. Why? Because Toronto is a culinary capital! One of the most multicultural cities on earth, Toronto embraces its love of community, culture and art through food.
The program’s popularity means that many restaurants sell out quickly. My advice? Book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. And if you don’t get a table at the resto you covet the most, keep calling to see if there’s been a cancellation. If you can’t get in for dinner, book a lunch. Friday and Saturday nights always fill up first so why not treat yourself to a Tuesday night out? You deserve it!
Summerlicious offers something for everyone. Yes, you can experience fine dining and haute cuisine, but there’s also a wide range of local and ethnic cuisines to sample across a spectrum of neighbourhoods, not just downtown. Whether you pick a restaurant in Queen West, Yorkville, Parkdale, Little India or Chinatown, you’ll find art, shopping and vibrant street culture to go with your meal.
Summerlicious is a perfect way to beat the heat, have a foodie adventure and experience the growing culinary empire that exists in our city!
WHERE/WHEN: Summerlicious hits 150 restaurants across the city July 9 – 25.
Umbereen Inayet is a programmer with the City of Toronto’s Special Events team; she recently started her own food blog, Umbereen’s Palate.
Photo by Umbereen Inayet
My ears are still ringing from the horn blasts of this Shriners car making its happy way up Bay Street this afternoon following the Shriner’s Imperial Day parade on University Avenue. Downtown traffic was paralyzed by grid-lock as east/west routes in the city core were diverted onto adjacent streets. The Shriners appeared to be having a ball unlike the commuters forced to share the roads with these wacky do-gooders (Shriners work tirelessly raising money for children’s hospitals). With streetcars reduced to a crawl, walking became the better way, heat wave or not.
My history with NXNE co-founder and programmer Yvonne Matsell goes back more than 20 years and my respect for her is boundless. The music industry has a notoriously high burn-out rate but Matsell is hardcore: “Live music is my true passion,” she says in her charming Welsh accent. “I love to see it performed and I love to see bands grow.”
You’d be hard pressed to find a local act of any stature that hasn’t been aided and abetted in some way by Matsell. A Toronto club booker since the late 1980s at Albert’s Hall, Ultrasound, Reverb/Holy Joe’s, Ted’s Wrecking Yard and now the El Mocambo, she’s given a leg up to Broken Social Scene, Metric, Sum 41, Billy Talent, Ron Sexsmith, Barenaked Ladies, Tea Party and Lowest of the Low, to name just a handful.
Sixteen years ago, NOW’s Michael Hollett tagged Matsell to help launch a northern equivalent of Austin’s South By Southwest music fest. Like the Texas town’s famous 6th Street, which is lined with live music clubs, Toronto’s Queen Street West is perfect for a club crawl of regal proportions.
“Toronto is made for this kind of festival,” says Matsell. “We’ve grown well beyond Queen Street to include Spadina and College and the far end of Queen West, and it’s good to see that people are willing to travel a bit.”