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City Sonic: A Mobile Tour of Toronto's Musical Underbelly

By Elli Stuhler

While the rest of Canada may hate Torontonians for thinking they are the center of the universe (we are), there’s one thing that Toronto has that say, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan just doesn’t, and that’s one hell of a music scene.

Since a music scene would be nothing without the venues to house the magic, two Toronto production companies decided it was time to do some documentation. Et Voila, enter City Sonic, the love child of White Pine Pictures and Kensington Communications, and provider of 20 short films about Toronto musicians and the connection they feel with the venue that first made it happen for them.

The short films, though only three to five minutes in length, don’t let time restrictions limit them from creating magnificent little glimpses into the sentiment of these musicians and how they reflect on the venues that made their careers what they are today.

Some examples: Juno award winning songbird Serena Ryder confesses originally hating Toronto after leaving small town Millbrook, Ontario and how the Dakota Tavern became her creative breeding ground. She also confesses the stress of not knowing how to open streetcar doors. Danko Jones spits “to me you’re not worth jack shit until you’ve played Maple Leaf Gardens,” while the laptop-less electro pop duo Woodhands snigger about the illegal show they played at the Don Valley Brick Works and the two cops who attempted to bust the 1000+ person dance party. Of course, no documentation on the current Toronto music scene would be complete without members of the Toronto mega-music family Broken Social Scene. Brendan Canning talks about the transformation of the Drake hotel (while wearing a Drake Hotel bathrobe), while Jason Collett gives a tour of Kensington Market.

I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Heather Phenix, a marketing and distribution coordinator of City Sonic, who explained what the deal was with these shorts. “If you’re walking down the street and you’re interested in seeing a film about Geddy Lee’s [of Rush] appearance there, then you can actually have it on your mobile so there’s a city tour aspect that’s being developed.” The films, though available for your viewing pleasure on your home computer, are formatted to fit the aspect ratio of a cell phone screen. The tour aspect she’s talking about is an application: “As you’re navigating through the city, you could basically have the application open and then you get a GPS popup that would say ‘Oh, there’s content here available to be watched’ so watch this content on Justin Rutledge at the Cameron House while you’re walking down Queen Street on a Saturday.”

The City Sonic mobile map and application haven’t been launched yet, but in the meantime, check out the videos here: http://www.citysonic.tv/index.php

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