Roxanne Tellier – Hot Town – Mean Streets – Jazz Hands!


What ..are we back? Now?Like this now?

Sheesh, I am no good without routine ..give me time off and I collapse into inertia. Or maybe it was the heat this summer or maybe I’m just lazy. Whatevs. I feel like a kid coming back to school after summer vacation, with an essay so banal that even the dog won’t eat it.


Got stuff done, for sure. Spent time with lovely people who make me laugh, and attended the 71st birthday party of our Fearless Leader. Had a lovely afternoon with a dear old friend whom I haven’t seen in decades.So there’s that.

But overall, I feel like I’ve wasted the summer of 2016, which was not at all what I had planned. I had lists of places to go, people to see, babies to shake.  The ridiculous heat and humidity, however, along with a combination of listlessness and a driving compulsion to at least pretend I’m getting stuff done on downsizing, kept me chained to my desk, sweating in front of a small fan, (no one you know)  instead of getting out to the glories of a Toronto summer.  I didn’t get to High Park to see the blossoms, let alone to attend even one night of the glorious Shakespeare in the Park that I’ve heard so much about.  Never made it out to theToronto Islands ..heck, never even made it out to my local Rouge Park beach.  Missed all the festivals and events.Bitched about the TTC, which still conspires to make my trips in to downtown into a two hour trek there, and a two to three hour marathon back home.

east-ave-sold-signI’ve blamed a lot of my isolation on being out here in the HinterLand of Scarberia, but that all comes to an end soon. The house has been sold, the marathon of decluttering and the divesting of the hoard is in full swing. I’ve marvelled at the junk I’ve collected, the good stuff I’d forgotten I have, and the lack of value in most of the items I’ve held on to because ‘it might be worth something.’ I’ve realized with a bing and a bang and a boom that the world and how it works has moved on inexorably without me; the Toronto I first encountered in 1976 is truly a thing of the past.

straight-outta-scaroroFor good or ill, much of my experience in surviving in the Big City is irrelevant today. In ’76, a kid could come to the city with little more than a knapsack and a dream, and somehow live on bulk smelt and cheap wine, while sheltering in a funky rooming house filled with other dreamers and ne’er do wells.  Not anymore … the cheapest of places to share will still run you upwards of $500 a month, if you’re lucky. Food costs keep soaring, the cost of electricity is completely insane, and no one can live without a cell phone and data plan that costs more than what one used to pay for a month’s rent on a crappy room in a dive.

How DO people survive in Toronto?  A recent article broke down the very basic costs necessary for a Young Professional to survive.

Their conclusion: “you need to make a minimum of $38K a year to even have a dollar left in your account at the end of the month.Sure, many of you are happy hearing that number, but let’s remember that we haven’t included anything like, you know, the clothes on your back, a haircut, a little something we like to call student debt payments, a single coffee at your favourite coffee shop, or even a bottle of wine to pair with your Netflix ($7.99 a month) and chill.”

Sounds bleak … even if you DO happen to be a “Young Professional.” For the dreamers and the artists, it’s even bleaker. For those on minimum wage, disability, pensions … it’s a horror. Made even worse by those who tell us that if we can’t afford it here, we should just leave – isolate ourselves somewhere where those limited funds will stretch to our living in an unheated shack, hoping we can catch a few fat squirrels for protein.

Those are the same people who’ll tell you that you need to get some ‘real’ work – you know, like a non-paying internship, or gigs you can do for ‘exposure.’

You can die from exposure in Canada.

Big cities are not solely for business. The heart of any city is its diversity. As costs have risen, belts have tightened. Social programs have been cut, even as the numbers of the homeless have risen. Austerity moves by politicians that benefit the upper middle class/1%  over the rest of us have left social agencies barely able to function.  Insane paranoiac bureaucracy threatens any one daring to ask for help – when you can’t help those who need help, it’s easier to fall back on the rules than to find ways around them.

Big cities can have mean streets ..and mean streaks …

But there are pockets of resistance in this city. Molly Johnson has carved one out for herself and her many, multi-talented,friends, who will all be descending in force this coming weekend for the first annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival.   (

I had forgotten how much I love the Market. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the people … it’s the last bastion of a certain kind of lifestyle  that appeals to my inner hippie and sense of community.

Molly comes by her love of the market naturally.

Born and raised in Kensington Market, renowned singer-songwriter, broadcaster and philanthropist Molly Johnson has been dreaming of this festival for years. She met Genevieve Marentettein Cuba on a JAZZ.FM91 safari, and Ori Daganon the Toronto jazz club scene. KMJF16 was born in April 2016 and since then the three have had breakfast together at least 100 times, usually at KOS down the street from festival headquarters at 206 Augusta. Molly, Ori and Genevieve (Gigi) share a deep love and respect for Toronto musicians, live music and Kensington Market. This could be the start of something big! See you at Kensington Market.

On September 16th, 17th and 18th, Kensington Market will be ground zero for 100+ shows performed by local notables, including Aaron Davis, Bernie Senensky, Billy Newton-Davis, Don Thompson, Ivana Santilli, Jane Bunnett, Jaymz Bee, Jim Cuddy, Joe Sealy, Kevin Breit, Laura Hubert, Marc Jordan, Micah Barnes, Reg Schwager, Shakura S’Aida, The Shuffle Demons, Tony Quarrngton ,  and a host of others.

Oh yeah …and  Molly… and Tabby Johnson as well!

It’s a star studded triple day bonanzapalooza! Spread over 9 venues, events include a youth stage, art, photography, film, food and fashion.  See a selection of six jazz films, curated by Jane Bunnett, that will be  presented at the Film Café. (230 Augusta Ave.)  Don Dixon’sphoto exhibit from Jazz Lives will be viewable at Rochelle Rubenstein’s studio.  (Above the Youth Arcade studio, 219 Augusta Ave.)

That’s a whole lot of goodness, all in one little area. Don’t drive – bike or take the abominable TTC – it’s hellish trying to park in the area.


I’m gonna be there. I’ll be all over the place, but if you’re heading down on Saturday the 17th, I’ll be volunteering at The Shuffle Demons 8:15 pm gig at The Boat. Yeah .. I’m getting there on the Spadina Bus.


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at

dbawis-button7Roxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’. 

2 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier – Hot Town – Mean Streets – Jazz Hands!”

  1. Reblogged this on Indie Lifer and commented:
    A new voice I discovered at a party who should be heard.

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