Peter and the Cherry Cola Rock N Rolla Cabaret and Lounge

I have described it as “the one place on earth where I’m happy to pay retail price for beer”! It has been a portal to a complete change in my life, introducing me to good times, great music and even greater people. It’s a venue that fosters a strong sense of community among this area’s indie musicians. I am talking about Cherry Cola’s Rock N Rolla Cabaret and Lounge.

Having relocated to Toronto in early 2013 after escaping a difficult situation, I needed to meet some people and get some grounding. My new friend Bob mentioned that he did a weekly podcast and invited me to attend the next one. I did, and as soon as I stepped through the door, I felt at home, I felt at peace. Everyone was so very friendly and introductions were quickly made. I met “the atomic puppies”, aka “Xprime”, (currently reshuffled and going strong as “James Blonde”). I met Roxanne, Doug, Sean, Oncle Arm, Bobby and of course, Cherish, an amazing individual in her own right. Conversation flowed freely, the atmosphere was so pleasant and relaxing. And the music, the music was great!!!

Xprime at Cherry’s….

…and now they’re James Blonde….

“Xprime” as the house band, set a high standard for the musical guests to match. Generally, the guests rose to the challenge.  I heard some excellent bands at these shows, such as Silvergun & Spleen, The Honeyrunners and Paint. As I listened to them talk and heard them sing and play, I got very excited at their energy and their enthusiasm, and decided that I would do what I could to promote what they were doing, because, damn it, the world needs creative people. The first time I ever heard “Mushy Callahan“, they played at “the bobcast”, and I bought a tshirt and CD from them. I was pleased to attend their CD launch party a week or two later. Although I missed about half the season, I didn’t miss any other show.

Mushy Rocks….

Indie Week” was the next obvious step “down the primrose path” for me and I went every night. There were so many great indie acts such as “Handsome Distraction”, bringing their music forth. That was when I heard “Blackdog Ballroom” for the first time and continued to develop a friendship with the lads from “Mushy Callahan”.

BlackDog Ballroom nail it at Cherry’s….

Cherry Cola’s has been one of the participating venues of this vital and steadily growing music festival since Cherish opened it, as well as Canadian Music Week. I have continued to attend “Indie Week” since 2013, and had the honour to judge last year, fittingly, at Cherry Cola’s. While not all of my “Indie Week” adventures have occurred at Cherry’s, it is undeniable that the root of my love of contemporary indie music stems from the great folks at 200 Bathurst St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2R8.

Cherish is a strong supporter of indie music, and has given many bands a stage. She booked “Rival Sons” in a few years ago, when they were just starting out, and they acknowledge this fact every time they play Toronto, I understand. “Eagles of Death Metal” have also played there. She has hosted festivals concentrating on women in rock, not to mention “Mod Nights” on occasion. The venue was also one of a number in the Queen/Bathurst area to host a fundraiser benefit for an elderly convenience store clerk brutally beaten in a robbery by two young cowards.

Rival Sons at Cherry Cola’s October 15th 2010

Eagles of Death Metal play the song Cherry Cola’s is named after….

There have been a number of after parties at Cherry’s as well, groups and artists coming by including the “Arctic Monkeys”, Vince Neil, Daniel Lanois, Keifer Sutherland, Jack White,  and “Rival Sons” (It was at the latter when Scott Holiday accidentally stepped on my foot 😉! My brush with fame.) She books a night of burlesque performers pretty much on a weekly basis. And did I mention she does parties? She’s hosted Christmas and New Year’s parties, as well as birthday and other parties. I’ve attended a number of birthday parties there, including my 60th, which they tell me was a great party 😉. It was opened with a 30 minute acoustic set done by Care Failure. Apparently she had asked to appear. I had booked 4 bands, no cover charge, and I hope that Cherish sold a tanker truck full of beer that night. I endeavoured to do my part to help her attain that goal. When I retired on July 8th, 2016, Cherry’s was the site of my retirement party. Again, 4 great bands, no cover, the place was packed. A number of my co workers came, and a lot of people made adjustments to free up their time to attend. Very humbling.

Great people I’ve met at Cherry’s would include (inter alia) Pat, Dylan, Dylan, J.C., C.J., Lennon, Lisa, Jim and Arjun. Great bands I’ve seen at Cherry’s would include The Ballroom Babies, Womb, Jack The Lads, Secret Broadcast and The Reed Effect.  Trying to mention everyone and every band is like trying to pour a quart of milk into a pint sized pitcher, there are just too many to mention.

There was a fear that Cherry Cola’s would have to close at one point last year, but literally at the last moment there was a reprieve. Cherish is up and running again, and with the irrepressible Matt Groopie booking and djing and playing, the future looks good. There is, however, a caveat.

I often get praised for my support of indie music, and it is an honour to be apparently held in such esteem. However, Cherish and other venue owners like her, along with the promoters,  are the real supporters of indie music, as they provide the means for the music makers to directly connect with the music lovers. I get out to shows as often as I can, and I encourage you to do the same, to pay the cover, to buy the swag, to buy drinks. Your financial and moral support is vital to all of the “stakeholders ” (sorry!) and by doing that, we can ensure that the indie music scene in the Toronto area stays as vibrant and healthy as it is now.


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