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Our “For Music Lovers” series looks at music from a variety of viewpoints, embracing a variety of styles while simultaneously re-affirming the universality of music’s appeal.

About this Playlist

City Sonic is a documentary series about the places where music happens. At its core is a series of short films about extraordinary artists shot in places where their musical lives were transformed. At the centre of the project is a series of short films crafted by Canadian filmmakers, each City Sonic Toronto film features one artist and one Toronto location where lives and musical careers were transformed and where a piece of music history was made.

As a city, Toronto’s musical legacy is immense – it has given rise to such Canadian musical legends as the iconic Neil Young and Robbie Robertson and remained home for many internationally successful bands, including Rush and Barenaked Ladies. All musicians and bands must start out somewhere and most can recall a venue or location that represents a significant moment within their early days. Lead singer and bass player for Rush, Geddy Lee, takes us on a tour inside the legendary concert venue, Massey Hall, looking back to the 1970s and recalls watching, as a star-struck teen, Cream and Genesis rock the venue he would himself make history at in 1976. Drummer Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies takes us on a trip down memory lane and reminisces on the grassroots community that once dominated Queen Street West. Featuring exclusive new footage of the Barenaked Ladies bushing on the steps of Pages Books, this tribute to a by-gone era is full of optimism for the future.

In his first documentary, Allan Black examines three musicians who take up residence in the Yukon. Part performance film, part intimate confessional and part road move "Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon" follows Mikel Miller, Gordie Tentrees and Aylie Sparkes, three of the Yukon's most renowned musicians over the course of one very dark and cold winter. We accompany them from a rundown roadhouse off the Klondike highway to a tiny cabin in the bush near Carcross; from an elf farm outside Whitehorse to a cave in Dawson city. Along the way, they swap wild stories, take part in impromptu jam sessions, reflect on where they've been and where they're going and get to the heart of the mystery and wonder of the Yukon. This documentary features wonderful performances all round with a wonderful original song by Mikel Miller, called “The Key” which you will swear is straight out of the folk classics catalogue.

In “Jabaroot”, acclaimed Iranian-Canadian musician Kiya Tabassian leaves behind the slush, congestion and impersonal towering buildings of his home in Montreal to encounter the deep sources and inspirations of diasporic Persian music. His search takes us on a richly textured journey into the landscape, the poetry, the memory, and above all, the compelling spirituality of the music of southern Iran. In remote mountain villages, Tabassian meets and performs with many legendary poets and performers of Persian music, including Haj Ghorban Soleimani and Ustad Kiyani. Shahin Parhami has constructed an equally poetic and eloquent visual documentation of this journey, full of intimate perceptions and abstract meditative connections between here and there, past and present. A sumptuous affirmation of music as life.

Whether you’re a professional musician, an enthusiastic hobbyist or simply a passionate listener, these docs will give you wonderful songs and stories with music providing the common thread.

Additional Online Resources


Toronto Independent Music Awards

Royal Conservatory Of Music

Canadian Music

Selected Films (8)
  1. Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon Preview Thumbnail
    Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2005
    » View Documentary
  2. Jabaroot Preview Thumbnail
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2003
    » View Documentary
  3. City Sonic: Woodhands at the Don Valley Brickworks Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Woodhands at the Don Valley Brickworks
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary
  4. City Sonic: Tyler Stewart at Ultrasound Showbar Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Tyler Stewart at Ultrasound Showbar
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary
  5. City Sonic: Tony Dekker at Spadina Subway Station Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Tony Dekker at Spadina Subway Station
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary
  6. City Sonic: Serena Ryder at The Dakota Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Serena Ryder at The Dakota
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary
  7. City Sonic: Geddy Lee at Massey Hall Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Geddy Lee at Massey Hall
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary
  8. City Sonic: Divine Brown at The Rex Preview Thumbnail
    City Sonic: Divine Brown at The Rex
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2009
    » View Documentary

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