Recently spent three nights walking, up and down, the two mile stretch of Toronto’s Queen Street attending the Beaches Jazz Streetfest with friends and family. The street was fenced off to traffic and streetcars so a multitude of musicians and bands could entertain an even larger multitude of musically minded city folk. We love music and we spent the three nights cruising for jazz.
This is one of the best street festivals I have ever attended. It was calm, courteous, creative and law abiding. Yes there was a police presence but it was subtle. There were pedestrian Cops and female Cops who in any other dress would be classified as babes, and there were Cops on bicycles. They were all enjoying the music, which goes to show that Cops are people too. Ontario law also prohibits the drinking of alcohol on the street so there was no drunkenness or rowdy yahoos disturbing the peace.
It was all about the people and their peaceful enjoyment of an art-form. Three night of jazz bands in shop doorways and while this was happening the torrential that had been pouring for three days stopped to only threaten the evening performances.
One night we stopped at a group called Dr. Draw, headed by a violinist who played New-Age like music with a rock flavor, and a wild back up band. Half way through the performance the fire hall across the street, where I was standing, opened it’s doors, turned on the red flashing lights and out came a city fire engine blaring a siren that seemed to go in tune with the music. The audience who were so intent on Dr. Draw, peacefully pealed back, cleared the way for the fire engine and slowly edged back to intently listen to the rest of the music when the commotion had driven down the street on route to douse a house fire. The band entertained without missing a beat.
Jazz has been called African America’s gift to the world. Toronto is a microcosm of the world. Every ethnic culture lives there and they live in peace under law and order. And music soothes the soul.