When Richard Carson was forced to close the doors to his club in January 2017, after fifteen years, it sent shock waves through the music community, in Toronto, across the country, and internationally.
Brian Iler, a regular patron of the club and friend to Richard, and Grit Laskin, a frequent performer at Hugh’s Room (as part of Friends of Fiddlers’ Green) and a central figure in Canada’s folk music community, put out the call to a host of potential supporters. A group of more than 15 people attended the first of what would become weekly meetings for the first six months, and monthly thereafter. Those meetings looked closely at the factors that led to Hugh’s Room closing, considered whether there was potential for a viable new operation, and committed themselves to an effort to re‑open as a not‑for‑profit.
Members of that group, with some great additions, formed Hugh’s Room Live Board of Directors.
They were heartened when, putting out the call for donations, $150,000 was received. That sufficed to secure the space, hire the staff, and proceed to do all that was required to re‑open, as Hugh’s Room Live.
We opened on April 22, 2017, with a wonderful concert by Connie Kaldor.
We’re proud to have saved our unique and highly regarded club.
Since 2017, we have had major milestones as Hugh’s Room Live including presenting world class entertainment, providing space for our community and neighbours to gather. Some of the artists whom have graced our stage under our time as Hugh’s Room Live include Judy Collins, Jeff Daneils, Jully Black, Tom Wilson, Rick Emmett, PeeWee Ellis, and hundreds more.
March 2020 Hugh’s Room Live, like venues across the world, went dark due to COVID19. The Board of Directors made the difficult decision to pack up our home of 20 years at 2261 Dundas and regroup.
The past two years have given The Board of Directors an opportunity to expand and grow. We now are proud to have a dedicated group of volunteers on our Board of 9, encompassing of passionate music lovers and musicians themselves including- Brian Iler, Jim Thomas, Michael Capotosto, Qusiha Wint, Ron Westray, MJ Perry, Adam Moffatt, Michael Booth and Rick Blickstead.
We’re thrilled to say we have expanded our committees and advisors to have 50+ volunteers working on coming back differently as a Music Focused Community Centre.
We’ve presented hybrid performances over the pandemic including Dan Hill, Sammy Jackson, Dala, Madison Violet, Dione Taylor, International Jazz Day, Kellylee Evans, The Last Waltz, Celebrating The Music of Tina Turner, Everyday People- A tribute to Sly and The Family Stone as well as Jeff Daniels.
We’ve made partnerships with wonderful venues such as 3030 Dundas, Paradise Theatre and The El Mocambo.
These milestones have been made possible by our volunteers, the audiences and our Artists who time and again have given their gift of music when people have needed it most.
For now, that is all we will say, but we look forward to sharing more news with you about our journey in the future.