Remember That Night?

Our most recent missive laid out some of the things our team of dedicated volunteers has been working on.  First and foremost is a new venue which begs the question, “what was so special about the old space we inhabited”?

Clearly for those who worked at Hugh’s Room Live, there were some challenges.  For starters, the kitchen was on a different floor than the dining room, so getting food to a table before it went cold could be a problem. Sometimes the bathroom tap water was scalding hot, sometimes not so much, and often the toilets in the women’s washroom wouldn’t flush on a busy night.  Some evenings the dining room lights would flicker just before a show, but did anyone notice the uneven flooring and mismatched tiles?

For all its faults though, there was much to love.  The sound at an HRL show was guaranteed to be stellar and the shows we presented covered many genres.  Almost everyone can think of at least one special performance and most of us can point to many.  We want to hear your stories for a segment we’ll periodically publish called “Remember That Night”.  It could be the performance which was magical, the circumstances (anniversary, birthday, chance to meet the artist, etc.), or… well, you tell us.  We don’t need specific dates as to when the show happened but give us as much information as you can and we’ll publish a selection of your stories while we wait to put live music on our stage again.

To get us started, here’s our first installment of “Remember That Night”…

The date was Thursday, March 8, 2018: International Women’s Day.  For those of us lucky to have seen Shakura S’Aida’s performance that night, it served as a reminder of how the music community can come together at a moment’s notice and put on an amazing show.  Originally, March 8 was supposed to be one of two appearances for Carole Pope, but unfortunate circumstances forced her to cancel the shows until May.  It was Monday when the club’s booking manager reached out to Shakura to cover the Thursday date.  Three days to rehearse and sell tickets?  It was one of those situations where lots could have gone wrong but if you were there, you were treated to a memorable and rare Toronto show by one of the city’s best singers.  Her four-piece band laid down some tasty grooves all night long whether it was an R&B, soul or blues driven selection.  I first saw Shakura perform at a CD launch party many years before at the now defunct Courthouse Nightclub.  When she enters a room, it’s hard to ignore her presence.  I was smitten from the first notes she sang and for those who know me, I can be difficult to please.  I have seen a lot of live music over the years – I was the concert editor of a trade publication, so I’ve seen some of the worst and some of the best – but talent has a way of making you notice when something special is going on.  A lot has happened for Shakura in the years since that launch and I continue to follow her career intently.  Shakura wasn’t really playing small Toronto venues in 2018, so when this show was announced, I jumped at the opportunity to grab a table.  Kudos to Hugh’s Room Live, Shakura and her band for making this such a special night on such short notice.  – Chris Churchill