A bluesman’s saloon inspiration
Paul Reddick, the local singer-songwriter and harmonica player, was just nominated for five Maple Blues Awards for his latest album Wishbone, a lyrical, rugged blues-rock affair. He speaks about the barrooms in which he wrote the songs – the east-end bohemian-styled places of Castro’s Lounge (1611 Queen St. E.), The Only Cafe (972 Danforth Ave.) and Sauce (1376 Danforth Ave.)
“To write, I need to get out of the house, and there’s a certain energy that happens in bars. I’m more in the world, which I think is important. I’ve read that ambient sound allows you to concentrate more. Occasionally as I was I was going over the syllables of things rhythmically in my head, I would put my finger in my ear. Mostly, though, I found that the music in the background didn’t make much difference.
“One thing that the Only Cafe, Castro’s and Sauce all have is art on the walls, done in salon style, floor to ceiling. When I would rest, I would stare at the paintings, which would sometimes influence what I wrote. All three bars play great music. The staff or the DJs are young; I would hear things I otherwise wouldn’t. So, it’s a setting where I feel my imagination is stimulated. Bars are imaginary places, and I try to set my songs in an imagined landscape that is romantic and exaggerated.
“I don’t drink much. I’ll have a whisky, which I let the bartender choose. Then maybe I’ll have a beer. I’m a bad customer in fact. I would spend a lot of time there, but I don’t drink much. I traded some of my own prints to Sauce, so I drank for free. I also downloaded tons of music for them. When I go there, they play my music. So, they have my prints up on the walls, and I brought books of poetry, short stories, dictionaries and art books with me. In a way, I’d created a living room for myself. All told, it was a very focused state – I was the last one to leave every night, scribbling madly. I didn’t spend a lot, but I tipped well.”
As told to Brad Wheeler
Paul Reddick and the Weber Brothers play the Dakota Tavern, Nov. 20 and 27, 10 p.m. $7. 249 Ossington Ave., 416-850-4579.
Film lessons from a producer
My, hasn’t he done well for himself. For the Toronto European Union Film Festival, Nik Powell will give master classes on film producing (30 Lessons of a Producer, for the Producer) and screenwriting (A to Z of Story from a Producer’s POV). “POV,” of course, stands for point of view, which the savvy Powell has, and of which any film student, fanatic or careerist should be respectful.
Originally the Brit’s business was music: In the 1970s he and Richard Branson co-founded Virgin Group, an entertainment conglomerate with famously galactic ambitions. In the early 1980s Powell turned his attention to film production, the result being his involvement in Company of Wolves, Scandal, The Crying Game, Twenty Four Seven, Little Voices, Calendar Girls and more. In 2003, he was named the director of the National Film and Television School, outside London.
In addition to the classes, the festival offers 30 films from 27 countries, all screened free at the Royal Cinema. Which ones to go see? Best ask Powell, as he seems to have a clue.
Screenwriter master class is on Nov. 18, 1 to 2:30 p.m., free (seating is for 150; first come, first serve); producer master class, Nov. 18, 3 to 5 p.m., free, Ryerson University, School of Image Arts, 122 Bond St., eutorontofilmfest.ca; Festival screenings, to Nov. 27. Free. Royal Cinema, 608 College St., 416-466-4400.
ART & MUSEUMS
Time is running out to see video artist Christian Marclay’s precisely edited 24-hour jumble of visual material, classic films, forgotten mediocrities and television shows at the Power Plant. The film runs on a continual loop, just like, well, clock work. To Nov. 25. Free. Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4949.
The Songs of Nick Drake