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What to do in Toronto, Nov. 17 - 23: Paul Reddick at the Dakota and more (Santa Claus!)

Paul Reddick plays at the Dakota Tavern on Nov. 20.

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.

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"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.

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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.,; Festival screenings, to Nov. 27. Free. Royal Cinema, 608 College St., 416-466-4400.


The Clock

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.


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The Songs of Nick Drake

Oh Susanna, Kevin Kane, David Celia and others (with an eight-piece string section) celebrate the phantom-like singer-songwriter Nick Drake (1948-74), a gentle guitarist and whispering singer of British voodoo folk. Nov. 18, 8 p.m. $35 to $40 (at Soundscapes, Sonic Boom and Rotate This). Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst St.,

Neil Young, with Crazy Horse

"Ten silver saxes, a bass with a bow/the drummer relaxes, and waits between shows." Thankfully Neil Young chose not to tour with such an inappropriate orchestra. He arrives instead with his grunge-rock posse, who will perform new material (from albums Americana and Psychedelic Pill) and old FM classics (Powderfinger and Cinnamon Girl). Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. $68.25 to $273.25. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., 1-855-985-5000.

The Who

The protagonist in the 1973 conceptual album Quadrophenia was supposed to have four personalities, one representing each of the parts of the Who quartet. Only two of the original players are still alive – singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend – but the rock opera must go on. The legendary outfit performs the classic album in its entirety, from The Real Me to Love Reign, O'er Me. Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m. $53.25 to $143.25. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., 1-855-985-5000.


C.R. Avery

The charming beat poet and bluesy mouth-harp player has collaborated with everyone from the Prague Symphony Orchestra to the Madison 22 Review burlesque troupe. Here he appears with the latter, no oboists involved. Nov. 17, 7 p.m. $16. Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., 416-850-4579.


After the release of its 1994 album Twice Removed, the Canadian power-pop quartet was removed from their U.S. label's roster. But what did David Geffen know? The still-strong Sloan revisits early days by performing its sophomore disc song by song and with bonus tracks thrown in for good measure. Nov. 22, 8 p.m. $26.50. Phoenix, 410 Sherbourne St., 1-855-985-5000.



An unauthorized musical parody of the risque novel Fifty Shades of Grey might have you in 50 shades of red. Nov. 17 (7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) and Nov. 18 (2 p.m.). $48.25 to $58.25 Panasonic Theatre, 651 Yonge St., 416-872-1212.

Fare Game: Life in Toronto's Taxis

We once had a cabbie who warned us that in case of a collision his moustache would inflate! A multimedia play explores the travails of urban-carriage professionals. To Dec. 8. $30 to $35. Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., 416-504-7529.


The Endgame, a play about co-dependency and the strategy of life, was not written by Mayan doom-setters, but by Samuel Beckett. Regardless, the winning Soulpepper remount ends after two performances today. Nov. 17 (1:30 and 7:30 p.m.). $32 to $68. Young Centre, 55 Mill St. 50 Tank House Lane, 416-866-8666 or

Speaking in Tongues

Written for four actors (each of whom plays a minimum of two characters), the tense Australian drama involves a missing woman, four marriages, interweaving plot points and an irregular structure that critics have found clever and provocative. In 2001, it was adapted into the film Lantana, starring Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, and Barbara Hershey. To Nov. 24. $22 to $47. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St., 416-368-3110.

The Arsonists

Where there's smoke, there's fire? Max Frisch's classic farce serves as a morality play, involving the all-too-human ability to ignore the evil we strongly suspect. Michael Ball, Sheila McCarthy and Fiona Reid star, with new incidental music from local singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge. To Dec. 9. $24 to $99. Bluma Appel, 27 Front St. E., 416-368-3110 or


A troupe of musicians and theatre people pay tribute to an amusement park that operated on an island in the Detroit River for nearly a century, but which now lies in ruins. Perhaps a cautionary tale for fans of the fun at Centre Island. Nov. 22 to Dec. 2. $20 to $25. Great Hall Black Box Theatre, 1087 Queen St. W., 416-538-0988.



Three works, from Canada, Britain and India, stock a dance card of contemporary Indian dance performed by the Toronto-based Sampradaya Dance Creations. Nov. 22 to 24, $20 to $35, 8 p.m. Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.


Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn Film Festival

You won't find these short, warped and sex-themed films on the Interweb. And even if you could, this annual frolic is much more fun. Nov. 17, 7 and 9 p.m., $20. Projection Booth East, 1035 Gerrard St.,

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style

For our eyes only: An exhibition of costumes, props, gadgets, concept artwork, storyboards and artifacts from the blockbuster spy-film series makes its North American premiere. Signature items include the steel chompers worn by Richard (Jaws) Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me and a variety of things golden. To Jan. 20, 2013. $10.50 to $15. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-968-3456.

War Horse

When it comes to remembering, the Mirvish people don't horse around. For upcoming performances of the First World War drama about an especially valiant stallion, Canadian war veterans and current armed-forces members are invited to attend the play free of charge. To Dec. 2. Ticket available in person only at Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212.

Cavalcade Of Lights

Let there be light – and fireworks and music by Suzie McNeil and the hot electro-pop stars Dragonette. Nov. 17, 7 p.m. Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.,

Mud Bowl

Back in our day, football players wore leather helmets, used kitty cats for padding and played in slippery, mucky pits. The muddy events of the 1950 Grey Cup game at Varsity Stadium are recreated, as part of the huge ongoing Grey Cup Festival surrounding the game itself (Nov. 25). Nov. 19, 11 a.m. 40 Fairfax Crescent,


Stanley's Game Seven

Once upon a time they used to play hockey. A new 3D film adds computer-generated animation and archival NHL footage to a story about beer-leaguers who pay to skate and dream for free. $11 to $17.50 (admission to Hockey Hall of Fame). TSN Theatre, 30 Yonge St., 416-360-7735.

Winter Woofstock

Those short-muzzled little pooches are always running off at the mouth. This weekend we'll see what they're made out of during the Running of the Pugs, just one of the events at a canine carnival of new products and wacky contests. Nov. 17 to 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $5 to $10. Direct Energy Centre, 100 Princes' Blvd., 416-234-9663.

Santa Claus Parade

Why is that people who grumbled about hearing Jingle Bells in their local drug stores in November are okay with having a giant parade of ho-ho in the same month? Nov. 18, 12:30 p.m. Starts at Christie Pits; ends at St. Lawrence Market.


Gourmet Food & Wine Expo To Nov. 18. Metro Convention Centre,

Speaking in Tongues To Nov. 24. Berkeley Street Theatre, 416-368-3110.

Alligator Pie To Nov. 25. $23. Young Centre, 416-866-8666 or

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland To Nov. 25. Four Seasons Centre, 416-345-9595.

Cinderella (a RATical retelling) To Dec. 30. Young People's Theatre, 416-862-2222.


Snow White: The Deliciously Dopey Family Musical! Nov. 23 to Jan. 5. Elgin Theatre, 1-855-599-9090.

Swedish Christmas Festival Nov. 24. Harbourfront Centre, 416-973-4000.

Toronto Women's Bookstore Closing Party Nov. 24. Toronto Women's Bookstore, 416-922-8744.

Jian Ghomeshi Nov. 27. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema,

A Christmas Carol Dec. 4 to 29. Young Centre, or 416-866-8666.

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