Feature

Venues: Highway 61, Toronto

Blues, Brews & BBQ

Bars. Clubs. Restaurants. Theatres. Stadiums. Festivals. Run by thousands of mostly unknown, starry-eyed, passionate music lovers who get up every morning with one thing on their minds: the gig. People like Ken McGarrie and Kerry Knoll – the owners of Highway 61, a critically-acclaimed Southern BBQ located in North Toronto, far away from the lights of New Orleans or even Queen Street.

Gruelling hours, leases to honour, employees to manage, spiraling costs to contain, it’s the hardest gig in showbiz. For owners, the applause is rare, the gossip often cruel, and statistically, the financial rewards are short-lived. It’s gotta be about the music.

Enter veteran bluesman Brian Blain, whose weekly mission is to entertain rib-chewing hogtown-residents at Highway 61, and to share the history and legacy of the blues through the unaffected instruments and voices of local blues practitioners. Welcome to the campfire.

We can all name a venue or two that has long ceased to exist, even the famous venues like Toronto’s Riverboat or Montreal’s Spectrum have come and gone. This Roots Music Canada series is dedicated to them.

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