tonight bar strumbellas

Struggling Toronto bar gets a lifeline from award-winning band

A popular band is drawing crowds to a Toronto bar that, like most, has been down on its luck.

Tonight Bar has not only endured the on-again-off-again lockdowns that all businesses have had to deal with, the stretch of Queen in Parkdale where they're located has been closed off road repairs to streetcar tracks for months now, making their business even more difficult to access.

But even before people were allowed back to the space, music was beginning to roar inside.

Rock band The Strumbellas, originally from Lindsay, approached the bar in early July as they were preparing to reopen, and owner Clamp jumped at the opportunity.

"It was a great deal for all of us. The Strumbellas have been unable to tour and wanted to create some cool new content for their fans," Clamp tells blogTO.

"In return it gave me the opportunity to test our gear and make sure I still remembered how to use it. Not to mention it draws more attention to our, still relatively new, space through the videos."

With alt country, gothic folk and indie rock influences, The Strumbellas are best known for their driving pop hits Sprits and Salvation. Tonight Bar provides an intimate, quirky backdrop of a corner covered in cassette tapes.

So far it's already set the stage for an acoustic performance of Diane shot in black and white.

As they were recording, band members Jon Hembrey and Izzy Ritchie suggested the venue would also be the perfect place for some performances by their side project, Full Rigged Ship, which is influenced by instrumental East Coast and Irish traditional music, and is what Clamp calls "great drinking music."

They've been performing bi-weekly on Friday nights since the bar reopened in mid-July.

"They've been drawing a great steady crowd, each time," says Clamp.

"The timing of Full Rigged Ship bringing us their show has been a huge help in getting a supportive audience through the doors."

Not only do these small shows offer a chance to see exclusive performances from a side project of a major band, they're PWYC, though of course there's limited seating and you have to be over 19.

Tonight Bar has also been hosting lots of other music and also comedy shows, and they book private events as well, so needless to say this business is doing everything they can to stay on their feet.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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