“Local Tours” — A Travel Series by Driftscape

Episode 1: Kensington Market, Toronto - PART 2

We finished up part one of our Kensington Tour on Baldwin Street, enjoying a beef patty to the sounds of Abdominal’s T.Ode, outside of Golden Patty at 187 Baldwin St. This street inspired a lot of songs - you’ll notice more yellow signs along Baldwin Street, with lyrics from songs by Delta Will, L’Etranger and more. One of the most interesting musical gems in the market lies at 170 BALDWIN ST. What is now Koi Koi Sake Bar was, up until recently, Grafitti's. Grafitti’s was home to many musical shows and Ron Hawkins of the band Lowest of the Low describes it as “bigger than the sum of its parts”. Ron Hawkins frequently took the stage here, as did other legendary acts like the Drifters and Garth Hudson. Listen to this stop on Track Toronto’s Hear Kensington Tour to hear the story of Garth Hudson’s surprise appearance. You’ll also hear stories from Kensington Sound located above what was Grafitti’s. The entrance is tucked away, and you’d never guess it’s where artists like The Drifters, Alannah Myles, Daniel Lanois, Ron Sexsmith and more recorded albums.

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Kensington Sound isn’t the only recording studio in the market - at 6 NASSAU, near Spadina, you will find a graffiti covered building that was once home to another recording studio, referred to simply by it’s address. It was here that hundreds of songs were recorded, some by Owen Pallett and Feist. Before becoming a recording studio this quaint building was used as an illegal rooming house with tiny carved up rooms. If you’re lucky you may just bump into musician and recording artist David MacKinnon who may share a story about the most memorable album he recorded there - Burning Daylight, by Christine Fellows.

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At 69 ½ NASSAU, you’ll find Paul’s Boutique, a key part of the music ecosystem of Kensington Market. This quaint little store has a unique selection of guitars, bases, and keyboards. It also has a funny little hole in the floor through which you can see into the basement.