The Complete Street Band is taking a brief hiatus until mid-February. In the mean time, enjoy the following story, pictures, and lo-fi recordings, wherein our music is mixed with the soundscape of the TTC.
Picture this. It’s December and it’s raining. We are six members of The Complete Street Band, armed with melodica, flute, clarinet, tambourine, cajon and a pair of bongos. We board the Spadina streetcar, heading north.
Immediately, the minor chords of St. James Infirmary infuse the conversational din of the crowded car. Our destination: Spadina station, and we play the whole way there. Stepping off the streetcar, the driver brags of our value added service.
Through the tunnel and onto the platform below, we improvise with harps and trains. On the platform, waitin’ for the train, clarinet and flute sing intertwining melodies, the bass cajon thump reverbating all around, voices raise as the train arrives.
On the train, we traverse the city’s underground. Our music is somber at times, at others raucous. Throughout our trip we seek to fill each car with the ring of truth, inviting all passengers into a spontaneous shared experience, unplanned and unpredicted.
Such is the spirit in the last car on our travels that we can’t stop ourselves from playing until the moment the doors are about to close on our station.
Why do this?
Because we believe that music is a far too important element of the human experience to be relegated solely to professionals playing in clubs and in ear buds. Everyone should have the opportunity to play and everyone should have the opportunity to hear.
The Complete Street Band is a community street band open to musicians of all ages and musical abilities. We play on the street, in parks, and at community events throughout this city, making Toronto’s public spaces more inviting and exciting places to be.
Photography and audio recording (and fluting): Jamie Thompson, urbanflute.com