Toronto City Limits

October 22, 2013

A musical phenomenon is underway since our mayor laid down tracks between Austin, Texas and Toronto, Canada. The Sister Cities idea was proposed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a people-to-people citizen diplomacy initiative in 1956. Cities around the world are “twinned” based on educational programs, industries, economic development and cultural exchange. For example, Portland, Oregon and Bologna, Italy’s partnership arose from shared industries like bio-technology. Chicago and Warsaw’s coupling is due to the Windy City’s historic Polish community. Cherry Blossoms represent Sister Cities Washington, D.C. and Tokyo City. Toronto’s Mayor Ford recognizes that Austin and Toronto are not only a perfect match in regards to musicianship, but that the revenue generated by the music industry in North America is a multi-billion dollar gold mine. This brilliant idea has sparked the imagination of Your Ward News publisher Leroy St. Germaine who has organized Toronto’s live music scene for decades. This includes the Beaches Blues Fest, the Danforth Music Festival and important initiatives such as Free the Music. While Austin’s musician-friendly city councilors bend over backwards to accommodate their musical talent, Toronto city councilors are not as agreeable in these regards. The president of Toronto’s North by Northeast festival (NXNE) Michael Hollett says, “The city of Austin is better at saying YES than NO”. Sister Cities also learn from each other, so we hope that Toronto city councilors are good students. Free The Music was created by Mr. St. Germaine for a good reason. Toronto musicians have played with their hands tied behind their backs due to unreasonable restrictions as to where and when musical artists can perform live. The newly created Austin/Toronto Musician Exchange Coalition and Musicians Without Borders will be working together to forge a resistance-free path between these two musical giants. Although Austin is the self-proclaimed ‘Live Musical Capital of the World’, the Toronto music scene features some of the greatest musicians in the world. This is partly due to the fact that Canada doesn’t have the clearly-defined ‘star system’ as it exists south of our border. Our best musicians can be heard in bars and taverns across the city every night of the year. Toronto’s knowledgeable music fans will certainly appreciate the influences that Austin’s musicians bring to the table. Likewise, our musicians will stun the throngs of Texans attending the concerts that feature our talented Torontonians. Simply put, the only pipeline running through Toronto will be from our Sister City and not from Alberta’s tar sands. How important is music? French composer/conductor Nadia Boulanger said, “Nothing is better than music….it does more for us than we have the right to hope for”. Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle opined, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels”. Music is often referred to as a universal language. When genius Noam Chomsky completed his ground-breaking research in the field of language and linguistics he concluded that all languages share an underlying structure (syntax). He eventually deduced that humans have a language organ and that language is a permanent part of our living biology. If music is a language then it is part of us. How many times have we heard people say that they would be incomplete without the existence of music? We’ve all heard people say that music helped them make it through hard times…. that it even saved their lives! Musical tourism has proven to be a consistent money-maker. Memphis has raked-in impressive profits on the memory of a single musical performer. Liverpool has also capitalized on its musical past. Even Hawthorne, California celebrates being the birth-place of the Beach Boys despite the fact that most of the band has never even been there. With a population of only 842,592 Austin, Texas raised 1.6 billion in revenues directly related to its live music industry in 2012. But not a shovelful of ground has been broken to mine our local musical treasures. Considering that Toronto and its surrounding area are home to five million more people than Austin, we have to ask, “What took so long for Toronto to embrace its musical community?” Music Without Borders believes that music brings people together. Austin and Toronto are participating in a revolutionary undertaking with huge implications in the realm of human relations. If you believe in music, please contact – Leroy St. Germaine at (416)-693-6325 or


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