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Volume 18 Issue 2 - October 2012

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • October
  • Choir
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Concerts
  • November
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Orchestra

Sam “The Record Man”

Sam “The Record Man” Sniderman, 92, diedSunday, September 23, 2012. In many wayshis is an all-Toronto story: born in the city, hegrew up in Kensington Market and attendedHarbord Collegiate. Most notably, he builthis downtown Yonge Street record store intoa virtual neon icon to the record, with itsdual LP-shaped marquee of coloured rotatingflashing lights. It defined recorded musicretail for several generations of Torontomusic lovers.Let’s be clear, Sniderman was more than amere retailer. A crucial promoter of Canadianrecords, his accomplishments garnered himthe Order of Canada in 1976. Later he wasmade an inductee of the Canadian MusicIndustry Hall of Fame, the Canadian CountryMusic Hall of Fame and in 1999 was presentedwith the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award forVoluntarism in the Performing Arts.Sniderman’s death also reminds us ofTHE WHOLENOTE @The House that Sam Builtanother passing: that of the record store, thatphysical, tactile medium of music exchange.Upon reflection I learned much about musicof all kinds at Sam the Record Man (oftenreduced to Sam’s by his faithful customers),and I hope he made a tidy profit from myabiding love of recorded sound which teeteredon obsession ...... At the time the word on the street wasthat the approachable Sniderman freelygave his expert advice and even invested inemerging Canadian musicians’ first recordings.Brian Robertson, a close Snidermanfamily friend and past chairman of theCanadian Recording Industry Associationnoted, “He was a mentor to literally hundredsof Canadian artists and musicians, andthe Yonge St. record store and Sam’s presencethere was the centre of the Canadian musicindustry’s universe for over three decades.”Music retail went through a sea changein the 1990s, a process apparently as yetunfinished. Sniderman filed for bankruptcyand closed his store in December 2001.While he retired, his sons Bobby and Jasonre-opened the store the following year, yetthe losses kept accumulating. In 2007 theysold the Toronto Sam the Record Man propertyto Ryerson University and the buildingwas demolished. Ryerson plans a new studentcentre in its stead.End of story? Toronto forgets yet anotherlandmark part of its cultural history? Notquite. There are evidently future plans for theold Sam’s neon sign. As a triple tribute to thephysical record, to “Sam the Man” and to thestore he built to serve music fans, it will fittinglybe rehung, taking pride of place in thenew Ryerson building.—Andrew Timar, September 25, 2012Read the full blog at thewholenote.com/blog.THEWHOLENOTE.COM/BLOG is where you will findconcert reviews, concertedrants, videos, expanded contentand … CONTESTS!Barnabe Geisweiller of the Centrefor Social Innovation , recently wona pair of tickets to the Small WorldMusic Festival. Stay tuned to ourblog for more chances to win, or toincrease your chances, ‘Like’ us onFacebook and follow us on Twitter @TheWholeNoteTHE WHOLENOTE@GGVARIATIONSRemember our cover story from last month,“Spinning Gould?” Check out Alan Gasser’saccount of Day 1 of the Glenn GouldVariations, published on our blog:Hint: it’s not a straightforward homage toGould’s quirkiness, but rather a quirky, chaoticassemblage of talented cultural voicesand ideas, some more pertinent than others— both more pertinent to Gould, and ...more pertinent to any of us that might beinterested in progressive, compelling musicand culture.It sorta has to be big, since he’s the biggest(Canadian musical celebrity) there ever was,and the budget, most probably, likewise. And,both because it’s big, and because Gould is socentral to our ideas about musical culture andcelebrity, the two-day festival at ConvocationHall needed to go beyond the narrowness ofsimple homage.Gould was a solitary, cranky, over-intellectual,perhaps dysfunctionally neuroticmusical performer and genius and ... whatelse was he, anyway? Sort of a blank pagefor people to write their own ideas upon,it would seem. Certainly he had criticalthoughts and wrote them, spoke them atsome length. And he made crucial decisionshe thought were forward looking.The Glenn Gould Prize, a Nobel Prize formusic, as they styled it from the stage onSaturday, shows the way: if you can includePierre Boulez, Murray Schafer, Yo-Yo Ma andLeonard Cohen, you’ve got a lock on diversity,of a certain sort. It’s definitely gonna beinteresting when they try for a winner whoisn’t male, or essentially European, culturallyspeaking. Oscar Peterson, representing theuniquely North-American form of jazz, goesabout as far afield as any of the prize winners.And this festival certainly goes beyondall that.All that? The throat-clearing I’ve beendoing ... that’s just to say: I think it’s a goodidea to celebrate Gould, and a really grandidea to do it in a super-broad way. In Toronto,the most multi-cultural city of all, you shouldbe able to go pretty far. Let’s see how far we’vegone, and how well we’ve done it ...—Alan Gasser, September 24, 2012Read the full blog at thewholenote.com/blog.72 thewholenote.com October 1 – November 7, 2012

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