Back­yard con­cert host takes Doors Open lit­er­ally

Man­ning Ave. res­i­dent’s house a part of of­fi­cial event, draw­ing hun­dreds for free mu­sic, bar­be­cue


Toronto mu­si­cian Tim McCready reg­u­larly opens the doors to strangers at the two-storey house he rents in Lit­tle Por­tu­gal, but this year it be­came of­fi­cial.

McCready’s home was one of the lat­est ad­di­tions to Doors Open Toronto, a free an­nual event held over the week­end that gives the pub­lic the rare chance to tour build­ings across the city that have his­tor­i­cal, cul­tural or so­cial sig­nif­i­cance.

The Man­ning Ave. house re­sem­bles most oth­ers on the street, so it’s not an ar­chi­tec­tural mar­vel like the Aga Khan Mu­seum or St. Michael’s Cathe­dral, or a her­itage site like John McKenzie House in Wil­low­dale.

But this year, the city of Toronto ap­proached the open-hearted 39-year-old McCready — who has in­vited many lo­cal acts and mu­sic lovers into his home over the past decade for con­certs in his liv­ing room and back­yard — to add a cul­tural twist to the pop­u­lar Doors Open pro­gram.

“I’ve al­ways been ob­sessed with mu­sic, and peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate it, which makes it spe­cial,” he ex­plained.

His kindly fa­ther, Ray, flipped gar­den burg­ers and handed them to vis­i­tors free of charge all day Satur­day and Sun­day while bands such as Crazy Bones, Hot Garbage and the Fuzzy Un­der­tones took to both the makeshift back­yard stage and the cosy liv­ing room.

“We just came from the (U of T’s) Daniels Build­ing, and we thought this was cer­tainly un­usual, so we wanted to see what it was about,” said one wo­man in a stylish black leather jacket, sit­ting with her hus­band un­der the trees as singer Al­lie Sun­shine belted out some tunes and played the key­board.

Hun­dreds of vis­i­tors came by and were wel­come to use the wash­room, check out lo­cal art­work dur­ing the friendly back­yard bar­be­cue, and even peruse McCready’s ex­ten­sive li­brary of books in the front room. It all had a small-town, folksy feel, which the McCreadys said is pretty much the point.

The fam­ily hails from Wind­sor, Ont., where Tim started a punk band in his teens “and I was his roadie,” joked his fa­ther, a re­tired pas­tor who recorded a vinyl gospel al­bum in 1970.

When Tim started work­ing in Toronto 12 years ago, he tried to find a way to con­nect to the big city through his pas­sion for mu­sic. He plays key­boards, drums and gui­tar, and launched Good Enough Live Karaoke, in which his four-piece band backs up karaoke singers at bars with a 300-song cat­a­logue of pop­u­lar tunes.

With an ever-shrink­ing pool of mu­sic venues in Toronto for mu­si­cians to find an au­di­ence — the Sil­ver Dol­lar and Har­lem are the lat­est to shut their doors — the sim­ple per­for­mance space is at least an al­ter­na­tive for many lo­cal acts.

He reg­u­larly holds one big con­cert in summer and on New Year’s Eve.

One time, 2,000 peo­ple showed up, “so I kept the last one on the down low and we had 200 peo­ple over,” Tim said, not­ing even Buck 65 and Sloan have per­formed at his pad.

Sur­pris­ingly the land­lord, who lives down the street, is fine with it and of course has an open in­vite, McCready says.

Doors Open 2017 was the 18th edi­tion since the fes­ti­val be­gan, and co­in­cided this year with TO Canada With Love, Toronto’s year­long pro­gram of events and cel­e­bra­tions in hon­our of Canada’s 150th birth­day.

This year, 150 build­ings were open to the pub­lic with the theme “Fif­teen Decades: Cana­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture.”

At­ten­dees also got a sneak peek at two new sub­way sta­tions for the soon-to-open Toronto-York Spad­ina Sub­way Ex­ten­sion. Downsview Park sta­tion, at 1245 Shep­pard Ave. W., fea­tures a green roof and pub­lic art.

York Uni­ver­sity sta­tion is deep in the York Uni­ver­sity cam­pus, at 4700 Keele St., and boasts the bold de­sign of a boomerang shape, with north and south en­trances un­der the wing of each end.

Both sta­tions were open on Satur­day only.


Tim McCready has hosted back­yard con­certs for the past 10 years, for acts such as Sloan and Buck 65.

On Satur­day, Doors Open at­ten­dees got a sneak peek at the new Downsview Park sub­way sta­tion.

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