Uniqueness is only true when you have experienced other venues enabling you to compare. The Reservoir Lounge is a one-off. There is no other venue in the world like it. The Reservoir Lounge has innovatively set the standard in Toronto for Swing Jazz and Jump Blues.
The open upright Piano sitting dominantly on the 12-inch high stage can be seen from every seating area in the house. You can’t but feel as though you are part of the venue and have every bit of importance as the band themselves. The audience is the unique factor in this whole equation. You don’t have to fly on a jet plane to St. Louis, Chicago or New Orleans to have a taste of great swing jazz and superb fusion cuisine.
The Reservoir Lounge is home to not only the performers but also hundreds of regular patrons from greater Toronto and from countries far away. Top headliner entertainers have come to pay a visit as well. Word gets around to all corners of the globe.
One night after a full evening of entertaining thousands of people at the Roy Thomson hall, Tom Jones and his friends dropped by the Reservoir. After a few minutes, the bandleader welcomed Tom to the room and asked if he would get up on stage to sing an old favorite. A few hours later, Tom Jones is still on stage singing away his originals from over the years, and loving every moment of it, and just as much as the audience.
Peter O’Toole has been a distinguished guest at the Reservoir Lounge during a film project at Toronto in the year 2000. Prince, Rod Stewart, Nick Nolte, Chas Palmetieri, Gary Busey, Colin James, Carla Colins, Alanna Myles, are all outstanding examples of renowned performers casually dropping by at the Reservoir.
From Monday to Saturday of every week, you will see and hear a different band for each night of the week. Here is a short bio for each band:
Each Monday: Sophia Perlman and The Vipers
When Sophia and The Vipers had their debut performance in October of 2005 there were those who wondered if the then twenty-year-old vocalist Sophia Perlman and her band would survive the tough-sell Monday night slot. Not only have they survived, they have received an overwhelming response, drawing veteran jazz fans and new audiences alike. The band, which spans three generations of musicians, and five generations of jazz; a roster of guest artists which makes up a veritable who’s who of the Toronto jazz scene.
Each Tuesday: Tyler Yarema & His Rhythm
Tyler Yarema is the winner of Piano Player of the Year 1999, and new artist of the year in 1998 at the Maple Blues Awards.
Tyler Yarema & His Rhythm has been at the top of the Canadian Jazz/Swing world since their inception four years ago. This seven-piece band began in the early stages of the Reservoir and are hit performers at Jazz festivals across Canada. With an impeccable rhythm section, exquisite horns, and Tyler’s full voice and blistering piano, this is one night to not stay home.
Each Wednesday: Bradley and the Bouncers
Once rumored to have been in the film production biz and then journeying a path from the late night edit rooms to late night at the Reservoir as Toronto’s most charming bouncer, Bradley has evolved into a dashing and striking professional jazzman on the recent Toronto scene.
Bradley came to the Reservoir stage over two years ago and packs the house on Wednesday nights. In fact, Bradley opened Wednesday nights at the Reservoir Lounge initially for persons whom work in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Today, you will find a variety of people in the audience either from the industry or from many other backgrounds. Hooking the listener with his personality, gleaming face – Bradley puts out a superb Louis Armstrong.
Each Thursday: Janice Hagan
Rob Salem writer for the ‘Toronto Star’ affectionately refers to Janice as “The little lady with the big voice”. Janice Hagan is a powerhouse singer, dynamic entertainer, and leader of one of the hottest jazz/swing groups in Toronto. Belting out great tunes from the master’s like Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and many more, Janice has been able to showcase her fiery vocals and stellar band,
Each Friday: Chet Valiant Combo
After several years abroad, the Chet Valiant Combo has returned to Toronto to reclaim their title as Canada’s Court Jesters of swing and jazz fast, fun loving and innovative.
This band started 15 years ago backing up the irreverent BIG RUDE JAKE, and made a splash on the Queen Street music scene, playing their powerful mixture of jump and traditional jazz.
Each Saturday: Tory Cassis, and accompanied by Tyler Yarema
Saturday night is a diverse blend of blues, swing and jazz standards, focused primarily on popular music from the mid 30’s to the late 50’s. Tory and an all-star lineup of local musicians have been drawing full houses to the Reservoir every Saturday for six years. Now, you will see and hear Tyler Yarema as a special accompaniment to Tory and his band.
Over the past couple of years, Tory has toured across Canada and the northwestern United States most recently in support of the 1999 release of his debut CD of original music, “Anywhere but Here”, for which he received a Juno nomination in the category of Best New Artist.
Occasional Special Guest Performer: Danny B
“Too much whisky, too many cigarettes,” reflects veteran Toronto blues man Danny B. His music may be well traveled, but it’s message and meaning is as contemporary as it is legacy: the blues and jazz gave birth to rock and roll, hip-hop, rap and pop music. Danny B has a high-energy stage presence and will surely activate your participation with some hand clapping every so often – not to mention some great dancing.
One of Toronto’s “hip” establishments, incredibly being able to sustain its momentum even to today. The Reservoir Lounge is a relatively small bar, in the basement of 52 Wellington St. E, facing the famous “Flatiron” building. The décor is simple: protruding brick walls, black ceilings with exposed pipes, couches lining the wall and many candles. A nice circular bar is prominent in the Reservoir, with an overhanging glass rack and Christmas lights for decoration. The bar stocks a reasonable selection of draughts, no mass market brews available on tap (marvelous!), the selection being Creemore, Amsterdam Blonde and Nut Brown, Guinness and Kilkenny in October 1999.
Now the main draw to the Reservoir Lounge is not the beer or the décor, but the swing. Every night the Lounge has live music, primarily swing-jazz. They describe their music as “Swing, Jump Blues & Boogie Woogie”. Regardless, the live music at the Reservoir is definitely fun. The stage is very small, but the musicians cram onto it, and play with tremendous energy. There is no separation of the stage from the rest of the bar, making the mood of the live music very intimate. The Reservoir has regular acts throughout the week, including Toronto swing favourites Tyler Yarema & His Rhythm (Tuesdays) and Tory Cassis (Saturdays), and random guest acts.
The Reservoir Lounge has always walked the thin line of being a cool place to have a drink and listen to some swing and a repellent swing amusement park. The Reservoir at its best: walking in for a couple of drinks, seeing some incredible music, and perhaps having Jeff Healey (common) or Tom Jones (rare) head up on stage for some jams.
The Reservoir is usually great fun, a place to see some excellent live music, unlike most in the city, and have some fine drinks. Furthermore, the food is quite good . Be sure to try the four-cornered pizza with all sorts of tasty toppings. Reservations are accepted for dinner only, so go early if you want to sit but not eat. Most weekend nights are almost fully booked.