RIP Ray Peak of Fat Albert’s Open Stage & Coffee Shop



One of the most familiar faces of all time at Fat Albert’s Open Stage & Coffee House over the past several decades never strummed a guitar at its weekly open stage.

Ray Peak, who, along with Ed Matthews, was one of the original team that ran the event when it started in the basement of Bloor United Church, has passed away at age 86.

I remember him from the mid-1980s when I first visited the event, which now takes place in the Steelworkers Hall on Cecil Street.  For a ridiculously cheap admission fee of around a dollar (if that) music fans got to hear some of the icons of the music business and could also purchase donuts and coffee for next to nothing. Ray would introduce the acts and also help with the food and drinks but never performed to my knowledge.

Ray was known as a gentle soul who, after relinquishing his role with the coffee house a few years ago, continued to support live music by attending shows in his East TO neighbourhood and beyond.

Many artists have expressed their sadness at his passing on the Fat Albert’s Facebook group.

A visitation was planned for Saturday, Sept. 26 at Trull Danforth Funeral Home, 1111 Danforth Ave. from 2 to 4 p.m. followed by a funeral service in the Trull Danforth Funeral chapel. Friends and fans can also visit an online obituary and book of condolences.

-Gary 17,

Buffy Sainte-Marie wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie won this year’s $50,000 Polaris Music Prize on Monday night in Toronto, beating out nine other finalists, including Drake (this year making his third nomination without a win), Alvvays, and former Polaris winner Caribou.

A jury of 11 music critics, bloggers and broadcasters chose her album Power in the Blood, an activist collection that spans from blues to folk, as the best Canadian record of 2015.

Sainte-Marie, 74, said to the crowd, “I’ve got an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, a couple of Junos and a Gemini Award – this is the only one I ever heard that gives the artist money. It’s real important, it’s becoming almost impossible for an artist to tour with a band and with instruments. It is a fact that it’s getting so hard to travel now.”

“I’m asking the music community to please put your heads into that and figure out a way so that not only the arts, but also sports, can be supported, so we can afford to go on the road and bring our music to you,” she added.

Sadaf Ahsan | September 22, 2015 10:39 AM ET National Post