The Toronto Audiofest 2023 had everything you could wish for in an audio show: great gear at all price-points, a communal and jovial atmosphere, overall good to great sound, friendly banter with peers or friends made on the spot, solid visitor traffic but not overcrowded, and plenty of coffee for dudes like me who were on the go working the show.
This year’s edition also had its share of touching moments, most notably at the annual Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony. Recipients of this year’s two awards included Adrian Low of Toronto high-end audio retailer Audio Excellence, a very well-deserved recognition, and Don Rhule of Kimber Kable Canada. Don was the butt of a practical joke set up by the show’s organizers, in which Don’s young son, Max, was announced as a winner, only for Max to reveal at the end of his “acceptance speech” that the true winner of the award was his dad (watch the 2½-minute clip here). If there was a prize for Best Reaction by a Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Don would surely win. Shock and awe, and tears, with a funny twist. After several of us had commented on how thrilled Don had seemed to see his son “win”— “It was like he’d won it himself”, we said — when I later brought up the moment to Don, he grimaced, shook his head and, betraying a pang of disappointment, said: “Actually, I thought, why him? He’s so young.” Don is a consummate sport, and a heck of a good guy. Congrats again on your win, my friend.
There’s always live music at a Canadian Audiofest, and this time the Toronto show was the launching pad for Montreal band G!ve’s (Give’s) excellent new soul-folk album, Of the Bird, Flying. The album’s songs were based on poems written by the late Canadian poet (among other roles), Sol Mandlsohn, who also happened to have founded (in 1946!) Toronto’s iconic store Bay Bloor Radio. Today, the storied establishment is operated by Sol’s son, Mark, and Mark’s sons, Sam and Danu. Mark was at the album launch and visibly pleased as Give’s Caroline St-Louis and Stephan Ritch, along with female choir Vibz, sang his dad’s poems to a rapt crowd. It was a heartfelt moment.
On behalf of the show organizers, Sarah and Michel, a big thank you goes out to all those who came to the show to exhibit, visit, listen, review, socialize, play music, sponsor — thank you, Qobuz! — and otherwise make Toronto Audiofest 2023 the great event that it was.
Until next time!