Toronto’s Shuffle Demons spread word about Spadina streetcar shutdown

From The Toronto Star:

Sweat-slicked and decked out in 1980s-styled suits, a five-piece band of middle-aged men marched out of a bus and into the streets Thursday afternoon.

Blasting their prominent 1986 anthem, “Spadina Bus,” the Shuffle Demons were back on the streets of Toronto, performing on a retired TTC bus down and then up Spadina Ave.

The event was jointly put on by the jazz-funk-fusion band and the TTC. Passengers were invited onto the bus with no fare required. Most looked confused when they boarded, but many danced in their seats or sang along, if they were old enough to know the lyrics.

Some of the songs played were from their new album, Cluster Funk, released earlier this week. But, the event wasn’t simply a promotional ploy.

A major construction project on Spadina Ave. that began in June has halted the road’s street cars for the next few months in order to build new passenger platforms, replace tracks along the route and modernize the overhead power system.

At peak hours, 34 buses are running to replace the 21 streetcars that normally operate along the route.

Brad Ross, TTC spokesperson, said this has meant some inconveniences for passengers. The Shuffle Demons event, which was proposed by the band’s publicist two weeks ago, was meant to give back to these passengers.

In 2013, the new low-floor, air-conditioned street cars are slated to come into operation, and the construction is a requirement to accommodate them.

“It’s a necessary inconvenience,” Ross said.

Construction is on track to finish in November, when the street cars will return to Spadina Ave.

Transit ditties

The Shuffle Demons aren’t the only musicians to pay homage to the TTC. Here are three well-loved tracks:

1950: “The Toronto Subway Song” by Mel Hamill

1969: “TTC Skidaddler” by Stompin’ Tom Connors

2008: “I get on (The TTC)” by Randal Paul and Syruslife