Back in Brunch: The Free Times Cafe


Toronto is home to one of the unique traditions in the Jewish musical world: a Sunday morning “Yiddish” brunch complete with bagels, lox, blintzes, latkes and Jewish music! If you haven’t been to the Free Times Cafe‘s “Bella Did Ya Eat?” Brunch, you’re missing out! Not only is the food great but the music makes the experience!

Judy Perly has been hosting the brunch at the her restaurant for 19 years and I’ve been playing the brunch on and off for the last 10. I’ve played with KlezFactor, Zebrina and several other ensembles but this Sunday, May 17, I’ll be back there with my Klezmer Trio (me with accordionist Ali Berkok and bassist Jim Sexton).

For me, it’s a way of playing tunes that people might not be so familiar with. By staying away from the “standards” of the klezmer world, I hope to open up people’s ears to the roots of klezmer music rather than the stereotypes like “Hava Nagila” or “Fiddler on the Roof.”

It’s also a great way for me and the band to really explore different places within these more obscure tunes. We can take our time to really find the groove and the spaces with the music while also playing some upbeat music for our amazing audiences.

Those audiences are usually packed (so make a reservation!) and include little children who love moving and dancing to the music, older folks for whom this music is a reminder of their own childhoods when Yiddish was still prevalent or people our own age who are looking for a Jewish fix! There are also non-Jewish folks who love to come for the delicious food!

Whoever you are, there’s always a reason for Brunch at the Free Times Cafe. Come on down Sunday with the first seating at 10:30-10:45am and a second seating at around 1:15pm. You can call 416-967-1078 for reservations and the brunch is located at 320 College St. (two blocks west of Spadina) and the brunch is $19.95 for the all you can eat buffet!


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