The GC Series: Sarah Burton’s Music Moment

Toronto Singer/Songwriter Sarah Burton‘s playful soul has found its home in music through three diverse albums, and countless ups and downs while traversing the globe. The fourth release Make Your Own Bed (Released March 17) is full of clever lyrics and slices of life described in unique detail. Make Your Own Bed is fearless indie-pop and rock, putting the piano in the spotlight, while keeping balance with elaborate percussion, guitar and electronic beats. Burton’s vocals are at their best in sync with the keys, and each song pulls out either the soulful or sassy sides of her style.


Below is Sarah‘s most memorable music moment:

“There are a few moments in Toronto history that stick out to me: the building of the Skydome (aka Rogers Centre), the Jays winning the world series, and the summer of SARS.

The summer of 2003 in Toronto was eerie and surreal, like Summer of Sam ‘light’. Not only did Toronto experience one of the biggest blackouts of history, but the city was hit with SARS — a nasty virus that placed 25,000 residents in quarantine, and left dozens dead. People were afraid to go out, and when they did, many wore hospital masks. That was the year that hand sanitizer became a thing.

In many ways, SARS’s biggest victim was the hospitality industry. The fear of germs had a zombie-apocalypse effect on the city and many opted to stay home, and stay out of the city. In an effort to raise money for the hospitality industry and create some good memories for an otherwise ghostly summer, Molson Canadian put on a huge benefit concert at Downsview Park, featuring an all-star lineup including Sam Roberts, Blue Rodeo, The Flaming Lips, Justin Timberlake, AC/DC, Rush and The Rolling Stones.

That summer I was quite the spendthrift – working 2 waitressing jobs to save up for a post-graduation backpacking trip, and training for a half-marathon, I was more interested in saving my bucks and working on my endurance than going to concerts. But I wanted to be at this show badly, so when the opportunity arose, I decided to work at the concert with 3 friends.

Cover art for Sarah Burton's Make Your Own Bed

Cover art for Sarah Burton’s Make Your Own Bed

It was about a million degrees that day. At 7 a.m. we met up at a big yellow school bus in Etobicoke to take us to Downsview. We were hired to work in snack bars for $10/hour. When the bus started rolling, we were handed sheets of paper with the heading “RULES.” Scanning the list we saw: “no smoking, no drinking, no leaving your designated break area”, and a host of other non-motivators. Suddenly this didn’t seem like the best way to spend a Saturday. We thought of our friends drinking cool beers in the sun, basking in musical glory, and we knew we had to escape.

When we arrived at Downsview, we scanned the premises, looking for a hole in the fence or an unattended gate. It seemed we were doomed. When we finally pulled up to the service area, a young Australian who worked for the staffing agency that hired us jumped on the bus to give us a speech. “Mates, I’m really sorry, but it appears we’ve hired just a few too many workers, so if there’s anyone who…” Before he could finish our eager hands shot in the air.

It was as if Jimmy Page’s ghost sent this Aussie surfer to answer our rock n roll prayers. We exited the bus, rode a golf-cart (the Mercedes of music festivals) beyond the gates and thousands of waiting teens, and entered the festival for free.

As if our new found freedom weren’t enough, we looked out over the masses and within 5 minutes of walking, stumbled upon our entire hometown crew, cold beers and all. The next ten hours were enjoyed with the same sense of satisfaction you achieve when successfully using a fake I.D., or flirting your way out of a speeding ticket.

That night we went home, exhausted and sunburnt, pleased to have been a part of musical history. Two weeks later we each got a cheque in the mail from the staffing agency for $100 – payment for 10 hours work. So I guess we won!”

To connect with Sarah Burton, visit her on:

Upcoming tour dates:

June 4th @ The Dakota Tavern, TORONTO, ON

June 6th @ Dearcroft Montessori, OAKVILLE, ON

June 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th @ Opera Bob’s, TORONTO, ON

June 11th @ Free Times Cafe, TORONTO, ON

June 23rd @ Painted Lady, TD Jazz Fest, TORONTO, ON

Naked Underground Toronto’s Guest Contributor Series invites members of Toronto’s diverse music scene to contribute personal music-related stories – straight from the source!

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