Segarini: The Art Of Touring II – The Wrath of Dawn

Part 1 can be found here.

A Night On The Town: Hours after the Bobby Sherman show at the O Keefe, the mob standing outside the rear doors waiting for the already gone Mr. Sherman to come out and sacrifice his shirt to the mostly female cast of The Lord Of The Flies, were finally dragged back to their mother’s station wagons and taken home, clearing a path for us to get to our rented Vista Cruiser, and go back to the Holiday Inn. It was early, around 11:00 o’clock, so being rude boys and Rock Stars, we decided to hit the town to blow off some steam, get faced, and check out the local hip scene. Toronto. At 11:00 on a Saturday night. Who knew…

The guy at the desk gave us directions to someplace called “The Village”, just down the highway, turn here, turn there, look for long hair, that’s the place.

The ‘place’ turned out to be Yorkville, a thriving hippie enclave fashioned after The Haight in San Francisco, complete with tie-dye, granny glasses, rock and rollers, and the odor of patchouli oil and grass hanging like a fog over the entire area.

Groovy.

There was cool music coming out of every doorway we passed. hippie boutiques, record shops, eateries, (I’ll get back to that in a minute), and, down a flight of stairs leading to a dimly lit basement, something called a “Discothèque”.

“Hey, that’s from Europe”, one of our better-read group pointed out. “Let’s check it out”.

Sounded good to the rest of us, not having been aware of the thriving rock and folk clubs that dotted the area, just steps away, so down the stairs we went.

Now, I can’t remember what kind of music they were playing, but it was loud as hell. You needed to know sign language to order a drink.

It was also very dark, with blinding colored lights occasionally flashing, making it look like an episode of Star Trek when the Enterprise is under attack, and everything on the bridge is flashing and sparking and confusing as hell. The only seats were against the walls, fronted by tiny little cocktail tables facing the dance floor, which contained dozens of people trying to dance, but looking more like a herd of Stevie Nicks’, twirling and arm waving, resembling a flock of colorfully plumaged chickens attempting to get airborne.

“I don’t think this is the place to be”, I said. “I’m hungry. Let’s go find something to eat”.

Nobody heard me.

After using the mad skills learned from years of charades, I got my point across, but the guys were digging the unique experience that is European disco, and choosing to remain behind, started emulating the arm-waving poultry before us, slowly insinuating themselves into the swirling flock, and positioning themselves nearest the hottest looking ‘chicks’.

I left in search of sustenance…

Giving “Eatery” a Whole New Meaning

Just down the street I find a place that seems to be just what I’m looking for. A hip little folk club called ‘The Penny Farthing’.

It’s getting late, and there aren’t a whole lot of people there, but I’m looking for food, not conversation. I sit down and a very cute waitress plops a menu down in front of me, gives a hair toss, pivots, and walks away, her mini skirt keeping my attention till she turned the corner into the kitchen. I studied the menu.

“Ready to order?”, Cutie says, appearing out of nowhere like she just transported in from The Planet of Hot Babes.

“Uhhh…hmmm…I don’t know”, I said trying to get my cool back after jumping about a foot with the accompanying school-girl yelp I let out when she materialized, “What do you suggest?”

“The chili. Definitely, the chili. It’s only a buck and it’s really good”, she said with a wink.

A wink?

Did she wink at me?

“What does that come with?”, I managed.

“Crackers”, she says, again with what appears to be a wink.

“Chili it is”, I say, trying to wink but squinting instead. I was never a good winker.

It turns out she is right about the chili. Here it is 40 years later and I can still remember how good it was. I don’t know where the hell I just put my glasses, but I remember that chili.

While I ate, she continued to drop by, asking if I needed anything, offering me a refill on the house, and telling me about the Penny Farthing. How so many good people played there, how great the Yorkville scene was, had I ever heard of the Riverboat, or other Yorkville clubs and bands, etc.

“Just one band from Toronto”, I recalled.

“Which one?”

The Mandala. A band I was in opened for them at The Whiskey in Hollywood when they played there”.

A Family Tree Interlude:

I will never forget meeting the Mandala and Larry LeBlanc all those years ago in L.A. We have remained good friends ever since.

We opened for them for 2 or 3, maybe 4 nights in the Fall of 1966. The first night, when we saw them in those totally not with-it candy striped suits, Whitey Glan’s bass drum on it’s side, and the out of step haircuts, we could barely contain our laughter. Oh man, these guys were L-A-M-E.

Until they started to play.

Until George Oliver did the first knee-drop, the first spin, and the first splits.

Until the hippest and prettiest girls in the world started throwing their panties and bras at the stage, and the best musicians in Los Angeles pushed towards the stage to get closer to this incredible band.

The next day, we went out and bought matching suits, but you can’t buy that kind of talent.

Back to the Penny Farthing…

Cutie asked me if I was from L.A.

“No”, I said, “I was born in  San Francisco and grew up in a farm town about 70 miles east of there”.

Her eyes got big and damp, her voice lowered to a Lauren Bacall purr, and she leaned in towards me and said, “I’d LOVE to go to San Francisco. It’s the coolest place on Earth”.

“Well, yeah”, I agreed, her perfume clouding all sense, “Used to play the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom. I know the Dead and Jefferson Airplane…in fact, we’re meeting up with the Airplane in New York and joining their tour”. I whispered, dropping names like one of those self-proclaimed pick-up artists that women loathe.

“You’re in a band?”, she cooed.

“Why yes…yes I am”, I said, getting that warm, tingly rush you get when you only need one more number to win at Bingo.

“You know”, she says, “there’s a sauna downstairs. It’s closed now, but would you like to see it?”

BINGO!

While she was ’showing me the sauna’, she managed to hum ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at the same time. Perhaps a tribute to what may have been her first American experience.

Oh, Canada…

Bruce and the Bowling Ball

I left the Penny Farthing, never getting her name, nor she, mine. The world was a different place back then. As she turned to closing up, I started down the street to look for the rest of  the Roxy bunch. I didn’t have to go far. There, in the middle of the street, were my compatriots, chatting with a couple of shaggy-haired locals, and glowing with what is best described as the alcohol induced goofys.

“Hey Bahb! Theesh guys say we godda check out thish plashe called the Madadada”, one of them spit.

“Matador”, one of our newly acquired local pals corrected. “The Matador. It’s a really cool all night place. There’s music…and you can get booze if you’re cool.”

“WE’RE COOL!!!”, my inebriated friends shouted as un-cool as anyone could possibly be.

We piled into 2 cabs, a local in each, and off we went.

Not more than 10 minutes later, we are deposited on a dark side street in another part of town. The faint sound of country music coming from somewhere close by. The locals steer us down the sidewalk and find the door.

We are at The Matador.

The place is packed and jumping. Good, old school, country music blares from a stage at the far end of the room. The atmosphere is part Roadhouse, part Juke Joint, and part Barn Dance. I dig it.

Sure enough, the locals introduce us around and within minutes I’m sitting at a table with a drink in my hand and a bottle of rye in my coat pocket. Sweet.

I catch up with the guys as quickly as I can. Rye is a deceiving drink. Mix it with coke and it goes down like soda pop. False courage in a plastic cup, an elixir that makes you think you can do anything, say anything, and be anyone.

Now filled with the same goofy energy as the rest of Roxy, I am grinning like a 6 year old with a box of puppies. Top of the world, Ma, top of the world. I’m really having a good night.

Being a rock band from far away, we were the center of attention at the Matador that night. Locals dropping by the table, asking questions, talking music, nice as could be.

They made us feel welcome, and respected, and part of the scene. It was a great time, and yet another one of the reasons I love Canada. Un-judgmental acceptance, a trait found in abundance in my adopted country.

Finally, it’s time to go. The sun is coming up, and my energy is going down. The bottle of rye is empty, and so is everyone else’s. It’s time to head back to the Holiday Inn.

Except for one problem.

Bruce, one of our roadies, is missing.

All of us looked the part of players in the game of rock and roll. Pasty, skinny as Celine Dion after a good purge, and into the lifestyle of rock to the extreme.

Not Bruce.

Bruce was a surfer. Tall, tan, and buff, he looked like the poster boy for the beaches of Southern California, a handsome, Aryan God amongst a bunch of pale, skinny musicians who only saw the sun if they had to.

The Matador is clearing out. We search high and low, but Bruce is nowhere to be found.

“Maybe he already left”, one of the guys offers.

“Nah”, says another. “He was so drunk, I doubt he could have walked out of here without help”.

We were about to give up when Bruce came careening around the corner.

“Where the hell were you”, asks a Roxy.

“Girls bathroom. I’m getting married!”, bellows the surfer.

And then, emerging from behind Bruce, there appeared the oddest looking person I have ever seen. Where Bruce was 6′2″, maybe 6′3″, she couldn’t have been an inch away from 4′ in either direction. Next to him, she looked like a training wheel. She was completely, perfectly, round, a thatch of hair resembling a handful of bright yellow banana peels perched on the top of her neckless head like a doily.

“This is her”, he beamed, “she’s coming on tour with us”, he continued, “we’re gonna get married and live on a houseboat and raise chinchillas!”

Oh boy.

” Look”, I said, “The sun is up, we’ve got to take cabs back to Yorkburg and find the car and drive back to the hotel”.

“Yorkville”, said Bruce’s bride to be. “It’s called Yorkville”. She was wearing a retainer.

This is the main problem with dawn. The sun comes up. It’s bad enough if you’re drunk, but with a hangover, it is deadly. My hangover was just starting. This is why you learn to ALWAYS have your sunglasses with you no matter when you leave the house. None of us remembered this.

We walked up the street until we found a couple of cabs, made our way back to the car, and pulled into the hotel just as the sun came over the horizon, causing everyone to moan, cover their eyes, and fumble their way into the Holiday Inn.

We are now paying the price for a great night in a great city.

We spill out of the elevator and scurry to our rooms like rodent vampires with the goal of getting into our beds, pulling the covers over our heads, and praying the sun doesn’t sneak into our rooms and kill us where we lay.

No sooner am I nestled under the crisp white hotel sheets, the comforter pulled up over my eyes, than a terrible wail rises from the room next door.

Bruce’s room.

Wailing, then some grunts and growls. More wailing, followed by a scream, some unrecognizable noises, another yelp, a couple of clanks, a whoop, and then…silence.

“Oh God”, I thought, “They had sex”.

Then voices. Soft at first, then louder, then shouting, then, the sound of a door being slammed, some more yelling, silence, and then…a knock on my door.

Bruce’s voice through the door, “Let me in!”

“No”, I shout, “Go away”.

“I can’t. The Bowling Ball took the key to my room. I don’t want to go back there anyway. It…smells funny”.

“The Bowling Ball?”, I thought. “Go downstairs and get a key from the desk clerk”.

“I can’t”, he says, “Open the damn door”.

I give up. I get up. I open the door.

Bruce stands before me, butt naked, a look of panic on his face. People just getting up are staring at him as they pass him in the hall. Bruce appears to be sober now.

I would have laughed but my head hurt too much already. I threw him my robe and called the desk to come and unlock his room.

“So when’s the wedding?”, I ask.

I ducked just in time

Next: The Art Of Touring 3 – I’ll have a bottle of Golden Wedding and a Virginia Ham

Segarini’s column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

3 Responses to “Segarini: The Art Of Touring II – The Wrath of Dawn”

  1. Is that suit VELVET?

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