I`m a little foggy on the the time frame but I think your bar`s era was around 76/77. Not the best time for my career as a blues musician. Disco had taken out a number of live music clubs, punk and new wave were gaining a foot hold. Looking back, I think I was floundering with not much direction or creativity. My music of choice was blues but I couldn`t get a good gig to save my life and I was burned out from being the band leader of Dollars through 74/75. Making money was a challenge and hanging out in an after hours bar wasn`t a wise choice for a guy with a family. When I did get a gig, I`d spend a good chunk of my pay drinking at your place.
I guess that bar offered something more interesting then some of the places I`d play during regular bar hours. The cast of characters was a pretty interesting mix of rounders, actors and musicians, some of whom had happening careers and others who like me were waiting for something good to fall out of the sky. I can remember seeing Murray McLaughlin and Ian Tyson there a few times. Donnie Walsh offered me the gig playing bass in Downchild at least twice while we got loaded at the bar. As much as I wanted and needed it, it was a job I couldn`t take at that time because his bass player, Jim Milne was one of my best friends. Fortunately, Donnie would never remember the next day. I had to wait until a couple of other bassists had gone through the band before taking the gig, that way my friendship with Jim stayed solid. I`m still part of that band today although I`ve been there twice, 79-83, 95 to present.
It was fantastic when Handsome Ned would take out his guitar, stand in the middle of the room and knock off an short set of country standards. Although I never got to know him I was always glad when he`d be there and couldn`t wait for him to bang off a some tunes.
I was in the bar the night Mick Jagger and Ron Wood from the Stones came in. I remember thinking that it would be great if everyone left them alone so they would stay for awhile. That didn`t happen. Billy Bryans and I were in the middle of a conversation and he made a beeline for Ronnie. A friends girlfriend who was talking to me mentioned she`d always had a crush on Mick, she immediately disappeared in the direction of the bar that the Stones and entourage were hanging in. I stood at the end of the bar watching as everyone in the place started to gravitate to the corner of the room where they were. As soon as some asshole started screaming "MICK JAGGER, MICK JAGGER" at the top of his lungs they were gone, along with most of the women who were there that night. My friend`s girlfriend ended up with Ronnie Wood and the best line of the night was, when asked why they were in Toronto, they said for the skiing. On his way out Mick walked past me and shot me a look that said, please leave me alone. I kept my mouth shut and and gave him a friendly nod of my head. A week or so later they played their infamous gig at the El Mocambo.
The bar`s era ran parallel to a pretty reckless time in my life, it was probably a necessary diversion for me, somewhere to hang while I waited for things to fall in place with my music and my life. Eventually things did come together for me. A life in Canadian blues isn`t the easiest choice for a way to make a living but it`s been interesting, creative and I`m happy. Shirley and I are still together, now grandparents, so as chaotic as the 70`s were, part of our lives made it through in tact.
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