Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rockin' and Rollin past forty.

A push-me-pull you kind of guy, one of my writing jobs was covering rock'n'roll in Toronto in the late sixties and seventies.
Wow, what a switch from trying to be the Nicholas Gogol of Newmarket.
Get out  your guitar and now we're going to sing the blues?
I guess to some extent I was always sort of the white Russian  guy  who dug bluegrass, and in fact one of my favourite movies had been "Bering Strait", where this Russian bluegrass group,  tried to make it in Nashville. You can imagine.
But I was hooked on country and rock and roll since a kid in  Hamilton, so the transfer from straight writing to rock column wasn't that difficult.
But wow, the Toronto rock scene in the late sixties and seventies:
Major Hooples Boarding House
Robbie Lane and the Disciples.
The Band ("Virgil Cane is My Name.") And Robbie Robertson.
Blood, Sweat and Tears
... many many others for whom Canadian content rules allowed local Ontario bands to make it big.
Well, there I was with my three-piece suit, covering a Brower-Walker rock event...and it seemed to all that I was so square.
But at the Toronto Sunday Sun they gave me a rock column.
I was to use the pen name of John Pope, and once I started to write about rock (after consultation with entrepreneursRitchie Yorke and Richard Flohill,  I as n my way.
To my surprise my column sort of rocked and I was soon in the middle of Toronto's rock scene, interviewing the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Whiskey Howl, Tokyo.
(I must say that today, listening to old tapes, they're all about as old as me, with only Gordie carrying on and on--and good for him!). Today, everybody seems to have grown old, like me, but they have those wonderful memories. And me too, of them.
Ah, it was great to have been a rock critic.
Except that my subjects all today have royaties.
And I am close to hearing old blues tapes and living in a tree...Well, that's blues ain't it?


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm a fan of Gordon Lightfoot for sure. Ever though of reprinting those old columns?

ivan said...

Yes indeed. Gordon Lightfoot!

About the columns:
My third last dutchess one day threw me out of our apartment, while keeping all my typewriters, guitars and archived printed material.(Those were the days of typewriters and xerox). I had tried to reclaim those vital things so necesssary to my livelihood and even sanity, with little legal success.
It was a real loss, since the columns were vital to my resume package for future employers and a cornerstone of my old career path.

I had tried to get copies of my old rock column from old fellow workers, but they were all over the country and in fact, were not too interested in what old Ivan had been producing.
I eventually ended up (again) at the Toronto Star, but without my resource material...I could no longer work from home (no typewriter), and could not entertain for a living (No guitar).
It was a down period.

Damn relationships and entanglements.
Hell hath no fury :)

Anonymous said...

life would sure as hell be really sad without the blues...

ivan said...

Hi Anonymous! Tony?

Some blues celebrity recently did say,
"The blues make you happy when you're down..... And they still make you happy when you'e right back up there."

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