Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Quarry Night

The Habs allowed three shorthanded goals during their tiresome 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, and I don’t want to talk about it.

How about a historic acid party at a limestone quarry outside of Orillia in the late-1960s instead?

A party where we climbed the flat sides of the place in the dark with water and rocks 50 feet below, whoopin’ and hollerin’, with brains soaked with mind-bending chemicals, probably never considering even once that we could kill ourselves.

It was a grand party, just me and the rest of The Boys, doing what we did best. Partying. In fact, we were such good partiers that some teenagers in town weren’t crazy about us showing up at their doorsteps. Something about them trying to keep their parents’ house nice.

A few didn’t mind, I guess. At least I like to think so.

Yes, the quarry party was a beauty, taken to a new level when we saw the lights of cars coming in, cars filled with people a few years older than us, who had brought their own drugs and music, and we all bonded in a fuzzy sort of way.

I won’t go into too many details. There was that time when one of my friends saw a guy wander off, and when he came back, my buddy checked where he’d been and found a bag of pills that we all shared when the older bunch weren’t looking.

A couple of us sat in the back of an older guy’s convertible and listened to the first (and newly-released) Led Zeppelin album on his fancy 8-track car stereo, and after about the third listening, the guy yanked the tape out and we swore mightily.

We calmed down when he inserted Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, also a new release, and I fell in love with that album so much that when someone asked me if I wanted to go to town with them to get some MDA, I said no, Bob Dylan’s bringing me my MDA.

And just recently I found out from one of my buddies that a girl there that night with the older guys, the girl with the cowboy hat, was Cathy Evelyn Smith, who later on would serve time in California for injecting drugs into actor John Belushi, which killed him.

Me and the other Boys still talk about the quarry from time to time. And years after the fact, I entered a contest at CHEZ 106 in Ottawa, with a free CD of the choosing to those with good stories about the 1960s.

I told the quarry story, and they sent me Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

One final note; that quarry was where the limestone came from to build the old Catholic church in Orillia. The church where I was an altar boy. And where, as an altar boy, I set myself on fire lighting candles.

And when I look closely at my picture below, I sure have a long finger.

altar boy

me (2)

 

 

Happy Mom’s Day

mom

I lost my mom to stomach cancer back in 1978 when I was 27. She got what she thought was the flu, and four months later she was dead. It took me more than 30 years before I could work up the guts to visit her grave.

My mom was the typical 1950s and ’60s stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and cakes that were ready when we got home from school. She helped me write fan letters to the Rocket and other Montreal Canadien players, and her and I would often listen boxing matches on the radio at the kitchen table, including fights that featured a young fellow named Cassius Clay.

And together, one morning before school, we heard the Orillia announcer mention for the first time a brand new group from Liverpool.

She made sure there were always lots of Christmas presents under the tree, presents that were bought on department store credit that my dad had no idea about until after she died. And my dad, who’s also gone now, once told me about the time when I was very young and as we drove by the arena, I said “Hey, there’s the fucking arena!” My mom was very understanding and gentle as she explained to me about the bad word.

It was the only time I ever swore in front of my parents, and they never saw me smoke either as I grew into my teens and early adulthood.

She went to my hockey and baseball games, listened politely when I played her my new Bob Dylan albums, she liked my long hair and weird clothes, and she understood more than anyone about my restless feet. My friends loved her and she loved them, especially if they made her laugh.

This was a lady who didn’t have a problem with the wild 1960s, even though she was born in 1924 and grew up in a much different world. I was very proud of her.

If your mom is still alive and you love her, maybe you should tell her so. I’d give anything to say it now to my mom.

Rockin’ With Claudette

You’ve got yer Zeppelin albums, yer Beatles, Stones, and Springsteen. You’ve got Dylan and Van the Man and Nirvana and the Who. You’ve got Miles Davis and Pete Seeger and the Buffalo Springfield. You’ve got U2, Metallica, Dave Van Ronk, and the Clash.

But have you got Claudette Auchu and her organ music, featuring such tunes as “It’s Impossible”, “Love Story”, “Ebb Tide”, and the always popular “Yellow Bird”?

I do!

(Claudette was the Montreal Forum organist from 1969 to 1974).

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The Band

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A lot of artists have touched my soul over the years – the Beatles, Dylan, Van Morrison, Springsteen and a bunch more.

And then there was The Band, four guys from southern Ontario and one from Arkansas, and I loved their tight, down home style, with three of them taking turns singing, and two of them, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, singing like mountain men-turned Ray Charles that would turn ears and heart to tender mush.

The Band, known first as the Hawks, who honed their craft under the strict eye of Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, the wild frontman who’d brought drummer Levon Helm to Toronto from the deep south and created the seed that would become a full blown and beautiful flower.

Gradually the five would find each other, and they soon became the tightest of the tight, paying their dues in every strip joint, honkytonk bar, and redneck tavern from Toronto to Montreal, Detroit to Memphis.

While still known as the Hawks, they would back Bob Dylan during his world-wide tours, and which would end when Dylan was recuperating from a motorcycle accident.

But make no mistake, this was no ordinary backup band. This was THE Band. It was destined that they branch out, find their name and identity, and let the public into their world that for the most part had been behind Big Pink doors, their communal house in Woodstock.

After The Last Waltz in 1976 at the Winterland in San Francisco, which was filmed as a Martin Scorcese film, the five of them never performed together again, although they kept going, whether it was solo or in pairs, or simply as The Band minus Robbie Robertson.

In 1985 my first wife and I went to Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village, a tiny club famous for the fact it was where Bob Dylan had made his first NYC appearance, back in ’61. Richard Manuel and Rick Danko played that night at Gerde’s in front of us and about 50 others, and at one point in the evening, bluesman Paul Butterfield got up and joined them.

It was a true highlight of my life that goes beyond words.

In 1986, Richard Manuel hanged himself in a motel in Florida. Rick Danko died from heart failure in 1999.

I once saw drummer Levon Helm play with his own band at the Nickelodeon on Yonge St. in Toronto. He died from cancer in 2012.

Garth Hudson, the classically-trained genius, is thankfully still alive. Virtuoso guitarist Robbie Robertson is too.

I loved their music then and I do today. Back hills soul, rock and rhythm and blues. Four guys from Ontario – Simcoe, Stratford, London, and Six Nations near Brantford. And one from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.

The Band. Perfect name, perfect music.

 

Using My Desktop Stuff

I’m going to be in Ottawa all day Saturday (for the second time in a week), and because I have a desktop full of pictures, I thought maybe I could just put them up and be done with it because I’m a lazy bastard.

Maybe some of you have seen many or all of these, and maybe some of you have seen a few or none at all. Or maybe some of you have seen some on a few days or none on any day! Or maybe…….never mind.

Regardless, like I said, I’m a lazy bastard.

All I know is, I’m at a surprise birthday party in Ottawa for an old friend and wanted to have a post up while I’m partying in the background with a lampshade on my head.

So here goes, pictures for you, beginning with a young Bob Dylan that I asked my stepson to put a Habs jersey on.

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RichardDictator

baseball

Boom Boom Lennon

dad

Dennis_KCD

Frank and I

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jacket

jazz

kid

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Receiving Gift

rocket leaf

scrap

sweater

 

 

 

 

 

Thingamabobs

I bought a brand new size large Montreal Expos t-shirt the other day, brought it home, washed it, and now it’s a size small, which means I’ve never worn it and never will.

Twice I dialed a Telus 1-800 number,  twice the phone rang, and twice my friend Mike in Toronto, who has a 905 area code, picked it up. How could this be?

Anyway.

Have a great night. Get a good night’s sleep. Then wake up, enjoy a heart breakfast, and help a little old lady across the street.  You never know, she might be a billionaire with no friends or relatives.

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Mick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boom Boom Dylan

Hibbing

This is the Hibbing, MN arena, built in 1935.

Hibbing is the city Bob Dylan grew up in, and if he would have spent more time at the rink and less time thinking about becoming the next Woody Guthrie, who knows how he would have turned out.

Dylan’s high school sweetheart, Echo Helstrom, once said that she and Bob would sometimes go skating, but Dylan’s brother David said it’s nonsense, that Bob never wore skates in his life. I can’t picture Bob Dylan playing hockey, but I feel if he would have signed up for minor hockey when he was young and applied himself somewhat, he could’ve been a somebody.

He could’ve been a Hab.

                           ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN

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A Night At The Quarry

Years ago a radio station in Ottawa, CHEZ 106, asked listeners to send in stories about how they came to love certain albums, with the chance of winning a CD, and I thought I’d give it a shot. Several weeks later, I climbed up into the cab of my semi tractor, and on the radio the disc jockey was reading my letter! Great timing. Soon after that, my new CD came in the mail.

It was a short story, but today I’m giving a slightly longer version of it. There’s no hockey, remember?

 

If you were to drive along the old Rama Road outside of Orillia, past the big Rama Casino, past the site of the long-gone Orr/Walton Hockey Camp, and carry on for another few miles, you would come to an old limestone quarry where they once dragged limestone blocks across frozen Lake Couchiching and into Orillia to build the beautiful Catholic Church and probably other fine buildings too.

It’s all very important. Men found work, a church was built, and a hole got dug. And thank goodness the hole got dug, because it sure was a good place to have a party.

The hole was deep, and when the drugs took effect, we had to be careful or we’d fall to our death. We weren’t afraid though, and I suppose we weren’t very smart either. But it was the late 1960’s. Nobody was afraid or smart.

Darkness took hold around the same time as the chemicals, stars jumped around the sky, and at times we could just barely make out those of us hanging on to rocks for dear life. Such fun. Why don’t kids have fun like this anymore? Good, clean, healthy fun. It seems a shame.

Or maybe they do. But do they wear jean jackets?

At one point on this particular night, Sal found us and explained that in the pitch black, he’d put his hand down and blindly came up with a bag of unknown pills. Such grand luck. Another bag to go with the several we already had. We loved the quarry.

It was also on this night that we looked up from whatever ledge we were clinging too, and saw a parade of car lights coming in to our quarry. Yes, it seemed slightly unusual, but it could have been the Gestapo and we wouldn’t have cared. As long as they brought their own dope. The cars contained older people from Orillia, probably even 22 years old or so, and we barely knew them because damn, we didn’t have a lot in common with old folks. But they parked their cars and said hello, and we all went back to doing what we did best – clinging to ledges.

I can’t describe fully just what a grand time we had, but I can tell you that in the annals of party history, nothing could be more important than Phil Hanniford’s gigantic bluish, turquoise convertible. Phil, also an older guy, had the top down because it was fine summer night, and myself and Mike and Hobo, and probably others as well – Rugger, Pye Man, Charlie, Sal, Lifty, Baker, all sat in the back at different times and listened to music coming from the complex technology Phil had had installed – a brand new 8-track player. We’d never seen one before, at least I hadn’t, and Phil’s worked like a hot damn.

What a quarry. What a hole. What an 8-track machine. Phil put on Led Zeppelin’s first album, and we were simply taken away by this new British blues/rock band. We sat in that convertible and rocked our heads and shook our hair and looked good in our jean jackets, and I must tell you – there can’t be too many feelings better than this. Maybe a night with Patti Boyd, but that’s about it.

It was after the third or fourth time Phil had played Zeppelin for us, that he suddenly pulled the 8-track out of the machine, and the silence was shocking. We yelled and swore at him, (even though he was older), and he said to just hold on, he had something else, and then fired up Bob Dylan’s brand new release, Nashville Skyline.

I forgot I was mad at Phil in about 30 seconds. I’d always loved Dylan’s early music, but this was different. Dylan’s voice was softer and more soulful, he crooned like I didn’t know he could, and I fell in love with Nashville Skyline on that night like I’ve never loved an album before or since.

Phil played it over and over, and at some point, the boys yelled at me that they were going back into town to get some more MDA, and was I coming with them.

Nope, I said. Bob Dylan’s bringing me my MDA.

 

And for that, I won a CD from the radio station.

A Night At The Opera

I don’t have my all my ticket stubs for concerts I’ve seen over the years, but I managed to save some.

Below – At the Beach Boys concert in Toronto, they let out everyone from the first show just as the second bunch, including us, were coming in, and it was close to a trampling scene. My wife was really freaked. I think she thought she was going to die. I suppose I did too.

Elton John wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. He wore an admiral’s hat and coat and looked a tad bored.

I saw Kris Kristofferson with Johnny Cash, and I’m trying to remember if it was from this ticket stub. You would think Johnny Cash’s name would be on the ticket, even as headliner. I don’t know. Maybe my mind is……….

I can’t remember much about Split Enz, but I remember the murmur in the crowd that Southside Johnny would be joining Gary U.S.Bonds at the show. This was ridiculous and I knew it. The two had worked together on an album in the past, which certainly didn’t mean they were going to reunite at Camp Fortune, near Ottawa.

Below –  The Who were great. Pete Townshend was great.

The Band at this point were without Robbie Robertson, but I loved them anyway. I saw them once before, in the early Seventies at the Montreal Forum when they and Bob Dylan were on the Before The Flood tour .

That little blue and grey stub means a lot to me. It was at Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village, a little room that holds about 50 people, and not only did Rick Danko and Richard Manuel from The Band play only about 15 feet away, but Paul Butterfield got up and joined them. We sat at a fairly big table and Danko and Manuel and their women sat at the same table during breaks.

About a year after that, Richard Manuel hung himself, and in 1999, Rick Danko died of a drug-related heart attack. Fellow Band member Levon Helm left us just last April so now only Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson remain. It’s very sad.

Below – Willie Nelson was fun, Robert Palmer was slick, and the Pretenders were excellent. But about Pete Best: You might know that Best was the Beatles’ original drummer before being given the boot for Ringo. I have my own story about the guy.

When I lived in Calgary, an event organizer contacted me to see if I would set up a display of Beatles memorabilia, which I had a lot of, at a collectables show at McMahon Stadium, with Pete Best as invited speaker.

I said yes, and I was introduced to Pete Best and his wife Kathy, and both loved my Beatles collection. I was invited to a dinner with Pete and Kathy and the organizers, and after that we all went to this little theatre with seating for about 30 people, and we watched a screening of Backbeat, which dealt with the Beatles in Germany when Pete Best was still the drummer.

Kathy Best sat in front of me and would often remark during the screening how the movie was getting the facts wrong. “Bullshit” she said several times. At one point, I asked Pete, who was sitting beside me, if something on the screen had really happened, and he said no.

They still live in Liverpool. Or at least they did. Maybe they’re in Cannes now. After being fired from the Beatles, he first worked in a meat shop, then got a post office job which lasted until he retired. I read a few years ago that Pete finally cashed in from his time as a Beatle, when royalties arrived from the Beatles Anthology, which was a box set, a film, and a book, and his share was worth many millions.

The ticket below is for a show he did about a year later. His band went through a lot of Beatles material, and he doesn’t sing. It’s basically just a cover band.

And oh yes, I asked him why he was fired. There are lots of theories – that Ringo was simply a better drummer, that gay manager Brian Epstein tried and failed to seduce Pete, and that he basically just didn’t fit in with the others. Pete told me two theories of his own – he thinks the other Beatles became resentful because he was more successful with the ladies than they were, and also – and this one’s very interesting – he had tight curls and wasn’t able to comb his hair down in a Beatle cut, so he didn’t fit what Epstein envisioned.

He also told me that he and Paul McCartney almost burned down Hamburg’s City Hall by accident.

Next, the Eagles were fine, except we were so far away that something was definitely missing. I hate monster venues. Dire Straits, with Stevie Ray Vaughan opening was, of course, fabulous, and I also saw Stevie Ray Vaughan at the National Arts Centre, which was way more intimate than the Civic Centre.

Below –  KD Lang was neat, but I liked the opening act, a female Seattle band, Ranch Romance, even better.

Beside Elvis Costello is Steve Goodman, who you may or may not have heard of. He was a genius, longtime buddy of John Prine, and wrote City of New Orleans and lots of other great stuff. He’s been dead for quite a few years now.

Of all the shows I’ve seen, none can equal Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They were the best, the most exciting, they blew the doors off for three hours, and everyone left these shows exhausted.  There are four tickets here, and I can think of two other shows I was at also. I saw them in 1976 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and also sometime around 1979 at the Civic Centre.

I was such a Bob Dylan fan when I was a teenager, but when I see him on TV now, it makes me sad. He was never a great singer, which didn’t bother me in the least, but now he sounds like a cat being strangled. I loved his music from the Sixties and I still do, but somewhere along the line, something happened. Maybe he’s playing a gigantic joke on us. Regardless, I firmly believe his place in culture ranks up there with Elvis and the Beatles, and his early stuff still moves me.

I was never a Kenny Loggins fan, but we were in New York and wanted to go to Radio City Music Hall.

A year before that in New York, we went to see Oh Calcutta at the theatre next door to our hotel. I had no idea until it was playing that the male and female actors got naked.

Below –  My brother-in-law and I were given free tickets from a friend playing in the opening act, Honeymoon Suite, and the seats were great. I grew up listening to the Kinks, and I fully expected a nostalgia-type show like the Beach Boys, but it wasn’t that at all. They combined new stuff with old, and Ray Davies is a terrific showman. The Kinks were fabulous.

Melissa Etheridge was powerful and professional, ZZ Top played in front of a giant ’56 Chevy, and Robert Palmer was good, but the reason we really went was because it was Radio City Music Hall.

Finally, the Beatles. This is the big one for me, although I sat in the last row on the floor. I could see them just fine, but the screaming and fainting was amazing. The girls were just nuts, and although I could hear the music, it was difficult and often drowned out. Screaming and such was the big reason the boys stopped touring soon after this Toronto show, and would prefer the studio. I was 15, and all my life I’ve been proud to say I saw the Beatles.

There were other shows too, although the ticket stubs are long gone. The Hollies twice, John Prine, the McCoys, Led Zeppelin in Vancouver, the same city I saw the Grateful Dead and Ten Years After in. There was John Mayall in London, Van Morrison at Massey Hall, Blind Faith with Eric Clapton at Varsity Stadium, the Youngbloods at Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, plus, in various towns and cities – Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs, the Young Rascals, the Association, Roger McGuinn, Murray McLaughlin, Sha Na Na, Billy Joel, John Cougar Mellencamp, Wynona Judd, and others I can’t remember at this point.

I also had tickets for Joe Cocker, who never showed up, and Roy Orbison, when I had to work.