All I know is almost every drummer I ever liked in Toronto spent some time studying with Jim Blackley and coming out a better person for it.
20 musical flashes in Toronto each time I pass by.
1/ St. Clair and Yonge, where Glen Gould lived on the north side and the Frans across the street that he must have gone to.
2/ The Paved paradise of Yorkville and reading that Carole Pope had a job as a youth colouring Rocket Robinhood panels somewhere around there.
3/ The [murmur] project in the Kensington Market where people listen to historic tales on lamp posts.
4/ Live Peace in Toronto at Varsity Stadium, one stands in the spot and thinks about Little Richard’s surreal performance that day (on youtube now).
5/ Sherborne & Parliament, Georges Spaghetti house, seeing Moe Kaufman as a teenager with my dad.
6/ The various Music Gallery’s various locations, McCaul, Dovercourt, Richmond & St. George The Martyr.
7/ Isabella street for the Neil Young reference in Ambulance Blues
8/ Bathurst and Queen, the Holiday Tavern was my favourite place to play in the 80s and somewhere near that intersection Feist and Peaches shared an apartment.
9/ The Streetbrothers recording studio by Park Lawn Rd. where while producing Andrew Cash my van was smashed in, all my stuff stolen. Once asked John why that name, he answered “because it’s for guys (soft back slap) like you and me, street brothers “.
10/ The Parasol Centre on Jarvis where Freddie Stone established a unique musical destination.
11/ 427 Bloor, Trinity ST. Paul’s where Greenpeace was downstairs and I had keys to the building and regularly played the 9 ft. steinway all night long with various free improv friends like Mark Hundevad and Wayne Cass to Anne Bourne and Step Raptis.
12/ 300 Bloor west, Bloor United Church, which housed the Fat Albert’s open stage on Wednesday nights where I learned craft with song friends from Kyp Harness, Tom St. Louis and Diane Barbarash to outsider performers like Anhai and Sahara Spracklin.
13/ The old CBC building that is now a Staples at Summerhill and Yonge where Glen Gould had an office. I see his ghost behind the poster for whats on sale.
14/ The old McLear recording space previously RCA previously CHUM where Blue Rodeo recorded in ’86, large enough for orchestra and a zillion U87s and heavy duty mic stands on rollers, where Tom Cochrane made a mess overflowing the coffee machine pouring too much water into it, I helped him clean it up and where we later got the news Ned overdosed.
15/ Upstairs on Queen street near Peter where the illegal after hours club The Paper Door was in full swing when as a teen I visited and jammed with real Torontonians.
16/ The amazing green house on Huron where Mary Margaret lived.
17/ The rotating Ontario Place stage.
18/ The Cameron when Paul or Herb or Anne-Marie were behind the bar.
19/ Under the Michelin Tyre sign like an advertisement for Mendelson Joe when he lived on Ossington.
20/ Round again records on Baldwin, obtaining bootlegs in the 70s, blowing minds back in Winnipeg.
Ten years ago after playing the Ironwood Stage in Calgary, the owner, Patrick, was hard to contain after the show. He liked it a lot and didn’t understand why I didn’t have an agent. (I booked it myself, usually did). Like the other acts he usually received he thought I should have more corporate representation. Appreciating his enthusiasm I thanked him but explained that none of the usual agents like me, don’t like my work or they don’t like me personally.
He said no no no you have to meet Fred (not real name) at the Agency he’s different. Next day Patrick wrote an introductory email for Fred and me and Fred responded inviting me to contact him. I followed up with a phone call.
Hi Fred, Bob Wiseman here.
Hey Bobby how are you? Love your stuff!
Bobby I got to tell you we’re pretty full up right now, it’s a tough time.
No sweat I was just honouring the introduction Patrick made.
Look Bobby let me know next time you come to town, I want to see your show.
I live in Toronto. I’ll be playing the Tranzac Wednesday.
Shit Wednesday I have racquetball but any other Wednesday Bobby I’d really like to know.
How about the 27th?
Shit that’s POP Montreal.
I gotta go Bobby but do keep in touch man, for real ok? And please please please let Patrick know we spoke?
I called Patrick, tried to not act all I-told-you-so but he just changed the subject – you gotta talk to Shelly (not her real name) at Paquin entertainment. She’s so great and she’s really different than the others yada yada. Within the hour he made another email introduction. I wondered if his confidence stemmed from his relationships, like if these agents encourage club owners like him, who are pivotal, to believe they have sincere friendships and that their opinions are taken very seriously by the agents or if that was just an act, something they hi five each other for back in the office after the client hangs up. My guess is the latter, so far I didn’t think I was wrong. A couple days later I was talking with Shelly.
Hi Bobby, sorry for the delay it’s a zoo around here. I am very familiar with your work, so what are you doing these days?
Just the usual, making records, touring.
Nice real nice. So what can I do for you?
I was following up to your response email after Patrick from the Ironwood wrote to suggest you work with me?
Oh ya, right. Thanks yes ok. So who do you work with now?
Right ok yes well I would love to help where I can. Unluckily though I am just too busy to take on any more artists. I would not be able to spend enough time on the project to do it proper justice. I mean it’s really really “really” hard you know what I mean?
Why don’t you send me your work?
I thought based on the exchange with Patrick you might want to work with me but I’m actually I’m ok, I’m good. I don’t have the things in place that probably are preferable for you like an ordinary manager or an ordinary record company-
You have no label support?
No I don’t.
Ok well I’ll get going.
Ok sure, thanks a lot for calling Bobby and please let Patrick know we spoke . Okee dokee?
I called back Patrick and told him what happened, now it was almost a week after the show that excited him. I expected him to give up by now but he did it again. He said Bob Wilson at Live Tour Artists you have to speak with him. He’s different. (How many people can be different?) Ok sure I said. Once again he wrote an introductory email but then my phone rang.
Hi Is Bob there?
Hi I’m Bob.
Hi I’m Bob Wilson I got your number from Patrick at the Ironwood, I remember you from years ago. You want to meet for a drink and discuss what you’re doing now?
Sure when’s a good time for you?
See you tonight.
And he was great and we did a bunch of work over the next 3 years and he got me paid much higher than I do by myself and then my daughter was born and I rearranged my life to be a stay at home person. She just turned 5, I might be due to try again now.