Hey! Surprisingly more “Road Trip”!
Everybody wore cowboy boots – everybody. I think it was due mostly to Eric Andersen’s song – Thirsty Boots and, of course, Bob Dylan’s – Mr. Tambourine Man. I remember, in Boston back at that time, that Walker’s Western Wear was selling a lot of boots. At the time, a pair of boots cost around $30. Walker’s always had a big add in Broadside Magazine. It was a big event when it was time to get a new pair of boots.
And there was the folky buff out leather jacket with the sheepskin collar! And also, the pea coat – cheap at the Army Navy store. Oh yeh, denim shirts. The uniform of the folk musician!
Something about walking down the street hearing the click of your boot heels and carrying your guitar.
Such was the scene in Yorkville Village. We’re in the 57 Plymouth with all the windows down driving on Yonge St. and taking in the sites – a throng of denim clad boot clicking folkies and guitars everywhere. We spotted a place called the No Name sporting a sign that read “Welcome Buskers”! Finding a place to park was not easy. We ended up several blocks away from the No Name – so with guitars in hand, our boots clicking on the cobblestones, we made our way to the No Name.
The place was packed – thick with smoke – with a small stage along the back wall – illuminated by a single blue light dangling from the low ceiling. There were red glass candles burning on most of the tables, where the crowd hung low over the tables quietly talking or listening to the music. To the left of the stage was a small kitchen area with a huge antique espresso machine, presided over by a tall dark haired woman wearing dark glasses and smoking a cigarette from a long holder. Classic! There was a small bar she stood behind serving Ginger Beer from a cooler underneath. There were maybe six or seven congregating there. For us, the place was love at first site. A singer, who called himself Bart was finishing a song, receiving quite an applause, and the tall lady handed out several baskets into the crowd. It looked like he was getting a fairly lucrative take. Within a few minutes of our arrival, we were talking to the tall lady – whose name was Vera – about playing there. After Bart, there was another singer and then we could have our turn. We decided to do separate sets at first and end up playing together for the last set. I was to go first.
This is where I have trouble – trying to remember which songs I might have played. I did always like Lightfoot’s – In The Early Mornin’ Rain; Eric Andersen’s – Dusty Box Car Wall; Tim Hardin playing House Of The Rising Sun – one reason I still play the song! I wrote a lot of songs, too – too bad I can’t remember most of them! Of course, the ones I sort of remember, the ones I might want to redo, I somehow never recorded!
Or if I did, I can’t remember where the tapes are.
One I do remember is my song – St. Sebastian’s!
This was a ‘folk song’ of epic proportions – over 5min, and fingerpicking most of it. I had written it during summer school (creative writing) class. That was the romantic summer of 1963 and the Café Innisfree. And I played the song a lot – a lot – I mean it – a lot! I usually played it somewhere in the middle of a set – it was surprisingly well received, too.
I really don’t remember much….
I do remember how much I loved playing guitar – especially the finger-pickin’ stuff. I have some recordings of my finger-pickin’ from then, and upon listening now, I can’t figure out what I was playing! I was playing constantly jamming with everyone I could. Don’t get me wrong – I still love playing guitar now – just wish I had that youthful energy again.
Back to the No Name Coffee House:
We did well there in a short time. I think Gif really became the star of the show. His red hair and blue eyes – you could feel him looking right through you; and his amazing guitar playing was extremely captivating. We would sing together his song called – 10 cent Life – we did a great version of Tennessee Stud. Too bad – none of it was ever recorded. But, we sure did play a lot!
Vera offered to share her spacious two story apartment with us. The apartment was above the No Name. She was in her late 50’s and soon became our on the road house mother. We had chores to do and she insisted on us practicing. She had an extra guitar, which Rory took a liking too, and he started learning quickly. Mac had no musical ability – AT ALL! Sometimes, when we were singing and he was feeling a little good – which was his way to feel always – would try to sing a long much to our chagrin. He would be a great listener and had no qualms about letting us know what he liked and didn’t like. We took Mac very seriously. His main thing was keeping the car spit shined – his parents gave him the car at graduation from URI. He changed the oil on time – serviced everything on time – you could eat out of the engine compartment!
Hope you enjoyed that!!! My friend Zelda sent me this today! I love it!!!
More again soon! Bill