Road Trip – Stratford Town – Summer 1966

And another installment of Road Trip!

“Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair…” Gif sang as we drove off on a trip to Stratford Ontario – Commenting on how much he liked Donovan and that he thought I sounded like him – which made everyone laugh!

We heard of a nice coffeehouse in Stratford called the Black Swan which we wanted to go to and play at. So filled with enthusiasm we made our way. We had made some money in Yorkville. We acquired a small amount of fame gained by playing open mike at the Riverboat and we noticed more people showing up at the No Name to hear us play. We even got a paying gig at the Mousehole – the second most famous venue to the Riverboat. We also played at another venue called the Seven Of Clubs, which I can’t remember to much about, but I think it had a full bar and paid quite well.

Stratford was about 2 hrs. northwest of Toronto. The town was known for putting on plays by Shakespeare – ala Stratford on the Avon in England.

They even had a reproduction of the Elizabethan theater in England. So the town had quite a bit of magic going on at the time. I was such a severe romantic at the time, that I imagined myself transported back to the Elizabethan era. It wasn’t hard to do in that town.

It was early evening when we walked through the door of the Black Swan. The décor was certainly Elizabethan in style – with heavy furniture, candlelight and stained glass. We, of course, looked kinda under-dressed, standing there in t-shirts, jeans and cowboy boots, long hair and guitar cases. There was a poster advertizing the entertainment.

“Appearing Tonight! Sonia Fricker, sister of Sylvia Tyson of Ian and Sylvia!” 

Still standing in the doorway, this beautiful woman approached and invited us in. It was Sonia Fricker. Gif started a conversation with her immediately and offered to back her up on guitar for her show. She wanted to play a few tunes with him first before committing to that. She was playing solo and doing mostly original songs, which we later found out were really good songs. She was a finger picker and what with Gif’s great finger picking style, they blended together just great.

I was feeling that old twinge of insecurity looming over me and when asked to play an opening set, I reluctantly agreed. I felt she was far superior to me – her voice was incredible as was her guitar playing and songwriting.

When I played my set, I was so nervous that I didn’t play guitar very well and forgot words to the songs.

The rather large crowd even laughed at my mistakes and refused to applaud. I was quite devastated and totally overwhelmed with insecurity and left the building. Rory and Mac came after me asking what the hell happened to me. It took some doing on their part to even convince me to go back in – but I joined them in the shadows in the back of the room and listened to the amazing set that Sonia and Gif presented.

I don’t remember much else about Stratford other than the fact that we played two other venues there called the Three Ravens and Oh No John – probably basket houses.

It’s terrible sometimes how our emotions can bring out the worst in us. Insecurity in me has cost me much over my lifetime and still rears it’s ugly head to this day. But I learned how to deal with it a long time ago. I wrote this at the time: A song called Stratford Town: 1st verse:

    “I lost my mind in Stratford town in the year of 66

  Where people stood accusin’ and saying I’m sick

   Shallow voices crawl and sneak beneath my feet

   And slur the basic roots of which I can’t conceal.”

 I must have felt so bad and that is why to this day I don’t remember too much about it.

Thanks for the spirit of comradeship – the one for all and all for one. As they scraped my remains up off the floor, threw me in the backseat and headed back to Yorkville!


Hope you stay tuned for more installments as I write them.!    

I’m excited about my new studio album which will be released this Fall called “Rogues”!


That’s a picture of my father on the cover taken around 1935 – he certainly was a rogue in his youth!

Here is one of the songs, called Bound to Lose,  that will be on the album:

So until next time, thanks for stopping by!





About Bill Madison

Bill Madison – Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist My musical career spans more than 40 years; from the Folk Music venues of Boston, New York City and Montreal during the 1960’s, to the ski resorts and honky tonks of Northern New England from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. In 1973, I released my first album called “Sunday Mornin’ Hayride”. That album has been re-released by Riverman Records and Yoga Records and was voted in the top ten retro re-issues for 2009 by the Acid Archives. In 1974, I formed Them Fargo Brothers which became New England’s Premier Country Rock Band, and I toured with the band until 1990. I am currently writing and recording in my studio and marketing my CD’s through my web site and have downloads available across the web. I am also seeking to license my music to films, etc. And I am a Featured Artist on
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