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Brian Quinn
03-21-2011, 12:31 PM
Take A Walk Down 1960s Yonge Street
By alan.parker

Last Updated: March 20, 2011 1:45pm

Call me a sentimental old fool, but I am outrageously happy that Bravo! TV will air Bruce McDonald´s new three-part series on the glory days of the Yonge Street music scene this week.

Called Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories, the three one-hour documentaries run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights (March 21-23) at 10 p.m. Part 1 covers 1955-1960, Part 2 covers 1960-65 and Part 3 covers (you guessed it) 1965.

Rock music has always played a big part in director McDonald´s films (from Roadkill through Highway 61, Hard Core Logic 1 and 2, Pontypool and Trigger) and he´s been getting into rock in a more documentary format recently (with This Movie Is Broken and The Rawsie of Die Mannequin), so he is the perfect guy to take a look at the rock musical roots of his home town.

Part 1 will look at the emergence of rock´n´roll in Toronto (and the gratefully awaited death of Toronto the Good) with Elvis Presley´s 1957 Maple Leaf Gardens concert and the 1958 arrival of rockabilly wildman Ronnie Hawkins and sidekick Levon Helm in Toronto, where Hawkins became king of the Yonge Street strip for the next decade.

That half-mile strip from Queen Street in the south to just north of Gould made music history and magic with some of the greatest rock, rockabilly, jazz, blues, R&B, soul, country and even folk performers in the world playing the strip´s bars nightly, checking out each others´work and jamming together until the sun came up over the Scarborough horizon.

Later on the Yorkville scene exploded further up Yonge north of Bloor (Yorkville figures in Parts 2 and 3 of the series) and new music strips grew up along Spadina and Queen West, but that Yonge Street strip was crazyland from the late ´50s into the early ´70s. It started with the jazz and blues temples Town Tavern and Colonial Tavern down near Queen, rumbled up through the Friar´s Tavern (where Bob Dylan heard the Hawks/Band play for the first time) and Brown Derby around Dundas to Le Coq D´Or (Ronnie Hawkins´early realm) and the Edison at Gould to the Zanzibar (yes, it was a music club before it was a strip club with a transitional music&strip phase) just north of Gould.

As Ronnie Hawkins says, For 10 years, it was lined up on Monday night, boys.

Along the way, there were stops at Sam the Record Man and A&A Books and Records, Frank´s Hamburgers, the Biltmore Theatre, the Olympia Recreation Club, Steeles Tavern and Dinty Moore´s deli.

The three-part series tells the Yonge Street story through archival film, photos and recordings and great new interviews with the likes of Hawkins, Robbie Robertson, John Kay (of The Sparrow, later Steppenwolf), David Clayton-Thomas (Blood Sweat & Tears), Skip Prokop (the Paupers, Lighthouse) and many more.

Here´s director Bruce McDonald:

I didn´t know much about Toronto music pre-Yorkville days and so it was a revelation to discover the gold mine of dirty rhythm and blues, rock and roll and soul music And of course hanging out with the grand ring master Ronnie Hawkins was its own hilarious trip.

So take a walk down the old Yonge Street strip on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week on Bravo!

Brian (y)

03-21-2011, 01:58 PM
:PVeary cool stuff i from downtown Toronto i loved "Franks Hot Dog" and playing pinball at FunLand My Dads band "BeauStewart and the Blends was the house band at the "BrassRail" back in the lait 60s Ronnie Hawkins was a old frend of ours,there was a lot of veay cool players back in the day it was veay cool to grow up back then.


03-26-2011, 04:08 PM
When Elvis played Canada, several Ottawa school girls were expelled for attending his concert

the catholic school had made the girls sign forms that they wouldn't attend.

Vancouver was one of the first stadium rock concerts - Empire Stadium, Aug 31 - and when it was torn down about 5 years ago - depsite all the ocmmunity events that had occured there - the Beatles played there in 64 - after 2000 - people protested the stadium being torn down with signs that read

You are tearing down Elvis' stage


Brian Quinn
03-27-2011, 07:47 AM
I was in Vancouver on the day Elvis died and on passing Vancouver Stadium noticed that in the middle of the field there was a guitar mounted on a pedestal - no doubt as a tribute to the King.

Brian (y)

Brian Quinn
04-21-2011, 08:08 AM
Just received the following e-mail re. 'Elvis In Concert' 2011.

No concerts planned for Canada at this time – please check elvis.com for further updates – thank you, SEG Event Staff

Brian :hmm: