|The Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins Quartet|
From director Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo) and producer David Brady (The Pagan Christ) comes this flashback to the '50s, '60s and early '70s. Toronto the good was a rock and roll town, a hotbed for R&B and blues in long gone clubs such as The Edison, Le Coq d'Or and the Brown Derby. Cats from the States like Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm were packing those clubs by the late '50s and turning on a whole generation of Canadian rockers.
I missed that whole "Canadian Graffiti" scene by several years but have vague memories of the outside of the old Brown Derby on Yonge Street with its black and orange images of classic comedy stars in bowler hats--Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin and others. That place was torn down in the early '70s to make way for The Eaton Centre.
The documentary, which unfolds as a series of conversations from Hawkins (always entertaining), Duff Roman, Jan Haust, Robbie Robertson, hit record producer Daniel Lanois (particularly moving) and others who were in on that scene shares stories that deserve just this kind of attention.
One performer who deserves his or her own movie is Jackie Shane, a transvestite who worked the strip as a she and built quite a following as a Motown-sounding R&B singer. Too bad the producers could not track her down today.
I go into more detail about the highlights from the series--including the incredible story behind John Lennon's 1969 visit to Varsity Stadium for the Live Peace in Toronto concert--here is this feature for The Canadian Press.
|Yonge Street in the '60s: hey, where's the Eaton Centre?|
If you miss it Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Bravo!, Yonge Street will also air Sunday March 27 starting at 1 p.m. on /A\.