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The Setting: Toronto, Spring 1976
It was a time when disco hits climbed the charts and fended off light rock to hold mighty positions; a time when Hollywood films turned moody, even black with introspection. There were minefieldsof reactions to the first avalanche of corporate entertainment fluff, so it was no surprise that the emerging popular music of the day would be called punk and hurl vomit and reworked war songs into bruised yet ecstatic faces.
It sprang from the Harbourfront Open Evenings in a time when poetry, native songs, folk and experimental jazz all shared a facet in a mosaic of Toronto’s mid-70’s cry for meaning and edge; and, there was an ocean of government money for esoteric expression! The CN Tower had just been erected and put a “Tower of Babel” phallus on the skyline. Many of the hidden polite savages with renegade sentiments were finally bleeping into the city’s radar, and our desperate need to mock everything in exchange for the public’s hilarity and fun clinched the deal.
“What’s Our Motivation?”
It was conceived from our alienation and glee in entertaining in a “poor theatre barrio”, which held
the audience for ransom without apologies. We blindly incubated this trust that more talent would find a path to us, only because we sought to bring them their long-lost and denied fix: a like-minded captive
crowd of bewildered patrons. It was later deemed ‘wild, weird and wacky’, but to our absolute delight, had an unpredictable infancy and confrontational teething phase.
It was never an industry then, only a half a dozen of our funny friends, and a haphazard weekly Wednesday open stage in a mildew-filled basement hall at the ‘519’ in the heart of then ‘rubby-town’.
It was only discovered as a fluke and seized because we were cast-outs from Harbourfront due to a matronly ‘putsch’ early that Spring. Toronto’s Church and Wellesley district in mid-1976 had a mini-park behind the Community Centre which was then rife with drunken street people. As always, it felt a light year away from Yonge Street.