week of Rory in Toronto
Just wanted to pass on my
own memories of Rory during his one week stint at the Colonial Tavern
in Toronto, Canada sometime in the 70's (who can remember dates from
that era?!!) (via the Rory
Time Line the writer found that the show was in March 1973)
My English buddy got the word from one of his mates "over 'ome" that if
we could, we should NOT miss this "freakin' fantastic" IRISH blues
guitarist if he came to T.O. We dug out a copy of the "Toronto Star"
and damned if he wasn't playing that very week! My chum went down that
very night before work (we worked the night shift together sorting mail
at the Post Office) and he came in to work later that night cursing
blue blazes that the had had to leave early and come to work. Says he,
"Why don't we call in sick and close the place down tomorrow?" Says I,
"Let's do it!"
The Colonial night club was, at that
time, the only real "jazz-blues" club in Toronto (it later switched to
jazz exclusively), but the blues it showcased was primarily main-stream
- Jon Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Mississippi Fred McDowell etc. - so, in
spite of my friend's recommendation, I wasn't in any way expecting what
I was about to experience! On the Wednesday we first went down, the
place was about half-full after the first set. We noticed a pair of
nice, urban sophistos cadge a table right next to Gerry McAvoy's
Marshall stack. Bad choice of tables! By the half-way point of the
first number (Messin' with the KId), each had one finger stuck
firmly in his/her ear!. To their credit, they lasted the entire set,
but after carefully watching his beer glass walk steadily on its own to
the edge of the table due to the bass vibration, the gentleman and his
date discreetly departed to some, no doubt, less noisy venue!
My friend and I were "sick" for the
rest of the week and each evening found us firmly ensconced at our
favourite table in the balcony, directly in front of and above Mr. G.
By the end of the week, we had to arrive at about 5:00 to get our table
and be ready for the first set at about 9:00 and with each successive
night, the crowd on the floor and in the balcony got wilder and wilder,
until by Saturday they were literally hanging from the balcony and the
place was so packed that you couldn't move on the main floor!
In all of my years of concert-going, I
NEVER saw an artist push a band to such an extent! If the energy
subsided, even just a little, he would look wryly over to McAvoy and
pick the pace up or let loose with one one of his patented extended
solo licks so that the audience just drooled for more!
I saw Mr. G. later in Waterloo,
Ontario and once more at Massey Hall with the lady who was later to
become my wife. He was, and always will be, a seminal influence on my
life, and as a musician myself, I use the example of his drive and
refusal to settle for second best whenever I am called upon to perform.