I started out doing this singer/songwriter thing in the early 70's in Highschool. At the beginning playing as much original stuff as I did cover stuff. I loved playing the music of (in order of early influences) Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, John Denver, The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Eagles, all the early Rock and Roll and Rockabilly Artists, early Elton John, James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings etc, etc... as you can see... a wide range of influences!
In the Mid 70's I started University at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. Singer/Songwriters and Coffee House/Pub Troubadors ruled small entertainment venues at that time at McMaster was alive with live music. Poor Boys Coffee House, The Rathskellar Pub ("The Rat"), The Downstairs John ("The John") and big touring acts in the Phys Ed Complex Gym. I lived on campus and spent many evenings playing guitar for residence types in a lounge or a hall or somebody's room.
Early in first year (fall of '76) I saw Cliff Erickson play at The Rat. The place was way over capacity, thick with smoke and everyone was singing along to him and his electric acoustic Ovation 12 string. He played all the songs I loved and everyone loved him. I remember sitting there with my friends thinking... "I could do that!!"
And so... I did!! I got a job at The Rat ($250 for six nights!!) and started entertaining three six night weeks per term there. I played there (at The Rat) until I graduated Chiro College in 1985. It was the first place I was really able to attract a great crowd of partiers... mostly friends from residence and their friends and their friends friends....
Then, in 1977, my girlfirend at the time (Mary Jane) was attending Brock University in St. Catharines. I took my guitar down with me (it went everywhere...) and was sitting in one of the little residence lounges (they called it "The Knuckle") playing guitar for her. A small group of people slowly gathered and sat listening and singing along. One of the people in The Knuckle group was the Manager of the on campus pub, Alphie's Trough ("Alphie's"... Alphie was apparently the name of General Brock's Horse...). Bill (the manager guy) asked if I would like to play a few nights at Alphies. I agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. Brock didn't have a Cliff Erickson, so I was a unique thing to them. It was a ton of fun.
Over the years, I played in Alphies to packed houses three "two to three nighters" per term from 1977 right through until Alphies closed (they turned it into a Faculty Club!!) in the late 90's. I even met my first wife at Alphie's Trough! The student Pub then moved to a new building on campus and became known as "Issac's". Huge room with a capacity near 500; almost 900 including the patio. I played to my biggest, rowdiest audiences ever in Issac's (especially 1991-1993)!! It was a great spot but never as much fun as Alphies. Alphies was a wooden Ski Lodge Style building on the side of the Niagara Escarpment with a main floor and a messanine level and nobody was more than 40 feet or so from the stage. Like The Rat at McMaster, it was an incredible performance venue.
Since around 2003/2004 I have been playing the Homecoming Weekends at Brock at various different venues on and off campus. Homecoming used to be in November, but in the past few years it has been moved to September to coincide with The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Weekend.
In 1982, I was performing at The Blind Duck (the old on campus pub for what was then Erindale College, now known as University of Toronto Mississauga or UTM) at the end of first (Fall) semester and a fella named Kent was in the audience. He a had a job off campus at a local pub known as Mulligan's Roadhouse. He asked me if I would consider playing there and I said yes. I ended up being the "house act" there from My first gig (St. Paddy's Day 1983) thru my last gig (St. Paddy's Day 2009). It was an amazing party place. I played there thru three owners (Terri, John and Rick), many girlfriends and two wives (the second one has kept me on!) and accumulated a history of well in excess of 400 shows in that room.
What can I say about Shore Grill and Grotto? It is "The Gigging Octa (8) Threat"!! Stopped playing here in December 2018 after seven years and probably in excess of 70 gigs, but it remains in the top 5 places I've ever played!! Many memories and thanks!!
Incredible location in the heart of the Lakeshore/Port Credit Music, Partying and Cruising Strip.
Two massive front and back patios in season.
Incredible Ownership and Management with decades of restaurant bar and live music experience.
Amazing staff behind the bar, on the floor and in the kitchen!
Two of the best bartenders I have ever met worked in this place
Unbelieveably great food at equally unbelievable prices.
7 Nights a week Live Music in each and every popular genre from many of the artists and entertainers who set the standards for all the rest of us.
Busy all the time with some of the most appreciative partiers in Mississauga.
You can't lose out on a good time here unless you're claustrophobic... in which case you should stay home with Netflix, 'cause this place gets packed to rafters lots of nights!!
Mulligan's, Alphies and The Rat were the places where I learned to entertain. Where I learned to be aware of what music the audience is responding to and where I learned not to have set lists. I just play a variety of music until I feel something grab the audience's attention and then I move in that direction.
When it comes to performing, what I want to do is have fun. The best way for me to have fun is to play for an audience that's having fun. This depends on everything from the room's atmosphere, the staff, the food, the poeple who happen to be there that night, the time of year, the weather etc., etc... It's a very tricky thing to find that groove every night for every audience, but when it happens... nights are memorable and they keep the entertainer in me going until the next "Top Ten" night. Some rooms have them all the time and, though it happens sometimes without effort, most memorable nights require lots of effort from everyone involved before, during and after the gig.
There is nothing more fun than a rowdy night entertaining when everyone is engaged and singing and dancing and happy!
These days, I have a half dozen or so rooms I play regularly (either monthly or bi-monthly) on a Friday or Saturday night. Click on the post-it notes below to follow the links to the venues websites.
In Oakville at the north end of the plaza at the south east corner of Newagawa and Dundas. Just a great room. Awesome Management and service staff. Wonderfully original Executive Chef driven monthly food items and regular menu items. Cozy atmosphere. I feel very appreciated whenever I enter or leave this place. They make the "Big Effort".
The Stout Monk is currently the room I have been playing the longest on a regular basis. I think I started here in 2006 or 2007... it's all a blur.
I feel most appreciated here by the staff and the crowd. Almost always packed with lots of dancing, singing along and participation. It's always a lot of fun to play here!
In Erin Mills in the plaza at the southwest corner of Erin Mills Parkway and South Millway. A great, friendly local pub that is a favourite in the area and one of the places I love to play. I have played here since I finished up at Mulligan's in 2009 and have worked for the previous owner and the new owner. The place is constantly improving! Everytime I go there, there is something new and redone. This past month (June 2015) it was all new bathrooms!! The staff are great, the regulars tolerate me well and the room is always a ton fun with lots of dancing and carrying on!
Abbey Road has a huge dedication to live music at least 3 times a week. CHECK THEM OUT!!
This is one of the more recent additions to my regular venues list. Started here late in 2016. I play the first Friday every month, except July and August.
This is great place! Probably the smallest room I play and unique in that it is much more of a listening crowd. There are always dancers as well, but people here make the most diverse requests of any room I currently play. Lots of super friendly regulars, great staff, great food, lots of selection at the bar and owned by one of the truly nicest gentleman you'll ever meet!! CHECK IT OUT!!!