“LIVERPOOL OF THE NORTH”: THE STORY OF OTTAWA, CANADA’S MUSIC, 1960’s–TODAY. EXCERPTS FROM ALAN CHRISMAN’S BOOK:“IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”
By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).
Ottawa had quite the music scene in the 60’s. Part of this was because Canada and Ottawa had more direct connections to England than the U.S., so they knew about The Beatles before the rest of North America. And their 60’s bands, were very adept at re-creating that British pop sound. In fact, Richie Patterson, a mainstay and drummer in many of its bands, called Ottawa the “Liverpool of The North”.
Ritchie went to Fisher Park school with Paul Anka, backing him up in the Bobbysoxers. Anka was one of the first to make it out of Ottawa and become a teen sensation with “Diana” and “Puppy Love” in the 50’s, before moving to Vegas and writing “My Way” for Frank Sinatra.
Richie’s “The Esquires” were first influenced by Cliff Richard and the Shadows right before The Beatles took over. Scores of Ottawa bands formed and recorded songs and some albums. There were several places to play like the Auditorium, Pineland and clubs like the Chaudiere across the river in in Hull, Quebec and several church basements. And hundreds of kids would attend. Ottawa even had its own version of American Bandstand, Saturday Date, hosted by Peter Jennings who would go to ABC News in New York.
The best of these got recording contracts like The Staccato’s (who later became The Five Man Electrical Band) when they moved to California with their international hits “ Signs” ( ‘Signs Signs ,everywhere, telling me what to do’) and The Cooper Bros. with their hits “Dream Never Dies” and “Rock and Roll Cowboys”, both influenced by southern rock. As Five Man’s writer, Les Emmerson said, Ottawa had the harmonies, Ottawa being but a homogeneous small town then. Ottawa also reflected its Ontario Irish and Scottish immigrant and Ottawa Valley country roots. Whereas as Toronto was more R&B, closer to Detroit and the U.S. Winnipeg was a tough city with the rockers, The Guess Who and Neil Young.
But by the 70’s, and the Beatles had broken up and pop music became solo artists like James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Carol King and with the more Canadian nature and laid-back acoustic folk of Bruce Cockburn, and singer-songwriters like Ian Tamblyn and Lynn Miles, whom are respected in Europe and the U.S. In the mid- 90’s, Alanis Morissette made it big in L.A. with her female angst and “Jagged Little Pill”.
Ottawa, a pretty capitol and tourist attraction, now puts on big corporate festivals in the summers like the Tulip, Jazz, Folk, and Blues Fests (and Winterlude along the Canal skating Rink), with big crowds and international name. The Blues Fest is one of the biggest now in North America. There are only a few regular places left to play these days like Zaphods, Irene’s, etc., but the local audience is small, except during the big-name festivals. But there are several talented musicians still here performing and recording, anyway.
Ottawa’s music height, though, was probably the 60’s, when people didn’t have so many entertainment distractions like DVD’s and the internet. That’s where Ottawa’s music scene began and with its rare visionary entrepreneurs and local music supporters like Harvey Glatt.
HARVEY GLATT: AN OTTAWA MUSIC LEGEND
HARVEY GLATT is an Ottawa music legend. He opened the first new record store chain, Treble Clef, in the late 50’s. He brought in the first big names to Ottawa with his Bass Clef Concert Promotions from, first Pete Seeger in 1957, to scores of others of all styles: Dylan, Louie Armstrong, Belafonte, etc. He also owned part of the legendary Le Hibou, where many later famous performers played and was instrumental in fostering Canadian and Ottawa talent, of which he managed several including: The Esquires, Bruce Cockburn, David Wiffen, Ian Tamblyn. There are many stories about his connections to well-known musicians, such as returning Jimi Hendrix’s hat to him, when he played the Capitol Theatre in 1968, and possibly introducing Graham Nash (later of CSNY) to Joni Mitchell in 1966. Sometimes the artists would stay at his house, so he and his wife, Louise, got to know them. He also owned the first FM radio station, CHEZ. I got to know him better, when I helped local musicians later, and he always gave me his honest, experienced opinion, which meant a lot to me. In honour of his years of supporting music and his continuing instincts for recognizing talent, I wrote the following,”Ballad of Harvey Glatt”:
See “G-MAN” doing “BALLAD OF HARVEY GLATT”, tribute song by Alan Chrisman
“BALLAD OF HARVEY GLATT” lyrics by Alan Chrisman (folk tune) c. 2012
When this was but a small town
He’s the one who took a chance
and helped start the sound
that allowed us to get up and dance
Starting with that 1st Treble Clef store
Then he brought in the stars
Joni, Jimi, Lightfoot and Cash, and more
inspiring locals in the bars
Harvey’s the Music Man
who always took a chance
made us believe we can
and got us up to dance
Soon he was behind The Children,
3’s a Crowd, Cockburn, Wiffen, Esquires, and MRQ
and Ottawa woke from its cloud
It’s time due, the legendary Le Hibou
Still to this day in any local club or bar
you might see this discerning man
checking out a potential star
and encouraging them they can
Recorded by “Al & THE G-MEN”
Some of the better known musicians, who’ve come out of the Ottawa area:
3’s a Crowd
Five Man Electrical Band
Eyes of Dawn
A Mythical Meadow
James Leroy and Denim
Fat Man Waving
Back Alley John
“IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”
THE STORY OF OTTAWA MUSIC
Ottawa has had a long history of talented artists of all types, especially musicians. In the 1960’s particularly there was a very lively local scene for popular music.
There were literally scores of bands and places for them to perform. In fact, at one time in the mid-sixties, as many as 15 groups were on record labels including popular bands such as The Townsmen, The Scoundrels, The Esquires, The Staccatos, and The Five Man Electrical Band, etc. Some of these bands had local, regional, national, and even international hits. Well known Canadian artists Bruce Cockburn, David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson, Les Emmerson, and Paul Anka came out of this area and period. In the early 70’s, cofffeehouses like Le Hibou became legendary and bands such as The Cooper Bros. and Octavian gained success.
We believe that this history of music in Ottawa should be chronicled for future generations and for the current generation of up and coming artists and the public so that they will appreciate their roots and recognize its talent. It is our contention that there is a direct connection between the groups in the 60’s and the Ottawa musicians of today. As Les Emmerson of Five Man Electrical Band says, “Ottawa always had the harmonies”. And today there is still an active local music scene with all styles of music from folk to blues to country to alternative, and such well respected artists as Ian Tamblyn and Lynn Miles, and with the amazing success of Alanis Morissette, we think there would be much interest in this story.
For the past while we have been researching this area, talking to its participants, collecting original recordings, and compiling discographies in hopes of writing and publishing a book on such. Alan L. Chrisman, believes he is qualified to do this project because of his many years experience in various aspects of the music business (running a record store, a coffeehouse, promoting and managing local musicians and organizing concerts, and the two Ottawa Beatles Conventions, etc.). He also has experience in reporting and publishing (having co-founded, edited, and written for two community arts papers). He has been interviewed by CBC, CKCU-FM, CHEZ-FM, and local TV. Mr. Chrisman also has had close contacts with many of the musicians the past several years. For example, enclosed are references from two of the most experienced and respected ones, Richard Patterson, of several Ottawa bands from Paul Anka to “The Esquires to “3’s a Crowd”, and Les Emmerson of “The Staccato’s” and “Five Man Electrical Band” fame. And he has conducted interviews with them and others.
See LES EMMERSON’S, one of Ottawa’s best ever songwriters, “SIGNS”, By FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND, #3 North American hit, 1971, video
THE STACCATOS with Les Emmerson (before they were THE FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND):
References from Les Emmerson (songwriter and leader of The Staccato’s and the Five Man Electrical Band – 1960’s and 1970’s Ottawa bands)
THE ESQUIRES photo with Richie Patterson, drums: Ottawa’s first real rock band success (’62-’67)
& REFERENCE FROM RITCHIE PATTERSON IN the bands: “THE ESQUIRES”, “3’s A CROWD”, “CANADA GOOSE”
FOR MORE DETALIED INFO: About Ottawa, Canada’s 60’s/70’s music
Check out Alan Chrisman’s book “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME” http://www.rockthistownproductions.com