The Linsmore Tavern at Greenwood and Danforth has always been somewhat of an "avoid" place for me. Having grown up nearby, I can't say there was ever a temptation to venture there. I considered it akin to the Eton or really any number "old man bars" along the east Danforth. Then the other day, my mother gave me a flyer for all the live music coming up. The Blondie tribute caught my eye... And that's how, on the 14th of April 2017, I ended up sitting with friends, surrounded by old punks in what turned out to be a pretty cool venue for local rock music.
It's also how I came to realise I actually really like The Jam? (I can't claim any punk authenticity. Having not even been even close to born in 1977 I considered myself into punk... in the 90s, with the likes of Pennywise, Social Distortion, Rancid, Bad Religion, and The Offspring.) For some reason, I just assumed The Jam was literally a jam band and I've never been particularly into that genre, save the typical late-teenage Phish obsession. Like, do not even talk to me about Dave Matthews Band or I may have to punch you.
Up first were The Jammed consisting of Richard McCarthy ("Filthy Rich") with vocals and guitar, Cleave Anderson (formerly of Blue Rodeo) on drums and Lucas Stagg (of the Lucas Stagg band) on bass and vocals. As expected, it was one The Jam cover after another and people were going wild already.
Soon after, the band was joined by Blondee lead singer, Sarah Dishart to cover a few of Blondie's tunes.
After a few tunes, out came The Blanks (Lucas Stagg on guitar/vocals & Drew Cowsill on bass/vocals) to cover some CBGB's classics. Again, I'm not old enough to really know a lot of this stuff but I did know about CBGB's... mostly because a character on The O.C. (Oh, Alex Kelly) wore a CBGB's t-shirt once and I wanted to know what it all meant. After educating myself on the venue and its history just in time for it to close down. Figures. And I gotta say not only did the crowd go wild for "Let's Shake" but I did too -- as it is the only Teenage Head song I actually know. (Thanks, Goldirocks! Those were some fun days being an extra.)
Then came a surprise... They hadn't been listed on the flyer but the B Girls took the stage in their current form (two of the original members). Lucasta Ross on vocals and Cynthia Ross on bass were complemented by Sam Ferrera on guitar and of course, Cleave Anderson on drums. Again, I had no idea who they were so I googled it today. (You can too!) Turns out they were actually a pretty big deal back in Toronto's punk first wave days. And, there's just something about (old) punk that requires black and white photos, even though I didn't shoot in monochrome.
The interesting thing is that all the bands that played shared at least one member. (Cleave Anderson joined each one.) It actually made the night seem like it was one big rock jam with members popping in and out as needed.
So, for my first actual trip to the Linsmore, it wasn't bad. Yeah, it's still sort of a dive. Yeah, there are still a lot of old dudes. But the drinks are reasonable and everyone is friendly. Plus, the music was kinda of sick. By the time I left, a younger bunch of punks was finding the place.
I suspect I'll be back again. And again.