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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joe College turns 16; 1974 Rush Zeppelin Stones

Maple and Lakeshore was a good place to be a teen and our apartment building at 455 Maple Avenue was often the starting place for illicit and sometimes rapturous events. Burnsie and I both lived there, as did Mike Furlong and Mike Morley, while Mike Sobala, Mike Gauvin and Brian Bishop were also living nearby. Gauvin was the first to drive and sometimes even took a load of us into Toronto for a concert, using the van from his father's specialty breads business. His dad would buy great German and East European breads and cakes at Toronto bakeries such as Dimpflmeier, and drive them to places like Syracuse and Rochester, where the East European communities were smaller but still thirsting for a taste of home. Mike Gauvin also had an amazing cottage on an island near Dorset, and I have wild memories of partying there, especially with Mike and Danny Broderick.

The Bishop family lived just up the street and their kids had the room above the garage as a play area, and that soon became the "fort" and our first band's practice space. Bill Bishop was on guitar and James "Burnsie" Burns was our drummer, I was playing bass and singing, and the main songs we were learning (and performing for friends) were Radar Love by Golden Earring, Takin Care of Business by BTO, Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry, Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones and other mid-1970s rock standards. We were the ultimate garage band and never really learned to play well, individually or together, but we had Traynor amps and a sound system and a light show, so with a couple of beers and a couple of spliffs, the music was alright and we were laying a foundation for many more music projects to come. Bill went on to do sound for The Oh Nos and for Eye Eye, and Burnsie even went along as a roadie on a tour of Atlantic Canada.

Randy Hoffman and Mike Dietrich were living up the street and Jamie McGuinty lived close to Central High as did the Broderick brothers Chris and Danny, and these friends were often all at the same parties as our Maple Ave crew, as were Jenny Dacosta, Chris Byrd, Gina Faratto, Mike Perron, Barb Guersak, (the Kinnear brothers, Mike, Brad and "Pegus") Cathy Smegatta and my close friend, Kathy (nee Bettger) Boscoe.

My mom married a teacher from my High school, Don MacLennan, and we moved into his house at 1465 Moss Glen Road, just behind Mountainside Arena, where I had played hockey for almost a decade. I taught at the hockey school there and tried to make a go of it, even driving into Central High in Don's car, but soon after I turned sixteen myself and James Burns were to share some small apartments, and later Chris Broderick and I had a place on Beach Blvd, an apartment in back of a variety store my dad owned.

I was starting to go to every Rush concert within thirty miles of me, and though still in high school, I was managing Darwin (featuring Bill Wood, Mike Danna, Mike Lalonde and Mark Shannon from Lord Elgin High School, and Tim Clement from Nelson High) and later Interchange (featuring singer Simon Lebovic), 2 of Burlington's better young rock bands at the time.

Mom's new husband was a foreign presence to me and we tolerated each other for a few years and had a few run-ins but it never came to blows; eventually I came to appreciate how much quality he and my mother had in their lives, when they retired and moved to Orillia. On Moss Glen my passion for Rush deepened, and I knew every lyric and lick on each album within weeks of them coming out. Fly By Night was a breakthrough, Caress of Steel was for hardcore fans, and then 2112 set the world on its ear.

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