Here is my story to commemorate the retirement tour of George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic.
I grew up in the small town of Waterford, Ontario (population 2,400) starting my music career in High School as Social Convener of the Students’ Council. In the 1960’s most of the high schools had a monthly dance with a live band. As Social Convener I booked the bands. When I was in Grade 13 I ran for President of the Students Council. I lost the vote and, by default, became the Vice President. (Years later one of my Teachers who was in on counting the ballots confessed that I had actually won the vote, but the Principal vetoed it because he didn’t want a long haired, bell bottom wearing hippie kid as President).
The Students Council held many fundraising events throughout the year. The bulk of the money was used to fund The Prom. I did an analysis of the people who went to The Prom and found it was mainly attended by the Grade 12 & 13 students, plus teachers and a few alumni. Many of the older students had boyfriend/girlfriends that didn’t attend our High School. Out of the 300 Prom attendees, only about 200 were our students. Also, many of the 1,000 students who attended Waterford District High School couldn’t afford this semi-formal event.
As VP of the Students Council I brought forward a radical new idea. Instead of spending the money raised by the entire student body to fund the Prom for a select few, why not spend the money on an event that everybody could enjoy. I proposed hiring a great band and having a free, end-of-year party/dance. Semi-formal attire not necessary. Unfortunately this idea was voted down by the conservative, small town Prom committee.
I decided to retaliate. On the same night of the Prom I rented the triple gymnasium at BCI – Brantford Collegiate Institute in the neighboring city of Brantford and hired George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. The band had just released their first album, a followup to a hit single “I Wanna Testify” released the year before under the name of The Parliaments. The band was mostly unknown to the 99% white community of Brantford and Waterford. My concert Promoter partner David Nancoff and myself put out the word that this was an event not to be missed – a 12 piece funk band from Detroit…..the lead singer worn a full Indian headdress….one of the musicians wore only a diaper…..the show was wild & crazy, etc. The concert/dance sold out with least half my High School in attendance. It was great!!!!!
This was the beginning of my association with George Clinton. My mentor in the music business, Ron Scribner, became the band’s Manager. The band recorded several of their albums in Toronto and Ron invited me to many of the recording sessions.
A couple of years later I even booked George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic to perform at Waterford District High School. That was also a night to remember! The WDHS gym was packed. The curtain slowly opened as the band started a funky groove. The band was standing in a straight line at the rear of the stage. To the beat of the music they slowly started to move towards the front of the stage. With their wild costuming, this was a slight to behold. In fact, for many of the students at this rural high school, this was the first time they had ever seen a real live black person. As the band reached to the front of the stage several students became scared and ran out of the gym. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
Thank you George Clinton for bringing us many years of THE FUNK, and enjoy your retirement.
Victoria Day (2019) marked the 25th Anniversary of the Pharazon Dancers & Singers show Hype Up Da House which was produced by ESP Entertainment and performed at the Waterfall Theatre at Toronto’s Ontario Place. The show took place at Ontario Place’s West Island, and featured a stage that was hidden behind a waterfall and revealed when the waterfall was turned off. The Waterfall Theatre featured family entertainment and was part of a busy hub of restaurants, outdoor patios and galleries on the West Island.
Starting in 1994, Hype Up Da House ran for two seasons at the Waterfall Theatre from Victoria Day weekend in May to The End of June.
The first season had a loose “stay in school message” and was to be specifically directed at school age kids and pre-teens. However the show became popular with all ages.
Less that 3 weeks before the Waterfall Theatre season was to open, Elwood Saracuse was contacted by Ontario Place and asked to provide programming for the theatre.
With a great deal of urgency, Producer Elwood Saracuse and Director/Choreographer Sean Frederick quickly assembled a cast and crew. The cast included an established singer Yogi Rose, up and coming artists Jake Simon, Rhonda Roberts, Graham Coffeng, and TV star Christopher Clemens of Catwalk. Dancers Melanie Boyko, Rasna Pitt, Kim Laramie and Laura Gough rounded out the cast.
Danny Colomby engineered, arranged and produced the soundtrack with Sean Frederick.
The soundtrack featured original versions of “Boom Shake The Room”, “Mr. Vain”, Janet Jackson’s”If”, “Da Lion Sleeps 2 Night” (Hype Mix), I’ll Be There (Jacksons) and “Whoomp There it Is (Vibe Mix)”.
Hype Up Da House ran for 2 Seasons.
HYPE UP DA HOUSE 95 ( Da Vibe)
Hype Up Da House 95 (Da Vibe)featured R&B recording artists Carlos Morgan, singers, Yogi Rose, Karen Andrews, Jake Simon, actor/dancer Chris Clements, Sean Frederick and Tara Mcdonald.
The Show was again produced by Elwood Saracuse with the soundtrack produced by Derek Brin and Sean Frederick, featuring original versions of: “Do You Wanna Get Funky”, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “On Bended Knee”, “100% Pure Love”, “This How We Do It”, and a remix of “Live & Learn”.
In 1996 under the direction of Ontarion Place’s new administration, programming budgets for the West Island were decreased. Many of the shows that previouly did well on the West Island were cancelled.
Unfortunately over the years Ontario Placehas become an afterthought and what was once a thriving waterfront location at times, started looking like a deserted run-down set from a disater movie. Below is Hype Up Da House director/choreographer Sean Frederick standing in front of the old Waterfall Theatre, the moat paved over and the park grounds closed.
Hopefully plans to revitalize Ontario Place in the future will be successful. They need to “Hype Up Da House”!
Recently I supplied entertainment for a $1,000,000 50th. Wedding Anniversary party at the Royal Ontaro Museum. It was a spectacular event! There was lots of entertainment throughout the evening ending with a performance by the legendary Motown group The,Temptations. The client was a huge Temptations fan, and he specifically requested the singers wear their sparkly suits.
I picked up the 5 singers up at the airport, and low and behold, the airline lost a costume bag containing one of the sparkly jackets. The Temps were in a panic. Although they had 4 of the 5 jackets, they insisted they all had to wear the same costume. Our Limo bus drove them to the sound check, and I proceeded to call every costume shop in the GTA to find 5 identical sparkly jackets. No luck.
After the sound check I took them to the Eaton Centre to see if they could find anything there. No luck again. Around 5:00 pm we all agreed the sparkly jackets were not possible and the only solution were some cool, matching tuxedos. The show Producer, Trudy Moffat, found a tuxedo shop in the Little Jamaica part of town which was just about to close for the day. When the shop owner heard it was for The Temptations, he agreed to keep the story open. The Temps and I jumped into the limo bus and headed for the store. Luckily their performance wasn’t until 11:00 pm. It took some time to decide on the tuxedo, do the fittings and complete the alterations. At 8:30 pm we paid the bill and headed for the door to return to the hotel.
The Temps stayed calm throughout this ordeal and were appreciative that the tux store had stayed open to accommodate them. As the guys got to the door, the band leader stopped and suggested the guys should give the store owner and staff a taste of The Temptations. It was truly a magical moment when they sang “My Girl” acappella style.
We arrived at the hotel at 9:00 pm. As soon as we got there the airport called to say they had found the costume bag. I told the bus driver to take the band to the ROM at 10:00 pm and I would drive my car to the airport to retrieve the costume bag. I arrived at the ROM 15 minutes before showtime, and the client was very happy The Temptations were in their iconic sparkly jackets.
Long live Rock ’n Roll! It’s one thing to lose Prince, David Bowie and other rock icons, but it’s quite another thing to lose the founder of rock ’n roll, the man who started it all – Chuck Berry. A sad day indeed.
I saw Chuck Berry perform several times, and once had the honour of booking him for a show I produced at the Port Dover Summer Garden. I was managing a band at the time, Powerhouse from Ottaw,, & used them as the back-up band for Chuck. When Chuck arrived for the gig, Powerhouse was ready for a rehearsal. Chuck simply said “We don’t need a rehearsal. I’m sure you guys know all my songs”. They went on stage without even a minute of rehearsal and performed one of the most memorable performances of their career.
It was a pleasure spending time with Chuck Berry that day. He was an intelligent, well-spoken man with a lot of great stories. I did, however, experience some of the quirky things he had in his Contract Rider including payment is US cash only, no cheques and no encore unless you paid him extra. You had to supply 2 unaltered Fender Dual Showman Reverb amplifiers or pay a $500 cash penalty. These were very rare amps and almost impossible to find. As I found out later, Chuck really wanted the $500 cash which he used as undeclared income to live on.
Ground transportation – This is something he used to do for his own enjoyment to freak out the Promoters. His Rider requested a limo to pick him up at the airport. The day of show the Promoter would get a call from the limo driver waiting at the airport who couldn’t find Mr. Berry. Remember, these were the days prior to cell phones and e-mails. The Promoter would be in a panic. A few hours before showtime Chuck would show up at the gig driving a Hertz rental car. At that time he had a deal with Hertz to get free car rentals.Thank-you so much Chuck Berry for “Johnny B. Goode”, probably the greatest rock ’n roll song ever.
It’s impossible to listen to this song without smiling from ear to ear, and singing along with the chorus. In this time of reminiscing, my favorite version of this song was done by a local Ontario band from Kitchener called Major Hoople’s Boarding House. They performed the first verse as a slow melodic ballad before blasting into full speed with the most iconic guitar solo in rock history.