Perth County Conspiracy

The Perth County Conspiracy is forever associated with the Black Swan Coffee House in Stratford ON where the band would play shows following performances at the nearby Shakespeare Festival, often playing to 4:00 AM. The two main co-conspirators were Cedric Smith and Richard Keelan along with a roving cast of musicians, friends and family members.

Richard Keelan was part of the Detroit scene in the mid-60s - he was a member of the Spike Drivers and The Misty Wizards (both with Ted Lucas) before coming up to Canada. The Spike Drivers and Misty Wizards put out some fantastic stuff - for example It's Love by the latter:

Richard Keelan moved to Canada and settled near Stratford and met Cedric Smith, a poet, folk singer and actor (he won a Gemini award in 1993 for his work on Road to Avonlea).

In 1969 they named themselves the Perth County Conspiracy. In 1970 they recorded their first album (Does Not Exist) for Columbia. They were also invited to record an album in the CBC studios; their self-titled LP which immediately followed their first. They then put out a double live album (Alive) on Columbia and recorded several more (live) albums under their own label.

This episode of Inside The Music from CBC radio in 2011 discusses the PCC's first album (Does Not Exist) and also delves into the counter-culture and the surrounding community of musicians, poets, friends and family.

The second (self-titled) album was recorded on the CBC label as promotion to the affiliate stations across Canada, so only 250 copies were originally pressed - this LP has now been re-issued as part of the CBC music transcription series. From this album, this is If You Can Want:

Here's a youtube link to the Spike Driver's playing Strange Mysterious Sounds on the tv show Swingin' Time from 1967, and finally, the cover of the Spike Driver's single Baby Won't You Let Me Tell You How I Lost My Mind.


Now go give It's Love another listen. Yea.

Kensington Market

The band Kensington Market at the market - left to right is Alex Darou, Keith McKie, Jimmy Watson, Gene Martynec (who appears disinclined to pose with vegetables) and Luke Gibson.


In 1968 Kensington Market did the soundtrack for the NFB film 'The Ernie Game' and later that year Felix Pappalardi produced their first album  'Avenue Road' (which non-Torontonians found to be a strange album name). Here is the lead off track 'I Would Be The One':

In 1969 John Mills-Cockell was added on keyboards - this is 'Help Me' from the second album 'Aardvark':

The album covers from the two Kensington Market albums.

Kilcoo Camp 1942

Kilcoo Camp is a summer boys camp on Gull Lake in Haliburton - in 1942 it cost $170.00 to send a boy for the full 8 weeks and this cost has risen to $9,500.00 in 2018. The brochure is a really interesting snapshot of the times, and the design (especially the canoe trip map of the region) is top notch - enjoy.

Computer Kids

Live At The Flick

The line-up at The Flick in Yorkville for May 1968 - here's a bit of info on the bands.

The Ugly Ducklings were a garage band based out of Toronto - they put out a number of singles in 1966 and 1967 as well as one album (Somewhere Outside). The track below is Just In Case You Wonder from 1966:

The Fifth were formed in Gimli MB and worked out of Winnipeg between 1968 to 1970. Their debut single Yesterday's Today won the Lloyd C. Moffat award for best Canadian produced recording of 1968 and it reached #93 on the regional charts.

The Riffkin were out of North Bay ON, and they changed their name to Buckstone Hardware after moving to Toronto in early 1969. They put one single Pack It In in 1969 which reached #33. Buckstone Hardware ended up on the 1970 Festival Express train with the Dead, Janis, the Band, etc.

The Stitch In Tyme started in Parrsboro NS as the Untouchables and in 1966 they moved to Toronto and changed name to The Golden Earing - learning that name was already taken, they changed again to Stitch In Tyme. After returning from playing a stint during Expo 67, the band bought and opened The Flick - this is their place. Here is Point of View, the b-side to their first single from 1966:

Burton Cummings on hanging out with The Riffkin in Toronto (facebook).

Hagood Hardy And The Montage

Hagood Hardy wrote 'The Homecoming' in 1972 as a jingle for Salada tea and then re-recorded it in 1975 to be a massive hit. In 1972 he also released the album 'Montage' which was formed out of a jazz trio with the addition of two singers - the group played live all over Europe but never in Canada. They released this one album of pop covers as well as original tracks - the vocalists (and co-writers) are Stephanie Taylor and Lynne McNeil with Rick Homme on bass, Dave Lewis on drums, Bill Bridges on guitar - arranged and conducted by Hagood Hardy. The track here is 'It's Too Late' intertwined with 'I Feel The Grass Under My Feet':

Here is some choice video of The Guess Who with HeyGoode Hardy on Show of the Week 1968.

Agile: Daily Stand Up

"Margaret - we discussed this in our one on one - the team is doing agile now, so please put the phone away and join the stand up meeting."

Live At El Patio

The line-up at El Patio in Yorkville in June 1966 with a bit of info on the bands.

The Dimensions changed their name to A Passing Fancy in January and they put out one consistently good self-titled album in 1968. Here's I'm Losing Tonight which was their first single, and the lead off track from their LP.

The Paupers put out a number of singles in 1966 before recording Magic People in 1967 and Ellis Island in 1968. One of their earliest singles was Free As A Bird from 1965:

The Last Words were originally The Beachcombers, then The Nighthawks, then The Shamokins, and finally they became The Last Words (at which time Jack Sparrow, formerly of The Sparrows took over as manager). The bassist was Brad Campbell who would later leave to join The Paupers when Denny Gerrard departed. They put out a couple singles; their hit was I Symbolize You, which went to #2 on the Canadian charts:

Asthma Cigarettes

These are Kellogg's asthma cigarettes (containing stramonium!) from 1968. The Datura Stramonium plant is a member of the nightshade family (it is also known as jimsonweed or devil's snare) and smoking stramonium is known to relive asthma symptoms. It is also a powerful hallucinogen and delirient, which is a clinical term meaning it causes fully formed and extremely unpleasant visions and delusions. In just slightly higher doses it is fatal so "careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths". Consider this a public service announcement in these times of trump & ford.

The wikipedia entry on Datura Stramonium.
Image courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

The Sparrows at Chez Monique

The Chez Monique coffee house was at 88 Yorkville Avenue and in 1966 the house band was the Sparrows. The band started in Oshawa 1964 as Jack London and the Sparrows - in 1965 John Kay replaced Jack London and they become The Sparrows - in 1967 the band moved to California and became The Sparrow - they changed once more to settle on the name Steppenwolf.

The lineup in 1966:

John Kay – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Goldy McJohn – keyboards, vocals
Jerry Edmonton – drums, lead vocals
Dennis Edmonton (aka Mars Bonfire) – lead guitar, vocals
Nick St. Nicholas – bass, vocals


Ptarmigan was formed on Vancouver Island in 1970 when Michael Bieling introduced James Lithgow (guitar) to Glen Dias (vocals, recorder). They added members, including Monte Nordstrom (guitar, vocals) to get up to a sextet which played on the island and around Victoria.

In 1971 the lineup fragmented to just Dias and Nordstrum who set out on the road, making friends along the way. They played the Ting Tea Room in Winnipeg where they jammed with Lighthouse, Fiddler's Green in Toronto (with Leon Redbone and Downchild), and several weeks nearby in Hamilton before returning home. The duo road tripped again in 1972, hanging out in Stratford with the Perth County Conspiracy, playing at Le Hibou in Ottawa where they met Bruce Cockburn (he had just put out High Winds, White Skies) and then to Toronto to guest with Syrinx. They returned to Vancouver Island and met up with flautist Paul Horn who produced the first (and only) album. They recorded the tracks for the album in 1972, and it sat on the shelf until finally released in 1974. The track below is part of The Island suite - 6 1/2 minutes of lush west coast psych-folk-prog.

The re-issue of the LP is available here.

The Paupers

Photographed in 1967 upstairs at the Hawk's Nest in Toronto, the Paupers are (left to right): Skip Prokop (drums), Adam Mitchell (guitar), Chuck Beal (guitar) and Denny Gerrard (bass).

By 1967 The Paupers had gained a reputation as a live act - they opened for the Jefferson Airplane at Cafe Au Go-Go in March 1967 about which Village Voice reviewer Richard Goldstein said "... their music makes the average combo sound like a string quartet doing Wagner. The Paupers play electronic rock with a power and discipline I have never seen in live performance." From their first album here is the lead off track Magic People:

Everything was on the upswing until the Monterey Pop Festival where they played a disastrous set with equipment failures and poorly timed LSD on what was expected to be their big break. In 1968 Denny Gerrard departed and was replaced with Brad Campbell - they toured the US a second time, and opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience & Soft Machine at the CNE, after which Skip Prokop left to form Lighthouse and Brad Campbell left for Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band. The second album (Ellis Island) was released in 1968 as the group was breaking up - here's the closing track track White Song:

The Paupers would practice long hours in the Hawk's Nest - the shot below gives a good view of what the place looked like. After 1968 the Paupers re-formed (to pay debts) which brought Denny Gerrard back, but the band eventually folded in 1969.

One further Richard Goldstein quote: "And the rest of the act bristles with feedback, dissonance, and a pervasive beat pounded furiously on three sets of drums." You can see the three drum setup in the picture below:

Richard Goldstein's quotes from the Village Voice.
Images courtesy of York University.

The Mamas & The Papas

The Mamas and Papas at Maple Leaf Gardens, July 1st, 1967.

The Mutual Understanding

Ben McPeek was a composer and arranger for the CBC - in the 1960's he was the top jingle writer in Canada. He and fellow CBC music directors Jimmy Dale and Jerry Toth teamed up with Laurie Bower and singers (Tommy Ambrose, Vern Kennedy, Kathy Collier, Patty Van Evera, and Rhonda Silver) and some of the CBC session crew (Peter Appleyard, Guido Basso, Moe Koffman, Rob McConnell, and Jack Zaza) to record In Wonderland, calling themselves The Mutual Understanding. It was pressed in 1968 as a CBC internal record (250 copies) and then released in on Nimbus 9 records where it went nowhere.

Where do I stand, in Wonderland?

Suddenly One Summer


Jay Kaye was 15 years old when he wrote and recorded this album in 1968 - he was from Las Vegas and made the trip to Vancouver to record ths album with local session musicians (most notably members of Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck). The arranger (Robert Buckley) was also in his teens - the album hangs together really well and the production and recording quality is outstanding. The track linked below (Fly) is a fine slice of dreamy psychedelia - put on the headphones and ponder that Thom Yorke was born the year these crazy teenagers recorded this LP.

IBM 729 Tape Unit

The IBM 729 magnetic tape unit used 1/2 inch magnetic tape wound onto reels up to 2400 feet.

The tape had seven parallel tracks, six for data and one to maintain parity (BCD character data were recorded in even parity whereas binary used odd parity). The recording density was 200 characters per inch, and initially the tape speed was 75 inches/second, so the transfer rate was 120 kbits/second. Later models increaded the transfer rate to 480 kbits/second.

A single 2400 foot tape could store about 3 MByte. Each tape would replace about 50,000 punched cards.

It would take about 250 tapes to fill one CD.

Images courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

Jarvis Street Review

Mr. Oil Man is a heavy psychedelic album out of Thunder Bay, 1970 - the Jarvis Street Revue only put out this one album and it's a doozy. The LP's title track is a 12 minute fuzz-guitar monster and most of the album is spent railing against corporations, consumerism and environmental destruction. The original vinyl pressing is extremely rare but there is a CD re-issue which gathers up the entire Mr. Oil Man album plus all of their singles. The track linked below is the lead off track (Mr. Business Man) which gives a taste of this thing.

"Mr. Oil Man, you’re killing all the fish again, you ruin all that water again."

City Muffin Boys

The City Muffins Boys were a local Toronto band - the picture below is taken from 1967. There's little info or tracks available of the band, aside from a poor quality video shot by the CBC (linked below under picture). They opened for the Doors when they played in Toronto (1968-04-20) which the Toronto Star called "the greatest pop-rock non-event of the year" and they also played at the Syrinx Benefit concert at St. Lawrence Market.

City Muffin Boys filmed by the CBC.
Quotes from the Toronto Star 1968-04-22.

Lode Runner

From the Carleton U. residence newspaper 1983 - Lode Runner is playing on the tv sitting on a particle board cabinet containing a home brew Apple II clone that ran 24x7 for months supporting fractious Lode Runner tournaments. The poster I stole off an OC transpo bus.

L-R: Brian, Randall, Harley, Tobyn, Rob, Phil.