Montreal Tam Tam Sundays, a descendant from those 1967 Love-ins

Summer of love has ended

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at the New Penelope, Montreal February 1967

But the memories linger on  Montreal 1967

I was there when Live at New Penelope Cafe with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee was recorded, which is one of the reasons I bought it.

Montreal in 1967 it was the Summer of Love-In’s at Fletcher’s Field on Sundays at the foot of Mount Royal.

Expo 67 was in full swing.

We spent weekends partying and playing folk songs all night, watching the sun come beneath the cross on Mount Royal.

I had a Honda scooter for zipping in and out of Montreal traffic with a girlfriend hugging my back.

It was my first year away from home at 18 years old. What a life.

The winter, coffee house nights at The New Penelope were a prelude of the spring and summer to come. We had Haight Ashbury North in Montreal during the summer of ’67.

The New Penelope was the place to be. They had some of the great blues and folk artists and it was cheap. Junior Wells and James Cotton played the place.

Tim Hardin was there for a gig. The folk scene was buzzing. We as often as we could afford on $1.25 per hour wages.

You could only get coffee out front. The musicians back stage had a variety of other intoxicants right up to smack.

Hardin was at his peak with “If I were a Carpenter.” He already showed signs of the H addiction that eventually killed him.

Montreal Tam Tam Sundays, a descendant from those 1967 Love-ins, at the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Fletcher's Field (photo Virtual Tourist)

Montreal winters are so cold, minus 40 F windchill all through February. We stayed warm the way young people do at parties and in the clubs on Crescent Street.

When spring came out, the summer of love began.

There never was another year like that one. We discovered life along The Main – Verdi Theatre, Fairmont Bagel, Schwatz’s Delicatessen and I can get it for you wholesale.

On Sunday afternoons, everyone including Montreal’s hippies gathered in Fletcher’s Field for the Love-In. If you weren’t a hippie, you let your hair down and wore colorful clothing.

There were sing songs, and buskers, drummers and girls selling pretty trinkets.  Girls in colored dresses danced on the grass. The air was sweet with marijuana smoke.

It was peace, love, and folk music.

Sometimes I wish I’d have done more, gone to more parties, played more places, watched the dawn more often. At least I survived.

My bike blew up on Decarie Boulevard at 50 miles an hour. My brother crashed his on the elevated Metropolitan Boulevard, almost died and spent the next year in rehab.

At my warehouse job at Prelco Electronics, I learned the fine art of sleeping standing up against a wall or slumped over the can. There was no time for sleeping at night.

I met Steve from Steve’s Music that year and wasted Saturdays sampling his guitar selection. Lost that Gibson J-45 guitar Steve sold me, on time payments, to the first wife in the divorce.

13 years later Steve replaced the Gibson with a magnificent 1979 Martin D-35. The new Martin was the cheapest part of the breakup.

Rummaging in the basement, I found the birth certificate of my first son who was born two years after the Summer of Love.

In the same box was the letter of recommendation from Prelco. They seemed to ignore my daytime sleeping habit.

Better go find that Sonny Terry CD. This is going to be a long day.

Amazon.com’s dumb suggestion

Amazon.com’s computer must be tired because it’s getting dumber not brighter. One of my CD purchases was “Live At The New Penelope Cafe” by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

Amazon.com has a computer trick that remembers what you look at or purchase.Then it decides to send you mail about new books, music or DVD’s based on what it remembers.

That 1967 Montreal blues recording made the computer think I would like a dubious CD of Scottish blues singers “British Blues Quintet Live In Glasgow.” I’m having trouble with the blues in a brogue.

Their computer suggestion is dumb – live and blues.

I am going to find the Terry and McGhee disk and listen to it again.

(Updated August 18, 2011)

5 thoughts on “Summer of love has ended”

  1. I really enjoyed that wander down memory lane. Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee were also fairly regular at the Yellow Door/Back Door coffeehouses. Did you ever hang out there? There was also good fun to be had at the Cafe Campus of the UdM and what was the blues club that used to bring in Chicago acts like Willie Dixon and Mighty Joe Young? I remember you always tipped the doorman a five in the hope he’d keep you alive if something went amiss…Dankoff’s Steak House, Ben’s…and of course Expo 67…

  2. Well, The Manse on Mansfield was our regular watering hole. Yep, blues were definitely the thing, tho Hendrix came though – the next year I think – and was certainly worth seeing. Nope, don’t remember that club but there was My Uncle’s Mustache somewhere around and also that great pancake place – was that Mountain or Crescent?

    People keep saying they are selling real Montreal smoked meat on the Island and I haven’t come across anything close yet…but Montreal Steak Spice from ClubHouse (at ASS) is a real find.

  3. Easy, Stephen, easy. Farmers’ Market Steve is from Greenfield Park. But despite that their crepes, waffles and cooked brekkies are great. I believe Ben’s also shut its doors. Sad indeed. A few years back I got to see the modern Main and St Urbain over a few days – different indeed from our day. But still the ultra orthodox and great bagels and “for you a special, so soon, my life already, oy vay.” I must get back to spend a week or so poking around – so much has changed, yet so much remain the same. The only real city in North America.

  4. Ah, you can take the boy out of GFP…etc. Yes, I remember the machine guns and worrying whether a post box would explode or not. I would have been just a mile or two away from you then…

  5. The pancake house would probably have been La Crepe Breton, although crepes were popular.

    Thanks for the additional memories of Montreal in the 1960s.

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