COMBINED REPORTS - Silver Dollar Room, Toronto Ontario, July 29 2000
[hix] Toronto Show Report
Silver Dollar Room July 29, 2000
Down at the corner of College and Spadina, snuggled up close to the Sally Ann's Emergency Shelter-Men's Hostel sets the Waverly Hotel, (home of the Silver Dollar Room). It's the sort of relationship which has served both of these venerable institutions, in a symbiotic fashion befitting both their statures, for a long, sad time.
Into this mise en scene we spilled out of the minivan in the sort of brownian motion that did little to distinguish the three of us, (high on a few pipe-fulls of some sort of brown middle eastern), from the usual crowd out front. After negotiating the Spadina Avenue DMZ, six lanes of traffic plus street car tracks, we mounted the curb in front of the Silver Dollar Room. I assured Elaine that her arms were indeed still attached to her body, and with a small push I propelled her up the stairs of this venerable shrine to the blues. For me it was the beginning end of a twenty-five year pilgrimage, (insert multiple hosannas here), the arrival of the Messiah of both Mood and Merriment was imminent.
At the top of the stairs the Silver Dollar Room revealed its mysteries, worn terrazzo floors in a jade green, nicotine stained pot lighting, red walls covered in murals of blues musicians working their instruments among winding strings of piano keys. A long, well stocked bar to the left, and to the right of this long rather narrow room, the wooden stage raised on a terrazzo platform. Curtains hung behind the stage, bearing the round Silver Dollar Room logo.
Elaine, Dirk and I peered through the smokey haze and found Les and Kerry who had sportingly arrived early to mix and mingle and snag us some prime seating, five stools at the bar directly in front of the stage. Pints of Guinness helped to smooth out the jangly ambiance and the short two hour wait till Dan's arrival proceeded, punctuated by bouts of dancing and discussion. The room was not air conditioned and we collectively discovered our own personal dew points. As the place filled I noticed most of his fans sported receding hair lines, paunches, unrelenting greyness and the men appeared to have fared no better. Forties and fifties with a smattering of young enthusiasts.
Around 10:20 someone appeared on stage with some bottled water and a towel. A murmur moved throught the crowd, seats were filled then suddenly out of the haze appeared Tom Mitchell followed closely by himself, Dan Hicks. Heartfelt and enthusiastic applause naturally followed. Dan introduced himself and Tom. He joked in the familiar manner we all remembered and anticipated, and though we've heard many of the same lines on live albums he makes it seem like every one of those lines is new and fresh and chosen for this particular show.
Since you're all familiar with the body of his work, I'll simply say that all of his tunes brought a satisfied smile to my face that remained there till he finished at around 1:30 a.m. The man is the personification of gentlemanliness, wit, charm, grace and other attributes we all wish we had more of. On the other hand, he uses his humor to keep you away from him on a personal scale, allowing him to really let you know him only through his music. For that I can forgive him.
Dan's tunes take me to times and places in my life and help me sort through the things I've done, things I've regretted and things I'd rather forget, my loves , my awkwardness, even the occasional triumph. He helps remind me of my own humanness and allows me to laugh at it and myself and for that I've gotta love him.
It's unfortunate that an Acoustical Evening with Dan only lasts an evening, there were so many tunes I'll have to hear at future shows. (I hope fans in California appreciate how fortunate you are to be able tohear a more complete repertoire over a few shows.) With the last strum of his guitar and the well deserved thunderous applause that followed, my long personal wait was over. Elaine however knew my evening wouldn't be complete without an introduction, so we went downstairs and waited for Dan and Tom, down the hall from his change room. After a few minutes he appeared, ever the gentleman, extending his hand, remembering my name in conversation and making me feel welcome in my own town. We chatted for a few minutes, got a snapshot or two and then escorted him upstairs. He signed a CD or two for Dirk and Les then chatted with some other fans.
We gathered all our thoughts together and made our way down the stairs into the warm wet night air and headed home. Thanks Dan. Don't wait so long next time.