Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Excerpt from the blog; VANCOUVER WAS AWESOME

The Moon Glow was already closed for a few years when this photo was taken, but in the late 1950s and early 60s, it was an R&B club. Tommy Chong talks about playing there with The Shades, his band from those days:
"The Moon Glow was owned by Daddy Clark, a railway porter who loved The Shades and wanted to see us back together. Railway porters played a big part in our development as blues musicians because they were the ones who brought records up from the States, turning us on to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, who did tunes like “Sexy Ways,” “Annie Had a Baby,” and “The Twist.” They brought us the latest records from Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, and a host of other blues artists who were otherwise unobtainable. We would learn these great tunes and then play them for a grateful audience, who would be hearing them for the first time, since they were never played on the radio."
The VANCOUVER IS AWESOME blog goes on to say . . . 
Tommy Chong became well known in the local live music scene and had a brush with fame when his band, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, signed with Motown. After that effort fizzled, Chong turned his brother’s topless bar at Main and Pender, the Shanghai Junk, into a comedy club where he paired up with Cheech Marin to form Cheech and Chong.

WAGRadio contributor and co-host and former DJ on Canada's first underground radio station CKLG-FM - Mr. Mike "KingaDaBlues" Cvetkovich has talked to DJZigZag in length about the Moon Glow Cabaret in Chinatown (just up the block from Sweet Daddy Fonk Wong's house).  Mike C. has regaled DJZZ with stories of legendary Rhythm 'n' Blues artists like saxophonist Joe Houston playing the Moon Glow.
For VanCity musicologists the band Tommy Chong talks about was known to East Van Black Music lovers as the Calgary Shades because there was already a dynamic group in VanCity known as The Shades [Charlie Austin (pn), Gordie Richardson (dm), Tom Wilson (sx), Danny Raceovich (gtr), Ron Kasaka (bs), Don Wilson (sx) and lead vocalist - the mighty Laverne Gerrard - brother to Donny].  The (Calgary, AB) Shades were so good and of such a high musicality though that the West Coast group soon became known as The Vancouver Shades.
DJZigZag remembers walking into the Britannia High School gymnasium in the early sixties and hearing the unmistakalbe beginning strains of "Honky Tonk" by Bill Doggett's combo.  It wasn't Mr. Doggett's group playing though.  It was The Calgary Shades with Tommy Chong on guitar, Wes Henderson on bass, Bernie Sneed on organ and his brother Floyd Sneed (Three Dog Night) on drums with the soulful lead R'n'B vocals by Tommie "Little Daddy" Melton.
DJZZ feels that even King Records' owner Syd Nathan would have thought he was listening to the original hitmakers rather than this young group of lads from Alberta, Canada.
ZigZag also notes that the Stratford Hotel was the away-from-home overnight lodgings of the Winnipeg porters making a turn-around run from Manitoba to B.C. and back home again.  In his youth, DJZigZag was a porter on the C.N.Railways and got to know many of the brothers who the company lodged in the Stratford Hotel.  
Mike Cvetkovich would shop at two record stores in Washington State.  Bob Summerise, a well-known discjockey, owned what was Mike C.'s favourite record store in Seattle.  The 2nd store in the city's black Central District was called Little Record Mart.  Owned by Ms. Ollie M. Frazier this was the younger DJZigZag and pal's record store of choice in the Emerald City.  Ms. Frazier often asked Mike if he would save her some postage as well as time and take 45 rpm (7 inch) records to the owner of "the Stratford".  These same records were the Calgary Shades musical inspiration.  Vancouver was awesome but also a small town in the 1960's - especially if you dug New World African Music.

Read Tommy Chong's books "The I Chong: Meditations From The Joint" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment / 2006) and "Cheech and Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography" (Simon and Schuster / 2009)

Thanks, once again, to Jason Vanderhill for hippin' us to this latest post from VANCOUVER IS AWESOME.

WAGRadio Management


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