Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: Santers

Rockin’ at The Knob

For anyone who hasn’t lived in Toronto, Scarborough (or as it has been slagged, for decades, Scarberia) is part of the Greater Toronto Area and has been either a suburb of T-O or a city in its own right.

Back in the early ’80s Toronto’s Best Rock, Q107, posed this question:

“What’s the definition of a cultural event in Scarborough?”

Answer…Goddo at the Knob.

Toronto’s hard rockers Goddo played the Knob Hill Hotel dozens of times. I saw them once at that suburban venue and to this day, two memories remain. As I and my friends Gord Howard and Alfie Petitti were paying the cover charge in the lobby, one patron staggered out of the showroom and vomited at our feet.

Welcome to The Knob.

The other memory? Even though it was the early ’80s, Greg Godovitz introduced Goddo’s tune ‘Under My Hat” as such…

“This is a song you all should know because we’ve been playing it for so fucking long.”

I’ll cut Greg, Gino and Doug some slack. Maybe an off night. Maybe Greg had a shitty day.

But the Knob was my rock club during my days at Centennial College, when I aspired to be a writer for Rolling Stone, sitting in Stevie Nicks’s living room and starting my profile of Stevie with colourful descriptions of the decor, the surrounding area or whatever pets Stevie may have owned at the time.

I did arrange for an interview with Canada’s Metal Queen, Lee Aaron, and got to know Karen (real name Karen Greening) and hang out with her and the band in their suite at the Knob between sets. Guitarist George Bernhardt was surprised that I wanted to chat with him as well.

“Everyone wants to talk to Lee…no one wants to talk to us.”

Ahhh, but the dear old Knobbie will always bring back memories of one band, Scarborough’s own Santers. AKA, the Rick Santers Band, who made it on to Q107’s Homegrown album in the early ’80s. A few years later, their version of Free’s “Allright Now” went to #13 on 1050 CHUM’s top 30 chart and got plenty of airplay on the Mighty Q.

Take a look at this cute couple.

Santers bass player Rick Lazaroff and the lady he’s been married to for over 20 years or so, Darlene Watters.

In 2007, I moved to Wasaga Beach and found a tourism website run by Darlene called Wasaga Dot Com. Near the bottom I saw an adverting link. Contact Rick Lazaroff. I did, and told Rick all about my Knob/Scarborough history with the band.

WELCOME TO WASAGA BEACH

We connected and became tennis buddies. As for Darlene, I had seen her band Shattered Heart play at the Harbour Inn, in Owen Sound in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But it all began in that concert room at The Knob. Watching Laz kicking his left leg out and attacking his bass through many Santers tunes and Zep songs (though their best covers were of Mississippi Queen and White Room) and Rick/Ralph Santers/Santer and his brother Mark shaking the foundations as we pounded several Molson Canadian tall boys.

It wasn’t as legendary as The Gasworks (where I also caught Aaron, Santers and Anvil) but The Knob Hill Hotel will forever be in my rock and roll heart as the place where I rocked my weekends away at McCowan and Eglinton.

THE DARDANELLA IS NOW WHAT?

One of my greatest disappointments in moving to Wasaga Beach 11 years ago was finding out the storied rock venue, The Dardanella, had become a dance club. Fuck off! Fuck you and the SeaDoo you rode in on. No one has rocked the Dard in over a decade but if I could have one wish…on what will be the 100th birthday this summer of the grand old lady of the beach…which due to mismanagement and neglect, was only open a grand total of 7 days last summer…

Let The Dard Rock again, and whether you hail from Scarberia, Brampton, Oshawa or wherever, we can feel that bass drum in our gut and raise our glasses to the venues that shaped our lives.

Go back to 1976 and I’m sitting in the Elaine Theatre, across the road from The Knob, and watching what went on to become one of my all time favourite movies, The Bad News Bears.

In the words of Bears shortstop Tanner Boyle, “”I’ll drink to that.”

Quality Records, Birchmount Road

I went to school at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Birchmount Road in Scarbrough, then a suburb of Toronto but now part of the GTA.

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And, a short drive north, just over the bridge, was the pressing plant for Quality Records. I rode my bike over the bridge just to the east of Mack Avenue, but never imagined that decades later, what came out of that plant would end up on my radio show (not in the original 45 vinyl version but on a CD compliaton).

Birchmount was actually a subsidiary of Quality Records, though I didn’t find that out until recently.

I was born in 1962. The year many of the artists on this collection cut their tunes and Any Day Now includes early numbers by Glen Campbell and Dobie Gray, and follow-up records to hits by Danny and the Juniors and The Beau-Marks (Clap Your Hands, they hailed from Montreal).

Back in the ’70s and ’80s Quality Records meant nothing to me. What did? This hotel.

Where I caught many performances, and drank many beers, as Lee Aaron, Santers and Goddo shook the foundations. The Knob. It didn’t reek of rock like the Gasworks but I spent many a night watching Aaron and (Santers bass player and current tennis buddy) Rick Lazaroff kicking their way through originals and Zep covers.

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Flash forward to 2017.

I’m at BJ’s Records in downtown Barrie, where Bill brings in very cool collections. The  Rock and Roll Riot has spun many a tune from discs that came from BJ’s (and Rasputin and Amoeba Records in San Francisco and Berkeley).

And, for $9.99, the Quality Records 3-disc set is mine. It’s $13.99 on Amazon (love Amazon, and the Prime deal is a steal with free 2-day shipping and streaming of shows like Mozart in the Jungle).

As a new ball season begins…and this soon to be 55-year-old comes out of retirement after 3 years to play in the Wasaga league…I will always treasure my final year of hardball, pitching at Highview Park.

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Not sure who the Scarborough Stingers were, or are, but if they played at the park where I pitched my final game of hardball, real baseball, cheers.

Highview Park was a short bike ride from Quality Records.

It’s the circle of life, Johnny Maraca style.

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