Metropolitan Homesick Blues

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If you’re looking to have breakfast in Wiarton on a Sunday morning around 9:00 AM…forget it. Nothing is open. The streets are empty. Wiarton Willie’s hometown is still asleep. So we made our way to the Timmy’s on main street for a Breakfast Sandwich.

The parking lot was full with cars, trucks, motorcycles and camper-trailers. The drive-thru line-up was bumper to bumper all the way to the street. In one corner of the parking lot, a group of seniors sat in a circle, lawn chairs beside their RVs, enjoying an outdoor brunch.

Obviously we weren’t the only ones needing our morning coffee. That was confirmed when we couldn’t get to the door – people were lined up outside waiting to get in…a usual occurrence with small-town Timmys’ that occupy prime highway real estate. When you’re the only game in town – what else can a traveler expect? Who’s complaining, though?

But, it wasn’t the lineup that surprised…more the people in it.

One in particular, a young guy, tall, lean with a shaved head drew our immediate attention. He was bare foot, naked from the waist up and from the waist down he was constantly pulling up his belt-less, too big for his thin, wasted body, jeans. His Joe Boxer underwear was in full view. You could say he was doing his best Marky Mark impersonation, but he just didn’t have the build to go with it. A cigarette dangled from his lips. And he sneered as he took great pleasure in all the stares he was getting. He was tattooed front and back with large faux Hell’s Angels eagles, skulls, daggers and whatnot. He was cocky bordering on belligerent until an OPP officer walked in. The cop just wanted coffee but he saw that he needed to straighten this young man out.

A conversation ensued; actually it was a mild confrontation, or a quiet lesson in decorum and the finer points of fashion.

Those in line began to smile. The boy left. At first he paced up and down outside looking in the window at his girlfriend. Then pulling up his pants one more time he went and sat in his car.

The officer looked straight ahead. There was just the slightest hint of a smile on his face.

Sunday morning entertainment at Timmy’s – no cover – no minimum.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

July 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM


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Went to the Paisley Town Hall the other night. Went to see Valdy in concert. Our friends were excited that he was in the county. So we tagged along. Now I don’t remember Valdy, really. He was reasonably popular when folk songs were vogue back in the 60’s (I think). The 60’s are a blur to me. I wasn’t paying much attention those days as I was caught up in raising a family and trying to get a foothold as a junior copywriter in my first advertising agency. But Valdy was ‘on the charts’ then. He had a following. And he does to this day.

This, I discovered, when we climbed the stairs up to the great, old Paisley concert hall. It was a warm night. No AC. The promoter, the guy who runs Back Eddie’s, didn’t want the air on. So they closed the old-fashioned shutters on the sun set side and put fans in the windows on the other side. Nonetheless, the place was packed. The atmosphere was enthusiastic and anticipatory.

And when he ran down through the audience in his red knee socks, red shoes, short pants with suspenders and a red and white patterned Hawaiian shirt the aging hippies were ecstatic. When he opened with “A Good Song” I knew who he was; he’s the one who wrote “Play Me A Rock and Roll Song.” So I settled in for a great night of even greater music.

Paul Valdemar Horsdal, a.ka. Valdy doesn’t have the smooth tenor he used to but he has the stage presence, the sense of humour, the stories and the soul of a songwriter who’s been there and done that. It comes out in his playing and his lyrics. Quincy Jones used “A Good Song” in the Steve McQueen movie “The GetAway.” And N. recognized him as the guy from the TV series “The Beachcomber.” His two Juno Awards, 4 Gold Albums and the fact that this June he was honoured with the Order of Canada certainly prove his credentials.

Halfway through the first set Valdy called up a man he’s been playing with lately – Graham Wardop from Christchurch New Zealand. Graham is a finger style guitarist, a songwriter and a guitar maker. He is one of those unknown studio musicians, a guitar virtuoso, that backs up and tours with just about every big name out there because the guy can play. This was obvious in the second set. The sounds, the reverb and delay he got out of his instrument when he was on stage solo made you think he had a backup group behind him. His technique was flawless. Lyrically his songs ran from deeply personal to amusing, but it was the way he played that held you.

Graham and Valdy are touring Canada this summer playing small venues and music festivals. The lusty old songwriter and the quiet musician make a great pair. In this day and age of one hit wonders they survive, they entertain and they attract a loyal following because they love what they do. You can see and hear it in every note.

The old Paisley Town Hall was a good place to be that night,

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

July 9, 2011 at 6:43 AM