Posts Tagged ‘history’


Aberdeen Hotel Chatham 1915

April 11, 2017

Venue: Aberdeen Hotel
Year: 1915
City: Chatham Ontario Canada
Closed: Circa 1996.
Address: 1 Grand Ave.

Info based on the article:
Aberdeen Hotel has a long history of serving liquid hospitality
Posted by Chatham This Week 2016/07/11. By: John Rhodes.

* Before becoming known as the Aberdeen Hotel, it had spent 40 plus years known as the McNaughton Tavern.
* It can be traced back to the late 1840s – early 1850s. Known most for selling Whiskey than renting rooms.

During the 1970’s, Country music was huge, and the Aberdeen was a popular venue featuring live music most days of the week. During the 80’s, it became a hot spot for live hard Rock & Roll. Through it’s final years (1990-1996), it had began to show its age.
As of  today (April 2017), The building still stands, being used a storage space for Western Equipment.


Aberdeen 2016, now used as storage space


Picture Source: Bechard family. (Calixte Bechard owned it for many decades).
The picture is from a postcard produced for the hotel, which I estimate to have been created between 1910 and 1920. John Rhodes.


The Rankin in Chatham Ontario

November 27, 2016


Venue: Rankin House/Hotel
City: Chatham Ontario Canada.
Address: 182 King Street West.
Existed: 1852-1999

Rankin History Notes:
* It was one of the oldest buildings in Chatham.
* Most of the Social, political & business life in the 19th century revolved around the Rankin Hotel & It’s bar.
* The Rankin Hotel was built in 1852 by Colonel Arthur Rankin (Born in Montreal, 1816).
* The Colonel was the first private owner of Bob-Lo Island, having in 1874 used his connections and bought the whole island from the Government for $40.
* 1861 – Colonel Rankin sold the building to the Bank of Upper Canada for $10,000. The Bank then sold it.
* It was turned into a hotel in 1862, retaining the name Rankin.
* The Rankin Hotel was known as the finest hotel in Western Canada (As our area was called then).
* Juring this early era, it was strictly a male preserve.
* The Rankin was the first stop for travellers, for decades.
* In 1875, iron balconies on the second floor were built, and on festive occasions bands would play.
* In 1903, John Pleasance bought the rankin from William Peck for $14, 500. (Note, previously, the Rankin has passed ownership through many many hands.) The family ran it for more than 60 years.
* In 1906, there were 13 licensed hotels in Chatham, but prohibition was in the near future.
* Circa 1970/80’s, it was common for bands to perform while strippers did their act. This no longer happens due to cost. Dj’s are hired to simply hit play on pre-recorded music.
* Became Spanky’s in the late 1990’s. The building had burnt to the ground in 1999. A new building was built, and it carried on as Spanky’s, an adult entertainment venue.
(Note: it is still going as of 2016, the time of this entry)

* Robert S. Mitchell ( Kent Historical Society)
* Note source:
* Chatham Museum.

Spanky’s website here.


Chatham Music History Tidbits

February 19, 2011

Chatham Music History Tidbits
By Shawn Beaulieu.

1883 – McKeough Public School Band. The Forest Street School opened in 1882 and closed in 2001.
1906Victor Lauriston writes the song “Maple Land”, a song of Canada. Entered according to Act of Parliament of Canada at the Department of Agriculture. Music by George Hahn. 

The Chatham Concert Band was organized in 1927.
1964The Turf Room opens in Downtown Chatham January 7th 1964 inside the Chatham Hotel. The club was host to bands from home and afar for many, many years.
1964 – A Record Hop was held every Friday at the Chatham Memorial Community Centre in 1964, in Chatham. The Dj was Mark Lade from CFCO Radio. The Hops carried into 1966 too. Also in 1964, every Friday night at the Pyranon Ballroom, the Teddy Bear Hop was held.
1966 – CFCO Radio – Some of the on-air names at CFCO at this time: Vern Rombough (mornings) Jim Knettle (middays) Fred Merrit (afternoons) Jim Junk (evenings). News:  Jim Cassidy (joined from CJET in Smiths Falls),  Pete McGarvey, Dave Hodge (sports).
1967 Bruce French – Canadian concert guitarist Bruce French of Ridgetown is now studying the Lute. Bruce has already mastered the ukulele and Spanish guitar. He also attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music studying from the great Italo Taranta. The 24 year old was a member of various local orchestras while studying. Bruce French has become a well respected and well known name to classical music enthusiasts through out Ontario.
1968 – Another live venue – Casino Royale @ 210 King St. W. Bands such as The Grim Reapers, The Grass Company (Kim Mitchells/ Max Webster early band), & The Blues Man Revue.
1969MC5 play the Rondeau Pavillion July 9th 1969.
1969 – The Kingsway Hotel, a live venue with many acts coming through and home to locals The Jack Austin Trio.
1970 – Legendary Bob Seger performs at the Rondeau Pavilion Sept. 2nd 1970 as the ‘Bob Seger System’.
1970 – Shock Rocker Alice Cooper live in Chatham-Kent  Dec 28th 1970 on his ‘Easy Action’ tour.
1970 – Diamond Hall Music Centre announces their official opening of the new larger store at 40 King Street West.
1972Musical Strings ‘N’ Things Ltd., (aka “Strings ‘n’ Things”), opened for business in 1972. Its first location was in a small store on Fourth Street.
1973 – The legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich and his orchestra perform at the Capital Theatre in Chatham on Feb. 28 1973.
1975 – The ‘Red Barrel’ was a rockin’ venue with such great local bands as Friends & The Myers Bros. & The Jubilaires. (Located inside the Wheels Inn)
1976 – June 15th 1976, legendary rock band ‘Rush‘ perform at the Chatham Memorial Arena. In the fall of 1950 the Chatham Memorial Arena officially opened to the community.
1976 Stompin’ Tom Connors Live in concert at the Memorial Community Centre. Thurs. Sept. 16th at 8pm. Chatham welcomes Canada’s number one country entertainer at the time.
1977Circle of Sound was a record shop in Chatham in 1977. Vinyl was the popular format that music was sold as, better known as the LP or Album.
1977Marty Robbins Show @ The Memorial Arena.
1978 – Sarnia band  ‘Max Webster’ performs at the ‘Wheels’ in Chatham in 1978. The band had Kim Mitchell on guitar and vocals.
1978 – The Roller Alley opens in Chatham Nov. of 1978 on River Road. Disco music was the craze at the time. The economy bottomed out around 1982, and so did the disco & roller skating craze. Just like the Chatham Roller Alley, most of them became bingo halls.
1979 –  Chatham was on the Muppet Show, yes, really. Super Country Star Crystal Gayle did a cover of Slyvia Tyson’s (from Chatham) song ‘River Road’, the song about our River Road. The video is her performing it on the Muppets show. Watch video here.
1979 – In 1979, Ralph Murphy (Raised in Wallaceburg) had a huge year. He co-wrote “Half the Way” performed by Crystal Gayle and it became a number one hit. Ralph was also the producer for many of the tracks featured on April Wine’s Greatest Hits album released this year.
1979Bobby Vee, one of Rock and Rolls all time greats performs at the Blue Bonnet in Tilbury Friday Nov. 9th 1979. His hits include “Rubber Ball”, “The Night has 1,000 Eyes”, “Take Good Care of My Baby”, and “Run to Him”.
1979 – Polydor recording artists “Goddo” play at the Thames Arts Centre (known today as the Chatham Cultural Centre) Oct. 7th 1979, with special guests “FM”. Over 600 people attend the 700 seat venue. View ticket stub.
1979 – The Toronto Heavy Metal band ‘Lips’ (Changed their name to Anvil shortly after) played the Turf Room in Chatham 1979. They became a popular metal band around 1983 after the release of their song ‘Metal on Metal’ as Anvil.
As of 2009, the band has released thirteen studio albums, and has been cited as having influenced many notable heavy metal groups, including Slayer and Metallica.  The band was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Anvil! The Story of Anvil,  Upon its release, the film garnered critical acclaim from many major publications, and has since brought the band renewed recognition, including opening slots with AC/DC and Saxon. Appearances at major heavy metal festivals, including Download and Loud Park, also followed the release of the film.
1980 – Country Star Charlie Pride performs at the Chatham Arena Friday August 29th 1980. Opening bands include Janie Fricke & Chatham’s Homegrown. He recently played the Capital Theatre in 2011.
1980 – The William Pitt Hotel (and the whole building) was sold and torn down in 1980. It was replaced with the Chatham Downtown Centre. A.K.A. Sears Mall.
The William Pitt Hotel was host to many bands and entertainers over the years.
1981 – Local singing star Cassandra Leigh (Vassik) does her second performance on The Tommy Hunter Show.
1982 Mr. Dress Up comes to town.
1982 – (March 1982) Cassandra Leigh (Vassik) – Country and western singer of London (formerly of Blenheim) won $2,500 worth of recording time in the second annual Country Roads competition for country music acts from South Western Ontario. This was held in London. Cassandra is currently performing with her band Destiny. They are Kent County’s most popular dance band group. She would go on to Major Label succuess through the 1990’s.
1983 – Eightball Billiards & Games opens in October 1983. From the early 90’s until it closed in 2004, EightBall was the main consistent provider of live entertainment with variety. The venue also had one of the nicest owners in the world in Tony Almeida.
1983 – Jan 1983. Sound Shop, one of Chatham’s first music stores, is closing after 25 years. The store on four King Street was owned by Gwen and Paul Beardsal.
1983Helix plays the Aberdeen Jan. 1983, a year before their Commercial success with the song ‘Rock You’. The Aberdeen was Chatham’s infamous rock music bar well into the late 1990’s. It began as a hot spot for country bands. The aberdeen was ran by Al & George. Famous quotes included “Come on people, let’s go” and ” This is a hotel not a motel”.
1983Franks Music Centre celebrates its 25th Anniversary.  Larry Lozon has been owner for roughly 20 of those years. It originally was located at 230 Queen Street. Besides selling instruments, Franks Music had 25 music teachers at the time.
1983 – The Lacroix Street Bridge was built.
1983Manpower forms (formerly ‘The Force’). As of the latest update (2011), the band has been together for 28+ years.
1984 – Local Chatham Bassist Bob Wilson (A.K.A, Robert Sinclair Wilson)(Friends, Quadrant) plays on Kim Mitchell’s record Akimbo Alogo, featuring the hit song ‘Go for a Soda’.  Bob also played bass in major acts such as Troiano and Black Market.
1985 – Country singer Brad Preston. Brad will be performing on the TV show ‘You Can Be a Star’ which has a viewer audience of 10 million.
Preston currently plays guitar and sings in the local favourite country band ‘The Melody Ramblers’.
The engagement came about when Brad sent his 1983 release ‘ Roses Always Turn Red’ to the show.
1986 – 1986 was the grand opening of the T-House at 342 Queen Street.
1986 – In April 1986, the Kent Kordsmen celebrated their 25th anniversary.  They are a harmony “Barber Shop” style singing group.
1986 CKSY 94.3FM: an adult contemporary music radio station began airing on July 1, 1986. In 2002, CKSY swapped broadcasting frequencies with CKUE.
1988Kim Mitchell performs at ‘Copperfields’ (Downtown Chatham Bar) Wed. July 27th 1988. Tickets $15 Advance.
1989 – The popular Dr. Feel Good’s bar on Keil Drive in Chatham held its grand opening in 1989. It was owned by Frank Dimara.
1989 Kideo live at the Chatham Cultural Centre, Sunday Oct. 15th, 1989.
1991 – May 2nd 1991: The Northern Pikes perform at the Chatham Cultural Centre. Their big hit was “ She Ain’t Pretty”….She just looks that way.
1991 – King Street is host to a new bar named “Rascel’s”. It was formerly named Copperfeilds. Rascel’s brings some bigger names to town including Rick Emmett(Triumph), and David Wilcox. It was also home to rock & roll tribute acts on the circuit.
1991Tryx : March 1991.  In Chatham, bands & musicians donate their time and talents to Charities. This is done allot in this community. The local group Tryx packed the Cultural Centre to perform for kids & parents to raise money for a local charity. The band was made up of Stephen Neale – Bass, Tony Meriano – Drums, Sandra Shaw – Keyboards, Ted Shaw – Guitar.
1992 – If you wanted to buy a record from your favourite band in 1992, you probably bought it at Sam the Record Man located in the mall (Downtown Chatham Centre) and it was most likely a cassette.
1992Sylvia Tyson  was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the Juno Awards ceremony.
1994 – Local country favs The Melody Ramblers Retire. Sherley St. Pierre and his wife Theresa formed the country music band “The Melody Ramblers” in 1953.
1994 –  Tony’s One Stop Music Shoppe opens for business at 433 Merritt Ave.  They specialize in Sound production and staging for the big acts and smaller acts. Tony’s deals in musical equipment sales and rentals. Many of you may know Tony Meriano from his years with Musical Strings ‘N’ Things.
The store would later move to 83 Centre Street in 2004.   Tony is also a musician along with his sons Shawn and Scott who have played in several bands. It is a family run business.
1994Slyvia Tyson was made a ‘Members of the Order of Canada’.
1995 Sylvia Tyson is named to the ORDER OF CANADA in March 1995. Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada’s honours system and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.   The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country.
1995 – Chatham Kent’s Country star Michelle Wright performs her first headlining Canadian Tour. She also hosts the ‘CCMA Awards Show’ on CBC.
1996 – Steve Eyres takes over operations and ownership of Franks Music Centre.  Steve also started ‘Eyresspace studio’ which is home to the best local recordings. Along with all that, he also performs in the popular local rock cover band ‘Tangled Puppet’.
1996 – Country star Michelle Wright’s television special ‘Songs & Secrets’ airs on CBC. 1996. Michelle was the Honorary Chairperson for ‘Operation C.A.T. Scan’, a fundraising campaign that raised almost two million dollars for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham, Ontario (the hospital where Michelle was born). The campaign raised money for the hospital to purchase its first C.A.T. Scan machine.
1996 Cornstalk event draws huge numbers in 1996 and 1997. Held near Blenheim, outdoor event drawing 4-8000 people. 15 plus bands performing from noon till 6a.m. The best out door (B.Y.O.B.) event to ever hit the city.
1997 Michelle Wright was the Celebrity Spokesperson for the 1997 Special Olympics World Winter Games and contributed to the Power of Peace CD celebrating the 50th anniversary of CARE. In the title track “The Power of Peace” Chris de Burgh sings together with Oleta Adams, Enrique Iglesias, Peobo Bryson, Gerald Levert, Aretha Franklin, Kenny Rogers, Giorgia, and Emmanuel.
1998 – Wallaceburg raised Ralph Murphy has a few major song writing credits this year for Randy Travis & Crystal Gayle.
1998 – Conductor Doug Sanford conducted two orchestras, The East York and Okanagan Symphonies.
1999 – Chatham born Shaune Ann was a finalist in the 1999 Lilith Fair Competition to tour with Sarah McLaughlin, sponsored by Star 98.7 FM, chosen for the Top 20 finalists out of 3,000 applicant submissions.
1999 – Local blues band Midnight Mojo performs live on the “Open Mike” show with Mike Bullard. “Open Mike” (1997), was one of the longest running late-night talk shows in North America. The Gemini award-winning series was the most-watched late-night talk show in Canada’s largest market, comparable in popularity and success to late-night heavyweights Letterman and Leno.
2000Steve Shearer (Harmonica) Mr. Shearer is known world wide for his work with the Cowboy Junkies on their most successful album ‘The Trinity Session‘. Steve also released a solo record ‘Steve Shearer & the Erie Ramblers’.
2001 – In 2001, Chatham born Shaune Ann toured with Peter Fonda and Branscombe Richmond (Renegade) in Tahiti and Campo Grande, Brazil as a lead vocalist for the World Motor Cycle Tour representing Indian Motor Cycles.
2002 –  In June of 2002, Michelle Wright travelled to Zambia to film a television special for World Vision, the child sponsorship organization
Wright is no stranger to charity. She was the Honorary Chairperson for “Operation C.A.T. Scan”, a fundraising campaign that raised almost two million dollars for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham, Ontario (the hospital where Wright was born). The campaign raised money for the hospital to purchase its first C.A.T. Scan machine. She also released her album ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ this year.
2002 – The Chatham Concert Band was organized in 1927 and in 2002 celebrated 75 years of continuous operation. The band is under the direction of Band Master Vaughn Pugh.
2003 – Jeff Healy’s Jazz Wizards play the Kiwanis Theatre in Chatham Nov. 26th 2003. 8PM $29 cover.
2003 – Local rock band ‘The Janet Theory’ release their fourth CD ‘Sacriluscious‘.  The release scores two years of playing on legs of the years biggest tours ‘Warped Tour’ through Canada & The U.S.A. Two tracks also become part of compilation Cd’s in the U.S.A. & Canada.
2003 – In Chatham-Kent, Smoking is now banned in all public places, including restaurants, bars, billiard halls, bingo halls, bowling alleys etc..This takes effect June 1st 2003. The bar scene starts to crumble and the live music scene takes a crash.
2004 – Tommy Hunter performs @ The Kiwanis Theatre Jan. 30th.
2004 – ”Love Changes Everything” is an original song written & performed by Chatham born Shaune Ann and featured in the ABC Family Network Movie-Of-The-Week special “I Want To Marry Ryan Banks” in January 2004.
2005 – Pianist Ben Smith – Currently: Studies at the Glenn Gould Academy in Toronto now. He has completed 4 years of piano performance study previously.
Ben will play his debut performance with Orchestra London on May 7 at St. Paul’s Congregational Church in Chatham. He moved away about five years ago to pursue his education. Ben has won several major awards for his piano performance and has also studied violin and organ, which take the back seat to his piano studies.
2005 – an extensive Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) poll determined Ian & Sylvia’s (Sylvia Tyson) song “Four Strong Winds” to be the “most essential” piece of Canadian music.
2005 Bob Lucier – Resides: Burlington. Over 400 people attended a hall of fame tribute for Bob in April 2005 in Grande Pointe, his home of which he left in 1962 to pursue a music career. He played steel guitar on the famous ‘Tommy Hunter Show’ for 17 years (Starting in 1973) along with releasing his own CD’s and doing work on several artist’s albums over the years such as Ann Murray. Bob currently performs with the band Magnum, released a new CD for his own work, and just finished a TV documentary for country star Shania Twain.
2006 – On December 29, 2006, CKUE-FM (The Rock) announced that Jeff Burrows, former drummer of The Tea Party, would be taking over the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. host position at the radio station on January 2, 2007. (2011 update, Jeff still holds this position as well as playing in the band Crash Karma.) Some of Jeff’s Highlights” Albums sold: 1.6 million records sold with The Tea Party. Largest crowd (multi-band bill support): 490,000 people – SARS relief concert, Toronto. Touring: worldwide touring included Canada 21 times, Australia 12 times, Europe 9 times, USA 8 times.
2007Oscar Demers – Pedal Steel, Guitar. Oscar Demers gets inducted into the Grande Pointe “Hall Of Fame” in 2007. He performed with The Jubilaires. The Jubilaires  disbanded years ago with a new formation coming as the Jubilaires II. The group originally formed circa 1956.
2008Bobby Lucier has been a leader in steel guitar and is world renowned for his unique style and ability.  Bob was the resident Steel Player for “The Tommy Hunter Show” while it aired on the CBC television network from the mid ’70’s until its demise. He was also the first steel guitarist with the famous Johnny Burke and Eastwind.  Before that, he played in Bill Anderson’s “Po’ Boys band”, “Myers Brothers and the Jubilaires”, and a few others. Bob’s steel guitar playing is on many of Ann Murrays albums recorded through the years.
2008 – Pedal Steel and slide guitarist Rene Brosseau Nominated by CCMA. * Nomination: Nominated by ’Canadian Country Music Awards’ for “Steel Guitarist of the Year”.
2008 Ken Crone. Ken has also just released a book that outlines the 80-year history of the Chatham Concert Band.
2008Square Root of Margaret Cross Canadian Tour begins.
2008Rockstock  hits the Chatham Airport. They shut down the airport to bring you the biggest concert that Chatham Kent has has had since ‘Cornstalk’ in 1997. 2008 was the inaugural concert, with headliners such as Finger Eleven, Sloan, The Trews and Thornley. Around 6,000 people attended this event.
2009 – Guitarist Dan Noordermeer as a member of the Jeff Healey band releases the album Mess of Blues. In May, the disc wins Album Of The Year at the
30th Annual Blues Awards in Memphis. 2009 JUNO AWARDS: “Mess of Blues” Nominated for “Blues Album Of The Year. Touring worldwide with Jeff Healey since 2002. Dan Nordermeer recorded this final album with Jeff in London England & Toronto Canada.
2009 Justin Steele (13) won two gold medals from the Solo Championships in the Grade 3 Light division at the North American Solo and Pipe Band Championships.Winner of many awards from different Highland Games across Ontario. Justin was also the winner of the So You Think You’ve Got Talent contest.
2010 – The Chatham-Kent music scene lost a loyal supporter Wednesday (March 3rd 2010) when Tony Meriano, owner of  Tony’s One Stop Music Shoppe in Chatham, died at the age of 61. Tony was an active drummer since his first real gig in 1969 (The Cricketts), to his current band in 2010. He was also on the board of directors for many festivals and events including our “Festival of Nations” (held each year at Tecumseh Park since 1986). Many knew him for his many years at ‘Stings N Things’ where Tony & Clint ran the store before Tony opened his own shop with his family. I was speaking to Tony quite often just before his passing and he was very excited to get involved with this website because of his natural love for music history. He did give us several pictures and info so far.
It is sad that so abruptly he had passed just before we were to talk more and to have him share his stories with all of us. Tony, you will be missed by all of your friends here. Almost every single person and band listed on this website knew Tony, or had Tony help them in some way. He was involved in helping many charities that benefited the community.Simply, a good man.
2010 – Jerseys bar closes in February 2010 after 6 and a half years of being open.  The venue brought live bands to Chatham almost every weekend and packed them in. The bar located at 125 Keil Drive in Chatham closed out to a full house with entertainment provided by ‘Toast & Jam’. A popular duo performing covers.
2011 Square Root Of Margaret has become the longest running original (music) band in Chatham-Kent.
2011The Golden Tap closed its doors after its final night on April 17th 2011. Owner Ed Arndt opened the Country bar 14 years ago.  It was previously known as the Kingsway. The venue was host to live bands every weekend.
2011Michelle Wright (Country singer) was formally inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of fame this year. As of 2011, Michelle had 25 top ten hits in Canada. Seven went to #1. Five Gold records. Two multi-platinum records. World wide record sales nearing two million units & one million in Canada. Toured North America, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, & Australia.
2012Ralph Murphy inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. He wrote several hit songs & produced gold records among many other highlights.


Jeanne Gordon Opera Singer From Wallaceburg

July 22, 2010

Name: Jeanne Gordon (Ruby Jeanne Gordon)
Genre: Opera singer
Year: 1919
Home: Wallaceburg Ontario

Ruby “Jeanne” Gordon was an Canadian opera singer active during the early 1900s

Ruby got her big break in July 1919. She was called to New York and offered a three year Metropolitan Opera contract by Giulio Gatti-Casazza. Shortly after signing her contract she changed her name to “Jeanne” Gordon. Her debut performance was as Azucena in Il trovatore. In 1919 she created the roles of the Fairy and Mme Berlingot in L’oiseau bleu by Albert Wolff in its world premiere. She made guest appearances with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 1928.

Recordings: Gordon recorded 78s for Columbia and Victor in the 1920s.

Above info from

Her only teacher was Albert Ham, with whom she studied while attending Toronto’s Havergal College. As a girl she often sang before Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Married unhappily (1908) to Ralph K. Trix of Detroit, she nevertheless followed him to the USA, but left him in 1917 and began her career as a professional singer in New York.

In New York Gordon appeared at the Rialto Theatre, singing operatic ‘interludes’ as part of a variety program. These appearances led to a contract with the Creatore Grand Opera, and she made her debut 11 Dec 1918 in Brooklyn as Amneris in Aida. She toured with the Scotti Grand Opera the following spring and made a highly successful Metropolitan Opera debut 22 Nov 1919 as Azucena in Il Trovatore. She remained a principal contralto with that company for nine consecutive seasons, her repertoire consisting of two dozen roles (in French, Italian, German, and English), including Carmen, Dalila, Eboli in Don Carlo, Marina in Boris Godunov, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, and several novelties. She also sang in the premieres of Albert Wolff’s L’Oiseau bleu and Henry Hadley’s Cleopatra’s Night. For virtually all of her opera roles she was coached by Wilfrid Pelletier. Maintaining an active concert schedule she sang in Montreal 11 Mar 1926 on an all-Canadian program under Pelletier with Edmund Burke, Florence Easton, and Edward Johnson and in Toronto 27 Jan 1927 with the National Chorus under Albert Ham. After guest appearances with the Monte Carlo Opera in 1928 in Europe, with the TSO during its 1929-30 season under Luigi von Kunits, and with the Toronto Promenade Orchestra in 1930 under Reginald Stewart (her last appearance), she suffered a mental collapse and was admitted to a Missouri sanatorium, where she remained until her death of a heart attack.

A tall and handsome woman with a magnetic personality and a true contralto voice of extraordinary range and richness, Gordon never quite fulfilled the promise evident in such notices as that published by Musical America after her 1921 Metropolitan appearance as Brangäne: ‘The most satisfactory all-round individual contribution to the performance was made by Jeanne Gordon whose lovely contralto and fine sense of pictorial and dramatic values received thrilling expression’.

She recorded nine single-sided 78s for Columbia (1920-2) and two in 1925 for Victor. All are listed in Roll Back the Years. In 1927 she appeared in a few Warner Brothers-Vitaphone shorts, singing operatic excerpts with Martinelli, Gigli, and others. She shares with Edward Johnson and Marie Louise Edvina a Rococo recording (No. 5254) of operatic arias.

Author James B. McPherson
Info from



Chatham Capitol Theatre 2010

July 21, 2010

Venue: Chatham Capitol Theatre
City: Chatham Ontario Canada
Year: 2010
Address: 238 KING ST W
Visit their website here.

The Chatham Capitol Theatre is a 1214-seat entertainment venue in the heart of downtown Chatham, Ontario. The theatre first opened as a movie house in 1930 and has recently undergone a reconstruction to become a first-rate destination for live entertainment. The theatre will open its doors to the public in summer/fall of 2010.

The Capitol features a deluxe new balcony with 455 seats in addition to 759 seats on the orchestra level. The 65-foot fly tower and state-of-the-art rigging allows for larger scale and more technically advanced productions. The orchestra pit is designed for the optimal acoustic experience and can also be raised to floor or stage level as desired.

The theatre features art deco detailing throughout with gilded décor, opera boxes, an ornate ceiling, and much more. It is equipped with three lounges, an elevator, and is fully accessible.

2010 performers include: Bill Cosby, Howie Mandel, Great Big Sea, Chantal Kreviazuk, Michelle Wright,  Josh Turner (Country Star), Corb Lund, Colm Wilkinson, The Rankin Family & more.

Late 1927
– The dream of a new modern theatre in the downtown core of Chatham was begun by Charles Hadley, a prominent businessman in the city.

April 11, 1930 – Mayor Burton L. Bedford formally opened the new Capitol Theatre and dedicated it as the Palace of Pastime to a sold out audience. With a seating capacity of 1500, it was one of the largest theatres in Western Ontario. The opening night feature was the musical comedy “Sally” staring Marilyn Miller.

The next 20 years – The Theatre seating capacity was reduced to 1,000 seats and many minor renovations were undertaken, such as the relocation of the ticket booth from inside to outside the theatre.

1975 – The largest renovation took place when the theatre was split down the centre into two cinemas of 472 seats each, thus bringing the total seats down to 944.

1992 – Famous Players Theatre abandoned the property as a viable movie theatre and the City of Chatham purchased the property.

November 1995 – The Chatham Capitol Theatre Coalition made a proposal to save the theatre and restore it as an entertainment venue. The Coalition was later incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and obtained Registered Charitable status in August 1996.



The Pyranon Ballroom Chatham

July 12, 2010

Venue: The Pyranon Ballroom
What: Chatham’s premier dance hall
Location: Chatham Ontario
Year: 1945

   When record hops were the in thing, as many as 1,600 young people would come out on a Friday night to dance. The music they were excited about was Elvis Presley, Pat Boone and the likes of.
   Many big acts of the time played this venue on Colborne Street.  The Wilf Lancaster Orchestra was the local band that performed there regularly.

The Pyranon was constructed by Maurice Smyth. The first group to play the hall was Al Edwards and his band from Windsor.
Other events at the Pyranon: Bingo, wrestling, proms, fashion shows, banquets, social and political gatherings.

Big Bands that played: Sammy Kaye, Victor Lombardo, Vaughn Monroe, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, The Glen Miller orchestra, Les Brown, and Gene Krupa. The local ‘Big Band’ Wilf Lancaster Orchestra performed there regularly.


The City Band

February 12, 2010

Band: The City Band (Chatham)
Home: Chatham Ontario Canada
Year: 1895

W. Philp – Bandmaster
Harry Philp – B flat clarionet
Albert Philp – B flat clarionet
Frank Kramm – B flat cornet
Wm. Harvey – B flat cornet
Fred McCubbin – B flat cornet
Ed Dunkley – B flat cornet
Ed Hamilton – B flat clarionet
Thos. Maisonville – B flat clarionet
Harry Alger – B flat clarionet
George Foote – B flat clarionet
Hugh Lamont – B flat clarionet
E. Rhody – B flat clarionet
Steve Tilley – Flute and piccolo
Wm. Robinson – Soprano saxophone
R. Robinson – Alto saxophone
Wm. Potter – Bb tenor saxophone
John Dwyer – French horn
John Auger – Alto horn
Wm. Yeoman – Sax horn
Tom Walters – Sax horn
Wm. Crowl – Slide trombone
George James – Slide trombone
W. E. Miller – Slide trombone
Joe Hadley – G slide trombone
Herb Bennet – trombone
R. Thomson – B flat tenor
O. E. Jones – B flat tenor
James Whitebread – B flat alt horn
Robert Potter – Bb bass
Chas. Philp – Euphonium
Dan Fisher – E flat bass
Cas. Schwimler – String bass
E. Wigzell – Snare drum
Ed. Granbois – Bass drum
Resource: July10 1895 CWP


The Shreve Trio 1940

November 30, 2009

Group: The Shreve Trio
Home: Chatham Ontario Canada
Circa:  1940’s
Members:  Artis, Norma, and Carol Shreve

  The three sisters began singing in the C.C.I. High School Glee Club which turned into performances at high school concerts.
  Their talents were taken further when their director (Bessie Bracken) decided to take them on the road as a trio. From there, they played for radio and movie theatres.
  The sisters got together and sang once again at their family reunion in 1999 at the former fugitive slave settlement at North Buxton ON.

2009 Update:
Artis:  (now Artis Lane) went on to become a well known artist, and award-winning African American sculptor and painter. Her works were included on the sets of the “Cosby Show” (Bill Cosby’s hit television series in the 1980’s). There is plenty of information on her art online if you wish to read further. At age 21, Artis moved to Detroit and married.

If video does not appear, watch it here.

Visit Artis online here.

Source: Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, You Tube, Artis Lane & Jim Shreve.
By S. Beaulieu


Chatham Music Archive Article 2009

November 18, 2009

Click to enlarge

‘BAND’ING Together
Chatham Daily News Nov.14th 2009

If you have a favourite local band still playing or from when you were younger, try checking out the website created by Shawn Beaulieu.
In a short period of time, the 35-year-old Chatham resident has compiled an impressive amount of information on local bands and musicians, including photos and small biographies, which are listed by both name and year released.
Beaulieu began the project about four or five years ago as a blog, but since being laid off six months ago, he has been able to devote several hours a day to the website.
“All of a sudden it turned into more than a hobby and all of a sudden it got bigger and bigger,” Beaulieu said.
He has been a part of the local music scene as a member of the band Foster Child, which became the Janet Theory.
Beaulieu credits the help he has received from Jeff Mifflin, who works at Strings N’ Things and is the guitarist with The O’Hara Brothers band. He said Mifflin was able to access photos of several local bands that have been displayed at the local music store over the years. He also noted the members of the 1980s group Manpower, which have teamed up again this year, “got me into a lot of this.” Beaulieu said the website is getting the attention of several local musicians, past and present, noting people have been coming to him with information. Beaulieu is impressed with the wealth of musical talent and the wide range of genres that has come out of the Chatham-Kent area, and wanted a way to show that to the world.
He has done extensive research at the Chatham Public Library, gathering information dating back to 1889 with the formation of the Chatham City Band. There is plenty of interesting information on well-known older bands, including the Melody Ramblers, which once boasted current country music star Michelle Wright as its lead singer. When Wright left to pursue a solo career, she was replaced by Wendy Jenkins, who also enjoyed success with the popular band. Then there is The Missing Links, including members John, Fred and Eddy Larson and Bill McGrath, whose 1966 album “It’s Link Up Time,” was produced by Paul Shaffer, best known today for his long stint with the David Letterman Show.

The site is also filling up with information on several local bands from today’s era. Beaulieu said the website can also serve as a resource for bands that are looking for musicians with certain skills or local clubs that want to hire local bands to play. “I only knew about 10 per cent of the bands when I started doing this,” Beaulieu said. “There’s a big scene going on, but nobody knows each other.”



Sixth Concession (1973)

July 10, 2009

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Band: Sixth Concession
Home: Chatham Kent Ontario
Year: 1973

In order of the picture (left to right)
Jim Smith
Shelley Browning
Eldon Brown
Doug Smith
Vaughn Pugh.

Notes: The band is made up of members from their 1970 line up as ‘Seven’. Throughout the seventies, Doug, Vaughn, Jim, and Eldon, along with guitarist Shelley Browning, continued performing under the name “Sixth Concession”. Although lacking a full horn section, the group nevertheless continued to polish and perform tunes by groups such as Chicago and Blood, Sweat, & Tears, utilizing Vaughn on trumpet, and adding St. Clair Shadd on tenor sax.

   As the seventies drew to a close, the band went into a period of inactivity, due in part to the family and career commitments of its members. Their love of music and performing was never lost, however. In the early eighties, inspired by the movie “The Blues Brothers”, and in particular by the line “We’re putting the band back together”, the boys decided to revive the group, this time under the name “Niteflite“. The band initially consisted of the same members as “Sixth Concession” and performed in that configuration for several years. For a short time in the late eighties, a three-piece horn section was added, featuring George Willson on trumpet, Jack Drobko on trombone, and St. Clair on tenor sax.

   Throughout the nineties, Niteflite continued to perform primarily as a 5-piece group, but their love of the horn-band sound never diminished.
   In 1984, Vaughn Pugh, himself an accomplished musician on both keyboards and trumpet, had become the director of the Chatham Concert Band. As such, he had access to many fine Chatham-area musicians, and in 2003 was thus able to select several of these talented people to form the present Niteflite horn section. The new members include Al Rathwell on trumpet, Pat Bates on trombone, Rocco Desantis on alto sax, St. Clair Shadd on tenor sax, and John Leigh on baritone sax. The group’s playlist includes tunes by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Lighthouse, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Ides of March, The Beatles, and many, many more.




Manpower (2009)

July 5, 2009

Band: Manpower (Man Power)
Year: 2009
Home: Chatham Kent Ontario Canada
Year Formed: 1983
What: Good time rock & roll cover band.
Yesterday’s Classics… Todays Hits.

Current Members
Rick Rankin – Vocals, Guitar
Brent Hunter – Bass
Pat Crone – Drums

Original members
Rick Rankin – Vocals and guitar.
Tom Starks – Hammond organ, keyboards
Mark Wood – Keyboards and Bass
Rick Chrysler – Drums

  Manpower have been rocking Chatham Kent & surrounding areas since 1983. With top notch players and a good sense of humor, they survived and seen it all. I met up with them tonight (July 4th 2009) as they were opening up for David Wilcox at Rib Fest here in Chatham. When asked how they managed to stay together for so long, Rick said in a joking way that none of them have been sick yet. Cheers to good health.
From 1977-1983, the band was named The Force’ before the name change to Manpower.
Pat shares his talents through teaching drums at Strings and Things and his father Ken has been a huge part of the music scene also.
The best part of being in a band is the events you get to be a part of. I asked Manpower what was their favourite gigs or places they have played. The answer…. Boogie Till You Puke 1978.
The band is very active and can be seen at clubs, festivals, and major events all around Ontario.
Mr. Rankin also performs in a new duo with Waide Holland named “Texas Tee”. This more intamite presentation of music fits nicely into the local scene, providing more live music into venues that cannot host full (loud) bands.

BelowManpower was kind enough to answer some history questions for us about past local venues and bands in and from Chatham.

If video does not appear, watch it here.

The interview with Manpower above is what really got this website off the ground. It wasn’t until I talked to them that I realized I didn’t know anything. Quadrant? Turf Room? Jack Austin Trio? Wilf Lancaster? Pickadilly?  Well since then, the website has filled up nicely and there is lots of musical history and genres going on that most of us do not even know about, but know now. Thanks to Manpower for being cool, fun, and informative.


Square Root Of Margaret Canadian Tour (2008).

June 11, 2009

    Click the picture above to enlarge & see the dates for the Cross Canada Tour.

      This is also about the time that Ben Srokosz joined the band as the new drummer. 2008 also saw the release ‘Time Machines Box Set Volume 1’. I bought one and was impressed. It came in a custom box. It included a retro style zine, their first 3 CDs, stickers, SROM matches and a few other cool things.

   Below is a video interview with the boys on the Rogers Television Show. This “London Calling”, episode aired in early 2008.. This edited version talks a little bit about Chatham Kent & how the band came to be.

If Vid does not appear, watch it here.


Chatham Concert Band Forms (1927)

June 4, 2009


Chatham Concert Band

  The Chatham Concert Band was organized in 1927 and in 2002 celebrated 75 years of continuous operation. The Band members are musicians from the local area and perform at weekly concerts, parades, church services and other activities as requested. The Band provides a source of musical education for young people. The organization is culturally diversified and believes that all children interested in music should have the opportunity of learning instrumental music without financial restraints. The youth band programs currently instructs 150 students each Saturday during the school year. The youth groups participate in the local Kiwanis Music Festival and have been very successful over the past years.

  The organization has subgroups that perform for smaller or on request functions. These are the Dixie Cats (Dixieland music), the Hungry Five Polka Band, Jingle Bell Rovers Christmas Band and the Primitive Roots Jazz Band, an 18-piece stage band for dancing.

  Over the years, the Band has performed for the Queen of England, various Prime Ministers, Ontario Premiers, the R.C.M.P Musical Ride, and at the Canadian National Exhibition.

  Members of the Band are volunteers and range in age from pre-teen to 80+. We have a co-ed membership from all economical statuses and careers. Currently there are 40 active members in the Senior Band and 150 members in the youth groups.

  Attendance at the Band’s Summer concerts average 750 to 1000 people. Attendance at the other functions depends on the locations. Audiences at parades are not easily determined.

  The Band currently receives financial support from the two Optimist Clubs in Chatham to help fund our youth programs. The Band also receives a grant from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. The Municipality also provides maintenance, hydro and water for the municipally owned Bandshell in Tecumseh Park, Chatham, Ontario.



Fred S. Stone – Ma Ragtime Baby(1893)

June 3, 2009


Fred S. Stone  (1873 ~ 1912)
Home Town: Chatham Ontario
Year: 1893

   Fred S. Stone was a relatively prolific composer of ragtime music. Stone was born in Chatham, Ontario, nine years before Geoffrey O’Hara.. The fact of his Canadian birth is not well known since the (relatively few) references to him in the ragtime literature is as an “African-American” composer.

  The remarkable Stone inherited the musical leadership of Detroit from the equally remarkable “Old Man” Theo Finney. The latter had started a music business in the Michigan city during the Civil War, and from that beginning had built up a formidable musical dynasty. Finney’s – and then Stone’s – orchestras monopolized the Detroit Entertainment and social world to the almost complete exclusion of white performers.

  Fred S. Stone and his stalwart colleagues . . . unionized the Detroit musicians and built the fine headquarters and club that are still in use. It was the white players who had to petition for admission to the union, apparently the only local in the country where this was the case.

  Jasen and Jones (2000:320) give 1912 as the date that Stone died; however, Blesh and Janis (1966:105) state that “Fred S. Stone died in the middle 1930’s.”

  Note: Ragtime music: the jaunty, toe-tapping music that captivated American society from the 1890s through World War I, forms the roots of America s popular musical expression. But the understanding of ragtime and its era has been clouded by a history of murky impressions, half-truths, and inventive fictions.

   First use of the word Ragtime appears in the song title “Ma Ragtime Baby” by Fred Stone in 1893.

   Fred S. Stone was a cross-border phenomenon in the music world, famous in both Detroit and Canada. In fact, in spite of his dominance in music circles in early 20th century Detroit, Stone was actually born in Chatham, Ontario, making him Canadian by birth, and technically not African-American. He owed a lot of his early success to violinist Theodore Finney, sometimes referred to as “Old Man” Finney. Mr. Finney had done fairly well as an orchestra leader in the latter part of the 19th century in Detroit, and one of his star players was W. “Jack” Johnson, a cornetist. Johnson himself had been in the Detroit City Band with Finney, then spent some time touring the south in the late 1880s with the Georgia Minstrels. When he returned, he started the Johnson Cornet Band which provided a training ground for many young black musicians in Detroit, including Stone who had come across the border by the mid 1890s with his brothers.

   Fred started composing pieces for publication in 1895, mostly dance numbers, but hit it big in 1898 with Ma Ragtime Baby, further increasing sales when his brother Charles added words for a song version. The following year he made a splash with Bos’n Rag. Between this and his considerable musicianship he quickly gained the respect of musicians throughout Detroit.

     In Stone’s capacity as an arranger and leader in Finney’s orchestra, the group became one of the earliest in the country to play ragtime. The old man did not favor this newer music, and whenever they played in some of the downtown establishments where ragtime was popular, he usually chose to not participate.

  Finney died in 1899, and very soon Stone took the group over by some acclaim from the members. He then hired a replacement for Finney, violinist Jack Shook. While the two co-conducted the orchestra mutually for some time, eventually they ended up in court deciding who would be able to use the well-established Finney name for the groups each of them ended up leading, with Shook finally taking the prize. Stone continued to lead his own groups, and recorded several pieces of ragtime and other genres for some of the earliest popular records. A few his own compositions were also recorded by other groups, including the Edison Concert Band who did Belle of the Philippines.

  During this period he also turned out a number pieces that were as intriguing and varietal as that of one of his Detroit counterparts, Harry P. Guy, including a lovely set of waltzes titled Silks and Rags, and a lively almost-rag title, Belinda. He was so busy with the union and playing engagements that little was composed or published after that time, perhaps only existing as band arrangements. Stone died in 1912 at approximately 39-years-old, although the cause of death and a concrete determination of the date have been hard to pin down. His contributions to ragtime performance and music in general in what would become the city of “Motown” were significant, and even may have prompted Harry Guy’s comment that “you might almost say that Ragtime was born in Detroit.” Not quite, but it did thrive there for some time.

1895 – The Indian: Two Step –  [w/Edward Liggett]
1896 – La Albecite: Spanish Waltzes – Mackinac March
1898 – The Cardinal March – A Lady of Quality (Waltzes) – Ma Ragtime Baby
              Ma Ragtime Baby (Song) –  [w/Charles H. Stone]
1899 – The Bos’n Rag –  1900 – Elseeta
1901 – Silks and Rags (Waltzes)
1902 – Sue
1903 – Belle of the Philippines – A Kangaroo Hop
1905 – Belinda
1908 – Melody at Twilight – Stone’s Barn Dance


2009 – Below Video of Ragtime Skedaddlers performing “Ma Ragtime Baby” by Fred S. Stone



Rock Radio Station Launches In Chatham (1999)

May 30, 2009

CKUE 95.1FM: The Rock, a rock music station established on October 6, 1999. In 2002, CKUE swapped broadcasting frequencies with CKSY.



CFCO Radio Station Is Launched (1926)

May 30, 2009

  CFCO 92.9FM and 630AM: a news, sports, and oldies music station. The original AM broadcasting station was launched in 1926.

   On March 3, 2008 at 9AM, after sixteen years as an oldies station, “Classic Gold 630” came to an end with the song “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny and Cher, after which CFCO signed on the new country format with “Play Something Country” by Brooks & Dunn. This is the first time Chatham-Kent has had its own country music station.

CFCO stands for ‘Coming From Chatham Ontario’.