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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

R.I.P., Nash, you were one of a kind.

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Screen shot from The Last Pogo Jumps Again.

It was a terrible shock today to find out that our good friend Jeff “Nash the Slash” Plewman died over the weekend at his house in Toronto.  It’s a very sad day.  Our condolences to his family and friends.

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Nash would have appreciated the synchronicity we experienced here at Pogo H.Q.:   we were writing notes on the various extras we wanted in the DVD release this morning, and the last word we wrote in our notebook was “Nash.”  (We’re going to do a five/ten minute piece with him.)  Fifteen minutes later, we heard the bad news.  Pogo co-director/producer Colin Brunton Tweeted it after seeing it on surrealist and long-time Nash collaborator Robert Vanderhorst’s Facebook – then thought twice and took it down.  (There’s a ghoulish race to post “RIP so-and-so” as soon as you hear of the death of someone.)

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The image of the guy was altered for each handbill at the Horseshoe.  This one was a nod to Nash.

Anyone who knew Nash would have great memories; Colin’s go back to 1972, when he was 17 and an usher at Gary Topp’s rep theatre The Original 99 Cent Roxy Theatre, and Nash was a regular, and a friend.  He was a vital piece of the counter-culture that shaped the Toronto we know today.

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Photo by Paul Till.

Of all the bands that played at the 99 Cent Roxy, (Bullwhip Brothers, the precursor to Rough Trade, had their first gig there, for one) one of them was Breathless, featuring a young Jeff “Nash the Slash” Plewman on electric violin.  Awesome band.  Huge sound.  And Nash would breath fire.

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Breathless go their name from the Jean-Luc Godard film.

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Salvidor Dali as The Priest in Un Chien Andalou

In 1974 Jeff created the persona “Nash The Slash”, and performed a live soundtrack to the classic Dali/Bunuel surrealistic short Un Chien Andalou.  Even taking into consideration that a lot of the 700+ plus people there that night were on drugs, psychedelic and otherwise, it was a jaw-dropping performance:  no had ever see anything like it before, because no one had every done anything like it before.

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Nash had a candelabra set up in front of the left-hand aisle, with two or three reel-to-reel tapedecks and a variety of pedals.  He was dressed in a tux and top hat when most of the audience were still in plaid shirts.  He’d feed a few riffs into a tape machine, do some smooth techco-hocus-pocus and create tracks and loops with a drum machine (one of the very first musicians to use one), resulting in a huge sound, a veritable orchestra on acid.  After the screening, one of audience members, gob-smacked, said “He made me understand that movie.”

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Funland south of Charles St. on Yonge.  (H/T to Torontoist.)

When Gary Topp took over the New Yorker Theatre on Yonge Street, Nash was hired as the manager, and Colin was the assistant.  They had the job down pat, and weren’t shy about having fun if all was going smoothly.  It usually was, and so Jeff would go to the basement to smoke a joint, and then hit Funland across the street to play pinball while Colin held the fort, and when Nash came back, it was Colin’s turn.  Jeff had a day-job at that time for a while as a glazier, which he said was “pretty trippy.”

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Nash did beautiful and smart scores for many films that Colin produced:  his short film A Trip Around Lake Ontario (which Nash later expanded on and released as the Lake Ontario Suites);  and the feature films Roadkill, Highway 61, and Blood & Donuts.

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The fake bio Nash approved for the Highway 61 press-kit

Nash was very inventive and always enthusiastic, but when Colin, having run out of money to complete his short The Mysterious Moon Men of Canada, asked Nash if he thought playing the score Nash had written for A Trip Around Lake Ontario backwards as the score — Nash gave it a shot.  It didn’t work, but huge laughs for trying (Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet would save the day for that film.)

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Nash tore off the bandages in 2012, content to work in his garden, do some golfing and the occasional score work for TV series.  He wrote a great goodbye note on his website.  No one in the media seemed to notice.

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Nash display at Stratenger’s.

When we hear more details, we will announce.  Meanwhile, go to Stratenger’s in Toronto, check out the display case of Nash memorabilia that’s been there for years, and raise a glass to a Toronto icon.  They don’t come much cooler.

 

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