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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.

Sunshine World

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They got booed and heckled at their first Toronto gig, opening for Talking Heads in September 1977.    But first-wavers The Scenics are taking another kick at the can after thirty years as they hit the stage of the El Mocambo Tuesday, October 13 to kick off a five date tour in synch with the release of their new CD, Sunshine World.    Seven measly bucks gets you in the door, and you get a copy of the CD as well, and you know that they’re going to play their hearts out, and of course lots of beer and old friends.

Sunshine World was culled from 300 hours of tapes The Scenics made during their run from 76 – 82, and features studio-recorded tunes from ’77 and ’78.    Friends of The Last Pogo Jumps Again still scratch our heads at the lack of recognition The Scenics got back in the day (sentiments shared by, amongst others, Scenic pals Talking Heads drum/bass combo Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz.  A few years after the Scenics infamously opened for The Talking Heads at The Garys’ New Yorker Theatere, Tina and Chris said to Ken and Andy after hearing about their woes:  “What? I thought you guys would’ve made it by now.”

Ironically, most people point to the opening gig for Talking Heads at the New Yorker as the first and final straw in their relationship with the other scenesters and musicians.

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September 16, 1977;  courtesy Molten Core.

Everyone wanted that gig, and promoters The Garys — who would later manage The Scenics — thought it would be a great surprise to have this great band come out of nowhere (y’know, as opposed to ones that might’ve been around for two months, lol) and be the opening act.  A special treat for the loyal fans of this new thing called New Wave and Punk.   But…not so much.  There were rude catcalls from the audience — “Boring!” — and The Scenics lost potential friends and fans as soon as the handbill promoting the show was stapled around town.

The show itself was great, but there was real resentment, and The Scenics became outsiders in a group of outsiders.  It wasn’t like they were pelted with eggs, mind you, but apart from fast friends like The Demics and some others, The Scenics somehow didn’t fit follow the cryptically infused rulebook on emerging new-wave/punk rock bands.  But sticks ‘n’ stones and fuck ’em if they can’t take a jokeThe Scenics just wanted to make music.  They didn’t dress the part, go to the right parties, or even do the right drugs.  It was all about creating music. They would rehearse and jam for hours upon hours week after week and play in every bar in Toronto, only to break it up in the early eighties, defeated by geography (Ken Badger lived in the country, and had a family and everything) and partially due to a pronounced lack of recognition, apart from their loyal yet tiny fan base. (Hi Gary!  Hi Blair!)

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Courtesy Molten Core

Flash forward a few decades, and songwriting/frontman partner Ken Badger (he of the auto-asphyxiated singing style) sends songwriting/frontman partner Andy Ramesh Meyers a shoebox of tapes.  (The Scenics recorded everything.)  Andy starts to listen to them.  Obsessively.  Ken and Andy  put together an audacious collection of live Velvet Underground covers called How Does it Feel to Be Loved, and it gets critical kudos from colleges and newspapers, and a vote for the Best CD of 2008 for The Village Voices Pazz & Jop Poll from respected critic and ex-Creem Magazine staffer Jeffrey Morgan (author of the just-released official bio of Iggy Pop) who just drools over it, and it charts at colleges in Canada and the U.S.

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Getting a taste of the kind of respect ‘n’ recognition that so ably avoided them during their initial run, The Scenics are inspired.   Andy and Ken call up former members Mark Perkell and Mike Young and start to make plans.  First up is the release of the Velvet’s cover CD, then a few gigs in Toronto (including The Last Pogo’s 30th Anniversary Bash.)   Apart from the new tour and the CD, The Scenics are also going to start podcasting Punk Haiku, Andy’s memoirs from the late seventies punk days, and will be putting together a new CD of new material soon.

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Ken Badger in 2008;  photo by Edie Stiener

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Andy Meyers in 2008;  photo Kevin Lamb

The staff at The Last Pogo Jumps Again had a chance to have a sneak read of the first one, and it’s great;  you’re right there.  One of our favourite stories is of their quest for the perfect drummer.   After going through a couple that didn’t work out, they get a new guy, and start to rehearse.  In the middle of a song, the drummer has an epileptic seizure, Ken later remarking “Gee.  I thought he finally got it.”  Check out their site in our list on the right hand side.

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If you miss them in Toronto (don’t!) they’ll be in Ottawa, Montreal, London, and Hamilton in the next week.

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For a much more thorough write-up of The Scenics, check out Steve McLean’s excellent blog.  Cut and paste this http://stevemclean.blogspot.com/2009/10/scenics-i-have-to-review-gaslight.html

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