On a spring night in 1965, a warm breeze blew along Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue, carrying with it a strange mixture of scents: rich coffee, pungent marijuana and noxious automobile exhaust. Cars crawled along the one-way street between Bay and Avenue Road, past sidewalks filled with teenagers in Beatlecuts and miniskirts. Some sat on café patios, others strolled along the tree-lined boulevard or hung out on doorsteps. Boys watching girls watching boys.
Like flowers in a hothouse, the musicians in Yorkville thrived on the responses of those who flocked to hear them. There was literally something for everyone: the traditional jazz of Jim McHarg & his Metro Stompers at the Penny Farthing, the delicate ballads of Joni Mitchell at the New Gate of Cleve, the blues folk of John Kay at the Half Beat and the stirring songs of Gordon Lightfoot at the Riverboat.
Meanwhile, the new pop sound had infiltrated the village, with British-influenced bands everywhere: Jack London & the Sparrows at the Café El Patio, Dee & the Yeomen up at the Night Owl and the hard-rocking Ugly Ducklings