PUNK HAIKU: unheard stories and sounds from the proto-punk years                                             featuring Toronto's THE SCENICS





Two songs from the "Scenic Caves" first public gig- playing for a room full of young teens.


The Scenics take on Jonathan Richman. "I like leave it to Beaver"....  We loved playing this one, didn't do it very often.

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Have you seen your mother baby standing in the shadows

We didn't know the words, exact chords and song structure... Didn't stop us tho. Youthful exuberance should be rewarded.  Proto-Spunk!

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Punk Haiku 8: Audio of  the Scenics preparing for first studio recordings (which were featured on the Sunshine World CD), and a studio out-take from those June 1977 sessions!


Two more bands played T.O. in March. The Rolling Stones played  unnanounced for two nights at the El Mocambo tavern, recorded for their “Love you Live” LP. It was announced by CHUM FM as a contest- go to a party with the Stones . To win a ticket, you had to write in and say why you should be there.

The thought of standing around in some hotel ballroom waiting for the Stones to stagger in and sit at their private table did not appeal so I didn’t enter. Gary Topp did and sent in a copy of a letter he had mailed to CHUM in 1964, telling them that they should play the Rolling Stones because they were one of the most happening beat groups going. 

He included CHUM’s astonishing reply that this was out of the question because the Stones "Didn't bathe"!!!

In 1977, Chum couldn't say no to that, and Gary was in at the party, which turned into a concert, which Gary (after i knew him) told me was a good Stones rehearsal, bloody loud. Once I found out it was a concert, I of course really wanted to be there. (In 1972, at the Exile on Main Street gig at Maple Leaf Gardens, with Talking Book era Stevie Wonder opening, I had a nosebleed ticket from a scalper in my hands for a beat, and while I was deciding if it was good enough, someone else grabbed it. That was as close as I had gotten to a Stones show, and remains  my greatest Rock and Roll concert regret.) The evening of the second El Mocambo show, I tried the irrationally easy route in and tried phoning CHUM and asking them if they had any extra tickets (last minute cancellation?) and the DJ just said “You’ve got to be kidding” and hung up.

These were of course the shows where Margaret Trudeau, Canada’s first lady, showed up, partied down, and almost brought the government down, until Pierre stood up in the House and said she was her own person, she could do what she liked, sounded like a fun marraige till it hit the rocks. 

     Also- in March, the Scenic Caves played their  first and only full  show at Dixon Hall in Cabbagetown, a historically poor, very old corner of Toronto that was just beginning to be reinvented as a neighbourhood where people could open offices in sandblasted buildings and pretend they were rich. That evening, Dixon Hall was a community hall full of enthusiastic young kids of a variety of colours hanging from the rafters and flying through the air. Their friendly, earnest facillitators were kids who a generation earlier would have joined the peace core before realizing that, essentially, similar conditions existed right at home.

The kids loved us and the evening was an appropriate start to the Scenics' story because it happened in a world totally seperate from the entertainment mainstream and that evening our relationship was one on one with each individual kid who brought themselves to the event whole-heartedly, as kids do, and created the event for themselves. We played a clubhouse, a rock and roll  soda hop, and we played Do the Wait and Mony Mony with Mike Cusheon singing lead and Ken and I toppling wild piles of harmonies on top (like John and Paul on Ringo’s I Wanna Be Your Man), and we did a version of the Velvet’s New Age that unfolded the story in a stately fashion, as if it was a tapestry from the French court, and it was very slow, but we locked in, and it became timeless. (And I guess it was timeless because 30 years later there it was, a track from our first gig, on our first CD.)

   We did everything we had, because we had the whole night to fill, and the kids were along for the whole ride, from pop songs to Little Johnny Jewel explorations of the unknown, and we finished the night exhausted, not tired, but with everything expressed, nothing left, and the little kids flowed up to us one by one like the eloi in HG Wells The Time Machine, and with hand gestures and bobbing heads and natural kid speak and their own sharp clothes full of expression told us how it had been right for them.

And we packed up finally, a different band, a real band,  and drove home  ready for further adventures.

(courtesy indiekidz.com)


   Which came in the form of some cocaine which I believe I procured from my employer at the Writer’s Development Trust, or maybe Ken from his Swiss Airline neighbour, but anyway, it was there at rehearsal and there we were doing it when Mike Cusheon walked in, and he was non-plussed, and walked back out of the room, and would not come back, and later in the week, as he tendered his resignation to us, he would only say “That cocaine was the last straw!”

  A statement which of course struck Ken and I as impossible to respond to with a straight face, and frankly, if he was going to be that uptight, we wanted nothing more to do with him. It’s not as if cocaine was anything we did regularly- I could not get behind a drug that was expensive and only lasted for twenty minutes, I probably only did it half a dozen times in my whole life,  it always being a “first one’s free” experience with various people. My rejection of it was one of the few cost consicious choices I have ever made in my life, and made me think of my mom who always described her canniness as the result of her upbringing as a “depression kid”. That Mike was only passable to play with, was showing very limited signs of musical growth, and kind of an effort to hang out with only made Ken and I less tolerant of his intolerance.

   So the Scenic Caves were out of their home at Neil Wyck, and out a drummer. Ken and I headed out like Siberians crossing the land bridge to North America, wandering throughout Toronto in our touques and winter coats, Ken’s thermal coat that was like he was wrapped in 7 layers of burlap bubble wrap, that had a hood that hid all of him but the tip of his nose. For some reason we did not look for a new home in the loft and industrial spaces in downtown Toronto. I have no idea why, but we headed to the fringes of midtown, where the grid expanded towards the suburbs, and in fact right out to the suburbs.

I can remember walking for miles down Lawrence Avenue, East from Victoria Park, utter suburbia, checking out strip malls, looking for unused basements. I can only imagine that I did this because at fourteen I had a brief stint in my older, distant cousin Wayne Robinson’s band, playing second guitar behind his 62 Jazzmaster as they played Johnny Winter (“Johnny Winters” as Wayne called him) through big burly amps with a big burly drummer in the basement under a hair stylist in a plaza at Markham and Eglinton, outer utter suburbia. I got fired cause I was too young, and, possibly, not Scarborough enough, didn't fit in, not enough of a chip eating, greasy jeaned mall rat.


Getting fired was probably a good thing, because it was so far away by car and TTC in the winter cold (why did these experiences always happen in winter, except for the three days I  spent criss-crossing the expanse of Toronto on the TTC in the July heat, reading On the Road the whole time,  experiencing the non stop motion of the book off the page as I travelled.)

   Eventually Ken and my explorations became so far removed from Toronto proper, and so unsuccessful, that we were forced to turn around and head back towards civilization, but before we got too close, Ken found us a little spot in Leaside.


   It had taken about a month, and with no place to play, no practices, and no drummer, I remember wondering if that was it for us. But then Ken told me about this place- a basement office in Leaside.  Bayview Avenue, just south of Eglinton, mid-city boulevard land. Sort of like Paris with the romance replaced with a stubborn Toronto matter of factness, a street lined with 2 story office/retail,  shoe repairs, optometrists and insurance agents.  It was as if we purposely chose a neighbourhood that was so foreign to us as to render us totally invisible. We could pass in and out of it and it would not cling to us. In a way this was true, but in another way, we were good Toronto boys, and fit right in.


The office was down a hall and down a stairs and down another hall and included about a 9 by 12 reception area and two 8 by 14 foot offices. The offices were seperated by waist high opaque fluted glass windows, and we figured we could take out the windows and make it one big airspace to practice in. Except it wasn’t that big, and those modest rooms became smaller when coated in fibreglass insulation wrapped in plastic (which we naively thought would keep the noise down, and which, with wear and tear, made us itch until we somehow, and I can’t remember how, better sealed everything).


The small space we practiced in contributed to our sound being detailed,  like Bartok chamber music played on an electric chair,  there was no large space for the sound to spread out and ring  into.  The reception area became populated with a couch and coffee table and shelf and Ken’s collection of pornography, and became the place where we sat and drank coffee and smoked the joints which primed us for rehearsal.  We set up amps and drums in one of the rooms, with a large p.a. speaker against the wall opposite in the other, and a table hockey game on the floor for those nights when inspiration escaped us. We put posters we found in the garbage on the wall.

(Photo Brian Molyneaux. l-r Ken, Andy)


Ken still worked at Long and Mcquade’s, and he had me come in one day and claim “My” acoustic bass head, a great bass amp which had been languishing unclaimed for months and months, and which combined with a 15 inch speaker that Ken had made and fibreglassed himself (during which, inevitably, he fibreglassed himself) provided a roaring low end for us. We twinned Ken’s Twin Reverb amp with my Traynor Guitar mate reverb (an underated amp currently in favor as an inexpensive example of hand-tied circuits) to create quite a squall on guitar, and, a sound was born.


PUNK HAIKU 8 coming May 18, 2010. The Scenics decide to make a recording, and enlist a drummer.


Set list from Dixon Hall


We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together/ Dirty Water. (Velvets/Standells)

Farm Reports and Test Patterns (Badger)

Garthuson (Meyers)

Where Have All the Good TImes Gone (Kinks)

What Goes On (Velvet Underground)

Remake Remodel (Roxy Music)

I Can't Control Myself (Troggs)

New Age (Velvet Underground)

Do the Wait (Meyers)

I'm Not Dead Yet (Badger)

I'm Hurt (Meyers)

Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground)

Old World (the Modern Lovers)

Picnic in Detroit (Bowie rewrite)

Scenic Caves (Badger)


Set 2


Tokyo (Badger)

Little Johnny Jewel (Television)

I'm Sad (Badger)

I Want Something Bizarre (Meyers)

Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Velvet Underground)
Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells)

I Don't Believe You (Dylan)

Great Piles of Leaves (Meyers)

Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Rolling Stones)

I'm Set Free (Velvet Underground)




OLD WORLD  (Jonathan Richman, Wixen Music Publishing/Modern Love Songs) 

bass/vocals Ken Badger.   guitar/bgs Andy Meyers.  drums Mike Cusheon.


HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER BABY (Jagger/Richards, Abkco Music)

bass/vocals Andy Meyers. guitar/bgs Ken Badger.  drums Mike Cusheon.


Recorded March, 1977, Dixon Hall, Toronto.

PUNK HAIKU AUDIO produced by Andy Meyers ©2010 Dream Tower Productions.

PUNK HAIKU written by Andy Meyers


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