Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Drive down Parka Avenue and take a left on Essex Lane for all your Mod Art needs

Deny it all you want but art has always been closely associated with Mod culture. Many of the original Mods from the sixties eventually went on to work in creative fields. Graphic design, fashion, film, music, photography, ad agencies are all domains that naturally fit Mod sensibilities.

I've always been a big fan of the visual arts. My loft is full of original paintings and limited edition lithographs. So much so that wall space is starting to be scarce. I always prefer to support emerging artists than deal with art galleries. Having direct contact with an artist gives your art more meaning and an added personal touch.

Enter Jeff and Erica from Essex Lane. Jeff and Erica have teamed up to offer us a wide selection of colourful hand drawn prints that will enchant both Mods and music lovers alike. Reminiscent of the psychedelic concert poster of the late sixties, they have masterfully incorporated lyrics and song titles in their work. If you're looking for a unique piece of art that has a definite 60s vibe, then look no further! They are also open to do some custom work for their clients. You can reach them through the Essex Lane Facebook page or their Etsy page .

I was very pleased when they accepted to answer a few questions for the benefit of the Parka Avenue readers.

Your art is undeniably inspired by the sixties. Why is that era so important to you?

Jeff: The 60s were a great era. Creatively and culturally there were so many barriers being broken down. You can see it in the fashion, the music, the lifestyles of that time. People were doing things, whether it was art or playing music, or whatever, because they really cared about what they were producing. I feel today, people tend to do things more because of money or fame, rather than a real need for a creative outlet.

Erica: The 60s were a giant explosion on the pop culture timeline. There were so many changes happening socially and politically. I grew up in a small town about 30 minutes south of Detroit learning about American history and in my mind, the 60s were about political activism (such as Vietnam and racial equality), personal freedom and a cultural and creative revolution. People were struggling and rallying together for collective causes. So as someone who grew up 20 years after that time, I've always been attracted to the passion and the power of people working together that defines that era. Plus, if you look back, it was really the beginning of the world getting smaller. With television and radio becoming so mainstream in everyday life in the 60s, creativity became a bigger part of everyday life. The average person could listen to the radio all day and see what was happening in other places of the world. I kind of see that as the beginning of the more technological, globally connected world we live in now.

Small Faces - Itchycoo Park

Many of your pieces have a Mod theme. What is it about Mod culture that attracts you?

Jeff: I've always loved Mod culture, but I've become even more connected with it since moving from where I grew up in Essex, England over here to America. I had kind of taken it for granted. My Dad used to take us to the same pie and mash as the one in Quadrophenia. One of my first gigs was in the same pub that the Small Faces played and rehearsed in when they were starting out. Graham Bond lived a few roads away from my house. That music is so entwined in my life. And like a lot of those Mod musicians, I've always been inspired by and attracted to the same American music that they were: Blues, Soul, R&B, Jazz, Motown, Stax, Chess, etc. There aren't too many Mods in Nashville, so I find myself now seeing it more as a part of my heritage. I've always loved the quote "clean living under difficult circumstances". The whole reason I ended up in America was through playing bass in bands. Last year when I decided to stop touring and I wasn't sure what I was going to do next, that quote sorted me out. When it was hard times figuring out finances, how cutthroat the music industry can be or living in a different country. I've really applied it to everyday life: look smart and do your best. That's what I'm trying to do.

Erica: Obviously, growing up so far away from Mod culture, both in distance and time, I've had a lot to learn! And I have loved all of it. Jeff has shown me so much music, fashion and things that I had never been exposed to. I try to be a sponge for culture so I'm really intrigued by all of it. 

The Who - My Generation

All of your illustrations are hand drawn. What brought you to work that way? 

Jeff: I had finished touring and was looking for other things to do. Erica was shopping on Etsy and I took a look over her shoulder at what she was looking at. So much of it looked so generic and digital. It seemed as though people had copied and pasted things and didn't really put much thought into it. It wasn't stuff we wanted on our walls. We love hand made things, things that happen organically, naturally. It's the same with music. We like things that feel like there was passion, thought and time put into them because people really cared about what they were creating and putting out to the general public. I made a comment that I could make something better than what I was seeing online. So Erica told me: "then do it."

Erica: Ever since I've known Jeff I knew he was artistic, but music had always been such a priority that he'd never really had time or a notion to do anything with it. Since he was working on getting away from being a professional musician, but not sure what to do next, focusing on art, in a medium that we could turn into a business, seemed logical. We came up with the idea to create art we liked and sell it as prints so that it would be affordable. 

Otis Redding - Pain In My Heart

Music is also a central theme. Do you connect with music the same way you do with art?

Jeff: Music is my first love. I've been playing since I was a kid. I've been in bands most of my life. I've been in love with music since I can remember. I will always play music and I will always collect records and 45s. I've also always loved comics and drawing. I spent a year in art college. I enjoy creating art as much as I enjoy being part of the process of creating a song.

Erica: I have always loved music and art pretty passionately. I love being a part of the creative process but I don't like to execute the final product. I prefer to stay behind the scenes and make sure things are running smoothly.

Small Faces - I'm Only Dreaming

This project is a husband and wife affair. How does each of you contribute?

Jeff: We started this whole thing together. I may draw everything, but we both think of the ideas. Some are all Erica's. Some are all mine. Some we come up with together. Once I have it sketched, inked and colored, we scan it and clean it up a little so it's ready to print and then package. As far as marketing, social media and the business side, that's Erica. We've been consistently aiming to get at least one new piece out a week, so between that, commissions and all the other work that goes into this, there's always something going on.

Erica: We really collaborate on every aspect. From the concept of a piece, to the packaging, to the marketing, to the physical printing and framing and hanging it up around town in different shops and cafes. We do the majority of it together or with both of us contributing somehow. There's so many pieces of this, apart from just putting pen to paper (which is 100% Jeff). We are constantly thinking of more we can do, both with the art and our business tactics. 

The Who - Boris The Spider

Any notable artists that have inspired you that we should know about?

Jeff: I draw a lot of inspiration on the Essex Lane stuff from psychedelic artists like Wes Wilson, Andy Warhol, Pete McKee, Rick Griffin and Gary Grimshaw. We both also really love a lot of Art Nouveau work and artists like Henri Privat-Livemont and Aubrey Beardsley.

Small Faces - All Or Nothing

I hear that Jeff is also a musician and that we play the same bass, a 1964 H22 Harmony. Do you want to tell us about your current musical endeavors?

Jeff: Yeah, I love my old Harmony. Ronnie Lane played an H22 and he is one of my favorite bass players. The name Essex Lane is a tribute to Ronnie and our logo is drawn in the shape of that bass. I used to play a bit of guitar but switched to bass when I started touring in America. I also love Duck Dunn (Booker T. & The M.G's / Stax) and George Porter Jr. (The Meters), so I also play an early Fender P Bass. Now that I'm focused on art, I don't play as much anymore but I have recently been working on some songs with another musician here in Nashville. We're working on getting together a little band that's Mod / Freakbeat / Psych inspired. It's still in very early stages so we'll have to wait and see but it's been fun playing so far.

Essex Lane logo

Jeff and Erica have been kind enough to offer one lucky Parka Avenue reader a print of their choice. To win, simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ParkaAvenue. In a month, all the names will be entered in my very advanced Selectotron 2000.  Once I have pulled down a lever, pressed on a big red button and all the blinking lights and computerized beeps have stopped, a punch card will slide down a chute and the name of the winner will be revealed. Good luck!

Don't forget to pay Essex Lane a visit at their Etsy shop, on Facebook or follow them on Twitter

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Top 20 Soul and RnB Tracks About Monkeys

My mate Dandy Dan from Boston monkeyin' around

There's a reason why you'll find 45s with every incarnation of a primate in the title. The Monkey was one of the most popular dances of the sixties. 1963 and 1964 was the heyday for this particular dance craze and a lot of Soul acts tried to come up with the next hit featuring our closest animal relative. I like them because they're funny, goofy and make you want to shake your big red butt and frolic all around the dance floor like you don't have a care in the world. You've run out of ways to come up with a twist on the dance? Why not do like Freddy King and pair up random animals and come up with the Donkey Monkey? If you want to read more about some far out dance crazes from the sixties, check out this post.

I decided to write this one when I realized how many “monkey” singles I had in my collection. A while back, I did a similar exercise with Soul tracks about the man's best friend, the dog. You can check out my list here. So here are my top 20 favourite tracks, in no particular order, about our vine swinging friends.

Monkey Mod by talented illustrator Kevin Cross

1) Mickey's Monkey – The Miracles – Motown

I couldn't think of a more proper way to start this list than with the first words spoken by Smokey Robinson at the beginning of this track: “Alright... Is everybody ready?” Written by Motown powerhouse trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland, it went up to #8 on Billboard's Top 100 in 1963. It should be part of any Mod DJ's arsenal.

When I want to surprise the more discerning Soul connoisseur, I whip out this obscure French Canadian version by the Tony Roman Cinq.

2) Monkey Time – Major Lance – Okeh

Monkey Time is Major Lance's first major hit. It climbed to #2 on Billboard's RnB chart and #8 on the Pop chart in 1963. It was penned by non other than his childhood friend Curtis Mayfield. It his now considered a classic in the Mod and Northern Soul scene.

3) Monkey Jerk - Dobie Gray - Charger

Speaking of Mod favourites, no one can deny Dobie Gray's impact on the scene. This 1965 number is the perfect mid-tempo track that combines two of the most popular dance crazes from the sixties, The Monkey and The Jerk.

4) Do The Monkey Tramp – Benny Westmore & His Private Numbers – Papa Bill

Do The Monkey Tramp is the most recent entry on our list. This 2012 screamer is the brainchild of my good friend and DJ partner Ben Shulman. It's the B-side to the brilliant RnB NewBreed track (I'm Gonna Live Till I'm) One Hundred Years Old. Initially, I was supposed to be the one singing on this one but Ben thought I didn't sound black enough. I'll give him that. I was fortunate enough to receive this test pressing as a gift. I can guarantee that this one will never be for sale. You can buy your own stock copy here.

5) The Boston Monkey - Richard Anthony & The Blue Notes – Swan

A few groups came out with their own version of The Boston Monkey but this one is by far the best and definitely one of the rarest. In fact, very little is known about the record. And get this, this promo copy is blank on the other, a first for me. A stock copy is known to exist with No Good as the B-side and said to be even harder to find. In 1966, Billy Butler, Alvin Cash, The Hustlers and Les Cooper & The Soul Rockers all came out with their own take on The Boston Monkey. The Manhattans have one of the best known and widely available singles but it doesn't even come close to this party igniter. To hear this one, you'll have to listen to the We Are The Mods podcast where I'll be featuring it on my new segment Vintage Vinyl From The Vault. You can download Episode 30 here from iTunes or Podomatic.

6) King Kong's Monkey – Gary (U.S.) Bonds – Legrand

Here's another example of a generally unknown 45. Gary (U.S.) Bonds is no stranger to many of us but this tracks seems to have slipped through our collective consciousness. If it doesn't get your blood pumping than you don't have pulse. Please consult a physician immediately. Believe me, you'll go bananas over this one! Hear exclusively on the We Are The Mods podcast.

7) Everybody's Going Ape – Jimmy Soul - S.P.Q.R.

Monkeys aren't the only primates that want their time under the spotlight, apes want some acknowledgement too! Well, except that this one is all about going ape over learning to dance the monkey. Better luck next time apes.

Now, if you find that this song sounds vaguely similar to King Kong's Monkey, there's a good reason for that. They're the same track! I guess that explains why I love them both so much. They were both produced by the same fella, Frank Guida in Norfolk, Virginia. Guida owned both Legrand and S.P.Q.R. Records.

8) The Gorilla – The Ideals – Cortland

Who said monkeys and apes should get all the fun? Gorilla are dancing machines too! The funky drum intro and the deep baritone voice of Sam Steward will grab within the first few seconds. It'll make you want to drag your knuckles all around the dance floor.

9) The Karate Monkey – Chubby Checker

I dismissed Chubby Checker for a long time for being just a one hit wonder for his success with The Twist. Plus he was simply doing a cover of a Hank Ballard's song. That was until I heard this up-tempo hand clapper. My apologies Mister Checker. You should get an honorary black belt for this one. Whenever I DJ this 45, I feel like heading for the nearest zoo and signing up for karate lessons. This is a typical DJ Parka Pat track. It's fast-paced, has plenty of hand clapping and has a funky drum break in the middle. I have to give credit to my mate DJ Eric “Boom Boom” Boulanger for turning me on to this one.

10) Monkey See Monkey Do – The Five Du-tones - One-derful

Best known for their hit single Shake a Tail Feather, the Five Du-tones came out with this mid-tempo swinger in 1963. It's actually the B-side to a track called The Gouster.

11) Monkey Man – Baby Huey & The Babysitters - Satellite

The first thing that comes to mind when I see the words “Monkey Man” is the Toots & The Maytals ska classic and the driving cover by The Specials we all heard a million times. Well, there's also this one. And it shouldn't be overlooked because it's amazing! There's nothing infantile about this Baby Huey & The Babysitters track. There's plenty of howling, hooting and screaming going on though!

12) Monkey Yeah – Gene Ray – Class

What can I tell you about this rare record? Not much besides the fact that it came out in 1964 and was Gene Ray's only single on the Class record label. This mid-tempo RnB tinged Soul as the Mod stamp all over it. I give it two prehensile thumbs up! To hear it, you'll have to tune in to We Are The Mods because you won't find it on YouTube!

13) Monkey Shiner – Tall Paul & The Thunderbirds - Twilight

I couldn't help myself. I had to include a garage tune in here somewhere. Not because it's incredibly rare and unknown but because it's raw, dirty and has a nice soulful sax solo in the middle. If you know anything about this record, please let us know.

14) Hey Monkey – Mac Davis – Vee Jay

Following the Garage RnB route, this 1964 single sounds like it was recorded at house party. It's the perfect recipe to get things moving. Mac Davis is most famous for writing one of my favourite Elvis songs A Little Less Conversation.

15) Monkey All Over – Richard Parker – Philips

This song reminds me of The Beatles' Twist & Shout with a crescendo of Ah's steadily rising at the beginning. The good news is that you won't have to brake the piggy bank in order to add it to your collection.

16) Stop Monkeyin' Aroun' – The Dovells – Parkway

If you're in the mood for more of a commercial, Pop / Doo Wop feel than this should be right up your alley. Came out in 1963.

17) Monkey – J.C. Davis – Chess

I think the title says it all. A great instrumental with sounds of monkeys, a cool organ track and sax aplenty.

18) The Monkey – Shep and The Limelites – Hull

You'll have to let backbone slip to enjoy this one. This nice little dancer came out in 1963 on the the small New York label Hull. Don't know how to dance the Monkey? Have no worries. Just follow the instructions in the song and you'll get the hang of it in no time. And don't forget to shake, shake, shake!

19) Monkey Tonight - Eddie Kirk – King

For this entry, I decided to go with a record on my want list. It was simply too hard to ignore this RnB masterpiece. There's something about Eddie Kirk's voice that is so honest, raw, real and true. Judge for yourself.

20) Mom Won't You Teach Me How To Monkey - Little Emmett Sutton - Federal

In the same vain as as Little Steevie Wonder and Little Carlton, Little Emmett does an amazing job at making us want to learn the mooves. Come to think about it, let me grab my phone and call my mom.

If you feel like there's a song that sliped through the cracks and that you think should be on the list, by all means let us know. If you want to hear most of them and need a soundtrack to kickstart a party, than head over to my the Parka Avenue Podcast right here on Mixcloud. For the exclusive, unkown gems, tune in to Episode 30 of We Are The Mods for Vintage Vinyl From The Vault. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Conversations With Soul Royalty Hermon Hitson

Extra! Extra! A first at Parka Avenue headquarters! We have a special guest contributor to the blog, Mister Ben Shulman of Papa Bill Records. Ben is not only my good friend and DJ partner but he's also a Soul savant. Whenever I have a question about 60s Soul, I phone up my breathing Soul encyclopedia and he rarely lets me down.

So when he told me about this conversation he had with Soul singer Hermon Hitson, I begged him to share the story with the Parka Avenue readers. Ben is actually this passionate about music. If he wants to know more about a song, he'll just find the singer and phone him up. As simple as that.

The great track in question is Georgia Grind by Hermon (Hitson) and The Rockin' Tonics.

I turn it over to you my friend.


Well, I just had an interesting phone conversation! 

Just recently I discovered this incredible 45 out of Atlanta, Georgia called Georgia Grind by a group called Hermon (Hitson) and The Rockin' Tonics. I was immediately blown away by the pure and raw energy of this record that I decided I needed to know more about it.

After some perusing, I discovered that Hermon was still around and living down in Atlanta. I did a little research and ended with Hermon on the phone. We talked for about an hour.

This man is definitely an unsung hero of soul / r&b. He told me he was 19 when he made the record and that he got signed to Royal Records because he was discovered by Arthur Conley's manager. Hermon also happens to be the cousin of Dave Prater, of Sam & Dave (Stax Records). Hermon then went on to tell me that after making two 45s with Royal Records in Atlanta his band got hired to back up the singers at live shows.

Hermon and his band played for the likes of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Joe Tex and Major Lance (just to name a few, take a second to think about how incredible this is). This blew me away, but believe it or not, this story gets better. Hermon told me that in '65 he became close with an up-and-coming guitar player called Jimi Hendrix, whom he played with and actually recorded with! Hermon spoke fondly of Hendrix, reminiscing about how the two would make $15/week and feel like millionaires.

I couldn't believe that I was talking to a guy who had the opportunity to play with all these legends. He also told me about his friendship with James Brown and that when this Georgia Grind record came out, people thought it was a James Brown tune. He also spoke highly of Marvin Gaye. He went on to tell me the story of how he met David Ruffin (of The Temptations) at an illegal underground gambling club in Detroit and they became good friends!

Last but not least, he reminisced about recording some tracks for Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. Hermon claims his band were the first musicians Mayfield recorded in his own studio.

I'm still trying to comprehend all of this. Isn't it amazing what a little bit of research can do for you? Imagine if I had never looked into this record? Glad I did! Hermon is still playing with a band to this day and never gave up the music. Wish there was some way I could get this guy into a studio again! This guy is a LEGEND.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spending a Weekend With Warren Peace, The Man Behind The We Are The Mods Empire – Part II

Part II

In part I, I introduced you to the highly entertaining and contentious host of the We Are The Mods radio show, DJ Warren Peace. I explained in way too many words what I thought we had in common and where we diverge, only to describe the first 60 seconds of our first encounter in person. Here's what ensued.

Day 1:

I had a weekend planed full of surprises and the best of what Montreal had to offer. I met Warren and the lovely DJ Penny Lane at their hotel. Our first stop was a little restaurant that is often frequented by the local McGill University students and not a place that an out-of-towner would usually visit. Le Santropol has some of the best sandwiches in town and offers a great selection of tea. Not a fancy place by any means, I had Penny in mind because of its vegetarian friendly menu.

My first impression was confirmed. The meal was punctuated by laughter, friendly tomfoolery and non-stop conversation. I always suspected the reason why some people can't stand Warren is that they take what he says way too literally. You can be firm in your convictions without taking yourself too seriously. That was established very early on. What I love about getting into contact with fellow Mods from around the globe is that you have this instant connection and have plenty in common. That's something that my non-Mod friends don't get. Let's face it, we are a fraternity.

I had Warren in mind for our next stop. If you have ever listened to his show, you know he's a scotch aficionado. So it wasn't by chance that we made a detour by the Whiskey Cafe. Ask any local and they'll tell you that the Whiskey Cafe has a reputation for having the nicest washrooms in the city. Where else can you take a whizz in a waterfall?

But we weren't there to use the facilities but to enjoy the best selection of scotch and whiskey in town. As soon as we walked through the entrance, my wife was greeted by the barmaid with open arms, a long time friend. You could tell right away, by looking at Warren's reaction, that he was impressed that we seemed like regulars in this upscale joint. It was actually just a coincidence. We all had the sample selection and our guest of honour, that is quite particular about his scotch, emptied every glass in front of him. The evening was off to a great start.

The bar Les Bobards was next on the list. Time for some live entertainment! We needed a little break from all of us talking non-stop for the last couple of hours. I wanted our guests to have a taste of some of our local talent. The bar is small, intimate, with the stage just a few feet in front of us. It's the perfect place to taste some of our local brew on tap. I was pleased when I learnt that the traditional Ska band The Skatton Club was playing when our visitors were in town.

The band had just started their first set when we set foot in the establishment. Andre, the band leader, spotted me walking in and right in the middle of a song, greeted me by my first name. “Bloody hell Patrick, you own this town? Everywhere we go, people know you!” came out of Warren's mouth. I wish that was planned. I have to admit, I couldn't think of a better way to boost my ego.

I had invited some of the Montreal Mods and a few friendly skinhead mates of mine to join us. A few answered the call and we were soon a dozen enjoying the cold beer and a great show. I was delighted to know that Warren loved the band. He thought that they were worthy of a record deal and was surprised they didn't have an album out.

That reassured me for the surprise that was just about to happen. During the second set, Andre invited me on stage to sing One Step Beyond. I started with the Madness intro we have all heard a million times followed by a little bit of toasting and skanking on stage. By the look on their mugs, it's safe to say that nobody saw that one coming!

We finished the night in a clandestine bar that can be best qualified as a depression era speakeasy. To find the place is half the fun. Once you walk through the door that has the word “bar” the size of a baby's fist with a Japanese character above it, nestled between a local fast food joint and a jeweller, you find yourself in a long narrow hallway covered on each side by long white drapes. This mysterious corridor finally ends with another heavy drape where a tall man, dressed in a tuxedo, suddenly peaks out and asks you how many you are. I was expecting to be asked for a secret password or a set of keys with the Playboy bunny on it but after a ten minute wait we were invited in. Inside is a dim light place that has enough place for a bar. It's strategically placed in the middle with arms branching out on each side. So basically, wherever you are in this boudoir, you're resting against the bar. Frank Sinatra was softly being played over the speakers. We all felt quite at home, all sharply dressed in our tailored suits. Trendy cocktails are the house's speciality. 

It took me a while but it dawned on me that this place used to be the nastiest dive bar around where all the local skinheads and punks used to meet, get drunk on cheap beer and fight. I think my wife came up with the most accurate description of the night when she said: “This place feels like I'm in a David Lynch movie.” That just made an already memorable night even more special. Penny, Warren and I already felt like childhood friends that hadn't seen each other in 10 years.

Now, this night would merit a 5 star rating if it wasn't for the fact that I had forgotten where I had parked the car. Since Warren and I are such gentlemen, we had dropped the ladies in front of the venue. And just like two high school gals, we never stopped talking while hunting for a parking spot. So I never payed attention to where I had left the car. We must have walked a few miles at 3 am just to realize that it was just across the street from the bar.

I was looking forward to what adventures the next day was going to bring.

Day 2:

I picked up the dynamic duo at their hotel just in time for brunch. I brought them to a diner that has been open since 1942 and is a Montreal institution. Beautys Luncheonette is the place to go, evident by the fact that there's always people lining up outside. Even if we had to wait a while for a table (I don't own this town after all) at least we were entertained by the 90 year old Jewish owner Hymie that cracked us up with his rapid fire one-liners. “Don't worry, once you're inside, you can take all the time in the world. As long as you do it fast.” was one of them. Well, you get the picture.

Photo from the Beautys Facebook page
Is it just me or Hymie is the live version of the old guy character in the Pixar movie Up?

I was proud to have my guests taste the world famous Montreal bagels (Google it if you don't believe that Montreal has the best bagels on the planet) and the delicious pancakes served with REAL maple syrup. The brunch also served as a business meeting. It wasn't just for the fact that Warren put the meal on his expense account. We officially decreed that in exactly a year, we were going to meet again at the Modtreal Weekender and Scooter Rally. So mark your calenders folks, Montreal will be the epicentre of the Mod world during Labor Day Weekend of 2014.

Once our bellies were full, that the caffeine had kicked in and that we had decided that Modtreal was going to be jointly presented by We Are The Mods and Parka Avenue, we were ready to hit the streets. What are 3 Mods to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon? Visit the Montreal Museum of contemporary arts? Naw... Maybe next time. Go see the unique architecture of Old Montreal? Pfff. Too many tourists. Go up the tallest inclined tower in the world at the Olympic Stadium? Maybe if we have enough time. Let's have our priorities straight here folks. Let's go shopping!

A short walk from Beautys is Le 63. Recently opened, it's owned by a Rocker! Yes, I brought them in enemy territory! Actually, Richard is a super nice fellow that has a nice mix of quality vintage threads and new stuff. His selection of new, retro inspired helmets, aviator goggles and driving gloves are worth checking out.

Richard and I settling our differences.
A Rocker's jacket over a Vespa. This spells trouble.

As soon as we walked in, the lovely Sandra greeted me with a big hug. Warren was again mystified. I had an ulterior motive to bring him there. I wanted to lure Warren to the dark side. No... Not turn him into a Rocker! I actually wanted to show him that having a retro fetish is sometimes a good thing. Richard had bought a load of brand new, deadstock, sta-prest type trousers from the 60s. Most of them still had the original tags attached to them! Usually, I like to keep that type of precious bounty all to myself but I had VIP guests to impress! Warren did manage to find a stunning pair of tan trousers that fit him perfectly. That's one point in the “Win” column for vintage clothes!

There was a massive sidewalk sale on Mont-Royal Avenue and I didn't leave empty handed either. I found a nice 60s yellow wool Arnold Palmer cardigan that cost me next to nothing. Another quick stop to see my buddy Manuel at Paul's Boutique. We didn't spend a lot of time searching for records but just enough for Warren to drop a box full of pins on the floor.

Before bringing my visitors back to their hotel for a little down time and a quick change we drove to the top of Mount Royal where the views of the city are breathtaking.

For the evening's festivities, I had planed a good old fashion loft party. Chilled cocktails were flowing and smooth Soul music and Mod classics were the soundtrack for the night. Everybody came dressed to the nines, like only Mods can do. Another surprise was in store for all in attendance. For the first time ever, my friends Dominic and Caroline introduced themselves as fiances. That's right, a few hours earlier Dominic had asked his girlfriend's hand in marriage while on a romantic Vespa ride along the Lachine canal. So out came a chilled bottle of Moet & Chandon!

This ended up being a weekend I will not soon forget. I spent some quality time with some old friends and made some new ones. I believe I promised my readers a shocking revelation about the man behind the microphone, didn't I? So without further ado, here it is. Warren is actually a real nice guy. Shocking I know! He's attentive, generous and quite a good listener, believe it or not. Unlike some of you might believe, he doesn't torture cute fluffy kittens in a dungeon. Here's the proof.