Saturday, September 18, 2021

And today the Jackson Park Band Shell sits tattered, falling into ruin.... The Show MUST Go On!

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The Jackson Park Band Shell

A story by Madeline Mazak




It’s impossible to talk about Windsor music history and disregard the significance of Jackson Park—specifically the band shell tucked away in the southeast corner of the grounds. 


Overshadowed by the reaching spires of Kennedy High School and the sprawling fields of Windsor Stadium, the worn-down, mid-century structure, haphazardly covered in debris left by the City of Windsor’s parks department, appears to be nothing special. A quick google search is all it takes to recognize the band shell is anything but ordinary. The stage was host to the likes of Diana Ross and the Supremes (at the time known as The Primettes), The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and many other recognized names. The Beach Boys also performed in Windsor Stadium—the heritage site adjacent to the band shell with a capacity of 3,000—more than half the capacity of the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor casino.


Myself—and I’m certain a handful of other Windsorites—grew up here unaware this historical gem still stands today. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in pockets of the city’s vibrant music scene, it is likely you’ll overhear someone recalling a time they saw a show at the band shell, or the time their band won the Battle of the Bands—an annual competition that ended every labour day weekend with a bang and drew thousands to Jackson Park. For many amateur bands in Windsor, this was the event of the year.


I remember when I first learned about the band shell. Over a few drinks, Scott “Scotty” Hughes nonchalantly recollected the time he almost electrocuted himself on the stage right before his band Galleon performed in front of a crowd of 2,500 at the Battle of the Bands in 1972. He learned a hard lesson that night: his electric guitar and rain did not mix well. Something about having some “sense knocked into him.” The headline in the Windsor Star the following day aptly read: “Before the light rains, came the thunder…of the bands.” 


Naturally, it begs the question: why is the band shell not in use today?


Was it becoming difficult to navigate an increasingly complex web of noise bylaws? Did the City of Windsor decide the stage was better used as a storage space for the parks department? Did the construction of the Riverfront Festival Plaza eliminate the need to maintain an outdoor venue in Jackson Park? Information is not available to definitively say why it stopped being used, but it's fair to say the band shell has been out of commission for roughly 20 years. If this can be boiled down to a deficit in public interest, it is a far cry from the response received after a massive fire burnt the original band shell down in 1957. The band shell was so signifiant to Windsor culture that within three days of the fire, a committee was formed by Windsor Mayor Michael J. Patrick to rebuild the band shell. Construction was completed two years later in 1959. The show must go on.


Today the band shell is fenced off from the public; property of the City of Windsor. It is listed on the Municipal Heritage Register but does not have “designated” status which would protect it from disrepair or from being torn down. Considering the space provided by Windsor Stadium and the band shell, it is no wonder Jackson Park was once the hub for massive events in the city. With a little planning, the park could be home to large-scale events once again. 


If you ever find yourself out for a walk in Jackson Park, I recommend making your way to the southeast corner to find the band shell. If you use a little imagination, you may just hear the thunder…of the bands.


Many thanks for this story Madeline Mazak.... photo by Scotty Hughes shot on Aug. 24, 2021


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AN IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: be sure to visit CBC GEM to watch independent filmmaker, Madeline Mazak's documentary: THE JACKSON PARK BAND SHELL - a part of "REEL SHORTS: WINDSOR" visit: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/absolutely-canadian/s21e09

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Where Were You in '72 … Tecumseh, Canada, or … “Beer Drinking Around the World”


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The Golden House and Lester Bangs -- circa 1970's

Lester Bangs' Favourite Canadian Hangout - THE GOLDEN HOUSE - circa 1970's
(Golden House image courtesy of Doug Down)

San Diego native Lester Bangs made Detroit his home during his tenure as editor of the legendary (now defunct) Creem magazine, the original rock music magazine.


Creem dominated the pop culture landscape of the 1970’s while helping to usher in an era where rock music was starting to be seen as worthy of serious (or at least semi-serious) analysis and criticism, and Bangs was a larger than life figure who was probably the upstart magazine’s best-known writer.  A boozy blowhard who became legendary for his gleeful irreverence towards the very rock gods he wrote about and idolized, Bangs was also a world-class tippler who often escaped Detroit to drink himself insensible on the Canadian side of the border.  One of his favourite Windsor-area watering holes was The Golden House, a legendary Tecumseh pub that was a border city landmark for nearly a century before burning down in 1976.

Former Windsor Star music writer John Laycock recalls that Bangs’ presence on the Canuck side of the border became so ubiquitous that he was finally commissioned to write a piece for the Star about his favourite Canadian beers, which he gladly agreed to do once some modicum of payment was offered.  Laycock tells the story that, in those long-ago days before email and fax, Bangs attempted to deliver the article to the paper’s offices in person rather than simply mail it, only to be turned back by Canadian customs officials - apparently due to some previous examples of alcohol-inspired bad behaviour that caused officials to temporarily revoke the rock writer’s border-crossing privileges.

In any event, the article eventually found its way to the Star offices, where it ran under the presumably tongue-in-cheek title “Beer Drinking Around the World” and remains one of the notoriously hard-living writer’s few journalistic endeavours to be devoted to a non-music-related subject.  It is also likely his only known foray into any form of Canadian content.
Story by Christian Bonk
(additional thanks to Doug Down for images, & John Laycock for an interview regarding the story)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Once Upon a Weekend in Windsor 40+ Years Ago

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Vintage Photo of the Day - circa 1974


September 1974 -- Windsor Ontario's now defunct GRIFFIN HOLLOW AMPHITHEATRE, 

with a stage under the stars, played host to thousands of screaming fans at the 

--- ANN ARBOR BLUES & JAZZ FESTIVAL IN EXILE ---



It all happened that first weekend of September 1974.  We were honoured with a major music festival that was set up on a makeshift stage with a huge sound system, all surrounded by a big grassy hillside full of appreciative fans.  That hill was located right out the back door of St. Clair College in South Windsor, Canada.  Featured were world renowned performers…. James Brown, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Junior Walker & The Allstars, Sun Ra & His Arkestra and many more, all for the low price of $8.00 per day.

The high-voltage festival, then in it's 3rd year, was banned by officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an abrupt reactionary gesture to keep "undesirables" out of their City.  ….I'll admit, the early 1970's were crazy times, but I don't recall seeing any "undesirables" at the festival that weekend, (I did hear that some folks were turned away at the border by Customs that weekend due to the possibility of importing small amounts of illegal substances… Well, they were warned in BIG LETTERS on the event poster "WATCH THE BORDER"  …but hey, there's much more to the story, and that will definitely follow.)

Many artists graced the stage throughout the short life of Griffin Hollow…. Chuck Berry, Wolfman Jack, The Bob Seger System, The Guess Who with Domenic Troiano, Harry Chapin, Mahogany Rush, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Max Webster, just to name a few.  Fans would come from miles around - Toronto, Hamilton, London, many also crossing the Windsor-Detroit border in from the US to catch the shows. The events were often sponsored by CKLW "The Big 8" Radio, and the St. Clair College Alumni Association, and I do recall one concert event being sponsored by a major candy bar maker. They gave out free concert passes at the gate to anyone that presented the paper wrapper from one of their chocolate bars. That was a bonus, and you know, a lot of us took advantage of that delicious offer!

Story by Scotty Hughes

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Collecting & Hoarding.... keep it all coming folks!


ONGOING RESEARCH & BOOK PROGRESS -- The authors are continuing to collect many interesting interviews and seamy stories (some are suitable for printing), and plan to keep you updated here with those clips and photographs as we progress.  Whether you are a musician, a fan, or just a fly on the wall, we want to hear and see what you have from the distant and/or not-so-distant past.... please keep 'em coming folks!  Feel free to "CONTACT US" via the email link on the left.... many thanks for visiting!

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Vintage Photo of the Day -- circa 1960's

NIRVANA - Grande Ballroom poster, promo photographs, concept drawing


You got it folks... Windsor, Ontario-based "NIRVANA" opened for PROCAL HARUM at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday, May 17, 1968 -- The band was well known on the local circuit many years before the popular U.S. west coast band was formed.

Thanks go to the guys for the photographs, clippings, & associated stories (to follow)… the poster pencil drawing was done by Windsor, Ontario artist, Robert Fox


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Collecting & Hoarding.... keep 'em coming folks!

BOOK PROGRESS -- The authors are continuing to collect many interesting interviews and seamy stories (some are suitable for printing), and plan to keep you updated here with those clips and photographs as we progress.  Whether you are a musician, a fan, or just a fly on the wall, we want to hear and see what you have from the distant and/or not-so-distant past.... please keep 'em coming folks! Feel free to "CONTACT US" via the email link on the left.... many thanks for visiting!

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Vintage Photo of the Day -- circa 1986

THE SHEIKS OF R&B - circa 1986 at California's Road House, on Walker Road in Windsor, Ontario. 

L to R... Scotty Hughes (guitar); Gordie Johnson (bass); Les Nagy (tenor sax); Jamie Perkins (trombone); 
Kurt Ellenberger (trumpet); Doug Tann (band leader, drums); Bob Fazecash (trumpet); 
Tom Hogarth (vocals); Ray Manzerolle (alto sax); Tom Borshuk (keyboards)

SPECIAL THANKS go to Richard Janik for the photograph and associated story.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CBC RADIO ONE INTERVIEW

The authors were interviewed about the book project by CBC Windsor Radio One host Sara Elliot -- have a listen to that interview here....


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Vintage Poster of the Day -- circa 1967



A blast from the past,  circa 1967 -- THE INTERSECTION (now The Scottish Club)  It was very common to see featured performers such as THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM, THE WOOLIES, TED NUGENT & THE AMBOY DUKES, THE BLUES TRAIN, and many more at this Windsor, Ontario establishment!   Note the fine print at the bottom.... "MUST BE 17 -- NO LEVIS"

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Day in the Life of a DMA Booking Agent, circa 1969

INTERVIEW – Local booking agent from the late 60's recalling one of many anecdotes from his day job:



"The problem with my friend (name withheld) is that he did heroin...and I am strictly against any hard drugs, having dealt with it with Iggy...you know, Iggy Pop? That was bad enough...I mean, I one time found Iggy in a friggin' donut shop at 6am in the morning, passed out on a table with girls' gloves on up to the elbow, and girls' sunglasses on, and completely passed out. I was on my way to work, you know, I was trying to beat the traffic when I worked for DMA. So i went over to him, I says, "Iggy...um...look, if I go back to the office and tell them what I've seen here, they're not gonna be very impressed, you're not gonna be getting any work for a while...I mean, you're gonna have to chill this out..." so I gave him a ride home and dropped him off on the way to work...funny but that's kinda how things went in those days."

...excerpt from our interview with former booking agent for Diversified Management Agency (DMA), Detroit.



Detail of the concert poster for –– SUPER SESSION WINDSOR ARENA –– held on Sunday, September 20, 1970 with Talent Coordination by DMA, Windsor, Ontario.