Merlot Shows (circa 1999-2003)
I should mention a place where we played briefly and was the birthplace of many shows. After the demise of Karma and Kaos, a place opened up near Boyd’s Lobster Shop on 14th st. S.W. called Merlot. Like many music joints in Calgary, it wasn’t real a suitable room for presenting live music(Too small, bad sight lines, too much glass etc.). However, the owner knew what her clientele wanted and she hired a small but proven group of musicians including Tom Phillips, Mike Stack, Tim, Kit, Billy when he was up for it and myself. I don’t remember exactly how it started, but we were soon being asked to do a tribute show at least once a month. Tributes are a fun special event with the added bonus (for the fans) that the audience already knows the tunes. Tom hosted a Merle Haggard/ Johnny Cash tribute, I (with help from Kit Johnson) did Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine. I was reluctantly talked into doing a tribute to Neil Diamond. Mike Stack did “Solitary Man” and I sometimes did “Cracklin’ Rosie”, and I looked forward to discovering some hidden gems. Let me tell, the gems were pretty well hidden. It got pretty cheesy halfway through set two! Never again. Speaking of Neil, Kit started “All Neil all Night” at Merlot. We still do that tribute to Neil Young(whom Kit has an uncanny vocal resemblance to). Merlot came to an indignant end when a represent of Socan presented the owner with a hefty bill for their original music levee. She threw them out the door and then shut the doors soon after. I keep telling people that Socan is really beneficial to us writers, but their public image is not great.