February 16th @ Free Times Café

I have to say that in 2007, when then Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Family Day would be an annual statutory holiday the third Monday in February, I was pleased but also a little bit puzzled. Pleased because who could object to a holiday in February – goodness knows we need one. Puzzled because I thought it was odd for the Premier of Canada’s most populous province to set a day aside to honour a British rock band – and a somewhat obscure one at that.

As some of you will know, the band Family had a small but devoted following during the late 1960s and early 1970s before they broke up. They featured a violin player, a big plus, and, in Roger Chapman, a rather odd sounding lead singer whose voice was likened to “an electric goat.” To hear a sample of Family try this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Has6IS7E8.

I had thought that if Ontario was going to name a statutory holiday after a somewhat, but not totally obscure, band they should pick an Ontario one. But then I realized the difficulties attendant with picking a band for such an honour. For example if you wanted a 60s band there was the The Paupers – but then a politician probably wouldn’t want to proclaim Paupers Day once a year. Neil Young could have been commemorated by naming the day after his Toronto band the Mynah Birds, but then Rick James, an American who was a Mynah Bird too, whose big hit in 1980 was Super Freak and who went to jail for a number of unsavoury acts in the 1990s probably wouldn’t be good to commemorate. In the 1970s there was Fludd and A Foot In Cold Water but neither of those names lend themselves to a February holiday either.

Before I got too far along with this line of thinking I was informed that Family Day is actually named to celebrate families. Who knew? While I do get it – politicians of all stripes go on and on about families – well actually they go on and on about “hardworking families” – do we really need another holiday for families. We already have Father’s Day and Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving and the various religious themed holidays in the winter all seem to be based on family time as well. I really don’t think families need a whole lot more celebrating than they already have.

One perhaps unintended consequence of Family Day coming on the third Monday in February, is that on most occasions that means when Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room plays its regular third Sunday in February show (February 16 this year) at the Free Times Café (College and Major just west of Spadina) most folks in the audience can stay late because they don’t have to go to work or to school the next day. I think it’s an unintended consequence because I’ve never seen Dalton McGuinty at any of our shows and so I don’t think he was trying to do us any favours.

You’ll notice I said in the last paragraph that most folks don’t have to go to work the next day because Family Day is just an Ontario holiday and people working in federally regulated businesses don’t get Family Day as a holiday. I guess the federal government doesn’t like families much at all, or maybe Stephen Harper never liked Roger Chapman’s voice.

Hope to see you there.

– Jonathan


February 16th Set List
Set #1 Set #2
Lady Bridget Oppenheim
If I Had A Hammer
Song For A Winter’s Night
It’s All Your Fault
Jump In The Fire
Evite Gabriele / Butterfly
Alcohol And Pills
Pale Blue Eyes
How Will i Ever Be Simple Again
A Song We All Can Sing
Now And Then
Unchain My Heart
Down In The Boondocks
Weldon Chan
Paradise
These Days I Barely Get By
Hector The Hero
It’s Impossible
Black Orpheus
A Father’s Love
In My Father’s House
John O’Ryan / Drowsy Maggie
The Wanderer
The Wanderer / Ruby Baby
For Your Love