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Steve Shutt: "Me and Geddy Lee" - The Slapshot Diaries

Retired Montreal Canadiens Steve Shutt recently shared a story of attending a concert with Geddy Lee as part of the The Slapshot Diaries, a new website project from filmmaker Mike Downie and musician/author Dave Bidini in partnership with Toronto-based FUSE Marketing.

Shutt, who attended Fisherville Junior High in Willowdale with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, shared his story of seeing The Mandala concert at the North York Centennial Area with Geddy Lee in 1967.  The concert made a huge impact on them.  Apparently Alex Lifeson was not present with Geddy, although he was also at this concert and was similarly impacted, as told at the bottom of this post. 
"We were both 14 years old going to Fisherville Junior High in Willowdale in 1966, right at the start of the psychedelic era. We were good friends and, like everyone, we bought all the newest albums, tried to look like hippies, and even took the bus and subway down to Yorkville to see what we had to look like to be cool.

"We went to our first really big show at North York Centennial Arena featuring the two hottest bands in Toronto: The Mandala and The Paupers. The Mandala started the show with their great Blue-Eyed Soul Review. They were dressed in trademark cherry-striped suits. Joey Cherowski was on organ, Whitey Glann on drums, Dominic Trianio on guitar and Don Elliot was on bass. George Oliver sang and danced and jumped around on stage in a frenzy, which earned him his trade mark as the hardest working singer in soul music. The only time he slowed down was when he did the splits and ripped the ass out of his pants, which he changed while the band played an instrumental, the song 'Toronto ’67'. Both me and Ged couldn’t believe what we were seeing. This was great, this was unbelievable. We watched in awe as they finished their set.

"The next band were The Paupers. They started their set with their new hit song Magic People. There was a sound: the fuzz bass played by Denny Gerrard. Me and Geddy looked at each other and decided right then that we were going to play bass, too. Denny stood in his sluggo cap and pounded out an amazing riff that nobody had ever heard before. Little did we know that, during the show, the group, led by Skip Prokop and Adam Mitchell, would let Denny loose to do a 10 min bass solo. When he finished, completely exhausted, he left everyone in the audience stunned by what they’d just heard.

"That week, we begged, borrowed and maybe stole money to buy our own bass guitars and two small amps. I took my bass home and started practicing. I read my 'Introduction to Bass Playing' book. I did scales and learned how to tune the bass. After a couple of weeks, I thought I was getting the hang of playing and sounding pretty good, so I went over to Geddy’s house to show him. When I got there, he had his bass out and one of those old portable record players where, when you opened it up, the speaker would be in the lid. I got out my bass out and said “'kay, let’s do some scales.' Geddy looked at me and said, 'Um, I can’t do scales.' My confidence started to rise. 'I’ll show you,' I told him. 'Just follow me.' Maybe I did have some talent.

"Geddy said, 'Wait, before we do that, let’s listen to this record.' I told him that would be fine. The record started on the cheap portable player and he said, 'Listen, can you hear the bass?' Then he said, 'Look at this,' and started playing. His bass came alive. It pounded the speakers of the 12″ amp and sounded great. I didn’t know if he was copying the record or not because I couldn’t even hear the bass on the record. He did the same thing on the next song and the next one after that. I went home and put my bass away and I don’t think that I ever picked it up again. I guess, looking back, it would have been tough for anyone to compare with the best bass guitar player in the world. I think that both of us made the right decision."
Alex Lifeson was also present at this concert, and met Mandala's guitarist, Domenic Troiano, after the show.  Back in 2013, in a press release announcing the annual Domenic Troiano Guitar Awards, Alex was quoted as saying:
"On June 30, 1967, I saw the Mandala at the North York Centennial Arena. At the side of the stage Donny gave me his autograph and his Mandala button. He told me how important it was to keep practicing and if I worked hard, I might get the chance to stand on stage and play for people some day. I was beaming. He was my first real inspiration and to this day I have a deep love and admiration for a man who truly knew the meaning of soul. I am proud to be a humble part of his enduring influence".
- Thanks to RushIsABand for the headsup!

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