At the Tranzac's Tiki Room last night, old friends and fans were gathered together, ten years after his passing and set up an empty chair in the corner by the piano, with ample space for our absent host, Norm Hacking. Under the spotlight, a few dozen congregants played and sang, testified, recited and reminisced, while that corner chair radiated the approval of a benign spirit.
Go Down Dancin photo by D. Hynes
The night was a revisitation of the song circle known as Norm's Living Room, a long-standing residency twenty years back, when up and coming folk singers, song writers and weekend warblers had their chance to prove their poetry in public. On the wall, in the room where it all began, was a portrait strikingly similar to Syd, Norm's orange cat, and the hero and villain of many of his songs.
Lorne photo by D. Hynes
Starting with singalongs on Sammy and Shine, and a warm memorial by Michael Katz, the night then got drastically dynamic with a gang assault, led by Lorne, on Go Down Dancin. That opened the gates for performances from Norm's repertoire by Howard Gladstone, Glen Hornblast and Steve Paul Simms. Tributes were also presented in song, including Jim McCuaig`s fingerstyle hommage, Brian Gladstone's original, Norm's Living Room, new music from a soon-to-be released record by Linda Saslove, an amazing storm front of harmonica virtuosity by Harpin Norm Lucien, the gregarious growl of Michael Laderoute, and in prose by Norm's stalwart, erstwhile manager, Shirley Gibson.
Those in attendance found themselves warmly reminded of the ambiance and electricity of Toronto's shared music community, and of the conviviality that Norm would bring to those nights long ago.
It was one person short of a great party.
Corby, Shirley Gibson Michael Laderoute and Howard Gladstone