Saturday, April 14, 2012

Remembering The Esquire Show Bar

For two decades, the Esquire Show Bar was known as the Mecca of Rhythm 'n & Blues in Montreal and was an absolute must for the stars of soul touring in North America. 

14 comments:

pauline garneau said...

pauline garneau said...

Guy Billard said...

My recollection of the Esquire goes back to the 50s when Montreal was an open city. All the top U.S entertainers would pay us a visit. One small anecdote I would like to share is when an entertainer came to our shop, Tony The Taylor, to have a suit made and when it was ready I delivered it to him at the Esquire and he paid me a drink at the bar.
As I said, Montreal was an open city with gambling, blind pigs, prostitutes and plenty of bars.The whole system was corrupt. There where probably as many bars as churches. Then came Drapeau who made a clean up. It was quite an era wich I personally witnessed. There are many other incidents that I witnessed but I will keep them to myself.
Guy

Guy Billard said...

Les
That old hockey video is very timely as we can see Butch Bouchard who died today. Thanks for posting it.
Guy

Les F said...

Ahhh the good old days............lol Cheers ! HF&RV - Les

pauline garneau said...

There are many other incidents that I witnessed but I will keep them to myself.Guy

I would love to hear a few so I could tell them to my grown children.

pauline garneau said...

Lili St Cyr Tribute
A tribute to one of the biggest stars of burlesque, Lili St. Cyr. Her trademark gimmick was 'The Flying G", which consisted of her g-string being attached to a fishing rod that would fly off into the balcony as the lights dimmed. She was also known for her onstage 'bubble baths' and performing the reverse strip. And she was a big influence on Marilyn Monroe, who attended many of Lili's shows. Lili also developed her own lingerie business called "The Undie World of Lili St. Cyr".

pauline garneau said...

http://hour.ca/2009/09/17/sin-city/



An abbreviated history of burlesque in Montreal


If you think Montreal’s a good-time city today, you should’ve seen her back in the day, home to some of the hottest jazz clubs on the planet and a wide-open scene fuelled by Prohibition stateside.

So the thirsty came to Montreal from all over the continent: gamblers, racketeers and the world’s most famous entertainers, everybody from Louis Armstrong to Frank Sinatra, who held court at the Chez Paree nightclub. The city ranked behind only New York City and ahead of Chicago on the vaudeville circuit, and even Al Capone opened a club here (it still stands today as the Lion d’Or).

The city’s unofficial theme song was Irving Berlin’s 1928 Prohibition-era hit Hello Montreal!, and the festivities were presided over by "Mister Montreal," this city’s beloved four-time mayor Camillien Houde.

Like they sang in Hello Montreal!, "I’ll make whoop-whoop whoopee night and day!"

"Nightclubs were the kind of world that my folks expected, and they weren’t fussy about me being in that world," famed Montreal jazz pianist Oliver Jones, who began playing in Café St-Michel in 1944 at the age of 10, told me in 2007. "It was across the street from Rockhead’s [Paradise], which was the first black-owned club in all of Canada. The St-Michel was a little rougher… [I] saw a lot of what I wasn’t supposed to see – girly girls and strippers. But the people there, there was always someone looking out for me."

Aaah, yes – showgirls, burlesque dancers and, later, Montreal’s famed strippers.

"We’d put on five costumes and take off four," 1940s-era Montreal showgirl Tina Baines Brereton told me back in 1999. "We [black girls] didn’t strip. They had white girls for that. They couldn’t dance as well as us, so they took their clothes off."

Montreal’s most famous, legendary burlesque dancer was, of course, Minneapolis-born Lili St-Cyr. Lili danced in NYC, Los Angeles, Miami and Vegas, but adored Montreal. And the city – and the rich playboys who flocked here – adored her back.

"Every night in Montreal was like New Year’s Eve in New York!" St-Cyr said in her memoir Ma vie de stripteaseuse.

St-Cyr’s reign as Montreal’s most famous woman would end by 1952, and Montreal’s Sin City days were numbered with the arrival of a crime-busting lawyer named Jean Drapeau, who first became Montreal mayor in 1954.

Jazz clubs closed down or turned into rock’n'roll venues, and burlesque nightclubs became strip joints. It was the end of an era. But today Montrealers still enjoy letting the good times roll long after most other cities have rolled up their sidewalks and gone to bed.


ooo


For more of the dirty on burlesque, Hour’s own Vixen, Laura Roberts, takes it on in her column.

pauline garneau said...

Ted Lewis - Hello, Montreal

Bob Bisnett said...

Ah..... the Esquire. Many great memories of great music there. Sometimes the smoke was so thick I couldn't keep my eyes open......it hurt too much.

One night I was watching and listening to Junior WAlker and the All Stars. The drummer kept looking over my way, but beyond me....behind me. I turned to see what he was looking at. A storage room door was open and someone had a fire extinguisher and was putting out a fire. The show went on.

BobB

pauline garneau said...

Jr. Walker & The All Stars - "These Eyes"


Hi BobB Thanks for your Esquire story.
I remember my first visit to the Esquire I was so under age but with teased hair makeup high heels and a snazzy dress I got past the front door. When ordering our drinks I was sure I would be asked to leave but that didn’t happen.

Bob Bisnett said...

Hey. thanks for posting "These eyes". I never heard Junior Walker doing the Guess Who before. Loved your story about worrying about being under age at the Esquire.

BobB

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember SHOTGUN KELLY?

Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of the Esquire, in 1966-67 I met many an entertainer there, Junior Walker, Bo Diddley and his sister (what a guitar player she was) Edwin Starr, Chuck Jackson, Ruby and the Romantics (whose drummer was Buddy Miles, he was Jimi Hendricks drummer) but the person I really enjoyed talking with was Ben E. King, he used to call me PHAT. He was a real class act.