111992 The Waltons/The Wallflowers, Ottawa, ON

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Based on their set opening for The Tragically Hip the previous year at the Ottawa Congress Centre I went to see The Waltons at Zaphod Beeblebrox in downtown Ottawa on November 19th, 1992.

That had been my first Hip show, and when I relayed my ticket memories from that night Gord Downie loomed too large for me to even mention The Waltons’ excellent opening set.  Suffice to say it was great, and I was especially taken with the inclusion of a fiddle player in the group.  The shimmering violin lines worked perfectly in place of lead guitar, it was a refreshing and eye-opening changeup to the standard rock sound and I swore after that night that I would start a band with a fiddle player.  

(I never did.)

So I was excited to see The Waltons again, even if it would be just an obligatory shortened set imposed by Zaphod’s end-live-music-at-11pm rule.  The Wallflowers opened the show – which is pretty remarkable in retrospect; I certainly had no idea at the time that the lead singer was Bob Dylan’s son Jakob – and I remember it being somewhat-engaging soft and fluffy-timbred acoustic-flower rock.  Not a bad way to spend forty minutes.

When The Waltons came on I was devastated.  They had no fiddle player, just a standard rock setup and no matter how hard they rocked I just couldn’t get over my disappointment.  I had come to Zaphod’s that night to relive the experience of hearing a fiddle replace the guitar in a rock band, this was research dammit!  After the show I spoke to one of the guys in the band and was told that the fiddle player at The Hip show had been a sit-in – either for that tour or maybe just for that particular show; I don’t recall – and they had never had a violin player as a permanent member of the band.

Just as I’m sure he must have noticed my despondent face, no doubt I stepped on Jakob Dylan’s foot on my hurry to the door, rushing to get out of there before the nightly DJ dance party started at 11:15.

(While I constantly diss Zaphod’s I was genuinely sad to see the place recently close up shop after more than a quarter-century in business.  Here’s hoping something greater comes in it’s stead.)

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