James’ Brand New Blog

Archive for June 25th, 2012

Some more about Saul Holiff: #ldnont remembers & the Hyland sets attendance record

- June 25th, 2012

Johnny_Saul_June_1968 (2)

Saul Holiff with a pensive-looking Johnny Cash and June Carter in the 1960s. Courtesy of Jonathan Holiff

Johnny_Saul_1962 (2)

Johnny Cash, left (but you knew that) & Saul Holiff, c. 1962. Courtesy of Jonathan Holiff

Saturday night at the Hyland Cinema was jammed with fans for the London premiere of Jonathan Holiff’s My Father and the Man in Black. My enthusiastic response to the movie was in last week’s My London. It was based on a home DVD viewing. Watching the documentary on Saturday night was even more impressive. It is a powerful & emotional experience as Jonathan comes to a fuller understanding of his late father, Saul Holiff, the former Londoner who managed Johnny Cash for more than a turbulent decade as Cash rose from career chaos to the triumphs of Folsom and San Quentin prison albums.

Jonathan and his brother, Josh, answered questions in a fascinating Q&A. Many in the audience were Cash fans. Others had known Saul Holiff well. There were moments as serious as Jonathan urging us to reconcile with estranged parents and Josh reflecting he might have focused a film on the same subject more on their mother, Barbara Holiff, who was in attendance & a gracious presence at the Hyland. Her comments in  My Father and the Man in Black are moments of reflection and thoughtfulness amid the turmoil of Saul’s drinking & compulsive behaviour and its effect on the family.

There were moments as laugh-inducing around the Hyland as seeing Saul Holiff, a handsome and stylishly-dressed man, cast as Caiaphas & swimming in ridiculous robes in Cash’s film about the life of Jesus. Jonathan Holiff said his father never mentioned the role to his family, even though he talked freely of many other accomplishments.

There were also delightful exchanges about the difficulties of cutting the lawn at the Holiff home on Jarvis St. Josh & Jonathan shared their push-mower memories with a subsequent owner in the crowd.

Among the Cash lore moments were Jonathan correcting the impression left by Walk the Line that June Carter had been working with Johnny Cash in the 1950s. It was at Saul’s recommendation she first joined the touring show in December, 1961.

Saturday was a night all of us in the unofficial Hyland record crowd of about 350 fans will remember. Here is hoping another London screening can be arranged for the dozens of fans, many of them JBNBlog friends, who were turned away Saturday.

Let me close by saying how touched I was by Jonathan’s generous praise for the role fan-fuelled Cash, Carter & Holiff stories I wrote for The Free Press played in encouraging him to make the movie. JBNBlog will also treasure the production-related gift from Jonathan & Josh as we started the Q&A. Wow.

Now for some more London background about Saul Holiff, first in a note from Patricia Lewis & then in a list of addresses from Glen Curnoe:

 

I was most interested to read about Saul Holiff.

In 1958 I was managing Young’s Record dept In London East. Mr Holiff wouldoccasionally drop in for a chat, one day he came in , leaned on my counter and said to me, “Do you think if I brought Johnny Cash to London, would anybody come and see him?” I told him that most of London East would as they were great Country and Western fans. So, as we know he did bring Cash to London and it was a great success.

He also gave me tickets to see Bill Haley and the Comets play at the old
arena, (long gone) My husband and I went, and at intermission he came and
got me and took me back stage to meet with Bill Haley, we sat and had a
brief conversation.
For me, it brought back memories of a vibrant London East, selling records
of great Country and Western artists, and the “new” Rock and Roll music, and
also of a very kind and handsome Saul Holiff.

Patricia Lewis

Hi James:
Here are some references that I checked in London City Directories which I have.  Maybe you have done some of this already.
Glen

Holiff

From city directories

 

1921-no listing for Holiff

1923- HOLIFF, J. Clothing and House Furnishings, 366 Rectory h same

1925-HOLIFF, J, Ladies’Ready-to-Wear, Clothing, Men’sd and Boys” Clothing, Bedding and House Furnishings, 751 Dundas, h same

1927-HOLIFF, J  Ladies and Childrens’ Ready-to-Wear \, Millinery, etc. 644 Dundas, h 47 Riverview.

1931-Holiff, Ann saleslady Joel Holiff, 644 Dundas

1931-Holiff, Joel (Esther), prop (Esther), prop Holiff’s Ladies’and Mens’ Ready-to-Wear, h 644 Dundas, phone Fairmont 1895W

1931-HOLIFF’S LADIES’ AND MEN’S WEAR, J Holiff, prop, ready-to-wear and millinery, 644 Dundas, phone Fairmont 1895W

1935-Holiff, Joel(Esther) h 315 Wharncliffe rd n

1938-Hiliff, Joel (Esther) salesman, h 315 Wharncliffe rd n

1943- Holiff, Joel (Esther), salesman, h 315 Wharncliffe rd n

1948-Holiff, Joel (Esther), dry goods, j 315 Wharncliffe  rd n

1950-Holiff, Joel(Esther), traveler h 315 Wharncliffe rd n

1961-Holiff, Joel()Esther) h 98 Fairview Ave  apt 1

1961-Holiff, Saul(Sol Holiff Vital Attractions entertainments 68 King

        -Sol Custom Clothes (Saul  Hoiliff) 68 King

       - Sol Volatile Attractions entertainments 68 King

1969-Holiff, Saul (Barbara) artist mgmt. Volatile Attractions Ltd h 509 Jarvis

Where was I on June 24-25? Tonight (June 25, 2012), the NSB is still here. Forever.*

- June 25th, 2012

NSBnorecord

The cover image of No Record, courtesy of radioflyerreview.blogspot.com, where you can find a sensibly skeptical/respectful/retrospective review from c. 2009

Worked at Print Shop.

– June 24, 1966

Bought Turn, Turn, Turn/(indecipherable)

– June 24, 1967

Bought The NIHILIST SPASM BAND Record.

– June 24, 1968

‘The Jokers’ on TV movies.

Movers took the stuff.

‘Tommy’ in ‘This England.’

– June 24, 1969

“She Still Comes Around” in the mails (also 3 VV).

Started Porch. Visited Susan. Goat Band.

– June 24, 1970

Went to Broughdale Library.

Bought “Come On Let’s Go”

– June 25, 1966

Election Night — 23 NDP

Guitar — Daydream, Norwegian Wood.

Bought Mr. Tambourine Man

– June 25, 1968

Bough “Watch her Ride;” “Dreamer’s Dream” & MM

Up to Rick’s — Lost in Waterloo & Stocks.

NDP in Manitoba.

– June 25, 1969

Forty-four years & a day after the most influential album in #ldnont history entered the JBNBlog collection, the noise-meister Nihilist Spasm Band is welcoming distinguished guests from Europe.

Tonight, (Monday, June 25), European art stars Danielle de Picciotto and Alexander Hacke are back in downtown London. (I am guessing filmmaker and musician de Picciotto will be here because I hear German musician Alexander Hacke  joins our local heroes for one of their “every Monday night” gigs at the Forest City Gallery & a soundtrack is being conjured up). Anyway, get down there & enjoy. Hacke’s collaboration with the NSB at the dear, departed Pandemic in the summer of 2007 was the usual sweet & merry din, endlessly unique & quite the same as ever.

Here are some details via London arts ace Pam Haasen:

“Alexander Hacke (is) coming to London for a show with the Spasm Band at FCG (Monday) night. It should start around 8:30/9:00 and anyone is welcome. (NSB member Art Pratten) wanted to know if some press could be written up for this event. I know it’s last minute, but I thought I’d pass it on! Thanks!”

10q, Pam. Tonight. The Forest City Gallery, 258 Richmond St., which is more or less kitty-corner to the place where all that Budweiser is brewed. Can you believe Bud is actually Canada’s best-selling beer? Migawd etc.

Back to the past: No Record still sounds pretty good 48 years later. My dad (& thank you NSB member John Boyle for mentioning in the notes how Dad named your pet mouse Joan) was a huge fan . . . he would claim the band sounded “Oriental & restful.” Dubious. But there are moments. As on No Record’s finale Destroy the Nations Again as I’m hearing it right now.

The album notes are arranged so each bio/comment section matches the left to right stationing of our heroes at the back of the old York hotel (something I just realized this morning) in Ian MacEachern’s classic photo of the eight geniuses.

The notes set a standard for wit & wisdom unmatched over the decades. Still my favourite is this suggested influence in a list of 13 NSB inspirations in the late Greg Curnoe’s section.

“(8) The Sound of Small Cream Bottles Being Washed at the Edison Hotel, 1958″

Where was the Edison Hotel? I have never been able to trace it. London? Toronto? Anybody know?

Over the decades, the Spasm Band has become much/somewhat easier to listen to  – for one things, the wily veterans in the 2012 lineup don’t play as long & have found ways to make each non-note count more. The NSB also rely more on the witty lyrics, devised by sundry members & delivered in full Paradise Lost bellow by vocalist (& likely chief lyricist) Bill Exley. There are some good lyrics on No Record. Too many vomiting sounds abound, an avenue the NSB  soon abandoned for wry jests.

Bill reported the Nihilist Spasm Band encountered scores of youngish fans at the recent Nuit Blanche gig at Museum London, many of them hearing the sweetest noise this side of heaven for the first time. Encouraging. Our prophets may finally be winning more honour in their home town after gaining a determined niche of fans & allies around the world.

As for the other entries, it was a time for lots of music as well as the NSB’s noise music or no music. Music & the NDP. The NDP won 22 seats say the official results for the 1968 election & there were 23 in my diary . . . that may  be because we went to bed thinking the saintly Tommy Douglas had managed to keep his seat in B.C. When, in fact, Douglas lost in the tide of Trudeaumania. He returned to the House of Commons in a byelection & stood nobly against the War Measures Act in the fall of 1970. When good friends of mine at Trent U shouted abuse at him whenever he appeared on TV. A great Canadian.

All these years later, the NDP is the government in Manitoba . . . & with more than 100 MPs is actually leading the Conservatives 38-35 per cent in a recent Ipsos-Reid poll.

Which reminds the sorta can’t believe it JBNBlog. Among the witty tropes on 1968′s No Record is the observation (words approx) “Canada is already dead . . . poor old Diefenbaker.”

Dief was v. skeptical — at least for public consumption — about polls.

*An occasional series based on a v. cryptic diary kept as a pen&ink forerunner to JBNBlog during the late 1960s, when our family lived in London, Stratford (parts of summers of 1966 & 1967), Victoria, B.C. (July 4, 1968-July 4, 1969) and then London again until June, 1970 when I was in Grade 13.