Posted 16 April 2013 - 06:05 PM
I knew Gip fairly well in the 1960's when he ran Jon Yorke's Coffee House in what was then the basement of the Westholme hotel, below what is now Monty's. I was half of what was, briefly, his most popular local folk group (Rob and Ed) and stayed around after Rob left and M.C.'d for a few bucks a night.
I certainly don't remember him as the Saint he apparently later became to Victorians in later days. This was the 60's and Gip was a big part of the scene.
When I came back from a sojourn not making it in Toronto I found that he had metamorphosed into a preacher. I am sure he was perfectly sincere but personally I found his new act rather cloying.
One notable thing Gip did was to bring Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee to town for two weeks. They sang pretty well and did even better with some of the local women. Also, Pat Paulson sang there for quite a few months before he became famous on the Smothers Brothers show. He did a famous "walk on water" act that had all the papers and radio stations covering his "stunt", which since he did it in deepish water resulted in the inevitable plunge.
Gip told a hilarious story about how Pat kept an absolutely straight face throughout the whole stunt until he was in the car and well away from the crowds of the press, whereupon he broke up totally for about 20 minutes. Well, it was hilarious the way Gip told it.
Back in the Folk days he would go on stage from time to time and sang plaintive songs rather well, but I would certainly not say he had a great voice, though he could keep a tune but his vocal range was limited. Did a nice job with Donovan songs, though.
He also bought Valdy to the club a few times. Once I spent a week backing up Valdy's act with the bass fiddle I owned then. This was before he started writing his own shows but he knew how to put on a good act and please the crowds.
Just thought I'd put this out as a rather different perspective than you are likely to hear from elsewhere. I certainly have nothing bad to say about him.
I am sure if you had asked me about him his reply would have been "who?"