Black Swan Pub- Rideau Street- Ottawa
November 18, 2017
Remembering Nash the Slash
There were lots of musicians that signed the Wall of Shame in my store Flash Cadilac, and I think I have a story about each one of them. But the person I remember most and miss was the eccentric but incredibly talented musician Nash the Slash.
In 1978 my friends Bernie and Marion brought me to the now late legendary Black Swan on Rideau Street in Ottawa. I had no idea what I was about to see, but I was promised a real treat. I remember I had on a huge Victorian ruffle style coat with a Snow White collar made out of white PVC. Bernie remarked that I had chosen the right outfit for the concert and I had no clue what he meant until the curtain went up. The whole stage was decorated in white shiny PVC vinyl like my coat and I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation.
All of a sudden a man looking much like The Invisible Man in a white tuxedo and top hat graced the stage. As soon as the first notes of his electric mandolin pierced the air I was hooked and in love with his originality. His name was Nash the Slash and he began as a solo artist in 1975 and then founded the band FM. He plays an electric mandolin and violin but also plays keyboards and the glockenspiel. His music moved me so much I had goosebumps up and down my arms for the whole show.
I wrote him a letter after the concert and asked him if he would visit my store the next time he was in town to sign autographs. Sure enough he had someone contact me that he would indeed grace my store and would like to cut up a side of beef with a chainsaw in my store window. Linda being Linda thought this would be the performance art gig of the century.
Let’s remember James Jeffrey “Jeff” Plewman (March 26, 1948 – May 10, 2014), better known by his stage name Nash the Slash.
Best comment ever about my store Flash Cadilac and the Black Swan
What a fabulous store! I’m old and grey now, most of my clothing these days are rags… but … I have a pretty good memory and my recollections of Flash Cadillac are wonderful. First of all, I have to hand it to you for having the balls to open a store right on Rideau street in the late 70’s. Going into a retail location anywhere is a scary proposition but Ottawa, Rideau street, 1970’s, wow, my hat’s off to you. Now, as to the store: I was playing guitar in a local band, (naturally) and our bass player and I walked upstairs, having seen the sign from street level, and were delighted to discover the type of garb we could wear on stage. T-shirts, scarves, shoes, sunglasses, etc. I think I bought a pair of men’s red shoes and skin tight red jeans on account of Elvis Costello’s song, a pair of sunglasses with slats instead of lens’s and we both picked out these weird (to us provincials) t-shirts that had the strips of fabric cross cross on the back panel of the shirt. We were certain that they were women’s t-shirts but we didn’t care… we wore them backwards anyway! We got lots of comments when we played at the Black Swan, mostly from females who informed us that we were wearing the t-shirts backwards, and a few fellows that made disparaging remarks about our alleged sexuality. No matter. We got laid! 1978 was a very good year thanks to you and the clothing and accessories at Flash Cadillac.
11m · Linda, the last newspaper listing I see for the Black Swan (275 Rideau) is May 25, 1979. It became Arnold’s in July of that year, and the last lsting I see for Arnold’s is July 1984. The 1991 layer at GeoOttawa shows a very large excavation at that location.
From the Journal, July 11, 1980:
The Wall of Shame — Flash Cadilac Rideau Street Ottawa
Behind the cash register at Flash Cadilac lay the notorious Wall of Shame. There taped to the wall were 100’s of words of wisdom, and autographed photos from the “famous, and not so famous”. What no one knows is the creation of the wall began as a joke.It was a dark Montreal smoke-filled bar on Mountain Street. Idolizing Leonard Cohen, I quoted his poetry to anyone that would listen. It was the 60’s, minds were changing, and I still considered myself part of someone’s, okay, anyone’s, Beat Generation.
Years later, on my way to a Heavy Metal Convention in Los Angeles,to do a remote for CKCU and 54 Rock my friend Andrew Searle and I spotted a few celebrities on board. Cohen himself was on our flight to Los Angeles with his much younger girlfriend Rebecca De Mornay. When the plane landed, we pushed our way to the front to get a glimpse of him. I remember taking his hand while we both stood by the baggage turnstile, and gushed like a smitten teenager. Completely ignoring Christopher Plummer on the other side, I told him about my never ending love for him. He smiled, in that Leonard Cohen sort of way and said softly, “My dear the years have been kind to you”. Leonard then autographed one of my manila envelopes, and when I returned to Ottawa
I cut out his autograph from the envelope and taped it to the wall. I turned, and jokingly said to my staff: “Can you believe that man is dating someone years younger than all of us?”
Now, that’s a damn shame!”And so, “The Wall of Shame” was born. My Nash the Slash autographed album was part of it.
Victoria Lidia IlgacsWorked there as a cocktail waitress from what it open to closure. Made about a 100 bucks on a good night. Sharon Nate, Daughter of the owner of Nate’s delicatessen, managed the place. Saw Heart there as a bar band, Minglewood, Rough Trade, Dominic Troianno, Goddo, Dave Wilcox, The Action, Larkspur, Downchild Nlues Band, Nash the Slash, April Wine, etc. Got punched out by a couple of Satan’s Choice chicks one night. Was eventually shut down when the Choice overtook the place.
Journal interview by Christopher Cobb
Sometimes we tend to forget that , most of -today’s rock superstars started their careers in small bars, light years away from the massive arenas that. most are now associated with. Somewhere in the dim and distant past, bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and-hosts of others were swinging their guitars in holes in the wall, struggling to make a living. Public- health regulations wouldn’t allow many of those dives to even open their doors nowadays, but still, there continues to be a need for such places platforms for young bands to work and grow”, from.
For the past couple of- years, Ottawa’s Black Swan has been filling the gap in this city. Bands playing at the former Rideau Street garage, are invariably a cut above those usually found at high school dances, yet not of the stature to be playing big concerts, even as an opening act. The Swan with its capacity of 220, is a place for showcasing upcoming acts.
Some of them die early deaths and others go on to greater things. Either way, they rarely return once the listening public has made its decision. For travelling bands, the old bar is a place of discovery or a stage in development, and for its audience a place to go and check out the new stuff.
Sal Khan, owner of the Black Swan, (Squires and the Commercial Tavern), hasn’t had too many money losing weeks since he opened the bar a couple of years ago. Which proves something. . . . “During the past couple of years, Ottawa audiences have matured considerably,” says Khan. “At one time you could put any band In the club and you’d fill it every night. Now it’s a different story. The audiences now are particular about what they hear and knowledgeable about the music.
Some bands we hire die an early death, but they usually deserve to. Monday nights at the Swan are always free and as such usually the most popular. The success of Tuesday onwards often depends on the reports spread around by the Monday crowd. Khan hires lots of Canadian bands who are on the regional bar circuit. He wants to provide an outlet for Canadian talent but at the same time is concerned about new restrictive immigration laws which are making It difficult for foreign artists of a certain level to get into the country.
“Many club owners are worried about this,” he says. “Immigration officials are tending to consult the musicians unions and automatically the unions are saying that there are Canadians around capable of doing the job. “What these people don’t realize is that you often need a certain number, of foreign artists to keep bars alive for the Canadians to grow in. To deny a foreign artist a work permit just because he or she is a foreigner is nonsense.” Despite awkward Immigration policies, the financial and musicial future of The Black Swan looks bright enough for improvement and expansion: And if Canadian music ever becomes a world force, the dingier, unglamorous establishments like the Swan can probably take a lot of the credit.
CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada02 Jun 1978, Fri • Page 32
In 1978 my brother Dale was manager of the black swan and the squires and the Nozzle. Sal Khans general manager. My brother Donn was manager at the Vendome for a few years. Dale ran the swan and the squires and Nozzle as well as the commercial at one time. Sal Khan owned a few bars. My brother Dwight bought the old wizard pub on bank street and made it the bankbridge arms until he sold it to the barleymow guy. Danny Delahunt
Jamie DunlopSpent too many nights at the Swan in my youth. Nash the Slash, Cornstalk,Songship, Rough Trade, even Heart managed to get mis- booked and had to play a weekend there while their first major hit album was breaking. I know Vicki Ilgacs well and handed over wads of cash to her in return for beer. It always amazes me that at the time you could afford an apartment and go out to these dives a few times a week while working a single job. Good times.
Sue JarvisGreat nights there in my day when Eugene Smith & the Warm-up band played.