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sad news - Lance

Freak By Night

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I'm sure Ottawa jambanders remember Lance Matthews, who used to run the old Whipping Post bar before it became the Dekcuf.

Lance had a massive heart attack on the weekend. He isn't expected to survive. That's all the news I have at this point.

Lance gave many up and coming bands in this city an opportunity, his contributions to the music scene can't be ignored.

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Awful news.

Lance was an absolute hero to the Ottawa music scene. He cared more about what was happening in his club wise than anyone else in town.

I played my first bar gig at the whipping post. Lance gave us (bunch of kids who hardly knew what they were doing) a weekly residency where we really learned how to be a band and how to play and improvise. When we first started there would be one person in the bar and Lance would be adjusting lights to perfection and running the smoke machine... also doing sound and tending bar. lol

I can't imagine how many musicians there are from the 90's that Lance had a hand in helping turn into life long musicians. Really it would be hard for me to think of any other establishment that played even close to as big a part.

Sad news.

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I just got an unconfirmed report that he is being taken off life support. If this indeed true then there will soon be a guy to fix the lights and set the smoke machine for that great big jam session in the sky. Very sad.

Thanks for everything Lance, I wouldn't be the musician I am today or know all of the great musicians I know if it wasn't for you.

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I met Lance on a couple occasions. Once after a gig the Aaron MacDonald Band did with Nero circa 2002 or 2003, The band stayed up with him, his brother or brother in law and his dog and had our own little all night party.

Lance had so many stories and he'd be talking so fast and for so long that we all couldn't help but loose concentration on what he was saying.

He was definitely a kind spirited man and I'm sure a legend of Rock n Roll in Canada. He's not a man that you could easily forget. I saw him do the door, tend to the bar, adjust the sound and still have time to play with the lights... he was an incredible host and I'm sure it's a huge loss to Ottawa Music Scene.

I will say though there's a hard living side to Lance and I can't only surmise that it caught up to him in the end.

Lots of love to you Lance - you're a original RIP.

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One of my favorite times I had as a musician was on Canada Day in 1999. Back then I played in a band called Camel Toe. Lance got us and a few other bands to play that night. It was a packed house of drunken rain-drenched patriotic revelers, and a hell of a lot of fun.

I got to know him a little more in 2002 when he joined a few of us for road trip to a Rush concert in Montreal.

Despite the hard living, he was really a gentle soul. RIP Lance!

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Lance was the kind of barman that musicians dreamed of. If you were just jamming away in your basement and dreamed of playing a real bar gig, he was your guy. If you had been around the local scene a bit and dreamt of packing a room on a Saturday night, he'd book you in. If you actually got seasoned and cynical enough as a performer to start thinking that barmen only cared about beer sales you'd find yourself playing the Whipping Post and Lance would prove you wrong.

How many times have I stood at the bar waiting to buy a drink while Lance busied himself tweaking the mids at the soundboard or adjusting a light can two millimetres to one side and then another? Standing in the middle of the room with his hands on his hips, when he was finally (and temporarily) satisfied he'd rush back to the bar and take care of the pesky customers. And all the while with his ever-present spurs jangling. Yes, the man wore spurs on his boots, and he wore them everywhere.

And oh, his love for the smoke machine! Playing the Post it was inevitable: you'd be up there on the tiny little stage hovering under one of the dangling PA speakers and BAM! the stage would erupt in blinding dry ice, the machine hissing like a screaming sleestak. Your bandmates would become instantly invisible, you couldn't see your fingers on the fretboard, only vague, fuzzy lights illuminating a dense fog beyond which one hears the distant sound of (temporarily) satisfied spurs retreating back behind the bar.

And when you did manage to order a beer Lance would take it as an opportunity to tell you all about his latest plans for the bar (again). He had big dreams for that little space up there – digital sound, live recording, webcams. You name it, he was going to do it, and he'd tell anyone that would feign listening.

Without question, Lance was tied to the Whipping Post; he ate, slept, and breathed the place, and that love made him a hero to the local scene. Like the musicians that played there he was in it for the music, to hell with the money, and for that he gained their enduring respect. Lord knows if he worked that hard at anything else he would have made millions. Instead he decided to live hard and dream big, and that choice brought him to the forefront of one of Ottawa's greatest musical eras and led ultimately (I suspect) to his demise..

Thanks Lance, you were a very important part of something that was very important to a lot of people.

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Lance treated eager musicians as honoured guests and welcomed you into his domain, his musical sanctuary that was the Whipping Post. Scurrying about, adjusting a light gel, back to the bar to dispense beverages, a dash up to his sound board perch to check a level, in a flash back to that pesky light gel that needs to be just so, back to the sound board for a quick blast of the fog machine, all to the manic jangle of his trademark spurs.

His knowledge of music was encyclopedic. Not just his first love of blues and rock'n'roll, but jazz of all sorts, world music, weird 20th century noise-scapes. He loved it all. He loved his scene, he loved the music but he really loved a performance. Other than setting the bar on fire, one was free to do whatever crossed one's mind on stage, the wilder the better. There were some crazy times and sounds in Ottawa in the '90s and no better could be found than at the Post. Lance was the ultimate compère and ring master.

I don't think Ottawa will see his like again. Lance was a true original.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'll be performing tomorrow night in a mini/quasi reunion of The Crowd. We even have a couple of people coming up from Toronto and Kingston to join us.

The line up so far is the following:

Frank James Band, Razor Mike, Melissa Payne, Wicked Grin and Friends, The Fenton Brothers, Big Jeezus Truck, The Mighty Popo, Scotty Doubt

but they go on to say "The line-up is ever evolving". My fingers are crossed that this will devolve into a massive jam session :)

The show is currently scheduled to start at 8:00pm and there will be a $5.00 cover charge. My advice is to show up early.

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