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El Mocambo closing in November


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Sam Grosso, co-owner of El Mocambo, has confirmed that after over 65 years the legendary music venue — which has seen the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Ramones and U2 — will be closing its doors Nov. 6.


“I would like not to sell it, but I don’t have the money to continue buying out certain investors,” said Grosso, who has owned the club for the past two years.


The property has been conditionally sold, but Grosso would not comment on who the buyer is. As for what will stand at 464 Spadina Ave. after the sale, Grosso said he hopes the building will remain part of the city’s music scene.

He himself stepped in just two years ago to try to resurrect the club’s glory after it was sold by Abbas Jahangiri, who had tried first a dance studio and then a mix of different styles of live music.


Music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings laments the loss of what he calls “the top club in Toronto in terms of history.”

“There’s something about climbing those stairs and being in proximity of that stage — the walls seem to be just breathing with all the ghosts and stories of performances past,” said Jennings.


That history includes scandal — the Rolling Stones made headlines for more than their set in 1977 when Margaret Trudeau was seen at their show, sparking a media frenzy that resulted in the revelation of her separation from then sitting prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

A Stevie Ray Vaughan concert film was recorded there, as were live albums from Elvis Costello, April Wine, punk band Silverstein and more.

Jennings commended Grosso and his partner Marco Petrucci’s efforts to honour the venue’s rich history, particularly by restoring its trademark neon palm tree sign.


“Every city needs a connection to its earlier eras and signs like the El Mocambo sign are a reminder of what we’ve had as a city,” said Jennings, adding that he wants to see the sign recognized as a historical artifact.

Grosso also hopes the sign will be preserved.


“I would love to have that sign somehow maybe stay on the building or moved somewhere else in the city,” Grosso said.

The club’s final show will be on Nov. 6 for Light of Day, an organization that raises funds for Parkinson’s research.


Holding a Light of Day fundraiser two years ago, when Grosso first took over, is one of his fondest memories at El Mocambo, but another long predates his ownership: sneaking in when he was 17 to see Bo Diddley perform.


“I’m really, really going to miss it,” Grosso said.



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From the archives:


Stardate 031403

nero opening for Drums & Tuba @ The El Mocambo, Toronto, Ontario


Recently renovated and reopened, the El Mocambo is sacred ground. Everybody has played there, and it was 26 years ago last Wednesday that the Stones recorded Love You Live there. Jeebus. I had never been, moving away from Toronto before I comfortably reached sneaking into bars age. It’s a nice enough room with exorbitant drink prices; a big rectangle with a raised stage at one end.


Another interesting historical note about the evening is the fact that it was opening for Drums & Tuba that marked Chris’ first gig playing bass with nero. Interesting to hear how much more comfortable he is within the ensemble now, and nice that they now have more than six songs together to choose from! Steve set up a great merch area, unfortunately outside of the main music room, and tons of familiar faces started pouring through the door. A good friend of mine from my early university days came out to the show early to hang out. I was really glad to see him, but kinda bummed because I spent so much time saying hi to all the folks that came out that I hardly got a chance to hang out with Ryan, who was there alone. Anyway, I guess that’s just further testament to how many people came out for the show and how great of a time we all had. Unfortunately, a lot of people left during D&T’s set, which is a drag, but at the same time, not their best show. Tony (their drummer) wasn’t feeling well, and they had just got their van broken into. Good excuses, to be sure. One thing though, that band undeniably rocks, and a huge thanks to them for being one of the only US acts that regularly makes the Canadian run. Cheers guys, awesome seeing you again.


Surprisingly we didn’t party that night, but opted to go back to the beaches and sleep. No matter, we’re to be in Toronto again tomorrow night, and I’m sure a lot of folks will be sticking around for it.


Quote of the Day: “Here’s those three beer tickets for the guys.”


401 Theme>


401 Theme

Down Side Up

Whispy Mountain Wonder



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Loved that achive post Velvet!


It's sad that the place is shutting down.  Sam & Co had no clue how to make El Mocambo work.  They thought bringing back classic rock was going to work, essentially thinking that getting April Wine and Trooper back to play the club was going to revive them. Delusions of The Stones or U2 coming back for a surprise show.  They changed their programming too much and alienated the loyal crowd.  They fired Yvonne Mastell who booked the downstairs room a few months after the sale to Sam from Abbas Jahangiri... that was the begining of the end. 


I worked as the main club booker for the upstairs room 2004-2009 and kept booking shows there after. I probably did 150 shows there highlights were The Slip, Benevento Russo Duo, The Jimmy Swift Band, Bassnectar, Grand Theft Bus, Slowcoaster, That 1 Guy, A.Skillz, Krafty Kuts, Vorcza Trio, Julie Dorion, Fred Eaglesmith, Drums & Tuba, Afrika Bambaataa, Dream Band, Truth & Rights, Friendlyess, Selassie I Power, Resinators, Chameleon Project, Vanderpark, God Made Me Funky, King Sunshine, Jazzanova, Bullfrog, Thomas Mapfumo, Slammin Jack, Guerrila Dub Squad, Word People, KaeSun, Big League Chu, Fort Knox Five, Fat Cats, Diesel Dog, Mark Wilson & The Way it is, Caution Jam, The Bunnies, Soulive,  Jon Butler Trio, Fertile Ground, Blue Quarter, Moses Mayes, Koybashi, New Kingston, DJ Chocolate, Progress, Gisto, Irie Band, House of David Gang, High Plains Drifter so many others...


It's sad for Toronto live music scene, with the right vision it could have kept the spirit of independent original music... I know the more recent owners had good intentions, but that wasn't ultimately enough. RIP eL MOCAMBO.

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