House of Dirty Blues
As everyone knows, for many years the place to see live music in Victoria was Harpo’s Cabaret, overlooking Bastion Square. The stars who played there between 1974 and 1995 include Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker, k.d. lang, Los Lobos, No Doubt, Pearl Jam (singer Eddie Vedder threw a mic stand at a Harpo’s crowd that refused to acknowledge his genius), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stan Rogers, Stray Cats, Richard Thompson, Toots and The Maytals, Muddy Waters – and The Partridge Family’s David Cassidy, who was attacked by dozens of adoring women when his leather pants split open onstage.
How was Harpo’s able to snag such impressive talent? Marcus Pollard, who ran the club with Gary Van Buskirk, says the secret was the city’s reputation for beautiful girls – and a house he rented at 2610 Cook Street, where the musicians stayed and partied all night, free from the complaints of hotel managers. “The people in that house today have no idea how many rock-and-roll babies were conceived there,” says Pollard.