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Listen to ’99 King St.’
About 25 years ago, I was renting the main floor of a house in Uptown Waterloo. That’s where I had my instrument repair shop and Black Coffee Studios. I lived there, too. In a couple rooms in the back. The only reason I opened Black Coffee Studios was because it was a commercial property zoned for business use. I knew I wanted to live there and that seemed to be the easiest way to make that happen. The landlord didn’t seem to mind.
One of the best features of the house was that it was had a front porch right on the main drag where I could watch the world go by. I spent a lot of time on that porch, alone or hanging with friends. Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes because I still did that back then. There were many mornings I would get up, make coffee, and head out the front door only to find there was already someone there, sitting in my chair, drinking a large double-double they picked up at the Timmy’s down the street. Often, they had stopped by on their way home from the previous night’s festivities and were too comfortable to continue on their way. I’m pretty sure there were occasions when that porch was where they had spent the night.
The porch was also a great place to watch thunderstorms and the Oktoberfest parade.
During the storms we would have every year, there was always the hope and anticipation that lightning would strike the tall ‘Mr. Sub’ sign across the street. There was no malice intended. We just wanted to watch something be totally obliterated by Mother Nature. To feel her awesome power and to watch something explode. It never happened and that sign is still there.
Although it was always fun to watch the parade from the comfort of that front porch, the constant stream of people asking to use the toilet that first year forced me to resort to lies. Telling people that my shop didn’t have a bathroom and even I had to go across the street to Ethel’s Lounge when nature called. The other drawback was that the area outside my bedroom window was often used for staging because we were close to the parade starting point. Every year, I was roused early in the morning by bagpipes and Oom-Pah bands warming up, getting ready to strut their stuff all the way down King St.
Speaking of Ethel’s Lounge, I could see their patio from the front porch and, more importantly, I could see the front porch from their patio. That made it easy to keep an eye on the shop while having a meal or a few drinks with friends. During the colder months when we wouldn’t be on the patio, I would hang a small sign on the front door that I was given that simply said “@Ethel’s”.
Something else I did on that front porch was write, and play, and occasionally, record music. This acoustic instrumental is one of those songs. The source files were lost long ago, but this .mp3 survived and I found it recently. I recall recording it during a rainy afternoon, with the sound of the traffic and some birds as a backdrop.
For some reason, I decided to record a full 45 seconds of street noise before I started playing, and I left the tape rolling for another 60 seconds at the end. I’ve left it as is so you can experience it in all its rainy, traffic glory but I will be including a truncated version in the store if you’re so inclined to purchase a copy.
Click ‘PLAY’ to hear 99 King St.
Hope you like it.