Folk music and Yorkville Coffeehouses

Contents of the Ship: Audience and the City

The audiences of the Riverboat included people from all over Toronto, Canada and even the US - to which Fielder reported that some nights, 30% of the venue's take was US dollars. Patty Fielder remarked that even police, who at the time were imposing many rules and regulations to combat the spread of drugs and noisy youth, came to the Riverboat and wanted their picture taken drinking coffee. Even though Fielder booked a diverse variety of performers which included blues happenings (where famous blues artists jammed together in once in a lifetime "happenings") and even fashion shows - the audience came to the Riverboat to hear folk music.

As electric folk rock was discouraged for the sound of an unplugged acoustic guitar, the PA system was almost non-existent. For example, according to Riverboat Jane, artists would ask for the reverb to be increased only to have a person in charge of sound only pretend to adjust the knobs. This emphasis on singer songwriter folk music had an affect on Gordon Lightfoot. As the audience watched him attentively and hung on to his every word, he felt more compelled to introduce his own songs instead of covers and playing to a "very attentive audience" caused him to work harder at his craft than ever before.

Greatly outliving the Yorkville Folk Rock scene in which it was created, the Riverboat - which now stood among designer stores - closed its doors on June 25th, 1978 to a farewell show headlined by folk singer-songwriter Murray McLauchlan.

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