Folk music and Yorkville Coffeehouses

Riverboat Operations: Captain Bernie Fielder

Fielder's previous entrepreneurial experience selling coffee afforded him not only the knowledge on how to sell the beverages but also how to sell the folk entertainment that his venue would become better known for over the hot drinks and snacks it supplied. He would stage upwards of five music performances per night, each lasting one hour. After each set, he would clear the room and charge a cover fee for the next hour. By doing this, he maximized profits and allowed a fairly large venue to still provide an intimate and cozy environment to see the performers, by also preventing overcrowding. In the height of Gordon Lightfoot's residence at the Riverboat, he was playing four sets a night, six days a week.
Lightfoot was previously playing this same schedule at Steele's Tavern (which was located on Yonge Street beside Sam the Record Man) and the hype surrounding him caused line-ups outside the bar. Fielder offered to double the salary of Lightfoot if he left the Tavern for the Riverboat and Lightfoot could hardly resist. Fielder maintained the Riverboat's status as perhaps the most "prestigious" of the Yorkville coffee houses by showing hardly any financial restraint in booking artists. The luxury he afforded Lightfoot he afforded to many other headlining folk acts and even when Lightfoot's management asked for quadruple for the talent of the Orillia native, Fielder gave in to his demands.

Due to these two reasons, Fielder operated the Riverboat much like a captain runs a well oiled ship.

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