My closest friend and I go back a lot of years. A lot. All the way back to our ‘youth’ in Montreal. And many of the great times we’ve shared have been spent at clubs, listening to great music. Live music.
Marilyn moved to Toronto several years before I did; and whenever I came to visit we’d always go to see a jazz and blues singer she ‘discovered’. His name is Errol Fisher and he’s very well known, and loved, here. Over the years he’s entertained countless fans at various restaurants, clubs and supper clubs; some of which bore his name.
Once I moved here in 1985, we quickly became ‘regulars’ wherever he was appearing; and we got to know him. Then life being what it is, she and I drifted away from the club scene. And although Errol’s never stopped performing (although we didn’t always know where), we hadn’t seen him in more than twenty years.
Fast forward to October of this year. Marilyn found out he was going to be singing, with his band, at a restaurant (Sorrel, just in case you’re planning a trip to Toronto) close to where each of us lives. We decided we’d go for her birthday.
Honestly, neither one of us ever expected he’d remember us. It’s been a very long time. And let’s face it, much as we may not like it, we all change over time. No matter how healthy you are, no matter how diligent you are
about staying in shape and taking care of yourself, regardless of how skilled you are at putting on make up, no matter how many grey hairs you yank or dye, some aging is inevitable.
No one’s ever happy about it. It is what it is, though. Happens to the best of us.
He’s in the same boat, actually. We all look at ourselves in the mirror everyday, so the changes aren’t as obvious to us, as they would be to someone who hasn’t seen you in twenty plus years. We didn’t think he’d look the same as we remembered; and vice-versa.
Weren’t we surprised (and thrilled), when he came rushing over to our table as soon as he walked in, and saw us there. If that’s not good for the self esteem I don’t know what is. Anyway it was great to see him, he looks great, his voice is still terrific, and we had a wonderful evening. He made me promise to sign up for email ‘alerts’ so we’d know where and when he was performing, which I did.
Although we’d planned to go to his birthday party a couple of weeks ago, in the end neither of us could make it. As it happens, this past Thursday night he was at a different venue, 417 Restaurant & Lounge, which neither one of us had ever been to before. And we decided to go. The minute we walked in the door, I knew it would be a completely different experience than when we’d seen him at Sorrel. This place has a club ‘vibe’. It’s a huge, two-story room. Plenty of space for him to ‘unleash’ his voice and be ‘Errol’. Which means working the room, mic in hand.
It also means you’re going to “Get Up Offa That Thing”. Because no one gets people out of their seats and on to the dance floor like Errol (with some help from James Brown). Where he always joins them. If there’s anything Errol loves as much as singing (which is his absolute passion), it’s dancing and kidding around with all “the women in the house”. And they love him back. So if they’re up their shaking their booty, so is he. Shake. Shake. Shake.
What’s really fabulous is, he hasn’t strayed from his musical roots. From all the songs and singers he loved then; and clearly still does. As we do. And it was right then, when we were sitting there, enjoying tunes from all our favourites — James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Barry White, Bob Marley (Errol hails from Jamaica originally) and Third World — it hit me:
I was transported back twenty-odd years. It was as if time hadn’t passed. As if someone just hit the ‘pause’ button while I was sitting there, all those years ago, drink in hand, enjoying Errol and his music. Leaving me in ‘suspended animation’, possibly with my elbow crooked and the glass halfway to my mouth.
Then hit ‘pause’ once again.
And there we still were. Feeling like we were in the same place. Same time. Only it wasn’t. It was last Thursday night. But it felt like twenty years ago. Every bit as good. Every bit as fun. The crowd was just as energized. The dance floor was just as crowded. Errol’s ‘moves’ were exactly the same. His voice just as strong. His smile as wide. He was just as engaging. Just as warm. Just as welcoming. Just as naughty and fun-loving. And so were we.
Who says you can’t go back again?