Skip to content

'Docu-concert' tells the story of a legendary Canadian coffee house (7 photos)

'Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene' was presented as part of the Algoma Fall Festival Saturday night

Saturday night at The Machine Shop, the 45th annual Algoma Fall Festival hosted Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene, a Soulpepper Theatre Company production. Co-creator and Musical Director Mike Ross has dubbed the performance a ‘docu-concert’.

“There are no original characters, we are an ensemble of people telling the story about the Riverboat, how it was formed, how it ended and weaving interpretations of songs by the artists all throughout,” he explained in an interview with SooToday’s Darren Taylor.

The Riverboat Coffee House, located in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood, was at the centre of Canada’s folk revival scene during its relatively short 15-year lifespan. From 1964 through 1978, the small venue hosted (often launching the careers of) countless now-legendary musicians, Canadian and otherwise. They include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon and Garfunkle, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, and many others.

Between historical narratives, the six-member cast of actors/musicians (Mike Ross, Alana Bridgewater, Hailey Gillis, Raha Javanfar, Andrew Penner, and Miranda Mulholland) performed remarkable interpretations from some of the artists that made the Riverboat one of the most iconic venues of the era.

Songs performed were:

Ambulance Blues  
Songwriter: Neil Young
Performer: Mike Ross

A Case Of You
Songwriter: Joni Mitchell
Performer: Miranda Mulholland

Wondering Where The Lions Are  
Songwriter: Bruce Cockburn
Performer: Andrew Penner

Universal Soldier  
Songwriter: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Performer: Alana Bridgewater

Me and Bobby McGee  
Songwriter: Kris Kristofferson
Performer: Alana Bridgewater

Songwriter: Howlin’ Wolf
Performer: Andrew Penner

Songwriter: Jesse Winchester
Performer: Hailey Gillis

Draft Dodger Rag
Songwriter: Phil Ochs
Performer: Raha Javanfar

City of New Orleans
Songwriter: Steve Goodman
Performers: Ensemble

Illegal Smile
Songwriter: John Prine
Performer: Mike Ross and Raha Javanfar

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Songwriter: Bob Dylan, as performed by Odetta
Performer: Alana Bridgewater

Homeward Bound
Songwriter: Simon and Garfunkel
Performer: Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner

Songwriter: Joni Mitchell
Performer: Hailey Gillis

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald  
Songwriter: Gordon Lightfoot
Performer: Andrew Penner

Child’s Song
Songwriter: Murray McLauchlan
Performer: Miranda Mulholland

Four Strong Winds/Heart of Gold (encore)
Songwriter: Ian Tyson / Neil Young
Performer: Ensemble

For more information about Soulpepper, please click here.

For details about upcoming Algoma Fall Festival performances, please click here.