406) The Perth County Conspiracy — “Lace and Cobwebs”
CitizenFreak: The PCC was “[a] true legend of . . . psych-folk rock”. http://www.citizenfreak.com/titles/295575?fbclid=IwAR1i6ppj2qI_l68lfBp0bqNSFUFwxlN3qmVROJO_bf0J0OaKd36s55xzi_k. And its “Lace and Cobwebs” is as beautiful as can be.
But where did the PCC come from? Michelle Dionne, Dawn Edwards and Jaimie Vernon write that:
Taking their name from the Stratford, Ontario region of the same name, Perth County Conspiracy was centred around British immigrant Cedric Smith and American draft dodger Richard Keelan (ex of Spikedrivers). They gigged up and down the Toronto strip in the late ’60s and released their debut album . . . in ’69. A healthy dose of trippy acid/folk rock was served up, and thanks to the [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] CBC, it was followed in the spring of 1970 with a self-titled promotional only album.http://rockasteria.blogspot.com/2018/12/perth-county-conspiracy-perth-county.html
As to that album, from which “Lace and Cobwebs” was taken:
In the late 1960s, CBC augmented its commitment to Canadian artists by producing original albums by home-grown talent and distributing them on vinyl solely to its broadcast affiliates, both in Canada and across North America, in runs of just 250 copies. These discs have become holy-grail items for collectors . . . . Original copies of this record have traded hands for upwards of $1500.00! . . . [T]he . . album was conceived, recorded and designed to look and sound like the product of a commercial record label. But with only 250 copies produced the record quickly reached mythic status as the band went on to begin a commercial career with Columbia Records. . . . Pure commune folk music and one of Canada’s most intriguing psychedelic artifacts.http://www.citizenfreak.com/titles/295575?fbclid=IwAR1i6ppj2qI_l68lfBp0bqNSFUFwxlN3qmVROJO_bf0J0OaKd36s55xzi_k
ThePoodleBites, in a fascinating story that I highly recommend everyone read in full, gives a history of the lives and times of the PCC:
Cedric Smith had dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a folk singer, and began performing at local coffeehouses . . . in Stratford . . . the home to a prominent and renowned annual Shakespeare Festival [I’ve been there and seen a performance!]. . . [In 1964, a]lthough he had never taken any acting lessons, [he was asked] to audition for the Stratford company . . . . It ended as a quite successful season, but Smith’s commitment to acting was sporadic . . . . [He] began to focus on working with . . . Richard Keelan. Together, the[y] formed . . . The Perth County Conspiracy.https://upvhq.blogspot.com/2021/12/the-perth-county-conspiracy-does-not.html
Ah, that name. ThePoodleBites informs us that:
The “Conspiracy” moniker was inspired by the Chicago Seven trial’s controversial definition of a conspiracy as “two or more people in the same place breathing together”; void of defined structure, a spokesman, or any other concrete form.
Anyway, ThePoodleBites tells us what the commune was like:
[The PCC was m]ore than just a performing act; at the heart of the coalition was a “rural way of life”: a spontaneous happening and loosely-knit community between seven farms of around thirty permanent residents, and many more who were constantly in flux, who met together at the local coffeehouses, talked, discussed, and shared vegetables, bread, nuts, toys, and similar necessities in a communal setting. Keelan explains . . . how dynamic the group was: “People are always asking us how many people are in this group. . . . We don’t know. It just happens. You may be here two hours or you may be here two years. . . . We have more of a commune of the mind than a physical thing.” [But] there was indeed at least one communal farmhouse extant, nicknamed “Puddlewalk,” where draft dodgers, artists, actors, musicians, intellectuals, and local hippies would all live, work, and craft under the same roof. . . .
The[ PCC] became known for mixing theatrics into their musical performances; Smith, with his affinity for acting, would integrate readings of Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, or “scenarios from his latest two drug arrests” mid-song, while Keelan, a “refugee from the glitter trail, keeps up the rhythm with his tapping bare toes.”
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