Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Church of the Undergrad

By Fateema Sayani

Long Running Mod Club Celebrates a Decade With a Series of Special Events

I’ve heard it described as a great place to hear Northern Soul tunes, good for a dance floor workout, and a great place to pick up — I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for. Regardless of your outlook, one can say that the weekly dance party called Mod Club Ottawa has staying power.

Suitable Attire: Patrick Foisy and Garry Armitage clean up nice at Mod Club Ottawa last year.
Suitable Attire: Patrick Foisy and Garry Armitage clean up nice at Mod Club Ottawa last year.

On December 15, the Mod Club’s longtime DJs, Gaz and Emmett, will celebrate a decade of playing mod, soul, Brit pop, and vintage R&B tunes for a group of loyal attendees largely comprised of the city’s university crowd, along with a few graduate regulars who’ve hung around post-convocation.

They gather every Sunday outside the Babylon door on Bank Street waiting to head inside the palace of sweat and long bathroom lines. Mod Club Ottawa was often considered the thinking person’s alternative to the cheeseball ‘80s night that happens next door at Barrymore’s, because the tunes were better.

After a decade of putting on the event week after week, there’s no plan to stop spinning. Leading up to the anniversary, DJ Gaz (Garry Armitage) is planning a number of special events. This Sunday, he invites Mod Club Montreal DJs Ben Shulman and Parka Pat (Patrick Foisy) for a guest appearance. They’ll play a couple of 7” sets with tunes from Shulman’s 45 label called Papa Bill Records.

Foisy says Shulman is “the most knowledgeable record picker this side of the Mississippi.” Foisy, meanwhile, is a dedicated documenter of Mod culture via his blog called Parka Avenue — it has some 166 articles about fashion, Twiggy, Quadrophenia trivia, and buying 45s. The duo also keeps Mod culture alive via Mod Club Montreal. They get a decent turnout at their Friday night event, though Shulman says their Mod Club doesn’t have a really strong following the way it does here. The Montreal edition used to take place at Bar Blizzarts on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and recently moved to a small upstairs lounge called The Wiggle Room, also on Saint-Laurent.

Patrick Foisy’s Vespa, at left, and Garry Armitage’s ride at right. Mod cred!
Patrick Foisy’s Vespa, at left, and Garry Armitage’s ride at right. Mod cred!

Ahead of their appearance at Mod Club Ottawa, Sound Seekers polled the two guest DJs for a playlist of top tunes.

Ben Shulman of Mod Club Montreal and founder of 45-RPM soul label Papa Bill Records
1) Jesse Anderson – You Better Think Twice
2) Jimmy Vick & The Victors – Take A Trip
3) Annie Williams – I’ve Got A Man
4) Eddie Kirk – The Grunt
5) Gino Parks – Fire
6) Nathaniel Mayer – I Want Love and Affection
7) Pete Hartfield – Mighty Man

Patrick Foisy of Mod Club Montreal and Blogger at Parka Avenue: Living As a Mod in the 21st Century
Find Patrick’s Top 10 Northern Soul and R&B Finds of 2012 on his blog.

More anniversary events are planned. On Dec. 8, Johnny Vegas of Maxwell’s Bistro will play a special set. On Dec. 15, VJ Matt Cameron will mix and project vintage videos from the 1960s.

Mod Club Ottawa with Guests Ben Shulman and Parka Pat takes place Sunday at Babylon. 10 p.m. No cover.

This Weekend
Grant Lawrence’s second book is called The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie. It’s a memoir about his love-hate relationship with hockey and he’ll read from the new release Friday at Pressed Café. Music by the Ottawa Songbird Millionaires.

The CD release show for the Fiftymen’s third self-titled album is sold out. It takes place Saturday at the Black Sheep Inn. The band is getting a boost from The MuseBox, the music-marketing agency led by Nadine Gelineau who started her career in Ottawa and Hull in the 1980s.