The Velvet Underground at The Retinal Circus in Vancouver 1968

Everywhere you go there is a cutting edge venue that is on the edge. They are not always large some are even in basements. Local artists depend on these to showcase their talents.

In the sixties in Vancouver we were lucky enough to have a club that did that and more. The promoter was Roger Schiffer who worked tirelessly combating a repressive civic government at the time to give the peace movement in the form of what was called hippies a voice in civic affairs. The Doors in 1967 and and the Velvet Underground in 1968 fueled more than a musical renaissance they helped a generation stand up and be counted leading to a cultural revolution. What started out as Peace not War became a “you need to listen movement”

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The Retinal Circus on Davie Street in Vancouver’s West End was within walking distance of where I lived at the time. It became a weekly ritual. There were lots of local bands who had their own unique west coast Canadian vibe and the headliners were always amazing. The Doors, Velvet Underground, Muddy Waters, The Siegel Schwall Blues Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Junior Wells and more. Jimmy Hendrix played there when visiting his grandmother in Vancouver. It was a crazy time and Vancouver was a mecca for the anti war movement and the terms Peace and Love with a smattering of drifting smoke and Timothy Leary were common place. You may not be able to live in the past but it can be a cool place to visit. I was there for two of the four nights they played and it was a love in.

Another of the leading bands of the time played the Circus just before they exploded in the the public conscience. The Doors at the Retinal Circus was mind altering for many!

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Local West coast groups included that played at the Circus included:

Charlatans, the Collectors, Chilliwack, Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck, My Indole Ring, Papa Bear’s Medicine Show, The Paupers, Seeds of Time, Tom Northcott
United Empire Loyalists Velvet Underground Winter’s Green Yellow Brique Road
Youngbloods. All of them were different but there was two thing they had in common, a unique Vancouver West Coast sound and energy.

Following are some of the postcards that were available on entry to the shows.

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