The Hawks Nest

While checking online website links for Toronto’s Secret I came across one that opens to a photo of Le Coq d’Or Tavern, the Yonge street bar where Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks used to perform almost like a house band from the late 1950’s to the late 60’s when his musicians left to join Bob Dylan. But The Hawks did travel from Le Coq d’Or on booking agent Harold Cudlitz’s circuit to perform in London and Hamilton Ontario, or record in New York City or return home to Arkansas when groups like The Beumarks of Montreal and one that I was in called the Dellfires of Hamilton replaced him on brief engagements. What puzzles me about the labelling of that linked photo is how the phrase Hawks Nest seems to supersede the bar’s name Le Coq d’Or as though the names are interchangeable which they weren’t when I played the Yonge Street strip. Le Coq d’Or was Ron’s home away from home on street level just off the sidewalk where people would line up to get in. At some point in the 60’s the idea of the after hours club became a kind of craze maybe to ape the dingy bebop coffee houses in old Yorkville’s unrenovated rooming houses. That was when I first heard the phrase Hawks Nest, Ron’s plan for a club opening after the booze bars closed, an after hours club that he asked me to manage entertainment for. I can still see the inside location of that first Hawks Nest in a hotel banquet room some blocks east of Yonge Street maybe north of Dundas Street, like Jarvis Street. Maybe I should walk along Dundas east one day; I’m sure I’d recognize the street and maybe even that hotel, if it’s still there.

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