As appeared in VIEW, Mississauga’s condo lifestyle magazine October 2011.
I knew I was in the right place when I walked through the door of Omemee’s Youngtown Rock & Roll Museum, and saw the sign, ‘Hippies Welcome.’
I knew I was in the right place when I walked through the door of Omemee’s Youngtown Rock & Roll Museum, and saw the sign, ‘Hippies Welcome.’ A lot of life has happened since my days of hanging out in the Village, strolling along the pungent smelling streets of Yorkville, and playing guitar in the Last Chance Saloon on Vancouver’s Fourth Avenue. But within, the beat still goes on.
No one identifies with the nostalgia trip through rock and roll’s history than Trevor Hosier, the founder of Youngtown Museum. Hosier’s motivation for establishing the Museum, which opened in May of 2008, was to, “Pay tribute to Neil Young. Neil is the single greatest singer and songwriter that Canada has produced. He is still going strong after so many decades; still getting Grammy Awards and Juno Awards,” Hosier says.
It would take hours to absorb all the detail and ‘cool’ factor offered up in the Museum’s seven showcase rooms. Just being in the aura of original tour jackets, dresses, hats, and musical instruments, belonging to arguably the most groundbreaking artists in generations, is somehow profound. While Neil Young is definitive to the exhibits, there is a myriad of vintage photos, artifacts, and memorabilia from the ‘50’s, 60’s and ’70’s: a Johnny Cash stage vest; an original Jerry Garcia banjo; Lindsey Buckingham’s 1977 tour jacket; Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees puppets; and lots of vintage Beatles memorabilia. My favourite pieces include: a copy of Janis Joplin’s November 16th, 1969, arrest sheet in Tampa, Florida, for ‘profanity,’ (amongst other things); an October 6th 1979 Billboard Music Chart poster, that lists Led Zeppelin under the ‘New and Hot’ category; the hat John Lennon wore doing the Beatles last photo shoot in 1969, an image that appeared on the cover of the Beatles Hey Jude album. Hosier’s favourites, and he has many, include an original Neil Young 1970’s guitar that he played on his tour bus; a two page original 1971 letter that John Lennon wrote to Joe Franklin, the late night talk show host, preparing him for Yoko Ono’s interview on his show; an original drawing that Lennon did of Yoko and himself;
And at the top of Hosier’s list, the 1993 piano that Neil bought for his father, Scott Young, a well known journalist, sports writer, and novelist.
Hosier wants his visitors to have a ‘comfortable close encounter’ at the Museum. To that end, a guitar is available on the second floor for musicians and would-be musicians to say, ‘We played at Youngtown.’
And what does Neil Young think of this salutatory tribute?
“Neil really liked it; he was genuinely impressed,” say Hosier, of Young’s visit to the Museum in October of 2010. “He was very accommodating and personable.”
That Neil; he’s got such a Heart of Gold. He took the time to write out and autograph part of the lyrics to his 1970 hit, ‘Helpless’; a keepsake that is front and centre in the Museum.
A good take away laugh when leaving the Museum came from viewing a button featuring the iconic Timothy Leary, scripted with his infamous quote, ‘Turn On Tune In Drop Out’. Good old Timothy looks like he’s taken his own advice.
Neil and his family lived in Omemee from mid 1948/49 thorough to the mid 1950’s. It’s worth taking the short stroll down main street to see Neil’s house, at 33 King West; a cool place to envision Neil’s creative spirit flourishing.
“Although Winnipeg gave Neil his musical start,” says Hosier, “Omemee still remained a big part of home.”
On Saturday, November 12th, Neil’s 66th birthday, Hosier is hosting Youngtown Jam, a Neil tribute, at Coronation Hall, in Omemee.
“Accomplished artists audition from across the province,” Hosier states. The evening, which features six different acts, is a fundraiser for the Museum.
Youngtown Rock & Roll Museum is open Saturday and Sunday only, 11:00 A.M. – 5:30 P.M. April-November.
45 King Street East, Omemee (The Museum is approximately twenty miles outside of Lindsay)
Tickets for the Youngtown Jam are sold exclusively at Omemee Ace Hardware 705- 799-2233
Tickets are $12.00; Doors open at 6:30 P.M.; Show time at 8:00 P.M.