The Magic of ‘Johnny’s Place’
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Monday, March 2nd, 2015.
People: Mick Dalla-Vee
Around about 1996 – 1997, I had heard about this little restaurant called ‘Johnny’s Place’ in Port Moody (about a mile and half from my place up the road in Coquitlam)
I had heard about it for good reason. Through the guitarist in Cease & Desist (Brent Howard Knudsen) I had met quite a few people.
So, I had met Tanya Panrucker, her sister Susan Smith and their mom Judy Panrucker. Judy ran Johnny’s Place. It was small; barely 40 seats nestled in a rustic surround which, from what I had heard, was mostly known to have the best breakfasts around.
I then heard a while later that at night the place was starting to go off….they were getting in some great talent. Judy ran into me at the bank one day and asked me to stop by – and suggested that maybe I could play there… but at the time, I was working 7 nights a week with two different bands so my time was pretty much used up for me to do ‘Johnny’s Place’.
The money they could offer was not huge due to their limited seating however Judy had said that if I were to play there, she could make it up to me with food and beverage etc.
Judy is and was always a very sweet person.
One night I happened to go into Johnny’s Place with my wife Joanne just to check the place out.
Judy’s boyfriend Barrie served us.
He took one look at me and said quite loudly, ‘ARE YOU MICK DALLA-VEE? MICK DALLA-VEE FROM TRAMA? THE ONE WHO SANG ROXANNE???’
I said rather sheepishly that I was… and he said ‘WELL LET ME THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!’
He went on to explain that in the 80’s, he would often frequent bars where Trama played. He knew that I would sing Roxanne at the beginning of the 3rd set, so he’d always make sure to chat up a gal on the previous break and ask her to dance the first song knowing it would be a ballad.
Barrie then said ‘you got me LAID so many times man!!! Let me buy you a drink!’
Ya… so I started hanging out there.
Because it was a restaurant, my whole family started hanging there. One of the last wonderful and deep conversations I had with my daughter Carolyn was there… a week before she died. Johnny’s Place started to mean the world to me as it did to a lot of musicians. It was just plainly magical.
Eventually, I wasn’t working Sunday nights any more, so I was able to start doing a solo there the odd time… then….I started doing every Sunday there.. it was just too much fun!
It ended up being even much more so incredible! My old pal Tommy Stewart started sitting in with me on drums and then the great Lee Worden on bass/vocals and the incredible Mike Norman on keys/vocals and sax who truly was probably the greatest talent I have ever known in my life. I hate cancer… taking a life so young with such huge promise.
But…. What a band! Probably the best band I have ever had ‘musicianship wise’ in my life. With Lee and Mike I was constantly simply trying to keep up. All in this little wee 40 seat place! Crazy!
Those Sundays were incredible!
When Carolyn passed away, Judy and Barrie graciously offered the restaurant for a gathering place after the service. It was perfect. Carolyn loved it there too…
Here’s a great shot from one of my Sunday gigs at Johnny’s Place with Jonas Falle on guitar beside me and the incredible Beverley Staunton. Beverley moved to LA a little while after this picture was taken and has had a huge career down there. Amongst a myriad of other gigs, she was the voice of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
Enjoy this video from a TV news magazine that had heard about ‘The Magic’ of Johnny’s Place.
Thank you Judy, Barrie, Susan and everyone who made me and my family part of your family… and for introducing me to some of the greatest musicians I have ever known.
The following video was shot on a Monday night. Russell Marsland (you’ll see him on guitar singing) had the place hopping every Monday. Great jamming… the night the cameras were there I was sitting in with my upright bass… which I had just acquired and was trying desperately to get a hang of.
Russell is a magnificent musician, guitarist/vocalist and his girlfriend Suzanne Gitzi (Raven) is one of the best female singers I have ever worked with. They are two of the most wonderful people I have ever met and I owe most of our friendship to Johnny’s Place.