THANK YOU JIMMY SCOPES
THE CABANA ROOM BOOTLEG 1992
Arlene Bishop’s sixth release, Thank You Jimmy Scopes, is a bootleg recording captured at The Cabana Room in the former Spadina Hotel, in front of a talkative room of musicians and artists in 1992.
Jimmy Scopes was the bartender and music booker at The Cabana Room. When they met in 1986, Arlene Bishop was twenty-one and muddling through the death of her boyfriend just months after she had moved to Toronto from art school in Ottawa. She describes herself as an optimistically melancholic insomniac and after seeing a band at The Cabana Room, she introduced herself to Jimmy and asked about a gig. Even though she only had four songs of her own, Jimmy offered her a Monday residency. Those regular shows over several years challenged her to write new songs, to book other musicians to share the night, to promote the shows to new audiences, and to perform under any–– and every––circumstance. “I played to full and empty rooms, during storms and migraines, never cancelling a show, never wanting to let Jimmy down.” Those nights were where she developed her funny-deep-talk-between-dark-song-approach. “I loved making Jimmy laugh and when he said he liked a particular song, it meant a lot. Those residencies gave me focus and a circle of musicians and audience friends that saved me,” Bishop says now, a million years later.
Arlene Bishop now enjoys a songwriting and performance career that has expanded her community around the world. She’s been compared to Neil Young, Tracy Chapman, Leonard Cohen, and Marianne Faithfull. She has co-written songs, penned TV theme lyrics, written screenplays, created a video documentary series, and is always looking for new ways to bring community together with performance. Bishop has performed solo and with bands throughout Canada and France, previously releasing three studio albums, an EP, and a live album that featured a 30-person singing ensemble. It was during the enormous singing project (Together Tonight with The Spirit of Adventure, released in 2017) that recording engineer James Paul revealed he’d captured one of her solo shows in 1992 and the two started sharing Jimmy stories.
This bootleg is a raw piece of audio history that might mean nothing to anyone except the performing songwriter herself, but she’s releasing it as a way to say thank you to the person she credits with launching more than just her life on stage.
“It all started with The Cabana Room, with postering along Queen Street West, with calls to strangers, with sharing the stage and room with people like Ron Sexsmith, Paul Myers, Barenaked Ladies, Jane Siberry, Rheostatics, The Jitters, Bob Snider, Chalk Circle, and so many muso friends who are still a part of my everyday life, and I’m very grateful. Thank you, Jimmy Scopes.”