The full story of Bacchus, Trent University’s student-run end of year music and booze fest, has yet to be written, but the 1989 edition seen here encapsulates the best and worst of this popular tradition that continues to this day under a different name - though no less provocative – Dionysus.
One idea behind Bacchus, which began in 1977 as The Free World Colossus*, was to give student bands – many of which had formed just 9 months before - one last chance to play for an audience before disbanding for the summer and perhaps for good. By the time the 1989 edition of Bacchus came along the music mix saw veteran professional bands from the city sharing the stage with students.
Bands seen here, in this order, are:
Soul Revue w JP Hovercraft
The Smokin Toads
The African Student Dance Ensemble
Born Again Pagans w The Horns of Plenty
Soul Revue w Laurie Corrigan
Co-hosts of Bacchus 1989 were brothers Ken and David Ramsden, seen here half-heartedly attempting to keep the crowds from storming the stage – there was no barrier to audiences mingling with musicians – and storming the adjacent Bata Library, whose ramparts offered a bird’s eye view of the undertakings (and an ideal platform for the student African Dance Ensemble performance midway through the afternoon).
But the hosts and musicians did not have as tough a time of it as the beleaguered sound crew, under the direction of two stalwarts of the Peterborough sound tech scene, Ian Osborn and John Muir, two gentlemen whose unflappable natures were sorely put to the test. Judging by the very decent sound put down on the surviving Maclean Hunter Cable TV video tapes, they accomplished the job well, despite frequent calls for “more vocals in the monitor”. Kudos also to Gary Schelling, who pushed Maclean Hunter to cover the event and produced the recordings we see here.
And many thanks to Stephen Rose of PowerHouse Digital Video for the video transfer from umatic 3/4" tape.
*The Free World Colossus was dreamed up by profs Andrew Wernick and Robert Campbell, as a sort of end-of-year final act of rebellion students could indulge in prior to entering the real world. The concept was later refined by the visionary student leader Matt Shaughnessy, who turned it into an event rooted more in the body than in the mind, hence the name change to Bacchus.