IN MEMORIAM: MICHAEL LADEROUTE (December 29, 1947 - May 29, 2021)
On Saturday, the TRANZAC community lost Michael Laderoute to cancer.
We were so lucky to have Michael Laderoute as a regular fixture the fourth Sunday of every month from 3 pm - 5 pm (with Rob Fenton on dobro). His songs all sounded like classics, and they were. While he was struggling with cancer, his friends made a beautiful tribute, which can be heard on soundcloud. Hopefully when we reopen we'll be able to host a proper tribute in person.
Sending lots of love to Michael's family and friends.
Below are some reminiscences from friends. If you have something you would like to share, please email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We shared an affinity for Texas songwriters and blues music, Tequila and Telecasters. We also shared a birthday, December 29. He was exactly 20 years older than me though it felt more like 5. His tastes and activities seemed quite clear. He liked fishing, he was a bit of a loner but had a lot of friends and people that liked him. My partner Shauna and I visited him in Melaque, Mexico one winter. He picked us up in his jeep at the airport, stuck a mini beer in each of our hands and whisked us off to our hotel. There were quite a few Canadians that frequented Melaque, musicians as well but he wasn’t one to congregate with them, I never knew why. He was a puzzle in some ways, I kept asking him if he was going to record another album or document his songs? he would just answer ‘why’? I didn’t press it.
I know he liked Stetson hats and concerts. I lived in his apartment every February for a dozen years or so while he was away. The place hardly changed in all that time. What I discovered was his home environment only changed if his health was affected or things were thrust upon him. He had some heart trouble a few years back so a walker was added to the apartment. I think he had to use it briefly while recovering then after that it served as a table to put clothing on, otherwise it was unchanging, a bike a few years later when he started working on his heart health. I found a life sized hula girl in a grass dress at a drug store in Northern Ontario, I left it with all the other gifts I would leave at the end of each visit, she became a permanent and unchanging fixture hanging on one of the doors. There were a couple posters on the wall but no art really, I think he was concerned the landlord would give him a hard time if he put holes in the wall, I would have bought him some kind of black velvet Mexican flavoured Jesus painting otherwise. His guitar stuff was always meticulously organized. Guitar cables perfectly rolled. There were at least 7 espresso makers in the cupboard. I think he got a new TV at one point but otherwise the furniture remained in the same spots year in year out. I don’t think he liked to trouble the landlord but he did get a new fridge, well an old fridge from the laundry room when the plug of the old one caught fire during one of my stays.
When he was in town we’d usually have a visit, I played him my blues album when we had just finished it, he loved it, maybe the drinks helped but it was nice to see the otherwise steady demeanour perk up a little. He also gave me a monster embrace once after a concert I did at Hugh’s room, the gesture was sincere and as a result meaningful. Maybe that’s what I learned about Michael, when he really felt a thing he showed it. I will miss him and his apartment, our friendship was tied into both. I am so glad we recorded his songs to share with him. Also glad his musical partner, slide player Rob Fenton recorded a bunch of their shows in secret, so we had a document of songs that would otherwise have been lost. I know that record meant a lot to him and that meant a lot to me, to be able to give something back. He told me he couldn’t breathe for a couple days after it was presented to him. After he got his breath back, he would choose one of the songs, listen to it 3 or 4 times and then send a heartfelt note to the artist that had covered his song. He wasn’t really allowed many visitors while in the hospital. I asked him if he missed his guitars? He said he missed hugging people more. The pandemic robbed him of affection at the end of his life but I think that recording was helpful. Rest in Peace Michael.
Michael Laderoute and I go back a long way - we found each other at Norm Hacking's open mic at various places. We cheered each other on as we attempted to make our one and only "CD" that would do justice to our music. He sure made a good one - should have won a Juno - but hey, little guys don't win Junos. He was a great songwriter - "A River I Know" being one of the best songs about dying ever written - a perfect song - Michael knew all about "crossing that river" - he was always full of beans and full of great stories. Always sitting at the bar with a Molson's in front of him - he always made fun of my drinking Corona's. He actually met Townes and Guy and John Prine during his travels - now that's pretty cool. And was fitting, since his music always had that inflection of Texas Blues. He should have lived in Austin, not Toronto. He used to talk about playing in Dallas at the Sons of Herman bar - sitting in a song-circle guitar pull with Guy Clark and the boys - that's I think how he ended up with Guy Clark's capo. I'll have to get there some day. Maybe he's somewhere right now playing with those guys, taking turns playing tunes. He was a great songwriter and despite his sometimes cranky demeanor, he really had a heart of gold. See you along the way Amigo - you brought a lot of love and laughter to the world - you will be sorely missed - but always remembered in our hearts.
Steve Paul Simms:
I met Michael Laderoute sometime in the late '80s at the Free Times Cafe. He was a friend of Norm Hacking's and he always seemed like a very cool dude. A magnetic performer and great storyteller in song, he seemed to have fully lived the life he wrote about. An English major, he had a deep knowledge of literature. He loved Moby Dick and Cormac McCarthy. He loved old movies too, and whenever I tried a line of obscure dialogue from some Bogart or Cagney flick on him, he'd know the comeback line right on cue. Michael seemed to know a lot more than he said. Most of the time he was joking around, occasionally grouchy, but never pompous or self-important. I learned a whole lot from watching him onstage and off, and I never spent an unpleasant hour in his company. He'll be missed for a long time.