Re: “‘Santa’ founded Mustard Seed,” April 17.
Gipp Forster is widely applauded for his founding of the Mustard Seed, and rightly so, but before that there was another aspect of Gipp that bears remembering — his support of music in Victoria during the late 1960s.
Gipp ran Gipper’s Underground, a popular folk coffeehouse in the basement of the (then) Century Inn.
His wonderfully inviting and friendly nature soon attracted a large following and made it “the” place for folk music in the city.
I was a frequent guest and performer there, as were most of the folkies in town. At the height of the “folk boom” of the 1960s, Gipp’s was a place we could go and play the open stage, hear the latest songs, trade guitar licks, talk about music and hear the wonderful acts he brought in.
I remember several appearances by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, as well as Valdy and a very young Ann Mortifee, among many others. Gipp always had a hearty welcome for everyone, and usually a story as well, and he hosted the place with warmth and humour.
He ran it with generosity as well, as he had a “free list” of performers who didn’t have to pay, and I am sure that affected his revenue flow, but that was not the main thing for Gipp — it was about community. At the time, Gipper’s was the only place like it, and it helped to form some notable musical careers.