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Lance, Letty & Niven: the Rest of the Story: UPDATED

Lance, Niven, & Letty at Dos Locos

Lance, Niven, & Letty at Dos Locos

Click the PLAY button to listen to Letty, Lance, Niven & Ed.

My name is Ed Hooven. For decades my late wife Maya (who died on Feb. 3rd, 2017) and I were good friends with Lance, Letty and Niven. Our friendship was in part based on our mutual interests in playing and listening to live music.

I write this with tears in my eyes as I am the last survivor of this group (born one month after Letty) and have recently been lost in my memories while listening to the hours of recordings we made in our Toronto music room and on gigs (many with Lance, Letty and Niven) since my wife’s recent death from a second bout with cancer.

But let me go back to the beginning: It all started in 1968 (as I learned from Maya) that a new Canadian named Lance Bennett arrived in Toronto’s Yorkville (the then hip area of the city). They immediately struck up a friendship with Maya hiring Lance to work at her club the “Penny Farthing” coffee house. While the club closed shortly after that Maya took Lance with her to the several other Yorkville venues she worked at in those years. They stayed in touch over the next 15 or so years while Lance traveled intermittently to places like South America and England.

Not long after Maya and I started our 36-year relationship Lance appeared at our home one day in 1982 with his new girl friend Letty. We instantly hit it off and, since we had a music room with drums, piano, amps etc., we started playing music together (with me on guitar & piano). I decided it would be a good idea to include Maya in the musical festivities and she started by singing and then began to play the drums.  Lance memorably said to me: “Ed, I don’t know about broads in bands.” Letty at that point was a not a participant except in helping to drink the vast quantities of beer that were consumed during our musical parties.

Our home at that point was a bit of drop in center for our friends and on one fateful afternoon I decided to try to teach Maya to play the bass. We were seated at our kitchen table and lo and behold in walked Lance and Letty. Letty immediately said she wanted to learn the instrument and promptly went out and bought one.

We started practicing in our music room and soon were playing student “talent nights” at the university where Letty and I taught. We played in our music room virtually every weekend and had numerous visits from Lance’s and my working musician friends. We would play until the wee hours or until the beer ran out (which I can’t remember ever happening!). I recall coming down to the kitchen many mornings to a forest of empty beer bottles and debris of all sorts with a major cleanup in front of me. We began sitting in on Saturday matinees at gin joints like the Canada House and the Edgewater. We also joined musical friends such as Sebastian to sit in at their gigs. We even took a vacation with Lance and Letty to a cabin on Manitoulin Island (on Lake Huron) and spent a week fishing and playing music in the evenings. I remember Letty’s son John and I played a lot chess during that week.

By the late 80’s we felt the need for a better drummer and Letty brought in Niven who took us to the next musical level. We spent the winter of 1990/91 every Friday night practicing and began to play jazz standards and even did a few jazz gigs at York University. Niven and I even took a vacation together in Curacao. Upon our return from the airport we walked into a gig of mine so that I could take over from a sub and play the last several sets!

Sadly, as the 1990s wore on, and the political divisions between left and right became sharper our friendship with Letty (Lance was never very political) became more difficult as Maya and I moved more and more towards a conservative point-of-view. We saw less and less of them and then they moved to Costa Rica. We last saw them in Toronto at a Saturday afternoon jazz event at the Pilot Tavern on June 4, 2004 (which I recall because it was the day President Reagan died). It was a pleasant, if a bit tense, final meeting. It was good to see them after those years away. I miss all of them and treasure my memories of those years.

It was great to read in the Quepolandia that the three of them successfully transplanted the musical work we had started in our music room all those years ago to Costa Rica and had become part of the local music scene. It warms my heart to know that many Costa Rican locals and tourists were able to share their love for music. May they rest in peace.


Ed sent another track of their music from a Saturday afternoon jam session (from April 28, 1988) at the Edgewater (it was Lance’s gig). They were then calling themselves “Middle Aged Spread.”  Ed & Maya’s oldest daughter visited Lance & Letty here a few years ago. Her name is Rebecca and she likely did some singing with the band. 

Click the PLAY button to listen to Letty, Lance, Niven & Ed. Music starts around 1:30.

5 Responses to “Lance, Letty & Niven: the Rest of the Story: UPDATED”

  1. Pat Cheek said:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful story. It was a pleasure to read more about how Lance & Letty progressed. I met them in Quepos,Costa Rica where I enjoyed not only their music but their friendship for years..: may they all be playing together out there somewhere.. the beat goes on…

  2. Stan Astra said:


  3. michael keith said:

    It was lovely to read this and I am glad i got to know all these people. I hope to hear from you Ed! Blessings.

  4. Jim said:

    Thank You Ed for posting this and Thank You Rich Roxborough for tagging me on the post. Lance, Letty, and Niven are in our hearts forever.

  5. Ilkka Lehti said:

    Hi Ed, great to hear the story . Sorry to hear about Maya. You two were a couple of my faves to see at the Gladsotone on those good time Sundays . Always meant to visit Lance and Letty in CR. I ran into them a couple of times in the 2000s when Letty was coming back to teach. May they RIP, I think of them often.

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