Recipient, Order of @Canada & Order of Manitoba. Voice & Songwriter: American Woman (6m+ plays), These Eyes, (5m+ plays) & Stand Tall. #BCLIVE

WORDS UP-CLEARED FOR LANDING

i sink, demeaning, reeling from my find
at one with riddle, smitten by its hand
in moody preparation for the mind
enigma i would deal to understand
but never should the option offer flight
else i will see this through another night.

that i am only lowborn is forgot
by those dispensing oddment for the flow
my vestige or my clothes betray me naught
for now they serve my patience, ever slow…
i will not hence reveal my inner way
and bleed to guttle yet another day

with word i am enabled, hear me speak
or stay and see my letters on the page
i cherish all the trodden and the weak
and send the thought to strengthen and to age
the skeptic and the seeker must amass
if sense and worthy wisdom come to pass

the hunt and celebration through the pen
in daring may entice the worldly-wise,
but drenched in circumstances of the “when”
the roving eye will miss a quick disguise
and yet another stanza, made to mourn
is sitting with its brothers, cold and worn

EDD LEONARD FENWICK

It’s a little blurry exactly when I first knew I wanted to be in a band, or had the ability even to consider it, but one certain incident may have cemented my ultimate fate. Grade Eight…Luxton School…music class with Miss Milgrom. Edd Smith and I were just about best friends, hanging out together almost constantly. He already had a cheap electric guitar and amp. We had auditioned for the Amateur Show, a local Winnipeg television deal, dreaming of winning and being asked back to perform again the following week. Our audition had deemed that we spend a certain amount of time in preparation. During those early “rehearsals” we worked up duet versions of several numbers. Edd and I, having learned these several numbers anyway, privately approached Miss Milgrom, (our music teacher at Luxton, down in the basement in Room 3) one day and asked her if we could perform something in front of the whole room during our next music class. We ended up performing “This Time” by Troy Shondell and “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles. I played piano and sang, and Edd sort of “played along” on electric guitar. Members of the whole class, particularly the girls, were seemingly impressed…the die was cast for me right there that afternoon in Grade Eight at Luxton School. I knew what I WANTED to do, yet actually accomplishing ANY of it was seemingly an impossible dream…just a daydream, really.
Edd was constantly turning me on to “ all things rock and roll” that I otherwise might have missed. I must give Edd Smith a HUGE amount of credit and gratitude concerning what he did for me during the most malleable periods of my adolescence. I might never have heard “Silver City” by the Ventures were it not for Edd. I might never have been interested enough to send money orders to England for Shadows lp’s on vinyl during ‘62,’63, and ‘64 were it not for Edd. (Edd, found out about Keith Prowse Ltd. a huge record store in London England, and somehow tutored me on how to get things from them.) In the days of “ordinary” trans Atlantic mail, I sent my money order away to England, and waited about four or five weeks to receive my coveted prize…a beautiful British copy of “The Shadows’ Greatest Hits”…it blew me away so much, when I finally had it in my hands, I took it to school at St. John’s for about three days in a row…showed it to a pile of people during the classroom changes all day…
Once in Grade Nine (our last year at Luxton) Edd’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for the rock and roll world hit me square in the face.
Shortly after Winnipeg had first gotten Channel Twelve from Pembina, North Dakota, Edd and our mutual friend Tom Laszlo started talking about the coming D-Day…I had no idea what they meant, nor that they were referring to “DEE” Day…
they were talking about the imminent appearance of Joey Dee and the Starliters on American Bandstand to lip sync something on Channel Twelve at four thirty on a Friday afternoon. All week long at school, I looked forward to that few minutes of black and white television history. Since the single of Peppermint Twist peaked on the Billboarad chart in January of 1962, this “magic week” of anticipation leading up to DEE day must have occurred during the winter of 1961/1962. Edd Smith nurtured the seeds that radio had already planted in the head of a North End kid several years eariler.
Edd and I made another Amateur Show appearance several months after the first one. This time we had a drummer with us, a Luxton school friend named Francis Kostiuk. Francis lived on Atlantic Ave, between St. Cross and Scotia…He had a great set of drums and somehow we ended up on television, just the three of us, doing Dion Di Mucci’s “The Wanderer”. As memory serves me, we rocked pretty well this time. I was still delivering papers (the Winnipeg Tribune) six days a week at this point, and I remember some of the younger girls who lived with their parents on my paper route commenting and giggling about my singing. I was about twelve or thirteen at this time, and very shy of girls. I found out quickly what power lurked there in the ability to get up and sing a few tunes, even stuff you hadn’t written yourself. The Beatles hadn’t happened yet, but I was already sold hook, line and sinker on the idea of being a singer, for real…at least giving it a damn good try…
I admired Edd, always thought he was cool. He knew about stuff I didn’t. He knew all about the Shadows and Hank Marvin. He knew that Brian “Licorice” Locking was their new bass player in the movie and on the album of Summer Holiday. He turned me on to my all time favourite Shadows instrumental, “Round and Round”. The only places this cut appears are on the Summer Holiday soundtrack and in the eight disc box set from EMI Europe mentioned earlier. Edd had a tape recorder. Edd had a Silvertone electric guitar and some kind of compatible amp. Edd was the one who showed me how to hook a Di Armond violin pickup directly to the soundboard in the back of an upright piano so I could play any of the Community Club uprights through Derek’s Fender amp. I spent countless hours at his house on Cathedral near Scotia, several times seeing things on his family’s television set that are indelibly stamped into my memory. You see, the Smiths were receiving Channel Twelve and at my house we were not. Channel Twelve brought American Bandstand into Winnipeg and it was the only station broadcasting it. Many, many days right after four we’d rush to Edd’s house and tune in Bandstand at 4:30. I saw many soulful black singers on American Bandstand at Edd’s place…even though they were merely lip syncing their hits, it gave me a chance to associate some of these other worldly voices with the faces that harbored them. The lead singer of one of the hot black girl groups of the day (perhaps the Chiffons, perhaps the Marvelettes) told Dick Clark that Ray Charles had been a huge influence on her. Forever after that I paid more attention to Ray Charles. I was motivated to get some of his LP’s, most notably the What’d I Say album on Atlantic. I still love that picture on the cover where you see this beautiful old AK 47 reflected in Brother Ray’s glasses. I really got into that whole album as a fairly young kid. What a great crash course it is for soul and blues.
I still regularly play Rockhouse, Roll With My Baby, That’s Enough, which I later recorded myself with one of the Raelets singing on it, My Bonnie, and the long version of What’d I Say. The title cut is truly a masterpiece. When it all breaks down between Part One and Part Two and the girls start answering Ray with just drums and handclaps going behind them, it’s truly invigorating… Hallmark moment.
So indirectly, even my affinity toward Ray Charles is traceable back to Edd Smith. When I left the Deverons to join the GW, the guy I really missed most was Edd, because I had known him far earlier in life than I’d known the other three.
Edd, I thank you again. Those were days of learning and dreaming for me, and you showed me a million things that helped me along…I actually can recall you and me singing “Hey Paula” in your small bedroom on Cathedral Ave. right near Scotia…You were doing the Paul parts, playing guitar chords and starting the vocal lines, and I was trying to answer as Paula, but I have never had a falsetto, so my Paula parts were embarrassing and totally unnecessary in the vast spaces of the Universe.

Blast ahead to 1965, old Winnipeg Arena, Gerry and the Pacemakers are playing…it’s absolute pandemonium, they’ve even got guard ropes up about two inches thick. I’m not exaggerating. Remember, this is 1965, Winnipeg, in the height of the Beatlemania Craze of the Sixties. The British Groups are bigger than life in 1965…so here we are at the old Winnipeg Arena…the Deverons were lucky enough to get the opening slot that night…Deverons first, then the Guess Who (at that time, Randy Bachman, Chad Allan, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Bob Ashley) and then Gerry and the Pacemakers. The Liverpool boys put on a hell of a show that night…trouble was, the entire crowd hardly heard a note. The screaming was all part of the British Invasion and the frenzy that the Beatles had first instigated. Gerry and the Pacemakers may have had “How Do You Do It” initially before the Beatles onslaught, but it was an isolated incident. It really was the Beatles that created that mythical “British Scene” about which we all wondered and fantasized. The competition (actually PERCEIVED competition…this “Who will beat the Beatles next?” stuff was largely invented and fueled by the media) factor was played to the hilt between the British bands, but none of this grading them against each other seemed to occur until the Beatles had first laid down their incredible yardstick, by which all subsequent groups would soon be judged. You have to go pretty far to beat something like “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, or “Day Tripper”…

A WASTE OF GOOD MAGIC

(Originally posted August 2015)

A VERY PROFOUND THOUGHT JUST HIT ME. GONE GONE GONE…SO MANY PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES AND WORK AND MUSIC AND QUOTES I AM VERY MUCH LIVING.
WOW.
DENNIS WILSON…GONE…DECEMBER OF 1983. AND I STILL DRIVE AROUND LOS ANGELES, WAY OUT SUNSET PAST THE WILL ROGERS ESTATE WHICH I BELIEVE DENNIS HAD OWNED AND INHABITED FOR A WHILE. HE LIVED WITH CHRISTINE MC VIE FOR A WHILE I HEARD, PERHAPS IT WAS THERE…I STILL DRIVE PAST THERE AND DENNIS IS ALIVE IN MY HEAD.

JIMBO…GONE…I STILL DRIVE DOWN LAUREL TOWARDS SUNSET ALL THE TIME AND LOOK TO THE LEFT AND SEE THE SECOND STORY HE AND PAM LIVED IN THROUGH THOSE SOMEWHAT TUMULTUOUS TIMES. 
OFTEN I LIKE TO HAVE THE “PEPPERMINT MNI-SKIRTS CHOCOLATE CANDY” VERSE OF SOFT PARADE PLAYING PRETTY LOUD IN THE CAR AND I ROLL THE WINDOW DOWN AND YELL IN MY BEST “THREE MORE DAYS” SHRIEK…”JIMMMMMMMBOH…..”
AND WHEN I GO BY THAT PLACE HE’S ALIVE AND WELL IN MY HEAD.

AND ZAPPA…SAME THING ALL OVER LAUREL CANYON. HELL, FZ MADE REPEATED JOKES ABOUT LAUREL CANYON RIGHT ON HIS RECORDS. AND NO MATTER WHAT AGE OR ERA IS YOURS, THERE IS STILL SOMETHING OF A HOLLYWOOD VIBE…THERE’S A TIMELESSNESS TO IT ALL…PARTICULARLY THE MOVIES, BUT RECORDS TOO, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. I SEEM TO HEAR SO VERY MANY DECEASED ARTISTS IN MY CAR WHEN THE POD IS RANDOM, AND IT HITS ME OVER AND OVER AGAIN HOW THE MUSIC HAS TRANSCENDED THE ARTISTS’ LIVES. THAT’S THE MAGIC STUFF…THAT’S THE TINKERBELL DUST.
THAT’S THE THING, THE INTANGIBLE THAT NOT EVERYBODY “GETS”…
I’VE PLAYED WITH GUYS, SADLY, WHO WERE NEVER BITTEN BY THE CHARM THE MUSIC OWNS. DID IT FOR MONEY AND RENT AND BILLS…NO MORE THAN THAT. AND I’M NOT KNOCKING THAT, BUT I BELIEVE THIS…THE GODS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE…AND IF THAT’S YOUR DEAL, YOU USUALLY DON’T MAKE IT VERY BIG. IF THE TINKERBELL DUST DOESN’T RUB OFF ON YOU, THEN YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD TO THE GODS WHO PREACH THE CHARM…SO WHY WOULD THESE SAME GODS, WHO ARE IN A POSITION TO GIVE SO MUCH AID AND INSPIRATION, EVER SMILE IN THAT DIRECTION…IT WOULD BE A WASTE OF GOOD MAGIC…

THE ARTISTS WHO HAVE LEFT US SO YOUNG HAVE SOMETIMES LEFT IMAGES OF THEMSELVES THAT ARE MUCH LARGER THAN LIFE. IMPOSSIBLE WOULD THEY BE TO LIVE UP TO…BUT THEY WILL NEVER HAVE TO. WHEN YOU DIE YOUNG, YOU ARE YOUNG FOREVER.

I LIKE TO WRITE NOW…JUST LIKE THIS…TYPE IN CAPS AND OFFER POINTS OF VIEW. AND A BUNCH OF US CONGREGATE HERE AND HAVE IT OUT…JUST THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. THE TYPING IS AN ART TOO…I WANT TO PRACTICE AND PRACTICE AND PRACTICE…AS ONE OF THE PREVIOUS BLOGS (STILL THINK THAT’S A STUPID CYBER AGE WORD…SOUNDS LIKE WRETCHING/PUKING) STATED, THE WONDERMENT OF THE INSTANT-NESS MAKES THE WRITING AND READING OF THAT WRITING MORE INTERESTING IN A COMPLETELY  DIFFERENT WAY THAN THE “MASTERS” EVER HAD TO WORK WITH.
SO NOW, THE TRICK WOULD BE TO BECOME INFINITELY COMFORTABLE IN THIS NEW MILLENNIUM FORMAT OF WRITTEN WORD AND GO FORWARD FROM THERE.
BE IT RANDOM TYPES LIKE THIS OR SOMETHING MORE ALONG THE LINES OF A BOOK…I DON’T KNOW…THIS IS A BOOK IF YOU STRING IT TOGETHER. I READ “THE PHILOSOPHY OF ANDY WARHOL”, YOU KNOW, THE CAMPBELL’S SOUP COVER BOOK, AND I THINK MY KOLLUM WOULD STAND UP TO THAT ALL RIGHT JUST AS IT IS.
BUT IN FAIRNESS TO ANDY, THAT BOOK WAS RELEASED IN 1975. I REMEMBER READING IT THEN AND JUST WENT RIGHT THROUGH IT. MOST OF HIS CHAPTERS WERE SHORTER THAN THESE KOLLUMS HERE. I DON’T KNOW…
I GUESS I JUST LIKE TYPING…BUT MANY OF YOU REPEAT VISITORS HAVE COMMENTED ON THE WONDERMENT OF THE IMMEDIACY AND ALSO THE INTER ACTION VIS-A-VIS COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK. THIS IS SOMETHING THE ARTISTS OF THE “OLD DAYS” (PRE WEB DAYS) NEVER HAD. THIS IS REDUNDANT BUT, IMAGINE IF POE COULD HAVE JUST DIALED UP BLAKE’S COMPLETE WORKS TO INSPIRE HIM. WHAT WE HAVE WITH THE WEB IS THE SUM OF MAN’S KNOWLEDGE ALL FILED UP NEATLY FOR US. WE (MAN) HAVE NEVER HAD THAT BEFORE. I FEEL LUCKY TO BE AROUND AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME, BECAUSE BEING AN ARTIST, I CAN FULLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THAT I’VE JUST NOTED. SO I MAY INDEED BE ABLE TO KEEP WRITING FOR YEARS AND YEARS TO COME.
SOME OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS NEVER SAW AN I POD…THINGS ARE MOVING AT ALMOST INTIMIDATING SPEED, YET I JUST WANT TO BE ONE OF THOSE “ARTIST GUYS” WHO FULLY ADMITS THAT HE USES ALL THE WEB HAS TO OFFER IN THE WAY OF “AN ASSIST”.

AT LEAST I’M USING IT, AND AT LEAST I’M THINKING ABOUT IT. AFTER ALL, IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF THE WEB AND ALL IT HAS TO OFFER DIDN’T IMPRESS ME, IN THE WAKE OF ALL THE SUCCESS AND SUPPORT I’VE HAD FOR SO MANY DECADES…
IT WOULD BE A WASTE OF GOOD MAGIC…

ALL ABOUT MUSIC

Firstly let me make something expressly clear…I will no longer be going to Facebook to read comments or make any entries. If you want to communicate with me, do it here on this site…otherwise I will have no knowledge of any of it. The Facebook stuff will be shutting down soon and this is the only place I will be posting or communicating with anyone. You can find out about all our upcoming live show dates right here. No more Facebook please…B.C.

(The following was written in Victoria B.C. in mid 1996 and originally posted shortly thereafter.)

AN AFTERNOON IN 1996, VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

The English language can sometimes be its own reward. In the Prairies of a Great Free Country in the 1950’s the teachers at Luxton School instilled in me a challenge and desire to learn. Every time I read something written with cadence and charm, I knew it, and somehow grasped how difficult a trick that was. One of the more famous talk show hosts one night called writing “the most enviable” of the arts. I think Dick Cavett said it…I’m not positive what all that means, but as I roam through my own recollections, from time to time they seem fascinating. Without arrogance, I do feel as though I’ve been lucky enough to have lived the equivalent of several lifetimes by many people’s standards. I also realize that coming into the world and learning its ways through the eyes of the Prairies of Manitoba makes any story I have a little more unique…Winnipeg is a tough place to live…it’s quite remote and the winters will make an adult of any human. I first heard Elvis Presley in Winnipeg…first heard Fats Domino there…learned to read and write and walk and talk in Winnipeg…my eyes were the eyes of the Canadian Prairies.
Having been born the last day of 1947, the first part of my childhood took place without television. I’m right on the cusp of that last generation who can remember the world without television. The personal computer is as revolutionary an event in my same lifetime…truly remarkable…as I write this on an a lap top , I have not reached fifty years of age, yet I can recall vividly living the first part of my childhood without television…I hear that somewhere on the planet there is a woman still living who remembers times before the automobile…I guess it’s damned near impossible to have the best story…
I thank the Force constantly for all the music that was always around me. My mother played piano and read music…my Auntie Pat and Auntie Molly (my mother’s older sisters) both played piano…the three of them sometimes sang in three part harmony like the Andrews Sisters while one of them played the piano…Pat’s husband, my Uncle George, played piano and sang…even my Grandmother once in a while would saunter over to the piano and plunk out a little tune…this happened several times when I was a small child. The radio seemed to be on constantly. Long before I ever attended Kindergarten I was charmed by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, The Mills Brothers, Guy Mitchell, Dinah Shore, Tommy Dorsey and a million others.
I feel blessed that the music does to me what it does…it charms me…it mystifies me…it makes me cry and it makes me smile inside. It can enlighten, it can heal. It gave a different buzz to life for a little boy from the North End of Winnipeg in the early nineteen fifties. The initial and repeated hearings of certain songs became signposts throughout growing up. At a certain age it became everything, the music. It became and remains an obsession.
I was so obsessed with the Doors’ Strange Days album when it came out, I used to pack up a portable record player, vinyl albums, load them into my car, hunt down and buy some grass , and take my self- proclaimed “travelling psychedelphia” to a friend’s apartment, and “run the show”…got a lot of people hooked on the Doors…where else was anybody doing “mind music” and theatre for eleven minutes on a cut…? “When The Music’s Over” transformed single room dingy apartments into rocket ships. It would be twenty-four below zero Fahrenheit outside…I would drive through a considerable amount of snow and ice, carryng grass for which you still went to jail, and finally set up those first primitive “listening sessions” or “musical odysseys” or just “oddyseys” as we ended up calling them later. I sit sometimes and hope to all that’s Holy that some of those listening sessions I instigated became signposts for the other listeners. Now, speaking of signposts…
In the mid nineties, I purchased a double CD called “The Minit Records Story”. On this fascinating collection which also includes Chris Kenner’s “I Like It Like That”, Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother In Law”, and Aaron Neville’s “Over You”, you’ll find Jessie Hill’s “Ooh-Pooh-Pah-Doo” parts One and Two. When Winnipeg still had three major rock stations, I actually remember hearing this heavy rhythym and blues classic on CJOB, which has not played rock and roll for decades. Years later, a girl named Barbara had me over to her parents’ house while they were out. She had a big cardboard box full of forty-fives her dad had gotten from CJOB…she let me take a few with me, one of which happened to be “Ooh-Pooh-Pah-Doo”. When I play that cut by Jessie Hill now, I’m back there in front of our old radio as a 12 year old, I’m back there in the basement with Barbara and her huge box of forty-fives, and I’m on stage with Jayson Hoover at the YALE in Vancouver singing that song in 1987. The music unlocks certain endorphins which really play with time. I’ve read that it’s one of the most powerful stimulants in research.
There are certain times when certain cuts can take me to a seperate reality…Wild Weekend by the Rebels works almost anytime…Peter Gunn by Duane Eddy (particularly the incredible lead tenor sax played by Steve Douglas)…Beatnik Fly by Johnny and the Hurricanes…Hound Dog by Elvis Presley…
I was an eight-year old when Hound Dog by Elvis first came blasting out of the radio in Winnipeg in 1956. I had never heard anything like it. Later that week when I found out that the flip side of that same record was Don’t Be Cruel, I lost my young mind. Elvis was bigger than anything ever before him. He was talked about by EVERYONE…ALL AGES. Many parents thought he was the devil personified. I guess it was true when someone said that Elvis created the first generation gap. Come to think of it, my Mother and Grandmother both liked basically the same music, but neither of them liked Hound Dog much…
I got some money from my Mother once for some extra yardwork or something and got her to bring home for me a 78 RPM of Hound Dog and Don’t Be Cruel. This was one of the first records I ever owned…several years earlier, I had gotten a 78 of Peter and the Wolf from one of the Cummings Aunts. Also, my mother had given me two Warner Brothers 78’s…Bugs Bunny and Aladdin’s Lamp and Bugs Bunny Meets Hiawatha. She had also gotten me two Lone Ranger 78’s…The Lone Ranger and the Stranger From the East and another whose title currently escapes me. Bless her heart, my Mother had also given me a 78 of Ricky Lane and Vel Vel doing the Doris Day hit “Everybody Loves a Lover”, a huge record in its day. Around the time I first started school I already had a record collection. These recordings were 78’s.
Before my mother would go to work in the morning, she would often play some of HER 78’s. She had records by Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, The Mills Brothers, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Carle and his Honky Tonk Piano, Perry Como, Pat Boone, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Ruby Murray, Connie Francis, Guy Mitchell, Mario Lanza, Frankie Laine, Gale Storm, Gisselle McKenzie and many others. I love records largely because my mother loved records. She gave me a childhood filled to the brim with good music. It’s the greatest thing she could have given me.
Currently as I type I’m listening to an import double CD of the Shadows. The two albums combined on the disc are The Shadows,their debut lp from the fifties, and Out Of The Shadows, their early sixties masterpiece towards which Edd Smith repeatedly turned my head during the golden years with the Deverons. There would be no possible way to articulate fully the depths and heights to which music has taken me. I still have all my Shadows 45’s in their own special storage booklet. My most prized ones are all on Canadian Capitol…The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt, Shazam, Theme For Young Lovers, Shindig…I also have several on Atlantic…FBI, Wonderful Land, Atlantis (this is a British import 45 on EMI). There’s a beautiful slow melody on Out Of The Shadows named Spring Is Nearly Here. Of all the tunes in the world, we used to do this one as a piano instrumental in the Deverons. Hank Marvin touched my soul. Long before I ever knew a thing about Randy Bachman, Edd Smith was turning me on to instrumentals like Silver City by the Ventures and 1861 by the Shadows.
During the summer of 1992, while visiting Berlin with the Ringo Starr All Starr Band, I purchased an eight disc box of everything the Shadows allegedly ever did for EMI. Even Kip from Ear Candy back in LA had never seen a thing such as this…and Kip’s gotten hold of some pretty rare stuff.
During 1962, my first year at St. John’s High School, I came across an address in London England for a company called Keith Prowse Ltd. They had a huge catalogue of records available for mail order outside England. I sent them a money order for a copy of The Shadows’ Greatest Hits on EMI. I waited as patiently as I could for almost six weeks and then one day it finally arrived. I took it to school to “show off” to Edd Smith and some of my other friends whom I knew would be duly impressed. It was one of the major events during my year in Grade 10. Right at the moment, Dance On is blaring out of my stereo…I’ve also just heard The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt, Wonderful Land, Atlantis, and FBI this morning…these are cuts I NEVER get tired of hearing.
Badda bing, badda boom…now I’ve got the Rooftop Singers disc on and lo and behold, they’re singing their white asses off…don’t really mean to come off here like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk, but we white folks HAVE had some soulful singers throughout the years…trouble is, when the Brothers start comparing OUR guys to the likes of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, someone who could walk across your swimming pool would be likely to pale in comparison (no pun intended). Bobby Darin was no slouch. He had that invisible energy to make a big band swing behind him, not just play the charts in front of them. Chet Baker’s vocals are about as soulful as I’ve ever heard, but up against Sam Cooke, they seem a bit shallow. Realistically, any human can find some piece of music of one kind or another that either brings them joy or takes them somewhere else. God bless the Japanese for inventing the Compact Disc…I cannot count the treasures that have either surfaced or re-surfaced in my life that I would have otherwise missed were it not for CD’s coming along in the late 1970’s. My Johnny and the Hurricanes collection was all on vinyl, save a couple of cheap cassettes with the overly expected seven or eight cuts on them…since “Come On Let’s Rock” (Black Tulip/Made in Holland/1988 release) and “ Johnny and the Hurricanes-The Collection” (Castle Communications/Made in W. Germany/1988 release) found their way into my CD collection, I play Beatnik Fly, Rocking Goose, Crossfire, Buckeye, Down Yonder and Ja-Da regularly, giving in to fabulous, incomparable synaps rushes…I’m back sending money orders to Big Top Records in New York to get single 45’s of “Minnesota Fats” and “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?…I’m back on the phone with Martin Kramer in 1962, excitedly telling him that I now only need three more singles to complete my J & the H collection of EVERYTHING THEY’VE EVER DONE !!!! Signposts…
A quick two-hour trip downtown ensues and I return with a brand
new (1996) CD by Terry Evans called Puttin’ It Down…Terry sang on a record of mine called Timeless Love along with Bobby King and E.L. King…Terry’s disc is ginchy…it’s got Ry Cooder on it. Nice bit of singing on the cut called Down In Mississippi. Right over to TPOH…met Moe Berg at the Skydome Hard Rock Cafe a couple of weeks ago…he had the coolest hand-knitted antique-like Chicago Blackhawks sweater on that you could ever imagine…Cigarette Dangles still captures me at almost fifty. Earlier this afternoon I heard several from the Clovers…the original Love Potion #9, My Mother’s Eyes, Vaya Con Dios, Pennies From Heaven…I still think it’s much cooler to blast music through the day and consciously avoid daytime television…daytime television is subversive. How could it possibly be healthy for a huge chunk of the population to sit around all day wallowing in the misery of others…? Now Seinfeld…there’s a tv show…one time Kramer was wearing a white short sleeved shirt with orange lobsters all over it…another time he was going into seizures everytime he was directly exposed to the sound of Lisa Hart’s voice. Kramer is the best tv neighbour character ever…including Ed Norton…and you’re dealing with a MAJOR Honeymooners fan here.
There’s a cut by Sugar Cubes called Delicious People which still gets my feet going. There’s an album by Jesse Colin Young on Capitol vinyl called The Soul of a City Boy which contains a cut called You Got To Fix It. Manifique. When was the last time you sat down and listened to and focussed on the vocal in Duke Of Earl by Gene Chandler ? My Bonnie by Ray Charles and the Raelets can raise goosebumps. In The Arena by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was far ahead of its time. Love Street by the Doors showed how deep and artful pop music drenched with acid could be. David Crosby’s Page 43 can make many cry. Flamingo Express by the Royaltones forced me across some invisible line. Smokestack Lightning by Manfred Mann still commands my complete attention. Wonderful Land by the Shadows conjures up for me visions of Angels, alternately dispersed with flashes of delivering the Winnipeg Tribune to 95 Inkster around 1962. Played Pipeline by the Chantays many times in the Deverons before we ever had a real electric bass.
It’s not just really old songs that do these things to me. Were it only certain cuts from my youth, this “teleportation” could be explained away as folly- filled longing to be young again. No, this transformation within me can happen with new music too. The first time I heard All I Really Want by Alanis Morissette I was nailed to the wall…that line about a “kindred” really turned my head. Alanis was both maturely elegant and cool the night she won her four grammies. Human Nature by looney Michael did that to me early in the 80’s. Hello by the Beloved, Green by Edie Brickell, Cold Turkey by Cheap Trick (from the Working Class Hero tribute album to John Lennon), Nuttin’ ‘Nis Funky by Digital Ungerground, I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday by Sheryl Crowe, Endless Sleep by Concrete Blonde, Hero by David Crosby, Wooden Ships by CSN, Estimated Prophet by the Grateful Dead, and Jel from Jerky Boys have all been responsible for my personal travels in space.
Having said all that, I must readily admit that I get the biggest kick out of hearing stuff from decades ago all cleaned up and re mastered for CD. At the height of my personal listening rennaisance I drank a lot of alcohol and invariably couldn’t wait to get the next cut on for the assembled listeners. We rarely listened to two cuts back to back on any given album, giving way to the scratching and trashing of ninety percent of my vinyl record collection. I’ve held on to all my records, but most of them are no longer playable, so they’re still with me just for spiritual and artwork reasons. I must say though, since CD’s really began to explode as the format of choice, I’ve replaced most of my favourite vinyl treasures with small shiny discs filled with zeros and ones.
The argument rages on from the vinyl freaks…“CD’s don’t sound as good as vinyl…” To my ear it was like never even having heard the recordings before I heard them on CD. I was a late convert…didn’t get a CD player until 1991…my manager Lorne Saifer gave me a couple of armloads of CD’s (a ready-made, mini collection) one night at his house after dinner. He gave me some Time Life collections with material by the Supremes, Four Seasons, Everly Brothers, and the Temptations…he gave me a couple of things by Chuck Berrry and Elvis…then he gave me the huge 4 disc box of Rod Stewart…enough said…I immediately bought a blaster that played CD’s. I had first seen one work at Martin Kramer’s house. For some reason, this was a bit of a revelation to me, as I suppose I still subliminally associated CD’s with rack type gear. Martin had me over one night, and he was no longer playing tapes or vinyl…he grabbed a little blaster and fired on Sam Cooke’s anthology, A Man and His Music…sitting there watching the small, one-sided disc spin around so fast, I did light years of “catching up” before the first cut was finished.
Mid nineties now and I own more compact discs than many medium sized radio stations. I’ve spent innumerable hours doing “research” for my fantasized weekly radio show. Already I can boast of over fifty 1-hour shows, each with a different theme, hook phrase, vibe and material. The greatest thing about my radio show will be that I never have to go to outside sources for any of the music…I’ll merely consult some of my enormous data bases here inside the Apple , then dig out the discs and blast off. I almost got the thing syndicated and off the ground in 1991, but all the stations we approached were worried about the format bouncing around too much…parameters were too wide…can’t be raving about Prince one week and playing Fats Domino and Gene Vincent the next, or so some people would have you believe. Personally I hold the opinion that the show would seek out its own audience…the world is full of music junkies who love to learn new facts and trivia about cuts they both know and don’t know.
Two or three days ago I purchased yet another (my third or fourth) copy of Ram by Paul McCartney on CD. It had been a couple of years since I’d heard anything at all from it, and I must admit I was pleasantly impressed all over again. Most of those songs would have been Beatles songs. I still love 3 Legs, Too Many People, Uncle Albert, Monkberry Moon Delight, Ram On, and both bonus cuts, Another Day and Oh Woman Oh Why. Here was a guy who had just left the Beatles, showing the world how much he’d been involved in the brilliance and power of his band. I was always partial to John Lennon because of his sarcasm and craziness, but on Ram, the listener cannot escape the craft of this bigger than life artistry. Good for you, Paul, and special congratulations on the lasting power of the writing. It must have been indescribable for your spirit to be so in touch with the world around it.
Speaking of staying power, whaddya thinka Chet Baker…? I knew very little about him before the European leg of the Ringo Starr tour. When we got to Germany and England, I began setting aside a few hours for disc hunting whenever I could. One night at sundown in Frankfurt, I accidentally walked into a huge music store. A clerk eventually guided me to the Georgie Fame section of CD’s, and I anxiously leafed through the several discs stacked behind one another. I found something called “A Portrait of Chet”. It was a tribute album that Georgie had done in memory of Chet Baker, someone he admired greatly. Several days later in Switzerland I sat outside on my balcony listening to Dancing on the Ceiling, Everything Happens to Me, You’re Driving Me Crazy, It Could Happen to You and others, and began wondering about this Chet Baker guy. Later in LA, my pal Ian and I went to the Whiskey on Sunset to catch a live show/simulcast of David Crosby up close. We stopped at Tower Records before the show, I found the Chet Baker section (which is formidable, even for a jazz guy) and grabbed two discs out of the fifty or so that were available. One of those discs ended up being “It Could Happen To You”, which has Chet singing on all cuts. Many of his albums were solely instrumental, and while they swung and were drenched in cool, they never showed you this guy as a singer. Apparently he didn’t know whether he was a trumpet player who sang, or a singer who played trumpet. He sang like he played. He did 15 months hard time in an Italian prison for heroin. He would have been a video star if they’d made videos when he was in his twenties. There’s a documentary film-noir piece on his life called “Let’s Get Lost”. It shows how the heroin and life in general ravaged this guy physically, but never seemed to take nearly the toll on his spirit that it did on his body. Enigma… Arcane…
Long story short, if a singer were only going to hear one album by Chet Baker, it should be It Could Happen to You. The first time I heard this guy do Everything Happens to Me, my chin bounced off the floor. I played it over again about seven times in a row. Then I just hit the repeat button and listened to it about five more times. I started listening to what Kenny Drew was doing on piano…honest to God, I had one of those magical moments, you know, like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk.
Seems every few years I stumble upon something else that’s been around forever, but of which I remained completely ignorant until a great big “DUH” occurred for me. After dozens more trips to Tower Records I now have about forty compact discs by Chet Baker. Still need that one done live in Milan, though…you know…the one with the colours of the Italian flag on the cover. Strange move, Chet, glorifying the colours of a country that incarcerated you for fifteen months. If nothing else it shows an admirable lack of bitterness.

THE CELLAR

(originally posted April 30th, 2015)

The Cellar…best example to describe it is “Winnipeg’s Cavern”…you had to go to Fort Street near Portage and Main, and then go down a back alley to the bright red door with “C-E-L-L-A-R” painted on it in Black and White flowing lines…open that big door, go down one flight of stairs, and there you were..in The Cellar…
The oldest existing picture of a very early Deverons lineup (it was four of us…Derek, Edd, Ronn, and yours truly…we hadn’t even gotten Bruce yet) is from the Cellar…the Deverons played there several times…I actually saw Chad Allan and the Expressions there, right up close. I think Edd came with me. They were so so good…I watched Bob Ashley play “Telstar” on an old beat up upright acoustic piano…Telstar by the Tornadoes was a #1 instrumental, and the melody had been played on some kind of early stage mellotron…Ashely was so good, he played the melody in double octaves with the sustain pedal right down, and it was tremendous…just tremendous. I was about 15 watching all this…
So…
After the Deverons had played about three gigs there, I get a phone call about seven o’clock one dark Winter Wednesday evening…it’s Jimmy D. one of the three brothers who run the Cellar…he asks me if I can get the band down there RIGHT AWAY…I tell him “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…it’s impossible…it’s a school night and I think Edd’s got some choir practice thing goin’…” no band tonight…
Dead silence on his end…then he says…”Can you come down yourself and just sing a few tunes…?”
WHAT THE &^#@!!! I’m thinkin’…I’m about 14 or 15 and it’s a freezing cold winter Wednesday…a school night…I tell him to phone me back in about five miinutes…And I go to “have a serious talk” with my Mom…
Now one has to remember how sheltered my world was…raised by my Mother and Grandmother, no male influence around, and the rules were very strict. Almost to “go through the motions” I tell her that Jimmy D. has asked me to come down and “help him out with the crowd”…a lot of bikers used to like the Cellar, cause it was kinda tough, and these were guys who didn’t go to school anyway, so any night was okay for fun…to my surprise, after a few questions which I answered as “innocently” as I possibly could, my Mom decided to let me go and sing for the rough crowd all by myself.
Jimmy D. phoned back and I told him I was leaving to catch the bus at Cathedral and Main and get off at Portage and Main.
I got to the cellar about half an hour later, maybe about eight or shortly after…
No band…no amp…no sound system, not a speaker box or a mike or ANYTHING to be found…
An old, beat up upright piano, the one I’d played several times before, on the Deverons gigs we’d done there…
I immediately launched into “Kansas City”, pounding those keys as hard as I could and screaming as loud as I could. To my surprise, people started dancing…that was a huge thing back then…everybody danced almost every number…
So the first number worked, and I started the wheels goin’ inside my memory bank of tunes…sang Whole Lotta Shakin’ in a sort of shuffle beat style…well, that worked…thought I’d really “go legitt”, so I sang Ritchie’s “Donna”…wow…the tough guys slow danced with their hands and arms all over their girls…
Without boring you to tears, I somehow did three “sets” that evening and kept some sort of show biz order to the place on a Winter Wednesday…
Sang till after midnight…on a school night…in the Cellar…
End of the night, crowd gone, I’m standin’ with Jimmy D. and one of his older brothers…they give me “my cut” of the night…
I got $2.20 that night…two singles and two dimes…and I was prouder than hell…
Then I caught what was probably the last North Main bus heading to McAdam that night. I was the only person on the bus. Sat up front with the driver, who was taking the bus to the car barns for the night…I was so “inflated” that I openly bragged to him about what I’d just done…right out of the blue, I’m yammerin’ away about how I just made two bucks…all by myself…
It might sound trivial to you the reader here in 2017, but considering what paths the world has taken me down, I recall that night as standing out above many others…very early age, no mike, no amp, no sound system…just a kid and an upright piano, yet the crowd stayed till midnight…
I can still almost feel what it was like that night…
Peace and calm…BLC