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Off The Record

 

 

 

 

May 14, 2024

 

For a singer from Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada, the biggest hit came early in his tenure, not in his home country but south of the border in the United States of America.

 

Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow had been making records in Canada since 1936 and was a big, huge fan favorite in the north country; however, Canada had less than 10 million total population of people at the time and being a country star could be much more lucrative, financially beneficial in the good ole U.S.A.

“Hank” Snow tried, tried and tried his act in the United States multiple times including, going so far as to traveling to Hollywood, California performing tricks while riding on a horse! Hollywood didn't bite! Not at all! Soon thereafter, Hank Snow was back on the road to Canada.

Mr. Hank Snow did have some limited success at one of the leading country music stage and radio shows, the WWVA Radio “Wheeling Jamboree” in Wheeling, West Virginia. A disc jockey in Washington state started playing his Canadian records as well.

1 of Hank Snow’s breakthrough country songs called "Brand on My Heart" made it all the way down to KRLD Radio in Dallas, Texas and became their #1 country song for several consecutive months. Finally, some of Hank Snow’s records were getting released in the United States. Hank Snow then cut a record that became a top 10 record called "Marraige Vow".

After this newfound success, none other than the iconic, legendary Ernest Tubb arranged for Hank Snow to perform on the Grand Ole Opry....but Hank Snow would share that he was only met with a lukewarm reception, at best! Enter a song he had tried to record at his very 1st recording session in the United States but the song did not make any recording list much less any albums!

“I'm Moving On" was essentially a train song in which the singer is leaving behind a "triflin' woman". While RCA Records label executive Steve Sholes turned it down at first, Hank Snow brought it back to another recording session and this time, Mr. Sholes agreed to record it.

“I’m Moving On” was a barnburner, a fan favorite from the word go! “I’m Moving On” entered the Billboard Country Music Charts on the 1st day of July of 1950 and rocketed up the charts all the way to #1 and stayed #1 for a spectacular 21 weeks and went on to spend 44 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Country Music Chart. This particular song even reached #27 on multiple pop music charts.

 

Soon, Hank Snow could do no wrong and went on to be one of the top artists of the decade of the 1950's. And it didn't stop there. He had charted records on RCA all the way up to the year 1980, meaning Hank Snow had records on the country music charts for 5 different decades (1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's).

Hank Snow scored 43 top 10 hits with 7 rising to #1. Also, Hank Snow went on to place 85 songs on the Billboard Country Music charts.

A lil more factual information about the country music legend, Hank Snow-What was the biggest Hank Snow song? "I'm Moving On" There is no debating that fact, but, "I Don't Hurt Anymore" stayed #1 for 20 consecutive weeks and stayed on the Billboard Country Music charts 41 weeks! Make no mistake, “I’m Moving On” was a life changer, a career changer, created a legacy for Hank Snow in the country music business!

During a autograph session after 1 of his shows, a fan once said to Hank Snow he bet Mr. Snow “wished he had a dollar for every time he sang "I'm Moving On", Hank Snow responded matter of factly, "Friend, I do!"

 

 

April 17, 2024

 

Rock Queen Lee Aaron Returns With New / Old Music





"Songs are like tattoos" - the famous first line of Joni Mitchell's Blue - is a sentiment that has always resonated deeply for rocker LEE AARON.

Hard as it is to believe, but eighteen studio albums into her career in which she has written, recorded, and produced music achieving gold and multi-platinum sales and continues to be recognized as one of Canada's top rock vocalists as well as making forays into jazz, blues, and even opera, there's been one gaping musical notch that's been missing from AARON's studded bullet belt: A covers album.

And a unique covers album at that as well titled Tattoo Me, running the broad line from 70's classic rock and punk to 90's Britpop and even early 2000's retro garage.

Taking a nostalgic journey, Tattoo Me pays homage to musical trailblazers who helped shape her own artistic path. As a reflection of her eclectic taste, yet in keeping with a profound respect for the greats, these 11 dynamic tracks are a unique tapestry of influences that transcend era and genre.

"It started out as a heartfelt nod to artists we'd been influenced by in our youth, but the truth is, we didn't stop being influenced or being fans at 18, so the list kept evolving. It covers a few decades and a few unconventional choices, but it was incredibly rewarding to make!" she states.

Each track is a labor of love, infused with AARON and her band's signature rock 'n' roll swagger, yet in keeping with a sense of reverence for the originals. In fact, with the performance on a good number of these tracks being so on point, one would be surprised to discover that they're noticeable covers at all. Opening track "Tattoo" commences with the voracious yet sensual croon of AARON's multi-faceted vocal skills that's so personable and modern that you'd be convinced that the song was straight out of her mid-90's catalogue - except that the song itself was originally penned by 80's California Christian rock outfit the 77's. AARON's take on the 1960 Nina Simone jazz classic "The Pusher" is more of a catchy upbeat street savvy-sounding blues rock version, moving away in particular from the more commonly-known STEPPENWOLF cover. An odd sensation to take from a song depicting the horrors of drug abuse, perhaps, but proof nevertheless that AARON has a diverse musical palate that can lend itself to different musical landscapes.

Other standout numbers include a rendition of LED ZEPPELIN's "What Is And What Should Never Be", and HEART's "Even It Up". Stellar performances by AARON's long-term band - Sean Kelly (guitar), Dave Reimer (bass), and John Cody (drums) - effortlessly channel these '70s and '80s rock giants and seem to capture the original magic of each of the tunes. Another gem is AARON's take on Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". Kelly's gorgeous acoustic guitars create the soundscape, then strings and lush harmonies support her stirring vocal performance. The tribute is passionate and heartfelt. She reflects, "I spent hours and hours laying on my basement floor with headphones listening to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" on repeat. I desperately wanted someone to save me from my boring life when I was a teenager...music ended up being that for me." Elsewhere, AARON champions some of her latter-day 90's grunge/Britpop girl power inspirations with her faithful renditions of "Malibu" by HOLE and "Connection" by ELASTICA. Even the classic punk rock crush of "Teenage Kicks" by THE UNDERTONES is given a decent makeover and even a neat lyrical female perspective that works.

The album was produced by AARON in her Vancouver studio and mixed by multi-media genius Frank Gryner (ROB ZOMBIE, L7, DEF LEPPARD, Larkin Poe, Ian Hunter, and more).

For many artists, the concept of an all-covers album is never an easy one to ink out exactly by design. Often it involves lots of time in selecting the right pattern of songs which leave a permanent impression on the soul but also ensuring that a different version of the original doesn't get under one's proverbial skin.

5.0 Out Of 5.0

https://www.leeaaron.com/
https://www.instagram.com/leeaaron.music/
https://twitter.com/LeeAaronMusic
https://www.facebook.com/LeeAaronMusic
https://linktr.ee/leeaaron

 

First song from the new album which will be released on April 26. Find it everywhere

 

April 10. 2024

I was once in a band called Cozy Bones, popular in BC and Western Canada between 1993 and 2004. From improvisational origins, Cozy Bones evolved into Brit Pop, World Music, Hard Rock, Prog and back again. Lasting through several lineups and one tragedy, Cozy Bones was a big part of my life, informing every part of me.

After promising to do it for years, we have finally released the entire Cozy Bones catalog onto streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple, YouTube Music etc. It was a learning process reconciling 90’s records to contemporary mastering levels (LUFS-I, you are a cruel mistress) but the beating heart of the young band is, I think, well preserved. I did my best. Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who liked us, I’m tagging everyone who might remember. There are seven albums in total:

Bounce (1994)

Rogues of High Floundering (1995)

Broomshack Trash (1997)

Piss Perfect Hotel (1998)

The Death of Advertising (2001)

In This Town (2008)

What He Would Say (B-Sides 1998-2001)

If you preferred Cozy Bones live instead of the records, we have started a YouTube channel for “Official Bootlegs” called Cozy Bones Official, where we have uploaded entire shows that we taped, often on a cassette deck with two decent microphones. Even through the varying sound qualities (I also learned a lot about hiss reduction this year), these live recordings show the kind of anarchy that we used to generate, and why we had a following.

 

It has been a weird and wonderful experience to get drowned by the entirety of the band’s works over the last couple of months. It was like watching a miniseries about me and my friends. I metabolized everything all over again, just way faster, and find myself in the same spot with no regrets. Every record we did makes me both proud and cringe. Every record makes me grateful to have worked with all these guys, but most notably my lifelong friend Ed Johnson, whose technical and creative arc is on full display here, you can watch all the steps he took towards becoming the truly gifted producer he is today.

The music changed a lot over the span, to say the least, and everyone probably has their album/lineup/era. Please leave me out of those discussions. For me these are all labours of love that I had the privilege to create with my best friends.

Sadly two of these friends aren’t around to hear these songs again. These records amplify the gaping loss of Eamon Kroetsch, the most lyrical bassist I have ever known. I can hear him laughing at my fancy language here, and it makes me want to write fancier so he laughs more, just to hear it longer. I also would have loved to show this to Helen Fathers, who – before she became active in local government – was Cozy Bones’ first manager/cat-herder. Christ, that must have been like trying to get a bunch of ferrets to build a plane.

Thanks to all those who paid attention to our band, sincerely. I hope the recordings live up to your memories. See you on the rest of the ramp.

Thanks also to these extraordinary artists who helped contribute to these records: JP Carter, Catherine Bensley, Scott Sanft, Heidi McCurdy, Colin Maskell, Kelly Proznick, Tony Chamberlist, Kelly McQuillan, Dave Spidel, Brad Graham, Larry Anschell. I’m sure there are more but my brain is, often, soup.

Cozy Bones was, not all at once, Kevin Dunning, Jason McMillan, Eamon Kroetsch, Brendan McLean, Rob Glass, Ed Johnson, and me.

New Fear Of Houses tracks coming very soon.

If you are ready to take a trip down musical memory lane

(click this link for a series of live recordings of COZY BONES)

JORDAN also had a solo song called CLUB PEOPLE included on the CFOX SEEDS album back around 2010?

 

 

You Gotta Have Heart

In 1972 I auditioned Heart in the basement of a house in West Vancouver. It was a Tuesday, and the band's manager, Michael "Magic Man" Fisher told me the band was completely broke and that he'd used his last quarter to make the phone call to me from a pay phone outside Shoppers Drug Mart. He hadn't realized his bank account was at zero. I promised I'd find gigs as quickly as possible.

The following day I got a call from Ken Stauffer of The Cave. He told me he had received a last minute cancellation of an act he had booked for the same Saturday. For those who don't know or remember, The Cave on Hornby Street was Vancouver's top Showroom/Supper Club and booked very big name artists on a regular basis.

I happened to have High Flying Bird available, who had a fair-sized following around town at the time. They were also the band that first drew me into the music business. I suggested a double bill with a band who had settled here from Seattle with a couple of Vietnam war draft dodgers in it. I told him I'd just auditioned them and they blew me away.

Stauffer paused, then said, "From Seattle. Hmmmm. that doesn't sound too exciting. Can we say they are from...

San Francisco? That sounds more compelling"

Figuring that this was a golden opportunity to put some quick money Heart's way so they could buy groceries, I said "Whatever works for you. I'm sure they won't mind." We settled on fees for the two bands, and Heart were ecstatic they'd be able to stock up on food on Sunday. The gig itself was a huge success. Heart quickly became one of my top-drawing bands, one of the most sought after bands in Western Canada, and among the highest paid.

The rest is history. Thank you Peter 'Zeke' McLean, formerly of High Flying Bird, for sending me this old newspaper ad. I couldn't have gotten you a better supporting act.

 

 

(Click here to reserve your seats @ Blue Frog)

2022 Order of Canada & Juno award recipient Art Bergmann defies categorization,

standing among the great musicians who transcend labels.

As a singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter, he stands shoulder to shoulder with legends like......

Lou Reed and Neil Young and holds his own alongside later icons such as Paul Westerberg and Bob Mould.

If you love alternative, don't miss

HI David, Not only fair to say, but deadly accurate...early days; high school in Cloverdale, Abbotsford senior high where the Shmorgs were birthed w some crazies from Mt.Lehman...initial Grease Band became the Shmorgs because of Montreal exile David Mitzo (née Mitchell) our first singer...he wisely decided to go to University and ended up a historian and Liberal honcho. I took over as writer, singer, leader reluctantly, but what can ye do? I wanted to rock'n'roll!







One of your first bands if I am correct was THE SHMORGS?  You and your bandmates lived with other musicians in a legendary farmhouse aptly titled SHMORG MANOR.   Tell us a bit about that portion of your history and some of the comings and goings at the farmhouse?

     Well, the original shack was on a pig farm at Johnson Rd(152 ave and Mud Bay Rd(40 ave) later found a vacant sprawling house on North Bluff Road near Langley border after an interlude on Marine Drive in White Rock.We rehearsed in the house until we heard the punk news coming out of New York and I went aha! freedom in musique delivery.

 

I heard one of your first shows and certainly the first show by legendary punk rockers DOA took place in Semiahmoo Park at the bandshell.  What is your memory of that particular show.

     Shmorgs had been independently putting on shows and playing for nigh on 6 years by that point in 1977...it was great to have one of first punk bands in Vancouver out...Mud Bay Slim had booked them...at that point DOA were just covering the new sounds.









I read in one of your press pieces written by another local rocker John Armstrong, you were all living together in SHMROG MANOR when a friend arrived with a cassette he picked up in England.  The cassette was by a band no one had heard of yet over here, THE SEX PISTOLS.  Do you recall its effect on you?

It sounded beautifully alien to me; the energy astounding! I was smitten immediately; especially the railing against a corrupt failing Empire. At the same time blown away by Patti Smith, Television and the Ramones outta New York...

 

That about covers off the early days so let’s jump forward to the presnt time in your career.

You had recorded a number of independent  albums as well as works of art for major record labels.  

You seem to have gone full circle with your latest release ShadowWalk: Legacy of Love. .

How did you come to choose to record here at Turtle Studios in South Surrey ?

Well, a Producer, Wes Smith put all that together so the Turtle choice I didn't know who the owner Larry Anschell was.

Larry had recorded me live for CFOX in 1995 or so...he did all mobile recording in those days for the station, so it was nice to come full circle from back then into his  now beautiful home studio near Crescent Beach.


 

The album was produced by JANN ARDEN’S guitar player Russell Bloom.  An interesting choice, what contributed to the decision to have Russell produce the album

well...2 years before, he helped me finish Late Stage Empire Dementia for minimal fee. His technical genius seemed to match my artistic meanderings tooth and claw. After my partner Sherri died, he offered his services gratis to record anything I came up with which kept me alive certainly; as writing songs that dealt with my journey thru grief was all I knew how to do.

How long did the recording of the album take?  Do you enjoy the recording process or live performances more?

Well, as the songs came, Russell would track the basic song. That demo process took a year until the budget was approved by BCCreative, who awarded us the grant...but the album was recorded as per follows: 3 days bed tracks at TurtleSound, and then 8 days overdubbing at IDIO Studio; a house in NorthSurrey.

   I love recording, and Russell is so fast, everything done in one or two takes...after the demos, I knew the songs intimately and we both knew what each song wanted.

You debuted the release of the new album back in September at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver.   In reading the reviews you seem to have assembled and incredible backup band of musicians.  Do you have it pinned down yet who will be joining you on stage @ Blue Frog  on Saturday November 18?

Same band, Adam Drake/drums,his bro Steven Drake/guitar,BradleyFerguson/bass/vox,MurphyFarrell/percussion(Shmorgs' drummer!),his daughter Aidan on bg vox(she is amazing),Leo DE Johnson-bg vox.

I know it would be like asking a parent which children they love the most but are there a couple of songs on the new album that hit home a little more with you?

They all do, but Winter Fire, where Sherri tells me to go on living and loving with her friend and my new found co-writer poet Patricia Kay is it! and Candlelight for the incredible peace it invokes.

NO.

The record companies I was damned with , snatched defeat from my amazing songs...I gave them art and they didn't know what to do with, but I take responsibility for failure to move away from them. Order of Canada will have to do; waaa! 

You received the ORDER OF CANADA, which must have been an incredible experience.    Where do  you keep your “Order”

In my heart; having some of the greatest volunteers in science and social work thrilled to hang with me felt very good.

 

Last year you were the subject of an authorized biography, The Longest Suicide, with its author Jason Schneider . Will you be bringing copies of the book with you to your White Rock performance in addition to copies of the new album?

I remind that it is about me, but not by me. I have my own to write,still ...about the songs and where they came from. The publisher is responsible for these matters.

 

Art, thank you very much for taking time and allowing me the privledge of peAling back the curtain, I know I am not alone in being excited about your “hometown” show November 18 @ Blue Frog Studios.

Proving once again YOU CAN GO HOME! Again!

David Chesney for The White Rock Sun

 

Art Bergmann’s new album ShadowWalk into A Legacy of Love features 12 amazing tracks of love and perseverance. It is now available from (weewerk) for pre-order/preview on Itunes and Bandcamp which also includes the pre-order for the vinyl pressing: https://weewerk.bandcamp.com/album/shadowwalk-by-art-bergmann-2

All songs written by Art Bergmann/P. Kay except Jagged/One and Impotence by Kay with aural scapes by Russell Broom. Cut ‘n’ Paste by Donna Kerbel and John MacMullin. Death Of A Siren by Bergmann. Produced by Russell Broom and Wes Smith. Engineered and mixed by Russell Broom. Assisted by Brody Severinski and Larry Anschell. All vocals by Art. Angelic Backgrounds and piano: Aidan Farrell. All basses: Owen Owen Owen. All drums: Adam Drake. Acoustic and electric guitars: Art. Acoustic and electric guitars: Russell. Fingered acoustic/electric and slide and steel guitars: Paul Rigby. Tabla: Sunny Matharu. Atmospheric and Percussion Programming: Russell. Strings: Katie Mosehauer & the Glass Heart String Orchestra. All pre-production work done by Russell at The Broom Closet, Calgary, AB. Recorded at Turtle Sound South Surrey and IDIO Studio in Surrey, BC. Mastering by Greg Reely. Supported by Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia. Special Thanks to all our generous GoFundMe donors for helping make this album possible. Utmost gratitude to Stephen Rioux, Jay Smales and (weewerk) for financing the vinyl pressing. All photography by P. Kay except back cover photo by Sherri Decembrini. All layouts and graphics by Art and Marc Floyd. Eternal gratitude to TeamArt members Colin Smith, Jason Schneider, Gord Withers and Gordon Celesta. Executive Producer Phil Klygo (weewerk). By Sherri’s Grace Naomi and Zoe we are forever. Thank you Patricia Kay for Life itself. Thanks to Hans and Sharon Bergmann for their sheltering kindness.

(click here to listen to a recent interview TERRY DAVID MULLIGAN did with Art)

 

 

 



September 15, 2023

On this date, September 14, 1975, Winnipeg's Guess Who played their final gig at the Montreal Forum at the conclusion of a tour. Few at the time knew it was the end of the line for the band (excluding various reunions later) after a 10 year run. In an interview the day of the final Montreal Forum engagement, Burton Cummings left little doubt of what was troubling him, hinting at what was to come. "Listen, I've been on the road steady for ten years now, and if I can't get a lift out of music anymore, I'd better forget the whole thing. I've got this beautiful house in Winnipeg, complete with dog and a huge record collection, and do I ever get to see them? Not a chance." Right to the end, though, he defended the choice of Domenic Troiano. "Dom's just what we needed. I've always loved his work, and he seemed a natural. Dom and I are bouncing off each other beautifully."

Following their performance at the Montreal Forum on September 14, 1975 at the conclusion of a tour, Cummings ceremoniously burned all his stage clothes, including his white 'show biz shoes' up on stage after the equipment had been cleared away. "I kind of knew it was the last night."

As Cummings explained his decision to the Winnipeg Tribune's Jim Millican, the band's former tour manager, "I just came to the realization that I wanted to do something new and I'd been in the band for ten years. I wanted to cut some of my own records without having to consider anyone else. I was pretty bored playing with the same guys. I think we were all getting a little stagnant. It wasn't as much fun on the last tour and I've always said to myself that's the point when I'd move on. That last tour was just too long. I complained a lot and I think that tipped them off." Had he tired of rehashing the hits night after night? "After you sing them six or seven hundred times it just becomes an exercise, like playing scales. I just couldn't find the gusto anymore."

"We were still touring and making a lot of money," offered Burton, "but we'd be doing all this weird shit in 11/4, time then they'd wheel me out front to do 'These Eyes' and 'American Woman'. Everybody would go nuts. Then I'd go back and they'd start this weird shit again. Nobody wanted to know, Guess Who fans didn't want to know. We were heading more toward Mahavishnu and Herbie Hancock and further and further away from Fats Domino. That wasn't The Guess Who. I'll leave that stuff to Jan Hammer."

 

The last version of the touring Guess Who before numerous reunions with various members

 

Three days later, on September 17, having gotten word that the band was about to break up, Mayor Stephen Juba of Winnipeg, Canada, declared "Guess Who Day" in honor of its famous rock music native sons. It was a long overdue and half-hearted effort that failed to properly acknowledge the band's importance in putting Winnipeg on the musical map worldwide. "They gave each of us a key chain, a lapel pin, a pen with the Winnipeg logo on them and a miniature balsa wood ox cart," recalled bass player Bill Wallace, unimpressed with the city's rather limited generosity. With the knowledge that the band was folding, management had hastily arranged the long overdue tribute. Rumors of their impending demise had been flying fast and furious since the band's inactivity through the autumn but had been denied for very practical reasons. Money from the previous tour was still being held pending payment to the band and management feared losing that income. Then, in early November, Burton issued a simple press statement confirming his departure and the end of The Guess Who.

Cummings had called a meeting several weeks before the press release and announced to the others that he was leaving. Garry cried. Management tried to talk Burton out of his decision. Bill Wallace had already given his notice, citing his belief that guitarist Domenic Troiano, the most recent in a list of guitar players in and out of the band and the only non-Winnipegger, was trying to oust him.

Reflecting on the final lineup with Domenic, Cummings reflected, "We wrote some great songs together. 'Dancing Fool', 'Hoedown Time', and 'When the Band Was Singin' (Shakin' All Over)' were good tunes. 'Dreams' was probably the best song we ever wrote. But none of it was commercially blockbuster stuff anymore and I was very unhappy and didn't want to know about Troiano's snotty jazz attitude. The stuff started to get away from what The Guess Who had been. It just never was the same with Troiano. He claimed later that he was sleep walking through his time with the Guess Who but he sure wasn't sleeping when payday came. He wanted the money but didn't want to bend in the wind. Everybody knows show business is a compromise on all levels and I really didn't like his attitude. There was a huge awareness gap and it just didn't work anymore."

 

 

August 13, 2023


Rick Estrin & the Nightcats • August 18 2023

Doors 6:00 | Music 7:00 || Doors 8:45 | 9:15

Larger-than-life blues star Rick Estrin has piloted the wildly fun & musically fearless Rick Estrin & The Nightcats for the last decade. The limitless combined talents of blues harmonica virtuoso & sly, soulful singer Estrin, guitarist Kid Andersen, keyboard wizard Lorenzo Farrell & drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin take Estrin’s inventive, original songs to new & unexpected places. The band’s ability to deliver an unpredictable, no-holds-barred show is unmatched.

 

Hello Rick and welcome to the digital pages of THE WHITE ROCK SUN

Rick, let’s start with your hitsory in the Vancouver area.  In doing a bit of research I see you have played here a number of times.  What venues have you played here?

The Nightcats have been touring the world, including Canada, since we released our first album in 1987, so I really can’t recall the names of all the different venues. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when the blues was experiencing a surge in popularity, we played the Commodore Ballroom several times. For quite a few years we did a lot of shows in the Vancouver area that were promoted by Ron Simmons. The Yale was part of our regular rotation for a few years, and there were some other places, I can’t remember the names of - Having done that research you referred to, maybe you can remind me of some of the other places.

How long has your love affair with the westcoast of Canada been going on?

I’ve always loved Canada, especially the western part. Vancouver’s always been a real hip town, Victoria’s breathtakingly beautiful, and we’ve had some incredible times playing Nanaimo. 

My father was born in Calgary, and I still have relatives in Edmonton. I plan on seeing some of them when we’re there for the Edmonton Blues Festival.

 

Tell our readers a bit about your band’s history?

The band began in 1976 as Little Charlie and the Nightcats. Little Charlie Baty was the guitarist. 

I fronted the band and wrote the songs. We worked together for 32 years. At first, we played locally around Northern California, but as we developed our sound, we began expanding our territory up and down the west coast. In 1986, we signed with Alligator Records, and in ‘87, we began putting out records and touring the world nonstop.

Little Charlie left the band in 2008, and I took over the titular band leadership. With longtime members keyboard and bass genius, Lorenzo Farrell and drummer J. Hansen onboard, we recruited legendary guitar phenom, Kid Andersen who had previously been working with Charlie Musselwhite, and we continued as Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. In 2009, we signed with Alligator Records in our new incarnation, and we’ve been going strong ever since. J. left the band around 2016, and our current lineup consists of longtime members, Lorenzo and Kid, and drum master, Derrick “D’mar” Martin. After a 17 year career with the late, great, Little Richard, Derrick’s now been with us about 4 years. He’s a super dynamic performer, a fabulous musician, and a perfect fit for this band - He brings a level of showmanship and professionalism that has to be seen to be believed. Lorenzo Farrell is the glue that makes the whole thing work. He started out as the band’s upright and electric bassist, and about 10 years ago, he switched over to keyboard - including keyboard bass. That change added a whole new dimension of sonic color and excitement. Kid Andersen is already a legend - He is the undefeated, undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the Guitar!

 As Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, we’ve put out 5 albums on the Alligator label, and we have another release scheduled for early next year.


 

You recently received a number of nominations from THE BLUES FOUNDATION.  How thrilling that must have been to be recognized by your peers.

It’s a real honor, and very gratifying being recognized by our peers and colleagues. 

We’ve been nominated for Blues Music Awards by the Blues Foundation in several categories numerous times. We’ve won their Band of the Year award twice, Song of the Year twice, and we’ve won a few other various BMAs over the past few years.

 

On your many trips through our part of the woods, did you have the chance to see any local bands that turned your head?

Absolutely. There’re some excellent Canadian artists. I really dig Monkey Junk with Steve Marriner. Steve also works with the great Colin James. Steve’s an incredible musician. 

My friend David Hoerl had a real cool band in western Canada called The Twisters. 

Steve Kozak is a guy who’s a killer guitar player from the Vancouver area. My friend Russell Jackson who played bass with BB King for several years is a great musician and lives in BC. 

Going way back, I remember the Downchild band, Big Dave McClain, Dutch Mason, David Bergin, AKA Reed Bender, and Powder Blues - There’re so many, I know I’m forgetting some, but Canada has produced a ton of great blues based acts.

 

Where is your home base thse days do you still make your home in California?  A lot of our readers are blues fans and may often make road trips south along the coast.  Can you recommend any music joints in Washington, Orgeon and or California?

I still live in California.

I can think of a several west coast venues and promotional teams regularly featuring blues music. 

Where I live, in Sacramento, both Mindy Giles of Swell Productions, and SBL Entertainment regularly bring in touring blues and roots type acts to a few different places including the Starlet Room, Harlows, the Crest Theater, and The Sofia Center for the Arts.

In Washington, Tacoma based LTD Presents is doing great things, regularly bringing the cutting edge, best in blues music to venues all over the Pacific Northwest. Check out their website, www.LTDPRESENTSLIVE.com to see their calendar and sign up for their newsletter. 

In Southern California, Cadillac Zack regularly puts on great weekly blues shows. 

Portland, OR has one of the best and biggest blues festivals anywhere in their Waterfront Blues Festival. There’re also great artists like Curtis Salgado and former BB King drummer, Tony TC Coleman, who tour regularly but are based in the Portland area.

 

It has been a couple of years since we had new music from you. Contemporary (2019) was the last release.  Are your currently working on and playing new music?  


As I said, we have a new record all ready to go. 

It’s tentatively titled “The Hits Keep Coming” and it’ll be released on Alligator Records in the spring of 2024.

 

Before you get to White Rock’s Blue Frog sound studio for your show on August 18 you are in Nanaimn on Vancouver Island then off to Duluth Minnesota and then all the way back to BC for the Blue Frog show.  That is quite a turnaround.  How many shows on average do you perform annually.

Routing in this business is dictated by the offers and by what’s physically possible  - When routing is also occasionally convenient, that’s a bonus.

In the old days, we did an average of 200 - 250 shows a year - In adapting to this new, post-pandemic touring situation, we have to be a little more selective, but we still typically work about 100 dates a year.

 

Do you have a favourite song and or video you have released over the years?

I’ve written several songs I could categorize as favorites - “Calling All Fools” “Don’t Do It” “You Can’t Come Back” are just a few - There’re so many more too - way too many to list. 

Regarding videos, Kid Andersen, in addition to being a great guitarist and an incredible recording engineer, is also a gifted filmmaker, so we’ve been able to make a few very cool, entertaining videos ourselves. We’ve done videos for “I Met Her On The Blues Cruise” “Dissed Again” and perhaps my favorite is from our most recent album - We shot a video for the title track, “Contemporary” 

 

What can people expect when you and your Nightcats roll into White Rock?

They can expect to be blown away - No brag, just fact. And it’s not like I think I’m so great or anything, but I’m a little different, and I’m lucky enough to have the greatest band in the world!

 

In closing Rick if you could only take 5 albums to a desert album which would they be.

I love so many artists, and dig so many different styles of music, it’d be impossible to limit a list to 5 albums. For blues, I’d have to have some Muddy Waters, some Little Walter, some Sonnyboy Williamson, some Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bobby Blue Bland, Percy Mayfield, and a whole lot more. 

I’d need some jazz, especially Soul Jazz - organ combo, tenor sax, guitar type stuff - Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Kenny Burrell, Illinois Jacquet, Willis Jackson, Sonny Stitt… the list could go on and on.

I’d also have to have some country music, some George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and more.

I’d definitely need some quartet gospel music too. Groups like The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Swan Silvertones, The Sensational Nightingales, Slim and the Supreme Angels, Willie Neal Johnson and the Gospel Keynotes, made some of the greatest music in the history of the world! I could go on and on…

On the surface, my tastes might seem to be all over the map, but the common thread that runs through every type of music I love, is soul.

 

Join us for an incredible night of every type of music (but mainly leaning to the blues) this Friday evening @ Blue Frog

(click here for tickets)

 

 

 

 

July 31, 2023

 

40 Years on the Road with Willie Nelson: Inside Bus Driver Tony Sizemore's Life with the Icon.

People - by Brianne Tracy

 

The music legend's bus driver Tony Sizemore has done it all during his 40 years of touring him, from meeting U.S. presidents to being locked up.

In 2019, Willie Nelson threw a retirement party for his longtime bus driver, Tony Sizemore. But before Sizemore could settle into a life of leisure, Nelson asked if he could stay on for just one more big show he had coming up in Tennessee.

One show quickly turned into dozens more, and four years later, Sizemore, 75, is still driving around the country legend — who turned 90 in April — on tour.

"Willie is just the kind of person that you can't get away from him," Sizemore tells PEOPLE with a laugh. "You talk about quitting, and he'll say, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute. Whoa, whoa. I'm 90. What are you talking about quitting for?' He won't let me quit, so I guess I just keep working."

A Marine Corps veteran, Sizemore first started driving for Nelson in 1983, after working for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Foreigner, Tom Petty, Peter Frampton, Marvin Gaye, Rick James, Jackson Browne, Kenny Rogers, The Oak Ridge Boys and Jimmy Buffett. At the time, Nelson was looking for a temporary driver who knew how to work a manual shift bus.

"They brought me out to drive that bus for what I thought would be a couple of weeks, and after a couple weeks I said, 'Well, did you find anybody you like?' Willie said, 'Oh yeah, we like what we got. We're good right now,'" Sizemore recalls. "So that was it. I'm still here."

In his 40 years on the road with Nelson, Sizemore, a St. Cloud, Florida, resident, has had countless once in a lifetime experiences, like meeting everyone from Dolly Parton to U.S. presidents.

"I graduated from a high school in small town Indiana that had 100 kids," he says. "My class had seven boys and 20 girls. So, meeting the president was not on my priority list when I was in high school. When I was a kid, Mamie Eisenhower came through our town on the train, and my mother took us young kids out and waved at her. I figured that was about as close as I'd ever get to anybody."

He's also experienced everything from being locked up with Nelson for drug possession to witnessing the star autograph babies' heads. "You can't believe the stories," he says.

Through it all though, it's the moments with Nelson that Sizemore cherishes most.

"He'll make a cup of coffee, and he'll say, 'Here, I'll split this with you,'" he says. "He'll pour half of his coffee in my cup. Sometimes I'm almost at the hotel when he does it, but I just act like I'm going to drink it anyway."

"I turn 76 in September, and I still get happy talking about Willie," he continues. "If I quit today and somebody else called me up, I probably would not go out. Willie's the only person I want to work for, and he has been for years. It's just because he's such a nice man."

Here are Nelson's road rules, as told by Sizemore.

Treat Everyone Equal.

We've had presidents, ex-presidents, want-to-be presidents, wrestlers, football players and movie stars on the bus, and Willie treats everybody the same.

We were playing some night shows in New York, and we parked in New Jersey. I went to the bus one day and Willie was sitting on the bus with this guy, I think he called him Louie. He said, "Hey, Tony, this is Louie. He lives in a box around the street there." They were having coffee. We got ready to go and he said, "Well, I'll see you later, Louie." We went to the city and did our show, and then at midnight, probably, we started back out of the city and Willie said, "Tony, if you can find a donut shop, pick me up a couple dozen donuts." Well, I've never heard Willie say that. I said, "You've got a donut thing going on?" He said, "No. Louie's coming back tomorrow to have coffee, and he said he's going to bring a couple of his friends." The next day, Louie did come back with a couple of his friends. So, everybody's the same to Willie. And I found the donuts. If Willie says, "I want a donut," I get a donut.

Dolly Parton is my all time favorite guest who has been on Willie's bus. But I've had so many of them.

Years ago, we used to play Universal Studios in California for two weeks at a time. Every night Angie Dickinson would come to the show, and every night before she left the show, she'd come around and hug everybody's neck and take care of everybody for being so kind to her. She always stuck out to me.

I took Melissa Etheridge in one time and introduced Willie to her. I met her at a truck stop one night, and she said, "Could I meet Willie?" I said, "Sure." I said, "Just a minute," and I went in and told Willie at 2 a.m., "Melissa Etheridge, she plays a really mean 12-string guitar and is a bluesy singer." And he said, "Oh, bring her in." I brought her in, and they talked for a few minutes, and he said, "Do you have any of your music I could get from you I could listen to?" She came out of the bus and she told her guys, "Tear that bus apart to find him a CD." She hugged my neck and said, "Wow, Willie Nelson wants my music."

Always Ask Annie.

Willie's wife [Annie D'Angelo], if I need something, it's on my chair the next day. If I mention, "Oh, I lost my flashlight the other night," the next day there will be one on my seat. She's my best helper when I break down. If I have a problem, I want Annie helping me. She knows tools. She's better than any driver I've ever had, because she doesn't mind getting dirty and she'll help you if she can.

Everybody's Family.

It's Willie Nelson and Family, and he really means Willie Nelson and Family. My son is 39, and he grew up with Willie. Every summer he'd ride the bus with me and meet all the entertainers. They'd always give him a little job on stage like setting up the water when he was little. As he got bigger, he'd move carts and things.

If Willie Can't Get You Out of Jail, He'll Get in With You.

I've been busted with Willie a couple of times. I don't smoke, but they put us in jail in Sierra Blanca, which is about 80 miles outside of El Paso. Coming across I-10, they smelled pot in the bus and they arrested us and they put us in the holding cell, and Willie started singing, "Nobody knows the trouble I'm in."

We've been arrested a few times for pot over the years. In Louisiana, they got us. This police officer, the last thing he told us was, "Don't worry Mr. Nelson, we'll keep this off the news." He gave everybody a ticket in the bus and put our ages on it. My son was in the Marine Corps in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, at the time, and his friends were on the internet, and at the bottom of the screen it scrolled across, "Willie Nelson's been busted," and it told all our ages and names. One of the guys said, "Is this your dad?" He said, "Well, yes it is." So he called me from the company office and asked me if I was OK. I said, "Yes, I'm OK, son. I'm not even in Austin yet and it's already got to Iraq."

Willie told me one time, he said, "If I can't get you out of jail, I'll get in with you." If you go with Willie, you get out fast.

Take Care of Trigger.

Willie's guitar, Trigger, can be sitting in the middle of the floor, and people — great entertainers, great guitarists — will walk around that guitar and look at it. They won't pick it up unless Willie tells them to. It's kind of funny to see that.

We played for Robert Redford at the Kennedy Center Awards [in 2005]. Every time I'd go through Secret Service, I'd take Trigger out of the case, show it to them, and then set it up for Willie. When we got ready to walk back out, I'd take Trigger with me, and this Secret Service guy said, "Why don't you just leave that guitar in here?" I said, "Well, you don't leave the President by himself, do you?" We guard Trigger with our lives. I've got a safe at my house that I bought just for Trigger. If Trigger's in my bus, I take Trigger out and put it in that safe. I don't want to be known as the guy that lost Trigger.

Willie says when Trigger quits, he quits.

Laughter Makes Life Go Round.

My bunk used to be above Willie's sister Bobbie's (she died in 2022), and there used to be a space in the corner of the bunk where we had an air conditioner running up and down it. After we remodeled the bus, we took that out, and that little corner was open. I got in the bunk and pulled my glasses off, put them in the corner, and went to sleep. At about 4 a.m., it was my turn to drive, but when I got up, I couldn't find my glasses. I said, "Oh no."

I thought, "Shoot, my glasses must be in Bobbie's bunk." Bobbie was asleep. I asked Willie's daughter Lana, "Lana, could you check over there and see if my glasses are in Bobbie's bunk?" She said, "Well, I won't ask any questions, but I'll look." Bobbie woke up and she said, "Tony lost his glasses in your bunk, Bobbie." She said, "Well, he could have got in here and looked for them."

Later on that day we were parked and Lana said, "Well, Dad, I guess I might as well just tell you. Tony lost his glasses in Aunt Bobbie's bunk last night." He said, "I thought there was something going on." Bobbie said, "Don't you guys worry about it."

They all have a great sense of humor. Willie has the best. He's got a million jokes, which he'll tell me in the middle of the night.

Fans Come First.

Everybody thinks marijuana is Willie's drug of choice, but the audience is. I said one time that you can get drunk and miss a show, that's OK. But if he catches you being rude to one of his fans, then that's a no-no.

Willie used to sign autographs for three or four hours every night after the show. He'd sign every autograph there and take pictures. He has this uncanny ability for that one moment he's talking to that person where he looks them right dead in the eyes. Older people and younger people both will walk off saying, "Wow, he talked to me."

One time we were in Indianapolis, and we were parked on grass. These buses don't like grass when it rains, and I could see the rain coming. Whenever he'd sign autographs, I'd always get the older people and the handicapped people up and say, "I'm with Willie, let me walk you up to the front of the line." He had a big line of people, so I got this lady who was pushing another lady in a wheelchair and brought them to the front. The lady said, "Thanks. This is my mother, and she's 100 years old." I'm still thinking it's going to rain, so I said, "Well, let's hurry. We don't have much time." The old lady shook her fist at me! I said, "No, no! I mean it's going to rain."

When we got there, Willie squatted down with them and took pictures. As they left, the old lady waved at me and told me goodbye. I have so many fun memories over the years, and I've even seen Willie sign babies' heads.

Once, some kid took a real thick piece of leather and tooled it. He put wrinkles in it and then he painted it. It was the most beautiful picture I've seen of Willie yet. The tooling, the wrinkles, and everything about it was just beautiful. Well, he gave it to me and said, "I know I can't give this to him, but would you give this to Willie?" I said, "Yes, I will. When I get time, I will."

About 3 a.m. I stopped, and I got fuel, and I said, "Oh, Willie, here's a picture this kid asked me to give you." I took it back to Willie and Willie said, "Well, this is really nice. Let me use your phone." He called this kid, because the kid's number was on the back of it. This kid said, "Willie Nelson! Willie Nelson!" I said, "Willie, you've just gotten this kid in a lot of trouble." He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, tomorrow he's going to go to work and tell everybody you called him at 3 a.m., and you know what they're going to say. They're going to call him a liar." He said, "Oh yeah. Well, here, take a picture of me holding this up and send it to the kid." So I did. The kid wrote me the nicest thank you and said, "Thank you so much for doing that. I'll treasure this picture and that phone call for the rest of my life."

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May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'People EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS A PAA'

 

 

July 20, 2023

John Einarson Remembers

l-r Bernie Leadon/Randy Meisner/Don Henley/Glenn Frey

Born on this date, July 19, 1947 in Minneapolis, MN, Bernie Leadon, banjo, guitar, pedal steel guitar, mandolin. Leadon was a founding member of The Eagles in 1972 and appeared on the group's first four albums. He quit the band in Jan 1976 after an altercation in the studio with Glenn Frey. Prior to the Eagles, he was a member of three pioneering and highly influential country rock bands: Hearts & Flowers, Dillard & Clark, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Previously he had been a member of The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers with Chris Hillman in San Diego CA. He is a multi-instrumentalist coming from a bluegrass background. He introduced elements of this music to a mainstream audience during his tenure with the Eagles.

His father, Dr. Bernard Leadon, was an aerospace engineer and nuclear physicist whose career moved the family around the U.S. The family enjoyed music and, at an early age, Bernie developed an interest in folk and bluegrass music. He eventually mastered the 5-string banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar. Following moves with his parents to San Diego and Gainesville, FL where he played in a band with future Eagle Don Felder, Leadon was enticed back to California on his own at age 20 to join ex-Squirrel Barker Larry Murray's country folk trio Hearts & Flowers. Leadon recorded one album with the band, their second release Of Horses, Kids, and Forgotten Women for Capitol Records. The record was a local hit but failed to make much of a dent on the national album charts.

By late 1968, Leadon had befriended bluegrass/banjo legend Doug Dillard, late of the Dillards. While staying with Dillard, informal jam sessions with prolific songwriter and ex-Byrds member Gene Clark began to take shape, and morphed into what eventually became Dillard & Clark, a seminal country-rock band who laid the groundwork for the country-rock sound that dominated the L.A. music scene for the next decade. In 1968, the group recorded their classic and highly influential LP, The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark. The album featured Leadon's warm and distinctive backing vocals and impressive multi-instrumental work. The album's highlights include several compositions co-written with Clark, most notably the future Eagles staple (and somewhat of a signature song for Leadon) from their debut album, "Train Leaves Here This Morning."

Leadon left Dillard & Clark in 1969, eventually reconnecting with ex-Squirrel Barker (and ex-Byrd) Chris Hillman, who asked him to join The Flying Burrito Brothers, a pioneering country-rock band that Hillman had formed a year earlier with fellow ex-Byrd, Gram Parsons. Leadon recorded two albums with the group: Burrito Deluxe and the post-Parsons LP, The Flying Burrito Bros. After the latter album's release in 1971, Leadon had tired of the band's lack of commercial success and decided to leave the band to pursue an opportunity to play with three musicians he had worked with while moonlighting in Linda Ronstadt's backing band that summer. The resultant project, the Eagles, found the success he had craved.

Leadon is often credited with helping shape the band's early country-rock sound, bringing his strong sense of harmony as well as his country, bluegrass and acoustic sensibilities to the group. Upon the release of their debut album, Eagles, the group met with near instantaneous success, due largely to the strength of their hit singles, "Take It Easy", "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Witchy Woman" (co-written by Leadon and Henley), all of which highlighted Leadon's multi-instrumental talent. Their follow-up, Desperado, was another strong country-rock venture highlighted by the classics "Tequila Sunrise" and the title track.

As a result, the band attempted to distance itself from the "country rock" label for their third album On the Border. In doing so, Leadon encouraged the group to recruit his old friend, guitarist Don Felder, to the band. The result was the guitar-heavy top ten hit "Already Gone". The album also included "My Man", Leadon's touching tribute to his old bandmate and friend, Gram Parsons, who had died of a drug overdose the year prior at Joshua Tree National Monument in southeastern California.

With the wild success of On the Border and its follow-up smash, One of These Nights, tension within the band grew, as Leadon grew increasingly frustrated by the band's direction away from his beloved country and bluegrass and toward album-oriented stadium rock. He famously quit the band in 1975 by pouring a beer over Glenn Frey's head. He later cited a need to get healthy and break the vicious cycle of touring, recording and heavy drug use that was rampant within the band. Upon his departure, Asylum Records released Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), which highlighted the band's Leadon years and went on to become the biggest-selling album of all time for sales in excess of 42 million units, awarded to the band members by the RIAA. He was replaced by former James Gang guitarist/singer, Joe Walsh.

Leadon's music career since leaving the Eagles has been low-key, resulting in two solo albums with a gap of 27 years in between. Leadon has also appeared on many other artists' records as a session musician. In 1985 he teamed up with Chris Hillman, Al Perkins, David Mansfield, and Jerry Scheff for the one-album Ever Call Ready, an album of gospel tunes. He also spent some time with The Nitty Gritty Dirt band. In 1998, Leadon reunited with the Eagles in New York City for the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All seven current and former Eagles members performed together on "Take It Easy," and "Hotel California".

Besides collecting rare old acoustic guitars, Bernie is also a railway sidecar enthusiast. He and his friends will rent a dormant or rarely used rail line and travel along it in their customized side cars. A few years back they rented a line in northern Manitoba.

Bernie Leadon recent photo

I have had the pleasure of interviewing Bernie several times in person in Nashville. Absolutely lovely man.

John Einarson

(click here to read more musical memories by Winnipeg's JOHN EINARSON)

 

 

John Einarson REMEMBERS

 


Excerpt from the forthcoming book Words & Music: The Stories Behind the Books by John Einarson.

This is from my book Four Strong Winds: Ian & Sylvia talking about my evening with Gordon Lightfoot.


Sylvia Tyson had arranged an interview for me with Gordon Lightfoot at his home in an area of Toronto called The Bridal Path. While Rosedale had a stately old ‘character home’ quality to it with houses dating back to the turn of the century, The Bridal Path was nouveau riche with monolithic modern angular stone homes, the bigger the better to show off one’s recent wealth and status. On the first evening of my eastern trip, I was to be hosted by Gordon Lightfoot at his ostentatious-looking mansion with its semi-circular driveway. The house reminded me of The Clampett’s Beverly Hills mansion on The Beverly Hillbillies. But as I made my way up the driveway, a rustic down home charm appeared in the form of a well-worn, frayed lawn chair, the kind my parents’ generation used consisting of coloured plastic lattices woven between an aluminum frame, on the front door stoop. I could picture Gordon, rural Ontario-born, enjoying the sunshine pondering life or working through some new lyric ideas while watching the Porsches and BMWs go by.

I rang the doorbell and was greeted by the man himself. If Ian & Sylvia, Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Anne Murray, and Neil Young are Canadian music royalty, Gordon Lightfoot is the grand poohbah of the lot, the sovereign. He is a living legend, and I confess to a mild panic attack as I approached his door. There he stood, slightly smaller than I had imagined, and weathered in appearance. He welcomed me in to his home and led me to the kitchen. I’m not sure whether the term ‘funky chic’ is an accurate descriptor for his furnishings but it seemed apt. A beat-up old sofa rested against a wall in the spacious front foyer. In the kitchen, several of the chairs revealed stuffing coming out. Gordon offered me a cup of coffee in a chipped cup. It was like ‘single guy living’ in a mansion.

Gordon was 71 years old and mentioned that he had recently undergone cataract surgery and as a result had been smoking marijuana again to help strengthen his eyesight.

We adjourned to his main floor music room to conduct the interview. On a guitar stand next to his desk rested his Gibson acoustic 12-string guitar, his iconic main instrument for several decades.

“Ian & Sylvia are a part of the fabric of this country,” stressed Gordon Lightfoot, at the outset of our interview. He has never failed to acknowledge the enormous debt he owes to Ian & Sylvia. “Ian & Sylvia are responsible for taking my career to the next level,” he states. “And they did a very unselfish thing. By them recording a couple of my tunes, that became the big break that I needed.” Ian & Sylvia named their fourth album, released in early 1965, after Lightfoot’s song “Early Morning Rain”, recording the song before Gordon had done so. The duo also recorded Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me” on the album.

Although composed two years apart, “Four Strong Winds” and “Early Morning Rain” both address the post-modern plight of urban alienation and the desire to get back to a simpler life. Whereas Ian’s lament is for a lost love out west, Gordon’s lyrics reflect the loneliness of the working man relocated from a rural environment and his loved ones and longing to return. It’s often been suggested that “Early Morning Rain” was inspired by northern Ontario mining or forestry labourers who come down to the big city with their earnings, and blow it all, before signing on for another stint back up north. The changes in technology are also reflected in the two songs: Ian writes of sending down “the fare” implying a train ticket, and the imagery of the railroad opening up the west a century earlier; Gordon’s character watches as the plane he should be on takes off in the dampness of an early morning. “You can’t jump a jet plane like you can a freight train” is perhaps one of the most evocative lines in Canadian songwriting and says much about the changing nature of our post-war, urban society and the sense of dislocation that many often felt. It’s no wonder the song struck a chord with Ian on hearing Gordon sing it at Steele’s. It’s a song that if Gordon had not written it, Ian could have. Oddly enough, both songs were composed in an urban environment: Ian in New York and Gordon in Toronto.

In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand
With an aching in my heart and my pockets full of sand
I'm a long way from home, Lord, I miss my loved ones so
In the early morning rain with no place to go

Out on runway number nine a big 707 set to go
And, I'm stuck here in the grass where the pavement never grows
Now, the liquor tasted good and the women all were fast
Well, there she goes, my friend, she'll be rolling down at last

Hear the mighty engines roar, see the silver wing on high
She's away and westward bound, far above the clouds she'll fly

(“Early Morning Rain”, Gordon Lightfoot, 1965)

In talking with me about the song that would launch his career, Gordon couldn’t help noting that Ian’s arrangement added an A minor chord in the second line of each stanza, “She’s away and westward [A minor] bound.” The change still stuck in his craw as he described it to me. I knew that fact but I saw my chance to have Gordon Lightfoot play my all-time favourite song of his, “Early Morning Rain”, just for me. “Where did Ian put that chord?” I asked, knowing full well where it was placed. Gordon then picked up his Gibson 12-string, gave me a withered glance, and performed “Early Morning Rain” for an audience of one, pointing out where he didn’t employ that disputed A minor chord. It was a moment I will never forget. I left Lightfoot’s home that evening overjoyed and honoured to have spent an evening in his presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2023

JOHN EINARSON REMEMBERS

On this date, March 29, 1972, RCA Records had set up their recording truck outside New York's famed Carnegie Hall to record Winnipeg's Guess Who live for a subsequent album release. The band had never played Carnegie Hall before (nor would they play it later) so this was a landmark gig to be preserved on record. Producer Jack Richardson and engineer Brian Christian came down from Toronto to handle the one-off live performance. With a reputation for a kick ass live show, the time seemed ripe for a live album. The band was midway through a tour in support of their recently released Rockin’ album, a stripped down, back to basics rock ‘n’ roll record after the more experimental So Long, Bannatyne. But three dates into the tour, following a concert in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 17 without informing the other band members, guitarist Greg Leskiw jumped ship and returned to Winnipeg citing the rigors of the road. Rather than cancel the remainder of the tour, which included the much-anticipated Carnegie Hall appearance, the four members called close friend Donnie McDougall back in Winnipeg. A former member of the respected Vancouver group Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck currently toiling in Winnipeg beer parlors with The Vicious Circle, Donnie flew out to meet the Guess Who in Phoenix, Arizona the next day and promptly learned their entire set literally overnight. He made his debut the following evening. The band never missed a beat and proceeded en route to Carnegie Hall.

However, the night before that coveted engagement, lead singer Burton Cummings, regarded by critics, fans and peers as one of the finest voices in rock ‘n’ roll, blew those golden tonsils partying a little too hearty. “The next day he couldn’t even talk,” recalled lead guitarist Kurt Winter, in an interview before his untimely death in 1997. “Everybody else wanted him to go onstage but I told him, ‘Don’t blow your voice and your whole career on one gig. It’s not worth it. We’ll get another crack at Carnegie Hall,’ though we never did.” Adds producer Jack Richardson, “We had everything set up that day to record. It was expensive to cancel.” Burton remains contrite. “I have never forgiven myself for robbing all five of us of that wonderful niche in an otherwise lousy business.”

The group now set its sights on recording a two-night stand, May 22 and 23, in Seattle at the end of the tour. “Seattle was always good to us,” remembers road manager Jim Martin. “We had played that market before, we had done three days at the Seattle Pop Festival a few years earlier, and the Paramount was such a neat venue. We played there earlier in the tour and had a lot of friends in that area. They loved the Guess Who.” With the recent mid-tour personnel shuffle, the extension allowed the five the opportunity to gel as a unit and rehearse three new songs in preparation for the Seattle engagement.

The first night of the Seattle gig proved to be the only usable set. Released in August 1972, Live At The Paramount notched an impressive #39 in Billboard bettering their last two efforts and yielding a minor hit single with “Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon.” Rolling Stone magazine declared, “Live At The Paramount proves once and for all that this band can rock… it has to rank as one of the most fun to listen to. Avid fans of the group will play this more than any other Guess Who album they own.” Emerging from a pivotal point in the group’s career, Live At The Paramount has stood the test of time to become one of the best-loved of the entire Guess Who catalog. “I think that album came at a crossroads for the band,” offers Jack Richardson. “They were going through some emotional changes and all the personnel shuffles were beginning.”

 

Editors Note - JOHN EINARSON is a musicologist who makes his home in Winnipeg. He has written a number of critical books on the music from his hometown plus acclaimed books on musical genres occuring outside of Winniepg.

Read more here - https://johneinarson.ca

 

 

On this date, March 29, 1969, American jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears' second album, the first without founder Al Kooper and including new singer, Canadian David Clayton Thomas, hit #1 on Billboard's album chart. The album yielded several hit singles including "You Made Me So Very Happy", "Spinning Wheel" and "And When I Die". The album received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1970 and has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA with sales of more than four million units in the U.S. In Canada, it enjoyed four runs and altogether eight weeks at No. 1 on the RPM national album chart. James William Guercio (who was simultaneously working with new band Chicago) produced the album. The song selection was much more pop-oriented than the first album (Child Is Father To The Man), with more compositions from outside the band. It was recorded at the then state of the art CBS Studios in New York City. The studio had just taken delivery of one of the first of the model MM-1000 16-track tape recorders, built by Ampex. The new technology allowed for far more flexibility in overdubbing and mixing than the 4 and 8-track tape recorders which were standard in 1968. The album was among the very first 16-track recordings released to the public.

After Al Kooper left the group, drummer Bobby Colomby and guitarist Steve Katz began to look for a new vocalist, considering Alex Chilton (after the breakup of soul-rock group the Box Tops but before the formation of Big Star), Stephen Stills, and Laura Nyro. Ultimately, they decided upon David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian singer, born in Surrey, England. Reportedly, folk singer Judy Collins had seen Clayton-Thomas perform at a New York City club and was so taken and moved by his performance that she told Colomby and Katz about him. After an audition, Thomas was offered the gig.

The commercial and critical acclaim enjoyed by the band in 1969 culminated in an appearance at Woodstock, in which the band enjoyed headliner status. The festival's film crew even caught the band's opening number, "More and More", as they took to the stage. But the band's manager at the time, Bennett Glotzer, ordered the movie crew to turn off the cameras and leave the stage since the band had not agreed nor been paid to be filmed.

The album helped pave the way for the integration of jazz into pop and rock and set the stage for other horn bands like Chicago and Chase. The album also included classical music elements ("Variations On A Theme By Eric Satie") and blues ("Blues Part II").

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Rock N Roll Never Forgets

SRV/CFOX's Liz McKinney/Yours Truly

David Chesney

JJ's 365

Jim Johnston

President, CEO, JJ Media/Management, Media Talent/Content Coaching, Executive Coach
Company NameJJIMS Inc. JJ international Media and Management Solutions
Dates EmployedJul 2013 – Present Employment Duration5 yrs 1 mo
JJIMS was launched July 1st of 2013 and has several high profile customers at home and abroad.

Jim JJ Johnston, The President, CEO and head Talent Coach, is a deeply experienced and successful Media/Management leader. JJ has coached/mentored many of Canada's Top Broadcasters and Executives and now coaches in many different fields.

 

Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”.

Today we are shining the light on "The Ches", Dave Chesney.
This fellow is a master story teller. I remember him elucidating me with the legend of Jerry Lee Lewis playing at 86 Street and how Jerry was docile for most of the show but then out of nowhere got up, kicked the stool away, pounded the piano for hours and brought the house down. The way Ches says it really makes you want to have been there.
Dave was one of the first guys I met when I arrived at Richards and Nelson at the helm of CFOX. Dave will always have an affinity for the FOX and was of the fabric of the station. He continues today to be a part of the glue that keeps the west coast music and radio scene together. He welcomed me with open arms with his genuine and friendly smile and I still count on him as one of the most positive dudes I know.


He says it all began at a young age for him. He comes by his love of the media and music industry honestly. His father, “Uncle Joe” Chesney held down a number of positions at The Top Dog CKNW radio, that was until the station got wind he was looking to apply for a radio station license in Surrey. After being shown the door “Uncle Joe” ended up pioneering country music on the west coast with an afternoon drive show on talk show giant CJOR. Along with Vic Waters his father played both kinds of music, country & western. In around 1961 Joe successfully landed a license to operate a radio station in Langley British Columbia. CJJC The Voice of the Valley became British Columbia’s first 24-hour country music radio station.


Dave was afforded the golden opportunity growing up to be around radio stations and broadcasters: “CJJC was a real life WKRP. Being the boss’s kid and working in a creative environment, I had two choices. 1. Just be the boss’s kid or …2. Ploughing my row deeper and truer than everyone else. I chose #2 and as result earned the respect of my fellow workers and later my staff.”


But alas as much as he loved the gig, he loved rock n roll more. One of the promotion men who used to make the long journey out to the Valley to service CJJC with country product was Frank Gigliotti. Frank inadvertently informed Dave that CKLG-FM was about to go through a metamorphosis under the leadership of The Real Roy Hennessy, former morning boss jock on CKLG. Dave jumped ship and became the music and promotion director for FM/99. Dave says his stay at CFOX was short and sweet: “One of my main duties as a music director was to deal with record company reps vying to get their music on the radio. CBS Records in the late 70’s was looking to expand their market share by adding additional reps in the major markets across Canada. I applied for a position of the Epic/Portrait/Associated labels position in the Vancouver branch and was successful in attaining the position."


The next 14 years was a blur he says: “The 60’s certainly was a heady time in the music business, but let me tell you this, the 80’s was the period of excess. With the introduction of MTV and MUCHMUSIC the sales of pre-recorded music exploded. The CBS Records wrecking crew in my humble opinion owned the streets. First under the leadership of Brad Weir and then 365’er Kim Zayac. I attained ‘record heights.’ I cannot thank or say enough about those two gentlemen. I proudly still call them friends. I went on to win the Top Promotion Man award 6 consecutive years. Then it all came to a screeching halt.”


SONY MUSIC bought CBS records and everything changed. Dave distinctly remembers sitting in his office one day and realized they had 6 or 7 of the Top 10 records and he didn’t want to listen to any of them. He thought to himself, well I have a pretty extensive radio background and now I fully understand how a major label works. He left CBS records and threw in with Larry Wanagas who at the time had rung the proverbial brass bell with K.D. Lang from a little office on the edge of Vancouver’s Granville island. Ches joined BUMSTEAD PRODUCTIONS as the national marketing director and eventually that job morphed into a co-management with Wanagas for The Blue Shadows (Billy Cowsill). By this time Larry relocated to New York but Dave stayed on the westcoast to be there for his aging mom, a decision he will never regret. She was always there for him especially at a lot of crucial times in his life.


When The Blue Shadows disbanded Dave ended up producing music videos, did contract work for a number of artists and quite synchronistically ended up as an instructor at a private music college called the Pacific Audio Visual Institute. He enjoyed his years working with young students who were looking for a career in the music and radio industry and called that time very rewarding.


Around this time Dave and his late and great wife Laurie (total sweetie) moved back to his roots, White Rock BC. Upon his return he quickly realized: “My White Rock was going through some major changes, many of which I did not agree with. My father at a young age pounded into my head 'Dave put up or shut up! If you aren’t prepared to roll up your sleeves and attack a problem we really don’t want to hear what you have to say.”
Well when it came to White Rock he couldn’t shut up (Interesting the way he says “White Rock”. He makes sure that the “T” is pronounced and he makes sure it is said as two distinct words).


He says two things happened: “I knew from my media experience that technology had an immensely negative impact on the music industry and I knew what was happening with newspapers. They were next. Yet I also knew people had a voracious appetite for LOCAL news. Now as everyone reading this knows in order to start a radio or television station you need millions of dollars and government approval. Yet on-line newspapers did not need any government approval. Before I knew it I had started Canada’s First independent online newspaper, The White Rock Sun www.whiterocksun.com. That was thirteen years ago this past June.


The second thing that I did was roll up my sleeves and run for White Rock city council. It took a couple shots but four years ago I secured a seat on White Rock council. We are coming to the end of our mandate and I have every intention of seeking another term. In addition to holding a seat on council and publishing the White Rock Sun I handle media for local independent promoter Rob Warwick/Rockitboy Entertainment.”


As he looks back he describes it as one hell of a ride: “I enjoy reading your posts Jim. Many I know, some I don’t know personally but usually know by name. I don’t know if lasting friendships are as prevelant as the radio and music industry have afforded so many of us. I can go years between seeing or talking to so many colleagues and when we do meet, it seems like yesterday. I sometimes think people who went to war together probably have the same kind of a bond.


Highlights of my career could fill a book, which no one wants to read (wrong Ches, we all want to know). Well at least not anyone that would be willing to pay for it (wrong again). With that said though, milestones include presenting Stevie Ray Vaughn with his first gold record, working with country greats like George Jones (the first time I was a stammering fool), being instrumental in CBS RECORDS signing Barney Bentall & The Legendary Hearts and working with THE CLASH on their first North American show at the Commodore Ballroom. Damn I thought I saw the future of rock n roll that night.”
I just love this guy and have been wanting to write about him for some time. He was one of the first guys on my 365 list. During the tumultuous rock and roll times, Dave was always a gent. He handled any situation being, well, “The Ches.” He is a humble and graceful cat who has had a big stake in the shaping of the west coast media and music scene. Not sure you will find a much better person and pal than Dave. Salt of the earth. Please do write that book Ches, you have so many stories to tell and I know hundreds who will line up to buy it and read it. Atta be brother!


Thank you, Dave Chesney, for being on of the “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Dave’s positive story.

Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.


Jim JJ Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries worldwide

 

 

 

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