Archive | January, 2012

TSI 01/27 – THE BAND

Ode to Richard Manuel.

Richard Manuel was born in Stratford, OntarioCanada. His father Ed was a mechanic employed by Chrysler, and his mother was a schoolteacher. He was raised with his three brothers, and the four sang in the church choir. Manuel took piano lessons beginning when he was nine, and enjoyed playing piano and rehearsing with his friends at his home. Some of his childhood influences wereRay CharlesBobby BlandJimmy Reed and Otis Rush. He was given the nickname “The Beak” by his friends because of his prominent nose.

He and three friends started a band when he was fifteen, originally named the Rebels but later changed to The Revols, in deference to Duane Eddy and the Rebels. The group also included Ken Kalmusky, a founding member of Great Speckled Bird, and John Till, a founding member of the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Manuel developed a rhythmic style of piano unique in its usage of inverted chord structures. He was also a naturally talented vocalist, with a soulful rhythm and blues style, and a rich timbre, often compared to that of Ray Charles. These talents were showcased in The Revols.

Manuel first became acquainted with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks when The Revols opened for them in Port Dover, Ontario. According to Levon Helm, Hawkins remarked to him about Manuel: “See that kid playing piano? He’s got more talent than Van Cliburn.” The two bands once again connected at the Stratford Coliseum in 1961 when The Revols ended a show featuring The Hawks as headliners. After hearing Manuel singing “Georgia on My Mind“, Hawkins hired The Revols’ pianist rather than competing with them.


TSI 01/16 – FANNY

When you ask people to name the very first all-female rock band ever, THE GOGO’S, THE BANGLES or THE RUNAWAYS might come close to the truth. But the real answer would be FANNY. Formed in the late sixties, led by the two sisters, June and Jean Millington, they sounded like a real rock band. From that moment on, it was cool and accepted for women to play rock music. As there was no competion back in these days, FANNY were quite unique and on their own, so to speak. Reason enough to tell the story of these ladies, that opened the door for many female musicians to come and give all you youngsters a lesson in rock history.

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Good Fortune

The paths we have taken and have left behind form the trails of our lives and country. Of recent I’ve been singing songs about ravens, the northern lights, cold weather and the ocean. Our Canadian trails.

In August Shannon Butler picked me a fortune cookie from a jar. It was the fortune pictured above. Really? For me? How could that be?

In September I flew once again to my homeland of Ontario. Half of my heart. I sang. So did Emm.

Ink on paper can grow wings. Ideas are dangerous things. Knock knock. I’m there.


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The Wake

I love the hiss of an old NFB reel wandering through a movie projector, I love the sound of the Hip’s “Up To Here”, I love the crisp cold air that assaults before snowfall. I love pointless conversations about weather, highways without billboards and I love when Joel Plaskett records a banjo.

It was time to have cake and down several whiskeys at the wake for my old self. It was time to start a new band.


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