November 2015

Proudly Canadian: 48th Highlanders of Canada

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Courtesy of
Photo: 48th Highlanders Pipes and Drums

Editor’s Note: We decided this week’s Proudly Canadian would be a feature about a reserve regiment, highly decorated in both the First and Second World Wars. Although this is not our usual rock band or legacy artist, it is because of the battles fought that we have the freedom to play music, sing lyrics and be free to do so. Lest We Forget.

The 48th Highlanders have been a reserve (militia) regiment, tasked as infantry and located in the heart of downtown Toronto from its founding in 1891 to the present day. Today the regiment fulfils three roles, as does every regiment in Canada's Reserves. Service to Canadians is the Reserves primary role, linking the civilian lives of each of its soldiers and the location of reserve regiments to communities throughout Canada. Under Canada Command tasking or when called out under "Aide to the Civil Power" 48th Highlanders have served across the breadth and width of our country. In its second role, augmentation to the Regular Forces in locations outside of Canada, members of the 48th continue to serve around the world. Finally, in the event of a declaration of war, the Reserves form a framework for mobilization, as the 48th Highlanders have in the First and Second World Wars.

Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau: Lead Belly’s Gold

Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau Lead Belly’s Gold.jpg

Submitted to Cashbox Canada with
CD Song Reviews by Sandy Graham

Stony Plain Records has announced a November 6th release date for Lead Belly’s Gold, the new album tribute to the legendary blues and folk musician from award-winning roots musician Eric Bibb and acclaimed French harmonica player JJ Milteau. Lead Belly’s Gold features 11 live tracks recorded at famed Paris jazz club, The Sunset, as well as five new studio recordings.

“It’s hard to remember when I first heard Lead Belly’s music because, somehow, he’s always been around,” writes Eric Bibb’s in the album’s liner notes. “Most likely, I heard recordings of others (The Weavers and Woody Guthrie) singing songs from his huge repertoire before hearing his actual voice. In any case, I have an early memory from the mid-1950s of listening to a recording of Lead Belly singing a children’s song, ‘Ha Ha This-a-Way’. At that time, my dad, Leon, was beginning to make his name known in New York City folk music circles. He recently told me he remembered hearing Lead Belly perform at The Village Vanguard in the late 1940s.

So, the soundtrack of my childhood included more than a few of the great bard’s songs. The sound of his 12-string guitar is part of my DNA.

Aging and That Instrument

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Submitted by Bill King
Photo: Paul McCartney

I admit, most of my playing life reads like an injury report – mostly of my own doing. Forty plus years of pick-up basketball – an obsession filled with jammed fingers and sprung wrists and twenty plus seasons of summer-league softball and torn rotator cuff brings me to where I am today; arthritis in both thumbs and osteoarthritis top of right hand.

I’d like to blame all this on my obsessive passion for sports but that’s only part of it. I’ve been playing piano most days nearly sixty years. That alone takes a toll on the hands. Then there was that year playing with Ronnie Hawkins I nearly ripped the tendons in my wrist pounding rockabilly piano.

The hands are in constant motion and remarkable by design. Occasionally I pause and have a closer look and stare in wonderment.

With mounting physical issues and aging I still have control and fluidity in my playing. I keep looking towards the sky, raise a hand in salute and say, “Yes, to all Gods.” Then I pause and say, “Gracious thanks for allowing me to be a musician and play any instrument, even well.” What a gift!

When I was young right up to my middle years I battled the piano. I loved and feared it. There were things I couldn’t do and would never be able to do and then one day I discovered there was much I could do within the knowledge and physical abilities I’d consumed and developed. That’s the day I calmed down and found that inner peace within myself.

Brian Donkers Making It Happen

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Submitted by Don Graham

Brian Donkers is a songwriter, and a darn good one at that, so it doesn’t matter where he lives to be able to pursue his craft.  Right? Wrong! Splitting his time between Toronto and Nashville, Tennessee, Brian is at his most productive and creative while south of the border. “There’s something in the air in Nashville, the people, the city itself, the music, it is so conducive to creating and writing songs. I love Canada as well but for what I do, Nashville is where I love to be.” He goes on to explain, “I have been writing songs for 15 years, but in 2008, I left a steady  job with a steady paycheque and decided to pursue music as a career and not just a hobby.”  He put together enough funds  to get into the studio and record “Halfway to Dayligh”t, his first full-length album under the name Tucker Green. The album was produced by Jonathan Anderson and became the launching pad for Brian's career.

I’ve done a songwriter round with Brian in Toronto and can attest first hand to his songwriting ability. He reminded me of a young Jackson Browne, with songs that have themes and characters we all can relate to in our lives. You become invested in the characters and feel their pain when they lose and share in their joy when they win.

Jammin’ with Jen Lane

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Submitted by Lee Fraser

We walk down the narrow path between houses in downtown Toronto’s west end, through a neighbour’s back yard and into a garage-turned-jam space.  There are duvets and blankets--make-shift sound-proofing board--scattered hodge-podge over the walls and ceiling.  There’s a large piece of art on the wall, bursting with people relaxing and chilling out.  The band is setting up, checking charts and tuning their instruments.  I feel like I’m in the basement of my childhood home, surrounded by talented, warm-hearted friends.

The first song they rehearse is “Waiting For You”, appropriate given that one of the band-mates is running late.  Everyone has a chuckle.  I’m lucky enough to tag along on this rehearsal,involving a couple from Saskatoon and three Toronto boys.  As they move through the repertoire, amidst comments like “You do the walk, I’ll do the fill” and countless count-ins, the band bonds and gels.