Like art, my music is also a meditation, but
it resonates at a different level, though the two are connected.
My intimacy with both informs each in ways
that would be impossible without that connection.
I first became aware that music was something cool at age 7 when
there was a buzz rippling through the neighbourhood about how
The Beatles were going to play the Ed Sullivan Show (on February
9th 1964). Today, I remember that show in the same way that I remember
when President Kennedy was shot, or when John Lennon was shot.
A few years later, I became interested in the guitar when some
of the slightly older neighbourhood boys had formed a band and I
attended many of their rehearsals. I remember a Sunday afternoon
when I picked up a guitar during their break and spontaneously
picked out (and recognized) the lick to Satisfaction, by The
Rolling Stones. That was it. From that day forward, my mother
got no peace until I had a guitar of my own to play. The first
guitar I got was a classical guitar with an unattached bridge.
The guitar needed to be set up, though I had no idea about that
at the time. After much frustration and calls for help, I
stopped trying to play the thing.
Finally, on May 26th 1970, with my friend Kevin Vogen along as a consul-tant,
we went downtown to
The Bay where my mother plunked down $50 for an Olson acoustic steel
string guitar. Kevin taught me to play House Of The Rising Sun that day. I
spent the first few years learning by watching the more advanced
musicians in the neighbourhood band, which consisted
mainly of Steve McFall (guitar & vocals), Kevin Vogen (guitar,
bass & vocals), Erik Teose (guitar), Daniel Vermette (guitar &
bass), and Kelly Arrey (drums). Another friend from the
neighbourhood (he wasn't in their band) was Paul Leroux.
Paul played guitar and piano, and his eclectic tastes helped
steer me away from the middle of the road, a penchant that still
fuels my engines today. All of these guys displayed a lot of
talent and perseverance, and were wonderful role models for me.
Their achievements and performances became the benchmark by
which I measured success.
In the beginning, music was a struggle for me as I had poor
sense of time and even poorer sense of pitch. Such
limitations might have deterred some players, but not me. What I
lacked in talent, I made up for in burning desire, and that kept me playing, which
to making music.
After a couple years playing the Olson, I realized that I needed
something better and my mother got me a beautiful Aria Spanish
had a slender neck with accurate intonation, and it served me well
for many years. I also bought my first electric guitar at a pawn
shop on Craig street (now St-Antoine street). This baby had four
pickups all governed by a single on-off switch, a single master
tone control and a single volume control.
first public performance was at an open mic at the summer street
festival on August 5th 1972 on Portage avenue in Winnipeg. I
accompanied Kevin Vogen.
During my first ten years of playing, I jammed often with my musical friends and
formed some bands, none of which lasted. Except for my
musical association with my best friend Sean Mooney. That
persists to this day. The only problem there is that we
haven't lived in the same city since 1976, which makes it difficult to get
any serious music happening.
that, we have managed to make home recordings every few years
and have had a lot of fun along the way. Early on, Sean and I formed a
trio with flautist Louis Beaupré, a
friend of mine from High School, and though we never had an
for our act, we did play a few gigs.
and I had the most fun in the Fall of 1978 when we hitch-hiked
around the US with our guitars in tow. We played for food and
tips at every opportunity, such as this one at the Morning Glory
Café in Albuquerque.
met alto saxophonist Patrick Murphy in the early 1980s when,
with others, we formed an impromptu band for recording students
to learn their trade. That opportunity was provided by Bogdan
Zaryn, a fellow from my old neighbourhood who had become a music
agent. Pat and I got along well and played
together in many situations and settings for the next decade. As
a duo, we busked in Metro stations and on the street during
also had more legitimate bookings in various jazz bands and top 40 bands. It was a
sobering experience the first time I found myself on stage
reading a song I had never played or heard before, but it was
all part of growing up and developing confidence. There were
many personnel changes over the years but the people who saw the
most action with us were Walter Macklin (drums) and Diane Burke
(vocal, guitar, keyboards).
In the mid eighties, I met Alexandra Wolanskyj, a gifted singer
who understood how to sing my songs. We made some home
recordings and played a few gigs.
On Vancouver Island, I muscled my way into the Linda Walker Trio
(turning it into a Quartet). We played jazz standards. We held a Saturday night gig for
about six months.
It was there I met Bonnie Fontaine, a local
singer-songwriter. We teamed up and formed a duo called
Whirlwind. We played covers, but loved to play them our way so,
often, you could only recognize the song by listening to the
lyrics. We found that we complemented each other as a
songwriting team, she as a lyricist, me as a musical director and
arranger. Before long, our rehearsals turned into songwriting
sessions. In 1999, we changed our name to
expresssoul and began
recording a CD of our songs entitled Stirring.
1998, I met violinist Marjorie Koers, with whom I've played ever
since. We play weddings, receptions, and special occasions of
many kinds. Our repertoire includes waltzes, tangos, reels,
mazurkas, standards, and gypsy jazz. We perform under the name
Reverie, often with
singer Rosalee Sullivan.
2001, I met my current life partner Janet Strandquist while we were
playing in a band backing local singer-songwriter Kerry Samick.
We soon left to form our own duo called
Two of Us. We mainly
play cover tunes (though we both write songs) and have been
playing and gigging steadily ever since.
I took lessons during the summer of 1973 (my third year playing
guitar) but I didn't click with the teacher, so I stopped going
after the second lesson.
The following year, someone recommended the Frank Quinn School
of Music. It was quite a distance to commute, but I went and was
glad I did. My teacher's name was Michel. He was a long-haired,
young (twenties) French Canadian, and thoroughly steeped in
jazz. I got along well with him, yet I dropped out after three
or four months because I lacked the discipline to consistently do the
homework, and couldn't bear his disappoint when I
arrived unprepared for my lesson. Almost a year later, I had
notions of playing the saxophone and approached my uncle Henry
Matthews, who was a professional jazz clarinetist and
saxophonist. The saxophone didn't work out for me, but the
experience did renew my love for the guitar and uncle Henry
arranged for me to return to Frank Quinn's school and for Frank
himself to teach me.
Frank Quinn was a jazz player in the Wes Montgomery style. He
was a lefty who played a right-hand-strung guitar left handed,
or a right-hand-strung guitar right handed, or a
left-hand-strung guitar left handed. Once I got over the
confusion caused by his switching guitars several times during a
lesson, I spent several months working
my way through 'A Modern Method For Guitar, Volume 1' by William
Leavitt, and other guitar etude books issued by Berklee Press. Once I
reached the end of Volume 1, I felt I needed a rest and stopped
At different times over the years, I've taught many aspiring
guitarists. I love to share my experiences and help people
become better players. My rates are very reasonable. Anyone in
the Qualicum Beach area seeking instruction can
I consider myself a musician first, and a guitarist second. Not
that I'm a great musician or anything, but my allegiance is to
the music, not to my guitar playing. I greatly prefer making a
good piece of music over playing a good solo. Having said that,
I have spent a lot of time listening to (and soaring with) some
really good players.
I love many forms of music. I enjoy playing jazz, rock, folk,
bluegrass, alternative, blues, gypsy swing, reggae, and world
music. I hear beauty in almost everything and I'm constantly
seeking out new, fresh sources of sounds to challenge and inspire me.
I believe that music comes from the heart and that it is
intensely personal, that there are as many valid unique
reactions to a same piece of music as there are listeners.
The first two albums I bought (at age 13) were The Beatles
Rubber Soul and Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits. Those were the first
major influences on me. Soon afterwards, through my friends'
influence came Chicago, Joe Pass,
Steely Dan, Yes, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and James Taylor. Then
over the years, I've discovered and have been influenced by Pat Metheny, Frank Zappa,
Django Reinhardt, King Crimson, The Allman Brothers Band, Oscar Peterson, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, King Sunny
Led Zeppelin, David Grisman, Benny Goodman, Sade, Santana,
Terrence Blanchard, Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, Paul Desmond, Ellen McIlwaine,
Brian Setzer, Roland Kirk, Bob Marley, Simon & Garfunkel, John Coltrane, Juanjo Dominguez,
Jesse Colin Young, Duke
Ellington, Vince Guaraldi, The Eagles, Lenny Breau,
Eva Cassidy, Bruce Guthro, Charlie Parker, Lynn Miles,
Thelonious Monk, Patty Griffin, The Police, Kenny Burrell, Franz