The reason all of us in the band play is because we are hopelessly in love with music. Doesn’t matter the venue, doesn’t matter how time passes, we just keep dragging our equipment around, setting up, plugging in, and enjoying ourselves.
I met Scott Bruyea when he joined the First Friday Soul Singers - a wonderful moving feast of characters who gather at our house every other week to sing. Scott mentioned he was a drummer, and when the opportunity presented itself he came into the studio to show me what he could do. He has been playing on all my sessions ever since. Besides being a first rate drummer, Scott possesses endless enthusiasm and good cheer. It is always a pleasure to be in his company.
Bob Hewus has always been willing to criticize my playing. At first, I was a bit taken back by this tendency - which says something about my own stumbling block of arrogance, and Bob's desire to bring music to its highest level. But I admit that his comments have helped my playing, not to mention my character. We play together a lot, often as a jazz duo. It's uncanny how he can anticipate what I will do, seemingly before it happens. Bob is an honourable man, a genuine friend loved not only by Candice and myself, but by all the creatures around the house upon whom he lavishes attention and treats.
Steve Kennedy was a big name to me when I first broke into studio playing in Toronto. He seemed to have worked with everyone, played all the best spots, knew all the most talented musicians. He was kind to me then, and I have never forgotten that. As I have had the pleasure of spending more time with Steve in the last number of years, I have come to know a soul of deep goodness, endlessly supportive, and yes, still kind to me. He is the most 'soulful' player I know of, every note comes from his core, and it is a beautiful centre indeed.
I have known Eric Mahar for a long time. We did some recordings together back in the days when I was doing a lot of television scoring and Eric was a studio musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing electric and acoustic guitars, accordion, piano, blues harp, fiddle, clarinet, and mandolin, though his guitar work has always impressed me the most. He has the unnerving ability to keep a solo right on the edge for long periods of time. A wonderful performer, with a gentle sense of humour, he is also a gifted teacher for those lucky enough to spend time with him. In the end, I wonder that this is not the highest of callings.
Larry Kurtz is utterly fearless when it comes to playing in the blues tradition. He hears a song, picks up his blues harp and knows exactly what to play. I think this wonderful confidence emerges from his deep love of music and his truly good heart - not to mention some seriously good chops. Larry also has an abiding passion for promoting music, which led him to create the highly successful Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival, now in its 11th year. If you are in Ontario the first month of June, its the place to be. And if you're lucky, at sometime during the weekend, you will find Larry putting aside his promoter/organizer hat, and singing and playing his heart out. It's worth the trip to Orangeville.
George Semkiw scared me when I first met him. He was recording on a big Neve desk that he had helped design. He was the leader of a band with a hit record and the first call engineer for many. And he had great sunglasses. He was totally cool then, and still is today. We became great friends. George possesses two key qualities for a good engineer - great ears and lots of patience. He, like all the rest of the band, loves music, loves the music business, and has had the good fortune to have lived and worked in it all his life. This record is George's kind of music. The album sounds like him, which pleases me immensely.