I've been performing ever since I shared the stage with my sisters. We performed at my parent's parties. My mother would say, "Do a dance, sing a song, show your bum or oot ye gang". As far as I can remember no one showed their bum.
My first instrument is the banjo. I do, however, enjoy the fiddle, guitar and most recently the double bass. I've always loved to sing.
I am very proud to be involved in the creation of the "Old Time Country Dance", now "Vancouver Country Dance", almost 30 years on.
I have enjoyed performing with Joe & Peter Vellinga, the Oolichans, the Canadian Heritage Review, Frank Metcalf, No Mean Feet, Tête à Tête, the Richtones, and other musical friends.
“If everyone played the same, we'd only need one fiddler.” Melvin Wine, 1909 - 2003
Heading up to our tent in the Ontario woods, we were always singing in the car. I was the fourth kid to arrive into the family, so guess which harmony was left. My mother tended to get us out of bed in the morning by singing something silly: “Wakie, wakie, tea and cakie” (shoes tumbling affectionately toward her); Mom and Dad knew tons of songs: the silly and the romantic war time songs, the swing songs, and they crooned beautifully together. All of us were subjected to piano lessons as kids, and (probably since we were more likely to be playing street hockey and climbing trees than be indoors practicing) a $50 scholarship was set for any who achieved the Grade 8 Royal Conservatory exam. I got close, but none of us won it. When I moved to Vancouver, I picked up guitar and flute and found a community of people who wanted to play music—good luck, great parties. I know and love those people still. They are all over town, making music, making things happen. Some of them are in the band.
To also be composed ...
I grew up in a musical family. Both my grandfather and his son, my dad, were banjo players. Mom played the piano.
I've performed in folk groups since my university days in Ottawa when I was a member of the "What Four," a quartet whose tight harmonies once scored us a three-province "station wagon summer tour" with gigs in Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Regina - most of those gigs in pizza joints. Then, with "The Celts," an Irish/Scottish folk group which eventually appeared on Oscar Brand's "Let's Sing Out" television show and at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario, I spent a couple of years touring the Ottawa Valley and recording in Montreal, and we even acted as Liam Clancy's back-up band when Liam came over to tour the valley.
Later, shortly before I headed west, I formed "Road Apple" a band which performed in and around Ottawa and out in the valley. In BC, I changed the band name to "Road Apple Pie" when we added Dave Lidstone on guitar and Dave Halley on banjo and with Jane Davidson on fiddle, we were invited to appear in Vancouver's very first folk festival in Stanley Park. Around about then I wrote "I Only Sing When I Want To," an autobiographical song that celebrates my discovery of "beautiful British Columbia," and declares however ungrammatically how I feel about singing and playing music.
Anyway, it wasn't long before I was next playing the mandolin in "The Eleventh Hour Band," a bluegrass group which appeared regularly at the Coombs festival and at pubs in Whistler and Squamish and throughout the Fraser Valley. My favourite gig with "Eleventh Hour" was at the "Cultch" (the Vancouver East Cultural Centre) when we warmed up For Doc and Merle Watson.
Otherwise, I've been a member of Erratica since time began.