A couple of years later I was featured in a spread about the exciting Vancouver “underground” scene in Miss Chatelaine by entertainment journalist Dona Sturmanis. This was my first national print coverage.
I also got a very detailed rejection letter from CBC Television that year which made special mention of my crooked face, which apparently made me unfit for TV…
In 1977 life took another unexpected turn when I took off on a cross-country adventure with a new love, making it as far as Montreal for a gig at the legendary Yellow Door coffeehouse before coming back to BC and settling in Kaslo, BC, a sweet little old mining town on the north arm of Kootenay Lake. We lived for the next year or so in a tumbledown log cabin with no electricity or running water. Bliss!
I picked up a jazz guitar instruction book by Mickey Baker, and set about learning some serious chords by the wood stove during the long winter days when the cabin was snowed in. Those chords sure came in handy later on.
One of the high points of my time in Kaslo was when Bruce Cockburn came to town and parked his camper in the driveway on one of his first visits to BC. His concert was amazing, and I still have the café napkin he used to write out the chords to “Barrelhouse.”
I met some great musicians in Alberta while hanging out there, and played the Bow River Faire in Calgary with a pickup band called The Backline Orchestra, a collection of fine musicians including Ron Casat, Bill Eaglesham, and Gary Bird.
Around this time I also met Gaye Delorme for the first time. Gaye was a legendary guitar player, songwriter, and raconteur who never failed to make everyone around him collapse in a fit of the giggles with his nonstop silliness. Years later we wound up doing a session on my song Radio Ethiopia for the CBC Talent Development program. Lucky me!
I also wound up gigging quite a bit in Banff and Lake Louise in the off season thanks to a chance meeting with Chuck Tracy. Chuck was a Fats Waller nut and a wonderful human being who taught me a lot about life and the guitar and the value of great tunes. His theme songs were Truckin’ and Ain’t Misbehavin’, and I had grown up with all those old 78s, so we had that (and the same sardonic sense of humour) in common.
Being on the road with Chuck in his ramshackle wreck of a station wagon, with its overflowing ashtray and worn-out cassette deck, was something I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Chuck left the planet a few years later, but he sure packed a heck of a lot of living into his short life. (Ron and Gaye are both gone now too, but we reckon they’re all up there in muso heaven jamming with the greats.)
Meanwhile back in Kaslo I played at the Village Green, a fabulous hippie cafe run by Michael Guthrie, who instigated a lot of great concerts and the restoration of the historic Langham Theatre.
We had great times with Mike and his family, hanging out around the cowboy fire, exploring the back roads in his vintage milk truck and playing a lot of music together in a little band called Tuxedo Junction. Good times!