Words

Colorado Bound 

Many Saturday afternoons ago in my ever-changing little music studio in Tokyo. Brit Ofstedal on mandolin and Triston McMillan on banjo. We had so much fun making this video as you may notice. There were three different cameras going and when I tried to put it all together and sync it with the music it was a bloody nightmare. No comment about the video quality… The song had its seed at a party at the Mcmillan’s; there were a number of musicians there with various instruments and I remember just fiddling with this really easy chord progression and melody on the couch. I think someone kept hitting a percussion instrument over and over on the ‘one’ and because it was a party there was a lot of noise and as we were playing, the chorus just kept coming out and that’s basically all we sang, and the majority of the song was finished later. Credit to TM for the ‘Rocky Mountain High…’ part; that’s his. When I crafted the lyrics, they were based around very good friends Brad White and Rachael White, who were soon heading back home to the US from Tokyo, but not necessarily to Colorado, and now that I think of it, maybe that’s who the party was for.

Drummer's gut 

Drummer’s Gut. Behind-the-scenes look at the loneliness of the drummer, way at the back. Spontaneous set up of camera so had no idea about ensuing distortion level. Very little acknowledgment of drummers usually, though except possibly a Kilkenny or two after the set, which is often acceptable, when you tell someone at the bar ‘I’m the drummer in the band’. A gig at What The Dickens Ebisu Tokyo Japan a number of years back with another great Woad Wocket line up of band members. Bonus points if anyone can name the song! T-shirt: courtesy George from Ireland.

Midnight Rider 

Not too many summers ago, @Triston Mcmillan and fam came for a visit to the Nicholson cottage in southern Ontario. T and I had only so much time to get some recording/jamming/videoing time in.  Here we are in the ‘boathouse’ (boathouse in single quotes because it doesn’t store a boat anymore, plus it’s nowhere near the water, so, though it did store a boat at one point, it really shouldn’t be called a boathouse.  But. it. still. is.) on Lower Beverley Lake.  Triston brought the song:  “We’re doing this.”  And man, did he pick it.  Listen carefully to the musicality he brings to the vocals/guitar. WINNING!  Done in two takes.  In the back of my mind I was also thinking of other possibilities- get the 60’ Pontiac Strato Chief in there…the G.I. Joe with Life-Like-Hair…beer fridge w. Japanese posters I brought back ‘home’ …raw acoustics of the ‘boathouse’…those school buses!  Don’t jump ahead, you’ll miss a Michigan twirl, and Professor Pounder (inside joke) …

In the old days, if a friend came by to ‘jam’, that’s what we would do - bring guitars and play- beers and jam.  There wouldn’t be any other goals like audio recording and especially none of that recording/video nonsense.  These days, I love the creativity of all of it!  Look at what was captured.

The audio was recorded on my trusty Zoom R-16 and I had a ton of fun mixing it in the fall of that year, back in Tokyo. Editing the video was way more fun taking out the ‘bloopers’. Trivia: Spot the shout-out to Gord Downie, as it was later that same summer @The Tragically Hip played their last concert in Kingston, which gives it a nice time stamp.  

When I Build My Boat 

When I Build My Boat.  The song took me forever to write.  Some songs come quickly-fairly and some medium-quickly, but not this one.  I got a glimpse of it when I lived in Liberia, Costa Rica in 1989.  I was in such a headspace then that it couldn’t help but be inspired.  I wanted to write something like Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Wondering Where The Lions Are’; especially with that kind of finger picking…and it began.  Much more came a year later in my first few years in Ibaraki, especially the lyrics and then demo after demo after demo. I was never satisfied.  I wanted a MASTERPIECE.  I created way too much work for myself as I envisioned myself to play guitar parts beyond my capability, wanted the lyrics to be perfect, and expected the mixed results to sound 10/10 while I twiddled on my Yamaha 4 track cassette recorder. (Trivia:  I changed a second guitar part after hearing Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi’s song ‘JEEP’ while shopping at a video rental store in Ishioka; I stole the style and panned it hard right).  I was dismayed when a friend, after playing him an early demo in my cassette player in my Honda Today (yes I had a Honda Today) asked, ‘how many times are you going to repeat ‘when I build my boat’?  I cut about a minute of it out, then kicked him out…I continued to fudge with it throughout the 90’s, then finally put the song to rest on my album, BANG!  Jerry, the guy who mixed the album in Toronto, plays a nice heavy bass and also convinced me to play Congos on it.  Most recently, another friend who knew me back in the Ibaraki days (now in Vancouver) commented ‘you can’t say “friendly natives” anymore.  You better change it.’  Maybe this song is destined to never be finished….just like building a boat? …(yes, the tin drums at the end are my favorite part now)

Bragging rights 

My song ‘Hockey’ is featured in the opening slot for a National CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.  I was over the moon, but, unfortunately I was in Tokyo when it was on, so I missed it.  The fact that it followed a TIM HORTON’S commercial made it all the more sweeter…

Can anyone date the song, based on the news snippets? 

Mighty Good 

My song “Mighty Good”.  Filmed in the mighty month of March in Tokyo.  The guitar/singing/strolling part of the video was shot directly in front of my place in two takes.  Jake and Kimiko walked backwards like pros (Jake on camera, Kimiko holding up audio of the song so I could lip-sync). It was a stumbling experience for us all because sometimes I walked too fast, forgot the lyrics/chords and just moved my lips, and wondered what neighbors were peeking out the window…I think Jake was thinking just what the heck are we doing here?  When the bike rider rode by near the very end I thought to myself, dam, we're gonna have to do that all again, but now that's my favorite part!  We were basically done shooting in about 10 minutes outside; I weaved in the rest of the stuff later that afternoon. Looking back I can see a red splotch on my nose which was the result of frostbite I got on a solo Super Cub camp in Doshi the week before.

Busking in Japan 

I took my guitar out to a nearby 7-Eleven here in Tokyo and played Take it Easy by the Eagles.  I wanted to try my hand at busking in Japan!  No one seemed impressed, at all.  In fact, they treated me like I was some kind of ghost!   Completely ignored!  I didn't think I was that bad.  Maybe it was the bare feet?  But seriously, I'll never forget the days when I first started busking on Water street in downtown St. John's, Newfoundland.  I was nervous as hell and didn't really know what I was doing so I just went for it.  Later I realized I only needed about 5 or 6 really good sing along songs - because most people just stayed to listen to one or two and then move on.  I also noticed that I shouldn't have too much- or too little- money (float) in the open guitar case, so I would stuff it into my backpack, which I wore to keep it all safe.  The first night I went home I was thinking, damn, just coins.  But when I lined all the quarters up into dollars…there was 450 dollars right there on the carpet for about 3 hours of work.  I was over the moon.

I Left Hockey for Rock and Roll  

Grade 9 and 10, in Regina, Saskatchewan, was a turning point for me.  My dream to play in the NHL morphed into rocking it on the skins with AJAL.   Then I wanted to play in the NHL again. Here is a pic with band-mates Jason Gervais, Jerry Schellenberg, and Danny Ferguson.  I think someone knew someone at the movie theatre who let us sneak the letters up on the sign for about an hour!  Now I'm curious what movie name was up there at the time!


I LEFT HOCKEY FOR ROCK AND ROLL
my dream in high school
was with the band
when my pearl drums
beat out my playoff plans
i used to play peewee
but i got hurt
then i heard 'tom sawyer'
and became neil peart
i left hockey for rock and roll...
it wasn't because i was a nerd
it wasn't because my team
kept on comin' in third
it wasn't because i wasn't a jock
it was all because of johann sebastian bach
i left hockey for rock and roll...
my dream in high school
was in the band
but now i take a slapshot every chance i can
cause i left hockey for rock and roll
but i came back
whattya think about that, dad?
i play hockey and rock and roll
it's good for my soul
it's good for my soul...