Monday, February 15, 1993

Jay McShann

Montreal Bistro. Saw Jay McShann, the Kansas City piano pioneer – now in his 70’s playing in the Montreal Bistro with Jim Galloway and bassist Neil Swainson. Jay would be playing along and right in the middle of something he would just stop and listen to the bass – and the bass always found something interesting to say. At one point, a small sheet of music kept flying off as he played some barrelhouse boogie woogie and he would always catch it with his left hand and you never heard the slightest difference because he incorporated the lack of a left hand into what he was playing on his right hand so transparently and instinctively – it all seemed like part of the song – one time the sheet just wouldn’t stay put so he had to replace it two or three times and did it with a slightly comedic effect (although it was more like he saw the humour in the whole thing but he wasn’t about to let on). I was standing at the back of the club talking to Rosemary Galloway and he came up and said hello to her – she knew to talk loud into his left ear.

Wednesday, February 10, 1993

Dance Hall Girls

The Black Swan. Dropped in to the Wednesday Night Jam after catching an early set of Michael Katz at a yuppie bar with a ceiling covered with stained glass lamps. They were hanging so close together that they had to be staggered so they wouldn’t knock each other. Imagine sitting there and listening to some stranger singing “Dance Hall Girls”. I can remember the day I came home from work and Allan played me the song “Look what I just wrote” and when was that? 1968? Anyway, they played the song on Gzowski and Allan got two calls to turn it on. Now I’ve got a tape to send him because the song is on Katz’s independent cassette (which he kept trying to sell me – he says it cost him $25,000 – but he finally gave me one to send to Allan. I just listened – he’s got “If I Were a Carpenter” on there too. Folk music lives. While in that club I approached John Punter, a producer friend of Michael’s who lived in England and produced Roxy Music and others. I mentioned that I knew this organization called Operation Go Home that helps runaways get back home – and that I had a perfect song that could be recorded by the group we had heard the week before at the Horseshoe – they were called “The Blame” and I’m sure they could cover my tune “Runaway”. So I’ve got to get him a tape.

Friday, February 5, 1993

The Ultrasound

Ultrasound was a real showcase room on Queen Street West. It was owned by the group that included Marcus O'Hara and Dan Aykroyd. Sandra Tooze took some time out from working on her biography of Muddy Waters to take me out to see Chris Duarte, the next “Stevie Ray” direct from Austin, Texas. He was a great guitar player, but somehow there was something missing. I guess his original material wasn’t strong enough – but he might just end up being the next “Jimi”. He sure had the girls swooning.