Saturday, April 7, 2018

Jason Buie Fundraiser Toronto 2018

When west-coast bluesician Jason Buie died suddenly last week, few folks in the Toronto Blues community had ever heard him though he was a pillar of the blues community in BC. He stuck to the west coast and had given up touring a few years back in order to raise his twins as a single parent. But when he came to town for the Maple Blues Awards in January, we all had a great first impression of Jason. He touched everyone he met and gave a memorable acceptance speech when he received the Maple Blues Award for "New Artist of the Year."

Jason was hardly a "new artist" (he had been playing for 35 years) but he was new to us and a bunch of Toronto musicians jumped in to raise some funds to help out his kids. The Toronto Blues Society set up a GoFundMe campaign  (donate here) and Gary Kendall volunteered to organize the music - and he must have spent all week on this project.

My connection with Jason came about because someone had put up a Facebook post offering an internet stream of the Maple Blues Awards gala but in fact it was a scam, a common one, and Jason was the one to discover it when relative of his was victimized.  I had to talk to him about that which morphed into a discussion about whose Fender Strat was the most beat-up (distressed).  Funny, I ended up having a similar discussion with Dan McKinnon at the fundraiser...

Drummer Al "Baby" Webster, who was a bandmate & roommate of Jason's in BC had brought him to Toronto a while back and introduced him to Jeff Healey, who was one of Jason's guitar heroes.  Later when Jeff made his way out west, they would get together and became fast friends.

The Fundraiser has raised over 2K for his kids and it was great to be hanging around with a bunch of my peers, though I think once again I was the oldest person at the band table where we gathered after the sound check. We were offered a complimentary dinner - and dinner at Hugh's Room is something most musicians can't afford, but tonight it was "on the house." I went for the steak - the most expensive item on the menu (as Gary Kendall pointed out to me), but it's the only thing left on the menu that I hadn't tried. I was disappointed in the salmon last time so here was my chance to try the steak (and it was good).

It was great sitting around that table as the "old-timers", Gary, Terry Wilkins & Bucky Berger and Lance Anderson told stories of the glory days to the next generation of blues players (in Quebec, we call them "la releve" (the ones who will take over). As I was eating my steak, I was reminded that a steak dinner (and a trip to Montreal) was what I received as payment for my first professional recording session .  "Les Marionettes" with Le Trio BAK on Disques Match (1963).  Recorded at RCA Studios on a 3-track Ampex (that was the most tracks available at the time). And here I am, at the "sunset" of my career and I'm back playing for a steak dinner again - but this time for a worthy cause.