Strangers in the Night 8

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April Wine Set List
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John Shahar
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Shahar and Tripano
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Me and Pete Marier – The Beat
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Me and Pat Kerton – Part owner;Cunninghams Pub

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Miss Teen Canada and Rick Keene

Photos property of Rick Keene ©
And Lehomardclubhotography

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Jim Henman – The Man who Placed Myles Goodwyn in April Wine

If you want to make it as a Canadian rock star – Upper Canada Village is the place to be …

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At least that was what April Wine co – founder Jim Henman thought in 1969.

” I do recall wanting to quit university and approaching my cousin David with the idea of starting a band and try to make it.” Says Jim from his home in Nova Scotia.” David came up with the name and asked me to try to bring Myles Goodwyn on board.”

He continues.

“I went to Antigonish where Myles was living at that time and told him our plan. I thought he might want to join but I was not sure until about a week or so later.”

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Seven days later, Myles did join and April Wine was born. It marked the second time Jim Henman and Goodwyn played together. The duo were once part of a group named Woodies Termites between the years 1965 – 67. It was in that band, Jim and Myles wrote  songs together for the first time. It was not the first time for Jim however.

“I had been writing songs since I was 12 or 13.” Says Jim. “I don’t know when Myles started but we both wrote for our old band and we collaborated with one of the other members … ” He continues. “I still have that tune on tape. It reminds me of the Animals’ sound.”

It was around that same time when Myles wrote “You Won’t Dance With Me” – a hit for April Wine later on.

Jim Henman grew up a bIg fan of country music and the blues. All types of blues …

“In the 50s, I was listening to country on the radio. Jimmy Rogers and the Singing Brakeman, which was white country blues from the 20’s and early 30’s. In the 60’s – I was mystified by the McCartney / Lennon and Richards / Jagger compositions. I lalso enjoyed the Loving Spoonful and especially John Sebastian’s writing.”

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As the 70’s commenced, Jim discovered the likes of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Young and Arlo Guthrie. He also uncovered some real blues from the 20s and 30s. As the 70’s commenced, Jim also discovered the bad side of music …

” I was very attracted to the dark side of rock and roll life … the destructive side. It was dangerous for me and I developed problems very young. I really was not serious about having a “career” as a working musician nor did I have the first clue on how to do it. The party side and a poor work ethic worked well together. After 2 years of that I was lost, depressed and confused. The only way to fix everything was a job and geographical change.”

After stints playing in three bands – Prism, Termites and Wine, Jim left the music business and went into Medical Laboratory work, the furthest thing from songwriting. After all these years, he holds Myles Goodwyn in very high esteem.

“I respect what Myles has done with his talent.” Says the father of two full grown children. “He lived his dream and did it well. If I had stayed I would have died. I have no regrets about leaving.”

Jim Henman married in 1977 and has lived near Martinique Beach on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia since 2001. He is very close to his cousins David and Ritchie. He also was close to the late Jimmy Clench, the bass player who took his place in April Wine. Wine’s former drummer, Jerry Mercer, is also a close friend since 1970 and Jim has known Brian Greenway since 1977.

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Henman, since 1990 – has stayed with old blues as his music of choice. The Delta and Piedmont styles mostly. He played bass out of necessity in the old days and was a self- taught and simple player. Over the years, he has played bass in studio sessions and with a few small dance bands but sees the acoustic guitar as his instrument now.

Henman’s proudest musical moments have come more in the past twenty years. More specifically – his proudest songwriting moments.

I wrote a song called “I Will Get Over You” for Jeannie Beks CD “More Than My Share ” in 1992. “Journey”, a tune from the Musical I co-wrote in 1999 called “Death The Musical ” which has gone on to take on a life of it’s own.”Down’s Really Up” which I co-wrote for the Special Olympics, and “Starting Today ” a tune that was a single released in 2008 for a local band here in Halifax. I have a few of my own compositions on my new CD which are simple but I like them melodically and lyrically.”

“Say Hello” and “Just Between You And Me” are two of Jim’s favourite Myles Goodwyn songs and he is very good friends with Myles. The two are close to being the Canadian version of Jagger and Richards in terms of longevity. Myles and Jim met at the age of fifteen. The only other Canadian artists with a long span are Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush along with Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings from the Guess Who.

“I once challenged Burton Cummings to an arm wrestle while I was drunk.” Adds Jim. ” I lost …”

Myles, according to Jim was supposed to play on his recent cd; “Same old Feeling”.Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned. The pair of “Woodies Termites” exchange emails, phonecalls and visit after shows whenever they can.

If only they could meet in Upper Canada Village. That would be poetic, just like writing a song.

“Just between Jim and Myles” …

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Please visit Jim’s site. jimhenman.com

The CD; Same Old Feeling is available at iTunes and through Busted Flat Records

Photos courtesy of Jim and David Henman

David Henman; The Man behind the Wine – Part Two

David Henman, despite having a non – household name and not being known as a ‘star’ in the music world; is a very prolific  songwriter.

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David - Age 12

Commencing with April Wine, where all of the members ( except Ritchie ) were excited about the songwriting process, David has been penning tunes for over four decades.

‘Drop your Guns’ was his first commercially successful song. It was included on April Wine’s second disc; On Record. That song remains a staple to this day during an April Wine concert. A song which remains close to Henman’s heart.

“As a victim of bullying when I was very young, I came to abhor all forms of violence at an early age. “Drop your guns” was an expression of that anti-violence mentality, which has become a huge part of my philosophy. I wrote both the music, which was inspired by a band called Humble Pie, and the lyrics. The song was a top forty hit in Canada, but wasn’t released in the USA for fear that it might be perceived as an anti-Vietnam war protest song. Duh! The song seems to have a message that resonates with people and continues to resonate decade after decade. I know this because, roughly six months after events like Columbine, 9-11 and the war on Iraq, my royalties for the song take a sharp spike upwards.”

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April Wine

Another song Henman wrote with April Wine which instills pride in the songwriter is also included on Wine’s second album. The track was inspired by a book Henman read at the time. Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf and particularly the line ‘ for madmen only’ is the reason for the song ‘Refuge.’

“Songwriting is a curse.” Says David attempting to explain a life- long habit. “It’s an addiction. An obsession going back to the early days of April Wine. I was very anti-commercial. I thought pop music was all bubblegum, the lowest common denominator and all that. When Myles wrote “Fast Train” and it became a hit, I thought;’Hey! I can do that!’ Now – it is forty plus years later and I am still trying.”

Henman’s artillery of tunes is vast. The guitarist has or continues to write in many different genres …

“Over the years, my influences have accumulated, so you will hear elements of old rock, classic rock, heavy rock, country, folk, celtic, latin, world and even dance in my writing.”

Henman may have referred to Goodwyn’s ‘Fast Train’ as a symbol for something he attempted to strive for yet that does not mean the Nova Scotia – born singer has ever written for the FM or AM airwaves …

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“I don’t consciously write for radio. Every song I write starts out innocently enough yet if a song I write does seem to me to be radio-friendly, I try to at least not get in it’s way.” David continues. “I have written a lot of songs. Some great. Some not so great. The proof is in the recording in regards to it’s commercial potential.”

In addition to writing songs, a huge part of David’s focus is on recording them in a way that make people want to listen.

Listening is what people from David’s generation did well. He was a young man at the start of the 1960’s, an era which introduced the world to the British Invasion and the birth of one of the most enduring periods in rock n roll …

Although Henman realizes he grew up in a wonderful time – music wise, he does not agree the music today is not as good as his generation.

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Silver

“I steadfastly refuse to fall into that idiotic trap of claiming that the music of my generation is superior to the music of the current generation. This happens in virtually every generation. I clearly recall my parents’ generation, back in the fifties, whining that the music I loved was garbage.”

Henman continues.

“That’s not music, that’s just noise!’ Then they would say the music of THEIR generation was all about quality; melody, lyrics, proper singing etc.”

“Before I was a teenager, I vowed I would never be that ignorant, that closed-minded.” Henman goes on.” Yet, that is precisely what happend to my own generation. I find myself virtually inundated by people my age, and younger – much younger, whining about ‘kids today’ and the music they listen to. I have only one thing to say to those people: get over yourself!”

David also realizes the record business is no longer what it once was. He believes there is ‘good and bad’ in the changes.

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The David Henman Band

“The music industry I once knew and loved seems to have choked on its own greed. On the downside, music – especially live music, has been devalued. People no longer believe they should have to pay to own it. On the plus side, with no music industry to speak of and the advent of the global internet, we now have the potential to reach millions of people on our own initiative.”

David has released two CDs lately to ‘reach people’ and believes all his previous records with his older bands have been discontinued ( April Wine excluded) The two current ones are titled; The David Henman Band and Long Ride Home. The single ‘ Long Ride Home’ will be distributed to country radio in September.

David Henman is not playing live very much these days yet when he does – it is usually with his partner Rose. Instead, his concentration lies on writing and recording new material.

In search of his very own; ‘Fast Train’ …

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*Ritchie Henman lives in Dorval,Qc with his wife and is not currently active in music.

*Jim Henman resides in Nova Scotia and has just released a new cd titled ‘Same Old Feeling’ . A cd which David Henman believes will be a classic.

*Jim Clench passed away in 2010 from lung cancer.

*Brian Greenway resides in St.Lazare is still playing guitar for April Wine.

*Myles Goodwyn remains the leader of April Wine and resides in St.Lazare as well.

David Henman can be reached through his website; http://www.davidhenman.com/

Photos courtesy of David Henman

David Henman; The Man Behind the Wine – Part One

Once upon a time …

In a galaxy far, far away from iPods.

Two cousins sat down in the Old Mill Tavern in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The year was 1969. They ordered a pitcher of beer and complained of the lack of momentum their music had gathered.

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They thought of putting a new group together. A band which would consist of the brother of one of the beer drinkers on drums and the other; a former member of the other ale quaffer’s band.

They ‘stole’ the singer / guitarist away from his band in Cape Breton, started rehearsing in one of their parents’ basements in Sackville and – just like that, one of Canada’s most successful rock bands were born …

The men in question were David Henman on guitars and vocals, Ritchie Henman on drums, Jim Henman on bass and Myles Goodwyn on vocals and guitars. The name of the band …?

April Wine

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” Myles agreed to join us, and we had planned to start out as a cover band. That all changed the moment Myles played us a couple of songs he wrote.” Says David Henman. “All of us have slightly different memories of how we formed but these are the basic facts.”

According to David ; Myles, long known as the leader and principle songwriter of April Wine, took control from the beginning in the songwriting department.

“He very quickly established himself as the most gifted and most driven musician and songwriter in the group. No one questioned that fact.”

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April Wine hosted a lot of their own shows in the early days and one of the very first gigs Henman remembers was for a theatre group. The band had became involved with the actors at the Neptune Theatre and wrote music for a 13th (?) century play called; “The Lion in Winter.”

Aside from particular items like the above, Henman’s memories of the first four years of the group are vague. He does remember being obsessed with writing songs and recalls why he and Myles were worlds apart in their songwriting ideas.

” Myles was more commercially – oriented and I was more experimental.” States Henman on the two very different approaches to songwriting.”I was also into music like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa while Myles was into r and b and blues.”

Goodwyn’s technique is apparent from the start of Wine’s career. ‘Fast Train‘ was one of the first songs Myles wrote and evolved into the band’s first hit. A song which to this date – remains David’s all time favourite April Wine song.

A fast train was what April Wine was now on in the music business. The year was 1970 and things were going quicky …

“We signed with Terry Flood management and Aquarius records.” Says David . “We recorded our first album; ‘April Wine’, with Bill Hill producing. The second one – ‘On Record’, was produced by Ralph Murphy and it marked the first without my cousin.”

Jim Henman, one of the founding members – left and was replaced by Jim Clench.

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As the band were recording their third album; ‘Electric Jewels‘ – David and Ritchie left the band in a mutually – decided split.Myles was now the last original member when he and Clench decided to keep the band going …

“I was invited to join a reformed April Wine but my brother wasn’t.” Says David . “Ritchie and I have always been pretty loyal to each other, so I decided to abstain”. All these years later, David Henman has no regrets for his decision to not rejoin the band just before they hit it big.

“No. No regrets. I was young and given to temptation. My sense is that I ‘d have ended up a casualty ( of rock ).” Declares David.

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Despite the split, David and Ritchie have kept in touch over the years with Myles. David says they are, in many respects – a family.

” I have been a fan and an admirer of Myles Goodwyn from day one. We often run into each other and these past couple of years he has invited me to join the band on stage.” An offer which Henman took with a smile.

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Ritchie and David Henman’s departure from one of the-soon-to-be iconic Canadian Rock Bands did not dissuade the duo from carrying on.

The brothers formed a band named ‘Silver’ following their departure and the band played constantly for a couple of years. The music was a mixture of covers and David Henman originals. Once that music formation ran it’s course, the brothers discovered themselves playing with a familiar name to April Wine fans;

‘All the Young Dudes’, the brother’s new band which performed all originals during it’s year of existence, featured Bob Segarini and a young guitar player named Brian Greenway ( Brian eventually landed with April Wine in 1977 and remains to this day).

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In 1976, David then struck out on his own with ‘The Debutantes’.

Between then and now – bands with names like; ‘Sensible Shoes’,’ Dancer’ and ‘The Business’ came and went.

Finally, in 2003, David Henman starting recording and playing under his own name. Something he continues to do in his basement studio in Bolton, Ontario.

In a galaxy far,far away from turntables!

Please stay tuned for part two and more of Henman’s story ….

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Photos courtesy of David Henman

Just Between Jerry Mercer and Me

It may have been a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Do the days of the week matter when the phone rings and a Canadian rock legend is waiting on the other end of the call? The bruises linger from the self – inflicted pinching that took place on my right arm as I took the receiver from my ex and spoke to April Wine’s drummer.

I arrived at Mr. Mercer’s home the following day. A greeting ensued at the front door of a beautiful house located a hop, skip and drum roll from the Cajun Blues restaurant. Jerry introduced me to his current wife and his son Sean. His daughter (the server), was also hanging around and her and I laughed quietly with the irony of the circumstances that joined us together in this ‘after hours’ club.

Once the formalities were completed and I was cultured to the fact that Jerry`s daughter was studying piano and the son – a drummer just like Dad , Jerry and I moved from the kitchen and carved a path to the den. The scenario became a video in my mind, a picturesque view of the waterfront took center stage through the bay windows.

 Fame

 “I have an office… Gold records on the wall … Just leave a message – maybe I’ll call …”

Whether or not Mr. Mercer has, “accountants pay for it all …” (more of the songs’ lyrics ),  is something I do not know. It was of no interest to me and frankly – none of my business . What I do know – Mr. Mercer did call me back. I stood there. 

The hair on the back of my neck and on top of my

head along with all the tiny ones that guarded my scrotum –  were standing on guard. Shivers traveled the length of my body. Overcome with nostalgia and the sheer magnitude of what lay before me, my knees developed a mind of their own and searched the floor.

Life ‘s been good so far …

Glints of sunlight recoiled off the yellow discs that adorned the walls. I was the victim. I lay dying on the desert floor in a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western as the golden vultures with the names ‘I like to Rock’, ‘Just Between You and   Me’ and ‘Roller’ encircled me.

    “If nervousness and anxiety were to be the ailments that killed me – a death on Jerry Mercer’s floor was not necessarily a bad thing ” I thought silently.

Jerry motioned towards the sofa and we sat.

The ( then ) sixty – one year old could sense the three-year-old schoolchild that currently invaded his couch and he immediately put my senses at ease. He asked about my children. As any parent is aware – there is not a disaster in the world that the idea of offspring dancing through your mind, like angels on a cloud – cannot heal.

“So where do we start?” Jerry asked in a kind way once my tales of tots were completed.

“I thought you would know … “I responded with a nervous laugh. I was not convinced this was the proper time to inform Mercer that this was indeed – my inaugural biographical interview.

Where does one start? At his birth? In his parents’ bedroom …? Should we get them on the phone? Who knew?

“Why don’t we start with how you became a drummer?”The words escaped my mouth and the resonance eased my novice-batting stance. I was ready to step to the plate. The pine tar tossed aside.

 The only interview I had done to this point was never published. I was not over – whelmed during that one and the fact that the majority of my questions were about the Rolling Stones – had everything to do with it.

Annie Liebowitz, the famed photographer, was in town with a collection of her photos. They (the photos), were on display at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and my journalistic mentor was kind enough to donate his press pass. He was well aware of my obsession with the ‘World’s Greatest Rock n Roll Band’ and Ms. Leibowitz had been the band’s official photographer for their historic 1972 and 1975   tour.

It is one thing to know a great deal about a subject and a completely different one when you are learning as you go. Not only that – with all due respect to Ms. Leibowitz,  she never ‘rocked my world’ with a ten minute drum solo’!

In the beginning …

Mercer began his tale as Yannique brought us refreshments. My borrowed tape recorder on full alert as the’ rocker’ informed me of his tribal beginnings in the art of percussion.

He started playing in a marching band when he was fourteen as an extracurricular activity. Once he completed school at Verdun high school, he commenced working at IBM and was set to indulge in a career with a growing company.Then, one afternoon, he heard something that altered his life and in the process – startled his parents.

  “I was listening to AM radio. My hit parade was the hip radio show back then . All of a sudden the Ray Charles’ song ‘What’d I Say ‘came on. I had never heard anything like it. I thought to myself ‘that cat has swing!’ I knew right then and there – I wanted to become a drummer!”

Mercer informed his parents of his decision and promptly quit his job to pursue music. His dad told him that it was like ‘jumping off a diving board into an empty pool ‘.Yet, in Jerry’s words; they were very supportive. ”They were Christian and very religious people. I could never have asked for a more loving environment to grow up in.”

Jerry then began his pursuit of all things music. He began studying all of the great drummers; Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Max Roach.

He would sneak into the Maurice Richard arena and crawl up on the catwalk to get a bird’s eye view of his idols as they came to town. High above – he would watch with precision as Krupa introduced his talents to Montreal. Buddy Rich would arrive the following week and make everyone’s (including Mercer) jaw drop to the concrete floor. The rafters were also the place that Mercer witnessed an up and coming talent ply his trade as an opening act for the Isley Brothers. It was a young Jimi Hendrix with Mitch Mitchell banging away on drums. Mitchell fast became another hero to the young Mercer.

“Music was much easier to get into back then.” Mercer continues.” You had four choices – Jazz, Pop, Rock or Country. These days there are so many different genres with each one having a sub – genre. I do not envy kids today. Even with all the advancements and the ability to self- record, it is such a difficult environment. “He goes on to say with a laugh.” Even the drugs today make it much scarier than my day.”

Mercer bought a small kit for fifty dollars that consisted of a snare, a high hat, a bass drum and one tom. He would play along to the songs he heard on the radio and whichever records he managed to purchase or get his hands on. He never learned to read music. He learned to play with the feel of the song and this prepared him for his first gigs. He met up and played with Trevor Payne and the Triangle.

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Thus began a long winding journey into the world of rock n roll that almost ended in suicide…

To be continued …

Just Between You and Me – Part Three and a Bit …

So there I was…

As I stood in front of a mahogany bar that was painted ever so slightly by the morning sunlight,  a smile appeared on my face. I had met some of my childhood idols, enjoyed a lustful evening of rock n roll and was pumped to enjoy a day of waitering. A few dollars in my pocket followed by an evening of blues … what was there not to be happy about !

One of the waitresses was behind the bar and preparing her station for the forthcoming events. Suddenly, the door which led from the bar to the adjacent terrace opened . With the sun and the maple boards as a backdrop – there stood a figure that was at once recognizable. A silhouette that graced hundreds of stages around the world. For the second time in less than twenty – four hours,  I was in the company of Mr. Jerry Mercer.

A Coincidental Coincidence

I had worked with this waitress for two months. I never knew her father was the drummer for April Wine. It was probably a good thing. If I had known – the poor girl would have had to endure many hours of questioning. Once I was done – the Spanish inquisition would have come across as a segment on a poor talk show.

Like a teenage boy receiving a glimpse of a girl’s underwear under a short skir,  I said hello to the icon with a huge smile on my face. Mercer recognized me from the previous evening and appeared equally amused to see me. He introduced me to his daughter (formally) and the pair let it be known that Jerry was dropping something off  the younger Mercer had forgotten. I told Jerry that I had thoroughly enjoyed the show and it was an immense pleasure to make his acquaitance for the second time. He thanked me,  kissed his daughter goodbye and was just about to make his exit – stage left , when a thought occurred to me.

I asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview.

Mr. Mercer replied in the same fashion as did Brian Greenway the night before.  ” Been there – done that ” was the sentiment the members of the band ( Myles excluded ) seemed to be riding –  full steam.

” Has anyone ever done a story about you ? ” I inquired with an inquiring mind.

” You know …” I continued. ” An interview about what makes Jerry tick outside of April Wine ? Your likes , dislikes etc…”

I was aware that I had the man ‘s curiosity by the neck. He stopped and stood for a moment. Save the smoke emitting from his ears – it was easy to tell the man was thinking….  Hard!

After a few minutes of trepidation – Jerry replied almost surprised. After all the years of playing with bands such as the Triangle, Mashmakhan, April Wine and the Buzz Band. All these seasons of playing with or around the likes of Trevor Payn ,  Roy Buchanan,  Janis Joplin, the Band,  the Grateful Dead and many more … Mr. Mercer realized that no one had ever sat down and spoke to him about his life experiences and his viewpoints.

I was to be the first and we made arrangements to meet the following week. 

To be continued …

Just Between You and Me

 Le ‘Set – Up ‘

Toting a box of beer up a flight of stairs on a Saturday morning led to an encounter that would shape the rest of my life. Who knew?

 

Ste Anne de Bellevue – In the Summertime…

I was toiling as a waiter in a restaurant named Cajun Blues. The establishment was the ‘outcast ‘among the several bars and restaurants situated in the picturesque town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC. The reason for the leper – like treatment? The business did not possess a terrace on the waterfront and that absence left a void in the town’s visitors as they arrived to eat.

Ste. Anne be Bellevue is a community that thrives on the promise of the summer sun. The view of the sun’s rays reflecting off waves rooted by the variations of ships and boats is an integral part of the town’s survival. The countless photo -ops are a welcome sight for the lunch and supper crowd that flock to the boardwalk. A ‘luxurious dock ‘ that lays nestled on the western – most tip of the Island of Montreal and remains an attractive location for families , lovers and loners. For some – a mixture of all three. If Mama Nature cooperates, the customers grin while money rains directly into the pocket books of the establishments’ owners. If the matriarch of green decides otherwise – the terraces are as vacant as the property owners’ gas tanks.

            Regardless of the Cajun Blues’lack of such a beautiful image, Saturday night at the eatery was jumping.  Aside from Cajun food staples such as

All Night Long …

Louisiana Mud Pie, Chicken Creole and Jambalaya – the singular item that enticed visitors to fill the clubs’ cozy atmosphere was an eclectic selection of live music.

As the stars and the moon danced high in the darkened sky – invited musicians orchestrated the pairs’ celestial moves with a catalogue of grooves both real and imagined.  Blues was on the dessert menu one evening while an additional soiree wound up crammed with the crisp sounds of a drummer – a ‘ cat ‘ as cool as a northern breeze keeping time among a trio of Jazz musicians as they delivered ‘ last  call ‘ to welcoming applause.

The subsequent week – Reggae was the ‘le soup du jour ‘. The clubs’ patrons would drain their ‘bowls ‘and in the process, fill up their palates with love and joy. Once the main course of unity was completed, the partiers made love to their drinks while the sweet sounds of Marley and Tosh provided a message of hope. The sort of memo that passed spontaneously throughout the crowd and a post – it note Mr.Marley would have permitted.

Rock – a – Bye – Muddy …

It was a unique three months for me as I spent evenings creating new friends and  mornings producing friendship with my two small children .Francesca Emerald Amanda and Owen David Randall remain the beneficiaries of a Father completed by his love for music. Not a day passed without their Dad cooing them to sleep. Lyrics penned by Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Louis Armstrong became our lullabies as the virgin eyes on their softened faces closed into dreams of innocence.

These are the memories that stay firmly planted as seeds in the lawn of my soul .Landscaping created for a new generation. Seeds that will spread from my kids – to their very own.

–  Le ‘Show ‘-

        As my head ached and my ears called for silence, I carried the bottles of beer from the basement and placed the crate upon the bar. Standing there, I recalled the previous evenings’ adventures with a smile. This made my head hurt even more …

I had attended a concert by the Canadian rock band AprilWine. A friend and fellow journalist had invited me to join him. ‘ Tagging ‘  along meant the opportunity to not only see the show – a backstage visit was part of the itinerary as my friend was concocting an interview with lead songwriter and singer  – Myles Goodwyn.

The group was one of my many favorites as the suburbs of Montreal nurtured me from adolescence to teen. You Won’t Dance with Me, Oowatanite , Roller , Rock n Roll is a Vicious Game and Just Between You and Me were staples of my teen years and just a few of the hits by the legendary rock band.

April Wine – Then …

I had seen them live a handful of times between the ages of fifteen and twenty and once – I was fortunate enough to enjoy their arena show three times in one-week Toronto on Saturday, Peterborough on Wednesday and Montreal once more on the following Saturday. It was a threesome of the non – sexual type yet sensually pleasing.

The trio of shows wrought envy from the mouths of all my male fellow rock n rollers in the late seventies and for a brief moment in time – I was the coolest person amongst my peers. The boys were jealous yet the ‘chicks ‘dug me. Rock N Roll may be a vicious game but sex is the ultimate trophy to the victors!

So here I was – all these years later, with an opportunity to sing along to the tunes of my youth in the small confines of Le Spectrum .It was an exit on the highway of music I would notbe missing.

An Intimate Engagement

Wine – circa 2001

Time had passed since the days of the band selling out the Montreal Forum. The group had actually broken up for a few years in the late eighties only to re-form in the nineties. They continue touring on a smaller level as they play their music to loyal fans in Canada and the United States. The hits are no longer written by the formerly – proficient Goodwyn yet an arsenal containing songs such as Say Hello , I Like to Rock , Sign of the Gypsy Queen and Weepin Widow were more than enough to carry these former teenagers into the twi –light of their lives and career.

The show and tunes that evening were what I had come to expect from the foursome. High-octane rock performed with conviction at decibels alarming to some. Hit after hit brought grown men and women to their feet. Powerful anthems punctuated by tearful ballads lay witness to a new generation as they writhed in appreciation of the band’s efforts. The line – up consisting of Myles on guitar and vocals , Brian Greenway  on guitar , the late Jim Clench on bass and the powerful Jerry Mercer on drums – did not disappoint the most cynical concert go – er. It was a wonderful summer evening under a cloud of nostalgia.

‘ A High Roller Baby …!’

The show ended with an exclamation point. The song Roller, arguably the band’s biggest hit, was the encore and it whipped the predominant forty – something crowd into frenzy. Everyone it seemed knew the song and there was not a quiet voice in the house as the band elongated the distance of their watermark tune.

The song finished and the group exited the stage to deafening applause. The words; ‘She’s a high roller baby ‘were sung in unison as the throng of people made their way past the exits and onto the streets of downtown Montréal. The lyrics’ High roller baby ‘continued as they echoed through vacant buildings and began eking out a new found existence in a city they once owned.

It was now the time for me to get excited.

A behind – the – curtains visit was not only exciting for the privilege of meeting rock icons, the rendez- vous was also an opportunity for me to discover a few words from the men that had met my idols – the Rolling Stones.

“Going back stage is exciting. Regardless of how many times it has happened. “Annie Liebowitz

 

The entrance alone is usually long and dark followed by a door or curtain guarded closely by a security guard or personnel. A flash of a pass, a nod of a head and suddenly you have elapsed into unknown territory. You are privileged. Depending on the star or stars, thousands and sometimes millions of people are separated from you .Physically and emotionally you have obtained a realm that some may only dream of reaching in their paramount fantasies.

Once, twice or a hundred times – the heart always beats a little faster when a crowd is left behind the curtain at a Rock n Roll show.  Terrence Mann may have had the same awareness as he approached the cornfields in the movie adaptation of the novel Shoeless Joe. Field of Dreams is the name of the film and is there a better way to identify the feelings of disappearing back – stage? Not quite …

Behind the Scenes …

On this evening – a curtain in lieu of a door was my gateway to knowledge and (if lucky) – a few beers. As my partner and I navigated the maze of rooms and people, we remained on the look – out for the subject of my colleague’s interrogation. We discovered Mr.Goodwynin a concrete room conspicuous with its absence of color. He was speaking to a couple of young women as he rested alongside a table outfitted with food. My friend introduced himself and promptly thanked Myles for the opportunity given to not only him – myself as well.

Just Between Myles and Me …

Myles Goodwyn

Myles was aloof and maintained a tone of aristocracy as I extended my hand to his. Habitually, I own the ability to garner good judgment of people. I did not like Myles in the first minute of our meeting and if my children and dog were by my side – I remain confident they would have had the very same feeling. Regardless if Mr.Goodwyn had shaken my hand – my feelings would not have changed.

Arrangements between my friend and Goodwyn to disappear into an atmosphere more fitting for a one – on – one discussion were completed. The lead vocalist informed me to help myself to whatever beverages and food I discovered. Since he made no mention of the women – I assumed they were also ‘up for grabs ‘!

I  asked him where I could unearth the remaining members of the band and he pointed down the hall, toward the loud noise. The ‘ noise ‘was the sound of the many ‘back stagers ‘who seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot more than I was. The fact that I was soon to be part of their ruckus –  made the departure from my friend much more tolerable.

The 1970’s – Comfortably Numb

As I watched the two disappear, I understood – from this point forward, the evening could possibly conclude in many variations. It depended on which choices I would make in the ensuing couple of hours and just how much I wanted to re – live the late seventies. Since I do not recall much of the late seventies, I walked down the hall with an ear toward a sinful evening.  The ‘good angel ‘and the ‘bad angel ‘had quite the ‘heated discussion’ as they sat opposite one another on each of my shoulders . I entered a room and approached the walls of people …

To be continued …