1967 and I’m a busboy at Zorba’s standing behind a keyboard player, entranced. Various bands would haul Hammond B3’s and Leslies down 2 flights of stairs for a gig that likely paid them about the same as what I was making- and why?
1967 and I’m a busboy at Zorba’s standing behind a keyboard player, entranced. Various bands would haul Hammond B3’s and Leslies down 2 flights of stairs for a gig that likely paid them about the same as what I was making- and why? Because it was magic. I had a $50 organ then, and a band too- so it was a big deal to me. Not long after that I was at a street dance in Garneau standing behind a musician I had not met yet, also playing a big Hammond with Hot Cottage. Bob Derkach and I have been brothers for over 50 years now. It was my fault that he left his gig as composer for the planetarium in Edmonton(which eventually led to his CD actually flying to Mars) and left for Toronto to have a career with Second City. He was my understudy, and when I quit- he made history by staying with it for longer than anyone, truly defining the art of improvising live music for theatre, and influencing MANY who came after. We are still connected at the hip, brothers forever. This is a recent photo from his current tour. Pure genius and a truly enlightened soul.
I visit the grave of Elvis. Serendipity ensues on a whole new level.
Twelve years ago I produced a CD of original songs called Good Fair World. I then jumped in my car and drove to Texas with gigs along the way gave a number of small concerts to promote it.
Since my nephew was living in Memphis I next decided to head for Graceland and spent a few days there.
As an atheist and musician it felt strange to be at the grave of Elvis Presley pretending to ask for guidance. But I did.
Over the next few months my work included a comedy marathon in London England, a tavern in Berlin, and a piano bar in Rome. Clearly I was lost.
On the way back to Edmonton I stopped in to visit a friend in Regina. Ruth Smillie was artistic director of the Globe Theatre there. While waiting across the street in the mall for her to give me a tour, I high-fived this poster of a garish cartoon of Elvis hawking french fries no doubt without his knowledge. 10 minutes later Ruth asked me if I was interested in being musical director for a “juke box musical” with Elvis songs at a theatre in Prince George. It was called All Shook Up.
A few months later I was performing an extended run and receiving nightly standing ovations with an amazing cast and an incredible band. My life and my career has had many twists and turns both leading up to this and since. But that year I was at a major cross roads and blessed with some sort of help. I am still an atheist, but I have to say this: “LONG LIVE THE KING.”
You must be logged in to post a comment.