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Tommy Solo's famous friends
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Tommy Solo's famous friends

Author: Tommy Solo

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I talk musical careers & random adventures with Canadian musicians, promoters, photographers, broadcasters etc. who I've connected with in the biz. The one requirement of my guests is that they're more famous than I am.
70 Episodes
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I've interviewed Mitch Field in the past when we focused mostly on his beginnings in music & his dealings with CBS records. In this installment of "Rock & Roll Stories from the bar", we discussed adventures of traveling across North America while enduring brutal winter driving conditions, dealing with unscrupulous bar owners & a whole lot more!
In our premier episode of our new series "Rock & Roll stories from the bar", I chat with Frank Soda.Frank dedicated years of his life advancing his musical career while touring the bars & nightclubs across North America. From backing up Thor with his band The Imps to scoring his own record deals, Franks has seen just about all there was to see during the glory days of making a living playing Rock & Roll in the bars. We talk about when Frank & his band were threatened by random thugs in Quebec for not speaking French in a restaurant, recording a live album with CHUM FM at the notorious Piccadilly Tube in Toronto. .....aaaand a lot more!
Alec Fraser Jr immigrated from Scotland to Canada as a young boy & although he was upset at having to leave his original homeland, was quick to assimilate himself into Toronto's then burgeoning music scene. He is a multiple Juno award winning record producer & has made an honest living over the years as a journeyman musician backing up the stars.When the pandemic took hold, he decided to get to work on his dream solo recording project, "On the wings of the wind". We discussed all that & more during our conversation. https://alecfraserjr.com/
Brian Gagnon has been a full time musician for most of his life. Having played in the popular bar band, Dillinger before forming the classic Canadian band, the Hunt. He put the Hunt together with former members of Dillinger & former Max Webster drummer Paul Kersey. They were signed almost immediately to a record deal & enjoyed significant radio success in North America & Europe. Eventually with a young family at home, Brian grew tired of playing six nights a week & so he became a full time session player.When the pandemic hit, Brian's studio work completely dried up.In this episode, we reviewed his career in bands & discussed how Covid-19 has impacted his fortunes. We also talked about how it feels to be getting closer to the end of this global pandemic.
Darby Mills, is mostly known as the lead singer for the classic Canadian rock band "The Headpins". Before the pandemic hit, she was on the rise under her own banner with the Darby Mills project. She had several what she considered "glass ceiling" shows cancelled during the 1st major Covid-19 lock down. In this episode, we talk about how she & her band mates have done their best to adjust & adapt to new technologies in order to stay fresh during the past 16 months. She also told me about her personal ordeal & grief when she hadn't been allowed to visit her elderly father due to the pandemic & then losing him to Covid-19.Not one to be deterred, Darby Mills has solid plans to continue making music for her dedicated group of fans moving forward. www.darbymills.com
Rocket Norton is a lifelong musician having rose to fame in the 1970s with the Canadian classic rock band, Prism. He has played primarily drums over the years, but has also sang & played guitar with a few acts. Prior to Covid-19, things were going really well for Rocket. He had a thriving day business & had successfully published a couple of fictional novels. He was also playing small concerts with "The Authentics" in and around the Vancouver area.Like everyone else, his day business was drastically impacted by Covid. And then, he was diagnosed with Cancer.In this new "Rounding the corner episode, we discuss all this and more.
Terry Draper established himself as a member of the classic Canadian band Klaatu. For some time the general public was convinced that Klaatu was really the Beatles recording incognito.While these rumours did bolster record sales, they also created situations that ultimately caused the break up of the band.In this episode Terry & I discuss where he was at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic & how he & his Wife have stayed both safe & sane over the past year & half. This is another of my "Rounding the corner" series of shows so, we do indeed talk about how awesome it feels to finally be coming out of the darkness & back into the light. https://terrydraper.com/
Cassius Khan & his family knew that he was a very gifted musician at a very early age.He is one of the very few, if not the only classical Indian musicians who can play the Tabla & sing simultaneously. When he was seven years old, he heard an Ellen McIlwaine record from his Father's Vinyl collection & was mesmerized by the Goddess of Slide guitar instantly.After years of classical training in Indian music, in fact twenty years later he received a random phone call from Ellen herself who invited him to play a show with her.This lead to a long term musical partnership between the two of them. Their Mystic Bridge album was nominated for a Juno award in 2007.In this episode, we discuss Cassius' award winning personal musical journey & share his memories of Ellen. https://www.cassiuskhan.com/
In this, the second in our "Rounding the corner" series, I talk with the legendary Heavy Metal drummer from the iconic band Anvil.We discussed where they were when the pandemic hit & how they managed to stay focused on their music throughout the duration of all the lockdowns etc.. We also talked about how the world is counting on as many people getting vaccinated as possible so that we can get back to some sense of normal. Anvil has completed pre production on a brand new album & they have plans to start touring again. Let's just hope that the naysayers, conspiracy theorists & anti Vaxxers don't blow it for the rest of us!
Jonathan Holiff, the son of Saul Holiff who managed Johnny Cash through the Country music legend's most prolific years was already an established member of the television production elite. And when he uncovered his late Father's artifacts & memorabilia in a storage locker, he knew that he had something special. The 2012 award winning, globally distributed documentary "My Father & the Man in black" was the end result of his discovery.Recently more historical gems about Johnny Cash's career under Saul Holiff's watch have been uncovered.In this episode we discuss the new documentary in the works with the working title "When Johnny Cash got his Moose". This is the tale of how so much of the Country music Icon's career resulted from his time spent in Canada.
John McGale is mostly known for his role as guitarist & manager of Quebec band Offenbach. He's also played with many other notable acts including the Buzz Band which he formed with bandmates Breen Lebeuf & Jerry Mercer of April Wine fame. In this episode we discuss the difficulty of being a full time musician during Covid-19 & how it feels to finally see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
Jon Mykl Thor was inspired to get into the music business as a teenage bodybuilder who found an extra boost of energy in his work outs while listening to Led Zeppelin. He developed a friendship with seminal Canadian guitarist, Frank Soda early on & together they boarded a train from Vancouver to Toronto with a mutual dream of fame & fortune as their guide.After several indie releases in the early years, the album Thor "Keep the dogs away" was released to wide acclaim. In 1976 Jon Mykl Thor appeared on the Merv Griffin show, showcasing his own brand of "muscle rock" singing & blowing up a hot water bottle on National TV. As a bodybuilder he has won many titles including Mr Universe, Mr Canada & Mr America. He's also had an extensive movie career ....among other things
Alexander Mair got started in the business side of the music business as an accountant with Capital records. He would manage the career of legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot through Gordon's most successful & prolific years. On top of that, he founded Attic records in 1974 & ran that company for 27 years before selling it to a public company right at the dawn of downloading piracy & the downfall of the record business as we once knew it.Since then, he's worn many hats behind the scenes of Canada's music industry & although he's currently retired still works as a consultant to a good many of Canada's top shelf artists. We discuss all this and more on this episode.
Mike McKenna is the ultimate journeyman guitarist. He was influenced as a guitarist early by Buddy Holly & Hank Snow. He & his fellow musician friends learned a lot about show business by following acts like Ronnie Hawkins & Robbie Lane around notorious music venues in the Toronto area,Early on his band scored opening spots for bigger acts like the Grateful Dead. Mike formed a fast friendship with the late Jerry Garcia. He has been signed with many different record labels over the years, all the while playing with notable artists like John lee Hooker. Both of his major acts, Luke & the Apostles & McKenna Mendelson Mainline have recorded what are now classic/collectible albums. I really think You're gonna like this one!
John Gardiner is an upside down, left handed bass player & author. He spends a lot of time posting short stories garnered from his memories of growing up in the small town of Hanover Ontario on Facebook. His intentions are good. He knows that people need their regular daily infusions of entertainment especially during pandemic times.In this episode, we discuss his challenges as a lefty, his adventures with the Sterling Blues band, disappearing gigs for musicians etc. .After a couple of Cancer scares John feels a sense of urgency to get his written works out there. He is a man on a mission & our conversation in this episode is very entertaining ... to say the least !
From humble beginnings on the Wikwemikong First Nations Reserve on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada to a successful career in Nashville, Crystal Shawanda has come a long way. She started singing in public at six years old & has never looked back. Moving to Nashville at sixteen, she had the courage to knock on all the right doors & her journey as a successful singer/songwriter was launched. Facing systemic racism & misogyny in here early years on the road, she carried on with an indomitable spirit. Among her honours over the years, She performed at Barak Obama's inauguration & she's won Juno awards for her previous works. Her current album "Church House Blues" is nominated for the 2021 Juno Awards. Her live tours are totally a family affair. Her husband Dwight is both her producer & full time lead guitarist. Their daughter four year old daughter not only travels with the band ....but is also a frequent guest with Mom & Dad on stage. Hers is an awesome story....& I think You're gonna like it!
Sandy Gillis started his career in radio broadcasting in 1968 while he was still a kid in high school. It didn't take him long from there before he was hosting a local teen dance show on TV. And before you knew it he had started his own broadcasting school, hiring his radio station bosses as professors. As he quickly climbed the ladder in radio becoming station manager in short order, he gave several popular media broadcast personnel their first breaks. One of his early hires in radio was current CBC on air journalist Ian Hanomansing. He got into comedy out of necessity when a competing radio station entered his local domain as competition. So he started creating comedic characters on air. One of those characters, "Jimmy the janitor" became a huge part of his career. Jimmy the janitor worked with other comedic greats over the years like David Broadfoot (Royal Canadian Air Farce) & Don Harron (Charlie Farquharson). Over time Sandy would forge relationships with promoters & artists like Dobald K Donald who would often ask his advice on booking acts like April Wine etc. .In this episode we discuss all of this and more....with a few laughs added for good measure. https://www.jimmythejanitor.com/
Earl Johnson was a founding member of Canadian classic rockers "Moxy" along with the late Buzz Shearman (r.i.p.) . He is now the last man standing but he continues to carry the torch & was still touring with the current lineup of Moxy until the pandemic hit. He remains enthusiastic & has learned to play for the love of the music as time rolls on. Earl got started in his professional career playing guitar with the legendary King Biscuit Boy. While touring with Biscuit, he met Buzz Shearman & they would eventually play together with the Leigh Ashford band before forming Moxy. The ride wasn't always easy but they had some momentous times recording & touring together until Buzz eventually had to quit singing because of throat issues & Earl was left trying to figure it out from there. During the height of their touring days, a young AC/DC would open for Moxy in Southern Texas where Moxy reigned supreme. Earl describes having to physically eject a drunken Bon Scott from his hotel room & a whole lot more in this episode.I think you're gonna like it!
Jerry Fielden is a man who wears many hats in the music business. He not only leads his own recording act, AraPacis featuring top shelf players like Don Airey of Deep Purple & Ozzy Osborne fame, David Stone (Rainbow) & Vinny Appice among others. He has had a close working relationship with Deep Purple's long standing lead singer Ian Gillan. When Jerry isn't busy making new music he spends his time in sales with multimedia manufacturing company Duplication.ca We discuss the early years, his friendships with mentors Frank Marino, Roger Fisher (Heart) & a lot more. https://www.duplication.ca/
In this edition, Jaimie Vernon of Bullseye Records play another round of Pop Trivia where I quiz him on his knowledge of Canadian musicians & bands. We discussed acts like Moxy, Copper Penny, Scrubbaloe Caine, Wide Mouth Mason, Thundermug & more. Jaimie is the author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia & has a wealth of information about Canadian music history & he's kept up on a lot of bands & artists who you may not have thought about in a while.Fasten your seatbelts folks. This is another fun ride!
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