Most of my career I’ve been all about music – writing it, performing it, recording it and teaching how to do it. I’ve worked with famous people, should-be-famous people, and countless amazing musicians whose names you will never know, but who perform at the highest levels. I’ve been a solo artist, the guy-behind-the-artist, songwriter, composer, producer, arranger, musical director, hired gun, session player, front-man, invisible background musician, critic, author, teacher, student. There have been many nominations for awards, a bunch received, good reviews, some bad ones, unforgettable moments and a few I’d like to forget. And I’ve been based out of three Canadian cities – Montréal, Toronto and Edmonton.
In Montréal, I was a member of legendary retro-rockers Johnny Jetblack and the Comeback. We were discovered by music mogul (and future jailbird) Guy Cloutier, when he was having a pint with Guy Lafleur at a club by Dorval airport. The electricity went out, we sang some 50’s tunes a cappella, and this led to recording 2 albums and touring the arenas of Québec with the iconic René Simard. After that, I co-fronted a band called The XMEN (before the other XMEN became a deal), and went on a New Wave crusade, touring Eastern Canada and the U.S for several years. The band entertained record and management deals; it all fell apart; I moved to Toronto.
It’s always been about music. Except when it wasn’t.
Although I never left music, I took a detour for 8 years where I became a hospital security expert, managing departments at two major Toronto hospitals, sitting on boards at community colleges that offered Law & Security Programs, and taking a turn as the President of the Ontario Hospital Security Association. I learned volumes about business and management (which serves me well as a musician) and dealt with some pretty serious issues; but most importantly, I rubbed shoulders with “real people” who weren’t musicians, and gained a perspective about music that I would never have otherwise. Always a bit of an over-achiever, I finished my Music degree at McGill, and my wife and I signed a record deal with a Nashville label while I was still working in this industry. Eventually, however, the pull to return full-time to music became undeniable.
I’d always heard great things about the Edmonton music scene. My wife, who is from Alberta, showed me around when she did a one-woman show about her life as a Supreme (look up Supreme Dream by Frank Moher and Rhonda Trodd). What I saw impressed me, and, foregoing benefits and a pension; I excused myself from Toronto and built a life as an artist out west.
It was a good move. Since settling here I’ve released three solo albums, two albums as a member of an ensemble (Allez Ouest, Two Blue), and collaborated with many other independent artists as a producer, co-writer, arranger and performer (I’m particularly proud of the ongoing collaborative partnership I’ve had with Andrea Menard over the last two decades). I’ve also worked with great musicians either as a for-hire guitar player or as a member of the Edmonton Symphony. Highlights include being featured with the Pointer Sisters, Renée Fleming, Petula Clark, Tom Cochrane, Luck Mervil, and playing the music of Frank Zappa with two ex-Zappa-band members.
And I’ve been able to connect with community; built a French-language Popular Music Program that is offered in French schools throughout Alberta; become a faculty member at MacEwan University’s Music Department; written music for three musicals and several flms, and authored a book. Oh, and we had two kids.
Future plans include sharing what I’ve learned along the way as a speaker and author, and of course, creating more music.