I look back on the fateful day I met Chris Dadge in Hotwax as the day my music life took a turn for the best. He was this shy, weird, nerdy/nervous kid who came up to the counter (if memory serves) with 3 records. Miles Davis, Bill Frisell and Mission of Burma. I was stunned, I couldn’t comprehend why this kid was buying this stuff. Where’s the Chili Peppers? Pearl Jam? Sum 41? (I discovered later he was a PJ fanatic, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Haha…)
I struck up a conversation about these records, and others, which led to talking about playing music, which led to us becoming friends and him becoming a regular at the store, then becoming an employee at the store, then he and I playing music together. It is the longest and most fruitful musical relationship I’ve ever had, I will be grateful for it until the day I’m dead.
Because of Dadge (as we call him) I met a group of young, smart, INCREDIBLY talented musicians whose friendship and musicality had a profound effect on me. I have absolutely no doubt that I would not be where I am in my artistic life today if it weren’t for Dadge, Scott Munro, Steve Fletcher, Jay Crocker and a host of other amazing people. These guys and their associates helped me make truly great records for other artists in my studio (making me look like the smart guy), and their acceptance of and belief in my own songs encouraged me to forge ahead, to try new things, and to keep learning – TO ALWAYS BE LEARNING.
When I fell in with these young Turks, I was in my 30’s, and they were products of the Mount Royal Jazz Diploma program, an education that nurtured their talents, encouraged them to be unafraid and to explore their muse. To always question tradition, but to respect it as well. Of course they were born with some innate abilities, but from the way they spoke of their music and of their education, and the way they PLAYED (and STILL play!), I knew their greatness flourished in no small part because of the school they went to.
These gents have an immeasurable impact on our city’s cultural scene, as do the many other graduates of the MRU Jazz program. I can’t (and don’t want to) imagine what the music here would be like without them and their fellow alumni.
Today we have the news that the Province is readying huge cuts to Arts programs at MRU. This is a sad, sad day. I encourage you to go to this Facebook page and lend your voice.
Tomorrow I’m playing a show to celebrate the release of my new record, which I’m extremely excited about. But I know that, like the last record, and the one before that, if it weren’t for meeting those crazy kids fresh outta Mount Royal all those years ago, it would not exist, and, more importantly, I wouldn’t be where I am today.