Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dancing Buck Naked to Professor Piano

November 6, 2018

Here’s this lovely man who played the hell out of my piano one night while Darcy McFadyen and I danced buck naked.

It was 1991 (I think) and we were working on a concert series with my group ‘The Angels of Montenegro’. Luckily I had located a young and enthusiastic assistant, because I had to write 30 minutes of string music, 30 minutes of brass music, 30 minutes of woodwind music…all in a few weeks, get it rehearsed and get it on stage in this series of concerts culminating in a finale concert in which the whole shooting match would be on stage at the El Mocambo on a Friday night.

On top of all that, we did arrangements of each of the orchestral components to play with our regular repertoire. So each week, in fact, it was our repertoire with strings and a string set…next week our repertoire with horns and a new original set of horn music….

See what I mean? A lot of work. I needed a lot of help.

So dear Darcy sat with me all night, night after night and we wrote charts. I sang the parts and Darcy wrote them down. You really have to concentrate to keep all this straight in your head when you don’t know how to write it down. Sometimes at 4 AM Darcy started to flag so I would try to caffeinate him or somehow create engagement.

While working on woodwind pieces one night I needed to come up with two new ones sitting there and was cranking my brain case, priming the pump, looking high and low for a way in.

Darcy was young and enthusiastic and saw me as a mentor. Everything was an initiatic rite so we had fun with initiatic rites and played them up to an extreme bumptious degree.

So, impulsively—and now here after a bit of throat clearing I am getting to the point of the story—I said to Darcy, “Will you dance naked with me at the celebration party?”

Because, of course, after all that work and a grand finale concert, we had to have a party. And because it sounded like a profound emotional challenge for a weedy music major and surely an initiatic rite, Darcy responded enthusiastically and perked up and we sat up and pumped out some more charts.

Wow, engagement devices, methods to inspirit the troops. Wonder what Caesar did to get those guys to bridge the Rhine in ten days.

We got the charts together, presented all that new music. The finale was pretty special—a total blowout. Now it’s the next night I am preparing a turkey dinner for 50 people.

It’s early in the evening and Darcy has a concerned look on his face. He’s wondering if I have forgotten about the important initiatic rite.

He says, almost accusatorily, because in fact I totally forgot about this arrangement, his voice a bit shaky, afraid to be disappointed: “Are we going to dance naked?”

Yikes. I immediately realized that I would have to make good on this so I started dancing into the living room while flinging my clothing down to the ground. Darcy followed suit, well, you know what I mean.

So now we are naked dancing and people are showing up. And when there are two naked people at a party it kind of perks up the action for everyone else standing around.

And then Professor Piano showed up. About ten people stood around the piano as he boogie woogied.

And we danced. the end.

Professor Piano had a strange death in which he was wrongly identified and buried by another family.

There must be a lot of these stories floating around out there.

I had a dream. I gave it a name…

September 20, 2016

Here we are, five days from the end of the campaign.

What am I doing trying to get money to do a Sam Larkin song?

It’s a labour of love you see. I, like a lot of people, was an admirer of Sam. I admired his songs, his craftsmanship, his passion, and the many kindnesses he showed to everyone who showed up at Fat Alberts across the years.

I particularly noticed the magic ‘Mirabeau Bridge’ worked on an audience. If you went to Fat Alberts in the 80s you heard it every week, sometimes two or three times.

And the chorus exerted a special magic on people hearing it for the first time. If you are a Sam Larkin lover, would you do me a favour? Would you go to the crowdfunding page, read the description. Get a feel for what we are trying to do.

There are a couple of little gifts there, including an interview of Sam by Murray McLaughlan, where Sam pulls Murray’s chain with great hilarity.

See if you can see your way to picking a perk and laying a few dollars down. In order to take Mirabeau Bridge to where we want it to go, we need the video of “the ones who love the night” dancing in the light in Paris. Well that’s the dream. It will require a few more


people to step up and plunk down some dollars, as many wonderful people have done already.

Keep the dream alive. Go to:

Do what you can and thank you.

Thoughts of Sam Larkin

October 31, 2013

A lot of people are walking around in
a daze saying Sam, gone? 


For two days I was hoping it was a joke.

Asked Bob. He said no joke. Dang, it
would have been a perfect Sam tricksterish

I hear Fats was jumping last night. Wish
I could have been there.

He means a lot. His songs
mean a lot. To a very special group
of people.

You would find a lot of them at Fat Albert’s,
a remarkable institution driven not by
fuel or money or clout or anything but
the love of song. (Thank you Ray and Ed
and Mary and Tony).

One of the strongest forces in life in North
America in the 20ieth and 21st Centuries
is Love of Song.

And Sam was a great lover of songs. So much
so that the ones he birthed were from a crazy deep
place. The place that everyone was reaching
for. And that tone he exuded caused a room
of people to sit up straight and listen every
time. Hey, there’s that sound I’m reaching
for. There’s that guitar strum I have been 
dreaming I could somehow someday nail.

And there was Sam, offering up some timeless
nuggets of gold from way down there.

And his way of playing them, total immersion.
He gave the impression of someone
who lived to play a beautiful song to a beautiful 
lover at 4 AM to tears of joy and thanks.

And for a while there, we could all be that
pretty girl, enraptured, appreciative, amazed—

A lot of people don’t understand. They have
no idea what it means to be a Song Junkie.
And the strange fate of song junkies is that
they are hooked. They are dealing. They
are busted. They have cover behaviour for
the rest of the straight people in their lives.
But nothing matters. Nothing matters
but the song.

And there was Fat Albert’s a remarkably
durable institution for over for forty years.

I got to the party in about 1981.

Mirabeau Bridge was the unofficial anthem
of Fat Albert’s. So many cute young chicks
across the years caught the bug. As well
as sparkly eyed young guys with a guitar
strung across their back. They would ask
Sam to please play it again. I must have
heard him play it at least 100 times.

Like a lot of great songs it was half discovered
and half invented. Like Star Dust, a song about
a song…staring down into a well at a mysterious
place in the heart of everyone.

Well maybe that’s too grand. But then again,
maybe not. Maybe not at all too grand. 

Reflecting on a man’s spirit, when their body
is gone, all you see is their love, their passion,
who they really were. That’s the usual. Sometimes
it’s a belated revelation. With Sam? Forget about it.

He is always and only ever was exactly who 
he only always and ever was—the song fisher—
like Hemingway’s impeccable fisherman
in the Old Man and the Sea.

Who has not attended a funeral and asked the
question ringing in the air: “What is a 
man?” And in lots of cases an existential funk
wafts in the air like a stink. 

It will not be that way with Sam. Everybody will
know exactly who that man is and always was.

A song fisher extraordinaire. A mensch. A 
great encourager and celebrator of all
song makers.

There were two guys standing at the back of
Fat Albert’s several years ago. Both looked like
they had been living under a bridge. They were sharing
tales of woe. And one said amid the accounts
of many indignities suffered, “…but then I wrote
a song in November”, and that meant everything.

To us song junkies, you can take our house, take
our car, you know the rest. But forget the blue
suede shoes, let us write a song we love
and it’s a very good year.

Sam, as much or maybe more than anyone
stood as a great exemplar. He caught some
big ones. That’s a happy fulfilled life. A life well
lived and a song well sung.

And it bears mentioning that I know all this
without ever talking to Sam about it. He was
great for light banter with a benign accepting
smile. Emerson said who you are is screaming
so loud I can’t hear a word you are saying. 
Everybody knew exactly what Sam was saying
without him ever having to say a word.

If you’ve never heard Mirabeau Bridge, click on the link
and listen to Sam. 

Rumi says:

“Shut your mouth in this world
and open it in the world beyond.

In the nowhere air will be your song”.

I hear you, Sam. I hear you.

Dancing in the creative fire

May 15, 2012

Dancing in the creative fire

Wake up Wake up Little Maggie…

July 20, 2009

Wake up Wake up Little Tommy, erm, I mean Maggie

So I’m making a record. Do people still say that?

I’m rounding up a few pals and going into the Rogue
next Monday, July 27 for a one day hot-off-the-floor
session just like Sonny Boy Williamson would do.
We’re working with Chris Banks on stand up bass
and Cleave Anderson on drums. Bob Wiseman
will be dropping in for a couple of tunes on piano
and Peter Hagele as well. And, Zoe Garnett might
lay down a vocal on the tune “Dark as a Dungeon”.

The repertoire for this set of songs is pretty heavy
on the folk, blue, roots and soul side…with a
heavy dollop of bluegrass. I have been into bluegrass
since the 70’s long before it was cool then uncool
and then cool again again.

The name of the record is “Little Maggie”. I’ll let
you know how it goes…

Tom at Free Times Café, Toronto, March 31 9 PM

March 27, 2009

Ah, my folk singin’ days.

Back in the 80s, I came back from a European
backpacking tour, walked into the Kensington
market, saw a new café just about to open,
walked in, and introduced myself to Noel Paolo,
the owner.



Down and Out Then Back up Higher New Orleans

March 2, 2009

One evening in late 1980, my pal Jimmy Burke, just returned from
the oil rigs of Alberta, called and said, “Hey Tom, do you want to
go drinking? I have four thousand dollars!”
Being young and enthusiastic — and, erm, thirsty! — of course I
said yes. After a night of many and varied bacchanalian ramblings
around the bars of downtown Montreal — culminating in four guys
crawling into a closet at 3:30 AM at the Hotel Lasalle and finding
a case of warm beer, a bunch of oranges and a pecan pie – Jim
and I decided to go to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Christmas Song and Bed Drive for 3rd World Kids

December 9, 2008

Gorgeous Gentle Reader:

Have I told you how I once walked the Peloponnese to raise
money for a Canadian charity called Sleeping Children Around
the World? I was looking for a feat of daring and endurance to take
on before a big change I was about to undertake… called marriage.

That was in August 1993.


She’s 30 Now

July 31, 2008

A friend of mine is turning
thirty today. Her name
is Ghazal. She is a Persian
Poet. Among the many
thousands of Persian Poets
I’ve met, she is the only
one turning 30 today.


Withal My Heart

May 28, 2008

Gentle Reader:

For years I walked around
singing, “With all my heart,
with all my soul”, and I
thought there must be a
zillion songs with these words.