Bands in the bubble Vol. 2 – Gary White
By Brian Gallagher
PHOTO COURTESY GARY WHITE
Montreal musician Gary White’s album ‘Alone Together’ features a mix of original and carefully selected covers and evokes country-roots sensibility that flows easily into other genres and styles.
In this edition of ‘BITB’ I am featuring Montreal artist Gary White. Gary has been a very active presence in the Montreal area music scene for three decades. He was in several cover bands including the terrific ‘The Cherrypickers.’ He also continues to perform in the group ‘3.5 Men’ with Ben Griffith and Fred Gallo. If you have ever been to a Just for Laughs Nasty Show gala in the last nine years you may have heard them warming up the crowd with their high-energy excellent renditions of popular rock material.
His first effort ‘Alone, Together’ is a very well recorded and produced album that contains six original songs written by Gary (except ‘Better days ahead’ which he co-wrote with Stephanie Martin) as well as four carefully selected covers, of which ‘Sinking like a sunset’ and ‘Private universe’ stand out as captivating renditions. Gary is certainly a talented multi-instrumentalist but still had a lot of help from his friends old and new whose talents help lift the album to an equivalent of any Nashville or New York production. His writing is personal, emotional and easily accessible. ‘Baby (Emma’s song)’ is a graceful and eloquent ode to his daughter featuring outstanding background vocals by Stephanie Martin. ‘Back off’ reminds of the great John Hiatt and will have you reaching for the volume to crank it up on the highway. There is a country-roots sensibility lurking in the background of the material although not pigeonholing it completely to the genre and the album flows beautifully from the opening country rocker ‘Buckle up’ to the Beatles-esque opus ‘Be the love’ that closes it out.
So why after so many years performing is he only now releasing his very first album? I sat down with him over the world-wide interweb to ask about the journey, the inspiration, and the album.
TJ: What drove you to create your own original music?
GW: I always wanted to write. I’ve been in bands where I had a hand in writing songs but mostly drum parts, or guitar parts. I’ve composed instrumental music for the Just for Laughs Festival in the past. But I’ve always wanted to try writing actual songs – words and music. The spring lockdown and a very tragic global health crisis were the spark that lit the creative fire. COVID-19 locked me down in my studio and forced me to finally take the leap to write and record my own songs. I really don’t think this CD would exist if not for the pandemic.
TJ: I know your ‘Virtual Pub Nights’ also raise money for charities that are close to your heart. Your charity work, volunteerism, and music seem to go hand in hand – why is this important to you?
GW: I worked in the charitable sector my entire adult life and played music ‘in my spare time’ until three years ago when I decided to make music my main focus. I’d always used music as a way to bring people from the community together for fundraising events for organization like the YMCA, Welcome Hall Mission, or my old summer camp – Camp Kinkora. When the pandemic shut down the pubs I started to organize ‘Virtual Pub Nights’ – Facebook livestream events where I’d jump online and play for an hour and people could leave PayPal tips. I split the tip jar 75/25 – that’s 75 per cent for the designated local charity and 25 per cent for me. I’ve done 11 of them so far and raised almost $15,000 for various local grass roots charities.
TJ: What would you like to see happening in the future for yourself? Is the long-term goal to tour (once we are able) and create more albums as well as return to the pub circuit?
GW: I plan to continue playing music and hope to be back out in the pubs, restaurants, and other live music venues as soon as possible. Touring is a young man’s game so I think I’ll stick to playing locally for the most part, but it’s definitely my intention to try to keep writing and hopefully release more content at some point. And depending on how things go with the vaccine and any return to normal, I might try to do a one-off live launch of the CD this summer – maybe get some of the folks who played on the album to get up on stage with me.