Bands in the bubble – Vol.3
By Brian Gallagher
PHOTO BY NICOLE GIRARD
(Left to right): Ian Kelso, Brian Gallagher, Mac Grundy and Dan Gallant back in 2009 jamming at the Hudson Legion.
“Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name” – The Rolling Stones
As many of you may know, I’ve been a recording and working musician for over a decade. Mostly known for my work with the band ‘Happenstance’ that started in 2008 as a trio right here in the town of Hudson and went on to create three studio albums over the next seven years. COVID-19 has certainly affected me like many other musicians across the land and we feel the sting monetarily and emotionally every day that we are not out performing. But it’s not just the pros that are missing the thrill and pleasure of live music, there are thousands of musicians, those weekend warriors, who have lost the ability to play in front of people at pubs, coffee houses, open mics, shopping malls, schools, etc.
That’s why in this issue of ‘BITB’ I wanted to give a shout out to all those guys and gals out there who just love to play a guitar, sing an old favourite or head out to listen to a great duo that you’ve never heard of before in a small neighbourhood pub and let you know that music will be back out there again folks. Maybe not tomorrow but it will be back. You can bet your A-flat diminished minor on that one.
In writing this piece my thoughts turned to a kind, gentle and giving man that I have had the pleasure of knowing for almost 15 years and who is also a neighbour of mine. His name is well known to those whom have ever been to the Friday night suppers at the Hudson Legion – Mr. Mac Grundy. That’s where I met Mac and still remember the first time I sat in with him and Ian Kelso on guitar (his old left-handed Martin was gorgeous), the magnificent Doris Blaise on the accordion, my buddy Phil Gale on that ol’ tenor banjo along with many other folks who regularly came along and sat in to entertain the residents of the Manoir. It may have started with that in mind but became more of a community of local musicians who simply were happy to get together to play some good music and find camaraderie with other like-minded folks. I met some fine players and singers there, not necessarily professional musicians but great people who simply loved to play and listen. I was very happy to have met Saint-Lazare’s Dan Gallant there, who played (and still does) with Glen Bowser and Karen Kromar. Dan and I went on to form a friendship and played in the group ‘Night Shift’ as well as a duo for a little while. Dan was well-known for his beautiful voice and his amazing version of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying.’
The more I got to know Mac the more I realized that this was not something he stumbled upon in retirement, he had been playing music his whole life; from the early days in the Montreal folk scene to volunteering at hospitals and seniors’ homes and teaching young students in his home. And of course his ongoing long tenure at the Hudson Legion. In chatting with him I know he misses it and the fact that these people who looked forward to the last Friday of every month to all get together for a lovely meal and to be entertained have been denied that pleasure by a tiny virus. And they, like all of us, remember those Friday nights fondly and long to have them return as soon as it is safe to do so. So while guys like Mac might not be considered ‘real’ or ‘working’ musicians like some members of the music community would state and denounce, it doesn’t take away the fact that playing music means as much, or more, to them as it does to the circuit musicians. And some of these weekend warriors are pretty fantastic as well. There are people everywhere spreading joy through song who have never made it a career for various reasons but still have made it their lifelong passion, whether they be plumbers, electricians, doctors or dock workers. And to them I tip my hat. Carry on brothers and sisters. Carry on.
Laughing and singing part of the human condition
My heart goes out to all musicians, artists or performers in any genre who have not been able to share their creativity and spirit with everyone in 2020. There are more people out there counting on us for entertainment than we might think. It’s truly a shame that there are so many hearts we could all reach and touch with just a few minutes of artistic expression. I believe we are all starved for it and need it to nourish our souls. Being together to laugh and sing and share in an experience is essential to the human condition.
So here’s to folks like Mac and all of you closet guitar slingers, park bench troubadours, church choir members and weekend strummers. Keep the music alive in your homes and in your hearts until we can bring it back out into the light and into the streets. For as 2020 closes, I believe with all my heart that 2021 will be brighter, sunnier, filled with more love, laughter and certainly more music than the year we are about to turn the page on.
I embrace that thought with all my might and as Nigel Tufnel would probably say, “Turn it up to 11.”