Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ode to a Drummer

The phone rang. And rang. I sat there in my barely-furnished kitchen, with the phone cradled in one hand, while the piece of paper I'd torn off the "Bass player wanted" poster lay crumpled in the palm of the other. The phone suddenly picked up on the other end, and a voice said, "Yeah?"

Reading from the torn piece of poster in my hand, I began, "I'm looking for The Meaning of Fish."

There was a profound pause on the other end of the phone, and then I heard a voice about an octave deeper solemnly intone, "I am The Meaning of Fish."

Such was my introduction to Brad. A very intelligent philosophical kind of guy, who would sometimes show up to band rehearsal wearing a wrap-around skirt, just to see if anyone would comment. After my successful audition, we played together in The Meaning of Fish for three years.

After those frenetic three years of thrashing together, as the band was parting ways, Brad was airlifted to a successful "A-list" Celtic rock band in Winnipeg, where he had more fun than he'd ever had before as a drummer. I attended one of their CD release parties, and it was a great time.

When Brad phoned me a year later to invite me to join him in the Celtic band, at first I thought he was pulling my leg.

But he was serious, and a week after I joined the band, I was playing my first weekend of gigs with them. They don't use chord charts or lyric sheets; it was all by ear and by memory, and it was crazy at first (they had a 50 song play list), but like Brad, I found myself having more fun than ever before as a musician.

We were one of the bands invited to play on a Guess Who tribute album when they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame; we did a cover of Share The Land.

Brad was an enigma in many ways. We often shared a hotel room when the band was touring, and one time I came out of showering to find him reading the Gideon Bible from the hotel room. He read Genesis 1, closed the Bible, and sarcastically stated, "Well, I've done my devotions, how about you?" and left the room for a smoke.

Yet when Wendy was in the hospital, he was the first person to show up in the waiting room, and sat with me for over six hours while we waited to hear what the doctors thought was wrong. And there were other instances, while on the road, where we'd actually have serious talks about life, faith, and spirituality.

St. Patrick's Day is always a good day for Celtic bands; we get paid more for that one night than we make in most weekends. This coming St. Paddy's however, will be a different milestone. I just got word that Brad, now 50 years old, will be playing his final gig before retiring from drumming that night. Winnipeg's music scene will never be quite the same.

So, here's to you, Brad. You are a talented drummer and a good friend. I will miss dropping by to see you play whenever I visit Winnipeg. Truly, the end of an era.

1 comment:

  1. you're right - he is a super good guy. i've met him through colby a few times and always was impressed by him.