I’ve never asked for anything at birthday time, you see it falls on Boxing Day (Dec.26) and even as a child none of my friends and school chums were around ‘coz in Australia, Christmas and Boxing Day mark the beginning of our summer holidays so everyone takes off. As an adult, I know that everyone is out at the Boxing Day sales and if anyone does remember my birthday, I usually get the left-over Christmas pressies that nobody wants (ugly socks or boxes of jellied fruit)…LOLThis year, just for a change, I hope you’ll consider donating to my little Facebook fundraiser for the newly registered national charity BIRDSONG NEW MUSIC FOUNDATION that benefits Canadian songwriters and musicians struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorder. It was founded by my longtime friend Margaret Konopacki who lost her beloved son, David Martin, to just such an illness. Please donate any amount, no matter how modest, here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/417109276761124/
You can learn more by visiting www.BirdsongFoundation.com and see how they support Canadian songwriters and musicians by publishing their songs (artists retain all copyrights) as well as recording their songs and creating videos for them – all fully funded! Their first compilation album, BIRDSONG: FIRST FLIGHT, comes out May 1st, 2022, and features artists from across the country.
Bravo, Margaret, and I hope my birthday fundraiser attracts new fans and supporters for Birdsong. With much love to Margaret and David (below)
Toronto-based musician and composer, JIM GELCER, was thrilled to play his first LIVE public performance on Thursday November 4 at the venerable Jazz Bistro in downtown Toronto. Covid had caused all music venues to shut down over the past 20 months and we were certainly anxious to see musicians return to the stage – Jim was joined by Rob Piltch (guitar), Ross MacIntyre (bass), Rob Neal Christian (sax, flute, piano)…..pictured belowI sat down with Jim at the Aroma Café on Bloor St East a few days prior to his show, and asked a few questions about surviving the Covid lockdown, what it feels like to be back performing LIVE, and his new side gig teaching students from around the world via an online learning academy.
Jim, you had a great gig November 4th at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro – was that your first live show since Covid restrictions eased and audience capacities increased? Yes and no. I had a couple of shows last summer when they first eased the restrictions a bit, and there have been a few private events as well, but this is really my first club date as a band leader in 18 months.
You performed with 3 other great musicians: Rob Christian on sax, flute & piano; Rob Piltch on guitar and Ross MacIntyre on bass. Were you looking fwd to working with your fellow musicians after all this time? Absolutely! Especially this killer band. I’m a connector. And one of the things I like to do is bring people together who I think should know each other and would enjoy playing or working together. I’ve worked with each of these musicians individually, but never all three together and I think it’s a wonderful combination of talent.
Has the Covid isolation period offered any positive opportunities such as time to compose or arrange, listening to other musicians’ work? Yes, indeed! I was quite busy during Covid with film scores, production, and songwriting collaborations. In fact, I’ve just finished co-writing three Christmas songs with Jon Mullane, a songwriter from Nova Scotia, that will be released on his upcoming Christmas album (look for it on his Spotify, or wherever you listen to music).
You studied music as well as philosophy, so has a serious music education helped you with your career? So many new/young musicians have never picked up an actual instrument or learnt how to sight-read music – do you think there is still a need for traditional learning or do you feel music’s future lies with computers? A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to teach music at the Toronto District School Board. I am so grateful for that, as it sustained me during Covid, and got me into teaching, which I had not done much of previously. During the pandemic I also started teaching privately, and have had students from as far and wide as Germany, Ukraine, Hawaii, and all over North America. So, yes, I believe that there is still a need for traditional learning.
If people want to learn more about you and your music, do you have a website or social media they could follow? Yes, I’m on Facebook (facebook.com/jgelcer). I’m also on Instagram and Twitter as @jimgelcer. And I’m even on Wikipedia! My website is www.gelcer.com
I’m so glad you had an enthusiastic audience at Jazz Bistro, must have been so great to play live again. And continued success with your music students around the world. (www.outschool.com)
A fellow PR/artist management friend of mine, Michael Stuart Webb, recently signed an exciting new client and when I heard about said client, I knew I had to share his story with my readers/followers. Thanks for setting this up for me, Michael….it’s always great to support friends in da biz!
GRAHAM TRUDE is an award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter and he’s proud to release his brand new single titled PTSD today, Tuesday May 25th. The song focuses on his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) which is a mental disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event such as warfare (which was the case for Graham), traffic collisions, sexual assault, child abuse, or other threats on a person’s life. Watch the video – see link at end of this article.Before embarking on a music career, Graham was a tank crewman in the Canadian military (pictured below), completing multiple tours in Afghanistan, an experience from which he mines a great deal of his deeply honest and raw songwriting. Upon his return home to Canada and discharge from military service, he continued his work on the frontlines as a police officer, during which time Graham was nominated for two lifesaving award and a commendation for a Chief’s Award.His heroic service overseas and his law enforcement career had a profound impact on his life as a whole, and Graham was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which led to addictive and self-destructive behaviours. Determined to conquer his demons, Graham sought and found refuge in his music which was instrumental in his recovery. His songwriting references these life experiences, creating powerful lyrics which he combines with edgy guitar riffs and infectious hooks. He is a master storyteller who uses a pop, rock and country fusion beats.
Graham has collaborated several times with renowned multi-Juno award-winning country music producer, Jason Barry, and has also written and performed the theme song for the television show The Real Canadian Joes, andwon an Ontario songwriting competition – all this earned him the respect of his peers in Nashville where Trude has spent time perfecting his craft. To celebrate the release of his new single, I spoke with Graham and asked him to share his story and his song with us….Congratulations on your new single PTSD – I’m sure it will resonate with so many ex-military, police, firefighters and front-line medical staff. As a PTSD sufferer yourself, did you find the writing process cathartic and healing? Thank you very much I greatly appreciate it and thank you very much for this wonderful interview. Usually in every song I write there is always some healing for me and it’s a way for me to express my emotions and get it out on paper. I find in my experience with trauma and addiction when I am feeling down or not myself, I love to write music and it helps bring me to a better light.
Were you an army brat or was your military career of your own making? And if so, what inspired you to sign-up? My military career was certainly of my own making. My father was a chief of police in Collingwood for many years and my brother joined the military shortly after I joined in 2007. There was something about the calling of being a soldier that I always wanted to do and I always wanted to help people which is why I got into policing after as well. It is a personal goal of mine within my life to help people who are going through tough times and feel they are alone. I recently worked with an LA-based filmmaker client who produced, wrote and directed a movie (Battle Scars) that dealt with PTSD in the post-Vietnam War era which illustrated how inadequate support was for returning warriors nearly 50 years ago. Have things changed? Did you seek and receive therapy to help you deal with the trauma and your resulting addictions? I feel that things have changed drastically within the last 50 years, especially in relation to mental health, but we are still not where we should be yet. I know of several homeless veterans, first responders and members of the general public who are dealing with intense mental health issues. During my time of intense depression and anxiety, I can honestly say that without the help of my friends and family I would have been in serious trouble. We need to think of that when we think about the individuals in our lives and how we can help them. Sometimes just being there for somebody is more than enough – it may not seem like it but it definitely is. I am still heavily involved with therapy and my addiction recovery.
Obviously writing and recording this song is going to open conversations within families that had, perhaps, been suppressed – do you have any advice to those living with PTSD sufferers on how to communicate without judgement? It’s very hard for me to tell other people how to open up with their emotion. Honestly, I found it best to explain it to my family in more of a struggling way. I tried to tell them about it before but it just wasn’t something that they could really understand because they weren’t going through it as well. The best thing in the world that ever happened to me was rehabilitation where I was involved in a process called “rigorous honesty”. This type of honesty is something you need to dig very deep in your life with, it is something that you have to be prepared to part with and to accept. This is not related to bad things that you’ve done in your past but more the dark things that you would take to your grave. When I had the ability to put all these “secrets” out into the universe and ask for forgiveness it was unbelievable how it was received. None of us is perfect but I truly believe life is about growth and learning. Have you always been a musician? What’s your musical background – guitar lessons as a kid? I wouldn’t say I’ve always been a musician but I have certainly been a songwriter ever since I can remember. I learned how to play the basics of guitar when I was very young and taught myself simple songs. From those simple songs I would write lyrics and melody about anything that I was going through. Mind you, most of the songs were probably about girls that didn’t want to date me…. haa haa.
Performing as one half of the Singing Soldiers band (with your brother-in-arms Chris Earl) has no doubt raised your profile with the public and the music industry – how has this transformed or refocused you career goals? The Singing Soldiers was an incredible experience and it was amazing to be doing stuff with Chris as he is a fantastic musician. Everything that we planned and wanted to do with The Singing Soldiers was a success. I just felt that it was time for me to get back to my roots and continue my solo career.I notice you’re also a big fan of ink – you have an amazing collection of tattoos across your body and have even opened up your own tattoo parlour, Rustuk Ink. Is there one tattoo that holds the most meaning for you? And at the parlour, what is the strangest request for a tattoo you’ve ever received? Yes, I certainly have a lot of tattoos; I was a military guy so I got tattoos all over the world. My wife and I fell in love with tattooing so we decided to open a shop in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. It was very successful and we absolutely loved the shop so much but we had an opportunity to sell it to a larger franchise, and so we took the opportunity. Luckily, we knew music was picking back up and my wife is pregnant right now with our first child which I am extremely excited about. Needless to say, I would like to place my time and efforts into my family. The most influential tattoo on my body would be my left hand with my army logo and poppies. This is dedicated to all my brothers and sisters who never made it home from Afghanistan along with many of my friends who did make it home but are still suffering. I would certainly say the funniest tattoo we had come in was an individual walk in who wanted a Pringle tattooed on his shoulder. When I asked him why he wanted that tattooed on his shoulder he said because his boss keeps telling him he has a chip on his shoulder! But really, we’ve had a ton of people with extremely interesting stuff and I love it all!
Graham, good luck with the single, PTSD, and as Ontario opens up for live events (hopefully this summer) do you have any plans for concerts or live appearances? Thank you very much for everything! Live performances will certainly be picking back up once the world opens up again. We have a wicked show ready to roll and are looking forward to playing some great venues! Luckily, being with the Michael Stuart Webb Media Group has offered me some exceptional opportunities to share my music. Thank you all I look forward to meeting you and hopefully seeing you at a show.
With his new release, this soulful, gentle giant who possesses that rare combination of extreme vulnerability and playful bravado, delivers his message loud and clear: whatever personal war you are currently fighting, you are not going into battle alone!
Here’s a first look at Graham’s music video…and I encourage my readers to download the track via your favourite streaming platform. Thank you for supporting Canadian musicians…and thank you for your service, Graham Trude.
Follow Graham on IG: @grahamtrudemusic or visit his website to learn more about this talented singer/songwriter: https://grahamtrude.com/
Award-winning singer/songwriter and record producer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, was one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of blues music in the 1980s. This talented artist was taken from us way too soon in 1990 when the helicopter he was riding in from one gig to another crashed killing all on-board. With an extensive catalogue of recorded works and live performances, we’re at least left with great memories…and these are brought to life by David Ryan (pictured below), front man for THE SRV EXPERIENCE, one of the best tribute bands playing across Canada today.The band is part of a 5-group concert performing this SaturdaySeptember 16th in Oshawa when Sunrise Concerts presents the 1st Annual Durham Rock Tribute Festival (see below for details & tkt info). I managed to grab Dave for a quick chat in between gigs and here’s what he told me:
What first inspired you to sing and play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan? I saw him with Double Trouble at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo in the 1983 video and I was hooked!
Was blues/rock guitar your first passion or were you a closet disco lover? I really like heavier rock from bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Van Halen…
What keeps you and your band on the road and performing for the fans? My passion for the music – I enjoy playing challenging music and SRV’s was difficult to master and very intense.Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, where can fans come see/hear you in the coming months? We have a show booked at The Blue Goose in Etobicoke on September 22nd.
Are you on social media or have a website your fans can follow? Yeah, you can check us out at www.srvexperience.com and we’re also on Facebook.
If you’re a fan of great rock or blues, you’ll love the line-up for this Saturday’s concert: Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd & Allman brothers), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood), Bon Jovi Forever and The SRV Experience. Your MC for the show is the incomparable, award-winning comedian Kenny Robinson.
Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival This Saturday Sept. 16th (doors open 5pm) General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa Tickets are available from:www.ticketpro.ca