I didn’t have a television in the house when I was a kid. My parents loved classical music and it was on the stereo a lot. When you hear how glorious it is when it’s done right, it’s pretty daunting when you pick up your fiddle and go scratch scratch scratch, and it doesn’t sound right, so I didn’t get inspired by that.
It was like a light bulb moment for me. I just knew I was going to be a musician and that was all I was going to do, and I set out to do it.
A good day was like $15, but the room I was renting only cost $70 a month, so I was able to live fairly easily really. It didn’t seem that hard, but I mean I couldn’t buy guitars or things like that.
It was brown on the outside and I’d never seen a hundred dollar bill before. It was 562 dollars! Wow! The next day, I went to Vancouver and bought myself a better violin. That was my biggest tip ever!
My dad was proud of me after he saw that I was really serious about it. I know I told you he laughed at first, but you know my parents were proud of me, so that that was nice.
We started writing our own songs and we had kind of classic rock flavor, but I don’t know, nothing’s ever really quite taken off for me. I’ve always just sort of gone along under the radar.
One of my big innovations I feel as a musician, is playing fiddle and harmonica together. I’ve never seen anybody else do it. I know I’m not the only person in the world that does it, but it’s not common at all. It was harder than it sounds actually, but I’ve played so much harmonica that it is kind of muscle memory, so combining it with the fiddle, it was harder trying to figure out where the fiddle went with the harmonica rather than the other way around.
At the height of my one-man band show, I had the foot operated bass, my foot drums, two fiddles with different tunings, a viola, a mandolin, a banjo, at least two guitars- sometimes three. I mean it filled the back of our station wagon. My ex-wife would drive me to work all the time. I don’t drive, I ride a bicycle. I couldn’t haul all that on a bicycle, hence that’s why I’ve scaled it back to carry a couple of instruments, a suitcase and hi-hat but not much more.
I felt passionate about it and so I started writing. I would busk all day and I’d come home and I’d do research at night and then in the winter months I wrote it. It took me three years.
My ex- wife used to say, ‘It’s just music- music- music! He’s always music- music- music!’ I have about 12,000 LPs. I’ve just collected records my whole life. If it’s not playing music, it’s listening to music. I don’t know what it is, it’s just a passion. You understand I’m sure. It just takes hold of you.
There was seven nights a week live music and now there’s zero nights a week at Swans, Steamers folded up, Hermann’s is still going but they’re struggling, Logan’s closed. I mean the music scene here has just gone down the tubes. I don’t think it’s just here either, I think it’s probably a lot of places.
I went busking a lot during the pandemic and people were surprisingly much more generous. Nice local people stepped up and were very supportive. I’ve never gotten so many 20 bills as I’ve gotten since the pandemic. People have really stepped up. I have got to hand it to the citizens of Victoria. They’ve been absolutely wonderful and super supportive.
Things have gotten tough at times and I have kept going. You just have to dig deep in yourself. I guess you just have to have enough belief that what you’re doing is the right thing for you. Follow your passion and do what makes you happy. Happiness is worth more than money.