My father, in recent years, has been rediscovering the popular music of the twentieth century. Or rather discovering the popular music of the twentieth century as it seems that he somehow managed to miss most of it the first time around.
And so, every once in a while, we boys will get an excited email from Dad saying something like “Have you heard about this great group called The Eagles?!”
My own small contribution to this comes from the albums, cassettes and CDs that I’ve left at my parents’ home over the years.
So in recent years my father has, for example, discovered Jane Siberry. And, this Christmas, David Ramsden. He came across a copy of David’s Quiet Please! There’s a Lady on Stage cassette in a closet, a cassette I’d thought long-lost. He digitized the cassette to MP3s and offered to burn me a CD of it, an offer I enthusiastically took him up on.
When I lived in Peterborough, Ontario in the late 1980s and early 1990s David was a fixture of the local music scene, both there and in Toronto. I encountered him in many venues and in various combinations and permutations, both as a musician and an actor (he was a sometime member of the cast of the infamous “East City” soap that played late nights at Artspace).
Quiet Please! There’s a Lady on Stage was a project David launched with some of Canada’s most talented female vocalists, singers like Rebecca Jenkins, Jane Siberry, and Theresa Tova. The combination of David’s piano and vocals with these voices was remarkable, and the cassette Dad found in the closet was the only surviving evidence of it. One of my favouite tracks on the cassette is Come Inside, which David sang with Rebecca Jenkins (still one of Canada’s great vocal talents). This digitlzed version is a little wobbly – it comes from a 25 year old cassette tape, after all – but it still captures the potent combination of the two voices:
David and I ran in the same circles in Peterborough, and although I’m not sure we ever sat down and had a conversation, we knew who the other was (I knew David’s brother Ken, mayoral candidate and leader of Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers a little better).
I don’t use Facebook frequently – every time I check in there seem to be long-unread 2 or 3 messages from old friends that were sent months ago – but in recent weeks I’ve been using it more because I had a visit from a friend through which Facebook was the only way of communicating. And so it was that I noticed, out of the corner of my eye when I logged in on Tuesday, that David was in New Brunswick, eating a bad lobster sandwich:
McLobster made me McSick. Honestly I arrived so late here in Saint John last night that it was the last place open. I should have Mcknown better.
On a lark, I sent him a Facebook message (only the second one I’ve ever sent to anyone) offering to treat him to the excellent lobster roll at Youngfolk & The Kettle Black here in Charlottetown as an antidote should he ever find himself in the city.
To my surprise and delight it turned out that he received the message as he was sitting in his hotel down the street from me in Charlottetown and graciously took me up on my offer.
Regular readers may recall that I am rather shy, and it’s quite unlike me to extend invitations to lunch to people I only vaguely know, especially people whose talents I’ve been in awe of for so long. But an invitation is an invitation, and so yesterday afternoon David and I found ourselves renewing our ties over an (excellent) lobster roll on Water Street.
David was as delightful a person as I recall – more so, even. We had a very pleasant chat, found we had more people in common that we both thought. I sent him on his way with a list of must-see places on PEI (Yankee Hill cemetery, MacAusland’s, Landmark Café, The Pearl, etc.) and before he left David went back to his car and pulled out a copy of his new album to give to me (“new” in the sense of “most recent” – it was released 13 years ago). The album was an unexpected treat – I didn’t know he’d recorded it – especially for the inclusion of a new version of Come Inside with Rebecca Jenkins: