Photograph by Gail Bradshaw
On the Salt Spring shore looking South down the Saanich Inlet.
I was born in Toronto and began organizing sound into coherent patterns when I was very young.
I think we all do.
They say I sang in Swedish before I could speak English and I made drums out of cardboard boxes.
Once I could walk, I developed an original technique for playing the garden hose in the cellar and made my family believe damp ghosts dwelled in the laundry room.
My violin playing was enthusiastic but scared our cats.
One day my father bought himself a Heintzman upright piano and I knew I had found my thing.
I learned to play in about 3 weeks.
One hand at a time, of course.
I only used 3 fingers on my right hand, 2 on my left.
By the time I was twelve, in 1960, I was playing church dances.
I got paid $5 per gig, which, after my rent for an amplifier left me with $2.
But I was happy!
I got to go to dances without having to dance.
My first band featured piano, clarinet and snare drum.
We played Fats Domino's Walking To New Orleans for 40 minutes and then Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's Moon River until it was time to go home.
My father and I played songs like Careless Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Blue Moon, Chopsticks even Rachmanioff's C Sharp Minor Prelude, but in C.
To impress my little brothers I pretended I could read the Fireside Book of Folksongs, but I was just making it up.
My life as a teenager centered on piano and beer and by age 20 I had played in countless Toronto bands, usually with an emphasis on rhythm and blues.
I understand there are survivors of those days hiding in the Ontario woods perplexing weekend tourists with their unorthodox chords to Midnight Hour and Knock On Wood.
I was severely injured by several Universities and eventually gave up and joined a commune of one near Downeyville Ontario called Neverneverneverland where I taught myself to read music, studied Bach, Chopin and Beethoven, wrote a lot of songs, played 12 string guitar and nearly froze to death.
I burned an old fence to stay warm which perplexed my neighbour who gave me a pile of maple stumps and then I almost burned Neverneverneverland to the ground by means of a chimney fire.
I hauled my own Heintzman piano around in a trailer behind an old blue Volkswagen and performed where I could.
I eventually found employment as a studio musician in Toronto and worked with many fine musicians including Bruce Cockburn, Raffi, Marc Jordan, Shirley Eikhard, Fraser and Debolt and played on many records, and TV and radio shows.
I studied composition and piano with Dr. Sam Dolin at the Royal Conservatory and continued to learn all I could of the music of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Mozart, Debussy, Ravel and Satie.
Over the next few years I recorded three albums of my own, Ancient Ships, Bells Of Earth, and Small Circus, featuring music for piano, harpsichord, organ and marimba.
In 1989 my family and I abandoned downtown Toronto for southern Vancouver Island where I continued to write and compose and released two albums of electronic music, Blue Night and Strange Rain.
For many years I have been lucky enough to have worked with Richard Condie.
I have scored all of his NFB animations, including the Oscar nominated classics The Big Snit and La Salla. Richard and I agree that our favorite is The Apprentice for which I also made all the soundscapes in addition to the music. Other animations I have scored include the Oscar winning NFB short Bob's Birthday and all 52 episodes of Nelvana's TV series Bob and Margaret which was broadcast worldwide.
Now I'm focusing on my first loves, piano playing, singing ( not in Swedish) and song writing.
I have some new recordings, listed below in the discography.
I teach songwriting (if that is possible), composition,and improvisation, trying to pass along a little of what I have learned during my 60 years of making music.
I look after my vegetable beds, row and sail my little boat around the islands and study Mompou.
I no longer play the garden hose.
Ancient Ships (1980)
Bells Of Earth (1982)
Small Circus (1985)
Blue Night (1994)
Strange Rain (1995)
Still Life Still (2006)
Thats Why (2007)
Amos And The House Of Stones (2012)
The Bob Variations (2012)
Old Soul (2013)
Blue Sun Swing Low (2014)
Cedar Smoke And Cloud (2014)
Red Moon (2015)
Three Birds (2015)
Welcome To Buttonland (2016)
Out Of My Hands (2019)
Stranger Rain (2019)
Note Book (2020)