Segarini: The Weekend Roundup – People City, Queen, CITY TV, and Xprime

It’s no secret that I love Toronto. After growing up on the Left Coast, (San Francisco, Stockton, Los Angeles, and Eureka) and spending five years in Montreal, I found myself living in The Big Smoke. Reluctantly at first, Toronto grew on me until I realized it was my one true home, and though I pine for the Stockton of the ‘50s, the San Francisco and the L.A of the ‘60s, and the Eureka and Montreal of the ‘70s, There is no place on Earth I would rather be in the here and now, than here; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Toronto is a City of Villages, a pastiche of cultural touchstones and individuals who have brought a personality to this city unlike any other in the world. Toronto doesn’t absorb its residents and the cultures they brings with them, it puts them on display for all to see and experience. It is a living, breathing, museum of the moment, a place that collects its treasures not in amber, but in light and movement, in music and food, in entertainment and information that reflects the roots of those who, like me, discovered quite by accident that Toronto is more than a place you live. It is home.

This is what Toronto looked like 60 years ago: Toronto 1951

This is what it looked like when I first moved here in 1977

And this is what it looks like now

Here’s a vid put together to attract business here, but it shows you the diversity of this burg. Watch this (and the other videos here) in full screen if you can.

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Even living here it is damned near impossible to keep up with everything that is going on. This past week alone, I missed more events and get-togethers than I made. It seems like there are always 3 or 4 things of interest that are happening at the same time, making the flip of a coin or your financial situation the usual means to determine what you will, or won’t be doing. Being without a coin to flip, I followed the path of least resistance…was there something going on with an open bar and free food?

There was.

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If you are a fan of music (and I know you are) you are probably aware of Eagle Rock Entertainment. They release CDs, DVDs, and BluRay product like this…

…and this…

…and this…

Eagle Rock Entertainment was founded by Terry Shand, Geoff Kempin and Julian Paul in April of 1997. The Eagle Vision label was established in 2000. Geoff Kempin flew in from Europe this past week to introduce their latest release, Queen: Hungarian Rhapsody (Live in Budapest), to a lucky bunch of us at The Scotiabank Theatres in downtown Toronto. After feeding us and plying us with an open bar in the lobby of the gigantic theatre complex, we were ushered into the screening of their latest BluRay 5.1 release. Pictured: Bob, Emer Schlosser, and Darryl Hurs. Pictures by Bobby Singh

Geoff is an easy going, well-spoken gentleman who dresses like a Silicon Valley gazillianaire (levis, open collared shirt and a sports jacket, and seemed like an affable guy you would want to find yourself next to at a sporting event or luncheon. He introduced the film and the theatre was filled with a short, newly produced documentary which then launched into the concert.

With the exception of one song, (more on that in a minute), I was never a big fan of Queen. Of the people in Queen, however, I am a HUGE fan.

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I was working on Ian Hunter’s ‘All American Alien Boy’ in New York back in January of 1976. Here’s the lineup for those recordings….

  • Ian Hunter – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, backing vocals
  • Chris Stainton – piano, organ, mellotron, bass guitar on “Restless Youth”
  • Jaco Pastorius – bass guitar all tracks, guitar on track 8
  • Aynsley Dunbar – drums
  • Gerry Weens – lead guitar
  • David Sanborn – alto sax
  • Dominic Cortese – accordion
  • Cornell Dupree – guitar on “Letter to Brittania From the Union Jack”
  • Don Alias – congas
  • Arnie Lawrence – clarinet
  • Dave Bargeron – trombone
  • Lewis Soloff – trumpet
  • Freddie Mercury – backing vocals on “You Nearly Did Me In”
  • Brian May – backing vocals on “You Nearly Did Me In”
  • Roger Taylor – backing vocals on “You Nearly Did Me In”
  • Bob Segarini – backing vocals
  • Ann E. Sutton – backing vocals
  • Gail Kantor – backing vocals
  • Erin Dickens – backing vocals

Being in the studio, watching all these people work, was a mind boggling experience. At first, I felt like a rube at a carnival, a yokel from Yam Creek, Arkansas, surrounded by towering skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. Thanks to the downright hospitality and naturalness of the participants, I was soon just one of the guys, hangin’ out, makin’ music, and having a good time.

Jaco (who I had met around the same time I met Ian) was introduced to me by BS&T drummer, Bobby Colomby. Bobby invited Ian and I over to his house in New City, New York to hear a recording of this kid he had met, who had been a teacher at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. He played us a 16 track tape that sounded like a full band. Turning to Ian and I after the track finished, he told us that it was just one guy, blaying a bass, and using different tape speeds, Bobby had recorded Jaco so he sounded like drums, bass, and guitars. Incredible. Colomby produced Jaco’s debut album soon after, and launched a jazz career and forever influenced the place of bass in jazz music.

Anyway, Jaco and I hung out together during the recording of All American Alien Boy. We both liked to drink (Jaco always had his bass around his neck and a bottle of vodka in one hand) and we both liked Nathan’s Hot Dogs. We would walk down to the Nathan’s on the corner, about a half a block from Electric Lady Land, where we were recording, and stand in line for Nathan’s and a Root Beer or Orange drink. Jaco would still have his bass hanging from his shoulders and a bottle in one hand every time.

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One night the lounge door flew open and in walked Freddie, Brian, and John. After the hugging and hellos, Ian introduced as all to one another and we headed into the studio. Ian played the track (You Nearly Did Me In) he wanted Queen to sing backups on. They listened once, twice, a third time, and then Freddie sat down at the piano and picked out some notes. “This will be the first part” he said to John and Brian, and the three of them sang the notes…in unison (three voices singing the same notes together).

They stepped to the single mic and sang the part. Then they doubled, then tripled it. I was witnessing the secret to Queen’s amazing vocal sound. They learned the next harmony part, and again stepped before the single mic and tripled the part in unison. There were now 18 voices on the tape. A third go-round with another harmony part and the background vocals consisted of 27 voices…and Queen, their signature sound in full bloom, were guesting on Ian’s album. Here’s the finished album version. Note David Sanborn’s sax (he made it look so easy), and Jaco’s phenomenal bass playing…and of course Ian’s unmistakable lead vocal.

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I was also impressed with Roger when he was seeing one of my daughter’s nannies. She showed up with him one night after a Queen concert in Toronto and they sat directly in front of me and the rest of the Segarini band in the tiny, cramped, but wonderful Hotel California. Again, he was friendly and affable, and no one bothered him while he was there. He remembered the Ian Hunter session, and we spent a few minutes down memory lane, then he drifted back out the door, nanny in tow, after our last set. I was reminded of the visit when I got the phone bill a month later. They had stayed in touch through the rest of the tour. Roger had left her a copy of their itinerary, and she called him almost every night. Young love…

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The concert film is a real eye opener. Queen fans will be beside themselves, and I was impressed with the sound and images that swept through the theatre. A powerful band with an incredibly powerful front man. Freddie Mercury was a real loss to all of us. A musical force that still echoes, even after all these years.

Toward the end of the film, a familiar drum and synth sound made me sit up in my chair.

This was the song.

This was the tune that for me, transcended everything else in their catalogue. Where I found ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ pretentious and riddled with scenery-chewing dramatic hoo-ha (like guitar players who make every guitar solo look like a cross between single-handedly lifting a car up over their head and a bowel movement), this song rang true. It still does…and because of that it seems even more prophetic than it did decades ago.

I hope Freddie is right.

I hope radio’s finest hour is still to come, even though right now, it languishes as “some background noise
A backdrop for the girls and boys
Who just don’t know or just don’t care
And just complain when you’re not there”

I see signs of life returning to radio, so I’m betting Freddy Mercury was right…radio will come back to music…and we will go back to radio.

See the Queen film. You will enjoy it. Just watching the 100,000 or so kids in the audience, in what was a part of the Soviet Union, will touch you. Thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment for making this happen, and for a great night out in Toronto.

Radio – radio
I’d sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio

You gave them all those old time stars
Through wars of worlds – invaded by Mars
You made ’em laugh – you made ’em cry
You made us feel like we could fly
Radio

So don’t become some background noise
A backdrop for the girls and boys
Who just don’t know or just don’t care
And just complain when you’re not there
You had your time, you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

All we hear is radio ga ga
radio goo goo
radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
radio blah blah
Radio what’s new?
Radio, someone still loves you

We watch the shows – we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours
We hardly need to use our ears
How music changes through the years

Let’s hope you never leave old friend
Like all good things on you we depend
So stick around ‘cos we might miss you
When we grow tired of all this visual
You had your time – you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio what’s new ?
Someone still loves you

Radio ga ga (ga ga)
Radio ga ga (ga ga)
Radio ga ga (ga ga)

You had your time – you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

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Quick Cuts

Missed the CITY TV reunion but still managed to have a  great time. A dear friend and I sat on the tiny patio at Eat My Martini on College in Little Italy drinking very inexpensive (but delicious) martinis from their menu, which has well over 100 different martinis on it, then high-tailed it over to Cherry Cola’s for Xprime’s first set. LOVE this band. On the way to Cherry’s tonight too, as Xprime starts their Sunday residency. Make sure you see this band, they are just waaay too much fun.

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Tonight brings episode two in the 3rd season of Boardwalk Empire, and the first episode of the new season of Treme. Consult your local listings.

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Segarini’s regular column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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