JAIMIE VERNON – HOPE I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD

Never ones to let a good trend pass by without hopping on board, Rock and Roll decided this week to join the zombie apocalypse. The Rolling Stones announced the first of several gigs marking their 50th anniversary together (at $2,000 a seat for prime viewing at the London “O”). Rush, now celebrating their 40th in its current incarnation, was nominated for a chance to become a tourist attraction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Oh, and Chuck Berry – the undisputed Father of Rock and Roll turned….86.

Rock and roll was never, ever, supposed to last this long. The Who’s Pete Townshend stuck a best-before date on it by having Roger Daltrey utter his immortal lyrics “Hope I die before I get old”. ‘My Generation’ was a rallying cry for embittered youth when Townshend wrote it at the ripe old age of 20. November 5th marks the 47th anniversary of its imposition on pop radio; ironically, the song never charted on Canada’s barometer of musical cool, CHUM-AM, at the time. Maybe owner Alan Waters and Company believed The Who was out to dismantle the old guard – or stab it in the neck. Townshend certainly made us believe that rock and roll was dangerous. Not “Rolling Stones dangerous” where the band would drink all your liquor, smoke all your cigarettes and seduce your girlfriend. No, this was “Clockwork Orange, burn-the-house-down, sacrifice a pet, and rape your wife psychopathic dangerous”. And there was a mascot/cheerleader/idiot-savant to lead the charge: Keith Moon.

Keith was the X-Factor that proved, unscientifically, that Chaos Theory works. Uncontained, uncontrollable, unstoppable, and predictably unstable. And yet The Who managed to create a sense that, under the right conditions, rock and roll as primal therapy could accomplish amazing things. But when Moon’s whirling-dervish of a life inevitably came crashing to an end – rock and roll died with him. Or, rather, it should have. He was the poster boy for every battle that rebellious youth had been attempting to win since the boy-Pharaoh, King Tut, used Egypt as his toy box. Moon lived every dream in the win column – even the one where he didn’t have to grow up. But Townshend and Daltrey and Entwhistle would pat the memory of Moon’s boyish charms on the head and decided that there were more battles to fight. Ones that involved adult content. Townshend even had a theme song for that: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. And we believed as we also grew older that Uncle Pete was looking out for our best interests – lyrically and musically. Alas, like all ‘maturing’ rock impresarios, The Who stopped fighting ‘The Man’ and, instead, became him. The Woodstock dream of a utopian hippie paradise where war, famine, and poverty were a thing of the past became quaint idealisms crushed under the boot heel of one more reunion tour, one more band member change (Entwhistle’s dead too? Hell, we’ve got a solution for that as well…), and one more multi-million dollar song license for “Squeeze Box” to be used by the creators of ‘CSI: Alabama”.

It’s truly hard to believe any musician is fighting for ‘the cause’ when they’re showing up in limos and airplanes to do nothing but offer up a titular soundbyte or paparazzi pose in the name of ‘support’. Rock stars are supposed to DIE in airplanes…not fly them to their shows like Bruce Dickinson does for himself and members of Iron Maiden (he’s a commercial airline pilot that also happens to own a Jumbo 777). God, at least give us a sense of sophistry. Where’s the struggle? Where’s the suffering for one’s muse? Just last week a painting by German artist Gerhard Richter  that Eric Clapton purchased for $3 million eleven years ago netted $34.2 million – which is a world record for a painting by a living artist. That’s more money than he’s made from all the songs he’s ever written on all the records he’s ever recorded – COMBINED – and that includes “Tears In Heaven”. http://newsfixnow.com/2012/10/16/painting-owned-by-eric-clapton-sells-for-34-2-million

In the face of this modern musical reality it appears that old-fashioned rebel-like cynicism from an artist has been replaced by a new cynicism – from the audience. Who can restore our faith in the ideology that Rock and Roll is still dangerous? Where are those musicians who have kept their idealism…who’ve crossed the River Styx, kicked Satan in the nutsack and come back alive?; Worse for the wear, wiser for the scare but never flinching in their mandate to face the world on their own terms. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Canadian Asskickers of Rock – PART 1:

RAY MATERICK

Ray Materick is a singer/songwriter born in Brantford, Ontario. He comes by his career honestly: His father played saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet n his own dance band during the 1940’s and 1950’s before becoming an ordained evangelical preacher in the 1960’s. Materick’s brothers introduced him to Rock ‘N’ Roll music in the form of Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy Holly. His inspiration to write his own material came from The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot. In 1972 Materick signed with one of Canada’s first truly independent labels, Kanata Records, to release his first solo album, ‘Sidestreets’, produced by David Bird. The gritty, gravelly voiced and lyrically brilliant album was greeted as a masterpiece by critics. By 1974 Materick was signed to WEA Canada by Gary Muth for the new Asylum label in the U.S. His first album release would be ‘Neon Rain’, produced by Eugene Martynec, and contained the hit single “Linda Put the Coffee On” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQCMmBlZrqU. Legendary east coaster Stan Rogers would note Materick’s considerable talent as a songwriter by recording his version of Materick’s “The Holiday Bar and Grill Cafe”. 1975’s ‘Best Friend Overnight’, produced by Don Potter, featured pedal steel and mandolin courtesy of a very young Daniel Lanois. Similarly, Lanois also made significant contributions to Materick’s 1976 album ‘Midnight Matinee’ (also produced by Don Potter). Materick’s band was solidifying as well with noted contributions by Ed Roth (keyboards), Bill Cymbala (drums), and Bob Doidge (bass).

This line-up would be the foundation for Materick’s 1978 outting, ‘Fever In Rio’, along with help from Jack Pedler (drums), Michael Zweig (guitar), Shirley Eikhard (harmony vocals), Terry Brumhall (bass) and Glen Foster (guitar). This cycle of albums all won Materick critical praise. In the early ’80’s Materick formed his own record label, Escape Records, and continued touring with his band which featured Lily Sazz (The Trailblazers). At this point Materick took a break from his years of road and party life. He began working in an East Toronto woodworking shop where he remained for nearly 8 years. Through a program of self-discovery Materick began writing songs again. Materick now lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and has been feverishly releasing new product through his own King Kong.com record label (which also serves as the home for seven other singer-songwriters). Materick’s prolific resurgence resulted in five solo releases in 2000 – ‘Rough Serenade’, ‘Melting Pot’, ‘Man In The Thunderbird’, ‘Wild World’, and ‘Sunflowers’; and two solo releases in 2001 — ‘Here At Home’ and ‘Violent Flood’. In 2001 Materick released ‘The Songwriter’ on King Kong Records which was later assimilated into a 2 CD package by Linus Entertainment/Warner Music Canada along with 12 vintage 1970’s tracks called ‘Life & Times’ in 2003. Materick then continued his prolific streak with two more albums under his belt – ‘The Book of Love’ and the two disc set ‘Ragged Kingdom’.

Materick is currently in a new act called Peace On Earth [*If You Want It]  featuring Dan Kolthof and Keon Crosswell who released a new video in August 2011 for the song “River of Blood” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_ww__U-FCY) in anticipation of this year’s two stand-alone CD releases: ‘World Without End’ – which is a rootsy Neil Young-meets-Springsteen singer-songwriter effort – and ‘Unity’ which is a Crazy Horse-meets-Vanilla Fudge-meets-Focus locomotive of 1960s/1970s live-off the floor rockers. The songs “Plenty of Love”, “One Heart” and “In My Life” stand out from the former, and “Meanwhile, Back On Earth”, “The War Is Raging For Your Soul” and “The Fire’s Still Burning” from the latter. Materick is the real deals and hasn’t let up for a second or artificially conformed to commercial pop standards. Check out the CDs here: http://www.peaceonearthband.com

SKIP PROKOP
As a young boy, Skip Prokop served in RCSCC LION Sea Cadets Corps in Hamilton, Ontario. At the age of fourteen he became Leading Seaman/1st Class as well as Lead Drummer and Instructor in the Corps. Prokop was also one of two cadets chosen nation-wide to serve in the Royal Canadian Naval Band. His leadership qualities won him an offer of scholarship to the Royal British Naval Academy which he turned down to pursue his love of music. He moved to Preston, Ontario (now Cambridge) and played in the Preston Scout House Drum Corps. One year later, he was accepted by the Toronto Optimist Drum Corps – the world famous Canadian National Champions. Prokop was encouraged to pursue a career in music and perfected his skill as a drummer. He won the prestigious ‘Canadian National Individual Rudimental Drumming Championship’ at the age of seventeen and later that year, placed in the top three (losing within tenths of a point below 1st and 2nd place) for the same title in the United States. A scholarship from prestigious Westpoint Military Academy was offered to him as the first Canadian to be sponsored by a U.S. Senator but turned it down. While in Toronto, Ontario he graduated from Lakeshore Business College and took a position with the Metropolitan Toronto Police force in the Identification Bureau. Prokop was offered a position with the United States Air Force Blue Angels Presidential Drum Corps at the age of nineteen. At the same time he was perfecting his guitar and piano skills and had started to write his first musical compositions. He left the Drum Corps to establish his first group The Paupers. They became the first Canadian group to sign a major US record deal. After successfully touring internationally for 4 years the group broke up and Prokop stayed in the US and became one of the most sought after studio musicians.

He would work with Peter Paul & Mary, Alvin Bishop, Carlos Santana, Steve Miller, Mama Cass Elliot, and The Super Session with Al Kooper and Michael Bloomfield and was handed the unenviable task of putting a band together for Janis Joplin (which found him face-to-face with the Hell’s Angels ‘welcoming committee’). Upon returning to Canada Prokop was personally selected by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to address Parliament at the ‘Parliamentary Inquiry into Canadian Music’. He was the first rock musician in Canadian history to address parliament.  He spoke about what it was like to be a Canadian musician/recording artist during a time when Canadian radio stations would not play or recognize Canadian Recording Artists. This inquiry resulted in the formation of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission. Prokop was recognized by the late honourable Pierre Juno that his personal testimony was one of the key elements to the successful establishment of the CRTC. In 1969, Prokop founded the rock group Lighthouse – the world’s first 13-piece rock orchestra who went on to achieve international success as a live act and Top40 hit makers. Prokop would play with Lighthouse until 1974 after which he delved into producing – working for several months in New York on Déjà Vu’s second studio album, ‘Get It Up For Love’, and had them re-record his Lighthouse hit “Pretty Lady”. In 1977 he took the plunge and released a solo album, ‘All Growed Up’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL7UsCEELuc
featuring the single “Gotta Hear You Say It Too”. In the 1980s he hosted his own Christian Contemporary Rock program on CFNY-FM. Prokop would organize and promote the 1987 ‘Greenfest Christian Music Rock Festival’. In 1988 and 1989 he was the President and owner of PROMOTUR Inc. – a full service communications and commercial production organization. Prokop would reunite Lighthouse in 1990 for the Variety Club Telethon. The band has remained together ever since and continues perform regularly around Canada. Also in 1990 Prokop was employed as Promotions Manager/Sales Representative at CHLO Radio in St. Thomas, Ontario. In May of 1992 he joined BX93 and CJBK as a Regional Account Representative. In 2005 he formed a brand new smooth jazz group and began recording and co-producing a CD tentatively titled ‘In the Center Of…’ with Georgie Fab at his A Cellar Full of Noise studio. [Due to budget constraints the album was never mixed properly but is expected to see light of day as ‘The Valecrest Sessions’.]  Also in 2005 Prokop and his son Jamie formed a brand new Christian Rock “ministry” band called Mercy Train. They were given free session time totaling $15,000 to complete their first EP which they believed should never be sold, but given away for free to anyone who might find encouragement in their music. Unfortunately, Mercy Train disbanded in late 2010 in the middle of their first full length recording.  Still, two singles were released to Canadian Radio despite the breakup.

Prokop’s second smooth jazz release, ‘Smoothside’, was recorded between 2010 and 2012 and was mixed and co-produced by Jamie Prokop at the studio he co-owns called IAM Studios in Brantford, Ontario. The record is a slick, mostly instrumental affair and is an incredibly well produced Modern Jazz release with Skip supplying keyboards, drums and vocals. The album is mixture of pop flavoured jazz (with original tunes like “Trust Your Livin’”, “Mist” and “No Thanks Just Lookin’), inspirationals (including ‘Amazing Grace’ and the original song ‘Saviour’) and  features three Lighthouse remakes – “Pretty Lady” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAZNMImPuU0, “You Girl” and “One Fine Morning” – all sporting 180 degree reworked arrangements. You’ve never heard these classics performed like this! Prokop has also brought in his Lighthouse band mates for cameos – Paul Hoffert supplying vibes and vocalist Dan Clancy tearing the roof of the “Get Ready” inspired “Turn On the Radio”. http://www.skipprokop.com

GRACE NOTES:
– Congrats to singer Drake who finally graduated high school after playing a student for years on ‘Degrassi: Next Generation’.

– A favourite of this column is Marta Pacek who is currently on tour. I recommend that our American readers check her out at her upcoming US shows:

October 22, 2012
Cleveland, OH @ The Barking Spider
8:00 – 9:30pm; Free entry
11310 Juniper Road Cleveland, OH 44106, (216) 421-2863

October 23, 2012
Pittsburgh, PA @ Shadow Lounge
8:00pm doors, $10 Entry
9:30 -10:45pm Marta Pacek
5972 Baum Blvd Pittsburgh, PA 15206,

October 26, 2012
New York, NY @ Pianos
6:30pm Doors; $10 entry
7-7:45pm Performance
158 Ludlow St, New York,NY 10002, (212) 505-3733

October 27, 2012
New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall
Free show
6-6:45pm show
196 Alllen St. New York, NY 10002

October 28, 2012
Brooklyn, NY @ Spike Hill
7:00pm; Free Show
186 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211, (718) 218-9737

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (http://www.bullseyecanada.com) and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com

2 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – HOPE I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD”

  1. As one who employed rock and roll as primal therapy, I can only suggest that the music was created by human nature and was eventually corrupted by human nature as well. I never believed Pete’s lyrics to My Generation were completely 100 per cent sincere, after all he was in show business or, more precisely, the business of the show. Otherwise, why break all those beautiful guitars, if not for show? I think it would be a mistake to hold the people who created rock and roll music up as gods, because they are as human as anyone else. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m making excuses for rock stars, but really I don’t take them that seriously anymore.

  2. I know this has been beat to death, but there is just a small bit of doubt hanging over Chuck Berry`s ìnventions. Some of his trademark riffs, copied by so many guitarists over the years were also borrowed by Chuck. Listen to some of the stuff Louis Jordan was doing in the mid to late 40`s – he had a guitarist who played those riffs before Chuck – and he was a player that Chuck definitely would have been exposed to. Just sayin … Louis never called it rock `n`roll – but he did call it roll.

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