Roxanne Tellier – Brain Scatterlings


It’s been one of those weeks. It started out promisingly, with great plans for every day of the week. I was sure that by today, I’d have a clean house, an empty inbox, and even maybe lose ten pounds.


But it was not to be. Like Juluku’s ‘Scatterlngs of Africa,” my mind ran off in all directions. Again. So let me try and pull something out of the air, and if we’re lucky, perhaps this will all make a sort of confused sense.

knee jerk reactionsLast week’s column touched on mondegreens and misused words. I confess, I love words, and at times, I am a Word Nazi.   I literally cringe when people mispronounce words, and yes – I will usually correct them. Not to be a ‘smarty pants’ – it’s knee jerk. Can’t help it.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that the name of the pop festival, Coachella, should properly be pronounced “Co-a- chella.” Filed that away and thought no more about it until hearing a TV news report this morning. There were two announcers involved, and each pronounced it differently. Nails on a chalkboard time.

I came across this video recently, and loved it. There are a few words that I might take issue with, based on European pronunciations, but this is on a U.S. site. I’m just glad it’s out there.

On Friday, fellow writer Pat Blythe and I headed out to catch one of Annette Shaffer’s famous jams. Annette Shaffer co-hosts The Foolish AnnetteThings invitation stage at Toronto’s Tranzac Club every Friday from 5:00-7:00pm. In one incarnation or another, she’s held the Friday slot for 15 years! She reigns over the regulars and irregulars with a graceful hand, combining originals and covers in a blend that is captivating.  The jam begins organically, with Annette, and perhaps one other player, filling the room with warmth and acceptance, and builds over the course of the two hours, until at times it seems that the entire audience is on stage with the band.

At one time, the jam was called The Friends of Hugh Oliver Show.  Mr. Oliver, an 85-year old poet, musician, sculptor and regular Tranzac crooner joins the gang about once a month (next scheduled for April 17th) 

In this 2012 clip, Annette sings “Hungry for Love,” with British singer/songwriter Ben Walker on piano.

Fellow vocalist Nicola Vaughan also dropped by, and dished up some of her own musical magic. Nicola hosts a jam at Hirut’s on the Danforth every Sunday between 3-6pm, as well as a Wednesday night jam at the Black Swan. In her own inimitable pop/jazz style, she served up a delightful tune that I’d never heard before, which was recorded by Mary Hopkin in 1968. Harry Nilsson originally wrote this song at Paul McCartney’s ‘s request for  the 18 year old  singer that McCartney had signed to Apple Records.

one-does-not-simply-stop-being-the-loneliest-numberIt’s incredible that the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame has never honoured Nilsson, one of the few major pop-rock recording artists of his era to make it big without regular tours or major public concerts. His songs, including hit singles “Everybody’s Talkin’”(1969), and “Without You” (1971) both captured Grammy Awards, and his song “One,” made famous by Three Dog Night, has been recorded by everyone from Aimee Mann to Dokken.  

Long time friend Headly Westerfield has created a Facebook page in an attempt to draw attention to this omission.  “It’s a national disgrace that Harry Nilsson has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially considering some who have been.” You can join the cognoscenti at

Another Nilsson tune I hadn’t heard before is the aptly titled “How To Write A Song,” as relevant today as it was then. “If you write it on guitar, place your guitar upon your knee.  If you write it on piano,
don’t do that.”

I’m sure that, if asked about the RRHOF, Nilsson would have had this to say about his exclusion:

This week I’ve had several YouTube video links sent to me via Facebook friends. That might explain why so little was accomplished, actually. One such baby snakelink brought me to a rare Claymation film by animator Bruce Bickford. Frank Zappa was Bickford’s best-known patron, and used his Claymation movies in his act. (“Baby Snakes”, “City of Tiny Lights”.)

But the motherlode of Bickford/Zappa work is a rare one-hour VHS compilation released in 1987 called The Amazing Mr. Bickford, which has never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray. No need to drop that purple microdot .. I’ve got your acid trip right here …

“Bickford’s dizzying stream-of-dementia, anything-can-happen-next, constantly mutating stop-motion animations are scored by Zappa’s orchestral work, culled mostly from Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger , though “Mo ‘n Herb’s Vacation” from the London Symphony Orchestra is present, as well. “

The BBC Four has produced many wonderful documentaries on musicians. Having recently watched their chronicle on the band Squeeze, I was happy to find this 2015 salute to Sheffield’s Paul Carrack, ”The Man with the Golden Voice.” Best known for Ace‘s 1974 hit How Long, Squeeze‘s Tempted and Mike and the Mechanics’ The Living Years, Carrack’s voice and attitude make him far more than a lowly journeyman.

Another friend turned me on to Ricky Syers, an incredibly talented artist who performs with his lifelike marionettes around New York. Using a device which allows him to play up to 4 instruments at a time, his YouTube videos are mesmerizing. (Canadians may prefer his “Chops Sawyer” tribute to Rush.)

This one I found all on my own. Skeleton Dance Crew, a troupe from Delhi, India, and late of India’s Got Talent. Not the easiest thing to watch if you’re nursing a hangover.

Lastly … out of the mouths of babes. This Buzzfeed video has teens commenting on those wild videos of the 90’s. Does this video make my butt look elderly?

Good thing the kiddies didn’t get a glimpse of any of the naughty Duran Duran videos of the ‘80’s. I’ll leave you with this bit of black and white nostalgia …


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.


2 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier – Brain Scatterlings”

  1. good stream-of-consciousness piece…bbc4 has indeed documented some great artists but has ignored far more…great that you publicized annette shaffer and hugh oliver…i wrote a blog about nilsson too:

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