Segarini – The Sebastian, Celia, Edison Twins and Rumer, Rerun!
So damn cold and the weather has turned into a nightmare, and the news has been as grey and as dark as the sky, we have lost so many icons and creative individuals, and the new year isn’t even a month old yet.
This column was originally written in 2011 and ran in another online music mag. It was an impossibly hot, arid, stifling summer…so I thought being reminded of the heat would make you feel better about the cold.
Part Two of 2015 – The Age of Idiocracy will be here on Monday….
Toronto – August 2011….
“Satan called, he wants his weather back.” I must have seen that status on Facebook a dozen times in the last two weeks. No surprise there, Satan DID call and he DOES want his weather back, but give me a minute, I’ve got to go out to the driveway and flip my eggs….
It is hot enough in Toronto to actually fry eggs on the pavement. I know this because I broke one open on the driveway last week and it fried right up. One piece of advice for anyone wanting to try this though: Sweep the loose gravel off of your cooking surface…and don’t cook in the oil spot, it’s gross and totally ruins the flavour. Whenever it gets this hot, the Loving Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” squirms its way into my head and sits tight until the weather breaks or a song of equal insistence pushes it out of my craw and back out into the ether, where it will remain until the next time the thermometer reaches the mid nineties or so. This summer it still sits, a constant reminder that for those of us who dislike temperatures above 75 or so, summer isn’t everybody’s favourite season.
The song, a jackhammer in the midst of John Sebastian’s usual hug infused and snow-globe sentimental stable of aural comfort food like “You and Me and Rain on the Roof” , “You Didn’t Have to be So Nice”, and “Darling Be Home Soon”, has an annoying repetitiveness, a finger-poke-in-the-chest insistence, and what sounds like slamming car doors driving home its point, which seems to be; “This weather is uncomfortable, “I need a shower”, “Let’s go pick up some chicks”, and “Turn up the air conditioner.” Slow it down, and it would serve as a fine vehicle for The Doors back when Morrison was still panther sleek and grist for the teen magazine mill. Speed it up and you have a good reason to shoot somebody.
Los Angeles 1966….
I met John Sebastian and the rest of the Spoonful in the summer of ’66 in L.A one night at the Whiskey on Sunset. We were introduced by a mutual friend (whose name escapes me at the moment although it may have been Mark Volman of the Turtles) and hit it off immediately thanks to our shared love of all things musical and John’s interest in finding some hash. Like damn near everyone under the age of 30 at that time, I must have looked like I was a
drug dealer (I wasn’t) or like I would know some (I did!) and told John when he asked about obtaining a chunk that I would happily find him some while he was in L.A and bring it to him. He gave me the address of the house they had rented in the canyons of Hollywood, and I promised to drop by the next day. I did. He still owes me fifty bucks.
Flash forward to 1982….
I’m doing afternoon drive at Q107 and a lot of commercial voice overs (“The only thing as good as your Crispy Crunch is someone else’s”
and “Levis…the origin of the species for the HIP of the species.” among them) when I get a phone call from an old friend, Clive Smith. Clive, along with two partners, had a thriving animation studio going called NELVANA. He called to ask me if I would audition for a part in a live-action series they were going to do called, “The Edison Twins”. Being of the ham family, I accepted the offer. “Anything I need to know?” I asked him. “Not really”, came the reply, “You’ll be playing a rock star who is now a movie star who wrote and sang the song the parents in the show fell in love to at a rock festival in the ‘60s.” I asked him if I could write the song if I got the part, and he said, “Well, the part was written for an actual rock legend” (I winced) “and the song was going to be his biggest hit from the ‘60s. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of the episode, a conflict that he couldn’t get out of and wecouldn’t re-schedule the shoot, soooo…yeah, I suppose.” “Who was it and what was the song, so I know what you’re looking for”, I asked. “John Sebastian, Do You Believe in Magic”, Clive answered over the phone. Ahh, I thought, an opportunity to get my 50 bucks back with interest…if I get the part.
Next thing you know, I’m playing ‘Chops Dorfman’, whose ‘60s hit, ‘Real Live Magic’ was the reason Mr. and Mrs. Edison fell in love all those years ago at the Strawberry Mountain Festival when the world was young and everybody else their age were on acid and playing in the mud.
I also ended up writing the theme song for the whole series after overhearing the producers talking about how much they disliked the one they had. John Sebastian has more than paid back the 50 bucks he owed me and then some.
The littlest Edison, was played by a kid named Sonny Besen-Tharasher, a wee lad of inestimable energy and a cute factor of a zillion. Smart, inquisitive, and talented, it was no surprise he encompassed these qualities considering who his mother is. Mom is Joan Besen, founder of Canada’s wonderful country outfit Prairie Oyster, and a formidable musical whirlwind, keyboardist, writer, and singer.
When I ran into Joan at the Leon Russell/Paul James show at the Sound Academy a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the patio drinking a Rolling Rock and listening to ‘Summer in the City’ play on repeat in my head, the heat of the day abating in the cool breeze coming off Lake Ontario, and pushed further away by the ice cold can of beer in my hand. With John Sebastian’s voice in my head, the first thing I asked Joan about when she sat down at the table was Sonny. “He’s 35 now”., she responded. I suddenly felt a million years old for a second. “He still remembers you”, she said, “You invited him over to play video games during the Edison Twins shoot.” I remember that. An Atari 2600, Sonny and I shot dots from our respective cubes at one another while the Atari Bleeped and Blooped its chorus of primitive sound effects through the television’s speaker. Technology gone wild, we thought at the time. I asked Joan what she was up to, and she rattled off a dozen different projects and one in particular caught my ear. She mentioned a name…David Celia. Here’s Joan live with David, and then one of David’s fine music videos.
I had heard the name before from my daughter. Her taste in music (thankfully influenced by mine to a degree) had, by the time she was 14, gotten to the point where she was turning ME on to music she had discovered. She mentioned Celia to me a few years ago, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to check him or his music out until now. Joan was playing with him at the Cameron House on consecutive Fridays ( I’m there to see him again today, if you’re reading this on Friday, August 5th) so, thanks to this hot summer in the city, I find myself seeking out the air conditioned comfort of the Cameron to hear some music and visit with Joan. This is the way to spend summer in the city, especially in a city like Toronto. There is SO much great music being made in the bars and clubs…and the beer is ICE cold.
Celia is a revelation. The original songs (and covers like “I’m Only Sleeping”, a Beatle favourite seldom, if ever, heard on the classic rock stations out there) display a guy whose time has surely come. This kid is just wicked good.
From the stellar guitar playing, excellent voice, and insanely clever and musical songs, David Celia fronts a Beatlesque group that sounds, in turns, like a roots flavoured group of country jazz players from the SmokeyMountains of Liverpool. Am I making any sense? Doesn’t matter, as with all great music, you have to hear it for yourself and make up your own mind. All I know is Joan and the rest of the players (including the ubiquitous Cleve Anderson on drums) not only sound like a long time, award winning aggregation, they play and sing with an authority usually reserved for bands that have been successful for decades, a natural, organic, and whimsical sound you would be hard pressed to duplicate if you tried.
If it is indeed in the 90s again this week, grab this summer in the city by the tail and go see David and the other hard working musicians who ply your hometown stages in the sweltering heat while less hardy folk race out of the cities to embrace black flies, mosquitos, and slow moving traffic jams, leaving all this music behind for those of us that thrive on the summer’s ability to drive us to seek out coolness, musical and otherwise. David Celia can be found at the Cameron House on Queen Street, one block west of Spadina from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, today, Friday, August 5th if you’re in Toronto. For those of you in other areas, go seek out your local music, have an ice cold beer, and enjoy the heat and good vibes out there before the winds begin to howl and the temperature starts to drop on us like a puck to the ice. After the Cameron, meet me at Cherry Cola’s for a few nitecaps.
Ed. Note: David is still playing the Cameron and other great venues around Toronto, touring Canada, the U.S, and Europe. Find him and see him live.
And thank you, John Sebastian, for linking together so many good times in my life. And just so you know, I still believe in magic.
Rumer…See this woman. Hear this woman. Love this woman.
…and the one that hooked me in the first place.
Segarini’s column appears when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s Amore
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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