Wrote about my time with the late musician Margo Davidson. Michael Todd, her high school friend and former bandmate, wrote about their earlier time together. Here he writes further (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):
You know, I was pondering last night in the car on the way home: it’s interesting how life turns out. I always wanted to be a jazz drummer (not rock and roll, interestingly), but my father wasn’t having any of that, unfortunately. So I end up studying English, writing poetry, getting scholarships to write poetry from people like Irving Layton (one of my teachers), and studying Anglo Irish literature (dad-o was Irish). On the other side of the coin, there is Margo: living the dream, and yet she abandons it all (never quite understood why) to be a “creative writer”, and then to work with the homeless. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.
But further than that, I was trying to think what our musical influences were. Steve Jones was a good neighbourhood friend of Margo’s; they lived near each other in same subdivision. He played piano, as did Margo. In our band, Steve Jones was the designated piano guy. Margo stuck to sax. Margo, even then, had a good knowledge of music theory, and she really in some ways drove the “arrangements” of our tunes. One of us may have sung…and possibly it was her…but if it was, I can’t remember. I do remember her being more or less the M.C. for the band, and she was always on Steve about correct timing in his piano playing. She was big on rhythm, and keeping time.
We were all into blues, and jazz-influenced bands like Lighthouse, Chicago and maybe Blood, Sweat & Tears. And early Elton John for sure, such as Tumbleweed Connection. Also big influences in the area of Norfolk County were bands like The Band (particularly since Rick Danko had come from the area), Neil Young and CSN&Y. Lots of folk/rock influence, though mixed in with country, because County and Western music was big in our area, being rural and all. Think again of Rick Danko. As I remember, Margo was also into Chicago. But I can’t remember anything else she played in the rec room.
We all played together in the high school band. That was de rigueur in those days. There were other bands in the area around about our age, but they were mostly metal heads and the like. Our tack, even then, was different. Although perhaps we didn’t know how different, being high school students trying to master Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”. It’s interesting in retrospect, considering Parachute Club’s style. It too was kind of that mixture found in Chicago and Lighthouse: in their case, almost a world music/lighthouse mix. Lots of people in the band, with diverse musical styles. When I played with Margo, we were sort of conscious of wanting to be different, even then, from the people around us, and Parachute Club was a bit different from the norm of Canadian new wave groups at the time, it seems to me. So maybe there’s a continuum there, in some ways?
These days, I’m excited about groups like Stars. Love their new album: nice mix of pop and techno influences. Plus that other great group–the large one–from Montreal, Arcade Fire, who had a big album with The Suburbs.
On that life journey theme/note: So anyway, turns out both my daughters are very musical. I never really studied music in the formal sense, beyond playing in band at Simcoe Composite School. I now play Irish music: fiddle and bodhran, keeping up the percussion end of things somewhat, given that I have always been a drummer. One of my daughters majored in music and is quite a decent flute player, but she isn’t a performance major. The other also studied piano, but is much less ‘formal’ (as in Conservatory formal) about music. She is much more a Margo type. Despite the similarities, she loves music and playing it, but I doubt will pursue it as a career; more into English and visual art.
Suffice to say, I think those forays into music in one’s early years stay with you in one form or another, throughout an adult life, and surely get passed on to one’s children, due to one’s musical tastes and/or pursuits. Kind of nice that way.