As someone who has made my career as a teacher and writer, I have often been asked what prompted me to write and play songs, what kind or genre of songs I write, whether I ever had formal musical training, and so on. My answers were pretty unprepossessing.
I began to write songs a few years ago as a recreational break from the rigours of strict poetic practice and the labours of expository prose. Some of these songs are close to actual experience, others are imaginary or fictional accounts, notions that just happened to occur to me, and still others are a sort of wish-fulfillment.
I had no particular influences to guide me. When asked to categorize my songs, I was often at a loss—they appear to hover on a spectrum between country and folk. And no, I had no musical training; I merely picked up the guitar and began teaching myself.
At a certain point, I decided to conclude poetry readings with a song to add variety to the occasion, and was surprised to discover that my audience seemed to genuinely like what they heard and responded with enthusiasm. Many of my listeners would ask if I intended to record.
Thus the adventure began to take off.
I was fortunate to meet up with an old friend, Teddy Paull, whom I had not seen since we were kids in Ste. Agathe, Quebec, playing out in the backyard. It turned out that Teddy was, among his many stellar achievements, a first-class musician and a master at many instruments, who operated a family concern, along with his wife Margaret Armstrong, also an accomplished musician, called Lakeview Studios.
He proposed a collaboration, the result of which was our first CD, Blood Guitar and Other Tales, a recording of my original songs enhanced by Ted’s exceptional professionalism as a musician and technical wizard.
My beloved, Janice Fiamengo, a university professor and a classically trained pianist, was equally essential to our, let’s say, Musical Mystery Tour. Her advice, expertise, inspiration, and commitment have sustained my sometimes faltering efforts, and her piano and voice will be heard on future recordings.
And so the adventure continues, and other follow-up CDs are now in the planning stage.