I grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba a world away from everywhere. Few things brought us closer to the rest of the world or with any impact than music. Radio, newspapers and early television simply reminded us of our distance away.
But at the same time, family had it in them. I remember our patriarch play his fiddle and tap his feet to the best time I'd ever seen. I was six when he passed on but I still remember him like it was yesterday. The day dad brought home a piano for mom was a day of glory in our house. I was fascinated to see a blind man spend two days tuning and refurbishing it. Before he left mom asked him to play for us. He was smooth and elegant as he struck the keys to famous classic waltzes. His music was written in braille. he showed me how he read it by running his fingers over it.
Mom took to that piano like there was nothing else in the world. Dad loved to dance I discovered. Years later, mom would put on a record and my parents would dance as if to show my sister and I they could. We loved it. These were the days performance became familiar for me.
Things were so musical at home. Odd, but dad knew how to play his comb by making a homemade mouth organ out of it. He played the jew's harp and real mouth organ too. He knew how to jig and keep a beat over his legs as well but in my lifetime the skill had nearly passed him by since he was older by the time I came along. Love has no age and I loved my folks making music. My first drum was a tin tv table where I placed a table fork on one end and I could strike the other end to get a snare drum sound. I accompanied mom playing her favourite tunes. Mom told me her family played for others for over thirty six years.
My sister and her pals played records at home. I heard Little Richard, Fats Domino and Elvis for the first time on records. The beginning of rock and roll was being heard even in our northern town. My sister got dressed up and went to dances and met boys. Mom took me to the local theater and it's here I first saw Elvis. His first movies weren't much for his rock and roll leadership. But when JAILHOUSE ROCK hit the theaters I was sold. Meanwhile I went to school and didn't quite excel. Going to Catholic school is another story. But suffice to say if rock and roll music was a corruptive force on the youth then my soul was committed.