Monthly Archives: August 2014

Taking Pro Pills

13427787273_a7a3722e4a_k I played on Ron Hawkins new album at a East Toronto recording studio today. I remember meeting him more than 20 years ago at the Free Times Cafe. The first thing out of his mouth was that is was great to fuck to (my album) In Her Dream. He meant that as a compliment and I took it that way but while we were gabbing today he told me as a youth he was in the Trotsky League. That alters my older memories, now I realize that years ago when he said those words it may have been because of the politics of the songs on In Her Dream and not just that he gets erotic pleasure from records that are unconcerned about vocal pitch.

It is stimulating to say the least when you love being a producer and an arranger to show up and let someone else have the final judgement about what you are doing. We started with a song I had wanted to do a broken chord pattern for, I thought it was killer. As soon as he and Joe Dunphy heard it I was asked to not play broken chords – oh the pain – but more amusing were the flashbacks to previous lives lived and the anger that might boil inside me to be told not to do what I think best.

The art of doing it well is not so simple and if I do it well I owe thanks to Graeme Kirkland. I hired Graeme to play on a couple songs for In Her Dream and it was a train wreck. I loved Graeme and he had beautiful compositions but when he came to that session he was obstinate. He would improvise to the tracks and then I would respond. I might say “Could you do that again without the ride cymbal?” or “Could you play brushes instead of sticks.” He got pissed off, like I had a lot of nerve to act like I knew what was best for my song ….and didn’t I realize he had never heard it before and didn’t really give a shit about singer songwriter stuff and didn’t I realize he was a genius? It hit me like a ton of bricks because I had done the same thing when King Apparatus hired me and when Lava Hay hired me. I resented it if they didn’t agree with my instincts.


Thanks to Graeme I acquired a new perspective and it goes like this. If someone hires you to play – your job is to be at their service. It’s nice to offer your ideas but you have to smile and move on if they want you to do something different than what your instincts tell you because it’s their record – that’s taking a pro pill. It’s like acting in a movie, the director might ask you to improvise but they might ask you to stick to the script or do it again without moving your arms or do it again backwards, or do it again with a French accent, whatever, they’re the director, they are trying to see the entire picture not just you’re part. It’s also fun not being in charge…for a little while.

The Scope AM Radio in Toronto


My friend Jacky Tuinstra is spearheading Ryerson University applying for an AM radio license for a new station on the AM dial in Toronto. Might be cool to have a campus station available on AM yes? I met her when CKLN lost it’s license and later she became their new head and organized a defence to maintain their spot on the dial which lost unfortunately to a commercial station in Barrie who are called Indie 88 who are about as indie as Monsanto.

Anyway they need letters of support from creative independent people as she said in her email to me

“We could really use some help getting local artists, musicians and arts agencies to write in for us. If you could brainstorm some contacts or make some introductions for us, I would be very grateful.”

I sent an email the other day to about 20 people I thought of off the top of my head but only 2 responded, or at least responded to me. Now I think it might be better to put it out there in this blog which might reach more people tickled by this idea. If you are inclined to help please write your letter and send it straight to Jacky at or do it online via the links provided.

thanks in advance




Submit your letter online on the CRTC’s website. There area  a number of applicants listed so be sure to select our application (filed under our legal name: 2014-0149-7 – Radio Ryerson Inc.).

Dear Secretary General

CRTC: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
RE: Application Radio Ryerson Inc 2014-0149-7
I am writing today in reference to Radio Ryerson’s application for an AM license. I support this undertaking.
I want to hear Ryerson on the AM dial because….
Please approve this application so the Ryerson community and downtown Toronto residents can be a part a not-for-profit-radio station.
I do/do not wish to appear at the hearing in September.
Yours truly

ADDRESS or Phone