October 2017: How I Met A Movie Star
Author: Kevin Stuart Swain
Bruce Greenwood has appeared in tons of great movies and TV shows, First Blood, I Robot, Thirteen Days, Mad Men, Star Trek. You would know him if you saw him.
I bit of back story as to how I met him. As you may know I am a musician. When I was around 17 I had left Brandon Wolf (Barney Bentall) and was looking for something new. I had placed an ad in a local paper and met up with a great guy named Tad Campbell. He was morphing from a successful junior hockey player to being a musician. I'd already had some success but was very young and it showed in my looks and talent. Tad took me on and we did a duo that was an uphill battle. My bad vocals and my looking so young that club owners would be scared of being fined or shut down for having a minor in the establishment resulted in us being fired a lot. Anyway, we wrote some songs and began a lifelong friendship.
As Tad and I were quite volatile with each other in those days, we had parted ways. I got a call from him one day and he asked me to find my way to Blairmore Alberta to join a band called Idle Eyes that he had formed in Australia. He needed me to drop by a Vancouver bar and pick up some sound system equipment that he wanted me to bring to him. I walked into the bar and the band that was to give me the equipment were on stage performing. This was the first time I saw Bruce Greenwood. I remember he was singing Day After Day by Badfinger. He was a nice guy and I got what I needed and left.
I joined up on the Idle Eyes tour which would be another long story but I will focus on the point at hand. We eventually got home and probably drifted into other things, but Idle Eyes came up again and we were to head back to Alberta with some personnel changes. We ended up in Kitsilano behind the Darby Dawes Pub at a home of Tad's friend. He was away and the rest of the band wanted to hit the pub for some drinks. I couldn't go because I was obviously underage. So suddenly I was alone in someone's house. I snooped a little and saw an impressive little bio of acting credits even then. This must have been 1980. The phone rang and I decided to pick it up. It was Bruce Greenwood, who it turned out was the owner or more likely renter of the home I was in. His first inquiry of course was who are you and why are you in my home. He was on the road in a band and was up in Trail, B.C. I guess out of boredom and loneliness we ended up chatting for about half an hour. I can't remember the content but he was friendly and interesting and very gracious about me being in his pad.
I never saw or spoke to him again and constantly see him in great movies and TV shows. Every time I have to tell anyone in earshot how I kind of know that guy.
September 2017: Memories of a Mentor
Author: Kevin Stuart Swain
When I was about 14 I was walking with my bass to the local music store. I didn't have a case for my semi acoustic Raven bass that I bought at the flea market. I would hang around Troy Music on Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver and try to learn from real musicians. Anyway, I had got about as far as The St Alice Hotel and a guy came down the stairs from a beat up old place across the street. This would have been around 1976. He invited me to come upstairs and see his bass and amp and to hang out. I was wary as in those days I seemed to be a magnet for creepy men trying to get me into vehicles etc. I trusted my gut and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
The man was a bass player from Sacramento named Danny O'Connell. I became family with him and his girlfriend. He took me to sessions, introduced me to Mike Clarke from Herbie Hancock and taught me that funk music is as much a part of a person as breathing. He also introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism which has been with me my whole life. His conduct as a Buddhist man was so inspiring. One of the first things he did was come to meet my parents. He said they must meet him and approve if I was to be able to be free to be his friend. I learned the connection between the spirit and music. How groove and feel are everything. I was in awe of him and his friends and still to this day strive to be anywhere near as good as they were.
I had keys to his apartment and could come and go whenever I pleased. One day I went and let myself in and everything was gone. He and his lady had disappeared leaving little behind. It looked like a hasty exit and it sacred me so I got out of there. To this day 41 years later I still wonder what happened. I still have a 4 LP collection called "The Bass " which he had lent to me because I feel it is not mine to give away or get rid of.
Last Saturday night we opened for the band that used to be known as "War". The combination of being authentic living and breathing funk gods, they also had a spiritual message of peace and unity that took me right back to being a 14 year old in North Van. I'm tearing up typing this, because it is so amazing to have been transported back to a such a beautiful part of my life. "The Lowrider Band " did for me that night what they set out to do in the 70's with " Why Can't We Be Friends ". Please check out and support these amazing people as they continue to spread love and funk around the world. It's the same thing.