Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tone

i met anthony davey in the very early 80s
we were dating sisters - janet and heather armstrong
beautiful young women who helped us both figure out our early 20s

tony was immediately cooler than i was
he dressed cool
spoke cool
and just had that kind of cool swagger about him
but i was a better musician than him
so our relationship began with me teaching him how to play bass
he had some horrible hockey stick of a guitar
but we sat upstairs in janet’s bedroom and jammed
i showed him where to put his fingers
and how to do a walking bass line
he took to it effortlessly
a couple months later
we were on the road together
and this went on for 30 years

we travelled non stop
quebec and ontario
we learned how to play in these crazy clubs
hundreds of them
all through our twenties
we played in bars
bingo halls
strip joints
the hells angels clubhouse
we got hired by prisons and for a while - we were the select band of inmates in ontario and quebec
we always had money
and if we didn’t - tone would find a job
and then get me in
that was the way it was
we were a package deal

the happiest i remember being was in minden ontario
we were playing at the rockcliff hotel
we were 23
6 nights a week with a saturday matinee
we stayed in these run down rooms above the bar
no tv
just a bed and a dresser with one washroom down the hall
it was about 11am
we were just waking up
randy was standing in the hall running a brush through his long black hair
randy was asking tony if his ancestors came from zimbabwe
tone was telling him that his family actually came from scambatty 
it made no sense
it was a ridiculous moment
but it belied a carefree lifestyle and mind set
a bohemian way of life that in that moment
i knew i would never veer from
that day me and tone had a greasy breakfast with a beer
floated on inner tubes down the river that ran through town
ate the best ceasar salad for lunch
drank milk shakes for afternoon tea
and had dinner with one of the locals - he was a comedian and he did bits for us during the dinner
that night we played for a crowd of maybe 30 people 
met some girls and went down to the river where we all made out on benches
this was a wednesday
it was glorious

tone was into thrift shopping decades before it became a thing
he had that kind of vibe that allowed him to wear anything 
and make it look cool

tone myself and adam played a ton of hockey in our 30s
we were on a house league team
but the real fun was at the pick up games at UCC
one game - tone was put on the other team
i was playing defence
i knew his game
he was an excellent hockey player
but i knew his game
and i spent the entire game shutting him down
and it bugged him so much
he got scrappy with me
at the end of one shift
he punched me
i didn’t go down
he was fighting irish at times
i like that
that attitude served him well
he didn't suffer any bullshit from anyone
he was true iron hearted irish

we loved the same music
we liked the same bands
we almost liked the same clothes
tone got caught up in the hair metal thing for a bit
des and i made fun of him for this

we took Lsd together and had some enlightening trips
we were young men 
free and full of adventure
our lives were ours
with no one to answer to
we were independent thinkers
our education came from surviving with only a self provided structure

another one of the happiest times of my life
was with tone in wawa ontario
we’d been on this killer tour
3 - maybe 4 months 
drive all day sunday
arrive and play for 6 nights
you can get a little stir crazy on the road 
so one day
myself tone randy and glenn 
got all the mattresses from our rooms
and set them up like a padded chamber
and commenced with an afternoon of tag team wrestling
turns out our rooms were right about the hotel office
the owner comes upstairs - opens the door - takes stock of the chaos
and calls our agent wanting a rebate on the agreed fee
we’d had enough
we had been gone for so long
we had changed
we packed up and left - forgoing any money that we were owed
the bar owning left screaming in our dust
it was time to go home
when we pulled into toronto - we sang oh canada at the top of our lungs
we had changed

an agent came to see us - gary pring
we were playing original music
we were okay
but not great
he suggested that we put together a stones band
i had just met des
and i knew jim cassels from my early teens
all we needed was another guitar player
tone said that his brother was getting pretty good on guitar
okay - pup was in
and with that the midnite ramblers were formed
and we never stopped working for the rest of the 80s
these were magical defining times
we’d graduated up a level
we no longer had to pay for pop
in fact - bars started giving us free beer
tone pup des jim and me
we were on an adventure
young men playing in a rock n roll band
travelling and carrying on
blazing a trail
there was vulnerability and compassion
we took care of each other
we shared music and ideals
we had opinions
we fought and argued
but most of all we played
and played
me tone des jim and pup
the five of us went through some hidden door together
came out different - bonded
it was glorious

tone really started honing his bass skills 
and he started encouraging me to play harmonica
i’d practice in the car with him
then only to wimp out on stage and opt instead for another guitar solo
but tone was persistent 
and with that i started playing harp onstage
years later - me tone garce and buttles were in a band
and i was beginning to play piano
i’d bring it to the gig - set it up
but wouldn’t play it 
tone would have nothing of it
he pushed
and one night - in jackson’s point ($750 for 4 nights) (seven five oh)
i played piano on stage
i was so pleased - i looked up at tone for approval
but he was so cool
he kept his back to me and took a swig from a beer 
and then - as the next song started - he looked over and nodded at me
i owe a big part of the man i am today to anthony davey

tone got a gig in dubai
it was 1993
where was dubai?
what kind of a gig?
what what what what?
tone got me on the gig as 2nd guitar player and keys
cool
this is how i got to meet brian and troy and randy
so we flew to the other side of the world
and discovered that the gig was on hold
we’d still get paid 
but there was no gig
i can’t explain the absolute surreal vibe that our lives took on
we were living in a really nice hotel
3 meals a day provided
all the free time in the world
those kind of circumstances change a person
tone stayed on with troy
and did a victory lap with another band before coming home
me - i came home with a brand new plan
this experience - it set me up with new maps
i came home dreaming bigger
all because of tone

we went off and got married
and had babies
we fell out of touch for a while
but we were always connected
i was proud when i heard about all of his successes as a runner
run anto
run like the fuckin’ wind
leave the ghosts in your dust

i'll remember us laughing 
i don’t think i’ve ever laughed more with anyone else
we had so many silly sayings and bits
we were happy

anthony davey was my friend 
he lived his days with strength and grace
he remains a strong beautiful man
nothing will ever take that away


craig
november 24, 2015
irish whiskey

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4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I remember you guys at the apartment, Anthony getting ready, using our hair spray (ice mist by joico, don't run your fingers through your hair after using). He borrowed my Peter Pan getaway boots. I was jealous of all of your flowing locks and musical talent. When Louise asked me to sing at their reception, I was scared to death. I sang "Before You" by Chantal Kreviazuk. John accompanied me, before I even started singing, Anthony jumped on bass and Russ Feltis jumped on the drum kit. It was magical, I loved it. When I finished, over my shoulder, I heard Anthony tell John "she nailed it". Those words changed me, I haven't stopped singing since.

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  2. Craig that is a beautiful heartfelt tribute and a gorgeous snippet of life on the road. A lovely portrait of early Anton.

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  3. It's still so hard to read this but feels good at the same time. God I miss him.

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