Monthly Archives: July 2015
In 2007, I recorded and released my first CD, a little three-song effort titled “I Remember.” The songs were all done in honour of the place where my parents grew up, a town called Wallaceburg, Ontario. And in particular, the CD release was meant to be a bit of a campaign to support an event called “WAMBO” (Wallaceburg Antique Motor and Boat Outing) because of how much it meant to my grandfather, Murray Newkirk.
On Saturday, August 8th, I’ll be back in Wallaceburg to do a performance and support the event – and the town –as best I can. It will be my first appearance there since 2008. I intend to do what I can to honour and celebrate the memory of my Grandpa Newk and two other late, great Wallaceburg citizens and friends, Chip Gordon and Al Mann.
WAMBO, now in its 27th year, is a wonderful weekend celebration that brings its town back to its heyday of casual Sydenham River traffic, wooden boats, cool cars, music, sunshine, family time and smiles all around. It almost feels like the 1950’s version of Hill Valley in the film “Back to the Future.” Seeing the town so alive as it becomes on WAMBO weekend does almost feel like you’ve gone back in time.
I have vivid memories of visiting Grandma and Grandpa for WAMBO. I treasured seeing my grandfather like a kid in a candy store, so proud and excited at all activity. He would marvel at the scores of Chris Craft wooden boats that used to be made not far away, in Algonac, Michigan.
Somewhere along the line, I wrote a song about it, and then let it sit around for many years, collecting dust. Then, after a career change in early 2007, I worked up the courage to call long time WAMBO chairperson, Chip Gordon, and asked if he’d be interested in having a kind of “theme song” for the event. He immediately asked me to come visit him at the Wallaceburg and District Museum to hear the song. He also asked town historian, Al Mann, to be at that meeting, which took place on a cold, icy day in February of that year.
I met Chip and Al at the museum and played them my “WAMBO song” (which eventually became titled “Wallaceburg”). By that time, I’d written a second song referencing my family’s history in the town, a song called “I Remember.” So I played that song for them, too, and they liked it also. It was then that Chip suggested that two songs were better than one, but that three songs would be even better! So, I responded by writing a third tune for the project, a song called “Glass” which references the old glass factory that was the engine of Wallaceburg’s economy for so many years and uses it as a bit of a metaphor for the honour in simply taking care of your responsibilities and working your way through life as best you can. “Glass” remains one of my favourite lyrics I’ve ever written.
Al kindly dug into his historical archives to provide me with photos to use for the project. Chip set me up to perform on both the Friday night and the Saturday of WAMBO that year. He even asked me to come and sit as part of the WAMBO planning committee, and I proudly attended a number of those meetings for a time.
My grandpa, Chip and Al have all since passed on, but the event remains. I got to know the current Chair of WAMBO, Bill Wolsing, during that time 8 years ago. And it was Bill who has made it possible for me to come back. He is doing an enormous amount of work to preserve the event and I am entirely grateful that he’d bother to have me back.
Life moves along pretty quickly. Looking back, I am really glad I took on that project. I am certain it meant a lot to my grandfather, especially considering he was in the latter stages of his life. And in the process of doing something that, at the time, was important to both of us, I met and became friends with all kinds of wonderful people. I am genuinely excited about going back to visit and see as many of them as I can.
So if you’re in the Chatham/Kent area on Saturday, August 8th, please think about stopping in to WAMBO for a visit. I’ll be somewhere downtown in the early afternoon, sharing those songs from “I Remember,” as well as a few from my other two CDs and some other favourites that go along with sitting by the river on a summer day.
Also, I’ll have all 3 of my CDs (“I Remember,” “No Schedule Man” and “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man”). I will donate every single cent of any sales at WAMBO back to the event, in honour of my Grandpa Newk, Chip Gordon and Al Mann, three wonderful souls who loved the town completely and will never be forgotten.
“Home sweet home.
Hope to see you there.