March 18, 2009

Something a little different here. The music guys are filing in and want to show off their latest acquisitions. Besides that, they’re talking of jamming coast to coast with up to date equipment and gear.  Just one email about a piece added to their arsenal and the wheels start churning. I think there is talk of sending parts of recordings to one another from Alberta to Nova Scotia and parts of Ontario and Quebec in between. Stay tuned everyone.


“I've been grinning ever since I got my Telecaster. I don't think Denny got his guitar yet. I think he'll probably tell me when it comes in.

Bob McKinnon, Class of 1961 St. Joseph’s



And since David Naish left us at the Barrie Reunion with many music memories, he’s added this guitar to his collection.



And who could forget that wonderful Nfld music that these guys belted out at our Barrie, Ont. Reunion last Sept.



A Hagstrom Super Swede--Hey guys, finally got my new guitar this morning. It's great, and I just have to change the strings, and maybe lower the bridge a hair and I'm set. My fingers are pitiful, lol, they're so soft and painful, it's gonna take me awhile to get in shape. Photography is not conducive to toughening up the fingertips. The amp is, one word, awesome!

And…I’ve got my new amp fired up, and I'm playing along with Martina McBride's album TIMELESS, great old songs done by a great singer. If you're looking for some music, this one’s excellent.

Dennis Pritchett, Class of 1963


And this from John Staples in Ontario:


Hey Rob (Pelley) It's interesting to hear you and Denny talk about where you are with music.  It is the one passion of my life that does not diminish, but that too often suffers from neglect.  I remember the good old days when you and I did a boogie duet on piano and when Denny was lead guitar for the Majestics, a group we started in high school that included Dave Foote, Cal Warren and Howard Elms. I think I played Accordion. We should have been doing vocals, but never had the guts, or the cash, to invest in the equipment.

Anyway, I've been connected with a group called the Upsilon Singers (St. John's) for about 35 years (we met at university) and that has helped keep me interested in performance stuff.  It has been a little more difficult since moving to Ottawa in 1997. The group has kept going in St. John`s, still performing for charity events and to raise money for the MUN scholarship fund.  We recorded a CD in the mid 90`s that might still be around somewhere called `Bridges`.  This group did a combination of folk, Newfoundland, and classic pop tunes...anything that lent itself well to four or five part harmony.

On a completely different sound track, however... for the four years prior to last summer, the AIRSHIP has had performance reunions in Gander, playing primarily for the Festival of Flight Kitchen Party, opening for Dr. Hook, the Stampeders and the like.  That's really been fun!  We would arrive in Gander a week ahead of the first show...set up in St.Martin's parish hall for rehearsals, and then "give 'er". 

Neil Bishop, Al Smith, Barry Mills are all original members of this group with me. Glenn Blandford also came aboard to give us a more full guitar sound, and to do the organizational work on the ground...which was quite significant given that the rest of us are spread across the country.  Jim Elms played bass on a few of the tunes Neil wrote.  We concentrated on rock of the 60's, of course...still doing the hard core stuff like Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, The Doors...but loads of Beatles, Buddy Holly, Presley, Jerry Lee, Stones...etc.  For theses gigs I stick mostly with keyboards, but use some guitar on Everly Brothers and Travelling Wilbury tunes.  It has been a blast!  We had hoped to get together again this year, but work and family commitments don't seem to be cooperating...time will tell.

John Staple, Class of 1963


I can no longer play drums. I'm so bad on a  keyboard, John Staple wouldn't even use me to warm up his piano.

I do however own ‘mouth organ’.  I'm not good enough on it to call it a fact besides Red River Valley and You are my Sunshine which I get half right half the time, the only other thing I can get away with are a few Newfy songs like I'se the By and Kelligrews Soiree. And the only reason I can get by on those is because noboby has ever heard of them around here. Isn't wonderful to come from an exotic play like NFLd when it omes to music !.

It would be even more wonderful if I had some musical talent... I sing so badly that for the longest time I actually thought my wife sang well. The only excuse I can comeup with s that we were both a bit tipsy!

Robert Pelley, Class of 1962


Does anyone remember the Solidaires? I heard about them from Rod Hippern who recalled they used to play sometimes for street dances.

Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959


Yes, the Solidaires were much older than us, and they were damn good, every one of them. I used to borrow Ted Oak's guitar, and he borrowed my amp. I played one night with the Silidaires at the Airport Club, filling in for Ted. They were great musicians, I've never heard better tone from a sax than Ed Goff's. Beautiful.

Cliff (Powell) played the bass fiddle. Then Ted Oak played lead guitar, Alec (Bub) Bishop played rhythm guitar, Ed Goff played Alto Sax, Howard Moulton played pedal steel guitar, and Derm Malloy and Ross Goldsworthy were both drummers for the Solidaires. I'll never forget Ed Goff playing ‘Danny Boy’ on St. Patrick's day, they were special people.

Dennis Pritchett, Class of 1963


I started communicating with John Staples about a month ago.

- Dennis Pritchett, Class of 1963


I just started playing harmonica again, I never had a full set with all the keys. I have eight right now, and I'm accumulating them slowly, major keys, minor keys, and a few chromatic models; it's a big undertaking. But, you can be sure, if I had them all except one, I'd find a song I have to play in that missing key.

I just sold my electric guitar, didn't play it for 15 years. I still have an acoustic. My wife has a Roland's KR-500 keyboard which she's been playing for 20 years.

We have two accordions, both my wife's, and a piano accordion which my father gave my wife.

- Dennis Pritchett, Class of 1963


I just got an email from Denny telling me about how neat his new amp is with all the special effects and I think I may pick up one of them for my own arsenal.

- Bob McKinnon,


I played drums with The Solidaires several times when their drummer was not available. I  have particularly good feelings for the band leader, Ed Goff, as he set me up with my first set of drums - which he dug out of the basement of the Airport club. A bit worse for wear but to me, it was a bright red thing of beauty.

Ed Golf played a great sax but to my mind was even better with a clarinette. He had played at some time with an American swing band (Harry Rigby). There was (maybe be still is) a Ed Goff Scholarship  for sax players at MUN. His son Brian was no slouch either with a sax.

I had the same problem with the Solidaires as when I occasionally played with Eddy Yetman, Ted Oak and Eddy's borther... I was under-age and the band needed permission to let me play when we were in a joint serving liquor. (Was just a formality though.)

Robert G. Pelley, Class of 1962


"The Solidaires were a classy group - you didn't go totheir dances unless you were dressed.  They were a real orchestra, dressed in white sports coats, etc.  Wonderful to listen too and to dance to. They were loved by all old and young.  I remember Cliff Powell, Ed Goff, Howard Mouland (on steel guitar), there was a fellow who worked with BOAC who played the piano.  He has published a book where he mentions his stay at Gander and his part with the Solidaires. Ed Goff (bandleader) was Manager of Air Canada here in Gander, he was transferred to St. John's and for many years the Solidaires entertained the good folks of that area.

“Many memories of wearing dresses with crinoline and tulle, long white gloves, etc. Those were the days when we knew how to dance! If the Solidaires were playing, then you knew the affair was upscale."

Carol Mercer Walsh, Class of 1954


Topic of next column…. “I’ve kept this (item) all of these years. And, this is why it is so special to me…Send along the info to  Or if you have any musical memories of Gander days be sure to contact me and webster will help us get it posted.  Thanks everyone.