brushes with greatness: chapter 2

“Can you do three features for an insert we’re doing on the roots of Canadian rock music?”

The question was posed by a relic from the past called an arts editor at the Sun. Something to do with a Juno-related retrospective that would run in papers across the country. Or maybe not. What I do recall is that I was given but a few days to put together these feature-length retrospectives on the history of rock and roll in Canada. With first-hand accounts. So time was a factor.

I set about looking up contacts for classic Canadian-Content rockers. I found a few. Not enough to legitimately put together three feature-length pieces, y’understand, but enough to get started. In the end, I offered up an interview I’d done with Les Emmerson about the birth of The Five Man Electrical Band, and which I’d intended to save for another project. But one down. Two to go.

And for one of those two, I chose to rely on a certain Mr. Myles Goodwyn for a treatise on what CanCon regulations and the growth of a domestic record industry did for a band of three brothers and one Myles from Halifax. This, after all, was a hard-working quartet of Haligonians whose determination and talent had brought them to Montreal and a deal with fledgling label Aquarius Records, which would ultimately catapult the band to the top of the domestic rock scene and a decent amount of international success. All because they liked to rock. With rollers.

Informing Mr. Goodwyn of my intentions to place April Wine within the pantheon of Canadian vintage rockers, I arranged for a phone interview. I probably reminded him that many of the first concerts I attended involved April Wine. I don’t recall his response to that one. But at the appointed time, the frontman who drove a band of no-more-brothers to the summit of CanCon success, answered his phone in Montreal, the city he still calls home.

“Thanks for talking to me,” I began. “Now, you guys started out in Halifax, playing local venues until you reached a point of being established enough to head to Montreal and try for the big time. So, in a way, you were like the original Halifax indie-rockers, wouldn’t you say?”

“We started in Halifax, yes,” my new friend Myles (we had in fact talked once before) helpfully confirmed.

“So what was it like leaving the comfort of that scene to take your chances in what was then Canada’s biggest and most influential city? How hard was it to make that move? What did you leave behind?”

Silence.

“Yes, well, all of that information can be found on our website. It has a pretty detailed bio on the band. I really don’t see why I should go over that again.”

“Uh…”

This, friends, is what you’d call an impasse. I could appreciate that to my friend Myles, April Wine was (and is) all about the future. Who cares about the past? This is April Wine! Why would anyone dwell on the past? Really, the band is just hitting its stride now! Or was, then! Or will be, very soon!

“Uh… well…

“Really, I called to talk about the past, because I’m doing this interview for a piece about the roots of Canadian rock and roll. I had hoped you’d be willing to reflect on the climate from your early days and what it was like to be a key player in the growth of a domestic music scene.”

Myles Goodwyn, it was clear, had held other hopes. And dreams. Dreams of an endless string of county-fair shows and an ongoing quest for a record-deal as productive as the Aquarius days he’s now loath to discuss.

“I guess we’ll have to leave it there, then,” said I, dejected.

I wished — and continue to wish — him all the best. We said our farewells. And another interview was in the can. This time, never to be used.

Until now. ‘Cause let’s face it: Myles’s comments are as relevant now as they were a decade ago. Maybe more so.

True story.

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