Some Other Favorite Singers, Musicians, and Songwriters

My tastes have long been eclectic to put it mildly. Jazz and classical probably occupy about 40% of my mix, with  folk another 20%, and rock/pop another 40%. (I’ve also, incidentally, met many of the following in person and gotten their autographs.)

Peter, Paul, and Mary were an inspiration with their beautiful, sensuous three-part harmonies. Their In the Wind album is their best: many Dylan songs and haunting harmonies. They helped to popularize Dylan’s music when he was starting out. I followed them from their first album to Album 1700 which contained their playful folk-rock hit “I Dig Rock and Roll Music”.

The Cream were the first British super rock group. Each of their songs inevitably featured three interesting parts played on guitar, bass, and drums. “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room”, and “Spoonful” sum it up. The late Jack Bruce did most of their vocals and his ‘lead’ bass-playing was a revelation.

A ’60s folk rock group who produced catchy hits like “Daydream”, “Nashville Cats”, and “Summer in the City”. I still play many of them today. John Sebastian’s vocals and songs propelled them to popularity.

I grew up in Winnipeg going to see Lenny. He was, in many people’s opinions, the great jazz guitarist. I wrote a proposal which helped his daughter get the Bravo documentary. He had to invent a 7-string guitar to play what he heard in his imagination. Sadly he died young–was mysteriously murdered in L.A.

My favorite native performer since 1967. Numerous classics like ‘Until It’s Time for You to Go” and “Love Lift Us Up”. Has constantly kept up with changes in the music scene. Her last albums are simply powerhouse knock-outs in support of native peoples. And she still plays “Cripple Creek” on mouthbow! Been to a few of her incredibly entertaining concerts over the years, last ones at Winspear and Festival Place.

One of my favorite British Invasion groups with the haunting voice of Colin Blundstone and the energetic keyboards of Rod Argent. “Time of the Season”, “Tell Her No”, and “She’s Not There”. Saw them at Century Casino; fab show.

Her Wildflowers album in 1967 was extremely tasteful with its “Both Sides Now” hit. Saw her in early 1968 at UMSU at U of M. Her ethereal voice, guitar, and piano work impressed me from the get-go. (Above a precious signed book.) Her voice was its soaring highest and best on the Who Knows Where the Time Goes? album.

Fans still talk about their classic Great Speckled Bird album and Ian’s “Four Strong Winds”. Hugely underrated Canadian songwriters, both. A piercing vocal duo a cappella BTW. Best male-female duo of the Hootenany era. Ian’s later career is legendary. Saw them several times going back to 1967 at UMSU, U of M.

Terrific high voice and myriad radio hits. “Southern Nights”, “Galveston”, “Wichita Lineman”. He also played a mean guitar. His 12 string electric on the “William Tell Overture” was a wonder. A sad dementia finish, but he was still wondrous on his last family tours, having fun with his kids who supported him.

“Light My Fire”, “When the Music’s Over” and “Riders of the Storm” made me a big fan of their vocals, keyboard solos, and guitar work. L.A. Woman was one of their best LPs. Too bad Jim exited early as this album was released. The group sallied on after that, but were never as popular sans him.

I joined the Donovan fan club with “Catch the Wind” around ’66. Who can forget “Mellow Yellow” and “Sunshine Superman”? Donovan personifies the Summer of Love era and remains a solid live performer.

Hard to find a hit of his that wasn’t strong and memorable. Liked him all the way back to the First Edition songs “Ruby” and “What Condition My Condition Was In”. Kenny had a nice way with live audiences; made them feel at home. Great love ballads.

Canada’s first master songwriter of the ’60s and ’70s. “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, “Sundown”, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”–he wrote for/of Canada. I go back to Gordie’s “Spin, Spin, Spin” 45 rpm single. Lightfoot bravely continues performing these daze though his voice has lost its old strength. He will die with his boots on.

Recently died. My favorite international performer, from South Africa. Saw him several times–a fun entertainer who wrote his own powerful songs. He honoured Nelson Mandela with one of his tunes. He put his unique stamp on South African music, especially in his solo career after Juluka.

Bruce and I go back to album 1 and my seeing him in the U of A neighborhood church in 1971 I vividly recall watching him re-tune a piano for some of his numbers from the first two albums. I included his work in my textbooks and got to meet him and tell him about that. He was Canada’s top folk singer of the ’70s through to now. A terrific guitarist; the best in folk I’d say.

Janis Ian finally came to Edmonton after 2000 and she gave a memorable show at Festival Place. A gracious, fantastic songwriter. “At Seventeen” is a song I used in an early textbook. She has quite the catalogue of honest relationship songs like “Jesse”.

Unfortunately, Garfunkle’s voice gave out before they reached Edmonton on their last tour. They were incredibly popular from “Sounds of Silence”, “Homeward Bound”, and “I Am a Rock” onward. Best and most successful folk duo of the ’60s and ’70s. Simon has had a long, very successful career which includes “Graceland”. They influenced me to sing with other guys in folksy duos in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

The UK group, The Animals, were essentially Eric Burdon’s unique blues voice and cool persona. He, too, has had a long followup career, mostly reprising the early hits. I was sitting at a front table in ye olde Sidetrack Cafe for his intimate show there. What a treat! A superb blues voice. “Spill the wine, take that girl!”

I got into The Hollies because of “Bus Stop”, “Stop!Stop! Stop!” and their sublime three-part harmonies. I still play “I Can’t Let Go” and “Bus Stop” to this day. Alan Clarke was their first and best lead singer. Graham Nash started in the Hollies as his sidekick. They were UK Everlys harmony-wise.

The Godfather of British Blues. Blues from Laurel Canyon is his best album, a blues concept album about his trip to L.A. Saw him rocking UMSU in winter of ’67-68. Same lineup as on Canyon. Teenage lead guitarist Mick Taylor played slide and the Stones soon picked him off. Still love his blues voice. Nothing fake about Mayall.

Saw Joanie here finally in Edmonton at the Winspear. She was in fine, mature voice and played her best songs including “Diamonds and Rust” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. One of my favorite female folk singers from 1967 on. Her Baptism concept album incorporated famous poets and music. Has had several comebacks.

A Kinks fan from “You Really Got Me” in 1965. Saw them a couple of times and Ray, finally, in person, row 1 at Winspear. Ray’s new songs are very strong, but his catalogue is long and deep. “Lola”, “A Well-Respected Man”, “Sunny Afternoon”–I still play these. His autograph on a solo album meant a lot to me. I used to read the “R.Davies” songwriter credits on the Kinks’ 45’s and wonder! Six degrees of kindred spirit separation for sure.

Phil, I’ve already documented. Love the voice and its modulations. He is the best folk song writer along with Simon, Cohen, and Dylan. Splendid company. Wrote wicked satires about ’60s Americana.

An acquired taste, Loussier’s trio blend famous classical composer pieces with modern jazz sounds and adaptations. An impressive CBC Stereo staple. No one has ever done this hybrid style as well and as smartly as Loussier.

The first two versions of the Trio I have documented on the blog earlier. Followed them from “Tom Dooley” to “Ally-Ally Oxen” breakup days. Dave Guard was good, but John Stewart added more songs and an unusual quavery voice. (I have a rare signed concert book by the original trio which is a rare treasure.)

Lenny, of course, from his poetry (I have signed copies) transition to his albums. He remains greatly revered. The concerts on DVDs are the best way to re-experience him now. There you get his voice, his persona, and self-deprecating humor. He was one of Canada’s and Montreal’s fantastic exports.

There are many jazzers I like (I’ve written about Stan Getz and Miles Davis elsewhere in the blog). Brubeck is considered a legend for one song and album, Take Five. Totally unique time signatures are explored and then there is the fine, tasteful work of saxophonist Paul Desmond.

The guy who invented jazz around 1900. A memorable voice and trumpet. This is the vintage album to own of his first recordings. It’s pronounced ‘Lew-is’ BTW.

My aunt had Jimmie’s hits album in the ’50s and I never recovered from his bouncy tunes like “Honeycomb” and “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”. I still followed him and his tv show through his folk-rock days (“Child of Clay”) about the time of his near-death beating on a California highway. In the past decade, I wrote back and forth to him, and our correspondence has been very special and meaningful, evoking my first hearing him in the ’50s.

Been to a couple of Billy’s shows, which would make anyone a fan. I first connected with his “Allentown” hit and stayed a fan through the ’80s into the ’90s. An excellent songwriter and vocalist who has spanned several genres including classical!

Rich, Ken, and Ronnie started in Calgary and hit paydirt with “Sweet City Woman”. Several more hits followed and they rivalled The Guess Who as Canada’s top band in the ’70s. They still tour and I saw them 2 x in the past decade. A very strong rock trio who sound impressively full in concerts.

The Legend of the ’60s who got his dynamic start at the Monterey festival. I can remember buying one of his records in 1967 after George Harrison did “Within You, Without You” on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; he was a huge Ravi fan. I got to see him at the Winspear before he stopped touring. His daughter Anoushka is a strong sitar player, too. Ravi brought Indian music to the world.

Ray remains my favorite black singer of all-time. What a voice! I was a fan of his since “I Can’t Stop Loving You” in the ’60s. A super pianist and a legendary voice. I saw him at the show on the above DVD. He had more fun than anyone else on the stage! Authentic and powerful.

The Searchers were my other favorite vocal group ogf the British Invasion. Saw them twice here in the 200os. They had a fab catalogue–“Needles and Pins”, “When You Walk in the Room”, “Sweets for My Sweet”, “Love Potion #9” and “Bumble Bee”–which I asked them to play at Century Casino. Surprised them! They had thought no one would request it, but played it well. “Bzzz”.

Another memorable Canadian. Still considered the most popular classical pianist in the world. His interpretations of Bach made his reputation. He was a very quirky guy wearing winter overcoats in summer, popping pills for every condition, and retiring young from concert-performing. Two albums of “The Goldberg Variations” alone made his fame.


The Beatles, of course, I’ve done entries on including Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.

Chicago is my favorite big band horn group. Seen them live a few times, once in row 1 at Winspear. (Have I said I’ve been a lucky man?) “25 or 6 to 4” and “Saturday in the Park” are among their best known songs. Multiple lead singers over the years and great players have succeeded the original awesome group.

The Yardbirds I have also saluted. Another British Invasion group of note who were ahead of their time and had three of rock’s greatest guitarists–Beck, Clapton, and Page.

Jazz guitarist Mike Stern is the only other jazz guitarist who could hold a candle to Breau and Stern worshipped him. Seen Mike a few times–man, can he play hot!

Stan Getz is my favorite jazz saxophonist. His People Time and first Bossa Nova album (featuring “Girl from Ipanema”) remain big favorites.

Miles Davis is my favorite cool jazz trumpeter. He changed the course of jazz music more times than Louis. He is the only jazz artist I have a massive CD boxset of.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply