I play music. Quite a lot actually. It started a couple of years ago with some of my neighbours. Well, one in particular. My friend and neighbour Sperlin had been bet $1,000 (donated to the charity of his choice) by his brother that he could not sing a song live in front of a crowd.  Here are the results:

Ain’t no sunshine covered by the founding members of Tin Town – Sperlin did a pretty good job!

That’s me playing tenor saxophone. I started to play tenor sax in the summer of Grade 7 (between grade 7 and 8). I played saxophone all the time from then until 1996, when at the age of 22, I finished Military College and started my career as an army office. I didn’t touch a saxophone again until the summer of 2008. My marriage was over, and my life was changing, so I rented a horn, figured out I could still play, and then started looking for people to play with. It took almost a year to connect with the crew in the video above, but it was worth the wait.

Here’s a recording of Tin Town playing “Water” by Sperlin.

The band membership changed and grew over the two or so years we played together, but we got pretty good. We played some originals written by various band members (yours truly included) and even wrote some originals as a band! We eventually managed to get payed to play gigs – professional status reached!

For me personally, the last three years have seen some incredible musical growth. I’ve (mostly) learned to play guitar, and written 9 songs. My sax playing has improved, and I’ve started playing a bit of keyboard.

Unfortunately, and for various reasons, Tin Town has more or less ceased to be. Creative differences? Call it what you will, it is still sad that the band is not really around. We did manage to get back together last Saturday for our buddy Fuzz’s 60th birthday party. We sounded good! It was nice to play with everyone again. I hope we will play together again soon.

Since last summer, I’ve been playing with another band that was more or less spawned by Tin Town. Some of us Tin Town gang really wanted a gig at The Big Time Out. We had two weeks to get ready, and right or wrong we picked up some different players who were available and launched The Paisley Bandits.  Sperlin, Al (on drums), Des Larson on guitar and lead vocals, Robin Wakeling on bass and myself played the  Cumberland Hotel at the Big Time Out. For two weeks practising together, I think we did pretty damn good.

Here are the Paisley Bandits playing “Intersection” by Tin Town at the inaugural Comox Valley Top 40 Under 40.

After the Big Time Out, we kept playing together. Some benefits and some payed gigs culminating in a self produced New Year’s Eve gig at the Courtenay Elk’s Hall.

One of my favourite gig posters ever…

Playing with the Bandits has delivered me yet another new musical experience – recording. Proper, multi-track, CD quality recording. The music getting canned is all Des Larson’s work. It’s been fun, and definitely challenging. A question of precision as opposed to the energy and spontaneity that live performance demands.

The three youngest Bandits as the Des Larson Trio playing “Beautiful” by Des.

Now even the venerable Paisley Bandits may be done…Personally, I hope not. We have a good groove and a good sound and a very unique name (just google it). Time will tell…The biggest kicker is that the three young guns in the band, Des, Robin and new drummer John, should really go out and tour. The rest of us are a little older, and have commitments that preclude touring, even though we would really like to! So – a different ensemble may well warrant a name change. We have at least one final gig together at the Waverly in Cumberland – watch for the announcement…

Even if the rest of the Bandits move on, I know I will continue to play music. Just last night I was quite honoured to be invited to play with a local group of pro musicians. We don’t have a name, a purpose, any songs to play or any potential gigs. We just played music for a couple of hours.

It was great. I think it’s time to play some guitar right now…