Two Basements

March 8, 2009

At 10:30 am on Saturday, a beautiful sunny morning, I dropped Miles off at his friend’s house for a band rehearsal. 10 freaking 30. Good thing the neighbours are deaf. (Really, they are.) Actually when we showed up, no one was home. But in five minutes Miles’ friend and the friend’s dad (who’s a professional drummer, Miles’ drum teacher and also my pal) drove up, returning from a guitar lesson. Then another kid showed up. It was the bass player, who’s two years older than the other boys. He was lugging his bass, amp and a keyboard in a big box. The bassist/keyboardist is in a demanding academic program, who probably doesn’t have time to play loud music in an East Van basement. But here he was, driven by his mom, who even offered to come back with lunch for everyone. One more boy was on the way.

I was struck by this scene. The boys could have been doing what teenagers do (MSN, Facebook, eat, sleep), but they chose to be here. Asian mums aren’t known for tolerance when it comes to their children taking time away from homework. But this mom was so supportive. That goes for all of the parents of the kids in this band – we love that the boys are writing songs and making music. It doesn’t matter to us that they’re playing metal.

After I dropped Miles off I drove across town and picked up Brian, who plays in OEQ with me. I have only known Brian for a year and a half, but I’ve learned a few things about him. Namely, he’s a terrific singer and guitarist, a natural born musician with deep instincts. We drove to my house and headed down to the basement, where we just did tunes: Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay”, Hendrix’ “Little Wing”, The Zombies’ “She’s Not There”, Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” and others. It was relaxed, fun.

sweeetsoulmusicAfter we played for awhile my wife called us up for lunch, which Brian really appreciated. He was also impressed with her musical knowledge. While I did the dishes, they checked out my record collection. Brian pulled out Nick Lowe’s Pure Pop For Now People. And I showed him Sweet Soul Music, a vintage soul platter from Arthur Conley, who was mentored by Redding. Brian’s eyes lit up when he saw these records. Then we went back down to play some more.

Two basements: old guys in one; boys in another. Unruly metal reverberating in one; archetypal rock, pop and soul in another. Just another Saturday morning in Wong’s World.

My vinyl (The thick red box on the right is The Trojan Story, a three-record set of ska, rock steady and early reggae that I picked up in London in 1987):



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