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In Session series.
A lot of great bands recorded live.
This, being one of the more unforgettable ones.

 

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I think the show you might be referring to is Holiday Ranch which was from CHCH until 1958. The lead on the show my Great uncle Cliff did a little more than just say "Well Come On IN!" Back in the late 40's and early 50's. He also played a goofy country type as the lead on Holiday Ranch a little later on with a few more early CBC comedy characters. It had higher write in ratings than hockey night in Canada for a short time for some strange reason or other that I can't fathom. The Happy Gang was number one for a very long time on Canadian radio though.

Cliff did the musician interviews and did feature quite a few great guitarists over the years that the show ran some became regulars on the show if they had enough of mail in response. Back then shows were not exactly full contract musicians union operations and if you didn't get mail a favourable response then chances are you would not be invited back. These shows were almost always done live and quite often there were sudden cuts to adds if the musicians jammed out live.

There was no such thing as the Nielsen ratings in Canada at that time so if the mail in volume started to go down the toilet was the only way that networks knew that a show was tanking. Cliff made the mistake of not embracing rock soon enough by the time the late 50's had started to change music shows on TV. But he certainly did embrace great country, jazz and especially country jazz style capable guitarists. He was not a musical snob.

In the early 60's he did not think that Lenny Breau was that great because even then he was not reliable enough to be considered for a regular spot. If I remember correctly he did like Red Shea's style and CBC had him on a number of shows including Holiday Ranch from Hamilton but it would have been when he was really young like in his late teens. Shea went on to become a guest on quite a few shows but that was in the 1960 and he was featured on the Tommy Hunter show quite a bit.

When I was less than 5 years old we were almost commanded to watch Uncle Cliff when we lived down Toronto way and had access to a TV. Mostly we waited to hear him 'cause my mom would always tune in for the Happy Gang when it came on the radio. Even though at that time I was a little snob who worshipped Beethoven and Mozart...B#(*

I remember vividly even as a child that it was a variety show with a country theme. I remember meeting and hearing a few great musicians in Cliff's basement when I was really young. He had a baby grand and was set up for jazz jam sessions. I guess that is where I got my first interest in jazz when Oscar showed up for a jam one day while I was there and I heard him play as a young child.

Cliff was a very versatile musician and performer to say the very least, his real interest was swing clarinet play but he was also a good teacher as was Oscar and they did take the time to encourage anyone who had real interest in the craft. It seems that both of them could say little but convey a great deal with just a few notes and words.
 

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Cliff came out to visit my mother, his niece and our family in 1969. I was a gadfly that could play a 12 bar and kind of riff on it at that time. Like many young guys at that time I worshipped the playing chops and incredible imagination of Lenny Breau. I knew that he was the most imaginative guitarist on the planet at that time. Cliff and I discussed him as an artist and I had a little bit of a run in with him because of a difference of opinion. It turned out historically that Cliff was right in only one regard about Lenny. And that was that drugs were causing him to lose his ability to become the seminal musician he deserved to become. Cliff explained that drugs were taking out the best musicians and had taken out the very best all the way back to the very beginnings of recorded music. Cliff had been influenced by Bix and many other truly great musicians of jazz history but he deplored the drug scene and what it does to the best among us.

Cliff tried to influence others but his words against hard drug use largely fell on deaf ears as did the same words coming from Oscar at the same time. Lenny had the opportunities to escape the noose of pain largely from the influence of organised crime and drugs in entertainment, but he like many others who never stood up to the evil that it spreads failed to escape it in time. Miles Davis did but never had the influence necessary to try to expose the truth about what was really going on in the industry. At that time if you wanted junk or whatever it was there for the taking but at a very high price indeed, your silence and obedience as to who you played with and when and where. The corruption in the entertainment industry at the time was rampant and everyone knew it.

RIP Lenny, Billy and many many other greats, what you left will not be forgotten. Hearing what and how he plays it here at 25 minutes in to this vid always brings me to tears it is my very favourite bit of what is left of what Lenny was capable of doing on the guitar.
 

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In this part of the country, the radio TV station in Wingham Ontario carried a program called Circle 8 Ranch.

The Ernie King mentioned and shown here was the owner of the music store in Wingham who helped so many of us younger bands when we were starting up. He was a true gentleman and we became good friends later on. After he sold the store and spent all his time in his luthier/repair shop at home I would visit him, take my kids and chat for hours while my kids played with his dog or watched us do instrument stuff. We talked about making something together but never got around to it. Not long before he died he called to basically say it would be hard to meet again and exchange good-byes. I think of him often.

The Gretsch guitar player in that first video is Ron Coulthard. He wouldn't likely remember me and he's quite an age now, but when I was a teenager my parents took me with them to have dinner with Ron and his wife near St. Marys Ontario. He encouraged me to play, gave me some great advice about forming a band, and let me play his guitars. Whenever I ran into him, which was often as he attended the same church, he always asked about my music. I haven't seen him since a chance meeting in the early '80s (he was a mover and shaker in the musician's union local) but I understand he is/was maybe still gigging.

Circle 8 Ranch - Wikipedia



Live TV must have been fun.

 
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