Literary laughs

Kevin Higgins
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Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers go to print

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers — (from left) Wayne Chaulk, Kevin Blackmore and Ray Johnson — held an impromptu storytime prior to their Oct. 21 show at the Joseph R. Smallwood Arts and Culture Centre in Gander. — Photo by Kevin Higgins/The Beacon

Shakespeare. Keats. Poe. Aristotle. Atwood.Wasisname.

There’s only one common element connecting these great names — literature.

And while the first five have long made a name for themselves in the literary world, the sixth is just kicking off, if nothing else, what will be a gut-busting foray onto people’s bookshelves.

“Instead of being mounted on the bookshelf with Shaw, Milton or Shakespeare, we’ll probably go on the other end with the children’s authors,” said Kevin Blackmore, a.k.a. Buddy Wasisname of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. The group, which has been performing for 18 years, also includes Charlottetown’s Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson, as the Other Fellers.

“It’ll be appreciated by the very young. It’s a whole lot of fun, and isn’t that what it’s all about? Or at least it is for us.”

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers’ jump into the literary realm was more of an unexpected opportunity than a planned project, according to Blackmore, who was born in Gander and currently lives in Glovertown.

“Kevin was driving one day with his wife when he heard our song, ‘Chainsaw Earle,’ and he had one of those eureka moments in life,” said Blackmore, referring to Kevin Tobin, who is the editorial cartoonist for The Telegram. “He thought it would be a good project to do the illustrations for, and approached Wayne last winter about doing a book based on Chainsaw Earle. He even had one illustration done when he talked to Wayne.

“His work is just amazing, and I think he captured the essence of each one of us in his drawings.”

The book, “Chainsaw Earle,” was published and released earlier this fall — just in time, according to Blackmore, for the group’s autumn tour at various provincial arts and culture centres, which ends Nov. 20 in Grand Falls-Windsor.

From start to finish, Blackmore said he believes it took Tobin, who published a book of editorial cartoons featuring former premier Danny Williams last year, only a few months to complete the illustrations for the book — a much shorter time than it took to write the original song.

Blackmore said it was in the early to mid-1980s when he had an idea to write a song along the lines of Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” from 1961.

“At the same time, Wayne had an idea for a character song based on a neighbour of his who lived in a haze of blue smoke all the time because he would take out his frustrations with his chainsaw … he would go through several cords of wood just to get out his frustrations,” he said. “So, while I was toying with it, Wayne came with the first verse. It then lay dormant, and every once in a while we would come back to it, but it was really going nowhere.”

It was while on tour in 1990, in Nova Scotia the song was finally finished — approximately six years later — and was then added to the onstage show. With the publication of the book, the song has been re-enlisted to the performance list on the current tour.

As for any future ventures into the literary arena, Blackmore said no one should expect a sequel to “Chainsaw Earle.” However, the group had such an enjoyable time working with Tobin and Creative Books Publishing, there could be more to come.

“There’s just no good sequel to ‘Chainsaw Earle,’ but we must have two or three songs from each show we do that could work as well in a book, so that’s a lot of material,” he said.

“This little thing is indicative of probably a few more books like it.

“This is No. 1, and who knows, maybe some day we’ll be looking at a bookshelf full of the Buddy Wasisname series.”

Even though no plans are being worked on, he indicated the next publication could involve one of the group’s most famous songs — one that, since being recorded in 1985, receives plenty of radio airtime, especially this time of year.

“The first and foremost is ‘Gotta Get Me Moose B’y,’ which stands right up there as one of those that has a plot that runs through from beginning to end.”

He also wouldn’t rule out other avenues, besides books, CDs and DVDs, to bring Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers into the homes of their fans.

If you’re thinking movies, you may not be far off.

“We actually toiled with the idea a bit, and we were going to approach an animator at one point years ago to transform some of our things, but we never took those steps to do it,” he said. “Some of our monologues would be great in animation. So, who knows?”


The Beacon

Organizations: Jacqueline Hyde of Booth Memorial High School, Delta hotel

Geographic location: Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador

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