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Letter: How I became a fan of traditional music

The Wonderful Grand Band in 2009: (front, from left) Ian Perry, Paul “Boomer” Stamp, Glenn Simmons, Greg Malone and Ron Hynes; (back, from left) Jamie Snider and Sandy Morris. — Submitted photo by Django Malone
The Wonderful Grand Band in 2009: (front, from left) Ian Perry, Paul “Boomer” Stamp, Glenn Simmons, Greg Malone and Ron Hynes; (back, from left) Jamie Snider and Sandy Morris. — Submitted photo by Django Malone

Funny, but today I don’t feel the way Robin Short does at all about the kitchen party music recently heard at Pearson Airport and by the world at large via social media.

As to its stereotyping Newfoundlanders in a poor light, I do know where he’s coming from, being originally from St John’s myself (St. Bon’s College and a MUN grad in the 1950s). Although I’ve been away over 55 years, I can see that the old biases between townies and baymen seem still to be going strong.

But it really took the Wonderful Grand Band, Figgy Duff and the Codco revivals to shake the Hollywood scales from my eyes and the Tin Pan Alley wax from my ears.

As I remember it, the St. John’s crowd never took to the trad culture with much enthusiasm, including me, due to snobbery more than anything. When I grew up there in the ’40s and ’50s, we were listening to sexy VOUS from Fort Pepperrell more than staid old VOCM, let alone VONF, and any appreciation of local culture was pretty well knocked out of us by our teens.

Although it’s true, while singing in the St. Bon’s glee club I had to learn many songs from the Gerald S. Doyle Newfoundland songbook (what with his sons Bob and Charlie in my class and the Doyle family pew just across the aisle from ours in the west gallery of the Roman Catholic cathedral, how could I not? I even learned (almost) how to dance the Lancers, thanks to a summer spent living with relatives “around the bay” when I was about 12.

But it really took the Wonderful Grand Band, Figgy Duff and the Codco revivals to shake the Hollywood scales from my eyes and the Tin Pan Alley wax from my ears.

Now I say about our trad music, “Yes b’y, bring ’er on.” Sorry to be a turncoat, Robin.

Best to The Telegram.

 

John P. Christopher

Toronto

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