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Interview: DANNY MARKS
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
There was all kinds of music in our home growing up and we loved it all. When the younger generation made its own sounds, that was it for me. Youth had a voice, it was the 1960's and we cherished hope. Mom and Dad encouraged my aptitude for stagecraft.. If I hadn't become a musician I surely would have gone into acting. The stage is my natural habitat.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Living in the Big Smoke we also have many ravines and urban wilderness. I walk in the Valley by the River Don and along the old railway tracks to find inspiration, deep breathing and the muse.
How long has your band been around?
Our first band was back in 1967 and I've been playing since with all kinds of combos. The current line up is five years old.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
The Toronto Sound was an early influence. That sound can be identified as both Blues and Rock with gritty guitar and Hammond organ. But we heard all kinds of music growing up from Classics to Country, Blues and Jazz to Metal and Punk.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?.
The name of our first band came from the kid's book WInnie The Pooh. The current band is named after the lead vocalist, me.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
The first time we opened for Led Zeppelin in 1970 was a game-changer. We had to step up or get booed off. We stepped up. I returned to that same venue to play with Dan Ackroyd and others in 2020. May 1st 2022 was our first show since covid. It was a small event, nearly rained out and a small but loyal crowd. As momentous as any show we've ever played and soul-satisfying to be back, with that guitar, mic and band once again. New beginnings.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Our fave venues of the past decade are the house gigs in various clubs, the Saturday Matinees where anything can happen and anyone can show up. It's never too late to be discovered.I host radio BLUZ FM on JAZZ FM91 and TV, Cities in Blue on BBC First, I love those.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
If I could play any show with any lineup of folks alive today? Bob Dylan.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Don't give up. Do it for love. Find your own path and learn from everything.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Dad's words, "Stay the course. Keep your head cool and your feet warm".
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Man on the Radio means the most to me. It's our most recent recording. It's true to the core of who I am and what I do. Music heals, radio is a lifeline.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Favourites to play are songs that come out of the ether. They might be a shout out from the crowd or a request. It's familiar and fresh all at once. I don't usually have a playlist prepared. Go with the flow. It's exhilarating.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Strange as it may seem I often get inspiration doing the most mundane stuff like washing the dishes or taking a hot shower. Maybe it';s the running water. I'm inspired by walking the downtown streets or the ravines nearby. When you compose to the beat of walking feet, rhyme comes in time.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Understanding, awareness and freedom of thought with good intent for the only world we have.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We rarely have disagreements. I trust them to play what's right, sing harmoniously and they trust my leadership to be fair.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want?
With the turmoil of the past two years we hope to return to hometown venues and festivals. I'm looking for new vehicles on TV and Documentary work and to finish Lifeline, the album that features Man on the Radio.