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Live Music for Charity

Tribute to Freeway

Getting their name from the highway that runs from Edmonton to Calgary, Southbound Freeway formed in 1966 with two brothers, Richard and Dwayne Osepchuk starting up a new band. They took guitars, and pulling from local bands they added Ron Turko on keyboards, Gerry Dayle on bass, and Ken Koshelek on drums.

"Wes Dakus and Barry Allen were looking for a group for Barry to continue his career with. They liked our sound and the solid harmonies, and we had a meeting for Barry and Wes for Barry to join the band, since Wes was retiring from playing bass and retiring The Rebels," Dwayne Osepchuk explained in an interview with CanadianBands.com. "At the time Barry had told us that he got a letter from Bob Burns asking if he would join The Guess Who. Wes, Barry and Randy Bachman were good friends at the time, as well as playing double bandstands together, but Barry told them he was joining Southbound Freeway instead."

Singles released were 'Dead End Street' with the B side 'Something Better', and both can be found on the album 'Direct From the Rainbow Ballroom.'

A local contest that Southbound Freeway won entered them into a competition August 1967 in Forest Hills, New York - The VOX Battle For Stardom prior to a concert by The Doors and Simon & Garfunkel. They also appeared on the TV shows 'Let's Go' and 'Music Hop'.

Brad Carlson replaced Dayle and Turko, Canadian & US tours were steady with them sometimes appearing as one half of a double bill with Allen's other backup band at the time, Coloured Rain. Carlson eventually left with Barry Allen to form Purple Haze in Montreal. A swap with L'il Davey Peters and Daisy Hill Puppy Farm brought Mo Boyer and keyboardist & singer Mavis McCauley to Freeway. "Back then, women in rock bands were almost an anomoly. That was especially true if they could actually play an instrument," McCauley said when interviewed by CanadianBands.com. Before eventually leaving for her solo career, McCauley recorded a cover of Steve Miller's "Roll With It" with the B side of "Don't Go Cryin' written by McCauley and featuring her on lead vocals. Mary Saxton joined for a short time and with the recording name 'The Rising Sun' which featured Saxton and the return of Barry Allen, Southbound Freeway released a cover of "Born To Be Wild".

Soon after, with shortening the band name to The Freeway, with Thomas "Bob" Alexander and keyboardist Wayne Schnieder. joining the band, Freeway recorded in San Francisco at Wally Heider's recording studio. They released the single 'Right Now Good Vibrations' with 'You Don't Have To Be' as the B side in 1972.

The band disbanded in 1976. They reunited in 1988 and again a year later for the Rock & Roll Reunions held in Edmonton.

Southbound Freeway tracks are featured on the album 'From Canada To Clovis.'

 

Thomas Alexander Original member of Freeway, guested with Big Shot 2015 Play It Forward

Thomas Alexander aka Bob Alexander began his career playing with The Patchwork Quilt in 1968 to being in Edmonton's first Funk band The Key, rocking with Southbound Freeway, and more recently his solo works.

Thomas talked about what it was like playing in Edmonton in the 1970's and 1980's and his favorite live gig and the musicians he worked with when he CO-HOSTED CJSR'S THE SHOEBOX AS PART OF LEGENDS OF THE EDMONTON MUSIC SCENE SERIES!

Thomas Alexander was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in a taxi cab outside the St. Boniface Hospital. He was suppose to be named Robert Thomas Alexander. However his birth certificate only had Thomas Alexander. He used his first name Robert (Bob) during his career. In 1955, at the age of six, he moved with his parents to Edmonton.

Thomas was inspired by such musical legends as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Billy Eckstine, and Ella Fitzgerald. His father, a music lover, named Thomas’s brother after Duke Ellington. With music in his blood, Thomas started singing with the band The Patchwork Quilt at the age of 19 in 1968.

The Patchwork Quilt eventually became The Key. The Key, with its brass section, rivalled the popular Brass Drops band in which LeVero Carter played and also the popular horn band Privledge. The Key was the first funk group in Edmonton and played all over Alberta, drawing from a repertoire that included the music of other funk groups like Sly and the Family Stone, The Buddy Miles Express, Cold Blood, and Tower of Power. Unfortunately, the size of the band made travelling difficult, and the group eventually fell into financial difficulties and broke up.

Several of The Key’s band members joined the rock band The Southbound Freeway and Thomas would also join the band when he replaced the prior lead singer. The group toured Canada and the United States. They eventually recorded an album in San Francisco and, in 1973, released the single 'Right Now Good Vibrations', produced by Mavis McCauley Vaugeois and Wes Dakus. Thomas played with Southbound Freeway from 1971 to 1973 and also in 1975. Richard Osepchuk who played in Southbound Freeway with Thomas Said that “Bob Alexander was a treat to play with”.

Thomas Alexander left The Southbound Freeway to grow as a musician. He joined Red Deer's Gaetz Avenue Dance Band, which played in both Calgary and Regina. For five and a half years. Thomas stopped playing with bands and, instead, performed on television and radio; wrote jingles for commercials, including one for MacDonald’s; and worked on learning different styles of music.

The next band he joined was Force Major from about to 1979 to 1981, based out of Seattle, Washington. Force Major played with such bands as Kool and the Gang, The Bar-Kays, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Platters and James Brown (the autograph for Thomas read from Soul Brother Number One to Soul Brother Number Two). A show band, the members of Force Major didn't record and, instead, toured Eastern Canada and played at Club Etcetera in New York for a while. From 1981 to 1984 he played in The Blades with Dwayne Osepchuk.

Thomas is a very fine songwriter and has written many songs including 'Right Now Good Vibrations' which he Co-Wrote with Dwayne Osepchuk. They also wrote 17 others songs together including songs for their group The Blades like 'Do It Right' in 1984.

Thomas left the music scene and gradually got back into music, singing some jazz on television and for the Miss Edmonton Beauty Pageant and making it to the cover of TV Times. He was then invited to go to Japan, where he was known as “The Canadian Bluebird” because his tenor voice was thought to be as beautiful as a song bird’s. In Japan, Thomas became part of a Las Vegas-style rhythm and blues show. He released seven CDs there, all under his pen name, Rejie. Also, it was while in Japan that Thomas's wife Paulette gave birth to their son Asia.

The Alexanders eventually moved back to Canada. In 1994, Thomas took his country-rock singing talent to the Canadian Country Vocal Star Search contest , where he won a recording contract

Thomas has also sung in Mo' Magic a Motown Tribute with Irene Cara of Flashdance and Fame, Florence Larue - lead vocalist of the 5th Dimension and with Freda Payne of the song "Band of Gold" fame. He also starred .in the world premiere of Music of the Millennium, which featured the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. One of his all time favorite musical events was when he played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Mayfield Dinner Theater , Liz Nicols of The Edmonton Journal said of Thomas Alexander's role "Makes Judas Soul Man #1 in an exciting performance".

Thomas Alexander continues to perform his music in Edmonton, but he has increasingly turned to playing and writing religious music. In 2005, he sang George Blondheim’s anthem for Alberta, Alberta Strong and Free, during the centennial celebrations on 1 September. In January 2005, at the request of her family, he sang at the memorial service for Lois Hole. Thomas also sang at the Memorial service for Dwayne Osepchuk where he sang with passion for his Soul Bandmate! Thomas Alexander also sang on the DVD Called Wild Rose Country which was about the Diverse Culture in Alberta.

His family's roots go back to the first Black pioneers that settled in Alberta and because of that he was asked to sing the song" Blue Alberta Blue" which was written by a descendant of the first Black Pioneers. It should be noted that Thomas also has  worked with the Legend of The Edmonton Music Scene Tommy Banks. Thomas Alexander is continuing his career  with new material in 2015. He has an amazing musical range  singing Jazz , R&B , Country , Pop , Dance , Reggae and  Gospel. Thomas Alexander AKA Thomas Alexander is also  known as "The Voice" which is a perfect moniker for Mr Alexander.

THANK YOU! to PETE the ROCKER and CJSR THE SHOEBOX for permission in using this interview.

 

 

 

Lynn Wells   

Guest with Tribute to Freeway Play It Forward 2016

Growing up in Barrhead, AB, Lynn Wells began his musical career with piano, his parents started him at age 10 and shortly thereafter Lynn saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and lights went off in his head. His friend asked him if he’d consider playing bass so they could play Beatles tunes together. After highschool this small town boy got visions of the big city and decided to move to Edmonton to pursue a career in music.

Lynn was able to get into gigging bands and the adventure has carried him through his career. The Beatles have been an influence on Lynn’s writing. He’s loved all styles of music and played most of them as well. He has enjoyed heavy metal, country, jazz, celtic and of course rock/n/roll.

He’s enjoyed the opportunities to play large venues and many festivals across the country over the years, but to pin-point a highlight has lead him to the conclusion that “you get the highlights everytime you play” – you get out of it more of what you are putting in and it’s awesome. He considers himself to be very lucky and enjoys being able to keep playing.

The comradery of the music industry and the social aspects of it are a huge motivator for Lynn. The opportunities he’s been provided over the years to work with a wide variety of people and grow relationships with so many different personalities are rewarding. Lynn shows this with his work in the music industry, both as a bass player, with his production company and with his work in charity events such as Play It Forward. He has a huge appreciation of the language of music and how it reaches all people, music is an open book.

To recharge, Lynn and Angela love motorcycling and enjoy getting out for rides long and short. They are welcoming a seventh grandchild soon! Lynn’s puts his passion into his company, Atlyn Productions http://atlyn.com/about-us/, providing sound and lighting systems for Edmonton’s music community and events in and around Edmonton.

 

Lynn's favourite colour is green!

 

 

 

 

Rocco Macri   

Electric Guitar

In 1967, Rocco Macri began playing the guitar for various rock bands in Edmonton, Alberta.

1967-1968: The Night Walkers with Bob Ego (drums), Bruce Dagenhart (bass), Ken Boychuk (keys), Des Rolheiser (guitar) and Charles Waters (vocals).

1968-1969: Long Time Coming with Marshall Williams (vocals), Des Rolheiser (bass), Monty Paul (drums),  Ken Boychuk (keys)

1969-1971: Great Slave with Alan Armitstead (keys), Des Rolheiser (bass),  Gary Zawada (drums), Bruce Mayhew (guitar) and Tom Hardy (vocals)

2005- present: Celtic Fusion illusion at 10 piece fusion rock band known to play in festivals and venues such as Festival Place and The Winspear.

CFI (Celtic Fusion Illusion) is an Edmonton based "Celtic Rock" fusion band utilising bagpipes and rock instruments to create a unique and original blend.

A great memory for Rocco is "Playing to a full house at an Oiler's Home Opener."

Visit Celtic Fusion Illusion on Facebook  

 

 

Mitch McGaughey 

Guest with Tribute to Freeway Play It Forward 2016

Mitch McGaughey began his music career, which professionally would span another twenty plus years, when he was 10 years old. He took his first drumming lessons at Tate Music on Jasper Avenue and has many fond memories of those days. His first gig happened soon after when he and a couple of friends played accordion, guitar and drums for his Cub Troop. As Mitch moved into Jr. High, this young man played with many bands at various community halls and dances. Mitch had found his niche. “You just get hooked I guess. I’ll always be a musician. No matter how long I live I’ll be a musician.”

Mitch has had the opportunity to play with many others, whom Mitch feels (and justly so with looking at his various bandmate’s careers) are all just as hooked on music as he is. A short list is Big Decent, Destiny, touring with Steeler, Mel Degan and the Lords, Reuter Rhodes, Reform School – later shortened to School, Excellorate, Lucy Sky, The Flying Saucers and Celtic Fusion Illusion.

Throughout all this, a professional music career was his goal, and he maintained it on the road playing full time into his early thirties. Snowsuits and strollers had him come home; as we all know, money big enough to support a growing family is very hard to come by in the music industry. Music was relegated to becoming his hobby.

Mitch still has a goal of making a living from live music but notes: “If you put a stage in the middle of the desert, and say ‘Hey, we’ve got these lights and this PA, we can’t pay anybody,’ we’d all go and play anyway.” Mitch has a delightful vision for this concert: “Even if nobody showed up we’d still be playing just because the stage is there and there’s a big sound system and so we gotta go play.” Such an awesome vision for the pure joy that music brings to himself and so many.

When asked who are his influences, Mitch stated that everybody is an influence. To try to pin down who is an influence, there are too many good ones. His past and current experience embraces all music genres, he’s played country, polka, rock, fusion and so much more and with so many awesome bands. “Being on stage with Johnny Lee Hooker was really cool,” and he noted playing with Kim Simmons of Savoy Brown, and lots of Canadian icons that are great musicians. Mitch has had great experiences, including playing at Winspear, and the World Triathlon a couple of years ago. There have been lots of festivals and Canada Day celebrations.

Mitch’s passion for music overwhelms all, and he does enjoy warm weather and has a dream to go fishing someday.

 

 

Al McGee Live Music for Charity

 

Al McGee   

Guest with Tribute to Freeway Play It Forward 2016

Guest performer with Big Shot at Play It Forward 2015

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Alan McGee’s music career has spanned over 54 years. Alan has performed on hundreds of stages, be it on piano, alto saxophone or vocals or sometimes all three.

He began on the piano at his mother’s side and took up formal training at age 6 at the Toronto Conservatory. Thanks to teeth that just couldn’t stay out of the way, Alan’s original interest in the trumpet moved to the alto saxophone with the Saskatoon Lion’s Club band in his early teens. He joined his first rock and roll band, 3 years later, and moved to tenor sax after few months as the tenor had a bigger, fuller tone for rock and roll.

The next years brought a move to Calgary and opportunities to play in new bands like The Belairs, with drummer Floyd Snead - who later joined 3 Dog Night – and The Pharoahs, later renamed James and the Bondsmen.

With James and The Bondsmen moving to Toronto, Alan decided to stay in Calgary and join The Lords, featuring the Krawchuk Brothers Andy and Harry, Mel Degen, Clay White, Wayne Kozak and Lorne Peet. Later the band was renamed The Privilege with Stu Mitchell replacing Clay on drums.

Alan was a mainstay of the A & W Lords/ The Privilege in the 60's and 70's producing the tracks ‘Rovin’ Heart’, ‘Savin’, ‘Blue’, ‘Happy Lovin’ Time’, ‘The Highly Successful Young Rupert White’, ‘Proper Stranger’ (written by Randy Bachman) and ‘Oh I Don’t Know’.

Since then, he’s entertained Canadian Troops in Cypress, Sinai, and Israel (Golan Heights) as part of a touring show with producer Maurice Fritze and also gigged with various corporate party and cabaret bands. More recently he’s had the opportunities to join The Nomads in the 90's and early 2000's, The Classics from 2006 to 2014 and to join with Mel Degen as The Lordz.

After the unfortunate passing of Mel, the core group The Lordz invited Barry Allen to re‐enter the performance world as Barry Allen and The New Rebels; a second project was initiated with this same core group as  Persons of Interest featuring Christina McKay.

Alan McGee was invited to become a part of reforming the Celtic Fusion Illusion in the summer of 2015 and is thrilling audiences all over Edmonton and area. He had the opportunity to co-host CJSR's The Shoebox on February 10th as part of the Legends of the Edmonton Music Scene series.

 

 

Percy Marshall 

Guest with Great Slave at Play It Forward 2017

Guest with Tribute to Freeway at Play It Forward 2016

Guest with Big Shot at Play It Forward 2015

Some say that Percy Marshall  was born with a guitar in his hands...Marshall has been playing since the age of 9 with his first gig at age 11.

He's the recipient of 2 ARIA (Alberta Recording Industry Association) awards, has played in over 20 Alberta bands and duos throughout Western Canada since the early 70's and has been a part of several local recordings since the 90's.

Percy Marshal has been a judge for many local 'Battle of the Bands' and is an adjudicator for 3 years running for the Edmonton, local leg, of the Memphis International Blues Competition.

The bands and musicians he has played with is like a who's who of Edmonton music legends from being a member of The Classics (formerly The Nomads), Celtic Fusion IllusionCold Feet and the original KitKats and the last rendition of Mel Degen and The Lordz. Percy Marshall is currently a member of Barry Allen and the New Rebels and The Lynne Chwyl Band.

Other bands of note are:  

AnyWonder (1990- released a CD and video - some play on Much Music).

Out of the Blue (80's).

-  original guitarist of Rusty Reed & the SouthSide Shuffle (1986).

The Hootenannies

Hidden Agenda (with Gord Steinke of Global TV) - released a CD