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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.

 

 

 

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

 

  

Rollie LaMarche   

 

Rollie LaMarche , a member of Rita McDade and the Fusion Band, brings his many years of experience and eclectic style of playing bass from pop to jazz and funk to blues. You can hear his love of the instrument holding down the groove and infusing the bottom end making you want to dance.

The Fusion Blues Band - current - Rita McDade, Scott Alexander, Murray Schneider, Kevin McDade

Previous Bands played in:

The Pam Proud Band 85 -2000 - Al Quilley, Pam Proud, Bob Cramers, Donovan Reimer

FREETIME - Ray Anderson, Pam Proud, Bob Cramers, Henry (Hank) Koral

The Post, formerly The Evening Post

The Risers - George McKay, Ray Cormier, George Farley, Bret Leibham, Kim

Savoy Suite - Tom Smielski, Kenny Jones, Dane Devillier, Chester Quaife

Showdown - Mark Ciezki, Doug Whitford, Kenny Jones, Phil LaMarche

The Larry Rice Band - Phil LaMarche, Dale Hammer, Larry Rice, Mark Ciezki

Spring Colt - Phil LaMarche , Dale Hammer, Mark Ciezki

The Dusters – 71-73, country band named after old western movies

 

 

 

 

Scott Alexander  

 

In the distant past, Scott a member of Rita McDade and The Fusion Band was a regular entertainer at some of Edmonton's finest piano lounges. Following a 30 year hiatus from performing live (life has its little distractions!), he joined The Grey Cats Blues Band fronted by Rita McDade in 2011 and hasn’t looked back!

 
 
 

 

Murray Schneider  

 

Murray, a member of Rita McDade and The Fusion Band has been playing professionally since the early 70’s. He joined Rita McDade forming the band Hip Pocket in 2006. Keyboards of all shapes and sizes are graced by his multi-talented hands!  He blows a pretty mean harp too!

 
 
 

 

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  

 

 

Thomas Alexander and The Fusion Experience