Goyo de la Rosa’s hand-lettered poster
for the “Bird Cages” Utopian Book Bazaar
caught Jason Flower’s discerning eye…
thus, an interrupted friendship was restarted
The other day I got a knock on the door from one of our neighbours on Rockland Avenue, a thin dark-haired pale young man with ear studs whom I mistook for being Rockin Danny Copper, the lead guitarist in Ed Wright’s Diamond Eagle Blues Band.
Turns out it was none other than Jason Flower (shown above, second from left, in his first band Stick Farm in 1989), come to see if he could have an advanced peak at some of our old LPs and posters.
I generally don’t like to do advanced sales as it seems unfair to others, but in Jason’s case I made an exception.
He told me that he had noticed my handlettered poster for the event and was so looking forward to coming, but that it clashed with a gig up-Island on Monday, and he didn’t want to cancel that, but was tempted to…
No need for that, as we went into our basement and I let the punk rocker-historian loose on the old albums.
He found a clear vinyl copy of Elmo Whiggett’s only recorded album, Autographed Copy…, personally autographed to me by the sultry jazz chanteuse Barbara Fisher who lead that band, then Victoria’s finest, an obscure Larry Coryell album and a few other funky albums whose titles escaped me.
I also gave him a copy of one of Craig Morrison‘s Bluegrass Buddies band’s CDs, ‘Echoes from the Blue Angel,’ I think it was, basically hillbilly music recorded live in a bar in old Montreal, Quebec.
Craig Morrison, who grew up in Oak Bay, is a very talented rock guitarist-singer-composer, plays in three bands, teaches ethnomusicology and rock ‘n’ roll history courses at both Concordia and McGill in the big Quebecois city, was a teenage music ‘head’ in 1968, as this vintage photo, taken from his Pacific coast rock and roll history pages, below, clearly shows.
‘On Dominion Day 1967, in the Summer of Love, there was a battle of the bands in Centennial Square right beside City Hall, with the Blues x 5, Gulliver’s Travels, and about three more.
‘The prize was a recording deal in Seattle.
(The Blues x 5 won, but nothing ever materialized)…
‘The Oak Bay Tea Party was also a place to hear live bands like the fabulous Blues x 5 (pronounced “blues by five”), whose guitarist Norm MacPherson can stand with the best anyway,’ writes Craig Morrison in his essay ‘I was a teenage music head in the land of the newly wed and the nearly dead.’
Norm MacPherson ‘went on to form Moxie, and the Black Snake Blues Band, and played on records with Vancouver’s Poppy Family.
‘The last time I saw him was the early 1980s on stage at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto with Valdy — another resident of the Victoria region who recorded “Rock & Roll Song” in 1972 and many albums subsequently.
‘In the late 60s when Moxie was around, the other two best bands in Victoria were As Sheriff and Morning Star.
‘These bands played mostly in community and church halls.
‘As Sheriff recorded a single in 1970: “His Father’s Good Machine”/”Six Ways to the Ace.”
‘The other bands had no singles, though the Black Snake Blues Band has two tracks on the rare Cool Aid Benefit Album made in Vancouver in 1970.’
Jason Flower told me that his band the Mexican Power Authority, shown above, are recording a new version of one of the old As Sheriff songs that was on their only 45. Jason is the skinny kid on the far left, wearing one of the band’s own t-shirts, and with the unmended holes in the knees of his jeans, of course! Very punk.
A surrealistic poster influenced by Rene Magritte, for the Blues X Five playing at the Purple Onion on View Street (below the Club Tango), circa 1965, when Ed Wright was just a young whippersnapper.
Even before As Sheriff, there was the seminal BLUES X FIVE, certainly the most popular band in 1965 in Victoria. Ed Wright is in the middle of the group photo above.
Ed Simpson-Baikie, Ed Wright, Denis Scherk and Andy Godon are shown in this vintage black and white photo above, circa 1969, of the As Sheriff band, from the Royal Canadian Music Project (RCMP) historical website.
Almost from their inception in late 1967, As Sheriff took over from Blues X Five as Victoria’s most popular rhythm and blues (now psychedelicized) rock band, and held that position for about two years.
‘I’d like to get the story straight on As Sheriff,’ wrote Ed Simpson-Baikie at RCMP from Amsterdam on May 27, 2007.
‘Formed in late 1967, first lineup: Lead guitar/voc: Andy Godon; Rhythm guitar/voc: Reid Hudson; drums: Peter Lower.
‘In 1968, Harry Creech took over the drum throne; Reid left in 1969 and I switched to bass guitar, with Denis Scherk on drums and Ed Wright on lead vocals and harp.
‘Rod Evans was also on board somewhere along the way, and finally, Barry Newman.’
Craig Scott, an American draft dodger who started up rock bands in the old Nine in the Fifth Place dance hall, upstairs near the corner of Government and Yates, remembers when Ed Wright first came on the scene.
‘Ed Wright started out as a coffee house folk singer in Victoria and was befriended by the members of the Fast Flying Vestibule.
‘Eventually Ed was invited to sit in with the group and sang lead vocals for several songs.
‘The lead vocal job was usually by Dave Wilkie, but a fresh sound emerged with Ed.
‘The group eventually morphed into Moxie.’
Ed Wright is shown holding his harmonica, above, ‘the man in black,’ in this photo of his latest group, the Diamond Eagle Blues Band, probably taken at the Cambie. Below Ed, from left to right, are James Cole, bass; Mike Sharp, drums, and Rockin Danny Copper, lead guitar, vocals and back up vocals. I mistook Jason Flower for Danny Copper!
I told Jason Flower that Ed Wright now had a new band, shown in the colour photo above, that I heard out at the scary Cambie roadhouse the other night with David Burke, and that I had mistaken him (Jason, that is) for Rockin Danny Copper, the lead guitarist in that band!
When I first wrote this article, I did not know Danny’s name (shown on the right in the photo above), but I was very impressed with his playing, and that of the rest of Ed’s new band called The Diamond Eagle Blues Band, albeit, not with the sleazy venue itself, which is a real wasteland of debauchery.
A recent undated high tech poster for the Chicago Blues Night at the Knockanback Grill on Wilkinson Road advertises the ‘Diamond Eagle Review with Little Ed Wright, Victoria Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.’ The poster shows the diamond eagle symbol, so beloved of Ed Wright, that I used in this as-yet unused design for the band, shown below.
Anyway, the Diamond Eagle, as they are identified on the back page of the August issue of SNAP Victoria, a free give-away of party pictures, shows L’il Ed Wright on stage with the Diamond Eagle Blues Band, warming up the crowd at Bear Mountain for Nazareth.
As the turgid hype in the publicity rag puts it: ‘The event, which also included actual sumo wrestling and a bikini contest was kicked off by the amazing band Diamond Eagle who were awesome and got the crowds all revved up for Nazareth.’
Back to Jason: I look forward to colloborating with him in the future in some capacity or other, perhaps on a similar history for the late sixties-early seventies music scene that I vaguely remember…
… as he did with the Victoria punk music scene (late seventies-early eighties) in his 80 page book- 2 CD set called All Your Ears Can Hear.
LINKS: All Your Ears Can Hear, Craig Morrison, Diamond Eagle Blues Band and Elmo Whiggett are found in the Comments section below.
– ‘Goyo de la Rosa’
(Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell)
ROCKLAND – LA ROSA TRANSCULTURAL ARTS PROPAGANDA 2010