1964: my first album, A Hard Day's Night. I've seen two Beatles in my life: John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band at the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival in 1969 and Sir Paul McCartney at the Da Vinci exhibition in 2011 — just one musical genius, two curators, two Virgins of the Rocks and one star-struck fan in the room.
1970: wrote my first song which I played at a high school concert, then university gigs. When my children were small I tried out my kids' tunes at MUN daycare. Formative influences: Fab Four, James Taylor, Carole King, Dylan, Tim Ochitwa, Tom Lehrer.
1996: Bill Martin (a former student) & I formed the Disclaimers, an antidote to the Proclaimers. We wrote our own satirical songs — Bill's 'Sobey's Bartlett Pears' set to 'Barrett's Privateers' was a hit — & played a few gigs around campus, at the Ship and on CBC Radio until Bill met his future spouse online and moved to B.C.
2012: English 3912 Songwriting launched. One of my better ideas: our province has spawned some great songwriters, so I thought it was time the University expanded its Creative Writing programme. Time and again Memorial students have pooled their talents to produce some amazing musical gems.
2015-20: I started on GarageBand, graduated to Logic Prox X, and hope to lay down tracks to 200+ songs as I prepare to become a busker in my next set.
• ‘Come All Ye’ choral performance, dir. Doug Dunsmore, Garrick Theatre, Bonavista (6 Oct. 2015 & 25 Oct. 2016)
• English 3912 Final Concerts (14 Apr. 2012, 7 Apr. 2014, 10 Apr. 2015, 6 Apr. 2016, 7 Apr. 2017, 6 Dec. 2017)
• Backup vocalist, ‘Bankers’ Song’ video, Dancing with Rage, Mary Walsh (2012)
• 300 Years of Fools Rush In, with Mike Shute (Religious Studies) and Chris LeDrew, MUN (1 April 2011)
• Graduate fundraiser (20 Oct. 2008)
• Open Mic, Ship Inn, with Ruth Perry (10 Oct. 2007)
• Four classes including one on Dylan, with Mike Shute and Chris LeDrew, MUN (29 March 2007)
• ‘Curiosities & Ephemera,’ with Kevin Berland & Ruth Perry, ASECS, Las Vegas (2 April 2005)
• The Disclaimers (town & gown satirical duet with Bill Martin): Breaking out of the Books, MUN (20 Mar. 1999); Ship Inn (21 Mar. 1998); Bitters grad. pub (11 Feb. 1998); Dept. function (5 Dec. 1997); ‘SCUM Unearthed,’ Staff/Student revue (3 Dec. 1997)
• ‘Telling it like it isn’t,’ MUN English Colloquium & CBC Radio Noon (21 Nov. 1997)
• Solo: Bitters (28 Jan. 1998)
• ‘If Tom Lehrer were alive & sick in the 18th century,’ ASECS, Nashville (12 Apr. 1997)
• BSECS Banquet (6 Jan. 1996)
• Dept. functions, preschool classes &c. (14 gigs, 1991-95)
• ‘On Rooftarring,’ CBC-Radio, ‘On the Go’ (29 July 1989)
• ‘CBC Existentially,’ winner in Pop (Folk) Song category (3 May 1987).
Over the years I've met some great singer-songwriters:
Tom Waits on my first trip to London in 1976
Van Morrison over a couple of cups of coffee in 1983
Ron Hynes who played 'My Old Man' for my father on his 85th birthday.