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Bruce Sexauer's Musical History: the Canadian Years (67 - 77)

Grades 4 & 5 I received training (unsuccessfully) on Drums (which I wanted to play) and then was shifted to Mellowphone (similar to french horn, but with trumpet style valves) as the school band needed one. Should have practiced.

Grade 6 I tried the clarinet. Should have practiced.

Grades 7 & 8 I played the Baritone Horn like most of the rest of the hopeless cases, but I did practice. When I got serious about music, the training I received here allowed me to reconstruct the staff, key signatures, time values, etceteras and teach myself how to read music. WAY more valuable than tabulature skills in my opinion.

Grade 9 was military school in Elsinore , CA, and I caught on very early to the fact that a bugle weighs a lot less than an M1 garrand rifle. So what if I had to get up a half hour before the "troops" a couple of times a week. I also got a private room as opposed to a bunk bed in the dormitory. I was smartening up, but I should have practiced.

If I took music in High School, I have forgotten it, possible because I may have inhaled, in any case I started on the guitar at 17. My mother bought me a pawn shop nylon stringed guitar for Christmas in 1963 and I practiced. My first tune was "Seven Daffodils" by Alice Stuart (Arhoolie Records), my then friend Carl Helmgren showed me how to do it. I met Alice a couple of years ago while I was doing my guitar repair gig at the Strawberry Music Festival (bring your simple repairs there for a great deal) and acknowledged her pivotal role in my life. She doesn't do the tune anymore either, though she got further than I can.

Hitch-hiked to Canada in 1967 and left the guitar behind. No loss. Bought some tools and made myself a succession of ever improving instruments, but that is another story. My first tune was a string of all the chords I knew, Travis picked, and drew mild applause whenever I played it at the local folk clubs. Thus encouraged I wrote about a hundred tunes over the next 15 years and performed my tunes with my voice accompanied by my guitar playing on my guitar. I am a pisces, and true to my purported nature, I am not secure enough for this blatant egotism. Still, there were some good times, decent bands were formed, and I continued to practice.

The first band (1971?) was called "Earth Harp". Name courtesy of David Cull. It was a four piece band with Philip Ladovski playing bass, John Lemarquand playing drums, and Shari Ulrich as back-up vocalist, flautist, violinist, and percussion. John L. thought she was promising and, as she was crashing at our house, I begrudgingly consented to her presence. I am not able to recollect anywhere that we played twice.

After the rhythm section drifted off, Shari and I (married at this point) continued on as the duo "High Society". We got re-hired some and actually sound pretty good on the old 1/4" tapes I have. I was very clear by this point that Shari was a truly talented individual, and began to question my own abilities. In my insecurity, I eventually abandoned the relationship and the band, and got a front row seat (though well off to the side) to watch Shari's rapid rise to the top of the Canadian Pop music pile. As you might imagine, I wrote a number of decent tunes out of this experience. And practiced even more than ordinary.

The height of my Canadian musical career was the summer of 1977, when, in the company of Shelly Kantrow on the Bass and Larry Lunchpail on the drums, I toured most of the Gulf Islands playing dances in the community halls the all seem to have. We'd hit one or two island a week-end, having postered in advance through one friend or another. These island lie in the Gulf of Georgia, between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, no two are the same and each is a heavy contender for paradise on earth. Did I say I liked it? Then in the fall I moved back to the big pond (USA) and stardom.

want to read more?
the Transitional Years (77 - 90)