My Java Journal

A Musical Journey & A Milestone Reached

With Class of 91 at Avant-Garde, Ottawa, 2019
(📸 @to_greatness_somehow_)

I started playing guitar at age twelve. I didn’t get very far and it didn’t last long. However, it was the beginning of a lifelong musical journey.

The bug bit deep that first introduction, and in high school I picked up the guitar again. This time I got further; lunchtime jams in the school lobby, a song or two on the school stage, and, of course, those high school parties.

When I moved to Vancouver following high school, I rented a room in a house full of studio musicians. These were phenomenally talented musicians. I wasn’t one of them, but in their shadow I continued to hack at it, slowly getting better. This was in the early 90’s and exactly when Grunge exploded out of the American northwest. My musical ambitions grew relational to my love of, and the success of this raw and expressive music. Grunge made music accessible to me. This is where my musical passion took firm root.

It all came crashing down when I left Vancouver in 1994 and headed for India. This was in no small part because I sold all my guitars to pay for the plane ticket and health insurance – including my Gibson Les Paul Deluxe that I had no right owning, but which alone covered the cost of the flights .

In India, I bought a cheap acoustic guitar in Varanasi. I traveled with this guitar but wasn’t yet singing; only strumming and playing riffs. In India, in 1994, it seemed everyone I encountered wanted me to play some Michael Jackson. I didn’t know any, had no desire to learn any, and I left the guitar with a fellow traveler when I left India.

A Musical Reawakening

I started dating my wife in 1997. It had been a few years since I had owned or played a guitar. One day, we were walking in downtown Ottawa, and as we walked past a music store I ducked in and walked out with an acoustic guitar. A surprise to her that I played, and one of the best purchases I ever made. I still have it; a burgundy Washburn acoustic. It lives at the cottage for use when up there.

I had joined the army by this time, and that guitar came with me twice to Bosnia.  In 2001, I was deployed over Canada Day. In an effort to elevate our Canada Day celebration, and the two beers we were authorized, my company commander asked if the little group I jammed with would play that night to help recognize the day. That was the first time I sang publicly, albeit backup vocals only.

A band formed from that night, Pegasus; named for the fact that we were maroon beret wearing paratroopers who recognized and proudly affiliated with the traditional airborne insignia of Bellerophon astride Pegasus. That band started playing in the communities we lived amongst. The band played for goodwill mostly, but also to do some fundraising to help rebuild schools that were destroyed in the fighting. We then played for a Change of Command in Sarajevo.

Our culminating show however, was playing at a Hard Rock Café (not legit I think, regardless) where we played for the locals. Some 250 locals showed, and with an armoured escort to and from the show, and guards posted, we played our hearts out with every song we knew. Then we were ushered out, quickly, as the drinks started to arrive from the locals that wanted to toast our night; we had to turn them all down as we were shuttled out.

I never stopped singing after that.

During my deployments to Afghanistan a new guitar traveled with me. A Taylor 314ce I bought in 2003. Risky, traveling with a much more expensive guitar. It did well and is today, still, my primary guitar. No shows to tell of in Afghanistan, but lots of playing with my fellow soldiers when time permitted. My playing really developed with these jams and my comfort with singing was now no longer an issue.

Open mics broke up the routine over the last decade. I started hosting them myself after retiring. Now I just simply love playing live and truly love hosting a stage for other musicians; especially the younger ones that benefit most from an accessible stage and audience.

Class of 91

However, I always wanted to play in band. I dabbled with bands now and again during this musical journey, but now, on the backside of 40, the band I am so grateful to be a part of, Class of 91, just released two original songs from the 8-song EP we were working on before the pandemic stymied our efforts. I am very excited to see ambitions and passions from earlier years come to some fruition. It is truly never too late to start, or in this case, continue the pursuit of one’s dreams and goals.

Class of 91 at Avant-Garde, Ottawa, 2019
(📸 @to_greatness_somehow_)

Class of 91 formed as a group of friends that met once a month to make some noise. The music gelled quickly. With similar musical tastes, matched skill levels, an easygoing setting, and with no expectations, it took about a year before the first originals started taking shape.

Playing alongside Ian, the creative soul responsible for Couldn’t This Be Right and Destroyer (Steve on drums, Fred not pictured to Ian’s right), Avant-Garde, Ottawa, 2019
(📸 @to_greatness_somehow_)

Led by songs penned by our lead guitarist and vocalist, Ian, we quickly pulled together enough original music, with some covers to fill the gaps, to get out playing live. So much fun. With 8 songs now ready for prime-time, and a 9th taking shape, and other ideas in development, Class of 91 is now ready to offer some music to the world.

Original Music Release

So, without further ado I offer to you Class of 91’s songs Couldn’t This Be Right and Destroyer, being made available for streaming or download this week from all your usual services. I hope you enjoy. We can’t control the distribution of the songs through all the platforms, but I did see Destroyer was available on Amazon Prime and iTunes as of this writing, and we do have them available on our Bandcamp site.

The rest of the songs will get done, the EP will be completed. There will be an EP release in time; a matter of when, not if.

To my band mates I say thank you. A new experience. A great experience. Thank you for the opportunity to see a passion through to a significant milestone.

Gratitude.

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