Stripper's Union
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Stripper's Union

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The best kept secret in music


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Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


For every Hip record that we make I get to present several song ideas. Once an idea is in the hands of the collective any number of things can and do happen; we may jam endlessly and get nowhere or it may be effortless; an idea may be greeted with open arms and taken into the family or it may be met with indifference or worse; it may be a hit or it may be discarded. It always goes places I had not anticipated and that can be frustrating and hugely rewarding. (these are songs I'm talking about - not children). Over the years I have amassed a catalogue of ideas which for any number of reasons did not work or were not suited for the band; many were not written with the Hip in mind but rather for the sheer joy or the exercise of doing it.

For several years I have been thinking that I ought to do something with some of these songs. The biggest problem with being in a band with a gifted lyricist is that you don't take the time to develop your own lyric voice - why bother; he's got that base covered so I'll focus on this over here. I need lyrics, and not just any lyrics... I've got standards.

Enter Craig. Originally the idea was that he would help me write lyrics but after about 20 minutes I said to myself 'he's got that base covered so I'll focus on this over here'. Actually Craig entered many years ago. I /we had the great opportunity to share a stage with Craig and the Odds many times over the years. I was and remain a huge fan of their music (from the moment I first heard it). More than that - I came to genuinely love these guys as friends. In the fall of '02 I popped by Craig's home studio in Vancouver where he was doing some production work with another friend, Bob Kemmis. I got the opportunity to play on a great track on Bob's record, but almost as an aside Craig put up an instrumental thing he had worked up and asked if I wanted to have a go at it - whatever came to mind. Two years later when we had a dozen songs for a project taking shape Craig asked 'is there anything else?' - I suggested the song we worked up that afternoon at his place in Van. - now titled "Give Up and Go Away".

In June of 2004 Craig came to stay for a couple of days to see if we could write songs together. It all started innocently enough - "is there anyone we would like to kill off?" You can do that in a song - such is the power of music. I believe we had 5 songs after three days. We determined that indeed we could write together. Anything that is as much fun as hanging out with Craig and playing music must certainly bear some sort of tasty fruit, so we agreed to do it again and did so in September with similar results. By this time we were already referring to our affiliation as "The Strippers Union (local 518)". ' Why?' you might ask. Ask Craig. Actually, I have always said that traveling rockers have a great deal in common with urban folk dancers - both make their livings in seedy clubs under the tyranny of shady managers, under the microscope of critical eyes seeking flaws, far from home and loved ones and laying themselves bare night after night; I hate it but the money and the lifestyle are addictive; face it - you love it - it's fun and it gives you things you need and want. Interest in you is highest when you are young and inexperienced; in the time it takes for you to excel at your craft you have become 'too old' to be of interest to all but the 'connoisseur'. Craig will probably say 'I just liked the sound of it'.

The third session was at the Bathouse studio in Dec. of '04 and this time with the 'usual suspects' along for the non-stop comedy cabaret. Along with the Odds, another of my favorite bands is Sharkskin - an instrumental ensemble based not so loosely on (in my opinion) the greatest of all bands -Booker T and the MGs, the house band at Stax/Volt Records. Sharkskin boasts 3 of 4 Odds - Craig, Pat Steward on the tubs and Doug Elliott on the gut bucket - with the addition of the incredible Simon Kendall on B3, clavinet and piano. Gotta have em. Not only are they the most cookin' and soulful classic R'n'B band around but they are all friends - my friends. And funny - did I mention funny?

Just as my plan to do a solo record quickly gave way to a collaboration, so our collaboration quickly gave way to a band. I love bands. Not all bands... not even many bands, but real bands - bands where everyone plays a vital role, bands based on friendship, laughter, mutual love and respect for each other and the music. All I've ever really wanted was to be in a really cool band and I have been privileged to be in one of the best and most real bands around, but that's not enough for me. My hunger for the rock (and the roll) knows few bounds. I'm greedy. I want more fun, more laughter and more music.

So now I'm in two great bands - satisfied but not satiated.