Interesting story, I learned to play guitar in Prison!
But before telling that story, a little history! I was born and raised in Saskatoon. As a guy from the West, I was surrounded by a variety of influences in music; Country, Blues, Metis Fiddle and Psychedelic Rock and Roll. But it was Rock and roll, from the 60’s through the mid 70’s is where I would focus his interest. The Folk genre played a very large part of my music history and interest. I believe Folk music and Rock music as closely aligned.
I currently play guitar, mandolin and the Irish Tin Whistle in three bands; a Semi-professional Irish singing band called Corkery Road, a Semi- professional three piece Fiddle group called Cratur and a fun Ceilidh band (Kitchen Party Band or a Community Band) called Irons in the Fire.
I am the host of the Wednesday Night Celtic Show each Wednesday night from 6 pm until 8. I am also one of the hosts on the Rock and Roll Show on Monday nights from 8 – 10. I have also filled in on the Day Show and the Drive Home Show.
But I got my start on Valley Heritage Radio presenting the best in Folk Music on a show called, “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere”. My Co-host John Fife and I bring a myriad and eclectic assortment of folk tunes each week. The chemistry between the two of us is sometimes explosive, but always fun !
Our Play List includes everything from Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan, Weavers, Kingston Trio to Woody Guthrie and his son, Arlo. We then take it to the present day, including several local folk artistes being featured. From time to time, we also listen to Folk Music from different countries.
But back to learning the guitar in prison. Yes indeed I did learn to play the guitar in prison. I was taught by an inmate at Federal Correctional Facility for inmates with psychiatric problems. In fact, I spent 35 years in prison. Now before you go “Oh S….., I was a correctional officer, working in several Federal Penitentiaries. Now the guitar story — I sat down with one of the inmates on my case load who happened playing a guitar in his cell late one evening. I approached him and asked the inmate to show me some simple chords. After a few days, the inmate wrote out the chords and the lyrics to a song. And what was that first song I learned? Well it was “Good Time Charlie Has the Blues”. I still have that piece of paper today!
I retired from the Correctional Service of Canada in 2013 and began my volunteer career at Valley Heritage Radio soon after that. But I can honestly say, not a lot of difference between the two careers