Rotary Club of Oak Bay
Bulletin 14 August 2018.
By Ron Cooley
Sandy Currie delivered the Invocation supported by Jack Petrie with a musical theme to show case our guest speaker.
Wynn Taylor was Celebrations Master again following a musical theme.
Happy/Sad- Heather sad because flight to Latvia was cancelled.
Nils Jensen sad because Tom Croft had his last Oak Bay council meeting. Nils thanked Tom for all of his work on behalf of Oak Bay.
Fittingly, Tom Croft won the draw but no joy, not the big pot.
Jack introduced our speaker David Vest
He said that a few years ago, Victoria got lucky when David met his Canadian sweetheart Annie and moved to Victoria. Now we get to see him up close and personal. He said it was fitting to have David here in a room dedicated to David Foster, both of them giant slayers.
David was born in Huntsville, Alabama and grew up in Birmingham near Tuxedo Junction. His first paying gig was in 1957 and opened for Roy Orbison in 1962. He wrote the 1st songs recorded by Tammy Wynette. He’s written many others including the #1 song on the World Blues and Roots chart, “Worried about the World” recorded by the Downchild Blues Band.
He has played the honkytonks, roadhouses everywhere and the big stages of Seattle’s Bumbershoot, King Biscuit, Waterfront (Portland), Cross Canada festivals and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival.
For over 5 years David has been named Canada’s top Blues Piano Player winning the Maple Blues award each time.
Oregon Music News sums it up “David Vest is one of the greatest living Boogie-Woogie pianists.”
David started his talk with a reference to Rotary. He was asked to be a substitute speaker at a Rotary Club in Harrington Texas. He said yes but stated he had no way to get there. The original speaker sent his Lear Jet to pick David up. He had plenty of time to drink some beer and leaf thru Playboys. At the Rotary Club they had no idea who he was. Introduced as substitute speaker David Vest who claims he is David Vest.
The 1st time that Boogie Woogie was referenced was by Clarence “Pine Top” Smith. His song “Pine Tops Boogie Woogie” sold about 1 million copies in a week.
“Grey Ghost” William Roosevelt played at dances around Texas. He says he got the name Grey Ghost back when he was hired to play in various small towns. Someone would meet every arriving train or bus, but Williams was never aboard–yet mysteriously he would show up in time to perform. “They said like a ghost I come up out of the ground, and then I was gone,” he grinned. “I had come and gone by freight train. I would put overalls over my suit and tie, and that’s the way I traveled.”
He was recording into his 90’s and said he was just getting started. He died at 97 and disappointed a number of fans as he had 200 concerts booked ahead.
David said as a young man, he had much to learn about the blues vernacular. Carl Perkins said he wanted his coffee sweet. Young David added a few packs of sugar to the coffee then nervously added a couple of more. Perkins took a sip and spat it out saying “Told you I wanted it Sweet,” meaning add Bourbon.
The Blues and Boogie Woogie were contributed by people who had the least. There were a few ways you could approach playing it.
- Plunder-strip out what you want.
- Community-invited in. It is not about you but what you want to be a part of. Then the old ones helped you out.
Jimmy T99 Nelson also gave David some vernacular lessons but only clouded the waters with expressions like “Get the Butter from the Duck” and playing as “Long as Flavour” sometimes you had to act like you knew what that meant.
WC Handy “Father of the Blues” was another big influence. He said when he was introduced as the Father of the Blues, “You need to find who the Mother was.” No body invented the blues. He was born an hour walk from Helen Keller’s home. He was born in a log cabin built by his grandfather. He published the 1st Blues song “Memphis Blues” in 1909. He also published “Beale St Blues and St Louis Blues”
He was the only great song writer to go blind twice in his life. The first time was caused by a fall from a subway platform in New York City in 1943.
David played a number of wonderful songs to go with his talk including his “Worried about the World” version. He also played “There’s a party in the Room next Door.” Who hasn’t experienced that when travelling?
David has had a lot of fun playing in Canada with its deep and broad music scene. You can find wonderful 1st Class musicians from coast to coast. He stated that Downchild Blues Band was the best in the world.
He played a song accompanied by the Ramshakalaka Choir including Jack, Janette, John, Ceci and Sandy from our club plus David’s wife Annie.
Lorrie thanked David for a wonderful talk.
If you were away, you missed a great afternoon