Tacoy Ryde celebrates 45 years of music
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 06:00 am
Tacoy Ryde has had, pardon the pun, a 45-year ride in the music business and is about to put the pedal to the metal.
It takes a lot of talent and grit to survive for this stretch of time. In celebration of their tenacity, the band is putting on a concert at Cook County Saloon on Thursday, Sept. 19.
“It’s going to be an Edmonton community musicians’ gig. We want to pay tribute to a lot of the musicians we played with over the years,” says St. Albert bass player Duane Smith.
In addition to Tacoy Ryde reliving different eras of its musical prowess, the band has invited a stellar lineup of local guest musicians, performers and recording artists.
They include Christian Mena of Maracuja, Bomba’s Mario Allende, Steve Boddington from Hot Cottage, Big Hank Lionhart (Fistful of Blues), Tilo Piaz (Banda Amistad), saxophonist Dave Babcock and music producer Stew Kirkwood.
In addition, Tacoy Ryde alumni, some of the original pillars who laid the foundations for this powerhouse band, return to sing a few charts from their era.
They include guitarist Ken ‘Turk’ Kirkwood, keyboardist Rick Hopkins, vocalist Jerry Woolsey, drummer Kim Glanville and pedal steel guitarist Rusty Pimm.
In all about 20 musicians including singers Paula Perro and Angela McKenzie will fill the stage.
With this kind of longevity, the band tapped into many different styles of music.
“We brought a lot of different grooves and rhythms to the music landscape – Latin, funk, reggae, country, rock. We were quite unique. We had a hardcore following and a lot (fans) stuck with us,” Smith said.
The first chapter of the band’s life started when five teens from Stettler – Smith, Barry Nighswander, Ken Kirkwood, Jerry Woolsley and Don McKay – put together a garage band and tried to tag it with a few psychedelic names. None stuck.
“I was sitting in Lit. 11, a Grade 10 class, and the name (Tacoy Ryde) just came to me. The guys liked the way it sounded and it stuck,” says Smith.
The band moved to Edmonton in 1973, playing rock music fashioned on Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles.
“The hippie movement was strong and we added songs from San Francisco’s Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.”
Tacoy Ryde gradually morphed in a country rock band. With influences from Bob Marley and Santana, it developed a more rhythmic groove. From 1980 to 1983, it was a full-fledged reggae band.
“Whatever we were turned on (to), we’d do,” Smith said.
As one of the few all-white reggae bands in Canada (and possibly the only one), Tacoy Ryde developed a certain prominence. They opened for the Jamaican Third World Band and Britain’s Steele Pulse, the first non-Jamaican act to win a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
“We had a large following in lots of major cities – Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg. But reggae wasn’t something the industry wanted to deal with. They were more into mainstream – you know, Bryan Adams.”
By 1983, Tacoy Ryde moved into a more pop direction. They signed with a newbie label from Vancouver, Parallel One, and were pressured to change their name to Jato.
As Jato, they released an album with several singles, including She’s Got and Lake of Fire, that were on a gold rotation across Canadian radio stations. There was interest from major record labels.
“There were three deals but they never came together,” Smith said. “We played high-profile rooms and audiences across the country but eventually the record company ran out of money.”
In 1989 the band went back to its roots and re-adopted the name Tacoy Ryde. A few musicians departed and new faces – singer Al Brant and Chapman stick player Dale Ladouceur – joined the fold.
Over the years, the band has packed joints such as the legendary Hovel and watering holes like the Klondike Hotel. Their music was also played at street dances, funky community halls and trendy clubs.
And whether it was mountain ski resorts, Vancouver’s Gastown or Victoria’s Harpo, their fusion sound was deeply embedded in the Canada’s musical mosaic.
At next Thursday’s concert, Tacoy Ryde is also filming the event for a future YouTube video or possibly an hour-length documentary.
“Come and celebrate the music and musical camaraderie of Tacoy Ryde,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a great ride with a fabulous cast.”