Thursday, September 23, 2010

Etobicoke Accordion Youth Orchestra

Many kids feel the need to rush into adulthood, while many of us adults want to run screaming back into the carefree days of childhood, usually once we realize that that door has closed and locked solidly behind us. I mean, it doesn't have a handle or even a keyhole on the other side.
Hey! No one told me this grown-up world was gonna be so ugly, and now I can't go back?! Get up on your tiptoes, rub frantically on the grimy windowpane with your coat-sleeve and gaze back in before heaving a sigh, turning around, and waking up to an alarm-clock.
Reason being for bringing this up is that I could get more than 3-4 posts up a month if I were a kid again and wasn't collecting responsibilities like so many unwanted hockey-card doubles. Sure, I could quit my job, but crap doesn't buy itself, kids.

But while on the subject, one can sort of revisit kidhood in various ways, some ways being going through old school artifacts like yearbooks or report cards. One rather rare artifact of one's academic years is the school record album, most of the time a recording of the school band and/or choir. Personally, none of the schools I went to ever put out an album that I'm aware of, but that could be an indicator of the quality of the students' abilities. And judging from the others in my guitar class (that we all took just for an easy grade), uh yeah, we sucked.
Rarer than the albums themselves are the nuts who actually seek out and collect these things (me being one), which range in quality from "utterly tragic", to "so good it sounds like a normal band, which equals crap" - because who wants normal, anyhow? You wanna find something that stands out, screams incongruity, spells out "remember this" on a chalkboard with fingernails instead of chalk. "Adequate" is never memorable.
Then there are the good school bands that stick in your head out of the left turn they took, something like the rather famous Langley Schools Music Project, and something like this.

Found somewhat recently in the basement of a local Sally Ann, this was originally a product out of Etobicoke (k is silent) - once a municipality, but now a part of, Toronto (which if you'll check any map, is actually quite far from Vancouver) - and happily I more recently made contact with someone who actually played on this album, so now I can relate a little info attached.
Seems the album was conceived out of a need to raise money to fund a trip to Los Angeles for a battle of the bands competition in 1980, but after all the recording and studio costs were covered, they still had to fund the trip anyways. "Limited Edition", the title of the album, comes from the fact that only 1500 copies were pressed, maybe because that was the most the school could afford, but more likely it's from the fact that in 1980 accordian-based music wasn't setting fire to the Billboard (or any?) charts and expectations of shifting as many units as The Knack weren't really high or considered sane.
And the LP cover itself is unique: most if not all of the time on these things we either get a xeroxed copy of a photo of the kids in the band or some abstract art piece that was requested from what the art teacher thought of as the most gifted student in his/her class, but here we're given a shiny black cover depicting quite the classy hottie smoking a hell of a long cigarillo perched at a candle-lit Steinway knockoff, single red rose and bottle of champagne (I was going to guess Baby Duck, but it's Martini Spumonte) waiting for someone. Probably the drummer. I was thinking it was just a stock photo being used, but as my informant tells me, her name is Yolanda and she's actually the older sister of the (then) head music teacher who made the suggestion of making the album. Sad to say, guys, but last we heard, Yolanda married and moved to England in the 90's.
And while most of the performers here have most likely gone on in life to be accountants, firefighters, or won huge lottery wins straight after University, a few have stuck to music: lead guitarist Silvio Simone is currently in a musical called Rock of Ages (as well as being a regular session musician) and a Maureen Bynoe is a smooth-jazz singer with her own band.
Okay, now music-wise, I'd give this a boost up over many recordings I've heard, partially from musicality but also from inventiveness. Some standards on here sandwiched between a few 70's/80's modern tunes, definitely check out the cover of Peter Gunn, the effects-spattered Star Wars theme and the Saturday Night Fever medley - which starts out with seagull-sounds that were apparently manufactured in the studio.

And an extra big thanks to Maria for making contact and giving me some background!

Track list:
A1 Theme From "Peter Gunn"
A2 Liberty Bell
A3 Moon River
A4 Pennsylvania Polka
A5 Instant Concert
B1 Gonna Fly Now - Theme From "Rocky"
B2 At the Hofbrau House
B3 Star Wars "Title Track"
B4 Saturday Night Fever (Medley)
B5 Bandstand Boogie

Download here:


Anonymous said...

Wow, what trip down memory lane, I was on that album and still have an open and sealed copy of it. Being apart of EAYO was great and will always be cherised. Thanks for puting on line, it's inspired me to try to get in touch with some of the people from the day.

Many thanks!

Lorrie said...

I was amazed to see this on the internet. I was also a member of EAYO for several years and would like to get in touch with some of the people from that time period.

Lorrie said...

I too was a member of EAYO and had a fantastic time with a great group of people. It would be nice to get in touch with some members.

DGS said...

Silvio is my brother and this album was produced by Matt Basso (that's his sister Yolanda on the cover).

Gerry Simone