Prohibition Hall (2015-present)
The inspiration for Prohibition Hall happened when Cedric Blary asked me to play a banjo gig. He was hired to play the reception after a 1920’s fashion show at Lougheed House. I think “The Great Gatsby” was out and there was a brief public infatuation with speak-easies, flappers and 20’s music. The fashion show was amazing. A collector had at least two dozen authentic 20’s dresses, which were being showcased by some of Calgary’s most beautiful models. At the reception, the music was provided by Cedric on the clarinet, Derek Stoll on the tuba and me on the six string banjo( basically a guitar with a banjo body). We played such chestnuts as “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Dinah”. What was more, we played with absolutely no amplification which felt very liberating. I immediately wanted to play some of my own songs with this lineup. I have a deep love for the music of the 20’s, be it jazz, blues or country. This was an era of incredible creativity. Most of the songs we regard as jazz standards were written within a few years of 1928. I have a number of tunes that harken back to the 20’s and 30’s(“The Coyote Song”, “Depending on You”,”He Didn’t Quite Make It” for example).
I immediately started thinking about expanding the band. Violinist Jonathan Lewis instantly came to mind. I told him about my idea and he told me about a pianist he was working with who would be perfect for the show, named Mark Limacher. The final lineup for Prohibition Hall(Preservation Hall+Prohibition) was; me on guitar, six string banjo and resonator guitar (Dobro), Dave Reid on tuba and trombone, Cedric Blary on clarinet, Jonathan Lewis on violin and Marl Limacher on piano. With this combination of instruments, the possibilities are endless. The blend of violin and clarinet is exquisite. We play vintage jazz by Ellington, Jimmie Rodgers’s Dixiefied Country Blues, Latin, Klezmer, Ragtime and 20’s pop (“Million Dollar Baby” for example). An amazing band of virtuosos, great music.