A Conversation With ... Bruce Good of The CMAO
With the Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) Awards show set to be held Monday, May 30, 2016, I thought it imperative I catch up with Bruce Good. A member of the legendary The Good Brothers, Bruce has been a driving force in the CMAO . The Good Brothers and Mr. King go back some 46 years when we first met at the Richmond Inn Hotel, in Richmond, Ontario. I was playing in a bar band called the “Marcatos” and the brothers were out for the hang. After the gig we assembled at a friend’s house for a sing/jam in the kitchen. Amongst the participants – Gordon Lightfoot. Somewhere between verse two and three of ‘Honky Tonk Women”, Lightfoot asks for a pad and pencil and retires to a side bedroom and begins writing a song. To this day I have to idea what appeared on that pad. I do know this, the Goods and I have been like family four plus decades and it’s always a joy hooking up. I asked Bruce for a few impressions about coming awards night.
Bill King: Great catching up with you – how are the brothers?
Bruce Good: My brother said hello, we are going out on an east coast tour next week – for two weeks, then Europe.
B.K: Are you trying to cut back on touring?
B.G: I thought we were cutting back. Brian and I are seventy now. It’s a tough one Bill. I got through fifty and sixty in flying colors and it didn’t bother me at all – but seventy – whoa! That makes you like …… old!
B.K: We lost Don Francks and Malcolm Tomlinson the other day and it’s truly sad – but you sort of find your way through this.
B.G: Some of the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni were in town, some of the guys we know from the seventies and we went down to Amsterdam’s - this pub down on the lake – for a beer and burger and we walk in and the place is pretty full and here I am with six or seven of the Maple Leafs – Brian, I and Larry go marching through and I said to Brian Glennie, “Glennie, have you ever felt so invisible in your life?” Truly, back in the seventies when we walked into a place like that – the place would go quiet. The people were more or less looking at us thinking – “who the fuck are these old farts.” The bus from the old age home just arrived.
B.K: Bruce – those young folks out there today are pretty much like us at that age. They are curious, they have good taste – they get out there and connect.
B.G: Isn’t it great we have offspring in the business? We get to enjoy it all over again.
B.K: What’s going on with the Country Music Association of Ontario?
B.G: It’s been going since about 2008 and we looked around and realized Ontario was one of the only provinces in the country that didn’t have a country music association. We put together this organisation to foster and acknowledge new talent and help move them forward in their careers without overlooking the established artists as well. Obviously, that’s what country music is about in all the provinces; the established artists.
Our focus is mostly on newer talent – the current. It’s really been successful. It’s given an opportunity to bands and artists who may otherwise be overlooked on a national level.
We hold seminars, do demo critiques. As a matter of fact we just completed a seminar and showcase in London, Ontario about a week and a half ago – that was very successful. We had six bands featured in the evening showcase and in the daytime we had nearly sixty people at the seminar. If you know seminars, that’s a pretty good number.
B.K: Merle Haggard passed a few days back – are we nearing the end of the roots country era?
B.G: Bill, I believe it is. It’s the end of what I felt established country music. Realistically now – fifty years ahead people will still be listening to songs like “Crazy” as classic. They will be listening to Merle Haggard’s songs as classics. I don’t know if we’ll get that so much from the newer group of artists we have – at least not until a generation or two have been and gone. In my heart and mind the classics are the Merle Haggards and Patsy Clines, the Willie Nelsons – the Hank Williams of the world. Maybe in twenty-five or thirty years that will change but there will be some songs of this era that will be valid years from now.
B.K: Johnny Cash and the others created this music and there was something distinctly different about each one. Their lives for the most part were in disarray and the music reflected that. When I turn on a country video channel I detect sameness to most music. Does this bother you?
B.G: I agree with you completely. I’m always looking for that breakout act that is different and that’s the one that appeals to me more. Here’s what I like about today’s country music – I think is very positive. It’s turning millions of young people on to country music. They may discover classic and traditional through that and after they get into the Carrie Underwoods – Taylor Swifts and so on. At least they are being introduced to what they think and feel is country. It’s a broad definition today. It was a great marketing ploy from the person who came up with the term, “New Country.” Now that was thirty odd years ago I reckon. And they still call it New County. It’s not so new anymore. There will always be a place for traditional just as there is a place for New Country.
B.K: How does the CMAO keep its followers in tune with the past?
B.G: What we have created is an Impact Award. It usually goes to an artist or group or association or whatever the occasion be that has had great impact on country music – roots are whatever you want to call it in Ontario. This year’s recipient will be Prairie Oyster. If you’ve been inducted in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and you’re from Ontario, then you are an honorary member and there are about twenty-three from Ontario.
Do you know Larry Delaney? He had the only publication for country music for years out of Ottawa [Country Music News] and is a writer who really has knowledge of country music in Canada and he’s going to be writing a bi-monthly article in our newsletter that will feature established artists. You kind of have to know where you’ve been before you know where you are going. That’s what we are trying to express to young people out there.
B.K: Date of the awards show?
B.G: We have our conference on May the 28th and 29th and the award show is the 30th. At the Flato Markham Theatre in Markham, Ontario – this will be our fourth live show. We will likely have as many as nine of ten performers. They will all do one song and in between each song an award is handed out.
B.K: What would the industry do without the support of Slaight Music?
B.G: I really don’t know. What amazing people! Talk about giving back – hey. Great family and foundation and they have certainly helped us and many, many people along the way.
B.K: Bruce – I think it’s imperative we all celebrate #70 at the Richmond Inn in memory of Princess Glo.
B.G: Those were the days – my friend!
* Princess Glo’ was half-time stripper who performed a raunchy striptease between band sets a top a large round table surrounded by drooling beer-swilling truckers -wrapped in a python snake. Pianist Scott Cushnie related one legendary evening – as the story goes – the snake had a big appetite for beer of which the truckers were more than happy to satisfy – matching Glo’s appetite for hard liquor. As the set swelled in intensity Glo began swinging the big snake like a rodeo cord when suddenly the snake belches and heaves a belly of gut vomit all over the cheering truckers. The outcome is left to imagination.