It was early 1980, and Kearney, King, McBride, and Bernie LaBarge were rocking the downstairs of the El Mocambo in Toronto. Down the front of the stage stood local guitar hero Domenic Troiano wearing a big smile. Mayhem ensues. I've been on airplane flights with Danny McBride, one notable for passengers Johnny Cash and June Carter, of which Dan boy exploded with exuberance. "I shook Johnny's hand—June Carter's up there too." I can't believe we're on this flight."
This occasion Danny reserved for his hero Domenic Troiano. Within minutes, the two were plugging in and the band was in full swing. With three players of such prominence, it was never in doubt the bandstand was given over to full throttle rocking blues. A week later, Dom returns for a second run at jam town.
It seemed like Domenic was always around, either through the live thing or a major recording. Finally, the history is written, and with brother Frank in his corner, it was only a matter of time those remembrances would be collected and in print. The book is called Domenic Troiano, His Life and Music, co-authored by Frank and Mark Doble. This is where we begin on today's FYI Music News.ca podcast with Frank Troiano.
The Back Story
In the early 1970s, a music writer called Domenic Troiano "a musician's musician." The label acted as a double-edged sword for the Canadian guitarist. Troiano is undoubtedly a solid musician, utilizing a technical and intelligent guitar style throughout his career. In his twenty years as a guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist, Troiano performed many styles of music ranging from rock to soul to jazz-fusion. On the other hand, the "musician" label led people to believe that Troiano's music was an acquired taste. Although technically skilled and often experimental, many true musicians never enjoy mainstream success. Although he is not widely known in the music world, Domenic Troiano is regarded as an extraordinary talent by those who are familiar with his work. He is a Canadian Music Hall of Fame member, and his signature guitar style can be found on many albums, including his five solo LPs. In addition to his credits as a guitarist, Troiano has also composed music for television and film and has produced albums by other artists.
Domenic Troiano was born in Modugno, Italy on January 17, 1946. His family moved to Toronto, Canada three years later. In his early teens, Domenic developed a love for rock and R&B music. One of his earliest idols was Canada’s own Robbie Robertson. "Influences were the early rock and roll guys... Chuck Berry, Elvis," Troiano said in 1996. "Then I got into blues stuff. I used to see Robbie Robertson a lot in the bars because back then, they'd have a matinee where we'd get in on one side of the bar and just have Cokes." Troiano picked up the guitar at 15. He taught himself how to play by purchasing chord books and studying the work of his guitar heroes. Troiano soon found himself in the middle of a burgeoning music scene in Toronto. Only a few years after picking up the guitar, Domenic replaced Robertson in rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins's band. The first song he ever wrote, "The One for Me," became the B-side of Robbie Lane and the Disciples' first single. Troiano stayed for eight months until musical differences set in. He continued to develop his own style of playing. Domenic joined the house band at Toronto's Blue Note club. The group soon began playing venues besides the famous Toronto hangout. After leaving the Blue Note, the group named themselves the Five Rogues, then the Rogues, and later Mandala. (Domenic Troiano website)