The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir – Not To Be Forgotten
So while going through my FB news feed the other day, FB decided to remind me of a memory that came up from a few years ago about one of my all time favourite bands. The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir – Not To Be Forgotten.
I guess FB did it’s job in the memory category, bringing back memories about this awesome band and it’s relationship with Joe’s Place. I can’t help but share these thoughts now with all of you.
Although I had heard about this progressive, alternative, R & B flavoured rock band and the dedicated followers they had garnered, I really was not overly familiar with their music or what they were all about. Thankfully one of our regulars Nadanne, who would come and challenge me at my pool shooting clued me in. I remember she brought me a cassette of Bourbon’s music and raved about them to the point where I could not ignore her request any more and decided to bring them in for a show. It was one of the best recommendations ever and one of the best choices I made.
All of their shows at Joe’s Place were sold out well in advance. And rightly so. So much talent all in one band. The music was always new, different and fresh and fun. Everybody sang, the lead vocals and harmonies were spectacular, the switching of musical instruments amongst the players was simply amazing and where else could you find a musician who plays the saw? Yep! The SAW! and feature it in one of their greatest songs.
This was a band made up of world class musicians. So much so that even after the band broke up they all continue to have lucrative lives in the music world.
I could go on and on about this band way back when, but I thought I would post a little titbit of each of the players and spotlight their incredible talents.
So keep on reading, check out the videos and enjoy some of the moments that I have chosen to present to you. Keep in mind this is only a small representation of the body of work these wonderful musicians have participated in.
The core line up of the band as most fans will remember consisted of Chris Brown, Jason Mercer, Andrew Whiteman, Chris Miller, Gregor Beresford, Gene Hardy, Dave Wall and Kate Fenner.
The following video was produced during their one and only reunion show back in 2008.
Hugh Christopher Brown and Kate Fenner have been making music together since their meeting as teenagers in Toronto. During high school and years following, they recorded and toured extensively with The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, whose diaspora contributes to music far and wide.
After relocating to NYC, Brown and Fenner continued to tour and record as a duo, releasing Other People’s Heavens (1997), Geronimo (1998), O Witness (2000), Great Lakes Bootleg (2000), Resist War (2001), Burden of Belief (2002), Horses and Burning Cars (2002) , Go On (2004). Magnet (2007), and Oblivion (2007). In 2005, they were commissioned to write Chansons du Salamandre, a Symphonic song cycle to accompany the Merriweather-Post architectural installation in New York City, and joined B.B. King for a U.S. Tour.
Brown and Fenner’s music has been featured in choreographies by the Toronto Dance Theatre as well as Randy James Dance Company in NYC. Other works include music for the movie adaptation of Paul Quarrington’s Whale Music and Kate’s contributions to Joan Jonas’ work, including The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things.
The duo’s internet only release Resist War has become a staple of the anti-war movement, and was added to the International Archive of Protest Songs in Glasgow.
In 2006 the family of legendary songwriter Steve Goodman asked Chris to produce a tribute album to the American icon. The result was My Old Man (O Boy, Red Pajamas), featuring contributions by Brown, Fenner and their contemporaries including Steve’s daughter, Rosie Goodman
Kate and Chris continue to write and perform together at unexplained intervals determined by powers they have stopped questioning. They will do so always.
Growing up with Hugh Christopher Brown, the two have a dozen albums between them, and deep musical roots in NYC and Canada and have toured together alongside BB King among many others. Kate has recorded two solo albums and is currently at work on her third solo record ‘Middle Voice’ with producer Tony Scherr.
Kate Fenner’s voice has been heralded “a lusty alternative Joni Mitchell” by the New York Times and “A National Treasure” by the CBC. Her works with legendary artist Joan Jonas have given that voice a permanent home in the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art.
David Wall is a composer, lyricist, singer and vocal coach.
As one of the lead vocalist of the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir he toured Canada extensively, appearing regularly on television and radio. He has performed and recorded with an impressive cross-section of artists.
Since 2001 David has developed a busy career as a composer. He has worked with directors such as Simcha Jacobovici, Avi Lewis, Michael Maclear and John Greyson and has written many scores for film and television.
He has written a large repertoire of songs in an assortment of genres from pop and rock to gospel, blues and jazz. Recently he has contributed original Yiddish songs and settings of modern Yiddish poetry to his Jewish music projects, including collaborative work with acclaimed jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner.
David has also worked on many experimental and multi-media musical projects in collaboration with designer Bruce Mau and with filmmaker John Greyson.
As some of you may or may not know, but I am a die hard fan of the Greatest Composer of the 20th century “Frank Zappa”…..so you will understand why I chose the following video featuring Dave Wall – Joe
Gene Hardy is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. He performs on saxophone, violin, musical saw and theremin.
In 1988 Gene joined The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir
After the Bourbon’s break-up in the mid-1990s, he became the horn player for many of Canada’s best known exports and domestic successes, recording and performing in the United States and Canada. He served as Michael Bublé’s musical director and featured soloist and is the latest addition to Ronnie Hawkins‘ band, The Hawks.
From 2000 to 2005, Hardy was nominated as Horn Player of the Year at the Canada’s Maple Blues Awards in recognition of his extensive contributions to the blues genre, both live and in the studio.
He is also known as a session player on musical saw, and has been featured on numerous recordings, including BNL’s Born on a Pirate Ship and Veda Hille’s Spine. His saw playing can also be heard on jingles for an assortment of products and services including ads for Halls Cough Drops, Kia Cars, and Scott’s Turfbuilder. A long awaited instrumental saw CD, entitled Musical Saw Encounters, is slated for release in early 2015.
His newest group, The Pip Squeek Orchestra, described as a dixieland-band-on-steroids, debuts fall 2007 with a new CD and a line-up of players from Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto.
To date, Hardy has released four CDs as a solo artist. He continues to travel, perform and record extensively, dividing his time between Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and New Orleans
David Andrew Patrick Whiteman is a Canadian musician and songwriter. Forming the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir in Toronto out of high school, he eventually left the band in 1993 after eight years. Whiteman went on to record Fear of Zen in 1995 with the band Que Vida! Whiteman fronts the band Apostle of Hustle with bassist Julian Brown and drummer Dean Stone.
Leslie Feist subsequently invited Whiteman to collaborate with Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Justin Peroff and herself—then essentially the core members of Broken Social Scene. The chemistry was successful and Whiteman became one of the band’s four members to consistently appear in every tour.
Whiteman also collaborated with his wife, singer Ariel Engle, in the band AroarA, which released the EP In the Pines in 2013. The EP, based on the poetry of Alice Notley, was a longlisted nominee for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize.
Jason Mercer played with DiFranco’s band and continues to tour with Ron Sexsmith as his bass player. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and works as a producer.
Meet Jason, a Canadian born, multi-talented musician, mix engineer and producer who has spent over 30 years playing music live, recording in the studio and touring the world over with artists such as Ani Difranco, Ron Sexsmith, Rick Moranis, BareNaked Ladies, The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, The Hot Sardines, Jesse Harris, Oh Pep, Abrams Brothers, Ana Egge, Annie Keating, Steven Page, Matt Keating, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, among others.
Jason is versatile in styles ranging from R&B and Rock to Country and Bluegrass, Jazz and Folk. As a multi-instrumentalist, he can switch from electric bass to double bass to banjo with ease.
Jason studied Bass privately with John Gowan (Toronto Symphony), George Koller, Tony Scherr (Bill Frizell), Orin O’brien (NY Philharmonic), jazz greats: Michael Moore, Gerrald Cannon (Cecil Taylor) and Banjo with Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Ryan Cavanaugh, and Chris Quinn.
Jason’s playing can be found on well over 70 recordings and the list continues to grow.
Having moved out of NYC, his residence of over 18 years, Jason currently lives and works on Wolfe Island, Ontario, playing, recording and producing in house and on location.
Gregor Beresford has either played in, produced and/or recorded projects with Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Tom Cochrane, Barenaked Ladies, Big Sugar, Suzanne Jarvie, Stephen Stanley, Hadley McCall Thackston, David Corley
Chris Miller was one of the original guitar players in Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. Now works in film post-production
4 thoughts on “The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir – Not To Be Forgotten”
They were a great band….talented, emotional and fun! Great backstory Joe, thanks!
you’re very welcome Cal….glad you enjoyed the post, more to come …stay well and safe
So glad to see this story Joe, brings back fond memories of watching them perform “Simple” with Willy and him and I having tears running down our cheeks. Her voice is etched into my memory. Thanks Joe
So Happy to hear that you enjoyed the post. Thanks for registering. More to come.