Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015.
Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015.
Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015.
We started playing as Barney, but after one of the former members protested our continuing to use the name (sending a legal Cease & Desist letter ironically) we changed our name to Shama. Brien had bought a thesaurus and found that name along with a few others. A Shama was an East Indian bird noted for its ‘good song’, so we went with that.
In January we rehearsed for 4-5 days at Brien’s brother-in-laws house in Delta BC and hit the road; although not to the prairies yet but for a three week stint at the Barclay Hotel in Port Alberni,BC and then straight to The Park Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta for a week, The Sahara Nights in Regina for two weeks (halfway through that engagement we became Shama), then The Westlander Inn in Medicine Hat Alberta for two weeks…. On and on….this would continue for two years before we would let ourselves play in The Vancouver area.
Shama had great success almost immediately. Looking back it was a very good young band. The playing and vocals were quite unparalleled for the circuit back then.
But then we found ourselves playing The Harwood Hotel in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. By the end of that engagement the walls came crashing down on me.
On our second weekend there, the coat check girl had asked Brien if we would like to go to an after-party. Brien asked the band and Jeff and I said yes we would. Michael had decided to stay back at the hotel. Brien offered her a ride with us to the party. We all got into our Ford Econoline van parked in the back alley when all of a sudden we heard a smash against the van. We looked to see a garbage can rolling away, and about 5 guys standing there with ‘that look’ on their faces. Brien got out to investigate and they swarmed him.
Although it was all quite innocent, one of the guys apparently had ‘a thing’ for this coat check girl and armed with just enough liquor and a few of his friends, he was going to ‘right this wrong’.
I ran back into the hotel and called the police. The police arrived fairly quickly, and although Brien handled himself well, he had been punched in the throat (Adam’s Apple) very hard, which meant he couldn’t sing for a few weeks after that.
The police wouldn’t do a thing. Apparently most of these guys had very connected parents in the community, and the police didn’t want to press charges. It was safer for them to just let the travelling minstrels ‘be on their way’.
We left Moose Jaw to head to our next gig at The Hi Holiday Inn in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. All of a sudden I realized where I was… 1000’s of miles away from home and absolutely vulnerable.
For the next while I had what I now think was a mild nervous break down. I would cry endlessly… Stopping just long enough to play a set, then run upstairs to my room to continue to cry. The world in a blink of an eye had become a horrible place to my young mind. I had gone from feeling extreme joy in pursuing my life’s dream with these great musicians to complete and udder terror of what ‘the real world’ was like.
When I was a little younger, I had been ‘saved’ through a friend of mine. He had started hanging out with a very strict Christian lad who’s father was the minister of a very strong evangelistic Finnish Lutheran Church. My friend Jon had become ‘born again’ and was actively after me to ‘be saved’ as well. I was never a bad kid… But with the fear of hell and damnation, I ended up doing my little pledge of allegiance to ‘The Lord’ and found myself questioning everything in life all of a sudden.
Although this period in my life probably only lasted a few weeks before I unchained myself from the crushing weight of being this ‘born again’ kid, the memories of what the pastor had said haunted me. One of the things he had told me was that playing music for anything or anyone other than ‘The Lord’ was a sin and I would spend my eternity in hell because if it.
These thoughts started to roll around in my young mind in Yorkton. Was God punishing me for playing music in bars? Maybe I had to quit my dream. Maybe I needed to repent. Maybe maybe maybe…. In short I was driving myself crazy and couldn’t stop crying.
I phoned my dad and my brothers (back when phone calls pretty much sucked up my entire pay cheque) to lament and cry. My dad told me on several occasions, “Son, you can always come home…” Which made me cry even more.
Ironically my good friend Jeff Neill with his ‘driven attitude’ helped snap me out of it. He had had enough!
One day he just looked at me and said, “Look…if YOU can’t handle it, fuck off back to The Soo! NOBODY’S going to stand in the way of my career. Either get it together or leave!”
That was the catalyst that started me back to being myself. While everyone else was coddling me to help me through my terrible time, Jeff took that whole other approach. What he said rang a bell in my head. I had to break this thing!
Which brings me back to Grand Prairie. We were hired to play the Grand Prairie Motor Inn for two weeks. On the very first night we played, I met two guys in the bar. They were a little older than me (probably early twenties) and as we talked, they informed me that they worked at a halfway house for wayward teens. Intrigued, I asked them if I could go there with them and they agreed to it. They picked me up the next day and drove me to ‘the house’ which actually was just across a large wheat field from the hotel.
As I met with the kids, they asked me a lot of questions about being a musician. Most of them were shocked when I admitted I didn’t do drugs and seldom drank. The lady who ran the centre thanked me for coming and remarked that the kids seemed to really like me. Before I left, I asked her for her number.
The next day I met with the hotel manager and asked if I could have the cabaret for free on a Saturday afternoon. When he asked why, I stated that I wanted Shama to do a free show for these kids to show them that people still care for them. He said he would think about it. The next day he agreed to it. Now I had to convince the band. For the most part, the guys were happy to play this ‘Sock Hop’ for the kids.
I phoned the head mistress of the house and told her. She thanked me and we spoke of the time of the show and logistics etc.
In short, It was a great success… The kids loved it… And loved that they knew the guy in the band.
When it was done they all asked me to join them all at the house for dinner. I happily agreed.
About two hours later, I walked across the field to that house. I looked up the sky and said, “if you need to take me, take me now! I know I’ll go to heaven!”
I needed to prove to myself that music could be used for good, benevolent purposes. The fog had lifted…
Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Thursday, April 30th, 2015.
I was born Michael Allan Dalla-Vicenza
At Bawating (my high school in Sault Ste. Marie), the musicians I hung out with adopted the first names of their favourite rock guitarists. Glenn Barbisan became ‘Eric’ (for Eric Clapton), Michael Sicoly became ‘George’ (for George Harrison), Jeff Neill interestingly enough remained ‘Jeff’ (for Jeff Beck) and so on.
One day my friend P-Nutt (Doug) Robinson asked me who my favourite guitarist was. When I replied I didn’t have one and that I liked all guitarists for all different reasons, he told me then that he would start calling me Mick. I asked him why and he just said, “no particular reason, I just think it suits you…”.
By the time I went on the road with Michael Sicoly, Jeff Neill and Brien Armstrong, Michael was calling me Mick regularly so the other guys adopted it too as to not confuse the two Michaels in the band. Sadly, P-Nutt died in a car accident in The Soo a few years later, so I continued to wear the name Mick in his honour.
In the 80’s I was part of a rather prestigious jam hosted by myself, the late Brian ‘Too Loud’ McLeod (of Chilliwack and The Headpins) and Jeff Neill (my old Shama band mate who had gone on to great success with Streetheart). It was to be called ‘Sailor’s Beat’, named after Brian’s dog, Sailor.
It was to be held every Wednesday night at Vancouver’s very popular live music room ‘Club Soda’. The club was to take out a full page spread on the back of the monthly publication ‘Nite Moves Magazine’ to advertise this ‘all star’ type of jam. I arrived early on the Wednesday and picked up the copy of Nite Moves to see the ad. There it was for all the world to see:
Every Wednesday at Club Soda
BRIAN TOO-LOUD MCLEOD – From Chilliwack and The Headpins
JEFF NEILL – From Streetheart
Okay…. I was used to ridiculous bastardizations of my last name, but NICK?
AND the ad was to be in that paper A WHOLE MONTH!!! The ENTIRE BACK PAGE!
Armed with the paper, I walked into the club’s office to speak with the manager, Steve Harris. Steve Harris was a wonderful, caring man, who you’d be afraid to bring home to meet your parents. The man looked like a human Pitt Bull. Steve was also proud that he could pronounce my last name properly. As he was want to do, he would parade around the nightclub in his tuxedo with a wireless mic announcing whoever was playing and any notables in the audience. When it came to my name, he seemed to put particular emphasis on my last name like it was his single most greatest achievement in life. “On guitar and vocals tonight – Mick DALLA-VICENZAAAAAA”
So as I walked into the office, Steve was sitting at his desk and looked up at me embarrassingly. I had the paper in my hand.
Steve spoke, “When I took out the ad in the paper, I asked them if they knew how to spell ‘Mick DALLA-VICENZAAAA‘ correctly, and they assured me they did. So believe me Mick, when the paper came out and I looked at the ad, I was appalled. I immediately phoned Nite Moves Magazine and told them, ‘You’ll be hearing from my friend Mick’!”
(that still makes me laugh. What was I gonna do? Put a severed horse’s head into the editor’s bed?
Sidenote: Years later while playing a house gig at the Roxy, Brian Peers the manager loved ‘the Fellazowski’ story, so whenever I would ask to reserve a table it was always under ‘Nick Fellazowski’.
Regardless, shortly after the ‘Club Soda ad’ incident, I was doing some work with Tom Lavin (of ‘The Powder Blues’ fame) and he decided that I needed a shorter last name. He suggested that my name should be ‘Mick Dalla-Vee’. I asked him why… and he said jokingly, “Don’t argue with my success… after all I appointed Colin Munn with his new stage name ‘Colin James'”.
So with that rather inauspicious beginning, ‘Mick Dalla-Vee’ was born in the studio that day.
Of course even with the shortened and quite unique last name I still get misspells all over the place. Mostly with people using ‘Della’ instead of ‘Dalla’ but here’s a few examples:
Mick Della Vie,
Mick Tel Aviv, (wait a sec — people actually think I came from Israel? – and I’m not kidding… this was on a poster once)
Now I know why Tom Jones chose the name he did!
Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Monday, March 30th, 2015.
There’s no disputing that Buddy Rich helped to put drums at the forefront of music. Along with contemporaries like Gene Krupa, he took drums from the back level of the orchestra and onto the front of the stage. He wowed audiences worldwide. However – was he the best? Some people would say so… but was he ACTUALLY the best? That could be debated forever… Muhammad Ali took heavy weight boxing into celebrity status. Did that make him the best…?… or did his ‘sales pitch’ simply make the boxing world and world press THINK he was the best? Sales are everything after all….and Muhammad Ali was a crafty sale man in his day.
Buddy had a very dark side. He berated his band often… and I’m going to share an example at the end of this meme…
When you hire the best for your orchestra, you should respect your own decisions. If he actually felt the distain for the musicians he hired the way you’ll see it demonstrated here, then I believe he probably didn’t believe in himself…he was obviously a troubled soul.
I dislike the man – yeah he was a great drummer… but not my favourite drummer… and additionally, but he was not a nice human being….
Amazing playing…. now listen to this…..
Ask yourself – were these musicians (who generally were the best and most revered in their fields) that bad? Or was Buddy possibly on cocaine and neurotic due to possible addictions? He did die from heart failure after all.
Or was he simply an asshole…
What do you think?
Share This Page
By Mick Dalla-Vee on Sunday, March 29th, 2015.