to Mick Dalla-Vee
continuing on from the Sault Ste. Marie, Balderdash "early days" page,
thanks for sticking
If you are new to this and it seems a bit confusing, you may want to go
to the latter part of the Balderdash page first.
If you do, you've got
to be incredibly bored or you are mentioned in one of these pages...or
at least think you should be.
If I've left you out,
maybe I'm not done yet...OKAY??!?!?!?!
If you have anything
to add to these pages, please write me with your perspectives.
The story leading up
this can be found here...
The Early Years, Sault
Ste. Marie & Balderdash
are from my perspectives only, unless I use quotes from other members
1975 was a magical time for Michael Sicoly and I. We were so engrossed in going out on the road to
become 'the next Beatles" we couldn't talk about anything else for
Although I hardly knew
Brien Armstrong, Jeff Neill made sure to write us often from the road
call us whenever he was sure to find us at home to keep our 'road
burning. We were going ON THE ROAD... and not just to Toronto, which
usually the norm for a Soo musician's road trip. We were going for the
'BIG' commitment. No easy return home on this one. Our first stop would
be Vancouver, British Columbia... 3000 miles away from home! Very, very
Brien and Jeff bought
all the best PA equipment they could, a brand new Ford Econoline Van
a used trailer. The understanding was that as soon as Mike and I
playing on the road, we would give half our pay to one of the other
(I would pay Jeff, Mike would pay Brien) until we were all equal
in all of the assets. It was to be a true democracy as well as a very
style of doing business. Everybody would make the same and we would
a wage. Our starting wage was $200.00 per week per guy, no matter how
we made, as Brien was very careful in making sure we had a ' financial
cushion' in case of emergency. On top of that we always needed ready
as we were constantly upgrading our equipment (adding bigger and better
PA etc.), and you could 'barter' better if you waved cash around.
this fund we built up added lights (including a follow spot), visual
and even fire and smoke to our live show amongst other things. It also
enabled us to get 'paid time off'. We would make the same wage per week
even on holidays, which was quite marvelous, I thought.
to say - Brien was always the organized one, and if it wasn't
Brien's tenacity and vision of what could be, Shama would not have gone
as far as it did. It was a talented band, but we HAD BRIEN - bottom
Brien was mentor, father figure and all around problem solver for all
us. Brien was the type of young man who was going to make it no matter
what... which is why he's as successful as he is today. I personally
nothing but admiration for him.
reasons to go west was that "Barney", the band that Jeff and
were touring around with, had made a good name for itself in the
province's nicer clubs and taverns. The "Fabulous Platters" had become
increasingly boring for these young guys who just wanted to rock, and
couldn't bear playing the "Platters Game" anymore - which was
'THE BIG LIE". Nobody in the group was an original member of the
yet they booked themselves as such. One of the reasons they were called
"The Fabulous Platters" was just that. "Fabulous" was part of the name,
not just a nice description - a legal loophole, apparently. Brien could
write a book on the Platter's stories... they're very funny... but I
split from being the Platter's back-up group right at about the
same time that Jeff thought the ideal band would have Mike and myself
it, which meant letting go of two guys who were in the band well before
him - actually 'founding members'. Not a shy guy, our Jeff, but, giving
him credit, he knew what he wanted back then. Plus, he also knew Brien
would let those other guys know their time was up more diplomatically
Jeff would, so, I'm sure Brien did the dirty work.
the problems Barney had after the Platters was 'keeping' most of
the rooms they had played with the Platters for Barney just by
The rooms The 'Fabulous' Platters played were a better class of venue
the average 'rock room' but they demanded a 'show' type of band. Barney
wanted to be simply a good rock band. If they wanted to keep playing
higher paying rooms with the nicely dressed women that had all of their
teeth, they would need a show, or at least a front man.
ENTER "BARNEY" ELVIS...
are frustrated. They have to sit behind their kits night after
while the guitarists and singers shake their butts for the young
Show me a drummer, and I'll show you a guy who can't wait to be
stage (Sorry about the spelling, our American friends - us Canadians do
spell some words differently)
Brien loved Elvis, and
figured that if he took his 'locker room' imitation and worked on it a
bit, they would have a show that may allow them to keep those nicer
with their better pay. Brien would design an "Elvis Suit" and
guitar while working on his "Elvis" moves and voice. For the duration
the set, Jeff would drop the guitar and become the drummer for the
Elvis Show", which would be placed usually in the middle of the night.
The boys figured it would kill two birds with one stone. They wouldn't
have to hire another person to be a 'front man', and because they had
of a 'show', they would be making bigger bucks. The problem was, they
want to be labeled a 'show band' - they wanted to rock.
decided that they wouldn't do a 'legit' Elvis show.
would come on stage "drunk", tell horrific, tasteless jokes,
the show would be full of innuendo simply cutting the whole image of
apart. 'Barney' could still be 'rockers', because, after all, they
really 'doing a show'. They were making fun of the whole Elvis
industry. They were still rebellious youth! Problem solved!
Elvis" actually started packing houses. The people who
the farcical 'humour' of it came for that. They also came for the
hilarious fact that half the people in the audience didn't understand
it was a joke. Women would still swoon like it was a Vegas act!
put the words Elvis on anything, and people will line up to see it. Of
course, these people were the same idiots that would ask the band
Brien) where 'Barney Elvis' was before and after 'the show', because
wanted to talk to him or get an autograph. They didn't realize that
Brien WAS Barney Elvis. Makes you wonder...
Brien was the only one
who kind of took his job as Elvis seriously, because secretly, it was
for him to be the singer for once and be out front. The band made a lot
of fun of him, but in retrospect, he actually did do a good job.
reason we were to put what was to be known as Shama together in
was that Brien's brother-in-law and sister owned two houses on River
in the Vancouver suburbs of Surrey and Delta. The house on the Delta
of River Road was rented out to colleagues of Shawn Wilson (Brien's
and mentor at that time), but they said we could do our rehearsing in
basement there. The other house up the street in Surrey (where Shawn
Darlene lived) would be where we slept during this period. We were
booked well into the spring strictly on hearsay. Brien had convinced
at all of "Barney's" gigs that this new version of the band would
the other version of the band. Brien and Jeff had laid the foundation.
All we had to do was deliver the product.
and I landed in Vancouver on Friday, January 2nd, and had to
until Monday to retrieve our musical equipment which was shipped out
the Soo by rail. We rehearsed the 5th through the 10th. On the 11th, we
took a ferry to Vancouver Island (first time we had seen the ocean).
(we had decided to inherit the name for simplicity) was to play our
3 weeks at the Barclay Motor Inn in Port Alberni. We would use this
to tighten our show up, and rehearse all the new repertoire we would
to play our shows across the prairies. This was also the first time I
to see "Barney" Elvis. When he came around the corner in the club while
the band was 'vamping' on the groove for "Teddy Bear", I thought I
die laughing. But, like Jeff and Brien had told us, it went over.
we had made appeals to the management at most places that we would only
do "THE SHOW" on the weekends. Most of them were fine with that. We
many nights staying up late after the gigs, while Jeff sat me down as
new guru and taught me things like: Aerosmith, why KISS actually had
for what they were doing, and how to be a rock star. Jeff and Brien
both very aware of their image and worked on Mike and I to be the same.
I also learned how to sing with a permanently hoarse voice. I had never
stretched my range so far (Jeff wanted me to sing higher and higher
and I had also never sang so much for so long before. It was quite an
in Port Alberni on Saturday, January 31st (actually 1:00 am
tore down, loaded up and drove straight to Red Deer, Alberta.
Vancouver to Red Deer
alone in those days was a fifteen hour drive at least; worse with a
van and trailer loading us down. Add to that the 3 hour drive from Port
Alberni to the ferry on Vancouver Island, the hour and a half ferry
to Vancouver, and the fact that we were to start at 8 o'clock on Monday
February 2nd at the Park Hotel in Red Deer and you're beginning to see
the enormity of the task at hand. We weren't finished there though. We
had left a box full of important cables behind and had to wait in
for the Greyhound bus to arrive from Port Alberni with our package
we could proceed. We were seriously on borrowed time.
in Red Deer on Monday February 2nd at about supper time, set up
in record time and were shown our rooms. They wanted us to 'share'
as they did with most bands and to use a 'communal' bathroom in the
Brien (using his strategies from "How to Win Friends and Influence
convinced the owners of the hotel that we were far better than their
band, and had come all the way from Ontario to play. He promised them
a 'well rested happy band that was treated professionally' would put on
a much better show for them resulting in higher revenues for the bar.
got our separate rooms with our own bathrooms! Yay Brien!
Port Alberni had been
a bit of a 'sleeper' gig. It was fairly empty most nights until the
when people would come out. A typical club. Nothing could have prepared
me for Alberta.
the beginning of the oil boom in Alberta. Everyone had money,
to spend it, and LOVED to party.
We walked into the Park
Hotel bar that Monday, February 2nd half asleep, and were surprised to
see it full. The minute we got on stage the place went ballistic! They
loved the band!
I had never seen such a
from a crowd so quickly. Everything we did they loved. It was probably,
still, one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had performing.
That first one week engagement went by very quickly. Red Deer and
would become "our territory" very quickly as word spread about the
It was in these two cities especially that it seemed we could do
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada - March 1976
struck the very next week immediately upon our arrival in Regina,
however. Although the room we were playing was nice and quite
we opened on Monday night to a handful of people who couldn't be seated
further away from us. On top of that, they seemed to be having quite
conversations with each other, while watching television during all of
the 4 1/2 sets that we played. They ignored us totally, it seemed. The
rest of the week was like that as well until the weekend, when we saw a
lot more people show up. They seemed to enjoy us and we were now almost
looking forward to our second week in a row there, thinking that we may
attract more people earlier in the week because of what they saw on the
weekend. It didn't happen. The second week was almost an exact replica
of the first week. We were also informed on the first week that the
player from the original "Barney" had sent us a "Cease and Desist"
order forbidding us to use the name "Barney" anymore. We had to come up
with a new name quickly. Brien bought a Thesaurus and we went through a
number of names we liked until we nailed it down to about five, I
We brought that list to the club that night and asked the audience to
for the name they liked best. On that night in the 'Sahara Nights' in
'Shama' was born. One of the descriptions in the Thesaurus for "Shama"
was, 'an east Indian bird, noted for it's good song...'
it was an omen... and luckily, word got out quickly that the
was good, so we were able to keep our previously arranged bookings,
with the new name.
our love/hate relationship with Saskatchewan. The people there
friendly enough; they just didn't 'party' like the people in Alberta
Ironically, we made double the money per week in Saskatchewan than in
We would tour these two provinces exclusively for the next two years.
would play Alberta to charge our batteries, and then play Saskatchewan
to fill our bank accounts with enough money to ensure that we could
one of the best touring shows around using all the latest lighting and
was to really build a huge following in the prairies and become
somewhat of a phenomenon there, which would attract press and
"Music Express Magazine" the Canadian version of "Rolling Stone", which
was then based out of Calgary. That, maybe could attract what we really
Bruce Allen, who was based out of Vancouver, as our manager.... period.
He was our 'Holy Grail". He had become Canada's biggest music manager
a fairly short amount of time with the world wide success of Bachman
Overdrive. We wanted that kind of success too. There was a book about
Turner Overdrive out at that time, and Brien and I read it cover to
mainly to try to learn what Bruce was like as a guy.
We found out he was,
as the 'vanity' plate on his 'Silver Vette with Gold Wheels'
'UNRULY'. We felt we could handle him though. He did have an
but he was a business man, and so were we... well... at least Brien
Well, if the truth be known, we secretly all felt Brien could probably
handle him. Brien generally didn't back down from anything or anybody
that if we could just create a 'buzz' in the prairies that was big
we could play Vancouver's hippest rooms the first time through, and
just maybe, Bruce Allen would come and see us to see what all the fuss
was about. We were afraid that if we played a 'lesser room' in the
market, we would never get the respect of the Bruce Allen office, and
up stuck in that rut forever. We could not sell ourselves short.
We would not go near
Vancouver unless everything was in place. We felt that it had to be
just right, or we wouldn't get what we wanted.
get a lot of press. The early articles came when we played
towns like Red Deer and Moose Jaw. Eventually, Keith Sharp the
at Music Express Magazine became a huge fan and gave us unprecedented
in his magazine, which was usually reserved for big time recording
Being that the magazine did have global subscriptions, we felt very
by that. Our plan was working! We were achieving our goals one by one!
Success was just around the corner.
on this to go to a page of early Shama press clippings...
, for all intents and purposes, booked AND managed by the Tom Nellis
which was based out of Calgary at that time. At first Dallas
from the Regina office, handled our affairs - then the man himself,
became Shama's manager. We knew that it was just a matter of time
we would have Bruce Allen as our manager, and we were plainly biding
time, using the Nellis Agency as leverage mainly. We were their
band, and since Tom was 'our manager' we would get better treatment
most of their acts at all times. Our first demo recordings were
through those agencies.
arranged our first session at an 8 track studio in Regina. The
time was jointly paid for by a clothing store called "Gassy Jacks"
a record store called "The Record Factory". The idea was that we were
do two 'jingles' for them, with one of their DJay's applying a
saying, "And here's Shama for 'Gassy Jacks'" or "Here's Shama for 'The
Record Factory'". They mistakenly thought we would use all the time to
record those jingles. We, of course, had better plans. Mike and Jeff
only worked on basic jingle ideas that we would quickly 'throw
in the studio, because our real intent of course was to use as much
as possible to do our own songs. Studio time was expensive back then
for a lousy 8 track studio), and we would make sure that our needs were
at 'Cal-Art' Studios and set up early
on a Sunday morning after driving from Medicine Hat, Alberta through
night. The engineer/producer was not quite as 'hip' as we would have
He was quite the opposite actually. We made fun of him the whole time
his back of course) and laughed uncontrollably at his "Official Voice"
on tape. He had this thing for saying, "Such and such a song....in
on tape before each take. We couldn't figure out what "in five" meant,
and through all the years since of working in studios, I don't think
of us still know what he meant. Five seconds maybe? It was like a NASA
countdown. He was fun to laugh at, and he became one of Mike's 'Van
for a while after that.
Mike was/is quite talented at doing
imitations, and he would keep us amused on long journeys in that
van by pulling out his cast of characters to do 'skits' for us while we
drove. Mike could imitate The Beatles talking voices perfectly to the
of where you knew each voice distinctly without him telling you. He's
good. One of my favourite "Mike skits" was when he would substitute The
Beatles voices with Shama's daily dialogue. For instance, let's
the band had a 'discussion' or argument about some issue. Mike would
most of what was said and later would recite it almost line for line,
that I would be John Lennon, he would be Paul McCartney, Jeff would be
George Harrison and Brien would be Ringo Starr. What was once a furious
argument would be quite hilarious when you listened to it as
by The Beatles"
Back to the session. ..We recorded 3-4
that day, I believe. I think we did two of Mike's including
Money" and two of Jeff's including: "Friend Or Foe". I can't quite
maybe someone will read this and correct me. Regardless, as the day
to a close, we realized that we had about an hour left to do the
we were supposed to do, and they hadn't even been written yet. All of
gathered round and threw in our two cents worth to get those
written. Mike and Jeff came up with some pretty quick ideas for "The
Factory" jingle, but we were stuck trying to finish "The Gassy Jacks"
Mike had written the musical idea that started with the lyrics, "Get on
down to Gassy Jacks" over a kind of (The Guess Who's) "Hand Me Down
groove. We were having a hard time trying to come up with clothing
that rhymed with 'Jacks". I came up with the brilliant "Be your you in
shirts and slacks"...killer line, huh? Because of the time constraints,
it was actually used believe it or not!
on time, and apparently they were happy with the results, because the
played for quite a while in Regina. We never heard them, but friends of
ours in Regina in a band called, "Cambridge" (who were to became "The
City Kids") heard them a lot and apparently had quite a few good laughs
at our expense.
In the latter part of 1976, we
had already developed quite a following. People would actually
great distances to come see us play. Fans would drive from Calgary to
(about 180 miles or 290 kilometers - Canada had switched over that year
to the metric system), or even from Saskatchewan to Alberta or vise
It was amazing to all of us.
One of our fans from Red Deer who had become
a friend as well was a guy named Peter Renault. He drove the 90 miles
Red Deer to Edmonton to see us. He also had a brother that was
university in Edmonton to become a dentist. Michel (or Mike) was quite
a music fan (as Peter was) and although he was supposed to be studying
for his upcoming exams, he decided that coming to see us meant more to
him, and he did just that about every night for our two week engagement
at the Riviera Hotel in South Edmonton.
To make the story as short
possible here, Mike was going to fail his exams. As he was
this to us at the end of our final week there, the idea arose that we
a spotlight and someone to operate it. Someone who we could eventually
train to become a sound technician for the band, because the show was
in a much bigger direction in quite a hurry. Mike was a very
guy, and was also a good looking guy (which we always tried to make a
- we never wanted to be known as 'slobs') Edmonton had one of the few
time' lighting shops back then; a place called Monty Lighting. Being
our next gig was in a very nice looking room with great sight lines (in
Prince Albert in Northern Saskatchewan), it would be a perfect time for
Mike to get used to running a spot light. What the heck, he was gonna
anyway! It was set - Mike Renault would become our first 'roadie'.
Mike had two concerns: his parents reaction
and his girlfriend's reaction. Mike was an 'army brat' and his father
quite a tight ship. Having his bright honour roll student son quit a
university study to join a rock and roll band running a spotlight was
a fine idea in his books, and Mike was not looking forward to the call
to his dad in Ottawa. Mike's girlfriend, Darcie attended university and
lived in Boulder, Colorado in the USA. This wouldn't be exactly what
had in mind when she fell in love with Mike either. I still don't know
to this day how he convinced everyone, but he stuck with us, and the
business has been quite good to him.
By the way, at the
end of all of this, I will tell where everyone
up and what they're doing now. At this time, let me just say that
who was part of Shama, from the band to the crew have had fabulous
and all of them are doing great. Very comforting.
Mike took to the spotlight very
quickly (there's actually a bit of strategy involved), and it
quickly decided that we would also take our 'front end PA mix" off the
stage, buy a 'snake' and allow Mike to run our sound from out front,
the big bands did. In about two weeks of Mike's joining, we traded in
two TAPCO 6 channel mixers (one was for the drums) and bought a new 14
channel Tapco mixer, a BAE stereo 10 band graphic equalizer and a
(Note: a snake allows you to plug all of your mics into a box on the
and then run one thick line out to where the sound board is situated -
much like a huge multi outlet extension cord)
With our Roland RE-201 Space Echo on the table
with the board and the graph, and the spotlight standing there beside
all, we thought our 'out-board gear' looked pretty cool. The deal with
Mike at first was, we would set up a 'mix' of the band in the afternoon
'sound check', and then at night during the show, Mike would stand
running the spot with one hand near the board so it would look like he
was doing our sound as well. Since he really didn't know how to run the
thing, we felt it was best that way until we could hire someone to
him on running live sound. It sounds very funny in retrospect.
Our first gig with our new system
was in the Red Deer Lodge in, of course, Red Deer, Alberta. We had
out of the Park Hotel there (I can't remember why we never went back -
money maybe?), and because of the huge devoted following we had in Red
Deer, the agency had convinced the really 'upscale' Red Deer Lodge to
Shama for a week. The bar was huge in there, and was a perfect location
to have our sound 'out in front like the big bands do'. We spent all
setting it all up and running back and forth from the stage to the
board to get all the tones and balances right. As it was with all of
gigs at that time, people were starting to line up outside at 4 o'clock
for our 8 o'clock show. We finished up and were ready with a little bit
of time to spare, so a couple of us enjoyed the beautiful indoor pool
courtyard area. It was quite a place for those days.
That night the bar (as it always was for us
in Red Deer) went ballistic. Mike was grinning from ear to ear running
his spot light with one hand and 'resting' his other hand on the sound
board. Then it happened - it had to, right? The P.A. system let out a
that could rival a 747 jumbo jet on take off. Mike looked at us in
and was paralyzed. Jeff finally jumped from the stage and after finally
getting to the board through the great crowds of people, shut the PA
down. Mike just kept shrugging his shoulders with an 'I don't know what
happened' look on his face. We all figured we knew though. Mike had
attention around him. Not too many bands in those days had a real sound
man with a real board and everything. People were watching to see what
he was doing. After a long frustrating period of time, I'm sure he
"Oh heck. What could happen if I just touched this knob here?" Well, he
found out in a hurry! It was decided that Mike needed training and
In the prairies at that time was a
They were based out of Regina, Saskatchewan, and were by far, one of
greatest bands I had ever seen to this day. Several members (singer
Shields, bassist Kenny (Spider) Sinnaeve, keyboardist Daryl
and drummer Bob Ego) eventually all went on to become members of "Streetheart",
one of Canada's great bands of the 70's and early 80's. The guitarist,
Bob Deutscher, went on to play in Crowcuss,
another great Canadian band from the same time period.
One of the many great things about "Witness"
was their sound and lights. They were operated by one person, a
young man by the name of Guy Scott. Guy had that band sounding
looking good all the time - very pro in every respect. It was decided
we would look up Guy Scott, and ask him how much he would charge to
on the road with us for a week to train Mike Renault in the art of
and especially sound. We wanted to be the best sounding and looking
out there. We found Guy, agreed on a price and agreed that he would
us for the week the next time we played the Sahara Nights in Regina.
Mike was a quick study and Shama
sounded great very quickly. Feeling that the only thing missing
was a proprietary light man, we hired a guy from Medicine Hat, Alberta
to become Shama's first lighting tech. 'Jigger' Schmidt was a promising
photographer who we felt, because of his eye, could become a great
light man very quickly (and he worked for very cheap - added bonus!!!)
Jigger was quite a character who had all of us convinced that his birth
name was 'Jigger'...I guess his real name (Ronald) upset him? I have no
clue why 'Jigger' sounded better to him. I swear he would've fought
anyone to protect his 'name secret' at the time too.
a side note:
Ronald Jigger Schmidt ended up rising to great prominence in the
world until cancer claimed his life on May 27th, 2003. NAIT College
Alberta Institute of Technology) now has 'The Ronald 'Jigger' Schmidt
Scholarship awarded to recipients reaching 'Academic Achievement and
to a Graduating Student of the Photographic Technology Program'...
Congrats old buddy - you did good...
a short amount of time word got out that Guy Scott wasn't
working for 'Witness' anymore - (I believe they had
disbanded - as had another prairie group called 'Great Canadian
River Race" (which had among it's members, Paul Dean and Matt Frenette)
to form a type of 'supergroup' which ended up being called
'Streetheart'), so we asked him to join. Guy supplied a lot of gear to
our show (for a rental price per week #@!$#@!) which enhanced our
live show a great deal. Although Guy became essentially our
'lighting tech', he brought along with all of his lights (adding
to our existing ones), some good 'Altec' speaker cabinets for us to
have real monitors.
Guy was probably the most creative lighting tech I have seen
to this day. the reason I say this, was his ability to get the best out
of the least. One of Shama's secrets was the use of colour and height.
Jeff was 6'4" and wanted the band to 'rise' to his height. He would go
barefoot, Mike Sicoly (at 5'10") would wear a certain size heel on his
shoes and I at 6' even would wear a bit of a lesser heel, all to create
the illusion of the three front men being of equal height. It seems
like an odd thing to pick at but Shama, if anything, was a band of
great detail. Jeff had always maintained that some of the 'larger than
life' appeal of the band "KISS " was the fact that they wore huge
platformed boots to create a bit of an on stage monster...you always
knew who the stars of the show were at a KISS concert (aside from the
makeup and stage pyrotechnics), and we were just utilizing that
technology in our own way.
Another thing we used to great success was clothing.
Everyone could wear whatever colour they wanted to on stage, as long as
it was white! On top of that, our amps were painted white. Our mic
stands were painted white, our drums and most of our guitars were
white, and we brought along a white backdrop and white carpeting to
every stage we set up on. Everything on the stage was painted white. It
worked extremely well! Getting back to the lights now. If you turn 4
blue lights onto a completely white stage, the whole stage turns blue
as it does with red and yellow. People thought we had a gigantic light
show. We didn't. It was maybe 24 lights maximum plus a follow spot. Of
course the illusion was created with all of that white bouncing back
the colours. Guys abilities with the limited lighting we had at
that time, rivals the best of things I've seen done even today. Amazing
work, and he still talks about it himself to this day!
I had mentioned pyrotechnics earlier. Shama used fire and
smoke on stage, as well as chasing lights and fluorescent letters
spelling out the word 'SHAMA" much like the way KISS always appeared
with their name behind them. Our first 'flashpots' (for fire and smoke)
were built for us by Mike Evans, who played in a band touring the
prairies at that time called 'Candlewood'. (They later became "The
Vacationers') Mike Evans was quite a wizard at electronics and we were
at a loss that way. Once we had heard that he had made 'flashpots' for
his band, we begged him to build some for us, which he did for some
beers. (by the way, Mike remains to be a good friend to this day, and
We first started using the 'flashpots' just before Jigger
joined the band. We decided to have our 'ignition switch' up on
stage with us, because Mike Renault would probably not be able to see
if an audience member was too close to one from his vantage point. At
this point Mike was still running lights, sound and a spotlight, so it
would be a bit to concentrate on. On top of that, 'Candlewood' had told
us to be very careful with them, because one time they weren't watching
and their bass player ignited a flashpot right underneath a girl that
was dancing too close to the stage and set her on fire. Afraid they
might get sued, the bass player asked the girl out on a few dates
immediately. I guess it worked....
Speaking of 'Smoke bomb accidents'.... One Saturday
afternoon in December of 1976 we were scheduled to do a 'sock-hop' all
ages dance in the cabaret of the Westlander Motor Inn in Medicine Hat.
Our ignition switch had been not working properly, so I set out to fix
it before the show. I worked on it for about an hour and ignited a few
'blanks' to make sure that everything worked perfectly. I proceeded to
load the gun powder onto the base covering the trip wire as per usual
with the big load that we usually used and everything held fast. Very
good, so I thought. We had protective canisters that went around the
outside perimeter of the flashpots to prevent them from blowing out the
sides and into the people
dancing ...and to make sure that our flames and smoke went straight up
towards the ceiling. At this point that afternoon, the only thing left
was to put those on. As the children stated filing in, I bent over the
first flashpot to put the canister on. With my head about a foot above
the pile of gunpowder I had just poured, the switch shorted and
'kablam'! I fell back into the drum riser as kids screamed (...the
blast scaring the heck out of them). At this point, I was afraid to
open my eyes in case I had blinded myself. As it turned out, all that
had happened was, I had burned off my eyebrows and a good portion of my
hair in the front, mainly to one side. Jigger was there that night when
we played and took some great shots of me performing. In them I basically look like a ghoul, because he used a
'motion' effect on me...horrible!!!
continued as time permits....
Infamous 'SHAMA $50.00'
ingenious marketing strategy dreamed up by Shama's
'manager of the moment', Dallas Goodmanson, who operated the Regina,
office of the Canadian prairie's leading music agency, "Nellis Booking
<>There were apparently
cases of street kids getting change for these $50's from people and
off before the people realized they had been duped.
The idea was to literally
'spread' these fake fifties everywhere. On the front, when folded in
(note the crease down the middle of the front), it would look for all
and purposes like someone had dropped a fifty dollar bill. We, of
were hoping on people's greed and figured they would quickly scoop it
their pocket without looking at it twice.
When they would get to
a 'safe haven', they would then unfold it and see our clever little ad
on the other side.
As the investigating
officers later told us, we had made some major mistakes when these 5000
items were printed. (YES! Five THOUSAND!)
First of all, it's
to have the queen on a fake bill (Other businesses have done this for
but always have used the back of the bill).
Also, it's illegal to
have serial numbers on these 'fakes'. Also, although it did say 'SHAMA
Money' and 'Will NOT pay to the bearer on demand', it DID, however, say
All of this added up
to counterfeit... believe it or not!!!
That is why the police
were initially called in.
Unfortunately, the band
played (and spread these babies) everywhere in Western Canada, so these
'Counterfeit 50 dollar bills' made it from BC to Ontario in a very
period of time.
It seemed that we were
questioned by police in every town we played for about a year and a
Because of our ignorance,
the police took pity on us and we were never charged nor apprehended in
any of the cases.
It DOES however, make
for a good story.
Shama - 1976
to Mick Dalla-Vee