What’s in a Professional Name?

Mick May 2007
Mick Dalla-Vee

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

SAILOR’S BEAT!!!

FEATURING

(Brian’s Picture)
BRIAN TOO-LOUD MCLEOD – From Chilliwack and The Headpins

(Jeff’s picture)
JEFF NEILL – From Streetheart

AND

(my picture)

NICK FELLAZOWSKI

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 Dellavee,

Mick Delavie,

Mick DallaVie,

Mick Tel Aviv, (wait a sec — people actually think I came from Israel? – and I’m not kidding… this was on a poster once)

Mick Dellavie,

Mick Dallavee

Now I know why Tom Jones chose the name he did!

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Mick Dalla-Vee

Early days 1976 - He moved to Western Canada, after leaving Bawating High School from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, with the band Shama. Shama toured Western Canada and was managed by Bruce Allen (Bryan Adams, Martina McBride) before disbanding. 1981 -From that point he became the lead guitarist of Trama, managed by Sam Feldman (Joni Mitchell, Diana Krall), 1984 - then on to playing bass for the band Paradox which evolved into his current band Cease & Desist. 1989 - Cease & Desist has been described as "one of Vancouver's most popular bands" by Tom Harrison the rock music critic of The Province. He also plays the part of John in a Beatles cover band, Revolver, that was put together for Expo 86 Songwriting Mick has written or co-written many songs on albums for artists as diverse as country music's Brent Howard and Canada's Singing Cowgirl: Marilyn Faye Parney, the heavy rock sounds of Blackstone (released on the Delinquent label in Canada), the soul/R&B sounds Belinda Metz and 'Emily Jordan' to the 'smooth jazz' sounds of internationally acclaimed Lori Paul. 2005 - He co-wrote ten of the eleven songs on Paul's album Vanity Press. 1998 - His first country song 'The Wrangler' reached the country top 30 charts right across Canada. It also achieved 'Heavy Rotation' on C.M.T., Canada's country music video channel. One of the songs from Mick's 'A Whistler Christmas' album entitled, 'All I Want is You at Christmastime' has been recorded and released by Canadian country star, Brent Howard Currently - He has also written music for movies, television, videos, video games and promotional spots. His writing styles run the gamut from 'Smooth Jazz' to 'Heavy Thrash'. (A Whistler Christmas and Dalla-Vee's original Christmas songs are often heard on Canadian radio during their Christmas music programming.) Producing Aside from producing himself in an array of projects such as 1994's A Whistler Christmas album, he runs his own studio 'Millennia Sound Design', producing and engineering for artists like: Randy Bachman, Twitch, Swaggerjack, Emily Jordan, Russell Marsland, Lori Paul and Suzanne Gitzi among others. 2007 - has provided theme music and soundscapes for two network television series and Simon Fraser University. 2005 - Randy Bachman's CD "Jazzthing" had some work done on it at "Millennia Sound Design". Vocals Dalla-Vee has contributed to projects as diverse as, 1991 - the multi platinum heavy rock of the "Mötley Crüe" album "A Decade of Decadence" to the 2001 - country/rockabilly sounds of Brent Howard and Southern Cherry to Colin Arthur Wiebe. 1989 - Canadian legends, Trooper and The Powder Blues Band have also used Mick's voice for recordings. 1991 - He has worked extensively as a studio session singer/musician, with his talent of many voices being used on a worldwide 'Karaoke' album package marketed over the dreaded U.S. infomercial. He has sung a number of commercial jingles for radio and television. Awards Having recorded with a host of other Canadian and international recording acts such as Randy Bachman (of the band The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive), Mick was awarded a 'Gold Record' for his work on the 'Trooper' album 'Last of the Gypsies' in 1991. In 1997, he received the Saskatchewan Album of the Year Award for his song writing/musician contributions to an album with proceeds going to people affected with multiple sclerosis. 2011 – Gold Award for Bachman & Turner DVD – Live at the Roseland Ballroom 2013 – Platinum Award for Bachman & Turner DVD – Live at the Roseland Ballroom Appeared in ‘The Campaign’ with Will Ferrell, Zack Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd and directed my Jay Roach (shot in New Orleans) Current – Write music for the popular ‘Holmes’ TV series on HGTV Releases: “Bachman and Turner” in 2010 Producing the Toronto pop/soul band ‘Hello Beautiful’. Heads the ‘Music in Motion Workshop’ for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation, a pilot project designed to develop a musical camaraderie with children, youth and young adults with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Live [edit] He keeps an extremely steady schedule playing guitar, bass and keyboards with his main band, Cease and Desist, and “The Atlantic Crossing Show” featuring Mick as John Lennon and Elton John. Since 2001 - He is the bass player/vocalist with Canadian Rock Legend, Randy Bachman's band 2004 - Bachman’s recent foray in the jazz world with his new CD, ‘Jazz Thing’ features Dalla-Vee on the ‘upright bass’. Ongoing - He plays mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitars and harmonica in the Brent Howard and Southern Cherry band, Ongoing - and has toured as John Lennon in 'Revolver - The Worlds Best Beatles Show'. Ongoing - In addition, he also works as a solo artist appearing regularly at special events and casinos. Affiliations 2004 - A longtime member of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, he has sat on the panel as a judge for Canada's Juno Awards (Canada's Version of The Grammy's). 1989 – 2001 He was on the board of directors of the Pacific Music Industry Association for 3 years, and is also chair of 2000 – 2005 The Carolyn Foundation Musician's Assistance Society; a non-profit organization he and colleagues set-up in the wake of his daughter Carolyn's sudden death in November 1999

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Professional Name?”

  1. Could have been worse.. you could have been called Mikey or Mickey Dellavano, or Nicky DV.. not to be confused with VD.. 😛

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