Tim Harrison interview

May 26, 2012

Tim Harrison interview

Tim, thank you very much for taking your time and effort for this interview with me. Where did you grow up and what were some of the influences at the time?
It is my pleasure to do this with you Kemen. I grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario Canada on the south shore of Georgian Bay, part of the Great Lakes system. A landscape comprised of rocks, trees and water and very beautiful. My musical influences were from listening to a rocket radio which clipped onto a curtain rod as an ariel and brought Southern Ontario’s strongest radio signal…CKLW. I heard all the motown hits as they were brought out and a ton of what we called R&B…Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave etc. Locally the area was settled basically Scots and so there were a number of fiddlers in the area. I also got turned onto folk music by my older brother who was into Dylan and Joan Baez. I ended up with a healthy dose of R&B and folk as my major influences…and of course that makes me a huge Van Morrison fan.
When did you first got involved with music?

I guess to be fair I first “got involved” with music when my parents sent us for piano lessons as children. You could say that music “involved” me as I was captured from the start…the sounds, the chords! I soon fell for the guitar, however, and was playing it at song circles from around age 11 or 12 and then my next eldest brother David and I had an acoustic duo which played local coffee house.

Wytchwood did not release anything. Those were very early days and the band split up after a tour of Northern Ontario. A standard tour that agents sent bands on so they could “tighten up”. Instead we broke up!!
What can you tell me about period before releasing first album in 1978?

Prior to my first release several things had happened. I had gotten a taste of the big stage at age 20 when living on Prince Edward Island. I was a musician/puppeteer and some of us were asked to play a festival in Charlottetown….I wrote some songs for it and was totally hooked on writing. I then moved to Toronto where I was under contract to Chappel Music as a songwriter but that ended when the music business moved to target marketing and singer/songwriters were out on their butts. Even John Prine had to start his own record company in 1979. So I moved back home for a while in 1976 and my oldest brother John was president of the local arts council. We cooked up the idea together to do a folk festival in Owen Sound, we called it Summerfolk and it still runs today…37 years later.
Train Going East was released in 1978. Album was produced by Stan Rogers and engineered by Daniel Lanois. I would love if you could share a story about it?
I had met Stan Rogers when I booked him into the festival and had known him a couple of years when I asked him to produce “Train Goin’ East.” We had got on so he readily agreed. Danny Lanois ran Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton, Ontario at the time and it was the best bet for sound so that’s where we went. Danny was ultra professional and helpful and contributed lots of great ideas to the production. He was also a wizard at slicing and editing tape which was the only way to edit then…he could carve windows in 24 track tape and make it all work! There was a bit of a funny incident with Stan. I had told him that since he was producing the record for free, I would record one of his tunes on it so he could get the royalties! The tune I chose was “Turnaround” and my interpretation of it was quite different from Stan’s….I had to watch him pacing the control room the whole time I recorded the vocal! But in the end I thing he liked it, at least he gave it a OK to be on the record!
What happened next? Your next albums were from mid-nighty’s and your last one is from 2005.
Actually I had recorded an album in 85 for Stan’s widow’s label Cole Harbour, but it only got realeased on cassette tape. I had a rockin’ band at the end of the 80’s but my son was born in 1990 and I stayed home to look after him. In the mid nineties I began to record again and released 5 CDs from 97 to 2006. I toured to England and Scotland, but mostly did a lot of touring trough the States and Canada…drove everywhere…loved it!. I had finished up with my last festival (The Eaglewood Folk Festival) in 1999 as Artistic Director and so, like I said, I hit the road and recorded for 8 years. At the end of 2007 I had gotten ill, split up with my manager, and generally things were not so good. My health problems increased until 09 when I was able to get some help, had surgery and now things are much better.
What are you doing these days and do you have any future plans?

I started to play again last year, but as with evey musician, you have to be putting out new material. To that end I have just set up my recording gear here on Gabriola Island where I have been living the last 3 years, and I am moving forward with a new recording which I hope to complete by the fall.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2012
One Comment
  1. The Rock Bat

    Tim Harrison is one great musician. Keep up the good work, good interview.

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