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The Road Crew
From:  dictionary.com (Random House Inc., 2008) road-ie [roh-dee] noun Slang, “a member of a crew for a traveling group of musicians or other entertainers, whose work usually includes the setting up of equipment.”
There was a time before my years in the Brass Union when I believed that this was the extent of the road crew’s involvement with a rock band.  They’d be at the gig to do their jobs long before I was, be done by the time I arrived, and when I was finished and was ready to go home, they’d be back later on for ‘load out’.  The band was one thing, the road crew was another – or so I thought. Long-time Grateful Dead roadie, Steve Parish, in his book Home Before Daylight, tells how he and the band hung out together, played together and partied together.  “Life with the Dead was tender and heart-felt.  Garcia was a brother to me,” he says. “And I took my job as a sacred task.” One evening, Parish got word his wife and daughter died in a car wreck. “I was out of control.  It was just an incredible world. We always had a connection with death, and it made you tougher. The band literally moved in with me. They took care of me.” Many bands have given full credit to their road crew on their album jackets and the jobs that they do.  The song you are listening to is Jackson Browne’s 1977 tribute to his ‘roadies’.  Pink Floyd showed their road crew on the album jacket of Ummagumma and recorded them speaking on Dark Side of the Moon.  My current band has a nine-person band picture – eight musicians and one sound engineer.  And as Cliff Hunt mentioned to me recently:  “When you speak of roadies, there is Howard Ungerleider, who started with the band Rush when they were playing The Gasworks, a bar on Yonge Street in Toronto back in the 70’s. He has remained with the band for over 35 years, has become an integral part of their organization, and is one of the most sought-after and highest paid lighting and stage designers in North America.” The Brass Union, in their six-year history, had two road crews – the first one:  two guys, George Hamor and Bill Hughes.  Once the band became a bit more ‘theatrical’ and specifically, once the equipment included a ‘sledded’ Hammond B3 organ with a full-size stage Leslie, the two-person crew was replaced by three.  This is the story of those five people.
For the first year or so, the band members dealt with their own equipment and had different people come in – friends and such – to help during the shows.  But by the time 1968 rolled around and the band had become a bit more serious about their place in the music business, it was time to hire a ‘dedicated’ road crew to be part of the band.  Bill Hughes was the first member of this crew. I talked to Bill recently about his role with the band.  “People referred to me as the road manager, which was actually true to some degree.  I was interested in timing, logistics, transportation and making sure everything was where it was supposed to be.  At the shows, I ran the light show – [which for this band, was a rather large task], but outside the shows, my place was more organizational – a bit of work on finances, cheques, bills, payments, acquisitions of things that we would need on a daily basis like lights bulbs, fuses, truck maintenance, stuff like that.  We had an account at a local hardware store and I was in there every day picking up something.” When the band decided to go ‘full-time’, Bill ran into the same problem that a number of us had run into: “My parents kicked me out of the house”, he said, rather matter-of-factly.  “I was told to get a haircut and go back to school or leave home.  From the day I left school and Bruce [Wilson] and I drove the band trucks around to the front of the high schools, picking up the different guys as everybody cheered, I lived in the white band truck for the next three months.”  Bill got his own place and stayed with the band for another couple of years, but eventually, it was time for him to leave.  “I liked where the band was heading with the Fairytale and different creative directions, but there was a lot going on with the band that I didn’t agree with – specifically, the record company's choices for the two songs on our 45 rpm record.  I thought the songs were musically good and interesting but the lyrics potentially insulting to our fans and listeners.  I took pride at being a problem-solver and it came to a point that I’d reached the end of the line for what I thought I could contribute to the band.” After leaving the band, Bill returned to school to finish Grade 13 and began working for Herb Lock, booking the band as much as possible.  Two years later, Bill was accepted at Brock University, and by attending two universities at once (Brock and Trent), he was able to complete a B.A. in Psychology in 18 months. “I drove from Peterborough to St. Catharines three times a week.”   From there, Bill went to Wellandport to become the Director of a Residential Treatment Centre for Learning Disabled Children.  Two years later he was off to the University of Toronto to complete a Masters Degree in Education.  From there, he completed the three-year McMaster medical program and was accepted into the Internal Medicine program, studying first at McMaster for 2 years, then at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for 1 year, then back to Hamilton for 2 years studying cardiology, then back to St. Paul’s as a ‘teaching fellow’, to finally, his move to Peterborough to start his own practice. Today, Bill Hughes is known as one of Canada’s leading cardiologists.  He’s just recently opened his new 60-staff Kawartha Cardiology Clinic in downtown Peterborough.  Bill’s inherent talents in organization, problem-solving and specifically, human kindness, have put him at the forefront of significant innovations in the medical field.  When he came to Peterborough in 1984, there was no cardiology program in the area and he saw the opportunity to be a ‘builder’, to the point that his program is now recognized as one of the most well-coordinated and efficient in Canada.  “We have a vascular health network, which is an innovative, co-operative effort between doctors and specialists that I started in 2000.  We’ve leveraged that into a new program, supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health that sets out to create a structure to detect and treat vascular disease at a very early stage.  In essence, those that would be at risk for heart attack and stroke, don’t actually have them.”  This is a unique program that Bill devised that is being implemented throughout the region.  And just as Bill was during his years with Brass Union, his life is about problem-solving, planning and organization – making sure people have what they need, when they need it. Bill and his wife Jennifer (of 26 years) live on their farm in Peterborough, Ontario and have two girls:  Alexandra, 25, who lives in Chicago and uses her Fine Arts Masters Degree training at one of the Art Galleries associated with inner-city Chicago; and Kathleen, 19, who spent her high school years promoting bands and organizing concerts and is now at University of Toronto studying Psychology and Biology.  Bill’s wife Jennifer is a nurse by training and now, a pacemaker and implanted device specialist who was the founding President of a world-wide Association in pacing and device care and is the only non-physician to receive a lifetime achievement award from the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. Musically, Bill is still very active as well.  “We have a folk/country band called Burnt River, where I play guitar and sing.  We play locally whenever we can, but we’re scattered about quite a bit, so it’s not as much as we’d like.  Our bass player’s in Calgary now, so that’s a bit of a challenge for us”, he said with a laugh.  “It’s fun.  Some of us have been playing together for 45 years now.” The different members of Brass Union have all left their individual ‘marks’ in the world.  Bill Hughes is certainly no exception.
Bill Hughes Road Manager
George Hamor joined the band as the second member of the first road crew, shortly after Bill Hughes in 1968.  George knew Bill through the Y.M.C.A. Summer Camp and work that they’d both been doing, opening up “Pillar Square” – a drop-in centre in the basement of the James St. South Y.M.C.A. in Hamilton.  “Bill knew these guys that had put together a band and were looking for a place to practice.  We’d just put together Pillar Square and that’s how I began my involvement with the band.” George’s role with the band was taking care of the ‘sound system’ and keeping all the equipment running.  At the shows, George would be behind the sound board and Bill behind the lighting controls.  George also built a lot of the sound system himself.  “Yeah, we cobbled together what was, for then, a reasonably advanced sound board for the limited budget that we had.”  And in an incident that I, as the trombone player, will probably never live down, George remarked:  “What was the most interesting part of the four Bogen power amps going up in flames at a show in Quebec City was not the flames coming out of the amplifiers but that next day, we were in Quebec City trying to find (with our rudimentary French), first a place that had parts, and then getting people to understand what I wanted.  But we found the parts, rebuilt it, and were ‘good to go’ the next night.”  I personally, of course, have no further comment about this incident. The biggest thing I remember about this two-man crew is the feeling of confidence I had on stage, knowing that everything was ‘covered’.  If problems arose during the show and they were humanly possible to solve, one of these guys would be ‘on it’ – often on stage, replacing, adjusting, etc. as the show went on.  It makes for a better show when the stage performers only have to concentrate on their own performances. George left the band in the summer of 1971 to go back to school and complete an Electrical Engineering degree at McMaster University.  After McMaster, George moved to Ottawa and began working at Leigh Instruments as a Professional Engineer, designing electronic systems for aircraft.  George worked there as a Project Engineer, designing avionics equipment.  The company went bankrupt in 1990, and from there, he moved to CMC Electronics (what was then, Canadian Marconi), where he is today.  Over the years, George has moved up the corporate ladder from the design and development of avionic control and navigation systems to today, acting more as a Program Manager, overseeing 10 to 20 million dollar projects for the military and commercial markets.  I asked George about his retirement plans and he said his plans were to retire within the year, and yes, he is definitely looking forward to it. On a personal level, George and his wife, Anne of 31 years, live in the Ottawa Valley area of Ontario and have a son Alex, who continues on in university, now working on his second degree.  During the summers, George and Anne are found at their cottage, and during the winter, George plays both hockey and curling.  As to his musical interests today, he says:  “I still enjoy the old rock music – to my wife’s dismay – play the guitar a bit up at the cottage, but that’s about it for me.” I noticed, in collecting the information for this story, the efficiency and accuracy that I remember from him from back during the band years.  The interview flew by, taking half the time as anyone else.  I asked a question and the answer was ‘right there’, just the same as it was when I would signal him from stage, 40 years ago.  Yes … you could definitely say that George Hamor is still the same old George, and he has built an excellent life for himself.
George Hamor Sound
Rick Moses joined the band a few months before Brad Stone (below) in 1971 when Bill Hughes left to return to school.  He was the first member of what would be the final 3-person road crew and he stayed with the band until the end. After the Brass Union broke up, Rick stayed working with bands.  “I got involved with a 12-piece band called 'Young' – a band which included eight Berkeley-trained horn players: 4 trumpets, 3 saxophones and 2 trombones.  We went to Florida a couple of times, Vegas, things like that.”  After that, he linked up with Brad Stone again in a local band called 'Wednesday' and stayed with them for a number of years.  Then it was off to another well-known local band, 'Vehicle'.  After Vehicle, Rick and Brad linked up again for a while with the 'Cooper Brothers Band'.  During this time, Rick was mostly the sound engineer, both at live gigs, in the studio and on the road.  But by the time he was working with the 'Lydia Taylor Band' in the 80’s, he was also road manager, in charge of the finances, as well as his regular sound engineer work.  “I did a lot of studio work and a lot of touring during those years.  Altogether, I’ve been to Vancouver at least a dozen times.  On one band trip in the 80’s – I think it was with Lydia Taylor – I was driving home through the Rogers Pass near the Alberta/British Columbia border and there was another truck coming the other way.  Just as they went by, I glanced over and saw that it was Brad Stone.  We both slammed on the brakes, backed up and did the big greeting in the middle of the road.  His band from the east coast was just heading out to the west coast on tour.” By the mid 80’s, the music business was going through a bit of a lull.  Rick had settled down somewhat, gotten married and he and another musician-friend decided to take the summer off working with bands and go work in the construction business.  “Of course, once I started doing that,” said Rick, “and saw that the money was much better, I stayed with it – to the point that I now have my own construction business.  You know me – I’ve always liked to be self-employed.” Rick and his wife Cindy, of 17 years, still live in the Hamilton area.  I asked Rick if he missed his time working with bands.  “Well, I do and I don’t.  I miss the touring and I miss the fun, but I certainly don’t miss the money.”  He did mention though that during his band years, he‘d had a fairly large sound company of his own, but about the time he decided to get out of the music business in the 80’s, that it was also the time that sound equipment entered the digital age.  “I became outmoded in (basically) an instant.  I think I  lost a few hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment because it became useless – nobody wanted it.”  As far as still playing his bass guitar, which was what he was doing when he joined the Brass Union – that is now part of the past due to arthritis in his hands.  “That’s why I became a sound man, actually.  My fingers just wouldn’t move fast enough to play the bass anymore.”  But he did say that now that he’s scaling back his involvement with his daily construction business, that he’s thinking of returning to sound production work.  “I realize that I have a lot to catch up on.  I’m computer friendly, but I’m not digitally hip.”  Rick’s already been talking to a number of friends in the business about this, and the plan over the next few years or so is to scale back on his construction business and scale back up on his re-involvement with the music business. So after 40 years, Rick’s still the same Rick Moses – laid-back and very easy-going, with a sense of humour that will sneak up on you if you’re not expecting it.  Rick has retained his music interest, gone off and built a good career and life for himself in an area outside of music and is now planning on heading right back to where I last saw him – behind the sound board.  And I hope to see you there very soon, my friend.
Rick Moses Sound/Lighting
Brad Stone joined the band at the beginning of the summer in 1971.  Rick Moses and Brad had played together in bands in high school.  One of those bands included Daniel Lanois (U2 Producer, among other things) as the guitar player.  Through Rick and Brad’s involvement with Pillar Square in Hamilton and the Brass Union, Brad was hired originally to replace George Hamor on the sound board, but eventually ended up running the light show.  The band was now involved with work on their Fairytale production and Brad had just completed a two-year course at Niagara College in Theatre Arts and Technology.  His knowledge of theatrical production became invaluable to the band as they put together their Fairytale show.  After 6 to 8 months, Brad left to do sound for King Biscuit Boy for a few months and when he returned, Rick Moses was on the sound board and Brad took over lighting and special effects.  The two worked their jobs interchangeably until the end of the band.  I suppose Brad’s greatest contribution to the band was his knowledge of special effects from his Theatre Arts training – magic tricks for John Willett to use as the Magician in the Fairytale, exploding flash pots and smoke effects, different special lighting effects, etc. When the band broke up, Brad stayed behind the sound board, moving immediately to another excellent local band, ‘Battle Axe’, Rita Chiarelli’s then band.  After that he went to, ‘Mara Loves’, then ‘Wednesday’, continuing to work as a sound tech with bands full-time until he took a ‘day job’ at Dofasco in Hamilton in 1984.  He stayed working there in the Quality Control Inspection Department until his retirement, one year ago.  Today, Brad and his wife Hope, of seven years, live in Frankford, Ontario.  They have six children:  Jon, Josh, Alisha, Jaime, Chelsea and Rutger (ranging in age from 30 to 18) and five grand-children.  Musically, over the years, Brad has stayed as active as anyone.  Two years after he started Dofasco, he linked up with two other Brass Union members who were forming an 8-piece horn band very similar to Brass Union, and stayed with them for over 20 years working behind the sound board.  In the 1990’s, he joined up with a couple of Dofasco employees and another Brass Union alumnus and formed a country/rock cover band, Common Ground, working out of the Waterdown/Hamilton area.  The photo at the top left is Brad playing bass guitar during those years.  Their story can be found elsewhere on this site. Although retired now, Brad continues to stay as busy as is possible, really, for one individual.  I asked him recently, what he was up to these days, and he replied:  “I’m ‘first call’ for live sound at the Stirling Festival Theatre in Stirling, Ontario, the ‘front of the house’ engineer for “Fiddlers on the Trent” (an annual Fiddle Festival that has raised over $120,000 for the Canadian Food Bank), the ‘front of the house’ engineer for the Frankford Blues Festival.”  He continued, “I do all kinds of church and school events, festivals, that kind of stuff.”  Performing wise, he is also the resident bass player at the 1802 Station Fiddlers in Stockdale, Ontario and the bass player in another local band called:  “Just Another Band”, a British Invasion/cover tune band.  He also works part-time at the Riverside Music store in Trenton, doing repairs, sales and a bit of guitar teaching.  In non-performance roles, he’s the technical director of the Bay of Quinte Community Players Theatre and he’s done a number of other freelance things, including work with the Belleville Players.  And, if that wasn’t enough, Brad’s the resident Santa Claus for the Frankford Christmas Parade every year. The above paragraph lists just the things that Brad’s been involved with since he moved to the Frankford/Belleville area of Ontario a few years ago.  My recollection of him in the Hamilton/Burlington area for the many years before that was that it was difficult to go anywhere where there was good music without finding him behind a sound board somewhere.  I’ve worked with Brad in a number of music projects, both as a bass player and sound engineer (and often, both).  His well-above-average cheerful disposition, professional-level attention to detail and inherent love of anything to do with the artistic community will, no doubt, keep Brad involved with the things he loves to do for many years to come.  And I think it would be safe to assume that Brad has begun involvement in, at least, one new project in the time that it has taken me to write his story. Yes, indeed … a full and enjoyable life for Brad Stone.
Brad Stone Sound/Lighting
Peter Hume (a.k.a. ‘Humble’) was a giant of a man in every way, even early in 1971, when at the age of 15, he first started showing up at some of the Brass Union shows.  One day, while the band was playing in front of Hamilton City Hall, Peter walked up to the sound crew and said:  “I’m going to start working for you guys.”  At 6 foot 6 and over 300 lbs, it was hard to argue.  At the end of the show, he was true to his word and went to work immediately.  The large P.A. speakers that we used back then (5’ high x 3’ wide x 1’ deep), that the band members struggled with two at a time to carry to the truck, were picked up by Humble with two hands and thrown into the back of the truck.  The Hammond B3 Organ was moved usually with 3 band members on one end and Humble on the other.  This alone would have been enough to cement Peter’s position in the band, but he was so much more than that. The stories of Peter’s personality and exploits with the Brass Union could fill this page alone – things like his arm- wrestling all the locals when the band played in Detroit and never losing, stories like his usual order at diners where we would stop:  ‘Twenty orders of toast, please.  That’s all.’, his standing to the right side of stage each show with his arms crossed and never having a problem with band security, stories of him getting on stage a few times with the band to sing James Brown tunes to the complete delight of the audience.  Peter’s personality was as large as he was.  But more than this, he was a gentle man, with a deceptive sense of humour that would often leave people in fits of laughter. I remember one night specifically in 1971.  It was the middle of the summer and I and about a dozen other people were in the livingroom of a house in what is now the trendy Hess Village area of Hamilton.  The television console was across the room under the open bay windows and we were all watching it with all the lights out and the colour controls and contrast turned up full – we used to do such things back then.  Right in the middle of a rather ‘creepy’ movie, Humble’s head rose slowly up from the back of the television (complete with his huge ‘afro’ haircut) as he slowly uttered a “GUUD E-E-EVENING”.  People jumped, the women shrieked, everybody screamed until we realized that Peter had stopped by and stuck his head through the open window.  That was Peter Hume – always larger than life, always being there with something that you’d never forget. After the Brass Union broke up, Peter stayed working with bands for a while:  first with a west-coast band called ‘Privilege’, then with local talent ‘George Olliver’, to finally working as a driver and bodyguard with Bruce Springsteen.  He also linked up with another Brass Union alumnus, Len Blum, and got a bit part in his new movie, “Meatballs”.  He played the part of ‘the Stomach’, uttering the line that perfectly suited his real-life character:  “What?  No mustard?”  By the late 1970’s, Peter headed off to school and received a B.A. in History from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.  Next stop was University of Toronto for, I believe, a teaching accreditation.  During this time, he was also very active in athletics.  He played professional football in the Canadian Football League with Winnipeg and Toronto for three years, was national university wrestling champion in 1977-78 and in 1980, he was named to the Canadian Olympic wrestling team.  Unfortunately, that was the year of the Olympic boycott and Peter was never able to perform on the world stage, but he did move to Concordia University in Montreal as a wrestling coach and by the next Olympics, 7 of the 10 wrestling spots on the Canadian team came from Concordia.  Everywhere Peter went, he brought his energy, his drive, his work ethic, and, most of all, his sense of humour. In 1987, Peter married Karzi McCallum and moved with her to Upstate New York.  He completed a Masters in Education at Castleton State University in Vermont and began teaching in the area at a number of locations before settling at Schuylerville High School in the Mechanicville area of New York State in 1999.  He also opened a piano repair business in town with his step-son Sean,specializing in repair of ‘high end’ pianos for an international market.  Peter also has a daughter Heather who resides in Toronto, Ontario. Unfortunately, on October 22, 2007, Peter Hume unexpectedly passed away in his sleep from natural causes.  "The whole school was crying," said 10th-grader Jenifer Wolin to a local newspaper.  And district superintendent, Dr. Leon Reed, announced that hehad deployed a crisis team to help students and teachers cope with Hume's death.  I’ve included the local news coverage of his passing in the clip to the right – please be sure to turn off the mp3 player at the top of this page before activating this clip, if the music is still playing.  John Willett has stayed close to Peter throughout their lives and had this to say recently:  “Humble was like my brother.  His loss was one of my greatest losses.  He had a huge heart and was a good friend to have – loyal, protective and caring are just a few of his many attributes.  He never stopped riding his beloved Harley and he was one of the world’s best story tellers.” People often wonder how such a large man could carry the nickname of ‘Humble’.  But it wasn’t just his nickname, it was what he was.  And what he was, was impossible to ever forget.
Peter Hume LIghts/Security
If the music is still playing, please turn off the mp3 player at the top of this page before viewing this video
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