DECEMBER – Rik Emmett: Before and Beyond Triumph.
Rik Emmett, brought his a-game, striking a chord while presenting his originals from Triumph and his solo projects, as he live-streamed an up close and personal showcase 8 pm on Monday, Sept 28th, from Hamilton’s not for profit charitable organization, The Westdale. “Since the lockdown of our city several months ago, local musicians have been eager to get back on the stage …and here at the Westdale we had come up with a way to make that safely happen,” says the show’s producer, host, and Hamilton’s musical celebrity, Mike McCurley, by way of the Hamilton Originals: Live Music from the Westdale. This was live-streamed on Youtube, and Facebook every Monday evening which featured local artists who are truly original. “We have a great lineup of local songwriters and singers and it’s not just about their songs, it’s about them,” says Mike as he himself interviewed each performer. “We got to dig deep into their songwriting as well, shared some stories from the road….an up-close and personal look at each artist….but not too up close, of course, we‘ll be practicing social distancing in the theatre and all equipment will be disinfected before and after each show, ” McCurley states, who sits on the board of directors of The Westdale and is a vibrant local musician himself. He further shared, “I am hoping the shows will be a hit like an east coast kitchen party: musical friends having a good time, as The Westdale has been restored to its full glory and heritage that shows movies, art, culture, talks with popcorn, and live music.” This beautiful showcase was sponsored by Next Steps Planning (https://www.nextstepsplanning.ca), IPC Securities Corporation (http://www.ipcsecurities.com), Judy Marsales Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage (https://www.judymarsales.com), as well, was supported by MDM Media, and ClearCable (https://www.clearcable.ca). As 2020 ushered in with a new normal seeing lives music venues and performances go into the dark all over the world. “No camera, no cash means we need a little help from our friends, to keep on keeping on, so if you can donate a little or a lot, sure would help us keep our lights on, making you 1 of the many keepers of the lights and this story,” stated Mike. https://www.thewestdale.ca/donate
Rik warmed the stage that was already alit with a living room feel, as he started out on his Annabella telecaster (his white lady guitar), striking hypnotic chord after chord. Rik kicked off the flavor of the night on a new song entitled ‘Son of High Five‘ from his newest 4 part album series, Folk Songs For The
Farewell Bonfire. This was a jazzy piece with an up and happy groove, which was “never played much live before,” said Rik. The conversation included stories on Triumph and how September 1975, marked the beginning of his inclusion into Triumph. Mike and Gill started looking for a guitarist and saw Rik performing in Toronto, along the Queensway, at the Hollywood Tavern and they said, “uh that’s our guy.” Rik remembers their 1st gig was at the Simcoe Country High School, this is where it all began for them. He further shared they had 1 single out with NO album at that time, but, that single was #1 in Dryden. Then they played live in Toronto at the Knob Hill Hotel Tavern on the Danforth at Eglinton, and that was where Attic Records came to see them perform, they liked what they heard, and wanted Triumph to sign up and record their 1st album with them, which occurred in 1976. He mentioned that their 1st Triumph hit, however, was a cover of Joe Walsh’s 1973 hit ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ during the time they were making their 2nd studio album, Rock n Roll Machine back in 1977. The boys chatted about Triumph’s big break in the USA in 1978 with their 3rd studio album Just A Game and this project featured Lay It On The Line and Hold On. Rik got to reminisce about Triumph’s beginning, and how they were 1 of the 1st acts on MTV, and how they subbed in for legend Sammy Hagar on an FM radio station’s promotional date in San Antonia Texas, which was followed up by a run of 5 shows in Texas for JAM Productions with a promoter named Joe Anthony. He touched on how they toured across Canada then, with fellow Canadian rockers Moxy and Trooper. Also mentioning how they headlined on August 26th, 1978, at the Canada Jam Festival at Mosport Park in Bowmanville in front of 110,000 people, and touched on how they looked up to acts like Rush, which was their launch pad of sorts. Also, spoke highly of San Antonio’s Radio Hall of Famer, Lou Roney, and how he helped shape the career of disc jockey Joe Anthony, and how the creative genius of both Roney and Anthony, led to the discovery and breakout of numerous heavy metal acts like Rush, Judas Priest, Ted Nugent, Meatloaf, and of course, Triumph. Rik mentioned how this duo would spin their hit ‘Blinding Light Show/Moonchild’ every night at 12 midnight (a song Rik co-wrote with Denton Young and Chris Brockway in a band before Triumph called Act 3).
Rik left Triumph in 1988 and started his extensively successful solo career with his Absolutely Album in 1991, which was certified Gold in Canada. It featured songs When A Heart Breaks and the third cut on the album, Saved by Love, which was also used for the closing credits of the movie Problem Child 2. and consists of 10 songs and one instrumental piece. Rik is also a writer for Guitar Player Magazine, teaches songwriting, and music business at Humber College in Toronto. FYI, DID YOU KNOW that for a time during the 1980s, Emmett contributed cartoons to Hit Parader Magazine satirizing the music industry?
He shared how his song Ordinary Man, (7th song from Triumph’s 5th studio album, 1981’s Allied Forces) was never performed live by Triumph, and might I add, Rik did a marvelous solo of this, “a first in a long time,” he said. This was a folk song when Rik wrote it and turned it into an epic piece because it was an autobiographic story of being on the road. “It has relevance now, as COVID has everybody in isolation and facing life from a point of view of what if life is just this, is that what this time is about ?” stated Rik.
Host, Mike McCurley said, “Rik, glad to see you are still keeping on, and to quote Red Green, you don’t retire from something, you retire to something, you gotta keep moving, ” and Rik replied, “Ya, I retired from the road but, I did not retire from being creative!”
The last song was another stellar jazzy tune, as Rik took us down Triumph memory lane from 1979 with Triumph’s 3rd studio album, Just A Game, and said, “we were short on material he said, and I wrote a song on the road called Suitcase Blues, then I played it for Gil and Mike but they were shocked as it was jazzy. So they decided to insert this piece into their repertoire as the Beatles did …placing ‘Suitcase Blues’ at the end of our shows. This hit was about musicians on the road and their bottle of scotch on your rider and someone always got to take it back to their motel room, and this song is like it was my night to take the bottle to my room.“
Outstanding fundraiser showcase! Rik’s combined 42 masterpieces featuring 15 live and studio albums with Triumph, 20 solo recordings, and mixed with 7 other collaborated studio and live projects, featuring 1 with Sam Reid, 3 with Strung-Out troubadours, 1 with Airtime, 1 with Pavlo and Oscar Lopez, and 1 with RESolution9, proves there is no slowing down RIk’s brilliant creativity. With dozens of popular charted hit singles, 18 Gold, 9 Platinum, and 2 double platinum albums, 4 Juno nominations, an induction into the Junos Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Music and Broadcast Hall of Fame speaks volumes for his in-depth talents. Fast forward to 2019, where they now hold keys to the city of Mississauga, where they also received an award for their journey as Legends of Live at the 2019 Music Industry’s Canadian Music Week and were inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. He keeps himself busy in his office, library,
After five decades in the biz, Rik Emmett earned the adjectives ‘prolific’ and ‘eclectic’. His last full-blown rock record RES 9 was released worldwide in 2016 on the MASCOT / PROLOGUE label, and his latest, entitled “Folk Songs for the Farewell Bonfire” (referred to as The Bonfire Sessions) are now available exclusively as downloads off of http://www.rikemmett.com I am thrilled to have captured Rik’s true essence with his guitar once again as he expressed his soul, totally his most compelling to date.
BLAST FROM THE PAST with the photo below, which was taken on November 16th, 2019 by photographer Scott Braun of BRAUN MEDIA, as part of Triumph’s documentary, Lay It On The Line with Banger Films, so excited for its release.