Former foreign correspondent Frank Koller returns to his first love, music

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Before Frank Koller, a former CBC radio foreign correspondent, was reporting from the Tiananmen Square protests within the late 1980s or from Lower Manhattan in September 2001, he was a thriving musician in Ottawa.

Those with sufficiently lengthy recollections could recall Koller as a guitarist who labored 4 a long time in the past on the National Arts Centre and the Central Canada Exhibition, who put out the pop-jazz document Single Malt and who was the musical director for the July 1 present on Parliament Hill.

Now 69 and retired from radio, Koller is getting again into music. He’s fashioned an eight-piece group fittingly named One More Last Chance, a tribute band to classic nation music and its studio bands. The group has its inaugural gig Wednesday, Aug. 1 on the One Up Room in New Edinburgh.

“This is not a guitar band in the way that Single Malt was, which is just fine for me,” Koller says. “I do ​still have lots of room to step out and then step back. ​But it’s not a band about me.​ It’s about great players and great music.”

Also within the band are Ottawa nation legend Neville Wells, singer/guitarist Peggy White, pedal metal guitarist Brian Ostrom, fiddler Michael Ball, pianist Randy Demmon, bassist Ken Kanwisher and drummer Peter Beaudoin.

“They are what make this such fun and a privilege,” Koller says.

Below Koller discusses his musical exploits — previous, current and future.

​Q: Why did you choose up the guitar and the way did you get so proficient at it?

A: I acquired my begin within the early ’60s ​in bands,​ similar to so many due to The Beatles and the Stones and The Yardbirds. I had studied lots of classical piano, however since not one of the bands I favored then had a piano participant, clearly there was no means a piano participant might be cool. That’s actually code for “getting girls.” So I switched.

I performed in bands in highschool however the massive change was on a summer time journey to Europe in 1964 the place I met a man from Toronto who uncovered me to B.B. King and Robbie Robertson and Fred​die​ Keeler, an awesome Toronto guitar participant.

I began hanging round Le Hibou and shortly, I used to be worshiping in particular person on the altar of Muddy Waters and Otis Spann and James Cotton and The Butterfield Blues Band and ​different Chicago blues greats coming by means of Ottawa.

I performed by means of my undergrad days at Carleton, in tons of various bands together with the world well-known Left Eye of God Blues Band. Really, you by no means heard of them? Shocking!

After I got here again from grad college within the U.S. in ’71, I made a decision to give music a shot full-time. My first paying gig at that time was in Fort Coulonge, Que. with Neville Wells and Sneezy Waters and Richard Patterson.

And that was it. That’s the way it began.

My curiosity in jazz actually took off and I started learning loads, together with a summer time on the Berklee College of Music and with personal lecturers. By the mid-to-late ’70s, I used to be listening to lots of funk and pop jazz and that was the genesis of my band Single Malt and the LP, which got here out in 1980. The record did rather well and we went ​on the highway, doing plenty of TV reveals and concert events.

But altering private pursuits began effervescent whenever you least anticipate it and my final skilled gig again then was July 1, 1982, once I was (for the third yr operating) the musical director of the large July 1 present on Parliament Hill.

Soon after that, I drifted into journalism at CBC Radio and spent almost the following three a long time reporting from all over the world.

Q: While you have been a journalist, what position did music play in your life?

A: While I all the time had a guitar with me wherever we lived, I didn’t play a lot in any respect. I listened to music on a regular basis, however whereas I missed the visceral enjoyable and excessive of taking part in with good musicians on a superb evening, I wasn’t pulled to strive to recreate it. Plus after a decade or so, you actually respect that not working towards or taking part in eight hours a day takes an enormous toll on one’s bodily skill to play music and listen to issues. So you don’t.

Q:  Why have you ever began a brand new band?

A: Two years in the past, an outdated buddy, Michael Bate, learn me the riot act that it was excessive time to begin taking part in once more. So I sat in with the band of the present he’d produced concerning the life ​and music ​of Gram Parsons, an outdated favorite of mine and Michael’s from the early ’70s. It was a blast and Nev Wells ​(with whom I’d began taking part in with in 1971​) additionally sat in that evening.

A couple of months later, I began sitting in with Nev’s band, throughout the Ottawa Valley, and​ my love of conventional nation music simply re-awoke. I’d lengthy been a fan of The Time Jumpers, a Nashville group of all the highest session musicians that performs each Monday evening in a neighborhood bar. It took about six months to get this group collectively and it really is a dream.

Q: Does it really feel completely different to be taking part in music in 2018 in contrast to 1978?

A: So far, it’s been extra enjoyable! In giant half, I suppose, as a result of compared to the ’70s, it’s not my supply of earnings, so there’s much less stress — none, to be trustworthy — to make a dwelling.

Q: What hopes do you’ve got for this new venture?

A: When Vince Gill finishes his fill-in gig on tour with the Eagles this fall, he’s shifting to Ottawa to play second guitar with One More Last Chance and sing fourth-line concord behind Nev, Peggy and Michael. And we’re in search of a gradual once-a-month gig someplace within the metropolis the place we simply get higher and higher.

Lots of the tunes are fairly tightly organized, nevertheless it takes time for that ​music to come off a ​web page of music to sound ​actually​ alive. That’s the hope.

One More Last Chance
When: Wednesday, Aug. 1, eight to 11 p.m.
Where: One Up Room, 1 Beechwood Ave.

[email protected]
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