RIP, Justin Haynes: Ottawa-raised musician dies at 46

Toronto guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Justin Haynes

Justin Haynes, a Toronto-based, Ottawa-raised guitarist and pianist whose abilities, creativity and prolific output staggered his friends for greater than twenty years, died this week.

He was 46, and his pursuit of his artistry got here with private struggles. In January, Haynes was homeless for a number of days and he wrote harrowingly on his website and in Now Toronto of his keep at Seaton House, Canada’s largest homeless shelter.

Haynes’s photographs and exposé prompted Toronto’s director of homeless initiatives and prevention companies to acknowledge that Seaton House was an “inadequate facility.”

In his teenagers and early 20s, earlier than he moved to Toronto, Haynes performed with a large spectrum of Ottawa musicians, together with the legendary septuagenarian saxophonist Vernon Isaacs, guitar mentor Roddy Ellias, vocalist Rebecca Campbell, bassist John Geggie, singer-songwriter Jim Bryson and his younger and musically unfettered friends Nick Fraser and Jordan O’Connor, who like him would transfer to Toronto.

“All I’ll say is that he was my best friend, a true inspiration to me and probably the purest musician I’ve known,” Fraser mentioned in an e mail this week, after posting a photograph of Haynes, with out a caption, on Facebook.

On guitar and piano, Haynes made courageous, uncompromising music that could possibly be difficult and summary or heartbreakingly lyrical and weak. Some of his most frequent collaborators had been drummer Jean Martin, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, and the vocalists Tena Palmer and, extra lately, Felicity Williams.

Vocalist Felicity Williams and guitarist Justin Haynes

By the time he was in his early teenagers, Haynes was on his musical path. Then, he went to Earl of March High School in Kanata and took classes with Ellias, who wrote on Facebook: “Justin would have been a genius musician irrespective of who taught him… I can safely say I’ve by no means met or taught anybody with extra expertise, humility, creativity, intelligence, love of life and curiosity about nearly all the things.

“Family, mates, college students, the Canadian music group have all suffered an unlimited loss,” Ellias wrote.

Haynes, who grew up in Dunrobin, studied classical guitar at 12 solely to turn out to be captivated by the music of jazz guitar legend Joe Pass.

Still in highschool, Haynes and O’Connor had a weekly gig at Cafe Wim on Sussex Drive. “The owner advised us how to play standards, which we did through one amp that we stole from Canterbury High School, which we drifted in and out of,” Haynes advised the Citizen in an interview a number of years in the past.

“We met Nick a little later, who started playing with us at Sammy’s Cellar (on Sparks Street) and wherever else would have us,” Haynes continued. “We started playing original music, rearranging standards and doing what we believed to be more “outside” stuff. We had been additionally extremely lucky to have alternatives to play with extra seasoned musicians like Hugh O’Connor, Vernon, Jamie Gatti, Kirk MacDonald and others who kicked our asses.”

Haynes advised the Citizen in a 1993 story: “”It was unusual. You’re hanging out with people who find themselves rather a lot older and we’d sit round till the wee hours of the morning speaking. These had been guys that had nice tales to inform. And the subsequent day, you’re with folks your individual age and also you’re speculated to relate however you may’t.”

Haynes spoke then of wanting to maneuver to Vancouver and research music remedy. He had already volunteered as a music trainer to a gaggle of autistic kids, and been enriched by the expertise. “I really got something out of that. (Music) certainly gave them some pleasure or solace,” Haynes mentioned.

In the mid-1990s, Haynes lived in a Centretown residence the place the eating room was a musician’s den. Haynes mentioned then: ”I’ve acquired simply sufficient work right here to make a dwelling. I’ve considered going to Toronto or New York or London however there are some nice musicians right here to work with, for one factor. And if I had been to maneuver to an even bigger metropolis, I wouldn’t essentially be doing my very own stuff.”

GUITARIST JUSTIN HAYNES, with John Geggie, and singer Rebecca Campbell in 1996

Wayne Cuddington

Haynes additionally continued to review music, taking classes with the American jazz greats Gary Peacock in New York and Ralph Towner in Seattle.

“They are both lovely guys and geniuses in their own ways,” Haynes mentioned years later. “Ralph and I played together a little and talked a lot about writing tunes and working as musicians. ‘We both have the same problems,’ he would say. Gary, like Roddy, is a very gifted and inspired pedagogue. It’s really a part of his practice as a musician to teach. He gave me a lifetime of work in about an hour. One thing that Gary stressed was the value in ‘living a life in service’ – a phrase I say to myself almost every day. I don’t claim to always live one, but it is my goal to do so.”

Around 1997, Haynes moved to Toronto. “I didn’t really have a choice but to leave Ottawa,” he mentioned, years later. “My mates (Nick, Jordan, Rebecca and Jean Martin) had moved to Toronto already, and I wasn’t doing a lot in Ottawa aside from educating guitar, training and smoking cigarettes. When I acquired to Toronto I virtually instantly acquired busy taking part in, recording and touring.

“I began composing for teams and theatre in addition to some quick movies. Just the sheer quantity of musicians and artists in Toronto or any huge metropolis makes doing this type of factor extra viable — if not all the time financially, at least by way of group. I discovered a group in Toronto, which past any profession spotlight has been essentially the most vital factor about being there.”

In 2012, Haynes was the artist-in-residence at the National Music Centre in Calgary.

This video additionally dates to 2012:

On YouTube, beneath the video, it reads:

“”First of all I’m 39 years outdated, a single dad and a musician dwelling in Toronto a lot if not all the things I do is guided by restricted means: I hire a small residence. I experience a motorbike. My child has a PC. I take advantage of the Gladstone Public Library as an workplace. I’ve a Public Mobile mobile phone. I store at the Salvation Army. I wash my garments within the bathtub. I take advantage of Blogger as an internet supplier. My psychiatrist is roofed by OHIP. I’ve a jazz trio that excursions with a $30 ukulele, a suitcase drum, and a street-sweeper bristle bass. I’m engaged on a audio/video songwriting undertaking referred to as biodad that options mates of mine who’re keen to return by and let me file them doing bizarre stuff for no cash. I’ve many recipes that embrace Ramen noodles. I’ve three guitars, an omnichord and a synthesizer, which had been all given to me as items. My piano (additionally a present) lives at my buddy’s place as a result of mine is simply too small. You get the thought.” – JH

According to a CBC report, Haynes was separated from his son’s mom and struggling to search out inexpensive housing in downtown Toronto when he moved in January into Seaton House for a number of days. “It’s the most hopeless, dismal and filthy place I’ve ever seen,” Haynes wrote. “It’s how I imagine prison, only with more booze and drugs.”

Subsequently, Haynes grew to become an advocate for inexpensive housing in Toronto. In one other Now Toronto article revealed this month, Haynes wrote that due to his incapacity, he obtained $1,150 from the Ontario Disability Support Program, meant to cowl housing, meals, clothes, and a transit go. But that cash fell wanting his $1,200 hire, which paid for “a basement shoebox,” the place he slept “on a yoga mat on the floor in the living room/kitchen,” and which wanted enhancements in order that his son might stick with him.

Haynes was discovered lifeless in his residence a number of days in the past, mates say. The explanation for his dying has not been confirmed.

Rest in peace, Justin Haynes.

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