Thursday, February 3, 2011

Walter Cameron's 75th Birthday Party

Walter and partner, Marlyn
On Saturday, January 29, I had the pleasure of attending the 75th Birthday Party for Walter Cameron in Almonte at the home of  his daughter, Wanda, and her partner, Rob. I also had the pleasure, at the invitation of Wanda, of being the MC during the sit-down meal. There had to be at least 40 people in attendance and many of them were accomplished musicians that Walter has played with over the years. Needless to say, the evening ended up with a lot of good music being played until we finally shut down around midnight. An excellent way to pass a Saturday night.

One nice touch to the evening was the presence of four generations: Walter, his daughter Wanda, grand-daughter Amanda, and great-grandson Dallas.

Wanda, Walter, Dallas and Amanda
I've known Walter for almost as long as I can remember. In fact the first time we ever met we attended a dance together in Canonto, Ontario.  Apparently, Walter wasn't too impressed with my vocal capabilities at that event. However, I was only about 18 months old at the time and he had to look after me while my parents and his older sister were up dancing. He was somewhat underwhelmed that he had to entertain a squalling kid.

Walter in 1961
We lost touch with one another after that inauspicious start to our friendship and we didn't really connect again until 1960 when Walter joined the Mississippi River Boys as a vocalist and guitar player. The Mississippi River Boys was a country dance band that played throughout Lanark, Renfrew, Frontenac and Carleton counties in Eastern Ontario from 1956 to 1985.  I had been playing with the band since New Years Eve 1958. Walter and worked together from 1960 until 1977 when he left to play with the late Ron McMunn.  Since then we've run into one another at various events but as we've gotten older those meetups have become all too infrequent.  About three years ago we had the good fortune to have Walter sit in with Grateful We're Not Dead at a show we were doing at a Western Games event at Drummond Center. Maybe we can arrange for him to make another guest appearance.

As I mentioned, there were a large number of talented musicians at Walter's party and everyone had a chance to perform. Of course, the night would not have been complete without getting Walter up to the mic and he finished off the entertainment for the evening.  I had my iPod Touch with me and was able to catch him on video.

Performing with Walter are Ray Donaldson - peddle steel, Mac Knowles - lead, Wayne Munroe - drums, and Tom Gardiner - bass.

So Walter, I expect to be invited to your 80th, 85th, 90th and 95th birthday parties. And if you make 100, I'll see to it that Grateful We're Not Dead is there to entertain you.

And a final insight garnered at the party: As young bucks, all the guitar players I knew had belt buckle scratches on the back of their guitars. As I looked around the room on Saturday night, I realized that none of us has to worry about scratching the back of our guitar anymore.  There's a lot more padding now.

At least that's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.