Thursday, November 18, 2010


 Bob and Skip Prokop photos courtesy Kyle Weir

 Bob and Skip Prokop
photo courtesy Michelle Neumann

This is the third time I've been to the Hamilton Music Awards, and the event continues to impress me.  Hamilton has a rich music scene, one of the country's most important and varied.  Hamilton's musicians are supportive of each other, and pay no attention to genres or hipness.  They know what is good for one is good for all, and are proud of their home city.  Historically, this is the place where Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm and Harold Jenkins came to spread the rock and roll fever in the late '50's, Jenkins soon to become Conway Twitty.  The area has been home to Crowbar, King Biscuit Boy, Teenage Head, Lorraine Segato of Parachute Club, Daniel Lanois and many more.

Each year the Awards celebrates local people who have left their mark on the local or national music scene, and this time the honour goes to Skip Prokop, founder and leader of the group Lighthouse.  Skip was born here and grew up in the Steel City, learning the basics of his trade by becoming a champion drummer.  By his late teens Skip had hit Toronto, and formed the group The Paupers out of the Yorkville Village seen of the 60's, and the band became the first Canadian pop act signed to a major U.S. record deal, managed by Albert Grossman of Dylan fame.  After they sputtered out, Prokop formed Lighthouse, based on his concept of a rock band with full horns and strings.  The group became one of the top live acts in the world, and scored two massive hit singles, One Fine Morning and Sunny Days, both of which were voted into The Top 100 Canadian Singles book.

Wednesday night at the opening reception for the Hamilton Music Awards, I got to interview Skip on stage for the audience.  He is one of the most entertaining storytellers in Canadian music, with great tales about performing at the Monteray Music Festival, turning down a gig at Woodstock, drumming for Janis Joplin and Mama Cass, and being a major player in the introduction of the CanCon regulations.  It was a thrill to touch just some of these topics.

With that, the book launches for The Top 100 Canadian Singles are over, for now anyway.  I've gone from coast to coast, loving every minute of it.  Thanks to all who came out.

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