(photo by Kasey Cox)
On August 15th I was born Norbert Theodore Wyatt in the town of Swft Current on the Saskatchewan prairies in 1955, the year Rock 'n' Roll was born (according to some). Apparently the number one song on the charts that day was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and his Comets. In my younger years my nickname was "Nob",... a shortened dissection of the name Norbert. (note: in 1980 I legally changed my name to Jefferson,... or Jeff for short).
When I was still young my family moved to Regina where my first musical training was on piano, thanks to the support of my parents providing me with lessons from a neighborhood piano teacher named Valerie Juorski. This being the early sixties, I quickly grew bored with the music I was playing on the keys as my attention was being drawn to the interesting guitar sounds that were coming out of Britain. After falling for the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and The Dave Clark Five it was quite evident that guitar was the instrument that I wanted to explore.
My parents, Jack and Marianne Wyatt, bought me my first acoustic guitar from the late National Music in Regina. My very first 3 chord introduction to guitar playing came from our parish priest, Father Ralph Fry. After mastering those 3 chords I was like a dry sponge soaking up new chords and techniques wherever and whenever I could by listening to music on records and watching guitarists live and on TV.
MY FIRST ELECTRIC GUITAR
I was seriousy craving owning an electric guitar, so I saved $35.00 to purchase a second hand Silvertone guitar from Randy Beller, a friend of my brother Bernie. Shorty thereafter my parents bought me a small Gibson amplifier from Arcade Music (note: Arcade Music has since bought out by St John's Music). This old Gibson guitar amp was one of those old vintage tube amps that would be a collectors item today had I kept it and not traded it in on a Winnipeg made Garnet Pro amp. But jeeze,... that brand new Garnet amp smelled and sounded so damned good,... plus it had the rock'n'roll volume I needed to keep up with my band mates in the early bands I played with. Any old Garnet amp that is still around and in good working condition would also be considered a collectors item (especially to a Canadian collector).
STARTED PLAYING IN BANDS
In the late 60's (in my early teens) I had the pleasure of playing lead guitar in some of those early Regina bands. I wholeheartedly worked at learning how to bend and strum those 6 electric strings, trying to sound like what I was hearing on the radio. These early bands I belonged to included The Wildsmen, The Unwritten Document, and The Sound of One Hand Clapping. The memberships of the first two bands consisted of my childhood friends Vern Wild (guitar & vocals), Curtis Wild (drums & vocals), Jerry Baumgartner (bass & vocals), Preston McDade (keyboards) and me (lead guitar & vocals). The membership of The Sound of One Hand Clapping were my friends Brian Malloy (drums & vocals), Jerry Baumgartner (bass & vocals), Greg Kurtz (bass vocals), Ray Silzer (keyboards & vocals), Bernice Braumberger (lead vocals) and me (lead guitar & vocals). There may have been other members in there as well, but I'm a little foggy on it after all this time.
Often I would go and watch some of my early local guitar heroes which included Bob Deutscher, Steve Hegyi, Richard Lautsch, Doug Rusu, Terry McKenna and a few others. (For an interesting and extensive look at Canadian-prairie rock music history, check out the site put together by Bob Deutscher). Steve Hegyi and I became friends. He taught me how to do a proper "whole step bend + vibrato" on electric guitar; a technique that takes a lot of practice to perfect. Usually he would show me stuff but I remember teaching him a particular Jimmy Page riff that he rather liked when he heard me play it. It was Steve who invited me to come and see Pink Floyd at the Regina Center of the Arts (now called the Conexus Arts Center) on October 11th, 1970. The warm up act was the popular Regina band Charlotte. I had no idea who Pink Floyd were at the time but the intense musical performance left a permanent impression on me. I still remember Roger Waters' blood curdling screams in Careful With That Ax Eugene. And although the intensity of their stage presence and music was quite evident, they still lightened things up with some funning around on stage. I chuckled when I saw Roger Waters sneaking up with a mallet behind the unawares drummer Nick Mason to hit the large gong (actually it was a tam tam) that was directly behind Nick's head. This large tam tam was commonplace in any photo you can find of Nick Mason on stage with Pink Floyd.
ALWAYS LIKED LIVE MUSIC BEST
Even prior to this live concert I always had an appreciation for live music. My parents took me as a little kid to see Marty Robbins in concert. From then on I was hooked on the live stuff. In addition to Pink Floyd (with and without Roger Waters) as well as Marty Robbins, over the past 40 years I've had the privilege of seeing, and being influenced by, the following Canadian and international talent, live in concert:
Five Man Electrical Band, Streetheart, Payola$, Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder, Kilowatt, Valdy, Roy Forbes, Chilliwack, UHF, Crowbar, Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, The Stampeders, Painter, Heart, Trooper, Dr. Music, Chad and Jeremy, Sugar 'N Spice, Ian Tyson and Slvia Tyson, Gainsborough Gallery, Little Richard, Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, Dave Van Ronk, Garnet Rogers, John MacLaughlan, with Jean Luc-Ponty, Jack Dejohnette, Duke Ellington, Jeff Beck, Jan Hammer, Pete Seeger, James Levine conducting the Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo), Arcadi Volodos, Jean- Philippe Collard, Elvin Bishop, John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, Neil Diamond, R.L. Burnside with Junior Kimbrough, Little Village, Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, David Lindley, Blood Sweat and Tears with David Clayton-Thomas, Kris Kristofferson, Jason Bonham, Emerson Lake and Palmer, April Wine, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Colin James, Dr. Hook, Adrian Legg, Don Ross, Leona Boyd, Ray Davies, Paul McCartney, The Fixx, Supertramp with Roger Hodgson, Split Enz, The Proclaimers, Michael White and the White, John Mayer, John Mayall, Foreigner, David Wilcox, Big Sugar, Smokey Robinson, Wide Mouth Mason, Gordon Lightfoot, John Mellencamp, Roger Waters - The Wall Tour 2012, America, Doobie Brothers,... and I'm sure I've forgotten to mention some.
THE 'EDEN' BAND YEARS
As stated earlier, during the late 60's and 70's I performed extensively as lead guitarist with Regina based rock bands. The most popular of which was the 1970’s band Eden. The original band members included Jim Folk (keys/vocals), Stan Dorsett (bass/vocals), Van Lautsch (drums/vocals) and myself (guitar/vocals). The membership was in a state of flux for some of the middle years, which brought to the band other such members as Doug Zurowski (bass/vocals), Brian Morgan (fretless bass/vocals), Ken Sinneave (bass/sax/vocals), Keith Soehn (synth/tape sounds/vocals) and Dale Sauer (guitar/vocals). It seems to me there were one or two others that passed through as well but the names presently escape me. For the final years of the bands existence, the original 4 members once again took the stage together. As Eden, we toured in our 48-passenger school bus performing at a barrage of one-night stands. For more info and pictures of the Eden years refer to the Eden - the band page on this website.
The Eden years were creative, challenging and fun days. It was an education in music, life and long distance driving. We were more than friends,... we were family. During this era, thanks to the musical influences of my friends Keith Soehn and Eden drummer Van Lautsch, I became intrigued by the sounds of electronic music, which led me to study it’s possibilities for my own musical compositions at the University of Regina under the tutelage of professor and composer Dr. Thomas Schudel.
EXPERIMENTS WITH RECORDING
In the early 80’s, after Eden had disbanded, I assembled (from some analog and early digital gear) a small project studio in Regina I called Concrete Studios. Yah,… it was in a concrete basement. Numerous experimental recording projects came out of that facility,… most of which were “tossed”. Some of the results I would never want anyone to hear. But in that old musical laboratory the journey of education, exploration and discovery was more important than any polished or useable outcome. It was a time of research and development, so to speak, and a time of discovering new possibilities. The gear at my disposal was limited, but my imagination ran rampant throughout the available circuits, stretching them to the limits. In that concrete cocoon I spent countless hours listening to recording techniques used on my favorite albums, and tried to reproduce what I heard. There were times that my available equipment was not capable of reproducing some of the techniques, although I did understand in theory how these tricks were accomplished.
COMMERCIAL FOR THE FOOD BANK
Although Concrete Studios was mainly a personal playground, I did use it to write and produce a jingle for the Regina food bank. An old friend and fellow guitarist (Will Putz), who was very active with Regina service clubs, approached me with a commission to write and record the jingle. After I had written the lyrics for the jingle I submitted them to the committee. The original words I submitted were quite simply:
"THE FOOD BANK GIVES
SO LET'S ALL GIVE
COME HELP THE HUNGRY PEOPLE OF REGINA"
Apparently a government official involved (providing much needed funding) disapproved of my using the word " HUNGRY". That flabbergasted me. Although angered by that political veto I also found it somewhat amusing. That heavy handed "bitch-slap" suggested to me that the Provincial Government didn't want to suggest or even admit that we actually had some "HUNGRY" people on the streets of Regina during their administration. God forbid,.... what was I thinking to even suggest such a possibility! But wait,... if we didn't have "HUNGRY" people in our community,.... what the hell did we need a food bank for anyway? Hmmm?? Politics can be so silly sometimes. But I needed to think past this temporary distraction and put my attention back on what this was all about in the first place,.... CHARITY. So to comply (and soften the truth that everyone already knew anyway), I swallowed my pride and substituted the word "HUNGRY" with "NEEDY" and the OK was given for me to proceed.
I was fortunate to enlist my old friend and Eden band mate Jim Folk to perform the lead vocal as well as a local singing quintet called The Sunshine Company to do the layered backup vocals. The Sunshine Company included Melanie Jacobs, Don Monk, Ron Huber, Cheryl Schwarts and Barb Hillworth. It was producer Doug Russell of CKCK TV who used my finished audio recording as the soundtrack to record a promotional video at Taylor Field on July 12th, 1985.
There were a whole host of local celebrities, politicians, etc. present for the videotaping, although my personal favorites were the Saskatchewan Roughrider Cheerleaders and Gainer the Gopher. If my memory is correct, I was standing next to Johnny Sanderson (popular CKCK TV host) and Ned Shillington (attorney and NDP MLA) and between takes Ned said to Johnny,
“This song was written by Jeff Wyatt. I wonder which one is Jeff Wyatt?”.
Johnny pointed out front, toward Jim Folk and responded with,
“That must be him doing the singing out front by the camera,… he’s good.”
I just bit my tongue and laughed silently to myself, feeling like the invisible man. I didn’t wish to speak up and embarrass them or myself, but I could hardly wait to tell Jim after it was all over. The final video was aired for a special food bank week from June 23rd to 28th in 1985. It highlighted with a CFL football game at Taylor Field between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the BC Lions on June 28th. (note: the Lions won that contest 21 to 3, although it was only an exhibition game). The jingle I produced was played regularly for a couple of weeks on Z-99 FM Radio and CJME AM Radio. On the Autobiography pics link on the upper right of this page are a couple of newspaper clippings about the Taylor Field video taping.
DELVED DEEPER INTO SONGWRITING
The 1980’s were a period of intense songwriting for me and I worked hard exploring guitar sounds, alternate tunings, playing techniques and styles. During this time I also did much in the way of acoustic performing at various restaurants and clubs, including performances for the Regina Guild of Folk Arts (which is the group that sponsors the annual Regina Folk Festival). At these intimate Guild performances at Regina's Copper Kettle Restaurant I had the honor and privilege of warming up on separate occasions for such Canadian greats as Don Ross, Stephen Fearing and Lynn Miles. Another fun Regina place I regularly performed at was a quaint, family owned restaurant/pub called Michaels On Hamilton, which had a warm, entertaining staff and clientele. The atmosphere and bar room activities bore much in the way of similarities to that of the infamous Boston pub in the TV series CHEERS.
RECEIVED 'FACTOR' NEW TALENT DEMO AWARD
In 1990 I was fortunate to be the recipient of a FACTOR New Talent Demo Award. This provided me financial assistance toward the recording of a 4 song demo of original tunes in a professional recording facility. This demo was recorded in 1990 at the late Inner City Sound Studios in Regina with engineering and production provided by Warren St Onge.
RECORDED 1st SOLO ALBUM
This same year brought me in the studio to record my first solo album FLIGHT OF THE HAWK, which I released later that year. CBC 540 AM Radio invited me into their Regina studios to be interviewed by producer Lori Regare for the program Daybreak, which included the airing of 3 songs from the album. (Note: Once I've had the chance to convert these songs to digital format I plan to post the it as a free mp3 album download on my site).
MOVED TO VANCOUVER - CANADA'S WEST COAST
In 1991 I relocated to British Columbia to explore the west coast music scene. When I finally made that inevitable westerly trek to Vancouver area I felt quite intimidated for a year or more about the talent to be encountered there. I thought of myself as being this inferior guitarist, musician and songwriter from the Saskatchewan prairies moving to the “big city”. A kind of "new kid on the block" mentality. However, it was not long before I discovered that the musicians and songwriters on the west coast weren’t any MORE talented than those I grew up with on the prairies,… there was just MORE OF THEM in Vancouver. Because of that I could see it was easy to get lost in the crowd. Along with that realization though, I was able to relax, meet other musicians and indulge in an honest mutual appreciation of each others work and abilities. In order to prevent myself from occasionally slipping into a homeland-inferiority-complex I had to remind myself that Saskatchewan was known for giving birth to some amazing unknown as well as known talent. Some of the later include guitar giants Jack Semple and Colin James,… “kick ass” bands which include Kick Axe and Streetheart,…the ultra-bass player Ken “Spider” Sinneave who supplied ample interesting bottom end for Streetheart before moving on to Tom Cochrane, Loverboy and others,…and who could forget about the legendary names Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie? The preceding is just a very small list of the various musical talents that arose from the Saskatchewan prairie lands, and I apologize for any obvious names that I failed to mention in this condensed musical cross section.
STUDIED RECORDING ENGINEERING
It was in Vancouver where I studied the Digital Analog Automated Recording Arts program at Columbia Academy in Vancouver. As a student in class #39DA7 I formally studied recording engineering under gifted instructors/engineers (and musicians) Jim Meyer and Kevin Williams. This stint at recording engineering studies was indulged in more for my own personal use as a songwriter and arranger than it was for a possible career in recording engineering. It was an expensive indulgence, but worth the time and money required.
1992 held for me some interesting events. Attending Music West that year I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a number of interesting local and international music biz people which included Corky Laing (drummer for the raw power trio Mountain) and Bob Clearmountain (recording engineer extraordinaire who’s worked with many of the biggest musical names you can think of over the last 3 decades).
Corky Laing was working for Polygram Records at the time, signing and developing new acts. Having recognizing his name from an open panel discussion I approached him afterward and asked,
“With a name like Corky Laing you must be the drummer from Mountain?”
He seemed flattered to be recognized. We chatted briefly amidst the noisy surroundings after which he shook my hand and wished me good luck in my music endeavors.
Bob Clearmountain was not advertised as being in attendance, but I recognized him at a booth which he was hosting as an assistant to his lovely wife. She had a table and display representing a certain brand of digital to analog and analog to digital converters,... Apogee, I believe. Both Bob and his wife were very amiable, pleasant people and Bob was not at all awkward about being recognized. On the contrary, he seemed flattered and possibly somewhat surprised that I did recognize him. It just so happened that I knew what he looked like from a picture with an article that I had read in a recent Mix magazine,... or maybe it was an add,... I forget. Almost immediately I initiated a conversation with him about the first reel to reel digital muli-track tape recorder that I had read about in a Mix magazine, wanting to know more about it and whether Bob was familiar with it. It was a 32-track digital recorder built by the 3M company (ie. Scotch) in the 1970’s. The development of this early machine was undertaken in collaboration with the BBC. It was used to record Ry Cooder’s 'Bop Till You Drop' album at Amigo studios in North Hollywood, California. This classic 70's Cooder album wears the crown of being known as the first digitally recorded pop album. Bob shared memories with me about working in a studio with one of these very machines. He said it was a little strange looking with,..”exposed wires dangling”. However, the recording quality was amazing. One of my recording engineer instructors from Columbia Academy (Kevin Williams) also just happened to be present. He came up to the booth as I was there and had recognized Bob as well. Kevin looked at me and said,
“That’s Bob Clear…”
I smiled and interrupted with
While Kevin chatted with Bob, I asked Bob’s wife what it was like being married to such a busy, sought after pro recording engineer/mixer. She smiled and stated that sometimes many hours and days would go by before his face resurfaced for her to see. I laughed because I could relate to Bob’s engineering passion and musical work ethic.
RECORDED 2nd SOLO ALBUM
A second solo album project ensued in 1994 which I recorded at the late Bullfrog Studios in Vancouver. The album was appropriately titled THE BULLFROG SESSION, and was produced by Ian Tarasoff and myself. It was a year or 2 after this that a series of events in my personal life brought me to the point of taking an 8-year break from making music of any kind. After selling my guitars I even thought that I would never return to making music. THIS ALBUM HAS BEEN DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED AND RE-RELEASED AS OF NOVEMBER 24TH, 2011. You can hear the album in it's entirety on the Recordings page.
WROTE, RECORDED & PERFORMED IN DUO KNOWN AS 'greenfield wyatt'
In 2004, while recovering from a hand injury, I ended up buying a guitar again as I was killing time waiting for a hand physiotherapy appointment. A few weeks later I also bought another guitar from my friend Lance. It was not long after that my friend Mike Freda invited me to a warehouse jam session in October of 2004. Being disgustingly out of practice, I only very reluctantly agreed, after much prodding on his part. It was at this jam that I met drummer Ken Dahl who days later introduced me to songwriter Barry Greenfield.
When Barry and I met in November 2004, we got along well right from the start, and thus decided to work together. In the meantime (since I was “ampless”), my good friend Mike Freda built me an awesome 18 watt tube guitar amp in the style of Jimmy Marshall’s 1960’s vintage circuitry, however, with improved grounding modifications. It has that awesome, vintage early Marshall sound, although with a slightly altered tone which suites my playing. On the Bio Pics link (on the navigation links of this page) is a photo of my amp (with Mike's Tele) just after it was completed.
Barry and I co-wrote, rehearsed, performed and recorded together, improving, inspiring and challenging each other’s creativity. In 2005 we recorded an album entitled songs from the rothstein under the name greenfield and wyatt. Later we started billing our live act simply as greenfield wyatt.
It was while working with Barry that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with some veteran Vancouver musicians, whow included the late Gaye Delorme, Tom keenlyside, the late Roge Belanger, Ken Dahl, Jack Duncan, Nick Apivor and Richard St Onge. We performed together in various lineup combinations for a number of Vancouver concerts. 3 concerts were booked at the Norman Rothstein Theatre and 2 at The Cellar Jazz Club. There were performances at other lesser known venues as well. All were well received. Although the greenfield wyatt partnership was a richly rewarding and creative time for both Barry and I, after a change of management and the realization of differing musical visions, Barry and I chose to stop working together in July of 2006. A follow up CD project to songs from the rothstein, which was almost complete, was abandoned in the process due to our decision to dissolve the musical partnership.
RECORDED 3rd SOLO ALBUM
Over the years I’ve continued to develop my songwriting and instrumental craft and have recorded sporadically. Another album was completed in 2008, entitled Reflections At Every Corner. You can hear the album in it's entirety on the Recordings page.
RECORDED 4th SOLO ALBUM
In 2011 I released a new solo project called People Do Blues and includes a title track of the same name. You can hear the album in it's entirety on the Recordings page.
TWO 2011 SINGLE RELEASES
2011 also saw me release 2 guitar instrumental singles. They are entitled Max and the Squirrel and Mind the Time. You can hear these in their entirety on the Recordings page.
2013 CHRISTMAS SINGLE RELEASE
The end of 2013 came sneaking up on me, but I was able to prepare an instrumental guitar release of the classic Oh Holy Night complete with a digital orchestral arrangement in time for Christmas. You can hear it in it's entirety on the Recordings page.
JANUARY 2014 ALBUM RELEASE
I brought in the New Year of 2014 with the album release Wanted (Soundtrack to Mike Reilly's "Tumbleweed"). I'd been recording it throughout the summer and fall of 2013. Canadian west coast comedy scriptwriter MIKE REILLY of Canamera Entertainment Group (Radio Comedy Shows) hired me to create this musical soundtrack for his fun Wild West production of TUMBLEWEED. You can hear it in it's entirety on the Recordings page.
It's quite evident that my musical tastes are wide, and those influences obviously and sometimes obscurely come out in my music. I love rock, acoustic and electric blues, soul, R&B, symphonic orchestrations, opera, ethnic music, etc.
My work has been described to me as an interesting mix of styles resembling that of artists like Ry Cooder, David Wilcox, Mark Knopfler, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Gordon Lightfoot, Jeff Beck and others. Now that sounds like a spicy musical recipe. Well,...I'm truly humbled at the mere thought of any such remote comparisons to these musical giants. Personally I just think I sound like me,... whatever that is,... however, all those personalities have certainly influenced my playing and writing. They are some of the all time greatest.
STILL LIKE TO EXPERIMENT
Although I am mostly a guitarist, I do like to dabble and bang on the keys. Besides, as a kid I did study piano for a number of years, although playing guitar is easily my main musical obsession.
LIVE MUSIC IS STILL BEST,... AND THE MOST FUN
I appreciate and am a sucker for a great musical recording, but nothing beats the live experience and performance of music in my mind. As much as I love cool recording techniques and layers of tonal textures and colorful percussive backdrops, nothing is more stunning and captivating to me than simply watching and hearing a musician play an instrument with his or her whole heart and soul. Recording for me is fun, but I find more fun in playing live shows. You can catch me performing regularly in and around the Vancouver area along with a host of talented musical friends, who have included Kevin Rintoul (bass & vocals), Brian Dierks (drums & vocals), Clyde Griffith (congas), Phil Howell (bass & vocals), Stephen Berne (drums), Vince Iormetti (drums), Al Fauteux (bass), Dave Fauteux (drums)... in various band combinations. Currently I perform regularly with a blues trio known as WYATT BERNE and HOWELL with Stephen Berne (drums) and Phil Howell (bass & vocals).
For more details on live performances see the Shows page.
AT THIS TIME,...
Presently I am working on 2 additional album projects planned for 2014 release; a blues album and a Christmas album. There's so much more work to do,... wish me luck, love and an interesting journey. I wish all 3 back at you.
THANKS FOR VISITING !!
Burnaby, BC, Canada