Page 11 - Our Uncle, Dan R. MacDonald From Talks with John Donald and John Allan Cameron
ISSUE : Issue 53
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1
Back in the mid-'50s--'55. Dan R. liked movies, you know. There was a movie at the time, "The River of No Return," star? ring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. Dan R. went to see it, and he liked the movie. So the next tune he composed, he called it "The River of No Re? turn ." That tune, I can't find it anywhere. It's lost. But he composed it. And he composed another one at the same time called "Thomas Shannon." This was somebody he had met in De? troit. So that he was composing things about events that were happening at the time that he was ,' indirectly or directly, involved in.... (Was it about the popular movie? Or is it a title that you think he applied to a tune he had?) I think it's a little bit of both. But, specifically, I think he was writing the music for the specific event. Back in the early '70s, I was working with the Royal Bank, and I was in Newfoundland. And I came home on a long weekend. And Dan R.. of course, asked me about Newfound? land, "How do you like Newfoundland?" "Any fiddlers over there? Any musicians?" So on the Saturday evening I was sitting in the living room of my mother's house. And I could hear Dan R. in his little studio--he had a little studio, you know, attached to the house. He was in there. He'd play a few notes of a tune, and then he'd stop, and then he'd play a few notes again, and then he'd stop. Going on like this. And then he came out of the room with a sheet of paper and a smile on his face. He passed this sheet of paper to me. "What do you think of that, boy?" He had "The New? foundland Jig" written there. The tune I mentioned about the hurricane-- it's a real fast tune. Sometimes he'd com? pose a tune for a stepdancer. It would be a strathspey, a lively strathspey. "Neil R. MacDonald's Strathspey," for example, is one of the best tunes ever composed, in my opinion. Barring--anywhere--Scotland-- anywhere else. It's so original--it's just a terrific tune. Neil R. MacDonald was a fine musician friend of his. So I think that the titles meant.something to him. I really do believe that.... "The Barber of Spring Park Road." (For barber/ fiddler Paddy LeBlanc.) And he also com? posed another tune, "Paddy the Barber." (And this is a family with whom he stayed.) That's right. (Just another exam? ple of paying the rent.) Exactly. When Dan R. was in Detroit--or in Windsor, rather--there was some Saturday-night party somewhere. Of course, Sunday morning came, they were all a bit dry--looking for some? thing to drink, I guess, to fix themselves up. So one chap from Prince Edward Island- that was with them said he knew where there was a place in Detroit, a chap--a bootleg? ger- -sold liquor. His name was Wallace. They said, "Well, we'll go over to see him." So a group of them, they got in their car .and went off over to Detroit, across the bridge, to look for the bootlegger. And Dan R. was sitting in the front seat, and the Prince Edward Islander was in the back. THE TREASURE COVE GIFTS AND HANDCRAFTS High quality gifts and crafts from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and abroad 1-902-564-8158 Children's books and toys - pre-school to 12 years 1-902-539-3035 Open Mon.-Sat. 9-6, Thurs.-Fri. until 9 74 Townsend St., Sydney, N. S. BIP 5C8 539-8188 76 Townsend St. Sydney Cape Breton's Original English Recipe! "- ' ' HOME STYLE PROCESS oufttiBintd. 794-3555 Next to North Sydney Mali North Sydney 562-6745 "The Oasis" Sydney Shopping Centre 849-5150 Sterling IVIall Glace Bay Proud to Announce Our First Franchise Outlet! 863-2866 Antigonish Mali Antigonish The Fish and Chips Specialists
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