Ryan Hancock’s invitation to make ‘big, fat music’

July 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“I’m a little stir crazy,” not a surprising comment from Ryan Hancock, manager and musician/lead vocalist with The Campfire Poets, a well known Dufferin based band. “This was the Campfire’s 20th anniversary. It was going to be our best year yet and everything is cancelled.”

He considered and said generally, “The days of big bands and large crowds are still a long way off.”

Meanwhile, “I am still very much at home. There could be upcoming things on patios in Orangeville, but they would be solo gigs. 

“We are doing an online upcoming live stream. The band is being paid by the Rotary Club, although much less than usual. This event is July 18 to replace Ribfest. We’ll be – live streaming inside the Curling Club. Everybody will be inside the room and people can watch it through their website –

“The Ribbers” he called the men cooking the meat, “are actually coming out to cook outside in the parking lot of the Curling Club. People have to order in advance online and then, pick up their orders in the parking lot: it’s a drive through Ribfest.” 

He went on to say sadly, “All our weddings are cancelled,” but added more cheerfully, “Right now, what I’ve been doing – the one good thing is I’ve had more time with family – that’s been nice. Usually, I’m never around at weekends but with this, I’ve been spending time with my kids and that’s great. Tamara [his wife] is still working.”

“Mainly, what I’ve been doing is online recording,” and that is not surprising either: musicians play music regardless. “Those are just with my time; it was a way of getting the musicians [of the band] to play.”

However, what has followed the simple is the definitely intricate: the Big Fat Canadian Musical Collaboration.

He said, “Everybody, meaning more musicians than the Campfire, get together. The first video we did was ‘The Weight’ by The Band. That one in total took me 100 hours to put together but it was well worth it once it was posted on the Campfire Poets YouTube channel. 

“A lot of people enjoyed it. Now, more musicians are jumping on board, so, there are more musicians involved and I just posted the last one. I’ve gotten a little faster since the first one.”

Thus is the ever growing Big Fat Canadian Musical Collaboration, presently running a series of, now, four covers, performed by an increasing collection of participants.

“The idea began with The Campfire Poets,” he explained, “me and Geoff [Canlett, sometimes the duo of them known as “RnG”] are the base. Then, Scott, Dennis and Steve. There are others who join us once in a while.

“There were three Campfire posts [plus the recently posted fourth] with people from all over Ontario – from all over Canada – more people jumping in every day. There could be another five or six videos.”

Here is how it works: “So, I arrange the song to start off, with me recording a basic head track just guitar and me singing. And then I pick a drummer and bass player and they record their parts, And then, I take that track and send it to all the other musicians involved and they all get the exact same track. I do it that way because I don’t want people to tailor their parts. 

“So, nobody hears the finished track until it’s all done –I put it together on my computer. The musicians, as well, hear it all at the same time.”

Mr. Hancock told the Citizen, “These are covers – which is why there’s no charge. The songs: The Weight by The Band; Lean on Me, by Bill Withers; Rockin’ in the Free World by Neil Young. And the newest one is Handle With Care by the Traveling Wilburys.”

His is an open invitation for musicians to join in. 

“As long as they have a home studio – most musicians have put some sort of studio in their homes – as long as it sounds good I can use it. I’ve met some people [online]. Most of them who use part, or some of their income on music, this is a way for them to be out there and have something to do.”

Ryan and Tamara Hancock have known each other since high school. They have a couple of children who do not take music lessons from their father yet. “When they come to it naturally,” was how he defined looking for their interest in music.

“I’ve always enjoyed the studio part of music but performance is my main job,” he went on to say. “but this has forced me to go onto the studio; I’ve been building it for 15 years and so, now it has been useful to have it.”

Bereft of income as so many musicians and artists are, Mr. Hancock commented, “I have some gigs that have not been cancelled officially and I’m fielding calls from clients every week. I just booked a wedding for 2022. We make 70% of our income from May to November. 

“I’m not planning any contracts -or taking deposits right now; if people had paid me a deposit, I returned it to them. It’s usually the bride or groom – a member of the wedding party that contacts me.”

About the Big Fat Canadian Musical Collaboration, “It’s an opportunity for musicians to meet others. That’s how I pitched it: a way to play, a way to jam with people without having to be with them and a way to push our YouTube channel and I make sure everybody’s mentioned.

“I know that a lot of people were surprised with the quality of it when the first video came out,” he admitted. “When I started contacting them, people were saying ‘not now’ and a lot of them were making videos. So, they were surprised how good the first one was and the others. Now, people are getting in touch, including some really well known musicians.

“They are a full video – visual and sound. Some are recording in their home studios and playing all over the place. One thing I am going to put out is a fun little roll of the all the goofiness –this is to encourage viewers to subscribe. If we can get a certain number, we can do more – it becomes a more professional YouTube. 

“I plan to keep doing this because it’s fun – one day there’s a plan to have a concert with all of us gathered.”

He issued the invitation: “Come on board – hopefully more all the time. I’m expanding my friends, inviting more horns and different instruments. It’s all about connecting.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep doing them but now, I’ m excited about the next five or six videos. I was doing the live stream but, after a while, especially now the weather is so beautiful, I wanted more.”

His remark made it clear, “Mental health is the number one. We have a private Facebook page where everyone talks about the industry, even when the industry and performing are never going to be the same, I think there will be live shows in the future, like gigs in the bars but those things are going to take time.

“I don’t do bars,” he said, “but they are going to be filled to capacity. Shows with hundreds, shows like Marina – forget it. People behind the stage manage sound, lights, tech and every concert one has a massive crew of people and none of them are working right now either.”

He issued this: “For any Canadian musician interested in taking part of the videos. Please email Ryan at All you need is some sort of recording set up, and a camera (Phone works)”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.