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The Idlewild South Blues Band playing show in Orangeville

March 23, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Blues musician Dave Menard of Hockley Valley is bringing his Idlewild South Blues Band back to Orangeville. They are playing at the Best Western Plus Orangeville Inn and Suites this Saturday, March 25, from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am.

The band’s name comes from the cabin named after the Allman brothers, Gregg and Duane, who first left Florida and started their “chitlin” tour in the south, going to just little “sleazy holes in the wall,” bars that would keep them playing. 

Dave Menard retold the moment in Blues history, “‘Let’s take it a little further,’ they decided and as the Allman Brothers Band, they moved up to Georgia to sit in that little cabin they called Idle Wild South. There were so many people coming and going and they were drug people, groupies, musicians, recorders, partying like crazy. The brothers recorded Idlewild South album in there.”

People who owned the property reportedly said it was like the “Idlewild Airport of the south” because of all the people coming and going. A picture of the cabin is on the album, Idlewild South.

Dave Menard’s interest in the Allman brothers comes from the connection he and his younger brother Andy have with them.

Mr. Menard was friends with Doug Wilder, a musician who used to “come over.” One time, he was playing songs, and Gregg Allman came too. This was at the Buena Vista apartments at Daytona. The story goes: that during that afternoon “with Jack Daniels,” they were playing darts and then started to try and dart a cockroach.

“Must’ve been 100 darts, but we never did get him” Mr. Menard laughed.

“Doug Wilder was a pretty lively Tennessee guy,” said he, “I came to thank him for introducing me to Gregg. Andy had a blues guitar that I bought for him. Gregg told me to ask my brother if he can play his guitar. Gregg played that Gibson L-6S at the Rec Bar on Main Street in Daytona all night long.’

He added, “Gregg died in 2018; he kept going until the very end.”

He mentioned that his brother Andy was so shy that he didn’t start playing live gigs with other musicians until he was 50.”

Dave Menard started playing drums at 11 years old. Their father was a jazz musician.

The basics of jazz is the cotton fields, he noted. The big band swing was music in their home. His dad would put the records on and play one after another. He taught Dave to listen so he could hear that music and learn to play.

His father encouraged him to branch out to play country too, learning from the music of Billy Joe and “that guy Willy Nelson. His music knowledge was amazing and he plays that cat gut guitar.”

In another piece of personal history, he recalled, “I came in to set up for a New Year’s Eve gig and saw that beat-up guitar, and Bobby Boyd [the Bobby Boyd Band] told me, ‘That is Willy Nelson’s guitar,’ and we opened for him at Poodie’s Hill Top Bar. Then Willy Nelson came on and played from 9:15 pm to 1.00 am, nonstop.

“I got to sit behind within five feet of Willy and listen to him sing that song Crazy, which Patsy Cline wrote. This was New Year’s Eve 2000 – 2001. After that song was over, I could barely breathe.” 

So, here is the lineup of the Idlewild Blues Band this Saturday, playing in the Best Western ballroom.

Kevin Ough is lead and slide guitar and co-lead. A fan all his life of the Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, as a vocalist and guitarist, he can play pretty well all the Allman Brothers’ songs and is still good friends with their surviving members and Scott Sharrard. 

James Leger brings lead and slide guitar, singer, and a consummate musician, he plays with many bands, including Little Caesar as bass player. He has a musical library of 1,000 songs “in his head,” Mr. Menard added, “All the words, chord changes and the keys they’re played in.” Mr. Leger has written over 400 songs.

“Plus, he’s a nice human being,” said Mr. Menard.

Matthew Fines is a prodigy from Peterborough, whose brother, Rick Fines was favoured to get the best blues album of the year and was nominated for a Juno (1991).

Matthew Fines plays slide guitar and has played with Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Michelle Wright.

He also plays laps steel slide guitar, meaning the instrument is placed on the musician’s lap and played for a different sound. He engages a wood and metal dobro, a resonator and plays it with a glass slide.

Canadian musician Steven Henry is the band’s bass player; he has great voice, we were told and plays drums and guitar. A recording engineer, Mr. Henry has a studio inside a church he purchased and converted to his purpose.

Walter Taylor, on keyboard, is playing a keyboard with Hammond B-3 Sound church organ, same as the Gregg Allman sound. Mr. Menard has known him for four years. He is the Defacto band leader for Little Caesar and the Consoles. He is an excellent chord player and a stellar soloist.

Like the band Lynrd Skynrd with Ronnie van Zant. he was the person that made Lynrd Skynrd. They were playing with three lead and slide guitars.

Don Laird is a great piano player in the boogie woodie piano style of Chuck Leavelle, who was the Allman Brothers pianist.

Dave Menard is celebrating his 68th birthday this Saturday with this wonderful evening with his band. There is no admission fee to attend this party, but donations will be accepted toward the cost of it. 

From July 11, 1983 marks Clean and Silver 40 years; a week to the day after the 4th of July. Canada is really awesome. 

They will play plenty of traditional Muddy Waters, Allman Brothers, liked Trouble No More, Brightest smile (Ray Charles) and music from the album Plain’ up a Storm by the Gregg Allman Band.

One more note, Dave Menard was set to say about Heather Katz: “She is the best blues singer in the whole of Ontario!” he declared. “When she sings, the best musicians play with her.”

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