Volume 92, Issue 26

Wednesday, October, 21 1998

bound and gagged


Bidini works On A Cold Road

Gazette File Photo

EVER HAVE THAT DREAM WHERE YOU FORGET YOUR PANTS? Dave Bidini will be wearing his thinking hat when he appears at The Spoke tonight.

By Greg Hubert

Gazette Staff

Artist, rock musician, nationalist and writer. These are a few words to describe Dave Bidini, guitarist for the Rheostatics.

His new book, On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventures in Canadian Rock, tells tales of the bands that established the tour network across Canada, as well as being a tour diary of the Rheostatics' cross-Canada adventure with the Tragically Hip.

The book, a compilation of interviews with members of mostly forgotten bands, is also a personal look into Bidini's life on the tour. These diary entries show the total picture of band life, including all the warts. Most striking is the description of the band's decision to drop original drummer Dave Clark. Bidini gives a stark description of his own actions, but does not hide his own blame.

"For me it was sort of therapy, like to get it out of my head and onto the page," Bidini says. "It was a strange route to go purge those thoughts by putting them down on the paper."

The guitarist interviews members from such obscure bands like Goddo, Fludd and Zon and the Headpins. Where did he hear of them?

"Those bands actually played on a high school circuit, right across Canada, but mostly in Southern Ontario," remembers Bidini. "The biggest band on the high school circuit was Rush, the second biggest band was Max Webster and it kind of went down from there. Then you got into bands like Zon, Goddo, Wireless, bands like that."

The question, of course, is why these bands? "Those were the first bands exposed to me, when I was 13 and in high school. Looking back, [these bands] might not have been writing Canadian rock classics, they were live bands. It's all so mysterious and each little song and each thing they do is a little key that unlocks a little mystery about what is music. It's a beautiful way to discover it and those bands I felt I had a real affinity for.

"So when I went back to think about the people I might want to talk to for this book and whose stories I might want to put down on paper, I started to think about them. When I did engage them, they were really forthcoming with the stories."

The tales these bands tell are hilarious, interesting and sad. They range from Ken Tobias telling how he almost froze to death in northern Quebec, to Frank Soda describing how he used to blow a television up on his head. Possibly the funniest one involves the band Goddo, the city of Hamilton and a stubby beer bottle – enough said. These tales basically tell the development of an east-west route that every band continues to play across Canada.

One of the most captivating descriptions of the book is Bidini's recollection of driving across the Prairies. He writes that the flat landscape is an excellent spot to gather one's thoughts.

"For someone who's lived all their life in the city, it's amazing and mind expanding for sure. Your thoughts just flow endlessly, for hours. You can play your thoughts out and get deep inside your own head."

On a Cold Road is a well-written, entertaining book that tells the less well-known story of Canadian rock. Some of the musicians that were interviewed went on to bigger things, such as Steve Smith and Tommy Chong, while others have faded into the past. This is essential reading for any music fan.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998