Michael Williams The Losses and the Gains of 2016
Photo: Ethan McLaren, Xavier Lane, Michael Williams and Bobby Curtola
Photo Credit Bill King
2016 was covered by unexpected lose of the icons of our youth, Muhammad Ali I saw once at Cleveland Hopkins airport while leaving for California. It was a glance and smile that energized me for years.
David Bowie like Rush are part of the rather sophisticated musical DNA of Cleveland, Ohio and one of the many reason why the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland.
Cleveland is the musical sister city to Montreal, with exactly the same high musical I.Q.
WNCR started it with Billy Bass, Shauna,Doyle, Dennis Saunders, Jeff Gelb,Caroline, WMMS continued the musical legacy with Billy Bass at the helm as PD and Dennis Saunders as MD, both on air.
WMMS was the first station in America to play and present David Bowie; we broke Bowie, Lou Reed Hall and Oates, Mott the Hoople and Rush to the world. I was at the first two Bowie Concerts in Cleveland. Love shared and received.
Prince was always brilliant like Billy Bass, Mayor Carl B. Stokes and myself, we were Black and shared in that promise fulfilled, never denied. We had the possibility of being connected to everything that is, was and shall be.
Never coming from or being part of the culture of less with full license to be all that we could be!
Losing Prince still hurts!
Pre MuchMusic ,I was on air at Chom Fm in Montreal when my boss, PD Rob Braide asked me to create a new six hour radio program for CKGM AM on Saturday from 6pm-12am. It became “Soul in the City”.
Prince was part our regularly music diet from the beginning and the audience responded immediately. During a music regular music meeting at Chom Fm, I asked if we could play “Purple Rain”, Rob said yes and the rest is history, we were the first rock station in Canada to play Prince, it went #1 damn quick! Rob Braide and weigh in on this one… Rob back me up!
Currently gone viral is the Paisley Park tour from “Soul in the City”, it starts in the elevator where Prince was found dead.
Last but never least was the passing of good friend Bobby Curtola,we started a film project written by Thomas O’Neill, executive produced by Greydread Inc. (MW).
The last words he said to me were “let’s start it when I get back from out west” and sadly he never came back.
It was not all lost in 2016, I started Michael Williams Presents which gave local and international musicians a place to play in Oakville, Ontario at a coffee house called Taste of Colombia at 67 Bronte Rd, with a wonderful open mic program where I discovered some of the future of Canadian music today.
Everyone from Liberty Silver, Jason Wilson ,Amber McLean, Lisa Hartt, Davor Jordanofsky and Voda and Hungarian superstars Romani Rota to mention a few. I thank them all for performing at this unique venue.
Highlights of 2016 both sad and glad were:
- Met Gordie Howe what a great guy.
- My biggest heartbreak was the loss of Bobby Curtola, Canada’s teen idol but for me my friend.
- The loss of Glen Frey I interviewed before “Hell Froze over”.
- The shock of losing Natalie Cole I remember welcoming her to the network night club in Toronto on a Saturday night she was radiant.
- Merle Haggard I was just a fan.
- Paul Kantner. I was rabid fan from Jefferson Airplane, more so early pre Mickey Thomas Starship with Grace Slick, those first records were magic to me.
- George Martin like Prince, David Bowie ,Ali, Paul Kantner…I am losing my influences of my youth but I will try to do them proud in the future.
- I hosted a great series Michael Williams Presents over the last year with the gracious participation of some the greatest artist this country has to offer at Taste of Colombia in Oakville Ontario.
- We ran an open mic program on Sundays and found the future in our backyard.
- Debut recording from these sessions features Hungarian Super Star Gypsy Bnad Romani Rota with Macedonian Superstar Davor Jordanofsky and Voda.
- Michael Williams Presents is expanding to a second venue , Whistlers in Toronto in 2017
- Debut outing, with JC, PC, MW at the Joe Carter After Party with Snoop Dogg, rocked it next sighting
In 2017 Michael Williams Presents will expand to a second venue Whistlers in Toronto, holding monthly events at both and occasionally at the Pearl Company in Hamilton. Some more of the gains for 2016 were:
- I formed a new group :Greydread and the Music Heads with JC Sunshine, Paul Chin, Robert Ouimet and Barry Harris.
- A DJ Collective augmented by live players
- Associated with R&R Soul Orchestra
- Debut was at The Joe Carter After Party with Snoop Dogg
- Next show NYE 2017 in Toronto at Alo – SOLD OUT!
- Artist if the Year: AHI, Jazmine Kiara, Davor and Voda.
- Most fun the open mic program.
In 2017 I am committed to honouring my influences by providing more music, more memories, more laughter and to continue the legacy they have left behind.