By Paul Barrett Special to the Truro Daily News
Former Truro group Horse to reunite for 40th class reunion
© Submitted photo
Horse, a Truro-based jazz-rock group that formed in 1970, is set to reunite and perform at the Cobequid Educational Centre’s Class of 1974 reunion next month. Members of Horse include, from left, Paul Barrett, Abbey Aucoin, Wayne Nicholson, Doug “Dog” MacKay, Gregg “Phisch” Fancy and Layne Francis.
(Editor’s note: This is the second column of two submitted by Paul Barrett about his former jazz-rock band Horse set to reunite for the Class of 1974 Cobequid Educational Centre reunion.)
Most bands start out learning and performing cover songs – music made popular by other bands - before embarking on their own writing projects and this was the case with Horse. Their repertoire of covers was chosen from a long list of groups who were “hot” in the 70’s – The Allman Brothers, The Band, Chicago, Jethro Tull, Johnnie and Edgar Winter, The James Gang, Dreams and many more.
The original music that Horse plays was written as a group. Musical ideas were shared freely and each musician in the band made his own significant contribution to the end product. Most times the songs were composed from these basic ideas brought to rehearsals by the band members and then worked on as a group – on some rare occasions a band member would bring in a complete song and then it was a matter of each player adding his part.
In the early years, there were just a few songs written – Together, and Forgotten Woman were two of the most memorable. It was when Paul Barrett, Abbey Aucoin and later Gregg “Phisch” Fancy became part of the group that the writing really started to happen in a big way. Wayne Nicholson remained the sole lyricist and melodist (the one who wrote the melodies) for the group as well as the person responsible for song titles.
The recording industry in Nova Scotia was just starting to take off around the time that the band broke up, so the only “commercial” recording of the band was a single 45-rpm vinyl disc on Big Ear Records. The A-side of this record was Broken Wings a catchy tune with a jazzy tenor saxophone solo in the middle. The B-side was a song called You Were Gone – a piano-heavy recoding that has a great rock groove.
Although Horse songs are all different stylistically, there are certain grooves and tempos that the material can be loosely categorized into. For example the four ballads: Next Time Around, The Rise and Fall, Thinking Of You and Lady Graceful all were quite different from each other although the same in that they were slow songs - or waltzes as they were called in the ‘70s. Southend Sadie, No Need To Explain and Collection could be said to be rock shuffle. There are also the driving rock tunes like Drive Me Crazy, Gathering Storm and Leftover You.
Among the most defining characteristics of Horse material were the longer multi-section compositions. The best known in this genre is Fisherman - a signature song of the band – that starts with a simple piano introduction which builds to a hard rock groove, goes into a 5/4 or odd-time signature section, which is followed by fast 3/4 finally returning to the hard rock groove for the ending.
Several other Horse compositions have a similar format including Folly Mountain Breakdown. Named after the famous country style Foggy Mountain Breakdown, this 15 - minute suite written all in one weekend in a cottage at Folly Lake goes through several contrasting musical styles culminating in a powerful all stops out ending. Other titles in this longer style include Movin’ Along, Straight Ahead, It’s All Over and Blue Sky Ladies - all of which are entertaining, and at the same time musically complex.
Horse fans will remember many of these titles and the band is looking forward to performing them again after so many years. Along with the comical Fly Soup, the jazzy Go Lightly, and the driving rock sound of After All This Time the material described above will be sure to delight everyone who makes it to the gigs.
This time around Horse will be performing two shows at the Truro legion hall on Brunswick Street – the place so many of their gigs were played. The dates are Friday, Aug. 15, for the general public and Saturday, Aug. 16 as part of the Cobequid Educational Centre (CEC) Class of 1974 reunion. Friday night dances were held at the legion every week with different bands over the years and starting with the famous Frank MacKay and The Lincolns.
The band is staging these reunion shows as a result of the hard work done by organizer Ian Legate – a huge Horse fan - has been coordinating with Class of ’74 volunteers. The Friday evening show is open to anyone who is interested in hearing this classic ‘70s band and there are still some tickets available. Legate has been looking after many aspects of this endeavor from contacting and contracting the band, sending countless email and Facebook messages, many other Internet related activities to poster printing and T-shirt designing.
Marian Munroe and Kathy Burrows are the two hard working ladies who have been in contact with almost every CEC Class of ’74 grad – many of whom have never been contacted before in regards to a class reunion. Among the many weekend activities is a meet and greet session planned for Saturday evening, just before the second Horse performance. When planning for the live music event, Munroe and Burrows were delighted when Legate said he might be able to get Horse back together. The 1974 CEC yearbook contains a dedication page honouring the band that so many used to listen to and dance to on a regular basis back in the day.
While the Saturday performance is already sold out, however organizer Legate is taking orders for tickets for the Friday show. More information can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/horsereunion3/. Tickets can be ordered from Legate at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.