In the following pages and posts, you will find pretty much the complete story of Pat Braden, Bassist, Singer/Songwriter and Storyteller, starting from his early days playing Electric and String Bass with high school concert and big bands, community choral and theatre productions, jazz , blues, rock and country bands, from Blues men to Metis fiddlers, from folk singers to throat singers, on the stage or in the studio.
In addition to his Bass skills, he writes, records and performs his music on the Chapman Stick ™, a Guitar/Bass hybrid that expands his contribution to the arrangement of a song by adding subtle, chordal pads or melodic, rhythmic parts on the five guitar strings while playing a bass groove on the five bass strings.
He has released 3 CDs as a Singer/Songwriter, a Storytelling CD of northern fables and a live CD of his first 90 minute solo Storytelling performance. All of these CDs are available to stream from the “Recordings” page on this site. Most recently, he released a live DVD of his second solo Storytelling performance.
If ever you wanted a glimpse of life in Canada’s north, writer and storyteller Pat Braden will give you a captivating view. He weaves story into song, song into story, sometimes spoken word resonating over a textural bed of music, a rolling chord pattern or a shimmering soundscape generated on The Chapman Stick which, like northerners, may seem somewhat extraordinary.
The story behind the song and video;
Back in ’08, I was writing stories for a show I was putting together called, “A Place to Call Home” a collection of songs and stories about growing up in Yellowknife in the 1960s and 70s, the characters, the town, the environment.
Much of my youth was spent biking or trudging through the snow to a friend’s house, maybe a half mile away the Con Mine townsite, a gold mine that had produced many bricks of gold since the early 1940s. The town of Yellowknife at that time was the newly declared capital city of the NWT which also included the territory now known as Nunavut. Something like a million square miles of lakes, rocks, bush and ice and not a lot of people. For the previous 20 plus years, Yellowknife was a mining town with Con camp on the south side of town and Giant Mine on the other and a few others that had closed up by the time my family arrived in ‘64. Also, the town was expanding from its Old Town beginnings to accommodate the influx of government workers, building houses, apartment buildings and other infrastructure to govern the territory. So, as kids, there came to be these labels depending on which part of town you were from, you were either an old town, new town, Con or Giant kid and this fed many a sporting rivalry in the community and led to a few bloody noses on the school grounds.
In my many years of living in Yellowknife, I am even today, taken aback by the cultural diversity in this town of 20,000 or so folks. I recognized that much of this diversity came from the mining camps and the miners who relocated here from around the world to live, work and raise their families. I went to school with kids from Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, take your pick of countries, ate their foods, heard their native tongue, enjoyed their traditions and their musics. I also recognized that many of these folks came from places in the world where they were much worse off than they were here.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to write a piece in homage of what these mining camps gave not only to me but also to the community. So, I wrote a piece called, “Hangin’ with the Con Kids”, a rolling narrative of my carefree youth in a day spent riding my bike and getting into mischief in Con Camp with my Con Kid friends. The piece was very well received when I performed it at the CD release show at NACC in 2008 and t many shows since. My friend, Besart Hysniu stepped in to master the live recording from the 2008 solo show at the NACC.
Awhile back, my friends Gary Milligan and Terry Woolf, both long time videographers, decided to produce a video of “Con Kids”. Gary the most enthusiastic as he himself was a true Con Kid. Every few months, I would get to see a snippet of what they had put together. Recently, the NWT Mining Heritage Society most graciously stepped in to fund the last of the editing required to finish it up, just in time to be premiered at the Yellowknife International Film Festival in October of 2016. It was a very proud moment to be in the audience that day watching Con Kids on the big screen.
Have included a couple of photos of Isaac and Dominique who graciously served as our youthful stand-ins;
I could go into a lot of reminiscing of what those days and this video meant to me but respect that we all have our own respective memories from those youthful years so I leave it to you, the listener to take your own journey as you listen and watch “Hangin’ with the Con Kids”.
Way back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I met a musician who had just move into the ‘knife from Inuvik by the name of Jim Lawrance. Older cat, about 15 years my senior, cool, respectful, hit it off good in sidewalk conversation so I called him up for a gig with a singer I was working with at the time. He had no guitar, neither did I so I borrowed my brother’s Gibson Gospel for him. We nailed the sound check, he wanted to hang around and play some more and as I was walking out of the hall, he cuts into a Willie Nelson tune that stopped me in my tracks. Not only nailing Willie’s voice but the guitar parts as well.
Fast forward a few months, I got a call to bring something to the cultural showcase at that year’s Arctic Winter Games, 1988 I believe. Gave Jim a call as I knew that he lead a band up in Inuvik and called Norman Glowach to play drums as well. We hit the NACC stage with little or no rehearsal and had such a blast, we formed the Red Devil Rockin’ Blues Band (RDRBB). RDRBB went on to play the taverns and saloons in town for the next decade or so with our irreverent punk blues sound, dipping into the Bo Diddley, Frank Zappa, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding song books giving patrons permission to revel in an evening of drunken, hedonistic merriment strategically corresponding to the GNWT bi-monthly paydays.
Through those years, I was migrating back and forth between BC and NT and in my stead, the inimitable Ted Mildenberger filled in the bottom end to keep the RDRBB machine moving.
Jim was a teacher at the local high school through those years and retired around 2000 or so and moved to NB. In the years since, he returns to YK to visit family and when he is in town, we wrangle a gig or two to get the band back together for one more kick at the can. This past October, we had another such opportunity so booked ourselves into the Cellar for a Friday night.
With one rehearsal, if one could call it that, most of the time taken by the local reporter interviewing us for the newspaper. It was an interesting experience as said reporter was younger than the years we had been playing, younger than most of the gear we were playing through so most if not all of our musical references were lost to one so young in the ears. The resulting newspaper article was superb and just what we needed to fill the house that night.
The trio launched into “Spoonful” for the first tune of the night and there was no doubt we were all bringing our “A” game and in the pocket from the first downbeat. The rest of the night was pure musical bliss and joy, speaking for myownself. It is a rare opportunity when I am let off my leash so to speak, as a Bassist, to play and interpret as I wish in an ensemble and I indeed relish each moment.
Here’s some shots from that evening and the shot of RDRBB with Ted, courtesy of my Bro, Bill Braden.
Copyright © 2010 Pat Braden