When I began to play music in the mid ‘60’s, I started with a small amp head and a speaker cabinet that my dad built for me. When I finally got a bigger amp, I needed a speaker to go with it. Having watched my dad build my first cabinet, I thought I’d try building one for myself. Truly “hand built”, the plywood was cut with a hand saw. The edges were rounded with a hand rasp. The surfaces were sanded with a sanding block, and the screws put in with screwdrivers! I found a source for the same vinyl (that’s what tolex was called back then) and grille cloth as Traynor was using. It turned out pretty good for my first one (considering the effects of the contact cement vapours!!), and when my friends saw it, a couple of them asked me to build cabinets for them. That drew in some of their friends, and word of mouth brought me many more customers.
In 1968, when I felt the quality of my cabinets was on an appropriate level, I built a pair of guitar cabinets and offered them in trade at our local music store in Burlington, Ontario. They were very well received, and I was able to trade them straight across for a brand new 50 watt Marshall Plexi head from Marshall’s first-ever shipment to Canada. Building and trading became a great way to upgrade my own gear, and as time went on, I became pretty well known in southern Ontario. It evolved into a network of about a dozen independent music stores that I constantly did business with. My guitar collection grew!!
In 1973, interest in my products had grown, and I landed my biggest job to date. I was contracted to build all of the speakers and other cabinetry for a huge concert sound system worth $85,000 (or about $480,000 in 2017 dollars).
In 1975, I went to England to experience the music scene there. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and, within a week of arriving there, I landed a position on Jethro Tull’s road crew as their guitar, bass, and keyboard tech. I spent a couple of years touring with them in Europe and North America, and also did a short tour of six massive shows in Britain and France with The Who, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feet, The Outlaws, Streetwalker and Widowmaker. The production company for that tour was Marshall Equipment Hire, which was London’s largest sound company at the time. They were mostly finished building a new system for the Who, which they added to the Who’s old system. Along with that, they added all of their own rental stock, along with Pink Floyd’s p.a., Average White Band’s, Jethro Tull’s, and three other concert systems. I got to accompany Tull’s system on that tour. Silly trivia: The Who’s set at London’s Charlton Stadium held the record for the loudest show ever – (not my hands on the board!) – until Guinness dropped the category for fear that others would try to beat it!!
After the initial thrill of landing that gig wore off (long, long hours, heavy work and lousy pay), I returned to Canada to pursue my own musical interests. My touring experience left me feeling dismayed with having to play through such comparatively horrible p.a. systems as we could afford, so I began accumulating sound equipment for my own use, or so I thought!!
In 1979, after relocating to Vancouver, B.C., I undertook the construction of all of the cabinets, racks, and flight cases I needed for my own sound company. To support this endeavour, I began building cabinetry and cases for many touring acts and production companies. I also built large numbers of speaker cabinets and associated equipment for the p.a. department of Canada’s largest music store chain and traded them for the electronics I needed for my system. As word spread, orders started coming in from across the country. Over the next few years, my inventory grew into 3 very fine club-sized p.a. systems, which I rented to travelling bands across B.C. and Alberta.
While continuing to rent sound systems out, in 1985 and 1986, I spent a couple of years as the house audio tech at a Vancouver’s Graceland nightclub. We saw a wide range of acts including Soundgarden and The Red Hot Chili Peppers in their early days. It was a diverse and interesting time!!
By the late 1980’s the club scene had changed with the influx of in-house sound systems and dj’s. This dramatic drop in club work prompted M.I.N.E. Audio to move into concert and festival sound. Because all of our systems were identical, we were able to combine them into one large efficient system, capable of producing shows for up to about 10,000 people. For the next 20 years, we provided production and tech crews for many festivals in British Columbia. In 1994, we produced the inauguration ceremony of the University of Northern B. C. in Prince George in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, who headlined and spoke at the event.
In 1996, I became the audio tech for external users of the fine concert facilities of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. During my early years there, I performed upgrades on their sound system and designed and built a mobile storage cart for their mikes, stands, cabling and other audio-related items. The cathedral is an amazing 125-year-old building which, during my time there, saw an $11 million restoration to provide better handicap access, seismic upgrades, a new sound system, and a new pipe organ. This organ was built using some of the original 100+ year-old Cathedral organ’s better features and marrying them with state-of-the-art digital technology. The end result was an amazing instrument worth $1.6 million.
To accommodate holding their services in alternate venues during the renovation, I was commissioned to design and build a large flight case with appropriate drawers and compartments to hold all of the items required for a church service including the linens, vessels and candles to make the case itself into their altar. I was later commissioned to design and build a mobile cart for their portable sound system.
Over the 19 years I held my position there, I saw a wide range of events pass through, including Musicfest Vancouver (who brought in many amazing international performers), Early Music Vancouver (who produced events in which actual period instruments were used), the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the West Coast Orchestra, and countless more unique and culturally enriching events. The highlight for me during that tenure was a ceremony in which honourary degrees were conferred on the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu by the Chancellor of Simon Fraser University. Sadly, I recently resigned from that position, mainly due to the increased traffic congestion on my commute. It got so bad that it became impossible to guarantee my on-time arrival for an event, with my original 30-minute commute 19 years ago sometimes taking over 2 hours in present traffic conditions.
After many years and many miles on the road producing events, my back has asked me to stay home and not move so much heavy gear!! That said, I still produce sound for local events and will custom build, alter, or restore any cabinetry your heart desires. I also have a very active music life, and have a very cool facility to play and record in.