Wednesday, February 21, 2018

George Reinecke

George Reinecke, Gas Station Studios, Toronto, Aug. 1993

AMONG MY LITTLE CIRCLE OF LOCAL MUSICIANS AND MUSIC GEEKS, George Reinecke showed up in Toronto as something of a celebrity. A native of New Orleans, he had arrived in Toronto via London, like most people who turn up here unexpectedly chasing a girl. He quickly established himself among the city's network of independent bands, a small but intricately woven circle of groups that included the Cowboy Junkies, Change of Heart, the Rheostatics and other veterans of the Queen West scene of the '80s.

George's reputation preceded him - a former member of Tav Falco's Panther Burns and a friend of the legendary Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star, producer of The Cramps,) he had bona fides to die for. The question we kept asking among ourselves was, of course, "Why is he staying here for so long?" Canada in general and Toronto in particular were still a tidal pool far down the shoreline of the music business, but it wasn't long before his band, Busted Flush, got signed to the Canadian arm of Polygram, a music multinational.

George Reinecke, Gas Station Studios, Toronto, Aug. 1993

It was at this point that I photographed George recording his band's next record at Dale Morningstar's Gas Station Studios, which occupied a few rooms on the top floor of "The Castle," a former baking powder factory in Liberty Village, then still a mostly abandoned industrial district recently gutted by the demolition of the Massey-Harris and Inglis factories. It was where most of the local acts would record demos and albums, and where I'd later photograph Susie Ungerleider, aka O Susanna, for her second CD. (The building is a condo now, the neighbourhood now gentrified.)

I have no idea if I'd been assigned to shoot George for NOW, but the big ledger tells me that I sold some photos to him for promo purposes. I did most of the shots in the big, echoing bathroom that Dale had rigged up to record drums and vocals, but later moved George and his guitar out to a fire escape in one of the building's air shafts. I didn't want to do anything too posed, but the setup with George at a snare drum in a room full of cymbal stands always stood out for me.

George Reinecke, Gas Station Studios, Toronto, Aug. 1993

My other major memory of George Reinecke was when he showed up to watch a band I was playing in one empty weeknight at Lee's Palace. He was at a table with a few other local musicians, and while I'd like to recall that the pressure of having him in the audience inspired a stellar performance from me, I'm afraid all I remember committing were several tuneless, ungainly guitar solos.

After our set I came over to say hello and babbled some utter horseshit about Richard Thompson (I was trying - and failing - to play with modal scales) and he was kind, but I knew that I'd stank like a sack of old fish on a dock. It wasn't long before I gave up on playing the guitar in front of people; sometimes, if you're lucky, it only takes a few mild humiliations to learn to retreat to where you might actually have some talent.

George hung around Toronto for a few more years, but the last time I saw him was outside Dupont subway station near the end of the decade. After that I heard he'd returned to New Orleans, where I'm sure the weather probably suits him much better.

1 comment:

  1. hey rick,such great pictures,for a while quite a few people were under the impression that i was dead,a rumor i first encountered on you tube,the story was that i had died homeless on the streets of to. which was apocryphal at best,the truth was i was hit by a karmic h bomb so ferocious it could have been delivered by MOTHER KALI herself,within a span of only a few years i was diagnosed with hep c,was injured in 2 auto incidents,in the first i was sent flying 25 feet thru the air by an elderly man who opened his car door 1 meter in front of me,breaking a rib,accident #2 happened when the tax i was in hit a speed bump going full speed breaking my collarbone and leaving me with black outs,retro-something amnesia and brain damage,This organ recital is getting kinda grim-lotsa great stuff happened to me as well,i became father to my stunning daughter georgia,sadly my marriage to her mum was over before the rabbit died-i stuck around -on the couch till the bairn were 11 mo,
    looks like l'm gonna hafta continue this later,i have to tell you about falling in love-with the love of my life