Famed local producer Bob Doidge is behind a reunion show at The Westdale on Nov. 28 that features Materick's original band playing songs from the Asylum Records albums.
One of the most acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriters of the '70s, Ray Materick is reuniting with his original band Midnight Matinee for a concert at Hamilton's Westdale Theatre on Nov. 28. The event brings Materick back to his hometown and is generating plenty of local curiosity and excitement.
Materick is flying in from his Vancouver Island base, and joining him on the Midnight Matinee billing are Ed Roth (keyboards), Bill Cymbala (drums, percussion), Bob Doidge (bass, recorder and trumpet), Mike McCurlie (guitar), Bob Cohen (guitar), and Mike Alonzo (steel guitar), with Caroline Wiles adding backup vocals and opening the concert.
The catalyst of the reunion is Doidge, until recently the longtime owner of and producer at famed Hamilton recording studio Grant Avenue. He is acting as the promoter for the concert, and he explained its genesis to HCM.
“When I had dinner at my brother's house a few months ago, he put on my favourite vinyl album of Ray’s, which was Midnight Matinee. I was listening more than talking when I said to everyone, 'I would love to play this music with these guys just once more time.' I found out the price of the theatre (The Westdale) and starting calling everyone to see if they would like to do this, and they all jumped at the chance.”
Only Daniel Lanois can’t make it because he is working in L.A., says Doidge.
"Ray was excited to do this, so I created a set list of the songs from the Asylum releases and put them in the order I thought was perfect and Ray agreed with the set. Everyone has been at home practising along with the records because my intention was to duplicate that performance from the studio. We need a couple of extra people for what were overdubs on the records. We are rehearsing for two days just before the concert, but it will be no sweat. I just played the set with the records after 37 years, and I don't think I made three mistakes.
Doidge says he last played with Materick at a coffee house about 14 years ago.
"I suppose what I wanted was to re-create the feeling on stage when we played Maple Leaf Gardens. I remember being aware of 16,000 people but half way through the set I just fell into the groove on stage and the feeling that it can't get better than this. That's what I would love on Nov. 28. The performance at the Gardens that night ended in a standing ovation.”
Doidge is a man of many talents, but this marks his first foray into concert promotion.
"It was a much bigger deal than I anticipated but will be well worth it for all involved," he notes while admitting it has brought feelings of nostalgia. "I have fond memories of recording these records with our producer Don Potter. He went on to put together The Judds and was their band leader and acoustic guitar for their entire career. Amazing talent."
The Materick records on the Asylum label referenced by Doidge are 1974's Neon Rain, 1975's Best Friend Overnight, and 1976's Midnight Matinee. Materick was initially signed to WEA Music in Canada by Gary Muth, who then recommended Materick to Asylum in the U.S. He left that label after Midnight Matinee, but continued to record prolifically. Doidge notes that "when Ray was signed to Asylum, they also signed Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Jackson Browne. That showed how much Warner Bros. (Asylum's parent) thought of Ray Materick."
He may not have broken through in the U.S., but Materick did score Canadian success. Those albums spawned three songs that went Top 10 here, including his 1974 No. 1 hit, "Linda Put The Coffee On," a folk-rock tune that still gets airplay.
In 2005, Linus Entertainment & Warner Music released Life and Times, a 24-song double disc career retrospective featuring new and classic material, spanning a 35-year career as a respected songwriter and performer.
The Brantford-born Materick (the son of an evangelical preacher) released one album, 1973’s Sidestreets, prior to that seminal trilogy on the Asylum label. After toiling on the Toronto music scene in the early ’70s, he landed his first record deal in 1972, with the independent label Kanata Records. In an interview with the Spreaker.com website, Materick recalled that “hard work got me that deal. I worked hard on my songs, my guitar playing, my approach, making demos and meeting people.”
Sidestreets earned glowing reviews and both AM and FM airplay, launching his long career. Kanata Records folded shortly after, but the intervention of Gary Muth ensured Materick’s momentum continued.
Doidge reports that tickets for the Nov. 28 Hamilton concert are selling well, but may still be available here. Materick and Midnight Matinee also play a show at the Moonshine Café in Oakville on Nov. 29.
Says Doidge: “Ray wanted to play a coffee house while he was here. It only holds 50 so it will be fun.”