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Hey Blue Rodeo Fans,
As many of you know Throwback Thursday has become quite a phenomenon on social media. Today is our very first Throwback Thursday so let's throw back to the beginning of Blue Rodeo and the influence of singer/songwriter and radio personality, Handsome Ned, (as profiled in Toronto's Now Magazine).
Both Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor credit Robyn David Masyk, also known as Robert Masyk and widely known on the Toronto music scene in the 1980s as Handsome Ned, as a catalyst for Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies, Prairie Oyster, Skydiggers, and other bands on the Queen Street West music scene. Here's Jim and Greg talking with Tom Power on CBC's Q. please start at time reference 8:21...
Jim: "He (Masyk) reinvented himself as this neo-traditional country guy, badass, and for some reason he was just the tip of the iceberg. All these people that had been in punk bands, sort of learning this lost highway music, and lost highway traditions, and they came out in gear...When we came back (from New York City) we had already decided to be Blue Rodeo because that was more natural to us, and we came back into a scene in which we fit perfectly."
From the webpage Remembering Handsome Ned...
Jim Cuddy once told a reporter: “Ned really helped to give focus to a lot of people who were looking to put bands together, or looking for some kind of direction. And he did it pretty singlehandedly, I think.”
Cuddy says, “Everything we did, Ned would have loved to do, and he would have been really good at it. It would have happened for Ned – he was absolutely that good.”
Ned played in various bands, often with his brother Jim, and hosted a weekly showcase at The Cameron House (still a vital part of the Queen West scene), where he and artists who shared his musical style would play together. He also hosted a radio program on CKLN FM called the Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor Show, and for three years had an annual event called the Handsome Ned Picnic, with acts such as The Razorbacks, and Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (who wrote and performed the theme song to the TV comedy show, Kids In The Hall, with Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, and Kevin MacDonald).
Masyk died of a heroin overdose on January 10, 1987. In the same year, Jim Masyk compiled and remastered archival recordings of Ned's songs for the album The Ballad of Handsome Ned, resulting in Ned's posthumous Juno nomination for Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year. Jim Masyk later compiled another two CD set of additional archival recordings, which was released in 2000 as The Name Is Ned. In 2007 Jim organized a tribute to mark what would have been Ned's 50th birthday and as a fundraiser to have a memorial plaque created to be placed in The Cameron House, called Night of the Living Ned.
For a deep dive into Handsome Ned's story, check out this documentary by film makers Chris Terry and Ross Edmunds on Youtube.
Thank you, Ned.
-Dave Brinton, True Rodeo
Sources: Wikipedia, Youtube, CBC, Now Magazine, and other sites as linked,