In Memory of Paul MacLeod

People often ask about the origin of the name of my radio show. “Tell the Band to Go Home” is the name of a great 6 song EP put out by a singer/songwriter from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, named Paul Macleod. It’s a perfect example of the type of music that I play on the show, and a perfect reason for doing it.

The original Tell the Band to Go Home

The EP is a simple recording of Paul and a guitar playing amazing songs. It’s recorded live at The Sidetrack Cafe in Edmonton. As a clean, clear solo recording, there’s not much to focus on other than the singer and the song, exactly the way I like it. Paul’s voice and songs are unique and powerful and wonderful, yet widespread success eluded him. The CD was a limited indie release that never really found an audience among the masses (yet it’s regarded as a classic by many musicians and in-the-know fans like me.) It’s the kind of amazing music that somehow flies below the public radar. My show aims to provide an audience for amazing music like Paul’s.

For a couple of years, I enjoyed Paul’s CDs but didn’t have a personal connection to him. In 2002 though I found myself in the midst of a relationship breakup, and as happens in such situations, we found ourselves dividing possessions into the “Mine,” “Yours,” and “Ours” piles. Paul’s CD was one that landed in the latter. Sure, I wasn’t the one who brought it into the relationship, but I’d grown to love it and it was really hard to find a replacement copy which would have allowed us both to have one. I couldn’t find a place to buy a copy, so I went to the Skydiggers message board (Paul was with the band for a number of years after Peter Cash left) and posted a question asking if anyone knew where I could find a copy. Imagine my surprise when Paul responded and offered to send me a copy. We got to talking about how much I loved the CD and what a big fan I was.

Out of those email exchanges came my first opportunity to interview Paul. I spoke with him February 3, 2002 on a show that was notable because I also interviewed a then unknown singer/songwriter named John Mayer. I also had a local singer/songwriter named Steve Schellenberg booked to come in and chat and play, so the show was a busy one, but still I found myself wrapped up in a conversation with Paul that lasted over a half hour.

At the time, we were still making analog recordings of our shows, so this one was recorded on cassette. I recall being so nervous about the interviews on the show that I forgot to start the recording right away, so the first part of my chat with Paul is missing, but it can’t have been much. Here’s that chat:

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Paul MacLeod and Jeff Robson at The Glen Gould Theatre in Toronto, October 25, 2009.

I had so much fun with that conversation that I tried to get Paul on the show again a number of times, but we didn’t manage to connect for the better part of a decade. We had a lot of fun email and Facebook exchanges over the years. I’d also seen him live a couple of times, including a memorable reunion show in Toronto with the Skydiggers in 2009. (photos here) (I also have a fine recording of that show, which I’ll post eventually, but feel free to email me if you want to hear it in the meantime.) In 2011, I had a show scheduled for May 22, which is Paul’s birthday. I half-jokingly sent Paul a message and said that I would be doing a birthday tribute and he should tune in and perhaps give me a call to chat. Much to my surprise, he did both.

Once again, we had a great conversation. Here is that one:

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Our communication would get more sparse after that, but I would from time to time drop him a line and ask him to chat again. Sadly, I’d never get the chance.

You’d never know it to chat with him or see him live, but Paul was deeply troubled. He had some severe mental health issues which I wasn’t truly aware of until recently. I knew he’d had some tough times, but I didn’t know just how tough until I got the horrible news that Paul had died this past weekend, on Saturday, June 18, 2016. I only wish that he’d known how many people love him and respect him.

Paul’s family has asked that people consider making a donation to his local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. It’s fast and easy and you’ll get a tax receipt for your donation. Most importantly, you could help someone like Paul get the help that they need. Please donate if you’re able:

The tributes on social media have poured in (check out this tribute group on Facebook). Paul’s personality and music touched and inspired a lot of people. His loss is a huge one, even though he was so relatively unknown.

I’m proud and honoured to have corresponded with Paul over the years, to have met him a few times, and especially to have had these wonderful conversations. I’ll miss him terribly.

I’m also once again strengthened in my resolve to keep his music alive and heard for as long as I’m alive and have a platform on which to share it. His are songs that stand the test of time and should be enjoyed for a long time to come.

I’m also once again motivated to do something to honour and remember people like Paul and John Bottomley, who should still be here today. I’ve got ideas, I just need help getting it off the ground. If you’re able to help, I’d love to hear from you. You can also truly help someone and possibly save a life by checking up on someone who might be struggling and make sure that they know that you care about them and make sure that they get the help that they need. If you know someone is struggling, they might tell you that everything is fine, but they might be lying, so keep close and be vigilant, please.

This Sunday, June 26 on Tell the Band to Go Home, I’ll do an extended tribute to Paul with a lot of his music and hopefully some words from some of his friends and fans. Please tune in Sunday, 2-4 pm CDT on UMFM.

You can get a number of his albums through his longtime label Busted Flat Records:

You can also get a few albums through Google Play or iTunes, but I’d much rather have you support Busted Flat directly though the Bandcamp links above. (iTunes / Google Play)

Down On The Street – Paul MacLeod from Lindsay Stewart on Vimeo.

This video was shot down on the street in the literal sense, with the Canon XHA1 handheld on the Steadicam Merlin. Singer Paul MacLeod is joined by blues guitarist Shawn Kellerman and his backing hoodlums are jazz singer Derek Hines and singer/songwriter Ben Rollo. The traffic is real, the noise is of the environment and the birds seemed to enjoy it as well. The audio is all straight from the on-camera mics.

Paul's music is available through Busted Flats Records.

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