December 18, 2012

A long good-bye

Radio interview from the road

Today the last Rankin, Church and Crowe CD was ordered by someone in Victoria. Things move toward a professional ending, but Raylene will be with us in spirit always. We cherish that recording we did together .

We came together in an odd sort of way. Not thrust together, but cobbled together. This is how it went:

I was invited to perform at a political fundraiser, along with another artist with whom I was not comfortable. That’s a story that will always remain untold and unforgotten.

For added buffering (not to mention considerable musicality), I invited Cindy to do it with us. After much dithering and drama on the part of the other artist, a deadline was issued for her to make a  final decision. That decision was “no”.

Raylene, already a friend, had long been on my mind as a a potential colleague, but I had always envisioned it as a writing collaboration, not performing. Our styles were so different, almost opposite ends of a spectrum, and I couldn’t quite see that. But I also thought, with Cindy,  the harmonies could be pretty darn good. I asked Raylene if she wanted to do it, and immediately, she said she would give it a try. She warned us that she was busy, would not be able to shoulder a lot of the extra-musical work that is part of our careers: pension paperwork, live performance reporting for royalties, advancing tours, etc. Cindy and I thought it was worth it.

At that first rehearsal, the feeling of ease and confidence swept over me like the warmth of the sun coming from behind a cloud. No fussing, no defending for a stance, no bickering, no showboating. Her position was: what do you need me to do? Ok, I’ll do it. Having just come off of a couple of really trying group forays, the relief was almost levitating. Song ideas were offered. Tape recorders were whipped out and turned to “record”. This meant that we had work tapes to listen to in our own time, apart from each other and thereby wasting nobody’s time. No thin skin, no push-back, nothing but complete cooperation.

In a word: pro. And the harmonies were as good as I had imagined they would be.

In remembering it, Cindy and I realized we only had about six hours of rehearsal – three one day, three the next – before the show. How we ended up with harmonies on every song remains remarkable to me, but that’s what went down.

CBC recorded the two back-to-back shows . We took the best from each night, licensed the recording and released Live At Alderney Landing, our first shows, after six hours of rehearsal. That might tell you how easy it was to work with Raylene.

And all those things she said she would not be able to do? She did her fair share and more, even throughout some dark, very hard days. Utterly reliable, and non-complaining. In this photo, she was doing an interview from Charlotte Lake in BC. We were carrying on in the van and she was plugging her ear so that she could hear the the reporter. Not a word nor whine.

I’ll miss her always.

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