Spirit of the West news, April 10, 2015

From The Desk of Vince Ditrich:

As the busy season of 2015 approaches I am stopping the presses and taking a look around, so I can make a proper report. 

The main project Spirit has on the go right now is a documentary film about us, our history, and the method in which we’re working through our current all-consuming challenges.  The film is being directed by our old and beloved friend Pete McCormack, a Vancouver-based filmmaker, author, screenwriter, singer/songwriter, and thinker.  Petey’s list of achievements in the world of filmmaking alone are breathtaking (for example his film Facing Ali was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2009).  Just imagine how good his home movies must be….

Pete is amassing a huge archive of interviews and retrospective footage of this group of weirdoes, and I expect the finished product to be the definitive account of our journey to date. 

We are very happy that Pete has agreed to direct a live-in-concert video of the band performing at Toronto’s Massey Hall on June 6th.  The show holds much significance for us on many levels.  We do not expect such an event to happen often.  I encourage you to attend this one and share in the experience with us. 

I also encourage all of you to follow THIS LINK to Pete’s website.  http://www.petemccormack.com/  Pete is a remarkable and inspirational friend, one whose efforts simply can’t be condensed down to one glib sentence.

I want to tell you a little about Tobin ‘The Gull’ Frank.  Fans of Spirit are probably aware of his quiet professionalism onstage with us for many years.  The facts of the matter are less obvious to the casual observer.  Tobin has selflessly stood in the shadows for nearly 20 years, supplying a vast array of music during performances, and increasingly throughout this scary and complicated time, he supplies turnkey solutions to our otherwise intractable problems.  The joke has been for some time, “Hurry up Gull, you only have ONE THING to do….”  This is a patently clubfooted reference to the fact that Tobin’s day-of-show ‘to-do list’ is deep and wide, and includes everything from programming Johnny’s teleprompter, to preserving the sanctity of our superstitiously observed pre-show libation, even down to the private ceremony that he and I perform, absolutely without fail, immediately before taking the stage. [ED: This consists of Tobin ensuring Vince's headset mic is ON. A comforting ritual for all of us.]

The fact is that Tobin’s musical depth has only begun to reveal itself, even to us.  I have recently had the great privilege of spending time in a recording studio with him, watching him organize sessions, engineer them, produce them, arrange the music, supply the sandwiches, and sweep up afterward.  I can tell you honestly that after decades of being the ‘bulldozer’ in nearly every recording session I have ever attended it is a delight to watch my younger colleague take up this role with elegance, wisdom, expertise and a musical mind of such intricacy that even world class experts such as Hugh McMillan or Matthew Harder look to him for input, advice and suggestions.  A secret weapon indeed; but now I hope  the secret’s out.

This concludes my report for April.  I will pen another update soon. 

Vince Ditrich

[photos: Vince R. Ditrich]