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Music Memory - Brian Barlow

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week's Music Memory comes from Brian Barlow. Brian is a first call studio musician, arranger, producer, drummer, and percussionist.  When he’s not doing all of that, he’s either leading the Brian Barlow Big Band, or busy as the Artistic Director of the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival.  (Rumour has it he’s also been trained as a dancer – but you didn’t hear that from us!)

“One of the most memorable events from my early years was the rainy night in 1970 when I received a phone call from Rob McConnell’s wife, asking if I was available to get to Seneca College in Toronto to play for a concert with the Boss Brass that was scheduled to take place in about 20 minutes.

The regular drummer in the band at the time had forgotten about the gig and they were unable to get in touch with him.  Getting to the top of the city in 20 minutes was the first challenge I was to face that evening.

Some of the guys in the band had worked with me and told Rob that I was a good reader and could handle the music.  I was 18 years old.  I made it to the theatre 5 minutes after the concert was scheduled to begin.  The crew grabbed my drums and helped me up on stage.  As soon as I was ready, Rob counted in the first tune.  To this day, I still have no idea what we played.  I eventually became the percussionist for the Boss Brass and was a part of that wonderful band for over 15 years.”

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