Grand Bank mu­si­cian big con­trib­u­tor to lo­cal mu­sic scene

Ge­orge Grandy cel­e­brates 80th birthday - Part 2

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Al­lan Stood­ley Al­lan Stood­ley is a long-time res­i­dent of Grand Bank. He can be reached at am­stood­[email protected]­mail.com and he wel­comes com­ments on this or any other ar­ti­cle he has writ­ten.

Ge­orge Grandy has contribute­d so much to the lo­cal mu­sic scene over the past six decades that his in­flu­ence will be felt for many years to come.

Not only has he en­ter­tained New­found­lan­ders at dif­fer­ent venues all around the is­land; he of­ten took his mu­sic and songs to the French is­lands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, at times for two- or three-week stints.

Grandy be­came hooked on mu­sic when “at age seven or eight Henry Lee showed me the chords on a gui­tar,” he said.

Another noted Grand Bank mu­si­cian of the day, Ewart Val­lis, was a big in­spi­ra­tion.

At just 16, Grandy felt he was ready to start play­ing in pub­lic. Soon, he was play­ing for dances at the old Grand Bank and For­tune The­atres.

In the late 1950s and in the words of Marys­town mu­si­cian Con Fitz­patrick, “Ge­orge Grandy was in very much de­mand, play­ing and singing the mu­sic the young peo­ple wanted – Elvis, rock and roll, and coun­try, and he would also throw in an ac­cor­dion tune for the older folks.”

It wasn’t very long be­fore he was reg­u­larly per­form­ing at the Brent Inn in Salt Pond, Burin.

Over the years at least 30 other mu­si­cians have per­formed with Grandy, in­clud­ing his brother Gor­don, now de­ceased, who for many years was his drum­mer.

Another long-time lo­cal mu­si­cian, Jim Piercey, ob­vi­ously has great re­spect for Grandy.

“Ge­orge is a very gen­er­ous man who gave many bud­ding mu­si­cians the op­por­tu­nity to test the wa­ters with­out judg­ing their tal­ent or skill lev­els,” he said. “The ma­jor­ity of the suc­cess­ful mu­si­cians in this area who started in the 60s, 70s and 80s played at one time or another with him.”

Grandy has writ­ten 20 orig­i­nal songs and recorded three LP Al­bums.

“In record­ing the al­bums, he would be ac­com­pa­nied by mostly lo­cal mu­si­cians, young and older, who, spon­sored by Ge­orge, trav­elled to St. John’s with him,” ac­cord­ing to Piercey.

Grandy, the fa­ther of seven chil­dren, has had to deal with the loss of his youngest daugh­ter, De­neen, who died in 2006. She was only 38 years old. Then in 2011 he suf­fered a stroke when, on his birthday, Oct. 12, he woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. He tem­po­rar­ily lost the sight in one eye and spent a week in the Burin Hospi­tal.

In his words, “it was the first time I was ever sick.”

For some months af­ter he needed a walk­ing cane to walk and re­gain his strength.

Two years ago the Grandys were thrown another curve ball when his 58-year-old wife, Doreen, went to­tally blind be­cause of both reti­nas be­ing de­tached and suf­fer­ing four bleeds in the span of one month.

As a re­sult of surgery at St. John’s her eye­sight has come back some­what but she is un­able to drive or work and is now clas­si­fied as hav­ing low vi­sion.

Grandy was al­ways strong phys­i­cally, be­ing self em­ployed op­er­at­ing a back-hoe and “load­ing and un­load­ing my truck my­self.”

He is quick to point out that he never ever smoked or drank. To work dur­ing the day was a ne­ces­sity to pay the bills, but mu­sic was re­ally the love of his life and his ded­i­ca­tion to it has rubbed off on nearly all mem­bers of his fam­ily.

His son Troy re­mem­bers when he was only 10 and play­ing drums with his fa­ther for a Box­ing Night dance at the Grand Bank Lions’ Den.

“When we came home, about 3 o’clock in the morn­ing, I would go in by the Christ­mas tree be­fore I went to bed and play with my gifts.”

Although Troy also learned to play the gui­tar at a very young age he says he “didn’t put it to good use un­til I was about 40 years old.”

Troy is cur­rently a mem­ber of the five piece pop­u­lar clas­sic rock band “The Jam­mers.” He has been play­ing lead gui­tar and sup­ply­ing vo­cals for the St. John’s-based group for the past seven years.

Grandy’s grand­son Chad de­vel­oped a very spe­cial bond with his grand­fa­ther from a young age.

“I be­lieve this was partly to do with my fa­ther (Todd) not be­ing around and be­cause of course we both lived in the same area,” he said. His ear­li­est mem­o­ries “were of the house and the mu­sic that echoed from that spe­cial room in the base­ment. That mag­i­cal room, that was the place where it all hap­pened.”

Chad was only about five years old when his grand­fa­ther gave him his first elec­tric gui­tar and am­pli­fier, a Gib­son Les Paul copy gui­tar and a lit­tle amp that ran on 4-C bat­ter­ies.

For the past 15 years he has been a mem­ber of the lo­cal three­piece band “Skid­der­pup” play­ing acous­tic and elec­tric gui­tar. Rec­og­nized as an awe­some mu­si­cian, he can pretty well pick up any in­stru­ment and play it. Like his grand­fa­ther he also writes both mu­sic and lyrics.

In the words of Troy Grandy, “this past year was the high­light of our musical life” with all of the mem­bers of the Ge­orge Grandy Fam­ily band re­unit­ing and play­ing to­gether at the Grand Bank Sum­mer Fes­ti­val and again at Ge­orge’s 80th birthday party.

AL­LAN STOOD­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Ge­orge Grandy play­ing a Fen­der elec­tric gui­tar orig­i­nally owned by Amer­i­can singer/ song­writer Steve Earle.

AL­LAN STOOD­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Three gen­er­a­tions of mu­si­cians in­clud­ing grand­son Chad, Ge­orge Grandy and son Todd.

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