Monday, January 9, 2006

It was 1973, the year in which more interesting things happened to me than all my other years put together. My bass player friend David and I were on a choir tour with our Memphis church. We were in Toronto and, as with many choir tours, we were booked to stay with a host family when out of the crowd stepped a long-haired man who volunteered to have us stay with him instead. When he did this, all the local people at the church agreed that it was a good idea, and David and I were simply too interested not to accept his invitation. See, this guy was a guitar player like us, only a few years older, and his name was Joe Probst.

The evening with Joe turned out to be one of the most curious and interesting in my life. Joe was a mail carrier who had a humble third-floor apartment in the town of Brampton, just outside Toronto. When we got to the apartment, Joe lit a couple of candles and mounted them on the horns of a moose head which hung on the wall. We talked, played guitar, and sang most of the evening. Joe was a very decent guitar player who had recently released an album entitled "The Lion and the Lady", and his record producer dropped in for a while later in the evening. We drank Oktoberfest beer, perhaps a little late for the season but ice cold and illicitly good nevertheless. When we turned in for the evening, Joe instructed us on how to operate the electrical appliances the next morning so as not to blow a fuse (he would be off to work by the time we awakened).

Joe Probst was a sincere, funny, and talented guy, and although his album was never a commercial success, it remains as one of the most listenable in my collection. A few years ago, I located the CD online. If you are a fan of Harry Chapin or the softer ballads of Bruce Springsteen, you will probably like Joe's music. I wish him well and hope that wherever he finds himself tonight, there are candles on a moose head close at hand.

Here's the link to Joe's CD: