Jerry Doucette’s plan was simply to make a quick one-week visit back to his former home town of Hamilton, meet up with his former music pals, sink a few pints and maybe get involved in a bit of a jam session – but then the word got out about his impending visit!
“Suddenly, the word is out that I am returning to Hamilton, it’s all over Facebook,” laughs the Juno-award winning composer of “Mama Let Him Play”, one of Canadian classic rock’s most enduring tracks. “My seven day trip is now 10 days and instead of one jam, I have four performances planned including a concert March 10th at the Bay City Music Hall.”
Born in Montreal, Doucette moved to Hamilton when he was four, got his first guitar when he was six and joined his first band, The Reefers when he was 11. Several of those same Reefer musicians; Randy Williams, Joe Ruffo, Graham Thorpe and Alan Rees are anticipated to be a part of the gathering of musicians who are meeting Wednesday March 2nd at The Wellington Tavern for the initial impromptu jam session. Then it’s a couple of days rehearsal before performing “Mama Let Him Play” at Mohawk College March 9th before a playing a full set at the Bay City Music Hall March 10th with The Jerriatrics house band (Steve King, Jack Pedler, Pete Carolly and Vincent Rinaldo).
“That’s going to be the big one,” noted Doucette of his pending Bay City Music Hall gig. “We’re going to play “Down The Road”,”All I Wanna Do’, “Further On Up The Road’, “Mama Let Him Play” and a few jams, it’s not going to be a full Doucette Band performance, just me and my guitar and a couple of old friends but it should be a lot of fun.”
Doucette says he’s a little nervous yet excited about hooking up again with his old music buddies. “I just hope their expectations aren’t so high, I hope they don’t expect God to come down from the mountain, it will just be me and my guitar,” he laughs.”
Trying to recall the last time his Doucette Band last played The Hammer, he thinks it might have been an outdoor festival six or seven years ago, but besides that, it was probably during those heady days in 1977-79 when his debut Doucette album was going platinum (over 100,000 units sold), when he was sharing the Mushroom Records roster with Heart, when he was winning a 1979 Juno Award as Top New Band and when he was touring nationally from coast to coast.
Unfortunately his 1978 follow-up `The Douce Is Loose’, dogged by poor distribution, only went Gold (50,000 units sold) despite one solid single “Nobody” and when label owner, Shelly Siegel died I 1979 from a brain aneurysm, the label quickly went into bankruptcy, leaving Doucette’s third album, `Coming Up Roses’ left without distribution.
Such was the legal mess left by the bankruptcy that Doucette was literally forced out of business until he launched a comeback effort in 1995 sarcastically titled `The Price Of An Education’. Still “Mama Let Him Play” continues to be featured on most classic rock radio formats, Linus Records release his catalogue on CD in 2013 and Doucette gets to play a few Western festivals from his Vancouver base, although he’d love to tour one more time in Eastern Canada.
But in the meantime, Doucette will gather with his buddies at the Welly, show his chops at the Bay City Music Hall, reminisce about the good ole days and reflect on past achievements.