A FITTING TRIBUTE TO THE KING OF ROCKABILLY SWING:
Sometimes I have to wonder how many truely great
performers in this town
have to pass away or move before we really start to seriously value
what we have here.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now, the Vancouver
music scene and the world, lost one truely rare and authentic singer,
performer and human
being: RAY CONDO.
The huge amount of cheerful,
reckless abandon, and relentless goodwill he brought to whichever room
he played in, be it in the downtown eastside, New York and anywhere in
Europe to name but a few locales, will never be forgotten by those who
knew him or those who had the huge privelege of seeing him perform live.
When you saw him perform, he approached his love of the music with so
much passion and good hearted fun, even those who didn't like the music
couldn't help but have a deep respect of this man's full throttle, no
He got his start in a Vancouver New wave group called The Secret V's in
the late 70's, and had a big admiration for the raw energy of such Punk
bands as The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks, but his true calling was
the Country-tinged swing, rockabilly and all twangy shades in between,
be it with his Hard Rock Goners in the 80's to his Ricochets of the
90's to the present.
He knew the music backwards and forwards and put on a clinic whenever
It was only fitting a proper send-off to the man was put together by
long-time friend and most recent drummer, Ian Tiles and many of his
honored friends at the Ironworks in Gastown.
You could feel intermittently the great loss and the great joy of Ray
flooding the place. A feeling not many perormers can leave behind. Ray
was one of a kind.
Almost everyone from the scene that could be there was there, either
on-stage or in the close-knit family that is the Roots scene in
Nicole steen and Marcus Rodgers of Coal, Butch Murphy and The Bughouse
5, Ana Bon Bon, Chris Houston, Mistress Jen, Doug Andrew, The Golden
Wedding Band, Ronnie Hayward, Herald Nix, members of Swank, Elbore
James, Randy Carpenter (Modernettes and producer of the last session
Ray Condo recorded: a song for the Alejandro Escovedo project that
should be out if not now, soon), Samanta Parton of The Be Good Tanyas,
Lazy Susan, Grant and Vicky from Zulu records, producer Marc
L'esperance, Andrew and Amy from Red Cat Records...even Lilyfrost
(Lindsay Davis) flew in from Toronto with a new song she wrote just for
Each band put on a valiant performance and the overall atmosphere which
was at one point
sombre, was joyous to the point of tears with everyone having a crack
at the dance floor, letting the spirits flow (without the rowdism) and
remembering what Ray would have wanted us to remember most. When you
realize your own mortality and the time you have to leave your mark
with people, make it a
positive one in some way shape or form, and remember to love each other
and for God's sake have fun!
This was evident not only with all involved ,but, also in the last
recording in existence of Ray:
in rehearsal at longtime guitarist's Stephen Nikleva's apartment just
days before one of Ray's last scheduled shows in Vancouver.
Ray's band took the stage, holding their instruments in tribute, as the
last Ray Condo recordings
filled the room.
Ray Condo was and always will be remembered as a greatly valued friend
and performer from our enviable music scene.
After hearing of Ray's passing, I almost put my radio show aside
because of it.
I didn't... I came in and played pretty much all Ray Condo, as a sort
of wake / tribute to him. The band I had scheduled did play (Mingoose),
and they even dedicated a song to Ray....
Ray Condo was one of the first acts I played on Radio Bandcouver when
it was a mere one hour show on Co-op radio in 1997.
I went to as many Ray Condo shows as I could. Be it at The Railway,one
of his weekly residences at the Marine Club, or a special outdoor show
at The Kitsilano Showboat. I always marveled at the man's
unrivaled on-stage presence, quick-wit, and vigor, leading his band
of Ricochets careening throw
number after number, tossing aside all inhibitions and just letting it
happen. The motto was: "To hell with cool, have fun!"
I, as many in the local scene and the world, will dearly miss his
charisma, his playful, acrobatic vocals, and endless dedication and
pure love of his craft.
His unique, energetic music is a pleasure to listen to anytime just for
the sheer joy and light-heartedness it brings to a room.
The rest is ours to honor, and to be proud to have witnessed and
We Love You, Ray