Here’s a clip of Canadian singer-songwriter Gregory Hoskins with his song, “Beautiful Parade” as taken from the album Alone in the Mayor’s House… almost. And for you musician-spotters, that’s drummer Gary Craig playing along with him.
I met Gregory Hoskins once, awkwardly. I’d been a fan of his band The Stickpeople, who put out one of my favourite albums of the 1990s, Moon Come Up, in 1991. It turned out that Gregory Hoskins was a friend of a friend, so I got the inside scoop on how he gathered his band together through his involvement with Catholic youth groups and community activist organizations. It explained a lot about his approach as a songwriter; socially conscious lyrics, and a kind of stylistic amalgam of folk-rock, gospel music, soul, and liturgical singing.
The band was on the True North Label, the one on which one of my other heroes Bruce Cockburn had made a name. After Moon Come Up, another album Raids on the Unspeakable, and a few Canadian hits in “Neighbourhood”, “Let Her Go”, and “Remember Where You Come From”, the band sort of disappeared into the ether. It happens a lot in this country of mine, where our culture is supposedly protected by Canadian Content laws.
Since the Stickpeople, Hoskins embarked on a solo career into this decade, including this album. You can tell that the initial influences are still there; the spiritually-oriented lyrics and the emphasis on harmony in the vocals are particular features on this song.
Anyway, I met Gregory Hoskins once, as I mentioned earlier. I was working in a video store in the early to mid 90s, a sort of kiosk kind of an affair in the middle of a shopping mall in North York, just north of Toronto. I was doing my work, and I looked up; there was Gregory Hoskins. I recognized him immediately. Instead of saying: “Gregory Hoskins. I’m a fan. Thanks for your work”, I asked him how our mutual friend was doing.
Now, he couldn’t have known that we even had a mutual friend, so the opening remark from the video guy across from him had to be confusing. But, he was gracious. I eventually found my footing and told him that I had greatly enjoyed his appearance at the Festival of Friends that year, an outdoor folk-rock event held annually. But, that first impression of me must have been weird for the poor guy who was only passing the time at the rinky-dink video kiosk.
I really should never meet my heroes.
For more information about Gregory Hoskins, check out his label Candyrat.com.
And also check out the Gregory Hoskins bandcamp page for more music.