Chapter One

In the beginning I was "Hans Meier" (I didn't become "Braden Corby" until I was 37). My mother led the Presbyterian Church Choir and my father had a good baritone voice. I sang often in church and in my teens occasionally took a solo lead, but that was about the extent of my early exposure to music until I started babysitting for my uncle Hank. Hank had a marvelous music collection and was into contemporary folk, which in those days was Harry Belafonte and The Kingston Trio. I loved going to baby sit for his family because I'd put the kids to bed and then sit and listen to Harry Belafonte all night. I still love to listen to him and I sing many of his songs. I recently did an animation to "The Pig", one of Belafonte's songs.

When I was 18 I went to work at Cassiar Mines and then at Anvil Mines in the Yukon.My roommate during that time was a guitar player and he taught me to play some basic chords. After leaving the mines I eventually landed up at Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, and continued to learn more songs on the guitar. I got a weekend job singing at Emerson's, a local pizza parlor; and then at another nearby restaurant, Hannigan's. In those days I could sing all night. I'd start at Hannigan's from 5:30pm till about 9:30pm; and then I'd nip around the corner to Emerson's and play there till 2am. Almost 8 hours of singing! I could never do that today.

One evening at Hannigan's a gentleman asked me for some requests and then asked me to join him when I took a break. His name was Jack Whyte and he was a local Scottish entertainer who worked the pub scene in Calgary. After that, I'd often go listen to him sing and he'd invite me up on stage to sing with him. Eventually he introduced me to his booking agent who found me work in the pubs - and my career was born!

It was Jack who really got me thinking about a music career. I had no formal training and wasn't a particularly good guitar player. All I really had was a fairly good voice and some stage presence. Live entertainment was still a bit of a novelty in those days, as were entertainers, who were somewhat hard to find - so I didn't have a lot of trouble getting jobs then. I guess we really are a product of our times and the people we meet; if I hadn't met Jack, and if entertainers weren't in such demand, I doubt I would have gone on to a music career. Today, almost 20 years later, musicians and entertainers abound, venues are in short supply as there is limited live music in the pubs, and the musicians are making less than I was back then. Interesting how times change.

I've long lost touch with Jack, but would love to say "Hi" and thank him for his role in getting me started.

I went back up to Fort St. John for a bit and formed a couple of groups to play dance music (pictures above); but then eventually landed up in Victoria playing pubs and pizza parlors. It was during this time I met Dave Oscienny, a local bass player; and Ian Johnstone, a Vancouver Island Children's Entertainer. At that time, the British Columbia NDP government, in an effort to bring culture to the public (smile), decided to put live music on the BC Ferries that ran from Vancouver Island to the mainland.

Myself, David and Ian formed a group called "The Three Jolly Coachmen" and spent the summer entertaining ferry passengers. We had a great time and a fun summer. (PS - you'll win a FREE No-expense paid weekend in Sooke if you can guess our theme song. Second prize - a whole week in Sooke!)
After the summer, Ian went back to his children's gigs and Dave and I formed a duo called 'Santiago' and played many venues all over Victoria. Our favorite spot was "The Castle Pub" in Sooke. This was great for me as at the time I was living in a rustic cabin (with all the mod cons) situated right beside the Sooke River out near the Sooke River Potholes. Interesting cabin in that it used to be a hunting cabin used by many well known Victoria business leaders. The gentleman who owned it when I was there was a bit of an eccentric type and had fixed the cabin up with an antique chrome trimmed wood stove, converted to oil - this was my cooking and heat source; a brass hot water heater; and, the coup de grace, a brass bed.

Wonderfully quiet and isolated, I could watch the river from my front window. It was an idyllic romantic spot for a musician and a writer.

But alas, the owner proved to be a bit too eccentric for his wife and I had to move when divorce proceedings forced a sale of the property.

on to Chapter Two