the back 40 _ NOT_top 40

the back 40 _ NOT_top 40
the beginning: 1970 : Rick Hutt, Nick Paterson, Jerome Jarvis, Bob Mahood, John Lowrie, (left the band shortly after this picture was taken)

from the U of W paper 1974

from the U of W paper 1974
U of W campus paper 1974 Rick (in shadowland) Dave Bob Jerome Nick Tom (pitzing the violin)

Poster Collage 6 pc Spott Farm: 1973-'75

Poster Collage 6 pc Spott Farm: 1973-'75
(Top-bottom L-R) Bob Mahood, Rick Hutt, Dave Scott, Jerome Jarvis, Tom Holmes, Nick Paterson

Saturday, February 19, 2011

ONCE UPON a FARM - 1974

A mere 36 years after the Spott Farm saga ran its course the band has gained a new presence with this long-overdue record. First released on CBC radio 3, Canada's web radio site, the 13 tracks comprising this retrospective collection have now been added to the recordingsunlimited.com site, owned and operated by former Spott Farm drummer, Jerome Jarvis.
The tracks were taken from the band's archives, recorded live and live in the studio, and include songs written by J.R.Hutt, Nicholas Paterson, Bob Mahood, Jerome Jarvis, Richard Knechtel and Perth County Conspiracy (does not exist).
It may seem odd that such a record should come into being at this time; with no reunions planned and no obvious reason to resurrect a long-gone musical act. But the friends and fans of the band are creatures of abiding memory; and some of them had preserved, sought out and shared a few unofficial recordings on cassettes and mp3s which had become the only representation of the music available. Quality was poor and lacking fidelity, but these songs remained favourites of the folks who kept the spark of those days alive, reminders of a more innocent and idealistic time.
It took about 6 months of tinkering with the original sound files (not a full time job) before the sound quality achieved a listenable and presentable standard. The final versions of the tunes, including Spott Farm's only actual release "the Christmas Record" (RR#01-45rpm)  were then posted to the cbc3 site in time for Christmas 2010 and  many have since enjoyed hearing the old chestnuts in their bright, newly-polished forms, (300 plays by mid-Feb '11) 
Since cbc3 is for streaming audio only; and their official policy excludes "cover" material I have taken steps to make the entire record available as mp3s for download from the 
http://recordingsunlimited.com
 site, with  both sides of the 45 joined as one 7 minute track,"the Christmas Medley" as a separate optional track.
 Whether you were around in the 70's, if you saw this band performing then or not; even if you never heard of Spott Farm I hope this offering brings you some joy and a pleasant taste of how music used to be.
Love and Bests to all
Jerome      
     

Monday, November 29, 2010

HEAR SPOTT FARM'S CHRISTMAS RECORD ON CBC3

http://radio3.cbc.ca/bands/SPOTT-FARM
SO WHY A CHRISTMAS RECORD?
 It could have been because of our commitment to the completely non-commercial approach which coloured our whole career as a band.  Or it may have been the perception that most pop singles have a radio-active half life of about one month, whereas a Christmas song has a chance to stick around and pop up year after year. It was definitely NOT in any way due to our overwhelming religiosity or Xtian fundamentalism.
The plain truth is that we had been performing a medley of Christmas songs since our first winter together (1970) and people used to ask if they could get a recording of it.
 So it came to pass that in 1974, when we were planning to appear at a Music Conference in Kitchener slated for November, we hastily booked the newly-built state-of-the-art Mercey Brother's recording studio outside of Elmira Ont. and prepared to record this piece of Christmas cheer.
 None of us had any real studio experience so naturally we decided to produce the thing ourselves. The youngest of the Mercey's was engaged as engineer, as none of the other brothers had the slightest idea how to run the equipment, and on the appointed day we lugged our gear into the studio, set up and began to play live to 16 tracks. It took a few tries with the clock ticking and the $ meter running; but before the night was over we had two sides mixed and mastered and ready to press. I think the only overdubs were the Tympanum (for the transition from "Oh Holy Night" to the Christmas Wish) and probably the harmony vocals were added later.
 The A side (remember when records had sides?) was an arrangement of the "Oh Holy Night" carol with other carols melded in as counterpoint, segueing into a Hutt/Jarvis composition: "A Christmas Wish" with music by Rick and words by Jerome. The B side was a group arrangement of the classic K. Davis tune "Drummer Boy" mostly arranged by Rick; but all of us took a kick at it as well.
A label was created "RURAL RECORDS" and hastily registered with the Library of Congress (form E foreign) The design featured a square box around the oversized round hole, and the whole thing was "(C) 1970" (form E foreign again) and came back from the manufacturers just in time for the conference.
 We booked a room for our manager Donald Blair at the con hotel over the weekend of the event. Jeff Beckner drew us a poster for the SPOTT FARM CHRISTMAS RECORD. We had a half hour slot to play   at the showcase, going on just before Valdy.
 After the conference we sat around our picnic table cutting up and taping cardboard sleeves for shipping and hand-adressed 300 copies which we mailed out to radio stations across Canada. Someone must have played it on air since Rick and I each got a ten dollar royalty cheque from CAPAC and that was our brush with fame.
Great Thanks are due to John Gardiner who graciously allowed his (36 year old) copy of the 45 to be loaned out and digitized. Jerome did the re-mastering in November of 2010 and posted it to the Radio 3 CBC web site. Follow the link there and hear this strange artifact from a time gone by.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL !
  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Canadian Band Success Story

"If we hadn't split up when we did, we'd probably have gone down to California like Joni, or Neil or Steppenwolf and ended up overdosing on something."  Luke Gibson


 Luke's statement, in reference to his Dynamite 60's combo "Luke and the Apostles" is a refreshing perspective on what is "Success" in the music industry. In Canada, musicians feel lucky just to have a chance to play for a live audience. Just living through the experience is considered the pinnacle of achievement. 

In the winter/spring of  '70/'71 the Spott Farm band went through some hard times, living together on the farm. We were down to a quartet, Rick, Bob, Nick and Jerome and there were few gigs and no money. Our phone had been disconnected since we couldn't pay the overdue bill, so we had to walk a couple of miles down the dirt road to the highway and use the pay phone at the Greenbush Snack Bar to call our manager and see if there was a gig we needed to get ready for (no cell phones or internet in 1970, remember?) We were pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. 
 There was no more credit at the local grocery stores. Ritchie (the 1st manager) used to do all the food shopping for us on account. He'd come back with sacks of food now and then and we'd build mile-high sandwiches and feast like kings for a couple of days, after which it was raw turnips and tea. Since he'd left we were reduced to living on Lorne's leathery soy flour and brewer's yeast pancakes for breakfast (and again, cold for lunch) and brown rice for dinner with an egg or wieners thrown in now and then. 
Our heating oil bill was still in arrears from the previous winter, so the oil truck driver wouldn't deliver to us any more.
 We'd heard about a government plan to pay people to cut down the dutch elm diseased trees, so we chopped down the ones which grew down the hill from the farm house. It turned out we didn't know how to apply for the grant money; but at least we had plenty of firewood. All we had to do was buck it up (by hand, two guys on either end of the buck saw. We didn't have a chain saw.) Haul the logs out of the frozen swamp and up the hill, cut them into sections with a swede saw and split them into stove-sized chunks.  With nothing but an old franklin stove we managed to keep the kitchen warmish.
   We'd often have to close off the rest of the house, except for the kitchen and big bedroom above where we'd all sleep. Sleeping bags over the doorways kept the two rooms a bit cozy and the rest of the house would freeze. Unfortunately the water line ran from the barn where the pump was across the yard to the house and the pipes would freeze solid during the frequent cold snaps.
 It was Lorne who came up with the brilliant idea of building a second wood stove out of a 40 gallon drum laid on its side, lined with bricks, with a stove door welded to the front. It was big enough to take whole logs. This went into the commodious washroom (a converted bedroom, the house had been built before indoor plumbing) next to the practice room so we could play without mittens. Stove pipe snaked through the walls and ceiling, into two rooms upstairs and connected to the chimney. 
 Often the power would go out for days at a time, until the hydro linemen could work their way out to our sideroad and repair the line. We'd light candles and sing to each other with a powerless electric guitar. We didn't have an acoustic; but at least we got to work on our harmonies. 
 My grandmother sent me $100 for a Christmas gift and I donated it to the cause to buy us all long johns and winter gloves. 
 One of my most vivid memories from that winter is of returning home early in the morning during a blizzard after a weekend engagement. The sideroad had been plowed but the driveway was plugged by a six foot high wall of snow piled up by the snowplow. We grabbed our guitars and slogged up the drive through waist high snow drifts, leaving the truck with the rest of the gear by the side of the road. When we got to the house we remembered that we had used up all the firewood before leaving for the gig. Inside was as cold as the sub-zero outside. There was nothing for it but to head down the hill with the buck saw, wrestle some logs out of the frozen swamp, cut them into manageable lengths, lug them back up the hill, two men per log, and buck them into stove-sized pieces. Frozen elm splits very neatly, but won't burn worth a damn unless you have a blazing fire already going. Of course there was no kindling, so some old furniture was sacrificed for fire starter. Elm slabs were laid around the stove to thaw and steam while we filled buckets and pots with snow to melt so we could wash up and brew a pot of tea before collapsing into our beds between frosty sheets.
 Ever since that night I've felt fortunate and so very grateful to have survived the battle against the inhospitable elements. Any trace of mildness and comfort is welcome after having been a combatant in the war against uncaring nature. We endured so much hardship that winter that strong bonds of friendship and trust were forged between us, lasting for years after our situation had improved. 
 That New Years Eve, having no party to play at, we undertook to fast together, something none of us had tried before. It would become something of an annual tradition for us. We had no conception of this as a spiritual practice, it was just another austerity we could share, bringing us even closer. We felt that we were explorers of an inner landscape, learning new ways of being better humans and giving us more experience to bring to our music. Our goal was to turn our lives and music into a force for goodness, something we could be proud of sharing with the people who cared to listen to us.
 Merely having lived through those times feels like the height of success for me.
         
  
  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finally Some Spott Farm Music you can hear (i hope)

Follow the link to my Face Book "MY BAND" page. There are  now 3 Spott Farm songs and 2 of my own songs on the player. Look for the song: "I Said She Said" 
http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/control_room/jeromejarvis#?tab=profile&subnav=profile_songs


 This is the story behind the song "I Said She Said":

In 1973 our band SPOTT FARM wanted to do a Beatles song; but it would have to be perfect as we were sticklers for performing tunes as close to the original versions as possible. (With Beatle music this is not easy). So instead we took this tune from the REVOLVER album and gave it "the Treatment" till there was little left of the song but the lyrics and a few scraps of the melody. This radical departure from the perfect copy concept was wonderfully liberating. The instrumental section is, for my money, some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard; but I may be biased.
I've done all I could to restore this recording which was taped LIVE ON THE AIR by the community radio volunteers at WIRED WORLD. RADIO WATERLOO; but the master tape was deeply flawed and phased. Just for fun I've also taken a snippet from the arrangement and turned it into a morphed-up reverse guitar intro which was never part of the song.
So this is a Spott Farm re-arrangement of a Lennon song inspired by a conversation he had with Peter Fonda who had heard Tim Leary reading from the Tibetan book of the Dead. 
If anybody wants to sue me for taking this liberty I invite them to try.
 -Jerome

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SPOTT FARM'S CHRISTMAS RECORD (review)

cktimes.ca Archives for Classic Vinyl 
With John Gardiner
I'm dreaming of a Spott Farm Christmas
Tuesday, December 24, 2002


I remain a huge fan of Christmas music and our house is filled with it from early December on. Somehow, it's a very important part of the whole Christmas experience for me. But it's gotta be traditional. In fact, nothing moves me more than standing in a church and hearing an entire congregation sing Away In a Manger  or especially Silent Night.
My very favourite Christmas recording, though, is by a band that only a few of you will have heard of. Spott Farm were a bunch of local guys from up Hanover way. They were our hippie-commune band back in the old days very spiritual bunch and that carried into their music.
Anyway, they did a Christmas record one year. It featured Little Drummer Boy on one side and a medley of Christmas music on the other it was just a 45 rpm  remember? I still have mine, scratched in a merciless way, and I try to give it a listen each Christmas Eve just before bed. And it reminds me of the old days when we were young and fresh and innocent and filled with hope. Those were the days, my friends.....those were the days.


John Gardiner is a 25-year-veteran of the community newspaper business, but he is also a prolific writer of moralistic short fiction he refers to as "emotional thoughtscapes" or "adult fables". Samples of his fiction can be found at:

Melancholy Man and Minister's Son
Reality Check
Grim Faerie Tale
Once Upon a Visit
Toward the End, Oyster Boy
And It Was Christmas
From Genesis to Revelations (Chapter 1) - the novel. the rest of the novel follows month by month

He has also produced a noteworthy piece of humanist philosophy which can be found at: http://www.xs4all.nl/~aboiten/ad502.htm He welcomes comments on his work.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jerome tells his Spott Farm story (short version)

 I was the drummer and one of the singer/composers in the
band Spott Farm from the summer of '70 till we disbanded
in the fall of '75.
 I met the band "Navel" in 1970 when they played at the
Orangeville Armories and was blown away by their spirit,
great harmonies and progressive original music. I was playing
with a local band the 4 pc "April" (or sometimes as a trio
calling itself "Jolly Green Thumb")
 We jammed with the fellows from Navel at our drop-in centre
before their gig. Shortly thereafter Navel split in two.
Dick Knechtal (guitar), Brian Mullen (Drums) , and Dennis
McLaughlin (vocals) left and Rick Hutt, Nick Paterson
and Bob Mahood stayed on.
I came to the Spott farm in July 1970 (I was 19) and we were
joined by John Lowrey from Toronto on Guitar. We played our
first gig in Listowel and Ritchie (our 1st manager) put the name
"Spott Farm" on the poster. Since that's what the farm was called,
 and how people referred to us. Otherwise we would have been
"The Wonderful Rabbits" or perhaps "Baby Tuckoo and the
Moo Cow" (!) I guess we were lucky not to have been called
"Prune Mucous" another suggested appellation for group.
 Ritchie left for the west coast (suddenly). John left to go back
home to Toronto and the 4 of us worked on our music more seriously
than any band I've ever been in. We couldn't afford to pay ourselves
salaries; but we bought a 50 lb sack of brown rice and managed to eat,
pay rent on the farmhouse and practiced 10-12 hrs a day. Some folks
continued to come by, expecting all night parties; but we soon
discouraged visitors from dropping in and would stay in the practice
room ignoring them uuntill they went away.
I guess we got a reputation as being some weird kind of cult/commune,
but really we were just struggling to pay our way by playing the best
music we could. We backed up Perth County Conspiracy and
Luke Gibson at the Harrison Legion and Kincardine Pavillion.
Before long Lorne and Chuck came in to be our roadies, Peggy found
a hundred ways to serve brown rice, Dave Scott (lead Guitar) from my
old Orangeville band came on board in the summer of '71.
The band moved out to another farm outside St Agatha to be nearer  to the
urban centre of Kitchener/Waterloo and our music teachers, gigs, and new
 manager: Donald Blair. Tom Holmes joined the group on Violin, Guitar
and Vocals. We played some higher profile concerts and broke up in the
fall of 1975.
That's as concise a history of the Spott Farm story as I can tell .