Ben Walker and Gary Black
BW and Gary Black, September 1995

Back in 1995 I used to be a regular at the Black Rooster open stage in Toronto. That was where I first met Gary Black. Like me, he was a singer-songwriter who played an acoustic instrument.

I played some mandolin on one of Gary’s songs at a studio in the west end of the city. I assumed he was making an album of acoustic or folk-influenced tracks. Then I went back to England.

The following year I received a tape of the album, which turned out to be a fairly heavy, indie rock effort entitled All Over the Place by Gary Black and Tilt. There was no mandolin in evidence.

The next time I heard from Gary he said he was getting into gospel music and had even written a couple of songs in that vein. When I finally came back to Toronto for a visit in 2001, he presented me with the CD Timeless by Gary Black’s Gospel Brigade.

I went to see Gary play, expecting a spirited rendition of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ but instead found him sporting a thin moustache and jamming on some Django Reinhardt tunes with an accordion player and an upright bass.

“This is great”, he whispered to me, “but you gotta hear my NEW stuff”. He was now referring to Inner G, a duo which combined drum ‘n’ bass, voice samples and a rock sensibility. Unable to keep up with the rate of change, I left the country once more.

Around 2002, a mysterious package arrived for me. It contained a CD of latin-influenced tunes and comedy skits entitled Introducing the Zorros. It didn’t take a lot of detective work to find out that Mr Black was one half of this clandestine couple.

The next time I was at a Gary Black gig in Toronto, however, there were no black masks or swishing swords, just a 4-piece rock outfit called The Paypers.

I expected a recording to turn up by this band but, as far as I know, it never did. All except for one song.

A few weeks ago I was asked to be part of the ‘bar scene’ at a video shoot organized by Mr Black, also related to this one song.

An old friend of Gary’s, standing behind me, remarked “Finally he’s producing something”. I thought this was a little harsh – he’s produced quite a lot, as I’ve described, but nothing quite like this:

(By the way, he’s changed his name again)

White Trash Trailer Mama (2011)

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