The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band
The Way We Was is a fascinating snapshot of the Toronto blues scene documenting The Kendall Wall Band's magical 11 year run.
Trailer for the film The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band.
"The Way We Was" is a documentary, a fascinating snapshot of the Toronto blues scene built around The Kendall Wall Band's magical 11 year run.
Sometimes you have to laugh or you'll curl up and cry. A bit of this is my own blues story... I lost my job of 13 years a while ago, and it was funny. Losing my job wasn't the funny part ... what I did next was ... I decided to shoot a film.
Since the age of 18 ... I had always had a dream of making a feature length film. At 47, with no job, no prospects and living in an area of Canada with the highest unemployment rate in the country ... I rolled the dice on a proposal from my friend and Downchild Blues Band bassist Gary Kendall and embarked on finally fulfilling my dream.
Gary had sent out a blanket email to whoever he knew in the music, film, entertainment, print media etc. industries regarding a project he was working on restoring and revitalizing - saving - a 25 year old lost piece of music, the last album by the Kendal Wall band. His question after describing his project? "Is there a story here?" Many people answered Gary vaguely, feeling there was; but that they didn't really have the time or resources to pursue it.
I answered saying, "when do we start shooting."
" ... I had to travel into Toronto one day from Fort Erie to shoot three interviews for the film. I didn't have a vehicle that day so I took a bus from Fort Erie to Niagara Falls where I had to transfer to a city bus which took me across the city. I got out ... walked about a third of a mile and waited in a Tim Hortons for 45 minutes for my bus to Toronto. I took the bus to Burlington ... transferred to a GO train to Union Station ... hopped on the Subway to Dundas St. ... caught a street car to Spadina Ave and then walked to Grossmans. I shot the interviews in a couple of hours and headed home almost the same route minus the Niagara Falls stop. My travels started at noon ... by the time I got off the bus in Fort Erie and walked a mile and half home it was 1:30 AM. The whole time I traveled I was hauling my portable studio equipment bag that weighs about 60 pounds. Not once did I think twice or frown upon anything with the shoot that day. I was making a movie ... something I had wanted to do my entire life and I was loving every minute of it ... it because I was living my dream."
Eighteen months and a lot of hard work, tenacity and dedication later we have a feature length film on our hands. What started out as a short film on Gary restoring an old piece of music turned into a snapshot of period of music history in Canada not yet documented ... as well as the history of a band.
The Kendall Wall Band w/Morgan Davis at Albert's Hall
Gary set out to rescuing the album recorded by his old band to honour his fellow band mate and friend Cash Wall who had left the music business many years ago, moved to the States and eventually passed away in 2009. Cash's legacy of his time in the music industry in Canada a distant memory save for some old photos, a few VHS tapes and a cassette tape recording from the 80's which was tossed aside due to production issues and long forgotten. Cash's family in the States really having very little knowledge of the time he spent playing drums and singing in Canada for band's like The Kendall Wall Band and Downchild Blues Band. Gary felt this was wrong and Cash deserved better. Enlisting the help of Juno award winning producer/engineer L. Stu Young (Prince, Triumph, Sum 41) Gary started out on his mission of " ... fixing something we did wrong 25 years ago."
For me the project seemed like a dream. Initially combining my love of film and music, specifically the blues, and then it turned into something much bigger and more important. Footage started rolling in from interviews and converting old tapes of live perfomances I realized that this was much bigger than I had initially thought... much more meaningful and far-reaching.
The 11 years The Kendall Wall Band played Saturday afternoons at The Black Swan in Toronto was a crucial time for blues music in Canada. Not only did they host a matinee in which they played, they were joined by a number of influential blues artists from the United States, people like: Snooky Pryor, Matt 'Guitar' Murphy, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, Marcia Ball, Pinetop Perkins, Lazy Lester amongst many others. And in the third hour of their three hour Saturday gig they hosted a jam session that gave an opportunity to many young musicians in the Toronto area who were new to the business or didn't have a band of their own an opportunity to play in front of a live audience with a real working band.
The documentary took shape as well as taking on a whole new meaning and relevance. The Kendall Wall Band and the many artists who joined them at The Black Swan and other venues shouldn't remain a distant, hazy memory. Their dedication to blues and music in Canada deserve a place in history as well as a place in the hearts, minds and memories of the people who heard them then as well as audiences today.
In Canada we don't have a musical birthright. There are no Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf or B.B. King. Our recollection of the blues, its history and its traditions was reliant on what was passed down to us by the musician's here in Canada that dedicated themselves to and wove themselves into the music. People and bands like: King Biscuit Boy Richard Newell, The Downchild Blues Band, Morgan Davis, Michael Pickett and The Kendall Wall Band.
The name of our film and The Kendall Wall Band's newly released CD is "The Way We Was".
The film is now complete and we've been able to secure a distribution deal with E-One Entertainment ... one of the biggest film and video distributors in the world. What we have to do now is raise the funds to cover the cost of music copyrights, legal fees, a final mix and colour correction for the already edited final cut of this important piece of Canadian musical blues history.
Check out the band website: http://www.kendallwallband.com/
Christopher Darton (director/camera/producer/editor) is a writer and filmmaker from Port Colborne, Ontario who has worked as a freelance writer, photographer and videographer for the past 25 years since graduating from Sheridan College in Film.
Growing up in Fort Erie, Ontario Chris played hockey and read comic books like any normal Canadian kid until the start of the home video revolution in the early 80’s. Owning one of the first beta systems on the market and fertile imagination Chris began watching 2 or 3 movies a day and shooting his own movies on Super 8mm.
After college Chris worked for 5 years in a video store where he immersed himself in films of all sorts: horror, drama, foreign, action ... watching anything he could get his hands on. Chris has written seven feature length films as well as acting as creator/writer of the unproduced TV series Turtle Island Blues.
During the past few years he’s focused his attention on the Blues music field in Canada. The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band is Chris’s feature film debut as director/producer/editor.
Gary Kendall (co-producer) has been a working musician and songwriter for over almost 50 years, a journeyman and one of the best known bassists in Canada’s blues scene. He is a multiple Maple Blues Award winner and long time member of The Downchild Blues Band, also performing with his own group, The Gary Kendall Band.
As Musical Director of The Maple Blues Awards since 1999, he`s expanded that position into The Maple Blues Revue which tours festivals and concert halls with a show that features Canada’s blues elite.
Always a popular sideman, Gary Kendall is also included onstage and in the studio with David Vest, Robin Banks, Son Roberts, The Swingin' Blackjacks and The Mighty Duck Blues Band to name a few.
His label, 47 Records, has released his two solo recordings, Dusty & Pearl and Feels Real Strong as well as The Way We Was by The Kendall Wall Band.
For more information go to: http://www.garykendall.com/
Joel Goldberg (executive producer) is an Award winning Producer/Director of television shows, television series, documentaries, music videos, commercials, and web content.
His ground breaking music videos have won every national award possible including the prestigious Juno award for best video for “Drop the Needle” by rap artist Maestro Fresh Wes.
For 14 years he was Managing Director, Creative/Production Services for CHUM Television (now CTV) specialty services. In this position, he oversaw all Creative and Production for Canadian Learning Television (CLT), CourtTV Canada, BookTV, and Access Alberta. He was also the Director of Creative/Production Services for CHUM Television International. In this job, he supervised all Creative and Production for CHUM Television’s international MuchMusic and Citytv affiliates. He also consulted on the building and development of the channels.
While at CityTv, he also Produced “Toronto Rocks”, Developed and Produced the hugely popular “Electric Circus”, and developed and Directed the Fashion series “Ooh La La”.
Joel was the series Director for the highly acclaimed Bravo series “Way off Broadway” as well as “Bruce Cockburn, Pacing the Cage” a documentary on Canadian musical icon and activist Bruce Cockburn; he is the Producer/Director for the documentary.
His full length feature documentary on the Downchild Blues Band “Flip, Flop, and Fly, 40 Years of the Downchild Blues Band” continues to air on HBO Canada, TMN and Movie Central. He was the Producer/Director/Writer on the project, and “The University…And the Community”, a documentary he Produced and Directed about Dr. Lloyd Axworthy’s innovative outreach program at the University of Winnipeg.
For more information go to: http://joelgoldbergproductions.com/
The Kendall Wall Band played a legendary 11 year run at The Black Swan. The Saturday afternoon Blues Matinee was a 3 hour show broken down into an hour of The Kendall Wall Band performing. An hour with a guest artist who was either a musician touring from the States playing at Albert's Hall that week or a Canadian musician ... who would sit in with the band. The final hour of the day consisted of a blues jam that gave up and coming musicians without a band or a gig of their own an opportunity to sit in with the band.
The Kendall Wall Band w/Snooky Pryor
The following is a partial list of the some of the musicians who guested with The Kendall Wall Band:
King Biscuit Boy
Luther 'Guitar Junior' Johnson
Matt 'Guitar' Murphy
Donnie 'Mr. Downchild' Walsh
Walter 'Wolfman' Washington
The Kendall Wall Band made two attempts at documenting their music by recording. Studio sessions that stretched over a number of months in 87/88 and a live recording at The Horseshoe followed a couple of years later. Both suffered from fiscal limitations and were never mixed or mastered properly. The recordings were manufactured without the mastering process onto cassettes and were used as promotional demos.The multi-track tapes were stored and forgotten about until years later.
Terrified - The Kendall Wall Band from The Way We Way CD
The studio recording has been rescued, edited, remixed and mastered. This time the entire process was done correctly allowing the music to shine. Critically acclaimed Juno Award winning recording engineer/producer L. Stu Young (Prince, Triumph, Feist, Guns & Roses, Sum 41) has done a stellar job at reconstructing the original tapes.
Although 25 years after the fact the release of these “almost lost” recordings on CD and digital download will finally allow The Kendall Wall Band to take their rightful place in Blues History. Their time was before Blues Society’s became popular, Blues Radio was minimal, Blues Awards were not on the radar and the current Blues network didn`t exist.
The release of The Way We Was on 47 Records and the accompanying documentary should bring this legendary band up to date with blues fans around the world.
Check out the Reviews:
Purchase the Album:
The Kendall Wall Band on The News At Noon with host Bob McAdorey
Risks and challenges
The Way We Was is a finished film. Approximately 72 minutes in length shot on HD video. The film is made up of new interviews tied together with archival live footage of blues greats from Canada and the United States like: Snooky Pryor, Jerry Portnoy, Cash McCall, Tony Flaim and Dutch Mason sitting in with the band during shows at The Black Swan, The Beaches Jazz Festival and the legendary Albert’s Hall in Toronto.
The biggest roadblock we've run into is music and song rights. The legalities involved in clearing the rights for use of that music to display in our project is costly and complicated. Not one, but two sets of rights need clearance, master rights (associated with the audio recording of a piece of music) and publishing rights (associated with the intellectual property of composition - music and lyrics).
Those great artists deserve their dues just as the artists in the film who covered that fine music deserve their day in the sun. We've used music written by artists like Sonny Boy Williamson II, B.B. King, Freddie King, Ike Turner and Robert Johnson to name a few; many of those great blues standards were covered by a number of the artists in our film.
The Way We Was uses over 35 songs in various lengths and in a variety of situations ... foreground and background ... live and recorded presentations etc. Essentially the film is wall-to-wall music. Plain and simply we had two options with regards to music use ... one, was to use the music and performances liberally throughout the film, which we did. Or two ... edit the music portions down or completely remove them. Our feeling was that the music makes the film special. It's the great live performances that bring the film to life and give it a pulse. Much of that live footage has never been publically displayed ... we feel this great music deserves to heard and seen.
Allocation of Funds
- Master rights/copyright for over 35 songs.
- Publishing rights for over 35 songs
- Colour correction
- Final audio mix
- Legal fees.
- (60 days)