S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Bucky Adams

Bucky Adams - BHM

Born April 25, 1937 to a large family in Depression era Halifax, Charles “Bucky” Richmond Adams was fortunate to find himself in a musical household. Bucky Adams started teaching himself how to play instruments at a young age. By age 11, he entertained the Queen during a Royal visit to Halifax.

Adams played trumpet early on, until he literally blew his instrument to pieces mid-show. He replaced it with a saxophone he borrowed from his dad, after rushing home during the break.

Adams formed a band with several of his professors at Saint Francis Xavier University before playing in a series of Maritime bands. These included The Rockin Rebels, an early-integrated band in the 1960’s.

He played with Toronto émigré Joe Sealy and they gravitated to performing more jazz. Playing jazz found him sharing stages with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and other stalwarts of the genre. Singer Linda Carvery toured the Maritimes with Adams and Sealy before working with The Nova Scotia Mass Choir, some years later.

From The Lobster Trap with Louis Armstrong in the 1960’s, to The Middle Deck with B.B. King in 1974, Adams established himself in the Maritime music scene. In 1974, CBC released a 7” (45 rpm) record credited to Bucky Adams and The Musical Friends. The e.p. featured four covers, including one by fellow Maritimer Gene MacLellan.

The following he year he formed Basin Street, with whom he recorded his first full length album in 1976. The title “Bucky Adams and Basin Street at Privateers’ Warehouse” suggests a live recording, but was in fact recorded in a studio. Copies were presumably sold during their residency at the Halifax venue.

This time, covers including a funky instrumental of the hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” were mixed with originals, all of which, including “Bucky’s Blues,” were credited to the band collectively.

In addition to numerous television appearances, Adams was featured on Canada Express, a weekly music television program which won him a Gabriel Award from the United Nations, for excellence in broadcasting.

Generations was a 1980’s band Adams worked with, but his recorded output picked up in the c.d. age. In 1996 he released “In A Lovin’ Way” featuring songs inspired by his childhood such as “Africville Shuffle” and “Maynard Street.” “Live at the Thirsty Duck” followed, recorded with Adams’ son Corey in Halifax.

Adams joined forces with the Hungarian-Canadian Botos Brothers for his third release, and “Freedom” is Adams’ final disc.

Later in his six-decade career, Bucky Adams volunteered at the seniors’ home where he would eventually live. For over twenty years, the Northwood Centre in Halifax enjoyed weekly performances by Adams. He called it his “Wednesday night music therapy.” Corey described watching one such performance; people entered the room using canes and holding each other’s shoulders. Later, when they heard a song they recognized, they’d find the strength to get up, dance, and move to the music. CBC did a profile on Adams’ for his 70th birthday.

Charles “Bucky” Richmond Adams passed away at age 75 on July 13, 2012. He is survived by his partner Glenda, his wife Clara, five children and many grand children and great grand children. Several years later, the East Coast Music Awards announced the African Canadian Recording of the Year Award would be replaced by the Bucky Adams Memorial Award. It debuted at the 2016 ECMAs.

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary.

Don’t forget to check out these videos about Bucky Adams:

1.Charles “Bucky” Adams: A Celebration of Life Tribute in Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK89IoN0Id4

2.Bucky Adams – Basin Street – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMsNLu_bjlI

Performed by: Bucky Adams
Written by: Edwin H. Morris, Spencer Williams
Produced by: Russ Brannon
Album: Bucky Adams And Basin Street At Privateers’ Warehouse
Source: Discogs

3.Bucky Adams & Basin Street – Afro Minor (Canada 1976) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQk2YEPpa6E

Performed by: Bucky Adams
Written by: Basin Street
Produced by: Russ Brannon
Album: Bucky Adams And Basin Street At Privateers’ Warehouse
Source: Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Joe Sealy

Joe Sealy - BHM

Joe Sealy’s role as a fixture on the Canadian jazz scene started in his hometown of Montreal, but his status grew after heading east. Instead of heading for Toronto or the U.S., Sealy relocated to Halifax in January of 1967 and got busy on local stages, radio and T.V. shows.

Born August 16, 1939, Joseph Arthur Sealy grew up in Longueuil, Quebec. Sealy’s paternal grandfather James Arthur Sealy emigrated to Africville from Barbados where his father Joseph Maurice Sealy was born in 1910. When Sealy’s father was 9 years of age, his grandfather moved the family to Montreal where his father grew up, later married and bought land in Longueil where Joe Sealy was brought up from the age of 9.

By this time, young Joe Sealy had lessons from the popular local music teacher and sister of Oscar’s, Daisy Peterson. Once in Longueuil, Sealy practised on his own and later returned to Montreal to work with local band leaders and tour Quebec. Enlisting in the navy and attending Sir George Williams (now Concordia) University were shoehorned in with music. Sealy’s practical father warned his son he should have a practical skill to rely on, should the younger Sealy find himself unable to earn a living making music.

In January 1967, Peterson headed east to Halifax, where he had steady work lined up with CBC television. This expanded immediately. “As soon as I got to Halifax, in the first week, I was working seven nights a week and also recording every Sunday, plus a radio show every week, and video taping every other Saturday.”

There is footage of the 1967 season finale of Maritime music show Frank’s Bandstand, featuring Joe Sealy playing organ, which can be seen here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx0I3ZfDVq4.

Somehow, Sealy found time to play in a series of local rock and soul bands. He played with Bucky Adams in The Unusuals. “We actually ended up opening our own after-hours club,” Joe explained. Named after the band, Club Unusual opened from midnight to four in the morning out of a Coca Cola warehouse. Macleans mentions the club and band in a 1970 profile of Halifax.

Sealy had planned to stay only for the T.V. season, but after finding a lot of work, he stayed for more T.V.; Roundabout, Student Showcase, and the better known Music Hop all featured Sealy’s musical touch.

Off-screen, Sealy got to perform with the likes of Milt Jackson and Sonny Stitt among other revered jazz figures before recording his first LP in 1976.

The album was a mix of covers and originals, with a few funky moments mixed in with moodier meditations like “Blue Jade.”

“Sailin Home” was released in 1976, somewhat ironically as Sealy was about to sail on, as it were, and relocate to a new city; Toronto. He arrived to a busy city with a still-thriving live jazz scene. Extended residencies were still the norm, and Sealy held several. One such establishment, Errol’s, yielded a live album.

There was also stage work which found Sealy directing and acting, in addition to performing music. In 1982, Sealy cut his third album, the Juno-nominated Clear Vision, in one day. When asked about whether the immediacy of a live date fueled the speed with which this album was recorded, Sealy observed “There’s nothing like a live experience. This is what we do.”

The early 1990’s saw a rapid decline in not just extended runs in clubs and lounges, but fewer bookings altogether for jazz musicians. Sealy then found long-time collaborator Paul Novotny. They were nominated for a Juno in 1995 and, in 1997 Sealy received a Juno win for Africville Suite. Inspired by the Nova Scotian community bulldozed into history through the late 1960’s, Africville Suite yielded several tours through Canada, Norway, Denmark and the U.S.

Most of Sealy’s records were released on the Sea-Jam label. Up until 2019, Sealy served as the president of Triplet Records, a local jazz label. In 2010, he received the high honour award of the Order of Canada.

In Toronto, Sealy hosts a weekly radio show on Monday nights, at Jazz 91 FM. He still performs, and is quoted in this article from a post-show interview at the 2019 Kensington Market Jazz Festival.

In February 2020, Sealy performed music and stories from Africville with Jackie Richardson. The Joe Sealy Quartet has a regular spot at the Jazz Bistro, where they next play on April 3, 2020.

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary.

Don’t forget to check out these Joe Sealy songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/31Qr3U2

Spotify Ep.5

1. Africville
Performed by: Joe Sealy
Written by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Produced by: Paul Novotny
Album: Africville Suite
Source: Discogs

2. Duke’s In Town
Performed by: Joe Sealy
Written by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Produced by: Paul Novotny
Album: Africville Suite
Source: Discogs

3. We Three Kings
Performed by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Written by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Produced by: Paul Novotny
Album: The Man In The Red Suit
Source: Discogs

4. The Dunes
Performed by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Written by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Produced by: Paul Novotny
Album: The Man In The Red Suit
Source: Discogs

5. The Snowman
Performed by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Written by: Joe Sealy, Paul Novotny
Produced by: Paul Novotny
Album: The Man In The Red Suit
Source: Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.