Thank you Paul Shaffer
(from June 7, 2006)
Anyone who saw the Canadian Walk of Fame on Sunday night will have witnessed a truly glorious moment in the history of Canadian Prime Time television. I had never heard of this show before this year, I guess it’s a new thing — just like all these other glitzy over-the-top Canadian shows trying WAAAAYYYY too hard to be American and failing miserably. Think about it, Mike Bullard vs David Letterman. Puh-LEEZ! It’s embarassing. I mean really, why bother? We’re not American, we can’t compete with them in that arena, so why not do something that uniquely ours and just be ok with that? That’s why I like the Mercer Report and Corner Gas so much, because it’s truly Canadian and not mediocre diluted wannabe-American …
ANYWAY, back to the Walk of Fame. The whole evening was hosted by wrestling bimbo Trish Stratus, and she was GAWD AWFUL! It was painful to watch. The recipients of the awards, however, were well-deserving and great to see … Eugene Levy was fabulous as always, Jann Arden sang beautifully and then gave her usual hilarious, completely raw and unpretentious commentary, Alex Trebek proved that one can still speak very decent French after living in California for a couple of decades … (better than mine and I’ve lived in Montreal for 10 years. Shame on me!)
But the pinnacle of the evening was when Paul Shaffer was invited up to receive his award. (Yeah he’s the keyboardist & musical director for, and an essential part of, the David Letterman show — you know, one of the late night talk shows that doesn’t suck! Guess what? It’s based in NEW YORK). He did a cute goofy little song with Dan Aykroyd (they’ve been buds forever, they can get away with that stuff!), and then instead of getting up and tooting his own horn, reading the predictable blah blah from a teleprompter, he went and did the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The lights went up on the stage, and there were FOUR Hammond B-3 organs. Sitting at them were the one and only Dr. Lonnie Smith, the amazing Joey DeFrancesco, and Canada’s own B-3 legend Doug Riley (R.I.P.) … Paul Shaffer joined them at the fourth organ. He is a great Hammond organist himself, and like all of us he knows what a special thing this is and what a close-knit family we are. Right before they started the tune he said he wanted to pay tribute to a dying art and got the 3 best organists in the world to help him do it, playing a tune written by the guy who started it all. He counted off the house band and they all broke into “The Cat” by Jimmy Smith and just tore it to shreds. It was AWESOME!!
Earlier in the night, Trish did a little faux-lesbian kissing scene with the other featured high-profile blonde babe — Pamela Anderson — which elicited little more than a few half-assed claps and bored “hmph”s. But “The Cat” brought people screaming and cheering to their feet. A standing-O for classic organ jazz — on prime time national television!!! I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud of my fellow Canadians for choosing real art over plastic boobs. I was also very proud to be a jazz organist and to feel connected to the beautiful moment that was happening, to see that perhaps a seed or two was planted in the collective psyche of the audience … that this really is great stuff, and maybe people will actually get out and see a good jazz organ show instead of plonking their butts down in front of MTV to watch air-brushed tarts bumping and grinding to machine-generated corporate garbage. Maybe there’s some hope for us after all … thanks Paul, you rule!!!
***there is a video on YouTube of this performance: