In this new column, we talk to musicians, sometimes about the music they make, sometimes about whatever tangent they happen to go off on. And once in a while we may talk to non-musicians as well, just to keep you on your toes.
We're going to kick the whole thing off this week with ten things you ought to know about one of the busiest musicians in town, guitarist Reg Schwager.
- Reg has won the National Jazz Awards Guitarist of the Year award four years running (2005 to 2008): "There was a big Western sweep this year ... I managed to survive that."
- Now in his mid-forties, Reg has never had a driver's license.
- When it came to house hunting, his main concern was being within seven minutes walk of a subway station: "I kind of just took the Bloor subway and got out at every stop from West to East and figured out where I could possibly live."
- He chose Pape, and he's really looking forward to Taste of the Danforth: "I always enjoy that; I try all the souvlakis."
- He used to teach at Mohawk College in Hamilton, but commuting on Go Transit got to be too much: "That was the only thing I didn't like about teaching ... all the rest of it was fun. It ended up being thirteen hour days all the time."
- His first instrument was the violin, which he started at age three, and he started playing jazz professionally in Toronto at the tender age of fifteen.
- His critically acclaimed duets record with Don Thompson, Live at Mezzetta, was recorded for personal use, and only came out when it came to the attention of someone at Sackville Jazz ten years later.
- He's played with some big names in the jazz world, including legendary pianist Sir George "Lullaby of Birdland" Shearing: "Great guy ... His solos were so fresh I didn't know where they were coming from. I had no idea. Completely different every time ... I got really spoiled on that gig."
- Playing jazz has taken Reg all around the world. This year alone he'll be going to France in July with Diana Panton and Japan in October with Emilie-Claire Barlow.
- If you look at the upcoming gigs on his MySpace Page, you'll understand why Reg may not be able to see any of this year's Toronto Jazz Festival: "Usually what happens is if there's something good on, I have to work ... I'm happy to be working ... not working, playing!"
This week alone you can catch Reg at Mezzetta (681 St Clair W) tonight (Thursday June 26) with Bill McBirnie and Friday with Don Thompson. Then he's playing upstairs at The Pilot (22 Cumberland) with Don Thompson Quartet before heading back to Mezzetta on Sunday with Mike Murley.
Photo by Jeannette Lambert