The Billy / Connexion Story

Part 1:  In the Beginning..

In 1982 I took a position as Principal of Strathclair School, a K-12 School with about 220 students. Being a small school I also had to teach part time. My band Legacy had disbanded and once again I was “retired”.

It should come as no surprise that I was approached to teach guitar as soon as my interest in that instrument was discovered.

Among my first students were Mark Parypa, Max Waddell and Trevor Wareham, and it wasn’t long before they were interested in working as a group. We recruited a drummer, Brett Wareham and a singer, Sheri Dymterko. I treated it as an extra-curricular activity and kept my involvement to showing them songs, and opening the school on Sunday afternoons so they could rehearse. We had our debut at a Talent Show where they played three songs (White Wedding, Talking in Your Sleep and Your Daddy Don’t Know) and backed up Geoff and I for two songs (Cuts Like a Knife and I Did it For Love - also Geoff’s Rock n’ Roll debut at age 7).

By the time we moved from Strathclair in 1985, they had been joined by Scott Watson a recent Strathclair grad and were a functioning rock band called Patrol. I took a job at Cypress River and sometime in 1987, Mark, who was just graduating gave me a call and asked if I was interested in working with he and Scott in a new project.

So much for retirement.

I spoke to my former bandmates Sharon and Ken from Legacy, and Connexion was formed in the fall of 1987.
The first gig was New Year's Eve, 1987, at Hamiota. The attendance was great and the rest is history!


Bookings - 1988

- opening for Kenny Shields at BU's "Hot Winter Night" social
- Brandon Fair
- Spats on Brandon's North Hill
- opening for Chapeau Rouge at the first (and Last) Virden Rock Fest


Brandon Fair 1988

Kenny left the band in 1988 and after hours of auditions the band chose Dave Laco as the their new drummer.

Ken Storie, Sharon White,, Dave Laco Mark Parypa, Scott Watson

 Songlist from the Early Years (With Sharon)

The Cult : Love Removal Machine, Rain
ZZ Top : Stages, Tush, Gimme all Your Lovin'
Pat Benetar : All Fired Up
Whitesnake : Here I Go Again
Heart : Bebe Le Strange, Rock n' Roll, Who Do You Run To? Nothing at All,
Luba : When a Man Loves a Woman, Little Salvation
Allanna Myles : Black Velvet
Honeymoon Suite : Bad Attitude
Haywire : Black and Blue
Glass Tiger : Still Searching
Barney Bentall : Something to Live For
Roxette : The Look
Billy Idol : Mony Mony
Bob Seger : Old Time Rock n' Roll
Annie Lennox : When Tomorrow Comes
Mountain : Mississippi Queen
Vixen : Edge of a Broken Heart
Joan Jett : I Hate Myself For Loving You, Light of Day
Aerosmith : Rag Doll
Glen Burtnick : I'll Follow
The Call - Let the Day Begin
Red Rider : Untouchable One,  Big League
Bob Jovi : Ninety Nine in the Shade
Def Leppard : Animal, Pour Some Sugar on Me
David Lee Roth : Just Like Livin' In Paradise
Stones : Mixed Emotions, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash
Hooters : Johnny B., Satellite
Streetheart : Snow White, One More Time
April Wine : Rock Myself to Sleep,
Bangles - Hazy Shade of Winter
U2 : Red Hill , Pride, Desire, Helter Skelter
Van Halen : Where Have all The Good Times Gone?  Finish What Ya' Started

Part 2: Up and Rolling...

By the summer of 1988 we were a pretty well-rehearsed machine, constantly learning new songs and reasonably busy. We had three singers sharing the vocals, (four after Dave joined) and could cover a wide range of material. Stage presence was developing. Brad White, Sharon’s husband, started doing sound for us, bringing consistency to that aspect of the production. He knew our material and, above all, cared about the result. As musicians, knowing that he was there allowed us to focus on playing and performing. When I cut into a solo I didn’t have to worry about the volume and mix, I could just fire away.

Bookings - 1989

Jan 5th - 7th - Bronco's Bar & Steakpit (Melita) Brad and Sharon were unable to attend on Friday Night due to a snowstorm.
Feb 10 and 11 - Carberry Motor Inn. The band blew a breaker getting ready. The bar manager was not happy.
March 17 & 18 - Minnedosa Inn - first trip with the new blue bus!
April 8 - Hamiota Hall (School Dance). The band got an open liquor charge - caught drinking in the bus between sets! (We were too lazy to walk across the street to the bar!)
April 14 and 15 - Nelson Inn in Swan River. Audience requested Hank Williams Jr. all night.
July 1 – Waterhen. Swam in the river. It was a bad day for Dave. Let left his snare drum in Minnedosa. He passed out on the way home and Brad Gurr filled his hat with shaving cream. Then Mark left him in the bus when we got home and he wouldn't wake up.
August 6 - Band Blast for Charity in Oak Lake.

August 25 - Minnedosa - Outdoors at the Beach. Lots of bugs! Sharon was on maternity leave and Danika Gustal filled in.

Nov 3 & 4 - Melita Inn. On Saturday night Lisa and Jo-Lyn were the only 2 in the bar when the band started.
Dec. 8 & 9 - City Centre (Brandon). Karyn just about got in a fight about winning a game of pool!
Dec. 23 - Glenella - Christmas Social. Great Crowd.


 March 8, 9, &10 - City Centre
March 23 & 24 - Hamiota Bar. The band got a double encore on Saturday night!
April 12 & 13 - J.J. Shooter's Bar - Minnedosa
May 12 - Glenella – Social. Sharon's last time with the band - with the second child on the way - she took the early retirement package. I would work with her again.
The band decided to go on as a four piece. They purchased PA equipment and hired Scott's sister, Patti, as an agent.

 Part 3: And then there were four...



June 24 & 25 - Gilbert Plains. Brake failure on the bus!
July 20 & 21 - J.J. Shooter's at Minnedosa
August 11 - Deloraine – Social. The planet of the beautiful women. (Inside joke).
Sept. 29 - Glenboro Hotel. First time with Calvin as the sound tech.
October 13 & 14 - City Centre

November 14, 16 & 17 – Boissevain.  Bottineau Night on Wednesday – attracted College kids from across the line where the drinking age was 21.

November 23 and 24 - Carberry Bar. Mark's first (and last?) try at bourbon!
December 21 & 22 - Gilbert Plains Bar.  

It's 40 below all day and someone (Me) didn't make sure the bus was properly plugged in. Started at 11:30 and had a great time. The manager was surprised that we showed at all. Someone served Jonah a coke with rum in it. He noticed.


After having some photos taken we came up with the homemade poster on the left, then opted for a commercial production using the photo on the right.


Jan. 25&26 - Neepawa Bar
Feb. 1 & 2 - City Centre. Mark dedicated a song to "4 lovely ladies", one of whom turned out to be a guy!
Feb. 15 & 16 - Carberry Bar
March 23 - University Social
April 12 & 13 - Carberry Bar


By 1991 the band was very comforable - with performing, with each other - and had settled into a routine. There was a market for the basic Rock n' Roll we provided, a sort of "circuit" of bars and socials that appreciated live music and the show that goes with it.

 Mark built an elaborate light show. Calvin Kelly became the sound tech, ably filling the spot vacated when Brad left. His knowledge of the material and music in general was a big asset.


Calvin Kelly - Sound Tech and Party Animal


Jonah Storie signed on to man the lights.

 The band purchased wireless units to allow the guitar players more freedom to interact with the audience. The set list had developed to the point where the band's strengths were emphasized 

We met each Sunday afternoon for rehearsal at the famous "Shack" at the Ken Daniels Estate and Rural Retreat. 


Into it.. or What?


Was the real purpose of the fog machine to hide the drummer? We're not admitting it.

Or was this another case of spontaneous drummer combustion.

 Dave Laco is in there somewhere.


Sometimes, when he's wrapped up in the whole thing, Scott thinks that he is Eddie Van Halen. Maybe he is?


If I was standing on a table or chair out in the middle of the bar, chances are it was during the solo to "Love Removal Machine"

New Songs

In this era our show followed a script and we had given it quite a bit of thought. We changed things up as we added new material but the general framework of a show remained. We usually grouped songs in threes and kept the pace by either quick transitions or segues. For a time we opened with Everybody Wants You with its catchy guitar riff, and followed it up with Holiday and Surrender. We were making a statement about what the audience could expect, then we changed the pace with things like Angel of Harlem.  The middle set would be a mixture, while the last set headed into Judas Priest and AC/DC territory. For a long time we closed with Led Zeppelin’s Rock n; Roll.

Nazareth : Holiday
Billy Squier : Everybody Wants You
Cheap Trick : Surrender
U2 : Angel of Harlem , Pride, Helter Skelter
Led Zeppelin : Immigrant Song, Rock n' Roll
Foreigner : Dirty White Boy
The Knack " Rocket of Love, My Sharonna 
Andy Curran : No Tattoos
Judas Priest : Another Thing Comin'
AC/DC : Shook Me, Dirty Deeds
Guns n' Roses : Sweet Child
Sammy Hagar : Can't Drive 55 , Eagles Fly
Northern Pikes : She Ain't Pretty

Part 4: Into the 90's...


In May of 1991 the band put together their first demo tape with the help of Bob Simmons and the equipment at Assiniboine Community College. The tape contains 7 of the songs from the current repertoire including the first original,  "Wine and Whiskey" a Scott Watson composition.

1991 - Continued

July 26 - Abernathy Sk. Ken, Dave, Calvin, Jonah and Maureen missed the turn and ended up in Yorkton!
August 2 - Shilo Bar. Booked the band on Monday to play on Friday
August 3 & 4 - Sandy Lake Crazy Golf Tournament. Sang some songs with Bundy a CKND TV personality?
October 31, Nov 1&2 - City Centre. A girl dressed up in a Saran Wrap dress for Halloween
December 6 & 7 - Boissevain Bar

On December 21, 1991 we played a social in the Shoal Lake Rink. The crowd was young and ready to rock. The big stage and big room gave us a chance to stretch a bit. Looking back I see that show as a bit of a highlight – a sample of what was possible.  


So it’s a bit sad that just as things were going well for the band, I was getting ready to move on. I was now over forty years old, and the rest of the guys were much younger. Maybe I was just tired and maybe I wanted to branch out musically, and perhaps I felt that I had done all I could do.

In any case, In January of 1992 both Dave and I left the band. Randy Smith joined on guitar and Terry Stouffer was recruited on drums.

Critics claimed that the new lineup was better looking. That may be, but change also encourages growth, and Connexion definitely kept developing as a band.

David Lee took over on drums when Terry left.

After a gig with Joey Gregorash

Jeff Lawson replaced Randy on guitar when Randy moved to B.C.

In the summer of 1998 Tom Shannon joined on guitar as the band expanded to a five piece format.

Del Clark, recording the second Connexion / Billy demo tape.

In the spring of 1999 I got a call. Jeff Lawson was leaving, would I step in to help out.

The timing was right, a band I was working with, Dr. Frenzy, was sort of idling. I rejoined the band. We all knew it might be only temporary. I was looking at early retirement from teaching and we were likely going to move on.

The band was now called Billy and was a well-known part of the Brandon Scene.

There were some memorable gigs and I enjoyed them all. Bev and I moved to Winnipeg in the summer of 2001 and I played my last gig with Billy at the 40. They rock on (intermittently) to this day. I will have to leave the next chapters to someone else.

Gigs – 1999 - 2001

15 - Cec's Pizza and Bar in Shilo / Sprucewoods
July 9 & 10 - Sprucewoods Inn (Carberry)
Sept 5 - Willie Fest
June 29 - Opening for Lee Aaron at the North Forty.
Oct 30 - Barnacles Halloween Party
April 28 & 29 - Classic Rock Bar in Neepawa
August 6 - Classic Rock Weekend in Minnedosa


 Classic Rock 2000 Minnedosa