beginning, KD, the Godfather of the Jam, created the "Shack". And he
said, "Let there be loud music and liquid refreshment".
it came to pass. And the bands that gathered there prospered and
Well, their souls prospered and the equipment certainly multiplied.
So KD said to the assembled musicians, "Let us build a larger temple.
Let it be in the spirit of the original, but let it be grander in scale
and of a more sturdy construction. And let it be environmentally
assembled multitude set to work ...
B.J. (Joe) Stamper joined with Dave Laco, Sharon White and I to form Guns n'
Horses in about 1990. Joe had played in the Electric Squid
Ken Daniels. At that time Ken was a Professor of
Psychology at Brandon University. I knew him, but not well. He had been
my Psych Lab instructor back in my first year of University and I
had done my student teaching and taken Education courses with his first
wife, Bev. Aside from being in his class, I think I actually first met
him in the lineup to buy tickets for The Who's Winnipeg performance in
1976. How appropriate is that?
In any case, the links, connections, and coincidences in Brandon
Ken lived on a rural property a few kilometres west of town and had
shed into a "Band Shack" for rehearsals and jamming. He encouraged his
friends to use the shack as well.
From the moment you walked in the door you could feel that this was a
room with a purpose. It came equiped with a full band set-up, drums,
P.A. and Marshall amps. It was decorated with posters amd memorabilia
that clearly defined its purpose and its ethos.
These photos only hint at capturing the feel of the place...
Friends and former band-mates - Connexion - rehearsing.
Guns n' Horses
it was a man cave for musicians.
Situated far from the
nearest neighbour (who at that time just happened to be another
musician I knew), it was loud, cluttered, welcoming
and sublimely conducive to the whole business of rock n' roll.
It had a fridge for beer, but the washroom was a the great outdoors.
Talk about priorities!
The Shack became "home" for Guns n' Horses,
Connexion, Deja Vudu
different times, but that was just the beginning.
In the early 1990's Ken began to consider, shall we say, upgrades to
the infrastructure. He decided to build a new Shack using straw bale
construction - something pioneered in south-central United States over
a century earlier and recently revisited as an example of a sustainable
So it was that Ken initiated a building project that somewhat unique
..... by Musicians ... for Musicians.
The first steps included selecting materials. Flax bales were used -
firm and durable material. Some wood was required for the roof and
porch etc. so used hydro poles were milled on site. At each stage many
of us who had used the old shack so well were involved. Geoff helped
gather bales. Mark (who worked for Hydro) found us used poles. Joe was
a carpenter. I helped him mill lumber and build the trusses for
Then came the day we started to put up the walls.
I was there
the early part but missed the excitement when a large
part of the walls toppled.
Undaunted they procceeded with more re-bar support and had it all up
before the day was done.
Once the walls were solidly in place a metal-covered gable roof was
and insulated. The only windows used were glass blocks from an old
school. Then a contractor applied stucco inside and out, and interior
fixtures, a bar and stage were installed. The stage came from didplay
stands that once served in the Eatons store.
the time the "Cantina" was constrructed I
was playing with Armadillo
and Deja VuDu, and for the most part
had rehearsal space elsewhere,
so my involvement with the Cantina was limited. Throughout these
years, Ken had weekly jams with a group of friends, and when they
needed another guitars player, Ken called me.
That was the start of a long, rewarding, and complex set of
relationships. I first met John Felguieras, a drummer, and Doug
Matthews a guitar player who also played keyboards. The four of us
jammed weekly. I'm not sure of the sequence of events, but before long
a mutual friend (and colleague from Strathclair School) Bill Hillman
started to join in. Over the following decade I moved away twice and
returned, always welcomed back into the fold.
were an important part of the process,
and the Brandon and area
musicians who have joined us for an evening or two would make for a
An era ended when Ken and Faye moved to Niagra On The Lake in the fall
of 2013. The Cantina is gone and the property is now the site of
a new rural home.