In the beginning, KD, the Godfather of the Jam, created the "Shack". And he said, "Let there be loud music and liquid refreshment".

And it came to pass. And the bands that gathered there prospered and multiplied.

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 friendly."

So the assembled multitude set to work ...

The Cantina Story

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 with 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 run deep.

Ken lived on a rural property a few kilometres west of town and had converted a 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

Basically 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 at 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 building option.

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 the roof.

Then came the day we started to put up the walls.

I was there for 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 added 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.

At the time the "Cantina" was constrructed I was playing with Armadillo and Deja VuDu, and for the most part we 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.

Guests 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 long list.

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.