I was born July 19, 1933 on the Jordan Mountain Road, near Newtown, New Brunswick. I graduated and matriculated from Sussex Consolidated School, ten miles away, in 1950. I had won four provincial high school writing contests, a national Canadian second and third and two provincial poster art prizes during my high school years. I was offered employment with the Telegraph-Journal’s newsroom in Saint John before graduation but declined. My varied work experience includes two summers of farm labour and haying, another at a lumber yard and sawmill, followed by summers at the Sussex Cheese & Butter and Ice Cream Creamery, the Sussex Ginger Ale plant, construction gangs and logging truck operations. I attended the Saint John Vocational School’s Commercial Art Course from 1950-51. Moving to Saint John I worked for J & A McMillan printers and stationers, Thorne’s Hardware’s accounting department. And eventually in March 1953 went to work as an artist at The Telegraph-Journal/Evening Times- Globe. My assimilation into their advertising sales department three years later, brought me in contact with people from all walks of life including musicians, singers and touring bands.
My collection of 35,000 long playing sound recordings (vinyl discs, 8-tracks and cassettes, and several thousand ‘singles’) has given me the background knowledge and appreciation for many kinds of music. If it’s well done — it’s worth listening to; from American popular to Russian folk artists; from Irish, Scottish to Hawaiian and Calypso; from Caruso, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie to Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, Stan Rogers, The Carter Family, Tom Russell and hundreds more.
My love of movies led to a conversation with Charlie Pride in April 2011 resulted in him confiding to me, before any other media person, that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson had just signed to play him in an upcoming bi-op. My breaking news story on it was picked up by nearly 400 internet and media sites around the globe when Rocklands, Charley’s Canadian management agency, stopped counting. They all quoted the article, with my name sometimes, but sourced from the “Canadian newspaper the Telegraph-Journal” every time.
My writing for the newspaper on upcoming concert and jamboree events began in 1958 but without a by-line column until 1978 when I was among the first five to be given a by-line with writer’s picture by the Telegraph-Journal who still carry a half page I write every Thursday weekly. Since then I have covered all genres of what I consider folk song and music from barbershop to pop folk, from American traditional and old country, English music hall to modern country, from choral groups to gospel to the Three Tenors. For the first 18 years it was called Gerry Taylor’s Folk & Country World in the past 17 Down Home Music. I have never been able to rationalize why that change — there was no consultation.
I have written articles for the Atlantic Advocate, Canadian Bluegrass Review, Canadian Folk Bulletin and have written about Atlantic Canadian Music for the Christian Science Monitor; many reviews of CD’s, long plays and cassettes for Canadian and US performers, designed many local record covers and wrote liner notes for them. I have, also, written prefaces for a number of music books and biographies over the years, including three recently. I have been a judge twice for the ECMA’s and once for the Juno’s. Have judged many local talent contests including the 200 plus vocal contestant competitions in Fredericton in the late 1980’s and was head judge and announcer on the televised talent contests organized by a popular TV entrepreneur Dick Stacey and televised on Channel 7, Bangor, Maine TV in the mid-1980’s
For five years in the late 1980’s I had my own traditional music show Sunday evening called Fundy Folk Night over CFBC-FM, now C-98. The popular two-hour show, broadcast simultaneously over facilities in Saint John and Halifax, used tracks from my music collection featuring Irish one Sunday, Calypso the next, the following weeks American and Canadian folk, bluegrass, early country, and so on, alternating. I also supplied all the old radio soundtracks, 1930’s to 1950’s, for their late night Golden Age of Radio series on CFBC Radio, a program that ran for over a decade, and songs for CBC Radio when needed. In 2006 a series of CCMA promos I did for CBC Radio, developed by their programmer Marc Tunney, spotlighting in story and song early Canadian Maritime born country stars, was broadcast across Canada, advertising the CCMA Awards weekend taking place in Saint John that year. Also with CBC, I was part of an entertainment panel on Friday afternoons for five years in the early 1990’s and did a series of rare records half hour programs for them bi-weekly for two years after the curtain dropped on the panel.
I acted as supervisor on Southern New Brunswick talent searches for ATV’s Up Home Tonight, New Faces and Bangor, Maine’s Dick Stacey’s Jamboree.
I was inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1989, the first non-musical person to achieve that honour. I was one of the five to be involved with the start-up of that non-profit venture in 1983 under the leadership of Fredericton band leader, Aubrey Hanson. I am the last of those five still living and have been its vice-president for the past ten years. We just had our annual Gala, banquet, induction ceremonies and concert,and three days of lead-in personal appearances by inductees, October 10-14, that ended with a church service Sunday.
I have been involved as a volunteer arranger of music acts for the Saint John Exhibition Association for the past eight years, using for the most part, local traditional country and folk acts, giving them a chance to perform for a different and larger audience than they usually do, although such acts seem to be proliferating here in the far Canadian east.