Gram InterNational North Poster Features Previously Unpublished Photo of Parsons
Poster by Michael Cavanaugh from previously unpublished photo by Jeffrey Kliman.
Can you name a musician Rolling Stone magazine puts five ahead of Tom Petty in their “Most Important Artists of All Time” list and who died over four decades ago, without a hit song?
Now in its eighth year, Gram Parsons InterNational (GPI), an annual multi-city festival celebration devoted to honoring the legacy of the late great Gram Parsons by presenting regional bands that are seen to be in Parsons’ legacy, is coming to Toronto, Friday, September 11 at 8pm, at The Linsmore Tavern on Danforth Ave. This year’s show is the festival’s fourth in Toronto.
The Toronto-area bands chosen to be in the legacy of Gram in 2015 include GT Harris & the Gunslingers, Darcy Windover & The Ole Fashion, Aimie Page Duo, Jacques & the Valdanes, Otter Creek Band, Lucky Mike, Dick Rodan, Ayerhart Roofing Co., and Madonna McManus w/ Steve Doede.
There aren’t many country music or rock artists whose influence continues to grow over four decades after their passing; Gram Parsons is one of them. To answer the opening question, Rolling Stone ranks him as No. 87 in their Top 100 Most Important Artists of All Time (and one of only 11 on that list eligible but not inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame where he has been nominated four times). Many claim that his influence on Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones changed the direction of their music.
Many others just claim Parsons as their gateway into the world of true country music, the kind which was being played by the likes of Cash, Haggard, Buck Owens, the Louvin Brothers and many more. Gram’s protégé, Emmylou Harris, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008; former Byrd, Burrito Brother and Fallen Angel Parsons, while often mentioned, has so far not been considered.
Will James, founding director of Gram Parsons InterNational and the Petition to Induct Parsons into the Country Music Hall of Fame (gramparsonspetition.com), now with over 12,000 signatures, says that GPI bands play their own music with a nod to Gram. “We don’t usually call them ‘tribute’ concerts, as folks get the impression that the bands will play nothing but Gram’s songs,” Will states. “You will hear plenty of Gram, but I select bands that sound to me to have a deep respect for, and are influenced by, Gram’s music. I want to hear them play their own stuff.” He has the same dislike for labels that Parsons did, who disliked the term “country rock,” for which Parsons is often credited as founding. Will quotes Gram, “I think pure country music includes rock and roll. I’ve never been able to get into the further label of country-rock.”
“Many find that Nashville’s product doesn’t sound much like country anymore,” Will says. “So you have this plethora of labels – alt country, Americana, outlaw country, cowpunk – that just becomes overwhelming. While Parsons is often credited as being the genesis behind these “genres” — many of which our bands incorporate — my feeling is that he was a great songwriter and performer who was trying to introduce country music, the real thang as we say, to a whole new audience in a very divisive time.”
“We are scheduling these eight exciting bands into six hours with only 10-minute breaks.” By the way, you’ll be hearing the actual Gram Parsons played over the P.A. during those breaks.
“Our main mission,” Will James claims, “is to have one heck of a party. That’s what Gram would have liked.”
Tickets are available on the The Linsmore Tavern website right here at http://www.linsmoretavern.com for $10; beat the $15 price at the door (still a steal for eight great bands). Be sure to be there by 8:00 so as not to miss any of this great regional talent.