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21 May 2017

Joey Gregorash ‎ “North Country Funk” 1971 Canada Rock Pop Folk







Joey Gregorash ‎ “North Country Funk” 1971 Canada Rock Pop Folk
full
LP, on the Polydor label, from 1971. This is a very rare original Canadian pressing of a rare folk funk rock album. Contains a great version of Neil Young classic, "Down By the River", and drum break on funky cut "Dollar Bill". ...........

Joey Gregorash is a musician from Winnipeg, Manitoba who became the first solo Manitoba act to win a Juno Award in 1972 for Outstanding Performance-Male. He started his career with local Winnipeg band the Mongrels. In the early 1970s, besides the Juno Award, Joey recorded a number of singles for Polydor Records and a string of Canadian hit singles, such as "Jodie" and his cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River."
In 1987, after years of inactivity, he returned to the charts with "Together (The New Wedding Song)" which to this day is a popular song at weddings.
Gregorash hosted "S'kiddle Bits," a noon hour children's variety television show on CKY-TV. It ran through the late-1980s and early-1990s and featured in-studio and on-location musical performances and guests from around Manitoba. .........

Joey's musical career began in the mid 60's with a brief interest in the violin. "My father played and we constantly had those wonderful kitchen parties where he and my musical relatives played till the wee hours. I miss those days! That's where I got my musical inspiration." When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in February, 1964, Joey's interests turn to rock and the drums. Along with long time friend, John Nykon, Joey formed The Mongrels which became one of Manitoba's most popular bands. "I wish the kids today could have what we had, a place to play and socialize every weekend with hundreds of choices". "Winnipeg was the hotbed of entertainment in Canada! We were like a little Liverpool. I look back and fondly call it LiverPEG!". Joey made the transition from drummer to lead singer one night, when the original lead was removed from the band by his parents, just thirty minutes before a dance for poor school grades. "That was my first induction to the pressure of that show biz phrase that the show must go on!" laughs Joey. There were some interesting lyrical interpretations that night at Maple Leaf Community Club, like Route 66 for example, "Wheh few ev pan a mow wes!" (Well if you ever plan to motor west.) Actually, it was this incident that would begin a journey to some major music success for Joey Gregorash! .........................

A native of Winnipeg, Joey Gregorash grew up in a musical family, where his first interest was the violin, which his father played. But as he got older, his interests turned more to rock and roll and the drums, fuelled by seeing The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

As the drummer and eventually the lead singer, he formed The Mongrels with childhood friend John Nykon in 1965. They became one of the province's hottest bands, recording a string of singles for local label Franklin Records, including "My Woman" and "Sitting In The Station" written by Randy Bachman. Their first album followed a year later, which resulted in another pair of singles, and then one more for RCA/Victor in 1970, and they even got a mention for "Funny Day" (also penned by Bachman) by Dick Clark on "American Bandstand."

1968 also saw Gregorash's debut as a TV host. After seeing his performance on the weekday afternoon program "Music Hop," Bob Burns of CJAY-TV in Winnipeg saw his potential, and offered him the job of hosting a show of his own called "Young As You Are." This led to two other programs after its demise - "Teen Dance Party," and then "Joey and the Hits."

But looking for new musical direction, he left The Mongrels and formed the short-lived group Walrus, but by 1970 opted instead for a solo career. He signed with Polydor who released a pair of singles - "Stay" and "Tomorrow Tomorrow." The flip-side to "Stay" - "I'm Easy Come Easy Go" was then released as a single on its own before the end of the year. All three combined to give him hits on the pop, country, and adult contemporary charts, with "I'm Easy Come Easy Go" peaking at #25 on the country chart, while "Tomorrow Tomorrow" reached the same plateau on the AC chart.

Seeing promise, they shipped him off to Memphis to do some studio work with producer Ron Capone at Stax Volt Studios. His debut album, NORTH COUNTRY FUNK, was released in the spring of '71, and the lead-off first single, "Jodie," shot up the pop charts, settling at #3. The single was also a hit in Japan, Australia, Germany, and along with the traditional marketing of releasing the 45, a Latin American-only 7" 33 RPM was also released, which also contained the b-side "The Key," as well as two tracks from The Mongrels, "Tomorrow Tomorrow" and "It Won't Last Long."

The follow-up, "Don't Let Your Pride Get You Girl" didn't fare as well as "Jodi," but the third single, a shortened version of his five-minute cover of Neil Young's "Down By The River" (a song that almost didn't get recorded and featured Bobby Manuel from Isaac Hayes' band on lead guitar) became his first US hit. Although it failed to make the top 100 south of the border, it was a top 40 hit at home, and did time in the top 20 in pockets throughout the Maritimes. His cover of the song also earned him a Juno Award the following spring for Outstanding Male Performance. His trip to the podium made him the first native Manitoba solo act to win a Juno, and he was also nominated for Best Male Vocalist, but lost out to Gordon Lightfoot by a single vote.

Although nothing peaked as high as "Jodi," his follow-up album a year later, TELL THE PEOPLE, still produced moderate cross-chart hits. "My Love Sings" peaked at #16 on the pop chart, while "Take the Blindness" and the title track both charted on both the pop and adult contempary charts. The album also contained a re-released version of "Down By The River." He embarked on a cross-Canada tour that kept him on the road for the better part of the next year, making stops in the US, as well.

He continued recording for the next few years, releasing a string of singles - "Liza," "You've Been Wrong," and "I Know We'll Make It Together," although none made the top 40 on either the pop or AC charts. He left the music business later in the decade and became a radio commercial writer, winning 14 national and international awards for individual jingles and full-blown promotional campaigns in the first few years alone.

As the '80s progressed, Gregorash turned his attention to other areas of broadcasting, hosting a pair of morning shows on local Winnipeg radio. In 1986 he hosted a family noon hour TV show called "S'Kiddle Bits," which led to a kids' album entitled S'KIDDLE BITS BOP N' ROCK. A couple of years later he then hosted a new program called HI NOON, in which country living and music was the focus. Although it only ran for one year, he counted Jann Arden and Garth Brooks as his guests. Although he was in talks with The Nashville Network, this was during the emergence of CMT Canada, and a possible show that had been pitched to TNN ended up getting scrubbed...

He returned to music in '86 after scoring a deal with Attic, releasing the TOGETHER album the next year. Ironically it was then that he finally received a gold record for the song "Together (The New Wedding Song)." It went down in the annals of history as a staple at weddings and is considered by critics to be one of the greatest wedding songs ever written. The song's melody was actually taken from "Tomorrow Tomorrow" from 1968, and the lyrics weren't written until the mid '70s, and was also first released in 1983 as a fundraiser for a local charity. The single's b-side was another ballad entitled "Love Will Keep It Together," originally released in '84 as a single on its own.

He spent the '90s returning to commercial writing and promotions, where he continued to win national awards. He also remained on the stage, performing now and again. As a side project, he invented a Guess Who covers band called Sham Alien and The Dispersions for a tribute album, and also contributed to a local charity album with a knock-off of "Together," called "I Just Want To Play Hockey," written when the Winnipeg Jets announced they were leaving for Phoenix.

Continuing in the '00s as a freelance performer and promotions/commercial writer, Gregorash also began studying Bel Canto voice stylings, winning rave reviews as a tenor with an impressive vocal range, in the styles of Pavarotti and Bocelli.
Canadian-Bands.....................

Winnipeg native Gregorash was introduced to music early in life and started playing originally as a violinist. By 1967 he switched to drums and had formed his own act, The Mongrels, and at age 16 would host his own dance TV show called 'Young As You Are' during which time the band became the first white musicians to record at the infamous Stax Volt studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

The group was signed to Winnipeg label Franklin records in 1968 with several singles produced by Randy Bachman. But by 1969 Gregorash had to quit the band with vocal problems. The band carried on without him.

By the age of 20 he had signed with Polydor Records as a solo artist and recorded his first two singles in Minneapolis during the Spring of 1970. The songs "Stay" and "Tomorrow Tomorrow" were a prelude to bigger things as Gregorash found fame in 1971's "Jodie". The song went Top-10 in Canada and landed him a Juno Award for 'Outstanding Performance - Male Vocalist'.

"Jodie" was followed up by the Neil Young song "Down By The River" helping make his debut album, 'North Country Funk', a certified hit.

A second solo album, 'Tell The People', came in 1972 and featured several moderately successful singles such as "My Love Sings" and the title track.

Gregorash toured his efforts throughout the '70's before hanging up his musical career in favour of a creative directorship at Winnipeg radio station CKY where he won 15 writing awards. This stint was followed by some DJ work.

In 1986 he was also the host of kids' show 'S'Kiddle Bits', a noon-hour television show.

In 1987 he re-recorded his second single "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" as "Together (The New Wedding Song)" for Attic Records which instantly sold 50,000 copies and has become a perennial favourite at weddings.

Gregorash continues performing and entertaining in Western Canada.

with notes from Joey Gregorash and John Einarson.....Canoe Jam Canadian Pop Engyclopedia..........

Credits
Bass – Dick Hedlund
Drums – Dick Bortolucci
Keyboards – Marvell Thomas
Lead Guitar – Bob Sabellico, Bobby Manuel
Producer – Ron Capone
Rhythm Guitar – Ronald Risko
Vocals – Joey Gregorash

• Side One:
A1. Jodie 02:49
A2. Down By The River 05:10
A3. Night Ride To Memphis 02:45
A4. Make A Better Place 02:59
A5. The Key 03:03
• Side Two:
B1. Don't Let Your Pride Get You Girl 03:35
B2. Freedom Means Love 03:28
B3. Bye Bye Baby 03:30
B4. Sugar Ride 03:08
B5. Dollar Bill 02:22 

Discography

Singles
as JOEY GREGORASH
1970 Stay/I'm Easy Come, Easy Go (Polydor) 2065-023
1970 Tomorrow, Tomorrow/It Won't Last Long (Polydor) 2065-034
1971 Jodie/The Key (Polydor) 2065-055
1971 Down By The River/Don't Let Your Pride Get You Girl (Polydor) 2065-073
1972 My Love Sings/Sugar Ride (Polydor) 2065-100
1972 Another Part of Life/Bye Bye Love (Polydor) 2065-118
1972 Take The Blindness/For The Last Time (Polydor) 2065-148
1972 Tell The People (Polydor) 2065-168
1973 Liza/Freedom Means Love (Polydor) 2065-205
1973 Jodie/My Love Sings [re-issue] (Polydor) PC-1009
1973 You've Been Wrong (Polydor) 2065-219
1975 I Know We'll Make It Together/I'm Your Lover (Sono-Gram) SG-9033
1984 Love Will Bring It Together
1987 Together (The New Wedding Song)/Love Will Bring It Together (Attic) AT-357

with THE MONGRELS
1968 Death of a Salesman/Sitting in the Station (Franklin) FR-307
1968 My Woman/Sitting In The Station (Franklin) QC-619

Albums
as JOEY GREGORASH
1971 North Country Funk (Polydor) 2424-025
1972 Tell The People 

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