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  • Writer's pictureNoah Pascoe

Pascoe & The Palmerstones: A Brief History

Warning: Patience is advised as I talk about my past before getting to the point

My formative years were spent in Ottawa and my transformational years occurred in Toronto. I learned the basics in Ottawa and the fundamentals in Toronto. I had stopped physically growing by the time I left Ottawa but it was in Toronto where I grew spiritually, and eventually, artistically.

I spent a good chunk of my youth training to be a professional vocalist. Instead of having to take me to early morning hockey practices and purchasing all the gear, my mother or father dropped me off once a week to the music studio and wrote a cheque for the month. By the age of 17 I had performed incessantly, competed in local festivals and completed an intensive music program. But I had not created a single piece of music. After studying and reciting all the arias, sonatas and popular songs, what I gained in technical proficiency I lacked in artistry. Rather than continuing down the path I had been on for many years, I took a different route and enrolled in university majoring in history and political science. The years that followed were not filled with soul searching but rather searching for work and ways to pay back student loans. During these years I coasted from job to job: ESL instructor, barista, driver, writer, tutor, volunteer, intern, caller, social media specialist. But as fate would had it, I began instructing guitar and piano. By relaying to my students what I had learned at their age, my love of music was revitalized. In the daily hustle of life, it is easy to let your passions to go malnourished. You get bogged down by the noise, you enter unhealthy relationships, the inspiration doesn't appear, you get sidetracked with new cravings, you explore other fields in the quest to diversify the skills.

I was elated to return to music but this time it was on my own terms. I drew from my life experiences. I employed the skills that I learned from my mentors and absorbed from my peers. I began to make original music. I had the good fortune of meeting and collaborating with a number of stellar musicians around the city. Toronto has a vibrant alternative music scene with quirky and freakishly talented characters lurking in and around the open mic stages and poorly lit bars and hipster-filled parks. Bless their weird, crafty souls. By the end of 2015 I found myself playing with Bassist Bil and Drummer Dan in a basement apartment at Palmerston and Bloor in downtown Toronto.

I had met Bil years earlier when he was playing bass in a funk band with my friend Harry (who I met in undergrad when he was living with my closest pal, Daniel). Bil had moved to Toronto from Brazil and had stumbled upon a 'Seeking Musicians' ad posted by Harry. I joined the funk band as a guest vocalist for what became one of the most memorable gigs: setting up on a small stage on Lakeshore Boulevard and playing for hundreds of runners participating in the Scotiabank Marathon. That is when I learned that playing a marathon gig allows one to get away with repeating the heck out a song for minutes on end. Afterwards I found myself playing with my bass-playing pal, Dean Fox, and we assembled Pascoe & The Foxtones (which included Willis Klein on guitar and Josh Park on drums) It was a short-lived outlet; the pinnacle moment was playing a nice bar on King Street where they paid and fed us well. We were promised a residency but we ended up only doing a couple performances when they decided to return to Jazz Saturdays. May this serve as a reminder to the skeptics who think jazz is dead (and a testament to how fickle the bar scene is). When Dean moved back to Australia, he uttered a very significant command: "Dude, get Bil." I took his advice, reached out to the Brazilian music man and a strong friendship and collaboration formed. Bil, who had just enrolled in a sound engineering program, refurbished his basement into a recording space and eventually recorded my inaugural solo record 'There Goes My Head'

At some point in 2014 I was shopping for vinyl at Kops Records where I met Lauren who was working and overheard me mention to the cashier that I was a musician new to the neighbourhood. In a very forward fashion, Lauren approached me and proclaimed she was a singer looking for musicians to back her up. Her passion (and directness) were very refreshing. We soon got together and formed a duo. Eventually, we wanted to expand and get a rhythm section. I had just reunited with Bil and brought him in on bass. And Lauren brought Dan on drums. Dan, unbeknownst to me, was playing drums for the soul band BackTrack led by my old summer camp director, Marty Zatzman. It's a small world. The four of us would jam in the basement apartment on Palmerston, working on mine and Lauren originals and covers (Bob Marley, Sam Cooke and the like). Lauren, who was a certified teacher at the time, found work and had to back out of our weekly sessions due to her busy schedule. And so, in the fall of 2015 I found myself jamming with Bil and Dan. We decided to scrap the covers and play my originals. It was during this period that songs started to pour out. I was swimming in inspiration, but that's a different story...

We named the group Pascoe & The Palmerstones (after the street) and made music for the next couple of years with a couple breaks when I travelled to Asia. We played some shows, recorded some tracks and jammed our hearts out. I loved playing with them. It was fun times and I became a better musician when it was done. Bil came up with bass parts that complemented by guitar, fresh and unique movements that were not parallel to what I was doing (which happens so often with that instrument). Bil's calm and collected nature always came through on his playing. Dan, apart from his incredible technique and tight grooves, was our musical encyclopedia. I have never met anyone so knowledgeable regarding 20th century music, specifically classic rock and jazz. His commitment to music was so intense that he would often come to practice without eating. I am not kidding when I say that he always showed up with a sandwich, cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber. Bil and I would force him to eat before we got to playing.

I would have loved to remain playing with these two, but teacher's college was calling and I moved to Kingston to pursue my career in education. I'm currently living and working overseas at an international school with my fiancé. Bil still resides in Toronto with his lovely wife Klara and their rambunctious cat Ziggy. He's working away at school and those two are staying alive in Toronto, a city that continues to rise in cost and decrease in music venues. We have kept in touch and often remark on those good old days, the hazy basement jams and the bursts of creativity. I haven't heard much from Dan, but if I ever need a taste of his character, I check out his YouTube channel where he posts videos of his cat or something funny he saw on TV. Bless his weird, crafty soul. And long live The Palmerstones.

Lesson #1: Don't forget to feed you passion + don't forget to feed yourself

Lesson #2: ______ & The _______ band names should never go out of fashion


Featuring: Catch On, Silly Boy, 31.5, Be Yourself Again (Pascoe)

Vocals and Acoustic Guitar: Noah Pascoe

Bass: Bil Bertram

Drums: Dan Juric

Recorded and Mixed by Bil Bertram


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