Corby's Orbit

Corby's Orbit
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Scott B. Sympathy’s birthday tribute to the late Joe Hall


Joe Hall’s talents for concocting songs that could alternately inspire sentiment, contemplation and laughter were almost unique. Comparable skill sets abide in only a very small group of songsters, Bob Dylan, Ronley Teper and Lynn Miles being amongst the few. His Dadaist sensibilities, contributed to by his German-Canadian heritage made it possible for him to take on inspiration from virtually anything that sparked his explosive imagination. In his youth, he made himself available to any challenge: touring, performing and fielding an exploratory team of empathetic adventurers of equal fearlessness, known as The Continental Drift.

A heyday of media attention in the mid-80s exoticized his more absurd and controversial compositions, to the detriment of a full appreciation of his musical and lyrical genius. Frequent comparisons to American songwriter Frank Zappa did a disservice to the scope of Joe’s emotional range, typifying the Canadian media’s inability to smell what is right under their noses when it comes to critical perception.

After the spotlight moved on, in his self-described “geezerhood,” Joe Hall moved to Peterborough with his family, with monthly treks to Toronto’s Tranzac club and occasional one-nighters maintaining his connection to a loyal fanbase and an appreciative peer group of musicians, including Scott B. Sympathy, Mose Scarlett and his former bandmates, now known as the Incontinental Drift. This arrangement ended in March of 2019 when Joe left us for good.

On his recent birthday, on the 15th of May, Peterborough’s Trent Radio aired a three-hour celebration of Joe Hall’s legacy, featuring friends’ reminiscences and new versions of Joe’s music, including Scott B.’s remarkable performance of Some Other Planet. (Scott B. Sympathy's 90's classic albums have recently been re-mastered and released on T.O.;s Curve Music label.)

As Toronto musician John Dickie said in the broadcast, “You can’t talk about Joe Hall without saying he was a great great songwriter with a real flair for the absurd, and for insight into how our society has progressed. Or not. And that he deserved so much more.” 

View  Joe Hall Some Other Planet by Scott B. here.

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