BUSKER was a two-man outfit from the “Great White North” of Ontario Canada. Steve McCann, and Randy Dawdy’s first collaboration was in a high school production of “Hair.” However, there was more to this duo than that humble beginning. Steve has earned degrees in music theory and composition, and won an Ontario Arts Council songwriting competition. Randy had previously been a member of Max Webster, and Whitehorse. London, Ontario is also home to The University of Western Ontario. College towns are well known as fertile ground for artistic expression. On Labor Day 1973, they decided to form a band. The intention was to play music with jazz, prog, and classical influences.
The debut album, “On Any Street Corner,” was released in 1975. It is described as being derived mainly from funk and rock, and was sold mainly at shows, and local stores. On their next effort, BUSKER began to flex more prog muscle. 1979’s “Impressions of a City” was a suite based on life in the London area. It was received well by the press, and helped to strengthen their cult following.
Never wanting to repeat themselves, Steve and Randy created a different experience with each album. In 1980 they “responded” to the New Wave movement with “Shakin’ All Over.” In 1982 they offered the jazzy island sounds of “Summernightsmusic.” Walter Carlos and Kraftwerk must have been on the turntable when they came up with the electronic “Blitzkrieg” in 1984.
They toured rigorously, and built a loyal following. Yet, major label interest eluded them. Regular jobs, and family obligations finally won out, and BUSKER was retired. Randy continued to perform with the likes of Dave Hoy, The King Street Daddies, and WRIF WRAF. Steve became a bar owner, but did return to music. More recently, he has recorded a trilogy of tropical inspired solo albums.
Seemingly out of nowhere, something new appeared from BUSKER. In 2007, the album Northern Fantasies was released. It is a concept album, originating in 1973, that was inspired during their days on the road. It began as a set of four-track demo recordings from that time. Tracks that were included on other albums were used to round it out. However, this not a collection of lost songs. The entire project was done with a new perpective in 2007.
Since all of the tracks were revisited for the new recording, BUSKER was somewhat resurrected. JD Dinsdale describes their current status as more of an active band than E.L.P., but not quite as much as Yes. They haven’t played live in a very long time, but they did collaborate in the studio for “Northern Fantasies.” The door is currently open for another BUSKER project.
Putting this additon together for Prog Archives proved to be a bit more difficult than expected. Over the years, things have been lost. Some things (like master tapes) were even lost in a flood. Many thanks go to JD Dinsdale for contacting friends, and providing the needed material.