BOB BRYDEN - Photograph by Kyle Weir
Hamilton-based but Oshawa-raised Bob Bryden was born in the country’s capital, Ottawa and moved to the General Motors capital when he was twelve. He was initially introduced to music by way of film soundtracks; Dimitri Tiomkin’s “The Alamo” was the first album he bought. He continues to collect soundtracks he says. Around the mid-1960s he picked up on the energy of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He joined The Outcasts, a high school band and he has played in several different bands in the interim years; The Things, Christopher Columbus Discovery of New Lands Band, Reign Ghost, Christmas, Spirit of Christmas, Benzene jag, Age of Mirrors. He has also produced; Durango 95 on the Star Records house label. It was because of Star Records that Bryden made the move from one factory town to another.
“One day in 1978 I was floundering and walked into Star Oshawa. Mike was on the phone with his cousin Paul and asked if I'd like to go to Hamilton now and manage the store. I told him, ironically, I had to be in Hamilton in a few days to do a TV show and I'd check it out. I walked into Star Hamilton incognito and it was like the Wild West,” he says.
He had stepped into his own version of The Alamo and had much to defend.
“For the first few months I was in Hamilton I felt just like a marshal in a Western sent in to clean up the town - ha! I wasn't popular with the Teenage Head gang because I basically had to stop their little 'reign' of the store. I quickly gravitated to The Forgotten Rebels anyway and we became a label and recorded them,” he says.
Although punk was in some quarters a backlash against the 70s prog-rock Bryden was familiar with through his own earlier bands, he gravitated towards the youthful energy and has stayed involved in the nascent Hamilton scene. He recently performed at a Joe Strummer tribute night hosted by It Ain’t Hollywood, a music venue run by another Oshawa ex-pat Lou Molinaro.
“I loved the punk scene in general except for the nihilism,” he says “but to say that it kick started popular (and unpopular) music again is an understatement.”
Bryden has been kick starting his own jams for almost five decades and has seen many bands and styles come and go. What keeps him going?
“It is too deep in the blood to get rid of it. Ha! I've tried to stop and I can't,” he says.