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L.A. Beat

54-40 still going strong after 30 years

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Neil Osborne never thought his band 54-40 would last 30 years, he just never thought about it.54-40 return to Lethbridge this week. Photo submitted

 But since playing their first gig on New Year’s Eve back in 1980 in the  burgeoning Vancouver punk rock club the Smiling Buddha Cabaret, they have recorded a string of hits including “Baby Ran,” “One Gun,” I Go Blind,” and “Blame Your Parents,” just to name a few and released their latest CD “Lost In The City,” last year.
“We never really thought past the band,” said Osborne, taking a little time at home  to feed the dog before hitting the road again on a tour which brings them to Lethbridge, Sept. 16 at Average Joes with special guest Leeroy Stagger.

“I never expected it, but I never looked at what I’d do after the band. I was talking to Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo about it and told him ‘You know, I just don’t know if I can do anything else now,’” he said.
He noted response to the new CD has been pretty good.

“It’s not getting much radio play, but nobody is these days. The older catalogue beats out the newer catalogue every time. But it has been getting good reviews, and crowds have always been great at the shows,” he observed.

A few memories have stood out for Osborne.

“ There are a few from our first gig on new year’s eve at the Smiling Buddha Cabaret in 1980 to meeting Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones and then the rest of the band in 2005. And playing Moscow when it was still communist. That was pretty cool,” he said.

 He met Ron Wood in Banff just before they were to open for them at the Calgary Saddledome.
“ We had a warm-up gig in Banff the night before and Ron Wood was there for the show then took us to this bar and got us pretty drunk. The next day he brought the rest of the band and we hung out with them. I’ve heard with a lot of bands, a lot of times they’ll come and get their picture taken and leave. But that definitely wasn’t our experience,” he laughed.

The band isn’t content to sit back on rest on 30 years of memories though, they are hard at work on their next CD.

“We have five or six new songs. So we’re looking forward to road testing them. It all depends on the night, so we’ll be playing them along with the popular hits,” he said.

“ We’ll  be doing some new stuff and Tom Hooper from the Grapes of Wrath will be with us, so that will be good,“ he enthused.
Leeroy Stagger will be opening the show with his band and will be playing  several dates with them.

“ I haven’t actually met him yet, but everybody I know likes him. So when he called and asked if he could do the show, I said yes.
  So I’ll get to hear him and I’ll get to hear him live, which is the best way to hear a new band,” he continued.

 The sound of 54 40 hasn’t really changed in 30 years.
“ I don’t really have an answer for that, a lot of bands play with samples and tapes. But that’s not what we’re about. We’re a rock band. The drummer goes 1,2,3,4 and we’ll try to keep up,” he said.

 Their songwriting process hasn’t changed much either.
“There are two avenues to songwriting, I’ll bring a song to the band and the words and we’ll write it or  otherwise the band will start jamming and a song will evolve from it,” he said adding subject matter can be anything.
“It's the way I say things. I  don’t usually get topical though sometimes I will, most of my songs are more relational.”
 Tickets for the show are $25. The show begins at 9 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 June 2020 08:39 )  
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