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'The Way We Was: The Story Of The Kendall Wall Band' Documentary Celebrates The Toronto Blues Band

By Stevie Connor.

The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band covers the 11-year career of a popular group of Canadian musicians during the 80's and early 90's. The recording and documentary first released in 2013, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary during the summer of 2023.

It begins at Toronto`s Black Swan Tavern where The Kendall Wall Band`s Saturday Afternoon Blues Matinee became legendary. The film follows them as they develop as a group and expand their role as a backing band for many pre-eminent Canadian and American blues artists. The last segment of the film documents the remixing, editing, mastering and revitalization of the band's "almost lost" 25-year-old studio recording.

The Way We Was, the film, named after the band`s reissued recording feature`s interviews with group members Gary Kendall, Teddy Leonard, Jeff Baker, Chris Burgess and Richard Smyth along with their recording sidemen Martin Alex Aucoin, Larry Bodnar and Duncan McBain.

It also presents cameo appearances by Canadian blues legends, Donnie ”Mr.Downchild” Walsh, Ken & Chris Whiteley, Harrison Kennedy, Chuck Jackson, Jerome Godboo, Danny Marks, Guitar Mikey and many others

Highlights of the film are vintage clips of The Kendall Wall Band performing alone and with Dutch Mason, Snooky Pryor, Morgan Davis, Cash McCall, Jerry Portnoy, Diana Braithwaite, Rita Chiarelli, Mel Brown, Tony Flaim and more. Video features of the late Richard "Hock" Walsh (Downchild) and a young Jack de Keyzer are priceless.

Presented by Blues Harp Productions, The Way We Was, the documentary launched producer, editor and director Christopher Darton's feature film debut. His career has blossomed in the 10 years following the release of this documentary. TWWW is co-produced by band leader Gary Kendall and executive producer Joel Goldberg.

During the closing months of 1987 and into early 1988, The Kendall Wall Band spent time in a small 16 track analog recording studio in north Toronto laying down tracks for what they hoped would be their first recording. Something that would take them to the next level of their career. They began writing songs and expanded their band into a larger unit for the sessions. The plan, stay true to their traditional blues influences while letting their songwriting take them in new directions.

From the beginning, lack of funds, lack of producing experience and a difficult studio environment hampered their creativity. Through this frustrating situation they forged ahead making sure every sound heard in their heads and every new idea contributed by band members went to tape.

Unfortunately their goals were never achieved. At least that`s the way it seemed at the time. The money ran out, some songs were left unfinished and the final mix was unsatisfactory. The result was a substandard demo that at best could only be used to help book gigs. The tapes went into a drawer and stayed their for the next 25 years.

Gary Kendall always believed that the good music they had envisioned was in those old tapes and someday that music would be brought to the surface bringing the project to a proper completion. In 2012 he enlisted the aid of L. Stu Young, one of the most respected recording engineers in the world and began working on the resurrection of the “almost lost” recordings of The Kendall Wall Band.

Twenty-five years in the making “The Way We Was” is finally ready to be presented to the world, sounding as fresh and relevant as it did back in the late 80`s when it was conceived. Living proof that the original vision of this group of young blues musicians was right on track.


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