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KINGSTON — Growing up as the son of a music store owner, Larry Stafford can’t remember a time when music wasn’t entwined in his life.
Like his father, Hugh, Stafford the younger played the trumpet and keyboards, and found himself playing with an assortment of local bands.
At Stafford Music Centre on Princess Street, he remembers bands and concert promoters coming in and putting up posters for upcoming concerts and glossy photos of the musicians who would be playing at them.
While they would readily put them up, they rarely came back to take them down. So Larry Stafford would do it for them, and place the posters and photos into a scrapbook for safekeeping.
As time wore on — Stafford would often work behind the scenes when not onstage — that scrapbook became scrapbooks, then a box, and then boxes.
When the 66-year-old joined the social networking site Facebook, he, like many others, would post an old photo as part of what’s widely known as “Throwback Thursday.”
Stafford, who has played in a variety of bands and still does to this day, would often post a band photo or a show poster from his collection.
“It’s very nostalgic, and a lot of memories for me,” he recalled. “I only pull those boxes out every once in a long while and maybe look at one or two pictures, but then, as I started posting them on the Thursdays, I’d pull out a picture I’d forgotten that I’d even had, you know, and find another one hidden away in an old photo album or something.”
People would comment favourably about his photos, telling him how they remembered that musician, that promoter, that band, that show, that venue.
“A few people approached me and said, ‘You should start a page of your own just on Kingston bands,’” he said.
So, just for fun, he did. That Facebook page is called “Kingston-History of Bands.”
“I started it just with my own pictures,” Stafford said.
“I created the page, and designed it into albums for various eras of rock bands, country bands, jazz bands so we could offer a wide profile. Fifty pictures on there are mine personally, and then I just made it public.”
There are also albums for behind-the-scenes shots, technical crew personnel and one in which musicians who have passed away are remembered.
He was surprised how popular it became in just the first month of its existence.
“It took off immediately,” said Stafford, who has his own sound company as well. “In fact, it was a little bit overwhelming.”
Now, he receives pictures from others and encourages people to contribute to what has become a chronicle of Kingston’s evolving music scene. Essentially, a virtual scrapbook. The photos date back to his father’s days, conducting big bands, and to the 1950s, when The Monarchs were one of the city’s first rock ‘n’ roll bands.
“I remember going and seeing them back when I was about 11 years old,” Stafford said.
And then there were, through the years, bands such as Percy and the Teardrops, Streetnoise (of which Stafford was a member), Phil ‘N’ The Blanks, The Cavaliers, Consilium, The Dangling Participles, City Slickers, The Pariahs and so many more. And those bands would play at since-closed venues such as the Lakeview Manor, Frosty Muggins, the Birdcage Lounge.
Stafford is hoping to take some of the material he has gathered and turn it into a website that will make it more accessible for those who don’t belong to Facebook as well.
“I’m just hoping it will always be there,” he said.
In the meantime, he wants to create a section that lets musicians share some of their stories.
“Musicians are great storytellers, and they like to elaborate,” Stafford said.
While Stafford might exhaust his boxes of materials, he thinks others will have plenty of material, too.
“Kingston has been a big music town forever,” he said, “and I don’t think that will ever come to an end.”
NAME | Kingston History of Bands
WEBSITE | http://kingstonhistoryofbands.com/
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”