- Local band, Crack of Dawn, reunites to light up Harbourfront
Years ago, local rhythm and blues sensation, Crack of Dawn members could easily have been killed for performing live or at certain public establishments.
The group of young, Black musicians instead worked underground shows and practised in the basement of a band member, literally until the crack of dawn.
Their big break came in 1975 when they caught the attention of Columbia Records producer, Bob Gallow while playing at a local club - the Brass Rails. Gallow who had been rapped for not playing enough commercial music, signed the group and they became the first Black band to be signed to a major record company in Canada.
Their self-titled album was released in 1976 and songs such as “It’s Alright (this feeling),” “Keep the Faith” and “The Key” met with instant success. They started touring and the rest, as they say is history.
On Sunday, July 1 they brought the house down at Harbourfront’s Canada Day: Band members on show were Alexia Baro (trumpet), Eddie Bullen (keyboards, Trevor Daley (trombone), Carl Harvey (lead guitar), Rupert Harvey (rhythm guitar), Alvin Jones (saxophone, flute), Andre King (bass), Carl Otway (drums), Carlos Morgan and Glenn Ricketts (vocals).
“A year and a half ago we decided to get together again and perform. That first day in rehearsal we didn’t know what to expect. We went into the studio and everything just clicked,” said Daley.
The original band members boasted both Nova Scotia and Jamaican roots.
They were; Rupert Harvey, Trevor Daley, Carl Otway, Alvin Jones, Mark Smith, Dwight Gabriel, Jackie Gabriel and Grant Gabriel, a.k.a Abe Black.Committed to fulfil their passion for R&B, the men young, in their twenties and full-time musicians performed gigs at the Copa and Brass Rails (then, a regular club).
They even landed a job as the house band for a CityTV talk show hosted by True Davidson. The other major Toronto night clubs that could be found along Yonge Street were Club Bluenote, Le Coq D’Or and The Colonial, but the doors weren’t always open.
“These were the major downtown clubs. Le Coq D’Or for R&B and The Colonial for jazz and they were only bringing in major Black artistes from the U.S - high-calibre acts likes Dizzy Gillespie, King Curtis and Jimmy Walker.
The only time you saw a Black artiste was in these places,” said Daley. “We could not do a show and not play live - back in my day we would get killed,” admitted Daley.
But the band found a way to survive the times.“There were places back then that you could go and hone your craft, things that you could strive to.
You could not go into a studio and sample everything.” “We didn’t want to be a cover band, we wanted to record,” said trombone player, Trevor Daley about the Band’s early aspirations.
The group mentored by band member, Abe Black would rehearse in his basement, until the crack of dawn. It was Black who gave musical direction and shaped the sound of the Band. Glenn Ricketts and the Harvey Brothers wrote the songs.