The Brass Monkey on Greenbank Road in Ottawa was rocking last night thanks to vocalist and drummer extraordinaire Roy Nichol and his group of talented musicians known as Fire and Ice. Guitarists Mark Day and Don LeCompte flanked Nichol and his drums for the set of Journey songs with Tammy McRae joining in as lead vocalist for the Pat Benatar set.
The music was a walk down memory lane in more ways than one for me. I grew up two doors down from Mark Day in Cornwall. As a tomboy, I spent many hours with Mark, his oldest brother and my own brothers playing everything from hide and seek to flag football. We lived on a dead end, small street, a safe haven for all the neighbourhood kids. As we hit our teenaged years, Mark moved on to spend more time with his guitar and rock band friends, so we lost touch. We reconnected recently on Facebook with other members of the McGregor Avenue gang.
In my late teens I met Roy Nichol at a friend’s cottage where she hosted many a summer party. Roy often played the drums and occasionally sang at these parties. His speciality (as I remember it) was Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Every time I hear that song, even 40 years later, it brings me back to those days.
Enough of the nostalgia and back to the present where Roy is currently the drummer and vocalist for a few different bands, including Canada’s April Wine. That skinny boy on the drums from my 70’s memories has certainly done well for himself.
Currently, and especially as this was a tribute to Journey, Roy’s vocals share an uncanny and remarkable resemblance to those of Journey’s Steve Perry back in the late 70s and 80s. Not that I am an expert of anything rock related, but must one not be incredibly talented (not to mention coordinated) to excel on the drums and the vocals at the same time? Obviously the crowd gathered last night agreed as they sang along and danced the night away.
While reminiscing for a few moments with Roy between sets last night, I did ask him if he still performed Stairway to Heaven. His reply was “not for many years, but maybe I should get back to it”.
Yes Roy, you should!