Sunday, November 6, 2011

DA CAPO -- Joel Haslam and Regional Contact, CJOH TV - The first show

Joel has a plan, Pete looks on
Way back in 1990, when human beings were still manning all the cameras at CJOH and show guests had a dressing room and a makeup artist, Joel Haslam decided to do a segment on us for his own show about local talent in the Ottawa Valley, Regional Contact .
We went on, in later years, appearing many times on Regional Contact (as well as on other TV specials and spots) but our relationship with "Regional" became more special than we ever could imagine.

The first time we met Joel, he, and his cameraman, followed us singing on Sparks street -- and onto an OC Transpo bus. Thank goodness he didn't use the recording done on the bus, since the bumpy ride gave us a challenge to even stay in tune! Then, on Parliament Hill, we stood in a wet, sleety, snowfall singing for the mounties. They seemed to appreciate our efforts to cheer them and we appreciated the cozy fire barrels set up for the public -- and the free hot chocolate. Even then we were jokingly calling ourselves the "Eatwell Carollers". We started the episode on the grand staircase at the Chateau Laurier and finished in the CJOH studios.
The Stairwell Carollers, CJOH studios 1990 for Regional Contact
Joel and Pete discussing carols
All recordings were done live.For those of you who don't know, a 7 minute segment on Regional Contact took hours to shoot, and Joel hung out with us for most of the day.

You may notice how tiny the group was. At only nine members, we had not yet considered going into any competitions or recording CDs. We had however, a cassette for carols released in  and CFMO produced a recording on vinyl in 1985 that raised thousands for Ronald McDonald House, so our mandate of raising funds for local charity was already set.

Waiting for them to set up the cameras at the Chateau, Joel chimed in with us on a verse of one of the carols. Pete remarked that he thought Joel had a great tenor voice and asked if he wanted to join the group. Joel grinned and asked Pete if he was serious, Pete said of course, I never joke about music --  and, with that, Joel joined our merry band.
The crew was  a lot of fun
 Luckily, we had saved a copy of our episode, since The CJOH newsroom and many of the archives were destroyed in the fire that engulfed the CJOH headquarters on Merivale road in 2010. It is embedded here for you to view. Please excuse the lack of quality as it was transferred from an old VHS tape.

Joel stayed with the choir for almost three years, only quitting when the birth of twins and increasing responsibilities  with Regional got too weighty for him to juggle. He asked that we keep his involvement low key, and did not appear in many of the TV spots we did on all the local stations.
Joel, Dawn, Bob, Margo and Louise

Joel is a truly humble and sweet person. When you watch Regional Contact -- he is that guy you see. Funny, friendly, warm, serious and silly -- his contribution to the choir was so much more than his sweet tenor tones.

Next time -- our second Regional Contact spot, in 1993, puts us in period costumes at the Billings Estate! 


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You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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