It was going to see two legendary musical acts as a young boy that secured Lonnie Glass’s future.
In 1957, Glass’s mother took her eight-year-old son to see Elvis Presley perform in Toronto. Glass says that is the moment he knew he wanted to be on stage.
In 1964, when Glass was 14 and taking music in junior high school, he saw The Beatles, and his fate was sealed.
“When I saw them, that’s when I first thought I would like to be a musician,” he said. “They were my first influence to try to play rock ‘n’ roll. For me at the time, they were the first band that really did these tremendous harmonies that hadn’t been heard, and their songs were so unique and catchy. Rock ‘n’ roll ended, and they were bringing in a new kind of contemporary music. I was just moved by their whole aura.”
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Glass played in bands in Ontario as a bass player and singer. In the early 1980s, he and his boyhood friend started a ZZ Top tribute band, which toured for 27 years. During that time, Glass began writing songs, and he hasn’t stopped.
Glass, who performs as Lonnie G, has recorded six CDs over the years, and he has a catalogue of 145 songs to choose from when he performs Saturday, July 19 at In The Beantime Café.
Glass’s discography dips into several genres, from folk to blues. In 2010, he recorded the album Chapter of Night, which is all about the American Civil War.
Glass became interested in the American Civil War after studying history in high school and university in the U.S.
“Everything I studied down there was history and English, and in history, the Americans are very focused on their own history, so consequently, I got really interested in American history,” he said. “When I started touring in the 1980s, I did a lot of touring in the States, and I started investigating all the places I would play. I did a lot of shows in the southern States, and during the day, I would go to museums, battlefields, newspaper archives and libraries. I got really interested in issues of slavery and the Civil War. In 2007, I started researching a lot of the Civil War, and after about three years of research, I just started writing songs that related to different events in the Civil War, different people in the Civil War, battles, the underground railroad and slavery.”
Glass recorded Chapter of Night in 2010 and organized a southern tour that summer, playing every day for eight weeks in places like South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina and Alabama.
“It was like a concert about an American Civil War retrospective,” he said. “I played in schools, concerts, clubs, libraries, wherever I could get a crowd. It was a great experience.”
Glass and his wife moved to Victoria in 2011.
When Glass comes to Ladysmith, he will perform with Brad Hawkes on percussion. He will also share many stories.
“I would say that I’m like a modern-day troubadour,” said Glass, who doesn’t take a break when he performs. “Troubadours used to go from town to town, and they’d sing and tell stories of what was going on around the world so people in small towns would know what was going on. I feel like that’s what I do. I tell stories.”
Glass performs Saturday, July 19 at 7 p.m. at In The Beantime Café. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the show or $25 for the show and dinner, and they are available at the coffee shop