Ted Parnell has been singing, writing, playing guitar & recording music for over 30 years. Ted's interest in expressing himself through music began early, as an alternative to the visual arts. Starting in high school, playing in bands with his friends, Ted soon began to write his own songs.
"Had I been a more accomplished mimic, I might have just stuck to learning other peoples stuff, but I got hooked on the magic of creating my own music."
Although he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree during his University years, music was his passion. From 1973 to 1977, Ted played his original songs in solo acoustic gigs in coffee houses, bars and lounges in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Strong influences during this time were singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne, Bruce Cockburn and James Taylor. Most of the music was intensely personal: Ted took his lyric writing very seriously. Working at the FM station at the University of Manitoba gave him the opportunity to meet other musicians and record at the in-house studio when he was off-air.
Upon graduating, Ted and friend and fellow musician Keith Lowden hopped in a bright orange 3/4 ton panel truck and drove to Los Angeles. Riding along with them, a three song demo tape recorded in a friend's basement. Thousands of miles, lots of coffee and a few flat tires found them back in Winnipeg, broke and somewhat wiser.
" The moral here would be; when seeking your fame and fortune, call ahead!"
During this period, Ted recorded a 3 song session in Studio 11 at CBC Winnipeg. The finished product was aired regionally and included an interview. Musicians on the session were Dale Russell/guitar, Kim Russell/bass, Owen Clarke/drums and percussion. The session was produced by Mark-Andrew Cardiff, someone who was to have a profound influence on Ted.
"I owe Mark a lot. Besides liking what I was doing, he gave me the best advice I've ever received. I was very pig-headed and pretty enamored with the "mystery" of song-writing. "Mark encouraged me to stretch and grow. To force me out of my comfort zone, he suggested that I learn music theory and take piano lessons. I took his advice, and it was the best thing I could have done. I began to explore different types of music and more complex chord structures. There was a period of writer's block while I found my way, but once this new style of working took hold, it was a revelation. Thanks, Mark..wherever you are!"
Once the new tunes began to take shape, Ted decided to start his own publishing company, "No Spare, No Jack Music" Lead sheets were required, and since Ted's transcription skills were limited, he began looking for someone to help. A mutual friend introduced Ted to Rick Boughton, a very talented trumpet and piano player, and a recent transplant from Regina. Rick introduced Ted and his music to some other local jazz musicians and the band "Liaison" was born. In addition to Ted on guitar and lead vocals, the band included: Rick Boughton on keyboards and trumpet, Janice Finlay on saxaphone, Andy Carlson on Bass and Tony Cyr on drums and vocals. Liaison played Ted's tunes and some covers in bars around Winnipeg. "I don't know why these people played with me. In terms of their abilities, they were on a much higher level. I was scared stiff of sucking, but like most frightening experiences, I learned a lot."
Many strange and unusual day jobs later, Ted was asked to join a 6 Piece R&B band being assembled by keyboardist/singer Don Bouchat. This was "The Big Roll Band".
"Being in Big Roll was like going to music school. Most of the guys in the band were older and had a lot more real world music experience than I did. The band members were a great combination of schooled and intuitive and we complemented each other really well. "I learned a tremendous amount about dynamics and harmony. And of course I learned how hard it was to get along with five other talented, strong-willed people."
The Big Roll Band was a fixture at clubs like, "The Rorie St. Marble Club", "Corner Boys", "Broadways" and "The Spectrum" Five years of fun, fights, sleep deprivation and great gigs found Ted restless to do something different.
In 1986, Ted began looking for musicians to form a Top 40 road band. With friend Rick Boughton on keyboards and trumpet, Dave Lawton on Lead vocals and trumpet, and Ted on guitar and Lead vocals a rehearsal hall was rented in a dingy warehouse and rehearsals began. After many auditions, Greg Partyka joined on drums and all that remained was to find a bass player.
"One night, the landlord dropped by to say hello. It turned out he was a bass player, looking to quit the band he was in. We hired him."
Ken Magura-Schendel was in on bass and KYX was born.
"Kay-Why-Ex. Not Kicks! How many times did we tell people that?"
After about 6 months of rehearsals, KYX hit the road.
"We had a 1 ton truck, a big PA, some lights and a Cadillac. We played 4 or 5 of my tunes, but at that time it was certain death to do originals, so we were low key about it. But it was summer and we had lots of hair! what else can I say?"
Unfortunately, after the Eastern leg of their tour, KYX self-destructed and had to cancel the remaining gigs. They returned to Winnipeg to lick their wounds and replace some missing members, but it was not to be.
After this Ted did some recording engineering in a friend's studio, played on some sessions, and taught guitar.
"Earning a living as a musician was beginning to take it's toll. I was writing less and less, and the constant scrambling to make a buck and keep a band together was driving me nuts. In addition, I started to notice a problem with the control in my left hand. It grew steadily worse and began to affect my playing, but none of the doctors or physiotherapists could tell me what it was."
It was time for a day job. Ted worked in a music store, repaired guitars and continued to write music. During this time, he played with a number of bands, including "The Boogie Men", "Luisa D'abramo", "The Linda McDougall Band", and "Pretzel Logic". "Pretzel Logic" included good friend and bassist, Ken Magura -Schendel, formerly of KYX and Jim Galloway, formerly of "Hypno Go Go". "Pretzel Logic" continued in various forms for the next 6 or 7 years.
"Live playing is great fun, but I started to wonder why I was expending so much energy to play other people's music. Writing has always given me the greatest satisfaction, so that's what I decided to concentrate on."
Currently Ted is working to complete a 10 song CD in his home studio.