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The Enigmas

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Last week I got to play with the legendary Vancouver psych rock band the Enigmas.
The Enigmas heyday was in the early nineteen eighties; lead by Paul McKenzie on vocals and sax, Mike Davies, guitar, Randy Bowman on drums and Brian Olinek on bass they were for a time THE band to watch in Vancouver. That was until my band Slow came along!
We always held the Enigmas in low regard, mostly because we viewed them as a threat. They were one of the few bands around at the time that weren’t playing lame hardcore music or REM like jangle folk drivel. They rocked and they put on amazing live shows in the vein of the Stooges or the MC5. Paul was a frenetic psychedelic monster in striped pants wielding his sax and he knew how to work a crowd. Mike, Brian and Randy were one of the most solid bands going. At the time Seattle had the Young Fresh Fellows, the Replacements were making waves out of Minneapolis and Slow was executing it’s accelerated crash and burn career. The Enigmas were touring and gaining a following across Canada and down the West Coast to California. They should have been a great cult band but didn’t quite catch on. They put out a couple of EP’s most notably Strangely Wild on Zulu Records and then packed it in.
Paul went on to do TT Racer and the Scot Rock phenomena The Real McKenzies, Randy the Scramblers and Mike was in a band called the Cane Toads.
He eventually ended up playing guitar in the Vancouver rock band JP5 fronted by Jerry Jenn Wilson. I was playing bass and we became fast friends.
That ran it’s crazy course over a few years in the late nineties before I moved on.
I got a call from Mike a few years ago. Danny Novak an accomplished camera man in the Vancouver film industry and former lead singers of Vancouver Punk Rockers the Spores was turning fifty. His favourite band of all time was the Enigmas and he wanted them to play his party. Only problem was Brian the bass player had disappeared into the Kootenays in Eastern BC and was AWOL. Would I be interested in playing bass? I get a lot of calls to play bass. Some of them I just don’t have time for (I’m always flattered to be asked). This was a little different. See Mike is one of the nicest guys I ever met.
He put up with a lot of shit from us over the years, Slow busting his amp and other shenanigans and he was always calm about it. Besides not being able to say no to Mike there was a buzz in the air about an Enigmas reunion. Songs like Teenage Barnacle and Strangely Wild had become psych rock favourites of mine and others and it just seemed like it would be a good time.
We did the show and it was a roaring success. The crowd was into it and I got paid pretty well. We all had a lot of fun. At the time Paul was moving to Germany so the project was put on the back burner.
This fall I got the call again to do a show at Vancouver’s WISE Hall. I was excited. We started practicing and the magic started happening again. The buzz started building around town again and the show sold out! What a rush. One of my favourite things is playing a packed house, making people happy and putting on a killer show. That’s what happened last Saturday Night at the WISE.
For all those who came out thanks for being such a wonderful audience. I’m looking forward to doing it all again real soon!

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