#1 on the Charts at CKCU Radio!
Inspired by a fire and born during a pandemic, Paul Weber's new album “Ode to Gerry Barber” is full of stuff that doesn't always make it into the history books. This is a heartfelt album about Ottawa area communities and stories past and present. Song subjects range from a famous local bouncer, the collapse of the Heron Road Bridge, the building of the Rideau Canal, Ottawa's first train, homeless people on Murray Street, why Ottawa isn't "Ottawa”, growing up in Vanier/Eastview, the days of the circus parade, the Great Fire of 1870, what it’s like to live in an Ottawa rooming house, and how to mansplain.
Buy the Album
Some folk have asked why should they buy a CD, especially if they don’t have a CD player. Well one reason is that the CD comes with a 12-page booklet about the songs, not available with the digital version. Also, if you buy the CD you also get a free digital download of the album. Here’s how you can buy the recording:
- If you want your CD (including a coupon for the digital version) mailed to you, you can purchase one here with PayPal:
- Or just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you how you can buy it directly from me (best option for the artist) using Interac, cheque, or cash.
- You can buy the digital CD or individual songs in digital form from Bandcamp. You can find they lyrics for the songs on Bandcamp as well.
- In January 2020 the song “Dans un mile carré” won Paul a L'Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario (AFO) award for contributions to Francophone culture by an Anglophone.
- The song “The Great Fire (of 1870)” has a video that was filmed in the Burnt Lands in Almonte where the fire once raged.
- The song, "Ode to Gerry Barber" includes a special guest appearance by Gerry Barber Junior saying the words his dad once spoke.
The album was born by a chance encounter with a book. Two years ago Paul Weber's band broke up and he was looking for a new musical direction. By coincidence he stumbled across a book about the Ottawa valley's “Great Fire of 1870” by Terrence Currie. The book inspired a song that grew into an album about Ottawa past and present. Paul believes we need to tell our own stories; stories that sometimes don't get told. The album is named “Ode to Gerry Barber” because Gerry wanted it that way and we weren't going to argue with him.
Check out song lyrics here.
The album was recorded and mixed at Ottawa’s Gallery Recording Studio by Dean Watson, produced by singer-songwriter/producer/videographer North Easton and mastered by Grammy-nominated Philip Shaw Bova. The CD was designed by Marc Audet.
Principal accompanying musicians on the album include Marie Soleil Fecteau on vocals and Rob Lethbridge on upright bass. Special guest Ottawa musicians include: Sylvio Modolo, Angel Araos, Kelly Craig, Ryan Purchase, Zeek Gross, Kim Kaskiw, Patrick Pharand, Christine Fagan, Dan Artuso, Jason Sonier, and Stuart Rutherford.
Paul Weber is a Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist, storyteller and video documentary maker and who has performed across Canada in various incarnations. Paul has been kicking around Ottawa since the early 1970s when his parents fled the U.S. in search of a calmer place to raise kids. Paul has worked sweeping stairs, waiting tables, working in a homeless shelter, trouble-shooting rooming house issues for the City of Ottawa, and for the last decade paying the bills by working for the federal government. He has successfully led, performed in and managed several groups, including Cheza (1991 - 2012) and the Main Street Market Band (2013-2018).
Paul is also an amateur video maker and during the pandemic he’s been making some short videos about various historical locations in Ottawa. You can find the series here, and here’s one:
If you're interested in attending a show and want to be notified, either "like" Paul on Facebook or send him an email and he’ll send you an invite to upcoming shows.
- A series of live Facebook shows are in the works. Stay tuned for details.
- September 19, Facebook Live launch of album, Ode to Gerry Barber
- September 19, CKCU interview, Canadian Spaces (at 55 minute mark)
- August 17, release of Great Fire (of 1870) video
- February 29, Vimy Brewing Company
- February 23, Historical Society of Ottawa
- February 20, AFCO Gala Dinner - Somehow I won an award as an ally of French culture in Ottawa!
- February 3 - 13, Recording CD at Gallery Studios
- November 30, Pressed
- September 21, Moose McGuire’s, Live on CKCU
- Saturday, October 5, House Concert
- June 23, Britannia Coffeehouse
- Vanier Performance (private)
- May 11, House Concert with Graven
- April 13, Co-hosting Canadian Spaces on CKCU
- April 13, The Great Canadian Song Along
- April 13, Benefit show
- February 23, House Concert, JL Productions
- January 26, Opening act for From Away house concert
- December 8, Christmas House concert with Slo Tom
- October 20, Moose McGuire’s, Tune’s Afternoon
- October 20, Pressed
- September 27, United Way Fundraiser
- September 22, Benefit for ALSO Adult Literacy
- September 22, Main Street Farmer’s Market
- August 6, Colonel By Day, Bytown Museum
- May 22, House Concert
Interview on CKCU The Guest List - Joe Reilley and Paul talk about the songs, where they came from and why they are in the order they are!
Interview on CKCU Wednesday Special Blend - A chat with Tic about finishing a CD during COVID, the songs, the people, the communities.
Interview on CKCU Canadian Spaces - A chat with the human dynamo Chris White about Ode to Gerry Barber and its inspirations.
Singer-storyteller’s new album paints a picture of Ottawa, then and now - Ottawa Life Magazine, Natasha Bulowski, September 2020
“As we find ourselves in the grips of a pandemic, perhaps there’s no better time to hear raw, local stories to rekindle a sense of community and shared experiences.”
Musician marks Great Fire Anniversary - West Carleton Online, Jake Davies, September 2020
“I find to bring these stories to life, you have to connect on an emotional level,” Weber said. “There are still some old houses with beams in them that have burn marks. We have our own stories here in the Ottawa area and I think we don’t need to import ones from abroad.”
Perspectives Vanier - March 2020
”Paul Weber et sa chanson « Dans un mille carré » inspirée de plusieurs conversations avec Paul Crête et Jean Ouellet a remporté le Laurier allié de la francophonie de l’année. Lors de l’acceptation de son prix, il s’est excla-mé « Vive Vanier libre! ».
Drummond Street Cohousing Concert A Hit - Ottawa Mainstreeter, Daniel Miranda, Winter 2019
“Paul Weber shared his exciting new project entitled, “Ode to Gerry Barber” This collection, written by Weber, chronicles stories inspired by both historical events from Ottawa’s past and Weber’s personal memories of our government town.
Songs in the Key of "O": Musician Paul Weber finds in Muse in Local History - Ottawa Citizen - Bruce Deachman, June 29, 2018
“I wrote this song about Gerry Barber, this bouncer at the Chaudière Club in the ’70s and ’80s, and the reaction was overwhelming. The stories I heard from people and the emails I was getting — from people in the Northwest Territories, even — and people sharing the video everywhere. And I started noticing that it was being shared by people with the last name of Barber, and it turned out they were all Barber family members — descendants or siblings of Gerry Barber, and I’ve had several conversations with his son, his daughter, other cousins, grandkids. That meant a lot to me, to get that kind of reaction. It was really touching."
Local History Gets Musical with Paul Weber's Ottawa Song Project - Ottawa Life - Andre Gagne, January 16, 2018
"With that stronger want to tell stories through his lyrics in mind, he’s embarked on what he’s called The Ottawa Song Project. While many musicians may want to chase their dreams in other pastures, Weber has been content digging in his roots where he was first planted. Ottawa, he has discovered, has many tales to tell. "
“Over the past year Paul has been coming into Canadian Spaces, the show I host on CKCU, to regularly perform songs from his new project, the Ottawa Songs. Paul’s songs have impressed me with their deep connection to our community, strong lyric content and emotional impact. These are some of the best tunes I’ve ever heard from Paul.”
- Chris White, CKCU Radio DJ
"We asked Paul to write a song in honour of a friend who was about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her arrival in Canada. We met and provided details of what made her special in the eyes of her friends. Aside from a vague idea that it should have a catchy refrain he headed out for a few months while a creative seed took root. The result was a lively and uplifting song with catchy lyrics that captured her essence perfectly. Together with Paul's natural ability to entertain, a great evening was enjoyed by all! Thanks Paul!"
- Judith Schmid (commissioned a song from Paul)
“Living in Lanark County..drive by the Burnt Lands every day. I was so moved by this great song of Paul Weber's (The Great Fire of 1870) . It is right up there with Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, or Stan Rogers' Mary Ellen Carter..bravo ! Truly a great work.”
- Jim Mountain, CKCU Listener
“Paul Weber's "Songs of Ottawa". This was a particularly touching presentation. Paul has developed a body of songs that tell the history and story of our region. Historic events, the hardship of building a community in this harsh conditions, the tales of characters well known to many who were born in this city or lived here a few decades ago. If you have a chance to catch Paul at one of his future shows I strongly encourage to go and enjoy a fascinating work of musical art.”
- Juan-Luis Vasquez Ceron , House Concert Presenter
Great Fire (of 1870) - In 1870 a giant fire ravaged the Ottawa Valley destroying much of the land and leaving thousands homeless. This is a song about that time.
Ode to Gerry Barber - This video is an ode to the famous bouncer Gerry Barber, who ruled the door at the Chaudiere Club (the "Chaud"), in Aylmer, Quebec, for many years. (www.kirvanphotography.com)
The Streets of Montreal - This song is a travelogue tribute to Leonard Cohen, following him through the streets of Montreal; his haunts, his songs, his history.
For more videos, check out my YouTube Channel.