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Every time Ia€™ve seen him live over the years, Ia€™ve chided myself for not having remembered to grab him for a feature article. Brooks has been living in England with his wife, Jo, who is British, for four years at this point. Speaking with Brooks from a€?across the pond,a€? I found someone who is so acclimated in his new life that he speaks in a clipped, slightly British, almost Cockney manner, sort of like the way a Northern visitor to the U.S. Brooks appeared a couple of times at The Fast Folk Cafe in the mid-a€™90s, where I was a volunteer manager. In addition to New Everything, which he mailed to me, I remembered owning How the Night Time Sings (1991) and Knife Edge (1996). Red Guitar Plays Blue is a self-issued collection of vintage recordings of songs written during 1986 and 1987. One instrumental track on How the Night Time Sings, a€?Look What the Cat Dragged In,a€? is itself cat-like, aurally walking the top edge of a fence and nimbly leaping from one tiny surface to another.
The opening instrumental track of Live Solo, a€?Chasing The Groove,a€? is typical Brooks a€” a bouncing fret-skipper that easily beguiles the audience who will now hang on every note and syllable of the eveninga€™s performance. His new CD, appropriately named New Everything, is at times a good-time, jump-out-of-your-seat, get-up-and-dance guitar clinic. When he lights into a€?Deep River Blues,a€? the classic made famous by Doc Watson, my body does a giddy flinch of joy.
The title track is a skewed version of the old country song a€?Flowers on the Wall,a€? by The Statler Brothers (a€?countina€™ flowers on the wall, that dona€™t bother me at alla€?). This batch of stories reflects his expressed career goal to continue following the primal urge to express reactions to life events with sung poetry and a guitar riff.
Brooks is quick to remark how welcome and appreciative his British audiences have been and continue to be.
Brooks appeared a couple of times at The Fast Folk Cafe in the mid-a€™90s, where I was a volunteer manager.A  His first appearance was on a co-bill with Frank Christian. The opening instrumental track of Live Solo, a€?Chasing The Groove,a€? is typical Brooks a€” a bouncing fret-skipper that easily beguiles theA  audience who will now hang on every note and syllable of the eveninga€™s performance.
A A A  Stinchcombe isna€™t crazy about the expression a€?beat the rap.a€? His view of the whole mess is decidedly less romantic. A A A  His ground of appeal was that during the trial the Crown refused to disclose important information to him.
A A A  She indicated that she was no longer working for Stinchcombe on the date she had supposedly typed the document and seen Abrams sign it. A A A  The trial judge ruled that it was perfectly proper for the Crown not to disclose these items, and the Alberta Court of Appeal agreed. A A A  The prosecutor wasna€™t sure if Abrams might have lied when he made an earlier assignment in bankruptcy, or whether he might have lied at Stinchcombea€™s preliminary inquiry. A A A  Stinchcombe was also turfed from his volunteer position with the Calgary Stampede, where he had worked extensively on the Indian Events Committee. A A A  As bad as the fallout from the criminal charges was, Stinchcombea€™s suspension from the practice of law may have had greater impact a€“ at least, on his day-to-day life. A A A  Soon after this judgment was released Stinchcombe was reinstated to the Alberta bar. A A A  Jerry Schwartz, a Calgary electrical engineer who also complained that Stinchcombe ripped him off, says the reinstatement is a€?the best thing that could have happened to me.
A A A  Apparently Stinchcombe persuaded Schwartz, who had become both a client and a friend, to lend him $310,000 to help finance a hotel. A A A  The court observed that at some point Stinchcombe sold the stock but the proceeds never made it to Schwartz. A A A  Efforts to contact Jack Abrams who, if he is still with us, would be in his mid-eighties by now, were not successful. A A A  Schwartz isna€™t bitter either, even though he took a financial hit and spent somewhere around $200,000 in legal fees pursuing various remedies, which he says he did a€?on principle.a€? He feels wronged, but he maintains a healthy perspective. There must be a lesson here, somewhere, although one probably wouldna€™t want to follow Stinchcombea€™sA exactA life-path.
A A A  Although Stinchcombe became estranged from much of his family, he has largely reconciled. A A A  He often wonders why the charges and complaints against him were pursued with such persistence and vigour, and whether, in regards to some of those charges and complaints, there might conceivably have been motivations other than the pure pursuit of justice. A A A  What would have happened if the smoking-gun memo had surfaced at the very beginning?
Youa€™d need to know a lot of those ways if you were to count the places Brooks Williams has been referred to in that manner. If you watch a YouTube video like his version of a€?Weeping Willow Blues,a€? recorded at Uncle Calvina€™s in Dallas, the guitar seems like ita€™s been grafted onto him. With the release of his new CD, appropriately named New Everything, wea€™re finally getting that corrected.
Southern states might return northward, dragging the expression a€?ya€™alla€? across the Mason-Dixon Line. Whenever they got to a new town, the first thing shea€™d do was call a music school or store and ask who taught violin.
He noticed that not many other boys his age were inside on sunny summer days playing violin. Rather than accept an offer from Berkelee School of Music, he attended a liberal arts school for a couple of years.


A check of our CD shelves uncovered a forgotten treasure trove: Red Guitar Plays Blue (1994), Nectar (2003) and Live Solo (2004).
It carried me back in time to when Brooksa€™ jackhammer-steady rhythm and pristine clear picking were a new revelation. Knife Edge illustrates Brooksa€™ love for Ireland in the rollicking instrumental track a€?Belfast Bluesa€? and the stomping slide romp a€?Rotterdam Bar,a€? which recounts the time he played Belfasta€™s legendary Rotterdam Bar alone on stage to an empty room after it had been closed down (a favorite playera€™s venue during the a€™90s, an Internet search as to whether it was saved from demolition is inconclusive). He plays fingerstyle on a resonator guitar while Martin Simpson, British guitar monster, adds background slide licks on a second resonator. Maverick is an Americana festival held every year in eastern England during the 4th of July weekend.
It was September of 1987 when the former Calgary lawyer found himself driving his pick-up truck, with a trailer full of horses in tow, through the Alberta Rockies. However, the mountaintop reprieve was not the end but the beginning of an odyssey of trouble.
At the first trial, which occurred in February of 1989, he was convicted of criminal breach of trust, theft and fraud and sentenced to nine years in prison.
All he knew was that Lineham, his star witness who had testified so helpfully at the preliminary inquiry, had now changed her story, or done something else disastrous, and the Crown, having decided she was a€?not worthy of credit,a€? was opting not to call her as a witness.
As trial number three was gearing up, with the tape in hand, it emerged that there wassomething elseA the Crown should have disclosed but hadna€™t. Police interviewed Abramsa€™ lawyer to see what the heck was going on, but he had no memory of conversations with the prosecutor, or with Abrams, about lying.
Finally, on April 26, 2002, the Alberta Court of Appeal stayed all Law Society charges against him. Because if Stinchcombe starts making money, maybe Ia€™ll actually collect something.a€? Schwartz won a civil suit against him in March of 1994. According to the court, a€?Schwartz had no idea the hotel was facing foreclosure proceedings.a€? He also had no idea of the existence of Jack Abrams, and no idea that the stock Stinchcombe put up as collateral for the loan was clouded with dispute about who owned it a€“ Abrams claimed it was his, and that Stinchcombe had misappropriated it. It was, after all, the bitter recession and real estate crash of the early 1980s, and money was evaporating left, right and centre.
He often thinks about the old legal adage: cases are not won and lost on what actually happened, but on whatA evidenceA comes out in court. Stinchcombea€™s voice a€“ over the phone from Australia a€“ is velvety, seductive, and altogether pleasant. As he talks on the phone, his life-partner Margaret pipes up in the background: a€?We have a passion fruit on the vine!a€? He says the beach is visible in the distance, and the backyard is host to many attractive flora and fauna, including wild wallabies. He figures that, afterA Stinchcombe, criminal lawyers suddenly needed twice as much office space to store all the disclosed documents. But to Stinchcombe, having a Supreme Court decision of such monumental importance named after him is no big deal.
He was acquitted of the criminal charges, he had his licence to practise law reinstated, and he came out of it all with a smile. If further proof of his prowess is needed, in another video, apparently from the same set, he laughingly tosses off a guitar medley of the most famous rock and folk riffs. They hit it off immediately, but didna€™t see each other for another year, so their relationship developed a€?at a slow burn,a€? he said. He would get tired of one line of work or things would get slow and hea€™d switch back and forth. Bored with playing classical pieces and with the instrument itself, he wandered off and came across an older boy, a teenager, playing guitar. It kept him away from the drinking and racial conflicts that pervaded the lives of many Southern teenagers.
He also bought a book of the greatest hits of the a€™70s a€” Beatles, Carly Simon, CSNY, Arlo Guthrie a€” and it showed him how to play chords. He left for another couple of years, but went back and re-enrolled, this time at Salem State College in Massachusetts and graduated with a B.A in English.
I played anywhere that would have me a€” cafes, bars, open mics a€” and lots of restaurants. The title track invites the female listener to walk with him on the insecure a€?knife edgea€? of a relationship. If further proof of his prowess is needed, in another video, apparently from the same set, he laughinglyA  tosses off a guitar medley of the most famous rock and folk riffs.
Brooks said he was a€?in awe.a€? Frank was a damn fine picker himself, so the evening was a thrill. He stood accused of misappropriating $1.6 million he allegedly held in trust for Calgary geologist Jack Abrams. Then there wouldna€™t be a problem anymore.a€? What saved him was an eleventh-hour burst of sympathy for his animals.
They stayed alive seven years, during which he was put on trial three a€“ repeat,A threeA a€“ separate times.
Previously, at the preliminary inquiry, Lineham had said some things that might have exonerated Stinchcombe a€“ she testified that she had typed and witnessed the signing of a document which purported to abolish all trust agreements between Stinchcombe and Abrams. The police officer who possessed them had passed away of a brain tumor and his widow couldna€™t find them.
There was a group a€“ the Magnificent Seven, he calls them a€“ who put up the $150,000 to bail him out of jail, where he was locked up for nearly a week. It appears to me that he became caught up with people living a lifestyle to which he aspired but could not attain by working merely as a lawyer.


The violin practice and concerts brought him in contact with other youngsters, so early on, it was fun. He thought, a€?I want to do that.a€? Brooks returned the next day and asked the boy to show him how to play.
During this time, in the late a€™80s, stalwarts such as Vance Gilbert, Ellis Paul, Jonatha Brooke and Catie Curtis were beginning to make their mark. In addition to all the guitar pyrotechnics, I came away with the indelible image of Brooks cleverly easing forward and using the mic stand as a slide at the finish of one song. He was in serious trouble, and the enormity of his predicament hit home that September day as he negotiated the mountain road. The Crown managed to provide a photocopy of the statement andA transcriptsA of the tape, but Stinchcombe demanded the tape itself.
It was enough to prompt the Crown who now had carriage of the file, Tudor Beattie of Albertaa€™s Dept. I became paranoid to the extent that I didna€™t want to go anywhere for fear I would meet someone I knew and be snubbed.a€? He remembers one particular incident in a Calgary grocery store. Well, heA didA a€“ he ended up getting the principal of the loan back, from Stinchcombea€™s malpractice insurer. Although he now minimizes the lifestyle he came to lead, the fact is that he continually had a string of four to six polo ponies and related equipment and traveled around North America playing polo. Ita€™s all water under the bridge.a€? As for Stinchcombe, Schwartz thinks of him as a€?a very, very articulate and affable guy. Instead of ending up bitter and miserable, condemned to life of furtive wandering and resentful remembering, hea€™s at peace. Brooksa€™ first time playing guitar in front of an audience was in a concert on his last day of high school.
When I finally got it together enough to make a little money from playing a€” and I decided thata€™s what I wanted to do a€” I was playing five to six nights a week in the little clubs, bars and coffeehouse of New York and New England.
Red Guitar Plays Blue is out of print and I dona€™t see it in the iTunes store, so I feel pretty lucky to have it. On the drive home, a full moon hung in the sky and awoke reminiscences of people who werena€™t there that day, specifically Michael, who had passed away. When I finally got it together enough to make a little money from playing a€” and I decided thata€™s what I wanted to do a€” I was playing five to sixA  nights a week in the little clubs, bars and coffeehouse of New York and New England. Feeding a habit I started at the Cafe, I bought CDs from Brooks and had him autograph them.
But it was because when there were arguments with the Stampede Board, or if the Indians needed something said for them, I was the one who did it.a€? And sometimes those arguments turned passionate.
He was really nervous, a€?shaking in my boots,a€? he said, but he loved the experience and was determined to do more of it. The midweek gigs were in loud bars where I could barely even hear myself and I played for four hours without stopping. Looking at the a€?Listeners Also Boughta€? thumbnails in the iTunes store below Brooksa€™ albums, one sees Kelly Joe Phelps, Taj Mahal, Susan Tedeschi and Muddy Waters. And worse, it describes a Gordian knot of financial transactions so convoluted that reading about them could cause serious mental trauma, even a brain hemorrhage. And then I said yeah, but if I do that, then my son wona€™t have anybody to go to the movies with on Friday night. He gave Brooks a fresh push back in the early 2000s, lining up gigs in numerous venues, when Brooks was struggling.
Ferlinghetti when, at ninety years of age, he read at City Lights Books in San Francisco, and signed that very edition of the magazine for me, inspiring me all over again.  On this website, you'll not only find photos, videos and more that have to do with my life as an author, but other things that are important to me, too. While he immediately felt at home with the guitar, he kept that promise for four more years. I spend some time every day if I can on social networking sites, because the world and the people in it are all interesting. His mother approvingly noticed that he was enthusiastic about guitar a€” the violin, not so much. Talk about feeling ancient.)?Age 5  I sold my first engagement ring and went on a tour of the European continent with the proceeds - Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Amsterdam, and more, all for the price of one sparkler, when the man who gave it to me told me he didn't want back.
Oh, well, the relationship didn't work, but I did get to see some beautiful places.Photo taken of me by a local (unknown) photographer when I was 23 years old Once, I was on the northern border of Greece with my twelve-year-old son during a time when it was a war zone.
We were there because I needed to attend a very important book convention in Salonika, and didn't want to leave my son behind. The next week, a hijacker from one of the warring factions killed a young Greek passenger on the same route we'd taken only the week before.
To see some really adorable ones who posed for me while reading one of my books, check out the FUN AND FREEBIES PAGE Dancing at my engagement party. It's fine if you think your mom's is better, but still --- this is not a boast ---- my tiramisu and salsa puttanesca are legendary. If my family forgets this, I will come back and haunt them! Litquake's Black, White and Read Ball with my son in 2010, long years and miles away from the swimming pool in the photo above.My husband and I have a total of  five children, all sons, in our blended family.



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