Doug Riley

14 Aug 2002

One fine summer day while getting ready to go musically direct Feast Dinner Theatre I got out of the shower, reached for a towel and BANG my back went. Pain like I've never felt. I didn't touch my toes for almost two months ( although it was kinda cool having someone tie my shoes every day..thanks Elizabeth! ). Amazing.

So what does this have to do with Doug Riley? Well, my first time back playing ( I mean at all, hadn't even touched my upright in over two months ) was a jazz trio concert at the Mackenzie Theatre with Doug Riley on Piano, Chris Driscoll on drums and backless joe jackson ( me ) on bass.

We had no rehearsal. We barely met minutes before the gig. Of course, tonnes of musicians showed up to watch the famed piano player play music that PEI just doesn't get to hear enough. As Chris and I were setting up our gear he comes walking up...hands us 10 very brief outlines of each tune and then we start. That's IT!!

It was awesome. He was awesome. Piano playing like I'd never heard...and then it started...I was starting to get...the Fear! That is...I knew it was coming...Bass Solo. I mean...we were a trio...he wasn't going to solo all night...I was going to have to front of him...having not touched my bass in two months I started freaking was all I could think about...I could barely keep track of the chord changes. And then I glanced into the audience...A SEA of musicians...and what seemed like more bass players in a room than I've ever seen...and then the FEAR multiplied...and then I was soloing...and it sounded something like this...

"fluff..sdlk fart..sdl flff (kill me ) asdkljf ffffff bllaa ballb ball ( kill me) ..bla askl ( I want codeine ) aflla sdlf ( end it now )..dsfsl"

Oh was torturous. And this was just the first tune! It happened nine more times and an encore more. I was so mortified. But..what can ya do?!? Besides soloing it was a great time! Doug was very cool and very appreciative even of my Musical Massacre!

Chris Driscoll died Jan. 9 after a skiing accident on Vermont’s Jay Peak.

Chris, 21, was on a weekend outing with friends from McGill University where he was in the final year of the school’s jazz performance program. Chris was a professional. As I mentioned above, both of us were a bit freaking out before this gig with Doug Riley, and Chris never flinched - he played his heart out, he played wonderfully, and I remember the look on Doug Riley's face as Chris played and as Chris soloed. I remember at the time feeling a bit jealous as Doug eagerly and excitedly thanked Chris after the gig bestowing musical praise upon him, obviously super impressed with his playing, after he simply thanked me.

Now, it's amazing how insignificant and small that seems. I see now that I was hung up - "my back isn't 100% yet...I haven't played in two months...there are so many musicians in the audience and they're gonna know how bad I am...this is Doug Riley and I'm probably gonna play terrible...I hate soloing...I'm not good at it...ah I wish I could just play bass lines and not solo..." Chris just played...and Chris loved it....he loved any oppurtunity to play. And that's a wonderful life lesson in itself - one I will continue to learn from - so Thank You Chris Driscoll Chris affected people around him. So much, that there has been a memorial scholarship set up in Chris' name at the Banff Centre where Chris was a musical resident in 2004.

For more information or to donate to this scholarship visit

Solo Artist