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Musical Friends

Musical friends form a special bond.  Sometimes it’s a momentary thing, when a jam session is really cooking.  Sometimes after years of playing together it becomes like a family bond, complete with all the ups and downs of siblings.  When the music flows the harmony embraces more than the sound.

All through my life I shared a lot of euphoric moments and learned a lot from my musical friends.  This recording wouldn’t have been possible without their help and the contribution of their talents.

The Day We Made Homemade Music

…it was Saturday, December 29, 2018 in our basement family room.  Sometime mid-afternoon we ran through take 3 and after that there was nothing left to do but party…

Musical Friends

Produced and engineered by Michael O'Connell

MICHAEL O’CONNELL is the creative force and singer-songwriter behind Culture Reject, a band that evolved from Black Cabbage, with whom he toured for years since their formation at the University of Guelph.  Culture Reject records for a European label and returns there each year to tour to a growing and loyal fan base.  Just before this session for Homemade Music, Michael had just finished up weeks of mixing and mastering of “Breaking With The World”, an extraordinarily beautiful album, and a few weeks later he and Karri were off on their European tour.

Check out "Breaking With The World" by Culture Reject

I keep returning to immerse myself in this beautiful record, filled with subtle harmonies and exquisite harmonic touches. After several listenings start to finish the lyrics nestled in this soundscape begin to reveal a world that is unravelling and resonant of loss.

People Are Talking

  • How fun was that!!??

    Diana Young
  • Oh I love it! You know already that is one of my favourite songs of yours

    Pablo Pardavila Romero
  • Bill!!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am that you’ve sent me this! I absolutely love this song. I’d be honoured to play this on the radio!

    Kailey Jane Hawkins
  • For fans of original songwriting. My friend Bill composes songs that sound as if you’ve known them forever. Think Leiber and Stoller, think Brill Building.

    Richard-Yves Sitoski
  • I love all the different instruments and vocals. It’s got a really warm feeling to it.
    Sarah Page
  • “This touched my soul just right. It’s very indie-coming-of-age-Sundance-TIFF-kind-of-movie music….. But it’s not. It’s homemade music. This is so good!!!!!!!!”

    Emily Poon
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    Michael O’Connell pulled it all together, bringing in high quality recording equipment and arranging it around the room, then carefully monitoring the inputs. He also played a rhythm egg and added background vocals.
  • chorus
    A chorus of voices arrayed on the sofa, from left to right Michael O’Connell, Diana Young, Karri North,Corrine McGowan (flanked by Nora and Alex, hidden from view).
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    Bill Dickson sang along and Darcy Louise kept a steady beat with the ukelele
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    Singing it out!
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    Tom Thwaits added body and rhythm with his accordian.
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    Mike Belec adds the harmonica solo
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    Alan Johnson and David Hawkins worked out harmonies for their riffs on the acoustic guitar


Stream or download a digital copy of “Homemade Music” or like it on Spotify.
mike belec

Mike Belec – harmonica and backing vocals

                Mike is my blues buddy and a ski instructor at Blue Mountain Resort.  Once a week we get together to explore the essentials of blues, trying to find our mojo.  Our nom de blues is Too Late Smart.


Tom Thwaits – accordion and harmony vocals

                Tom is an educator and musician, playing keyboard for Bored of Education, a favourite local party band comprised mostly of teachers.  He is also famous locally as the creator and host of Bring Your Own Vinyl night at the local pub, which has become an adventure in musical explorations for a regular group of vinyl lovers expanding their horizons.


Karri North – harmony vocals

Karri North is a professional photographer.  She is also keyboard player and backup vocalist for Culture Reject.  She and Michael moved recently to Meaford adding their distinctive talents to the local music scene, including co-hosting the Home and Home Festival, two days of live original music in Meaford backyards.

alan johnson 2

Allan Johnson – acoustic guitar and backing vocals

                Allan relocated to Meaford after retiring from a career in the Bahamas as a professional entertainer.  He writes and records his own material in his home studio, playing all the parts, and he still sells his CDs in the islands.  He’s famous locally for his song “Meet Me In Meaford”, which he’s urged to perform at every community function.


Corrine McGowan  – harmony vocals 

Corrine is Tom’s partner and mother of five-year-old Nora and two-year-old Alex who sat with her to join in on the chorus.  Like Tom, she is an educator with musical talents.

bill dickson

Bill Dickson – harmony vocals

Bill is a multi-talented artist who is retired from a career as a graphic designer and children’s author to focus on his songwriting and his stand-up comedy.  Among other things he is the creator of the Tetley Tea guys, and he has released a CD of his own wry songs called “Isn’t Life Grand?”

dave hawkins 2

David Hawkins – lead acoustic guitar and backing vocals

                Dave is a songwriter who recently sold his music store to devote himself to his songwriting.  He is one of the guiding lights of the Georgian Shores Songwriters’ Circle, a bi-weekly gathering of songwriters who get empathetic but incisive feedback from peers they respect.  He took the time to assign spaces to each player in the arrangement so that each could have a moment to shine.  He and Allan played duelling guitar leads.


Diana Young – harmony vocals

Diana is the creator and host of The Geogian Bay Story Slam, a series of live shows of story-telling that she has presented at venues throughout the area with the 2018 season culminating in a “Grand Slam” in the Opera House of Meaford Hall.  Story tellers vied for the grand prize, which was taken home by Bill Dickson. (Diana also took many of the photos on this page)


Darcy Louise – ukulele and harmony vocals

Darcy is my granddaughter.  She plays piano, violin and guitar as well as ukulele but has her sights set on a career in medicine.  She was visiting us on a school break so we made sure to schedule the recording party at a time she could take part.

Judy – hostess

Judy McEnaney Monahan is my best friend and everything else that matters. She has made everything possible that has happened in my life. When I dream big she nods and waits to see what happens, then uprights me when I teeter and sway. She’s also a pretty good roadie when necessary.


Terry Young

Although he wasn’t able to join us on the day we made the recording, Terry Young is the musical friend I associate most with Homemade Music.  Years ago he learned it, dressed it up in his own style and made it a mainstay of his repertoire, giving me the pleasure of hearing people sing along with it at field parties.

 Even back then Terry was an excellent musician.  His ambition was to become part of Tanglefoot, the Canadian roots band, and he ended up touring with them for years.  When that band dissolved he joined another alumnus Sandra Swanell to create the unique acoustic nostalgia sound of My Sweet Patootie.
Me and Terry