NASH the SLASH will RISE AGAIN
We lost someone very special in Canadian Music this week. Jeff Plewman, A.K.A. NASH THE SLASH died, taking with him a uniqueness that deserved far greater acclaim in today’s sterile Beiber-ized pop landscape.
He was a HUGE influence on me, showing that a solo electronic performer could do so much alone and still ROCK; he broke the barrier of using (at the time despised) Drum Machines, he’d create a textured sound with a few devices that could serve as a shimmering backdrop for his Violin and Mandolin virtuosity, and using simple costume, light effects and slide shows, created an eerie environment that transported you along with his otherworldly music. He started his own Independent record label, and built a successful multi-album career, totally without any Government grants!! Only person to ever release a vinyl album (“Decomposing” -so clever) that could be played at any speed (‘tho playing at 16 r.p.m. only suitable for acid hangovers)
First saw him performing on NIGHTMUSIC, a 1970’s late-night TVOntario program that featured uniquely Canadian bands way WAY before MuchMusic. Alt-music fans of today have NO IDEA how special that was, in the days before remotes & 500 channel digital, sitting on the floor right up to the screen, with the sound down low so as not to ssssh! wake the family!!
In addition to playing with Cameron Hawkins as duo FM, NASH performed solo, musically interpreting the abstract art of his friends Rob Vanderhorst & Paul Till, and also doing a soundtrack to Salvador Dali’s 1928 film “Un Chien Andalou”
(also performed to special live screenings of that film at the ROXY theatre, and I still insist he originated performing live music to silent BW movies – he did “Metropolis” YEARS before QUEEN did) Through him and NIGHTMUSIC I discovered David Pritchard’s NOCTURNAL EARTHWORM STEW, a seminal Canadian electronica album, and another NIGHTMUSIC performer with SLASH . BTW; also saw Joe Hall & the Continental Drift on that show, another HUGELY under-appreciated Canadian act.
A friend of mine had the special treat of seeing him play violin in early prog-rock band BREATHLESS at the Canadian National Exhibition way back in the early 70’s. After he did a solo, he tossed his violin in the air and had it explode, presaging the pyrotechnic performances that would be his trademark, long before many other acts would get the actual credit for (CURVED AIR e.g.). Chainsawing his instruments, a skull-shaped electric mandolin that spewed blood, and his “Invisible Man” costume helped me turn even the most die-hard metalhead into a fan.
Saw him many times at THE EDGE, another lost Canadian Musical Heritage landmark. I convinced a date that his Valentine’s Day Show counted as “romantic”, but was left to enjoy the show alone when it turned out to be projected images of the Valentine’s Day Massacre- alas, she never talked to me again. Later on, I worked at Sam the Record Scam’s warehouse with his lyricist John a.k.a. “Toby Dammit” and came to know his brother, who owned a Classical record store in London, but never got to meet him personally.
I won’t say “rest in peace Nash”…. because if there were ever anyone that would come back from the hereafter to haunt us with his incredible music, IT. WILL. BE. HIM.!!