It was in the Masonic Hall at Grand Bank two weeks ago when George Grandy once again stepped up to the microphone and announced, “Everyone on the floor for a Paul Jones – ladies on the left and gentlemen on the right – P-A-U-L J-O-N-E-S!”
My memory, and I’m sure that of everyone else of my vintage present, flashed back to the 1950s and 1960s when we were all young and “the Paul Jones” was called to start the Saturday night dance, providing everyone an opportunity to mix and dance with different partners.
This occasion was a celebration of Grandy’s 80th birthday and the hall was jam-packed with family and friends who came to bring best wishes and pay tribute to a genuine local music legend.
Grandy with his guitar, and his two sons, grand-son and son-in-law rounding out the band, treated everyone to an evening of top-notch entertainment as he once again belted out the always popular songs of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alan Jackson, George Jones and Merle Haggard.
Grandy was in a way a trail-blazer for local musicians who followed him. Prior to his appearance on stage in the mid to late 1950s, local musicians with their button accordions, guitars, drums and piano-accordions supplied great music but little singing.
Grandy changed all this when, from the beginning, he not only provided the dance music, but introduced local audiences to the popular rock and roll songs of the era.
His favourite song early in the evening “to get everyone up and going,” as he explains it, was his version of the Elvis Presley song ‘Blue Suede Shoes.”
Other musicians attended his birthday party to help out with the entertainment including Larry Guinchard and friends, and “the Jammers” from St. John’s.
Grandy began playing guitar at a very young age. The first time I remember listening to him sing and play was at a Junior Red Cross meeting when I was in Grade 7 or 8 back in the mid-1950s. Over the past 60-plus years he has travelled all around the province and made numerous visits to the French Islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, entertaining thousands of people along the way making “music and friends.”
Recently I spent some time with Grandy and his wife Doreen reminiscing about his life and the influence music has had on their entire family.
In Part Two, we’ll get to know more about him and some of the ups and downs he’s had to face.
Allan Stoodley is a long-time resident of Grand Bank. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he welcomes comments on this or any other article he has written.