Grit Laskin – Member, Order of Canada
Today is the big day for Grit Laskin – see our story below from July 4, 2012. He is in Ottawa for the investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall.
You can tune in for the live stream of the ceremonies at 10:30 AM at http://gg.ca (and we will attempt to embed the video right here).
Note: Grit Laskin never, ever, wears suits, let alone ties. He barely wears shoes. Just seeing him dressed up is worth the effort.
– Andy Frank
William (Grit) Laskin, luthier, businessman, musician, mentor and mensch, was recently named a Member of the Order of Canada.
If you know him, you’ll know why – but for those who don’t here just a few of the reasons the Order of Canada folks may have considered, and others we think are special.
- Grit’s an imp, a ham, leaving no pun left unspoken. Loving audiences big or small brace themselves when Grit is near a mic, they never know what groaners will hit ’em.
- He is a folk singer, solo, or in a band, The Friends of Fiddler’s Green. They are a group of UK ex-pats who perform mostly traditional songs from the Isles, the perfect act for a teenaged Jewish kid from Hamilton to join in the 1970’s. They recently celebrated forty years of bandhood. Being on the giving or (usually) receiving end of the Friends’ practical jokes honed Grit’s sharp sense of humour. Maybe you heard the story of Grit’s miracle Volvo?**
- He is the author of three books, including a published novel, Angel Could Smell The Fire, that his adoring wife Judith said, “just flew out of him”.
- He is a man who has walked many miles in others’ shoes, an activist, a selfless, compassionate man who quietly but effectively supports a myriad of causes he considers just. He has walked many more walks than even he could ever talk.
- He is among the finest luthiers in the world, a craftsman whose waiting list for a custom-built William Laskin guitar is between two to three years. He has championed many causes on behalf of luthiers over the years, and has earned the respect of his peers for his leadership.
- He is best known for his amazing inlay work, and is almost entirely self-taught.
- He is a cancer-survivor, but unlike this writer, he kept it quiet while he continued his many pursuits, perhaps not wanting any of the groups he leads – or for whom he is a key contributor – to suffer because of his personal plight. Among those groups: The Woods Music and Dance Camp, The Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA), and of course, Canada’s folk-roots record label, Borealis Records.
- His bullish determination to give contemporary Canadian folk music a much more significant profile in the music marketplace via the CFMAs, Borealis Records and other pursuits has resulted in the genre being stronger and more vital than ever.
- And for us at Roots Music Canada, well, Grit (and Bill Garrett) offered us a very fair-priced shared-office/studio space with enthusiasm and love. We are proud to call 290 Shuter Street our home thanks to Borealis’ faith in a couple of guys with some crazy ideas about promoting the Canadian folk/roots scene. And while we’ve struggled due to health and other reasons of late, Grit’s compassion and understanding has been as expected, simply remarkable. We are so proud of Grit Laskin. What a deserving recipient of the Order of Canada.
Here is a video we produced in 2010 to celebrate Grit Laskin’s Estelle Klein Award, issued by the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals.
** Once upon a time, Grit bought a used Volvo. Gas mileage was a hot topic in the 70s and 80s, and Tam Kearney of The Friends of Fiddler’s Green decided to make Grit’s car one of the most efficient cars ever. Whenever possible, he topped off Grit’s tank with a bit of gas. Grit would eagerly report to the Friends (and presumably anyone else who would care) that his car had incredible gas mileage. Then, Tam decided to reverse the technique, and siphoned gas out of the Volvo at regular intervals. Of course this was very distressing to Grit. But one fine day, the tables turned on Tam. A policeman caught him siphoning gas. Tam pleaded that it was all just a joke, and offered to prove it to the cop. Together, they knocked on Grit’s door. When the policeman asked Grit if he knew Tam, Grit said “Never seen him before in my life.” and closed the door. Such is life in The Friends of Fiddler’s Green. Tam and Grit remain best of friends to this day.