#1339: Time For Everyone by Northwest Company
Peak Month: September 1968
5 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #17
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
The Northwest Company was a band in the Fraser Valley from the town of Haney, about 25 miles east of Vancouver. The bands members were bass player Gowan Jurgensen, lead vocalist Rick McCartie, lead guitar and vocalist Ray O’Toole, rhythm guitar player Vidor Skofteby and on drums and vocals, Richard Stepp who was from Sicamous, British Columbia. Before moving to Vancouver in his late teens, Richard Stepp had been a paid musician in two Sicamous area bands called the Esquires and the Rebels. McCartie had been lead vocalist, and Richard Stepp the drummer, with the short-lived Vancouver band, The Questions, in 1965-66 (a group that won the Battle of the Bands in 1965 at the Pacific National Exhibition). The Northwest Company was originally named the Bad Boys. This was named after The Bad Boys Rag Shop, a trendy clothing store in Vancouver back in ’67. However, CFUN deejay Tom Peacock, encouraged the band to come up with another name that wouldn’t strike fear into parents of the groups female fan-base. It was Gowan Jurgensen who suggested to his bandmates the North West Company, based on the Montreal fur trading business founded in 1789. The band agreed, but distinguished themselves from the fur trading company with “Northwest” instead of “North West.”
Despite naming themselves after an establishment fur-trading company, the Northwest Company was a garage punk band. They played loud, driving, music that resembled The Kinks “You Really Got Me”. The rowdy and raucous performances of The Northwest Company gave them a “bad boy” sound despite the groups name change. On stage, The Northwest Company performed synchronized dance steps. To add a chaotic edge to this, the husky Rick McCartie would put Ray O’Toole on his shoulders while the song was being played, making the audience cheer when they successfully did the synchronized dance steps.
In July 1967 The Northwest Company recorded five tracks at the Telesound Studios in Vancouver. Of these, a song called “Hard to Cry” was released as a single, written by Vidar Skofteby. “Hard To Cry” was a rhythm guitar players dream with lots of reverb, released on CFUN deejay Tom Peacock’s new Grenadier Record label. The amateur recording had a “recorded-in-a-cave” sound, adding to its rebellious vibe. Though the song didn’t make the Top 40 in Vancouver, CFUN play listed it for nine weeks over the summer on their All-Canadian Top Ten. Fifty years later a mint condition copy of “Hard to Cry” costs as much as $1,000. It would later be covered by the Swedish punk band, The Nomads, in 1996. A second single, “Eight Hour Day”, with its’ anti-establishment opening line, “I want money, but I don’t want to work…” failed to chart.
At the time, The Northwest Company was featured numerous times on a local CBC show called Where It’s At. Other local recording artists on the show included Tom Northcott, the Collectors and the Poppy Family. They also appeared on the CBC show Let’s Go. The band’s third single was an experiment with sunshine pop. “Time for Everyone” spent three weeks Hit Bound and then five weeks on the CKLG chart, peaking at #17 in the fall of 1968.
Now is the time for everyone,
to run and go playing in the sun.
Just you and I and lots of fun,
we’re together, so together.
Playing in the sunshine right after gloom,
good love’s the answer I’d assume,
ours are the good times we all bloom,
and (we’re) together, so together.
Now we’re together and I’ve found,
life is much better when you’re not down,
so forever we’ll go round together,
(we’re together), so together.
“Time For Everyone” celebrates keeping a positive upbeat focus with someone you can keep good company with. Better to play together, go running, be out in the sunshine, have fun and share good love then to be down or surrounded with gloom. The Northwest Company’s song was a familiar theme in pop music in the late 60s. The Beach Boys sang about keeping those good vibrations happening with her in “Good Vibrations.” The Cowsills, in “The Rain, The Park And Other Things,” sang about a joyful connection when they discover “I knew (I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew) I could make her happy, happy, happy. Flowers in her hair. Flowers everywhere.” California’s The Merry-Go-Round in their 1967 song, “Live,” instructed: “Now, do what you want, go where you want, it’s all up to you./For in life the rule, is just to do what you want to do.” Don & The Goodtimes sang “I only want to tell you, that I think you look real nice./ My face is so much brighter, when I see you once or twice,” in their hit “I Could Be So Good To You”. Meanwhile, The Sunshine Company in their song “Happy” kept things on the sunny side as they sang “Happy’s the way I love you, happy’s just thinking of you/I’ve found a lifetime of pleasure, a hidden treasure, in the happiness of you.” And the Rascals advocated the benefits of going outside and enjoying what’s going on right outside your door in “A Beautiful Morning” as well as in “Groovin'”. While Tommy James & The Shondells sang about an Aquarian age with “Crystal Blue Persuasion”.
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson in her 2009 book Positivity writes that positive emotions can make us healthier and happier if we take time to cultivate them. If we look at a whole range of positive emotions—from amusement to awe to interest to gratitude to inspiration—what they all have in common is that they are reactions to our current circumstances. They aren’t a permanent state. Positive feelings come and go. That’s true of all emotions, but positive emotions tend to be more fleeting. They are also what Fredrickson refers to as “wantable” states. She says “not only do they feel good, but we want to feel them. Some people might say it feels good to be angry, and anger can sometimes be useful or productive, but people don’t want to feel angry. Positive emotions have a kind of alluring glitter dust on them. You want to rearrange your day to get more of those sparkling moments.” Positive emotions tell us not just what the body needs but what we need mentally and emotionally and what our future selves might need. They help us broaden our minds and our outlook and build our resources down the road….Over time positive emotions literally change who we are.”
Among the contributors to cultivating a positive frame of mind Fredrickson points to in research about positive emotions is to pay attention to human kindness. This includes noticing what others have done for you, which is a catalyst for thankfulness. It also includes being aware of what you can do for other people, how you can make somebody’s day. Simply noticing when you are kind to others generates mindfulness and wellbeing. Another factor in generating positive emotions is going outdoors and being in the sun. So the Northwest Company, singing about going out to play and have fun in the sun, is actually on target regarding the things that can enhance the chances of having fun together.
Incidentally, the producer of The Northwest Company’s singles was Daryl Burlingham. He was known on CFUN, and later CKLG, as Daryl “B”. In 1968 Daryl “B” was on the afternoon 3 pm to 6 pm CKLG show, “on BOSS Radio.” A June ’68 weekly record survey informed ‘LG listeners:
“Daryl & Western Canada’s finest, Chuck Steak, argue daily — 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. — about the Lower Mainland traffic situation. Don’t miss Daryl.” Would that we could fret about the traffic volumes in Vancouver, such as they were in 1968 all these years later. At the end of 1968 The Northwest Company released a single on Apex Records called “Can You Remember” b/w “The Sunday Song”. It was Apex 77091, just recorded after a song called “I Don’t Live Today” by The Purple Haze, a song that charted into the CHED Top 20 in Edmonton, Alberta, in November 1968.
While they continued to perform in concert, it would be several more years before The Northwest Company would return to the recording studio. One of these became their highest charting single in Vancouver, peaking at #12, “Rock ‘N Roll Lover Man”, written by Richard Stepp. It became the band’s signature tune. It was a blend of blue-eyed funk and psychedelic-rock, of the Small Faces with Humble Pie. Rick McCartie left the band prior to the release of this song, and it is Richard Stepp on lead vocals that you hear.
In the late 60s into the early 70s The Northwest Company were opening acts for The Beach Boys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Who, Lee Michaels, The Byrds and Country Joe & The Fish. In 1970 Vidar Skofteby got married and left the band, leaving them as a trio. In 1971 Ray O’Toole left the band and was replaced by Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck guitarist, Leslie Law. Another guitarist was added, Dan Smith, making the group a foursome again. After a series of guitarists, Ray O’Toole rejoined the band. A final single in 1973 failed to yield any chart action and the band broke up by the end of the year.
In 1983, “Rock ‘N Roll Lover Man” was selected by the Vancouver Record Collectors’ Association for inclusion on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 3. “Hard to Cry” and two other tracks from the July 1967 Telesound Studios’ session were included on the subsequent release, History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 4.
Ray O’ Toole would go on to become a member of popular country rock band, Blue Northern. The band’s hit in 1981, “Can’t Make No Sense“, was written by O’Toole. In 1983, “Rock ‘N Roll Lover Man” was included on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 3 compilation issued by the Vancouver Record Collectors’ Association
On his website, Richard Stepp details his musical career after the Northwest Company split. He went on to play with Home Cooking (1974-75), High Time (1975-1976) and Shakedown (1976-77). The latter band he was the front man for. He also worked at Mushroom Studios. In 1979 Stepp – who wrote to me in an email – confirmed that he released his debut album Holiday in Hollywood. In 1980 Richard Stepp was nominated for a Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year. Another nominee was Bryan Adams. But the winner of the Juno that year went to Montreal’s Walter Rossi. Richard Stepp also formed The Richard Stepp Band in 1981. He toured British Columbia and Alberta with his second album self-titled Richard Stepp.
Subsequently, Richard Stepp had released Freewind (1984), Hooray For Santa Claus (1997), It Only Takes One (2002) and Stepp On a Steinway (2002). The latter album featured Stepp on the piano with no backing musicians. On the album he recorded a variety of pop music classics including “Mack The Knife”, “Blueberry Hill”, “Island In The Sun”, “Stagger Lee”, Chantilly Lace” and “Over The Rainbow”.
April 17, 2017
Richard Stepp, Northwest Company bio, Richard Stepp.com
Richard Stepp, Richard Stepp Band bio, Richard Stepp.com
Jim Bedard, Larry Niven, Gunnar Stomperud, Northwest Company Bio, Canadian Bands.com
Northwest Company (featured guest) Where’s It At, CBC, October 1968
Vidar Skofteby, Discogs.com
Northwest Company, “Hard To Cry,” 1967
Boss 30, CKLG, April 13, 1968
“North West Company,” Wikipedia.org
Barbara Fredrickson, Positivity:Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life. (Harmony Press, 2009).
“Boss 30,” CKLG 730 AM, Vancouver, BC, September 27, 1968.
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