CD Volume 12

This is the Online version of the booklet which accompanies our No. 10 CD Album.
It contains the lyrics of all 24 original songs featured on the disc...
as well as vignettes associated with the
writing, performing, and recording of these songs -- in Canada and England.
...did you know...? "Strange But True" Facts About:
The Hillmans' 10th record album release
  • From a career touching on four decades -- '60s-'90s
  • The first Compact Disc release by a Western Manitoba Act
  • 24 original songs written, arranged & produced by Bill
  • Alan Clark of Dire Straits played keyboards on 7 songs
  • 12 songs recorded in London, Newcastle & Durham, England
  • Released to commemorate the 24th Anniversary of their restaurant
  • SOO'S - in downtown Brandon, Manitoba***
  • Born in China but smuggled out to Hong Kong during the Communist Revolution and emigrated to Canada at age 10
  • Youngest of a 70-year-line of Choy family chefs in SW MB
  • Brandon University Graduate B.A. - B.Ed. (5 yr)
  • A high school English, Geography & Home Ec. teacher
  • Instructor in Brandon University's English for Academic Purposes since 2003
  • Restaurant owner/manager & entrepreneur
  • Black Belt Karate instructor & student of Tai Chi
  • Featured in countless shows and recordings on vocals, drums, percussion, piano, synthesizers


  • Born and raised on a Manitoba farm near Strathclair
  • A veteran of over 30 years in the music industry: stage performances, guitar, vocals, songwriting, management, record production, promotion, etc.
  • Writer/arranger/producer of over 50 original songs
  • University graduate: B.Sc.(Honours), B.Ed.(5-year), M.Ed.
  • Thirty years experience in teaching high school geography, English, computers, music, science, history, business
  • Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brandon University since 2001
  • Student of the martial arts - Black Belt in Karate
  • An inveterate collector: 10,000 shows from the Golden Age of Radio, 4,000 video tapes (classic movies & TV, music, etc.), books, magazines, comics, antiques, music, show business memorabilia


  • Entertainers of the Year Award - Presented by M.A.C.A.
  • A 40-year partnership in marriage and show business
  • Parents of 3 great kids: Ja-On, Robin and China-Li
  • International tours: Canada - USA - Great Britain
  • Countless venues - from country halls to grandstand shows, military bases, local & network TV & radio, rodeos, film, night clubs, discos & country/western clubs in England, political rallies, recording studios...
  • Co-owners/managers of SOO'S Restaurant in Brandon for 10 years
  • Professor and Instructor at Brandon University
Sail on mighty 747 Sail on, Sail on
Sail away to Manitoba sunshine (Repeat)
Bobbin' around - city to town England shore to shore
Boogie Woogie Rock - Tutti Frutti Bop
They always shout for more

But there comes a time for home fires
Prairie skies and nights
Wheatfields far horizons
Far off farmhouse lights
Newcastle Brown Ale - North Sea gales
Wee cars and Geordie cowboys
Football - Housie - Telly and sweet tea

Blackpool's grown-up toys

This is a Rock-a-Billy flavoured song. My first exposure to rock 'n' roll was through the Memphis Sun Records artists: Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis - The excitement generated by these early rockers has been a major musical influence.

The idea for the song came during a long wait at London's Heathrow Airport during a work-to-rule strike. Sue-On was pregnant with our first child, Ja-On, and we perhaps were a little nostalgic and homesick after having toured for seven weeks in a foreign land. It had been a very successful tour highlighted by the recording of five sides in a London studio, but we have always been 'homebodies,' - a defence, I guess, from the craziness of the road. It was approaching harvest time on the prairies and we were looking forward to experiencing our unique fall rituals and even seeing the stubble fires which light up the night skies on every horizon. We had loved the experience of this, our first tour of England - the Newcastle Brown Ale, the ocean, the history, the Geordies, football, housie, BBC, Blackpool...everything - but it was time for homefires.

The song was recorded three years later at Guardian Studios in northern England. This 24-track studio is set up in two adjacent row houses on High Street, in the tiny village of Pity Me, just outside the beautiful, historic City of Durham. The studio was a labour of love and brain child of owner/engineer Terry Gavaghan who saw it as a means of getting 'off the road' while still staying in the music industry. He invested the money he had saved touring as lead guitarist for the Carpenters - here in this quaint little Yorkshire village. This choice of locale was perhaps not as unusual as it might first appear as England's Northeast is saturated with clubs and musicians.

We later performed Sail On at the Manitoba Association of Country Artists (MACA) Awards ceremonies where we were backed by a large stage band complete with fully-charted arrangements - quite a contrast to the small combo approach we took on the record.


Make the same ole rounds
Hit the same ole towns
Picking Country and Rock 'n' Roll
Crowd gettin' loud
Band gettin' louder
Till the whole thing's outa control
Hey Hey - Alright
Gonna be alright - Tonight
We boogie all night
Watch 'em brawl and fight
People never listen like they should
They want the same ole songs
Say there ain't nothing wrong
With "Roll Over..." and "Johnny B. Good"
It's a one night stand ...It's a one night stand...It's a one night stand
And we're standing up for Rock 'n' Roll
Fifteen years
Of smoke and beers
And fifteen thousand bars

Nights get lonely
When you're on your own
With nothing but your old guitar
It's a one-night stand

And we're standing up for Rock 'n' Roll
One Night Stand

This is another of our autobiographical efforts - written during a rather laid-back and reflective mood. Although we tour far afield most summers, the remainder of each year is spent playing one- nighters. The experiences we have shared while performing in a different town every night has developed bonds with which only musicians can identify. The fact that we are married has seemed to intensify marital bonds as well. Our closest lifelong friends have always been musicians and some of our most cherished moments could only have come about through our performing experiences.

Dovetailing other careers with our music has been the source of some frustration over the years - family and teaching careers have always come first. This has meant that we have not always been able to follow up music opportunities, but the moment we step on stage, any stage, the rush of performing kicks in -- a cure-all for all maladies.

One Night Stand was recorded at Impulse Studios at Walls End in Newcastle-On-Tyne, England. The studio is located close to the eastern limit of Hadrian's Wall - a wall built by the Romans to keep out the wild Scottish tribes. The wall was not too successful in holding back Scots from the studio ... we invaded successfully, as did quite a number of Celtic groups, such as the Chieftains, who use the studio regularly.

These Newcastle Sessions came about at the end of our second tour of Britain and resulted in 14 songs for Album #7. One Night Stand was culled as a single and was our first charted song to break the Top 10. We eventually performed it on the CBC network-televised Canada Country Music Week concert at the Winnipeg Centennial Auditorium - backed up with a 20-piece orchestra. Our fondest memories of this event, however, centred around our backstage bull sessions with fellow entertainers George Hamilton IV and The Family Brown, swapping stories about performing in England. 


Ja Ja got a transfer - not what he asked for
They shipped him down to Louisian
Bye Bye to New York City - Ooo what a pity
Ja Ja was a macho man
Ja Ja said, "What? No! Ain't no Disco!
How'm I gonna get it on?"
Then Ja Ja met a Honey. She said, "Y'all talk funny."
And she took him to the place of action

Now it's Bye Bye - Bye Bye - Bye to Regine and '54'
Bye Bye - Bye Bye - Bye Bye Bye -
Ain't gonna disco no more
Then a country Cajun band jumped up on the stand
Playin' fiddle and squeezebox songs
With a granny on a crowbar - two cousins on the guitar
Poor Ja Ja said, "I don't belong!"
"I don't see no lights! I don't see no tights!
Ain't no floor to do my boogie on!"
He sat in a glower - big city wall-flower
Till they passed the swamp jug around
He took one sip - it him on the lip
And it burned him down to his heels
He fell down - hit the ground - jump up and spun around
Stomped and shouted, "Aaaaheeeeee!"



I wrote this one just near the tail end of the Disco phenomenon - in fact, the original title was Disco Stomp, but I have adopted the subtitle since the Disco fad mercifully has fallen from favour (even though live DJs with their dead music have survived and have greatly reduced the number of venues for live bands).

Since Sue-On and I had just backed Barry Forman on two fiddle albums and we had just finished an album of our own Cajun songs, it seemed natural to combine all these influences. The song has a "what if...?" premise - what if a John Travolta-type denizen of Regine's and Club 54 were transferred from the New York disco scene to a backwoods, bayou town in Louisiana?

While writing this I repeated the hook "Bye Bye" so often that it found its way into our toddler-son Ja-On's vocabulary. For months, the last words we heard as we left to play nightly gigs were "Bye Bye Da Da". His constant input on this one was such that I just had to use his name in christening the song's main character.

Curiously, despite the Cajun theme and all the Cajun-style music we have done, this song features no fiddle. We recorded it in Durham with the English show band, Desperado and there was a shortage of fiddlers in the area. However, later in this session we did attempt a 5-string banjo imitation on a synth for the Eagles song Take It Easy - but that's another story. 


Please hold me darling
I don't feel like crying tonight
Tears are for lonesome times
So hold me darling
Your arms are my shelter tonight
Lovin's so right with you
Fighting the flame
But now we've lost
Playing the game
And paying the cost
We've tried for so long
To survive these nights
But love can't be wrong
When it feels so right


This ballad is just an old-fashioned country love song I wrote to show off Sue-On's gutsy emotional delivery. It came out of the Durham/Pity Me sessions with Desperado. Their drummer had some trouble with the country 3/4 rhythm so Sue-On moved into the drum booth to do the drums - nothing new for her as she has done drums on about half our records. The curious thing about the studio drums is that they had been purchased in England from the estate of the late Keith Moon of the Who - the studio piano also had some claim to fame, being the French upright used on Elton John's Honky Chateau album...Oh, the stories they could tell.

Hold Me Darlin' first appeared on Album 9 - On Stage in England. In answer to DJ response we later released it as a single.


Rolling down the highway - we're southern bound
Wind from the bus blows the sweet grass 'round
Kalispell, Missoula and their rodeos
Play a little fiddle and a dosey doe
Dancing and prancing - the ponies a flying
Cowboys cussing and their ladies a crying
Pick a little tune, a jig and a song
Montana crowd wanna sing along

Your song goes on Echoing through the sky
i'll sing your song Till the day I die
I see the phantoms and shadows on the far horizon
Stories of the redman and herds of bison
Railroad, wagon, trader and miner
Lawman, outlaws and old moonshiners
Shaken outa my dreams by the tires a-whining
Just another sound of the Old West dying
Can't live the past but I'll sing it in song
Kindle old times as we roll along


We have spent many summers touring Western USA and Canada - performing with American acts on grandstands at rodeos and State, Provincial and County Fairs. Many acts were from Nashville but the ones we found most interesting were the variety acts from California. Our US booking agents were the Bardines who were veterans of the last days of Vaudeville, so it was not surprising to find a multitude of fascinating, experienced acts on the bill. We rubbed shoulders with, and took show biz lessons from, magicians, ventriloquists, comedy pickpockets, trick cyclists, dancers, standup comics, tenor banjo players, chorus girls, singers, acrobats...the gamut. When we were not listening to inside stories about Greats such as Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, and the Marx Brothers, we basked in the aura of enthusiasm that surrounded these seasoned entertainers. All of this played out against an almost incongruous backdrop of the 'wild west.' Inexplicably this, coupled with my love for geography and heritage, seemed to pull me back into the traditions of the western setting we were touring - hence this song.

We tried to convey some of the Montana Big Sky feel through some unusual studio effects which included flanging the strings and fading the ending with a lonely wind effect.


Your loving brings me comfort Like shelter to a runaway child (Repeat)
Come to me and fill this longing inside
Your loving soothes my troubles Like water to a fevered brow (Repeat)
Come to me and fill this longing inside
And when you touch me with soft hands so lightly
I can't help but want you and hold you so tightly
Your loving flows like music It keeps running through my mind(Repeat)
Come to me and fill this longing inside 


I have the good fortune to be able to write love songs for my wife - after which I can hear her sing them to me every night... nice work if you can get it. This was such a song BUT the setting for the creation of the recorded version of this ballad could hardly be called romantic.

After finishing our first tour of 30 one-nighters in the Northeast of England, our English musician friend Mick Sandbrook drove us down to London which was experiencing the worst heat wave and drought of this century. What was normally lush greenery had been scorched brown and wilted and buildings which held a standing boast that they needed no air conditioning had become unbearably stagnant.

We picked Gooseberry Recording Studios from an advert in the British rock paper Melody Maker. The ensuing telephone conversation clinched the deal as they swore that their studio was always cool and their previous cliental included such clean-cut groups as the Sex Pistols. On the first day of the session we lugged our gear down to Bromley Station in Kent and boarded a train that took us to Charing Cross, London. We sweated across to Trafalgar Square where we hailed a cabbie who mistakenly drove us half-way across London because he couldn't cut through our 'Canajun' accents.

Eventually, we found the Soho studio... it was an underground studio - literally and figuratively. In stunned amazement we dragged our equipment through a sidewalk manhole and down a ladder into a dark, damp...but cool...converted cellar and coal bin. The advertised 16-track recording console had only 13 working tracks and most of these were usable only with the help of chewing gum, rubber bands and constant spraying and banging. I squeezed into a tiny closet with my acoustic guitar and a studio mike to isolate my playing from the sounds that our keyboardists Kevin Pahl and Alan Jones were able to eke out of the beat-up piano. The session drummer and bassist were good - in fact, I have since seen their names on many movie and concert credits out of England - but our session was constantly interrupted as they had to climb up the manhole ladder to confer with other clients. We closed the session at 10 PM because we had to run through the streets to Charing Cross to catch the last train home to Bromley. Our engineer suggested that we might want to stay underground a little longer because there had been Tong wars and Chinese unrest on the streets above all evening. I called the song Shelter - we needed it.


I'm an alligator hunter, a moonshine runner
... a hard-lovin' Cajun man
Born out on the bayou with a fishin' pole in my hand
Come Saturday I'm pushin', my pirou through the bush 'n'
... alligators and Spanish Moss
Get to town 'bout the time the dancers start kickin' off

Where the band's playing fiddles and... 
guitars in the middle of the floor
Where the flirty flirty girlies... 
whirl and twirl around till way past four
Where losers and boozers can toss their troubles to a friend
And young folks, old folks, stomp and fly like the wind

When the Louisiana sun comes peepin' into town... 
I'll be creepin' back across the bay
Back into the shack where I reckon I was born to stay
But after six days of swamp, I'm getting ready to stomp... 
and get back to all my bayou belles
Thinkin' 'bout the good times I whoop, stomp, holler and yell


Throughout our first decade of recording, I wrote many cajun- flavoured songs. One reason for this was to feature our bassist, Barry Forman, who was also a champion fiddler. Another reason, however, was that such tunes lent themselves to an exciting stage presentation in which we could feature Sue-On's driving backbeat on drums. All this was done about 10 years before this southern-style music really caught on - maybe we should have hung in there a little longer. The song did win some money for us though, in the American Song Festival contest out of California.

FREEDOM TRILOGY (Trad. Arrangement)

No more Auction Block for me
No more, no more
No more Auction Block for me
Many thousand gone
No more driver's lash for me
No more, no more
No more driver's lash for me
Many thousand gone
He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
He died for love and freedom
He died a million times
He was a friend of mine
He died on Freedom Road
He died on Freedom Road
Spent a long time a travellin'
He died on Freedom Road


We based this song on some old folk music themes. Previous to the recording session we had done the number as an acoustic-backed duet - usually at folk concerts or for small gatherings. Thanks to Alan Clark's synth arrangements and the temptation to do layered vocal overdubs, the finished recording differed considerably from our stage version.

LADY LUCK (Desperado)

Walking down the dusty road
On my mind a heavy load
Lady Luck don't ever shine on me
Gold opportunities
Thoughts and dreams of what might be
Lady Luck don't ever shine on me
It takes more than a trick
To make yourself rich -
in this town
And the man at the table says You're playing it oh so cool
He said, "Lay your money down
A fortune's comin' round
Never let the game beat you."
A steady line of one-bit wins
Ease my mind
so I begin to
Lay down dollars like I was layin' whores
Then the big one this was it
Ten thousand dollars on a red card hit
Lady Luck don't ever shine on me


This effort was the culmination of a joint international project. We spent a week in Durham's Guardian Studios with Desperado, a Middlesbrough-based English show band. After pooling our efforts on the backing tracks, we each did our own version of the final vocals and mix. The result was that they had songs to release as singles and we had enough originals and covers for a complete album. I felt that we needed synth arrangements and since our regular keyboard player, Kevin Pahl, couldn't accompany us on this third tour, I hired one of the musicians whom we had met in the local clubs. He did a fantastic job for us and we really weren't too surprised when we learned five months later that he had joined Mark Knopler's Dire Straits as a regular - a job he still holds.

Desperado was comprised of Alun Edwards (vocals, congas, percussion), Mick Sandbrook (vocals, bass), John Whittingham (vocals, guitar), Colin Bradley (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Duckers (drums) - all from the Middlesbrough, County Cleveland area. Paul Rodgers of Bad Company had come out of this group a few years before.

It was while recording the vocal tracks for this song that we were drawn into the realm of the supernatural. The hour was late - around midnight at Guardian Studios, Pity Me - the bed tracks were in the can, and we had just removed the drums from the isolation cubicle which was to double as my vocal booth. Sue-On had gone across the street to make a telephone call while Terry, Alan and Mick sat staring at me through the control room glass, waiting for me to sing along with the backing tracks of Lady Luck. Part way into the song there was a brilliant flash of light around me and someone turned off the 24-track recorder. Wondering what the problem was, I looked inquisitively toward the guys at the console. They had strange looks on their faces and I heard Terry's voice over the cans, directing me to come in. My first thought was that something had happened to destroy the master tape. Terry phoned his neighbour friend while I tried to get Mick to tell me what had happened. The neighbour rushed in saying, "She's back!???" All three in the control room had seen a brilliant light radiating from a negative image of a small person standing close to me. Terry explained that years ago a young girl who lived here in this row house, the one that he had converted into his studio, had run out into the path of a lorry and had been struck down. They carried her into this room and had laid her dying body on a sofa in the same area as the vocal booth. The ghostly image of this girl has appeared frequently, usually in conjunction with some calamity - in this case her visit must have been brought about by my singing. Stories about the 'ghost' (Guardian Angel?) abound and her picture is displayed in the pub down the street. I suggested to Terry that he should include the story in his advertising, but he seemed very reluctant - in fact, he was afraid it would drive away business. I saw no ghost but I did see a brilliant light...and the shocked and frightened looks on my cohorts' faces. 


Pride holds a million tears inside
They drown the love I try to hide
While every passing moment leads you farther away
Love only promised can not last
Time only fades away the past
And every passing moment leads you farther away
Away from love which could have been
Away from life we could have seen
Away from hopes, tomorrows and dreams


I wrote this one under pressure. One of the sponsors for our first tour of England was the Traynor Sound Equipment Company of Toronto, who were trying to promote their sound equipment in England. Upon our arrival at Heathrow Airport we were directed to pick up the gear at a music shop in Bromley, Kent. Here we found a grand old house near the station which offered overnight bed and breakfast lodging. We were so fond of these digs that, after our six week tour in the north, we returned to this B&B for R&R. Since we could commute easily to London by train, I impulsively booked studio time in Soho...the only problem was a lack of material to record. Shortly before we left Canada we had recorded enough original songs for Album 6 and all I had left were scraps of unpolished song ideas in my head. Our room opened onto a gorgeous English garden where I immediately started to bounce song ideas off Sue-On. After we came up with something akin to music, the four of us - Kevin, Alan, Sue- On and myself - threw together some hurried arrangements which we hoped would cut down on studio time. We eventually recorded five songs at the session of which three, Farther Away, Shelter and Al's While You're Away, appear on this CD album.


O China Lady
Though you are far away
You're haunting me night and day
With your laughing eyes
O China Lady
In every dream I see
A vision of you and me
Under China skies
When the moon shines through the prairie sky
And the cold wind wails and calls your name
I'm on some foreign shore by the ocean's roar
Long ago - Far away
O China Lady
I'm living in misery
Surrounded by memories
Of our last goodbye


Here's another one from our concept album, Prairie Saga. We assembled our regular Canadian cast of characters to record this one at Century 21 Studios - a very up-to-date facility housed in a converted synagogue in Winnipeg's North End. This entourage was made up of musician friends we have worked with for many years: Alan Jones - Blinded as a child in wartime England physiotherapist, songwriter - trying to get some kind of an oriental sound out of the massive Yamaha studio organ... Kevin Pahl - daredevil cropduster and musician extraordinaire - striving to get a vibes/celeste-like sound out of the Fender Rhodes... Barry Forman - fiddler, car dealer and former teacher - thumping away on bass... Sue-On and I were singing while playing drums and guitar. Meanwhile, engineer John Smith - who had worked with the Beatles at Abbey Road and had received a credit on their double White Album - tried to pull it all together in the control room. Also sitting in at the console for this session was another musician friend - Kerry Morris - pilot, hang glider, computer systems analyst - who joined us a few years later as our regular bassist and drummer.

China Lady may not have much to do with traditional Chinese music but we had a lot of fun with it. Normally our relationship with oriental culture is much more serious. We have a deep respect for oriental art, music, traditions and martial arts. Our living, recreation, and work areas are all adorned with Chinese art and furnishings, of which the Chinese moon door on the cover of the CD is a good example. This appreciation of 'the East' has carried over into other areas as well. As a family sport and discipline we study Wado Kai Karate - a style developed by Supreme Instructor Masaru Shintani, 8th Dan - and under the instruction of Sensei Bruce Dunning, we have both achieved the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt.


Tears dim my eyes
Leaves drift to the ground
Cold winter wind
Chills to the bone
Time lingers on
But love has passed me by
All I have are dreams
Of you and home

CHINESE LYRICS ............


This one I wrote with considerable help from Sue-On - if you listen closely it should be easy to pick out her contributions - I am not exactly fluent in Chinese. From our first meeting I have been constantly amazed at what this person - my soul mate - is capable of achieving.

Sue-On was born in southern China but her family lost everything there during the Communist Revolution. At age two she was smuggled out of China with a neighbour family and lived with her grandmother in Hong Kong until the rest of the family were able to follow. Eventually, at 10 years, she and her mother were allowed to join her father in Canada. She mastered English and adapted to the new culture while working in her family's restaurant. After we married she joined me in performing on stage - singing, and playing drums and keyboards. She then completed University (BA, B.Ed) and worked as a high school teacher as well spending time as a Field Supervisor for the University of Manitoba and Brandon University - all this while maintaining a frenetic performing schedule and raising three kids. When we took over the long-established Choy family restaurant - SOO's in Brandon - she added the role of restaurant manager and entrepreneur to her slate of accomplishments. Not the least of her achievements has been her ability to put up with my idiosyncrasies through all these years.

It is ironic, considering all the trouble Sue-On's family had in getting out of China that, for a while, Beijing became one of our largest radio audiences. Sue-On's brother-in-law, Wai Kai was captured by the authorities after having paid to be smuggled out of the country by boat. It was 17 years before he was able to join his wife and daughter in Canada. After coming to Brandon, he stayed in touch with a friend who had been assigned the job of music programmer for Radio Beijing. When China relaxed its ban on 'things Western,' there was a great thirst for music from America and some of the first imported tapes they heard were ours - Choy revenge?


Westward bound the year was '78
John Campbell - Pioneer
Steamin' by train and rolling by wagon
To Manitoba's wild frontier

His daddy built a house of sod just for the winter
Come summer built a house of stone
Cleared the virgin land and they did it by hand
Workin' aching fingers to the bone

He met my Nanny in a country school house
Where they danced the night away
Bought a gold band and asked for the hand
Of pretty little Katy McKay

Green Bluff girl then moved into Maple Grove
Just a little south of town
Helping in the fields and cooking all the meals
And watching little babies run around

Now I walk the same fields and the forests
But it's not as it once used to be
And I realize with tears in my eyes
Time fades their memory

'20s brought good times, '30s took them back
'40s called the second son away
Winter '55 took and old man's life
And a woman's will to live another day

But the house still stands to the memory of a man
Who settled on this prairie land
Trees a-blowing in the wind are still growing
Planted by a woman's loving hand


My great grandfather came west in 1878 with his family and possessions to homestead a tract of land south of the Little Saskatchewan River Bend settlement - near the present location of Strathclair. We still maintain a home on this homestead site. This song was written as a tribute to those early pioneers. Besides trying to express our love for this area where my ancestors sank roots so long ago, I was also trying to show how much I feel we owe to our heritage.

Any fiddle you hear on our songs has been done by our favourite fiddler - Barry Forman. Barry and I met in University and we have shared many a stage and travelled many a mile together. When Barry finally got around to recording some fiddle albums, Sue-On and I were honoured to be asked to play drums and guitars on his sessions. One of these albums featured his nine-year-old son Kent, who later went on to play violin in symphony orchestras all over the world. Barry doesn't play as much now - he devotes 25 hours a day to his family, aircraft, and car dealerships - but it's always a pleasure when he is able to find the time to join us on stage.


Sun shinin' brightly
Cold wind blowin' free
Old mallard's winging his way from the north

Smoky air sweeping
Through tired leaves weeping
Prairie life singing A song to the north

When the brown city air and cold sidewalk stares
get me down
I reach for the days and old time ways
of the farm

Memories so warm, of the place I was born,
I recall
Harvest time and dandelion wine
in the fall

Stubblefields burning
Old windmills turning
Silhouettes framed by the sun's fall to earth

Dew crystallizing
Harvest moon rising
October night singing A song to the north


The lyrics pretty well tell the whole story of this song. We were trying to create, on record, a bitter-sweet feel akin to the moods of Autumn. If we succeeded in this I believe we owe it to Sue-On's wistful interpretation and also to the piano effects achieved by Kevin Pahl. Kevin joined us while he was in my grade 9 class at Strathclair Collegiate. We were amazed at his singing and playing abilities, even at that early age. Later, he also excelled in a flying career. At one time he was working part time in his family businesses, giving flying lessons at the Brandon Airport in afternoons, playing one-nighters with us, and crop dusting in the early mornings and evenings. Many times we would arrive back home around sunrise and shake him awake so he could make his way to his plane to work at spraying a grain field all morning.

Granddaddy told of times he saw men dying
Old women weeping, naked children crying
Blankets, trinkets for land and gold
Ain't nothing left but memories to hold... for the

Chickasaw Waccamaw Iroquois Sioux
Susquehanna Missisauga and the Kickapoo
Choctaw Chippewa Yakima Cree
Sissipahaw Wichita and brave Pawnee

Then we chopped down the trees and poisoned the breeze
Killed all the beasts and brought nature to her knees
Now rivers are dying too heavy to flow
Proud people crying, nowhere to go... for the

Cherokee Apache Mohave Mandan
Shawnee Comanche Miami Cheyenne
Apalache Muskogee Tutchone Navajo
Missouri Shoshone and proud Arapaho


Both Sue-On and I are high school teachers of geography and English. One reason for the creation of Massacre was to show students how native Indian place names have enriched our North American landscape. In addition to serving as a tribute to those who came here generations before my ancestors, I felt that the writing and recording of a song using colourful Indian names was an excellent way to enhance my teaching. As you can hear in the lyrics, I tried string together the fascinating names of Indian tribes in a lyrical and rhythmic way.

Coincidentally, nearly everyone playing on this session was some sort of teacher by profession. Besides Sue-On, Barry and myself who have all taught high school, there was Kevin Pahl - a flying instructor, Kerry Morris - a computer instructor - and Larry Clark - a University prof.

We enjoy doing this song on stage - and I guess the performances which stand out most in our memory where the times we sang it in the back-to-nature setting of the Boggy Creek Call of the Wild Country and Bluegrass Festival. We were quite involved in the event for many years, both as performers and organizers and it was quite a shock when it all came to an abrupt end following the sudden death of Lewis Kaselitz. Lewis, his wife Linda and their kids emigrated to Canada from Tennessee with the dream of starting a southern-style music festival in Manitoba. Finding a suitably scenic area south of Swan River, near Boggy Creek, they cleared land and used some of the logs to build a lodge. Next, they levelled an airstrip and then went about realizing their dream of bringing in the best country and bluegrass acts on the continent. It was a real treat working with artists such as Doc and Merle Watson, the Whites, the Kendalls, John Anderson, Little Jimmie Dickens, the Family Brown, Kitty Wells, Wayne Rostadt...each year saw an even more impressive roster. The dream died, however, when Lewis succumbed to a massive heart attack.


Trade winds blow across the sea of my memory
To a time when cares were few and life had meaning
Visions of a smiling face framed by willows
Reflections that played on waters gleaming

This heart of mine
It cries while I am waiting here
In sadness
This heart of mine
It longs and yearns each night
For his caress

Hand in hand we'd walk along under starlight
Gentle breezes kissed a love that seemed for ever
Now I sit alone and dream of a lost love
This pain in my heart a burning ember


This was one of the first originals with which we had critical success. Soon after its release, we were thrilled to read a long glowing review in the BMI trade magazine out of Toronto. Most artists thrive on feedback - good and bad - and we were no let us know that perhaps we were on the right track with our music. This was the first oriental-flavoured song I wrote for Sue-On.


Come on and give the band a hand on the ole bandstand
They're singing all night for you
Guitar's ringing and the drummer girl's singing the blues
We'll pick a little fiddle and diddle with the ivories in harmony
We'll have a rompin' stompin' good-time jamboree
Forget your tax laws, in-laws, out-laws, too
Even grandma's jumpin' like new
Dancing and prancing - any ole dude'll do
Dancing outside, inside, upside down
Look - her feet don't touch the ground
Struttin', double clutchin', and hitchin' up her gingham gown

The amp'll snapple crackle pop when we start to rock
You'll feel your toes tapping down in your socks
Skippin' and trippin' and rockin' around the clock
We'll keep you creepin' and peepin' - anything but sleepin'
Till the moonshine meets the sun
Then you'll drag it to your wagon and the band's on the run again

This is a novelty song about our stage exploits and the experience of performing 30 years worth of one-nighters. It was recorded during our Newcastle sessions in England. This studio, like so many of the places we played in England, was inaccessible in the extreme. We had to pull our gear up many flights of stairs and through a seemingly endless number of doors because the facility was situated on the upper level of a large bingo hall complex. After surviving this ordeal which anyone in his right mind would have left to roadies, I returned to re-park our Ford Transit van only to find that the meter maid had decorated it with a parking ticket - to add infuriation to fatigue.

Stranger please wander home to me
Your wandrin' shoes have brought blues and misery
I cry alone every night you're away
Come share this bed where we used to lay
Stranger won't you call one more time
Call 'cause I'll fall for any line
O what a fool I must be I even talk to you in my sleep
(Please talk to me stranger please)
Stranger once we loved and laughed in fun
Once we played, sang and lay in the sun
Did you forget all the words to our song
Please won't you come take me along


There's really not much I remember about this one, other than we had just pushed and pulled - shoved and slid - huffed and puffed a Yamaha Grand into our Maple Grove Studio. My first exposure to music came from listening to my mom and dad having jam sessions around the Heinzman - the thrill of hearing, and later making this homemade live music has never left me. Not surprisingly then, I was glued to this new toy for days and Stranger Please is one of the songs that came out of my internment.

Because our recording career goes all the way back to 1970, I would like nothing better than to go into a '90s digital studio, complete with banks of synthesizers and improved production techniques to re-record songs such as this one.


Blue shallow river
Why must you race
Blue shallow river
Why not slow your pace

Take it slow in your wandrin'
Must you keep drifting free
Why be always searchin'
For a distant land or a never reaching sea

Blue shallow river
Stand your own ground
Blue shallow river
Get yourself unwound

You know love's never going to find you
In your dance to a distance hill
You can let your dreams unravel
Only if you take it in your mind to lie still

A major contributor to our early recording sessions was Larry Clark who was teaching at Brandon University at the time. He arranged the piano, organ and vibes parts which beefed up our sound immensely. Larry went on to become Brandon City Planner but eventually, growing weary of city life, he, Linda and the kids moved to the Manitoba's Whiteshell where he is currently employed as a Forest Ranger. It turned out to be a wise move because while sitting up in his lookout tower, he composed a couple albums of novelty campfire sing-a-long songs. He recorded this material under the name Uncle Smoky and the record was released very successfully across Canada by RCA. But heard him here first folks!

I'll surround you
With love so warm
That you'll never find your way out to the cold
For as long as you want me
And these two loving arms
Then I'll promise that our sweet love will never grow old
The soft breeze caressing
The moments so rare
The chill of the night wind Together we'll share
If you'll take my loving
All I have to give
Then there'll always be some reason for me to live

And I'll live just for you
With each breath I hold
And together we'll find memories much richer than gold


This is another of the early originals we recorded at the old original 8-track Century 21 studios on King Edward Street in Winnipeg. We were one of their first clients - in fact, I remember nailing up some last-minute acoustic wall material to get the place into operation. The studio was conceived and operated by two sets of brothers: the Hildebrands, John and Harry - and the Paleys, Ron and Ted. These guys had recorded and toured in the '60s as Ronnie and the Eternals. We had first met them when we were both booked for the first year of the Morris Stampede.


Warm summer night in a green Bromley garden
Done thirty nights of singin' - runnin' 'round ole England
Picking out the songs to lay down tomorrow
Songs about lovin' - leavin' - and sorrow

Monday morning moving into Bromley station
Munchin' fish and chips wrapped in the news of the nation
A Charing Cross stop and then we're out to Trafalgar
Humpin' piano and draggin' a guitar

Rockin' and rolling and reeling to Soho
Boogie woogie woogie into London town
Rockin' and rolling and reeling in Soho
Boogie woogie woogie till we get back home

Huff and puff and shove to where the lions and pigeons stand
Wave and jump and whistle - callin' for a cabbie man
Cabbie man don't understand or talk Canadian
Drive around in circles takin' every street he can

Later in the morning we're reeling in Soho
Rocking a studio - ten feet down below
People on the street are dancing, pushing and shoving
Listening to the band just a reelin' and rocking


Reelin' in Soho is an account of our first recording session in London, England. As suggested in the first verse, this was the culmination of a tour in which we - The Hillmans From Canada - had played 30 one-nighters in night clubs and discos across Northern England. Many nights found us in the ubiquitous Workingman Clubs where a house band opened at 7:00 pm, followed by opening acts which usually offered variety entertainment. We would then come on for a show set, after which there would be a long break for housie (bingo) - a national addiction. After this exciting gambling break we would return for a dance set - but by 11:00 pm the dancers would call it a night since they had to work the next day. Being so used to the long drives, long gigs and late nights back in Canada, it was hard for us to wind down so suddenly and every night found us driving around looking for some place which might still be open - we met some very colourful characters on these midnight rambles. The audiences attended these clubs every night of the week and had seen it all, so it was especially rewarding to 'go down a bomb' 'bomb' has a different connotation there than it does in North America. It was tremendously exciting to study the dressing room walls which were festooned with pictures, cards and stickers left by previous entertainers - even the Beatles, early in their careers, had toured this circuit. These backstage walls were seldom refurbished since it seemed that the more 'name' acts displayed, the more prestigious the club. Perhaps the most fascinating venues though, were the Country and Western Clubs where nearly everyone showed up in full Western regalia - including boots, hats, gunbelts...and western drawls - Geordie cowboys.

Our strangest and perhaps most memorable night occurred at Thirsk - a village in Yorkshire. Throughout the tour, we spent most mornings and afternoons being tourists - traipsing through castles, cathedrals, and pubs and across highlands and moors. Scarth, however, offered a special reward because it is home to Alf Wight, aka James Herriot of All Creatures Great and Small fame. We visited his veterinary office and toured his small museum just down the street. Fittingly, the club we were to play was on the outskirts of town surrounded by a meadow or cow pasture. It was a 1920s pavilion-style hall. Our opening act for the night arrived late - surrounded by an entourage of people in formal wear. He was a singer who had been married just a few hours before in Newcastle. This set the mood for the whole evening - the place seemed to explode and although the club should have been emptied by 11:00, the management barred the doors to keep out the local constabulary and the party continued into the wee hours. When Sue-On wearied of the drums, a succession of people - our agent, the bartender and even the groom - took control of the sticks. Something right out of the fictional Darrowby. 


Here's the sun - shining through
Making me happy - thinking of you
There's the moon - riding high
Leaving me lonely - making me cry
Summer breeze - drifting free
Bringing sweet memories - closer to me
Willow tree - whisprin' low
Sharing a secret - no one should know
I'll find a swallow to fly around you
And leave you love from me
Time rolls by - night and day
Only it's hurting - while you're away


This song was Alan Jones' contribution to our London sessions - you can't help but notice his unique piano style behind Sue-On's equally unique vocals. Alan and I have known each other since the early sixties when he moved from England to Brandon, Manitoba to work as a physiotherapist. At the time, I was playing four hours of guitar solos every night with our group - The Blue Angels - so, when we heard that Alan played piano and sax, we pressed him into service to offer our fans a little musical variety and relief from Shadows and Ventures material. Following a return visit to England, he amused us with stories of an outrageous new band with a silly name and girlish haircuts that for some strange reason was stirring up quite a bit of excitement back home...the Beatles?...Nah, they could never make it here. After a year or so, we went off in different directions, but we got together some time later to record a Maple Grove album, comprised mostly of his songs, under the title FREE SPIRIT. He later contacted an Middlesborough agent for us back in England and helped us line up our first tour of England - he even went along and filled in on organ on many of the gigs.


If you think that you've seen the way
I'll go blindly on
And if you think I've outstayed my stay
I'll call my day done

You know that I can't give you more
You've all I've got to give
O suddenly it's not enough
For the life you want to live

Once there was love and there was sweetness never misery
We lived for today but tomorrow we couldn't see
Then suspicion weighed on love only drifting... out on shifting sands

And love never made for tomorrow came to end
If you think that you've seen the truth
I'll live my little lie
But if you think that my loves a laugh
Then listen to me cry


I wrote this one for the Free Spirit album. Looking back on it I think the harmony is somewhat reminiscent of two of our favourite duos - the Everly Brothers and Ian and Sylvia. During the first years of our marriage we toured as the Western Union with Russ Gurr's Federal Grain troupe doing outdoor stage shows at exhibitions and fairs. Our solos went over well, but we found that duets added another dimension to our performance - and we liked doing them...we're still doin' 'em.


You don't look at me like you used to do Babe
You don't say the things you used to say
We don't seem to talk like we used to do Babe
Does it really matter anyway?

Is this the end of the line
Is there nothing left to be said
Do we forget the past, what's gone between
Just look straight ahead...or should we...

Try... to bring back the good times
Try... to forget all the bad
I ...just wish we could start again
And bring back the good times And all the magic they had

Is there any point in this rescue operation
Is there any meaning to this song
Should we call it quits no obligations
Just turn our backs and say so-long

I just can't believe it's over
Won't you tell me you've changed your mind
O Baby, O Baby,
Don't leave this thing behind...why can't we... (Chorus)

You don't know how much that I'm gonna miss you
Miss the things you do and the things you say
It's gonna be so hard for me just to get through
Do we have to say goodbye this way

This is the end of the line
There is nothing left to say
You've forgot the past and what's gone between
You'll walk out just won't...



This song has a complicated genealogy. We recorded the bed tracks with Alan Clark and the writers, Desperado, during our third tour of England, but we did not have time to complete the vocals before we flew home. Due to luggage restrictions, we left the two-inch masters in England so they had to be brought over a year later when bassist Mick Sandbrook and his wife Margaret visited us in Canada. We added vocal tracks in Winnipeg's Century 21 A-Studio, mixed it at the B-Studio, and sent it to Edmonton for a Dolby fix. At this point we realized that the song was too long for single release, so we went into the editing studio with John Hildebrand to razor blade cut a verse and chorus out of the 1/4-inch master tape. John was a master at this, having done many similar edits on the K-Tel TV records. The shortened version was mastered and pressed at Columbia Records in Toronto. The single received good airplay and the since the song has never appeared on our albums, we felt it would make a suitable finale for our first all-original CD and digital tape release

.Hear all the songs from Volume 10 CD
24 Original Songs
Written, Arranged and Produced by Bill Hillman (SOCAN)
Copyright Bill & Sue-On Hillman

1. Sail On 747©
2. One Night Stand©
3. Bye Bye Ja Ja©
4. Hold Me Darlin'©
5. Montana©
6. Shelter©
7. Cajun Stomp©
8. Freedom Trilogy©
9. Lady Luck*
10. Farther Away©
11. China Lady©
12. China Song©
13. John Campbell - Pioneer©
14. Harvest©
15. Massacre©
16. In Sadness©
17. Goodtime Jamboree©
18. Stranger Please©
19. Blue Shallow River©
20. Two Loving Arms©
21. Reelin' in Soho©
22. While You're Away**
23. Listen to Me Cry©
24. Bring Back the Good Times*

Take me back to the Hillman Eclectic Studio Homepage

BackHome and ContentsForward

Guitar Contents Page
Hillman Musical Odyssey
Hillman Eclectic Studio
Copyright 1996/2012 Bill & Sue-On Hillman
WebMaster: Bill Hillman