It has been 50 years since local musician John ‘Spyder’ Macdonald joined the Atlantic Federation of Musicians, an accomplishment that was marked along with his friend and fellow musician Gregg ‘Phisch’ Fancy at a recent awards ceremony in Halifax.
The two have been dedicated to their craft and continue to play shows all over the county and beyond not for the money but their love of playing.
“The union is instrumental in making sure musicians rights are protected,” said Macdonald. “If you want to do certain gigs you have to be in the union.”
March 2, Macdonald and Fancy made their way to The Old Triangle in Halifax for the first celebration of its type for the organization to celebrate its members’ longstanding membership. Although the men knew before the event they would be receiving the awards it was still a great honour.
“I guess I have all the perks but now I don’t have to pay dues,” laughed Macdonald. “It’s kind of nice to be acknowledged after all these years.”
Fancy shared the sentiments saying, “It’s nice for all the years you’ve put in and supported them.”
Macdonald received a 50-years of membership certificate and a lifetime membership award while Fancy also received a 50-years of membership certificate.
The two shared that they just enjoy playing and although they may not be big stars they made a living for their family doing what they enjoy. Both are happy that they are still able to get out and play shows even after 50 years as full-time musicians and although their career sort of winds down through the years as they get older they still enjoy taking on a few shows and giving every performance their all.
“Never in my wildest dreams I thought I’d be playing when I was 70,” chuckled Fancy. “Music fulfils me, not the money part of it. You kind of look forward to going to work.”
The musicians reminisced about playing six nights a week in their earlier days and many late nights spent in bars and venues doing what they love the most, then going to sleep in the early hours of the morning just to do it all again that evening. That’s a lifestyle, they joked, that might be far past their bedtimes now.
Their experience has also led to some memorable shows and the chance to play in front of large and small audiences.
“Through the years I’ve played for soup kitchens or royalty,” Macdonald said. “You sing every song like it’s the last time you’re ever going to play it.”