© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Musician and songwriter Chas Guay is surrounded by the tools of his trade in his Charlottetown home. Guay will be presented with the Musician’s Achievement Awards during the ECMAs in Charlottetown next week.
He has been called a musician’s musician.
He’s a first-call player for Island artists looking to record and for visiting artists who need to put together a back-up band that can pick up a set of charts and be ready to hit the stage without benefit of a lot of rehearsal.
He is also a mentor to younger musicians who are just starting to make their way in the industry.
Chas Guay is all of this and more, and next week he’ll be recognized for all he has accomplished so far by the East Coast Music Association with the presentation of this year’s Musician’s Achievement Award.
Guay will be honoured during the ECMA’s industry awards brunch at the Delta Prince Edward.
Word that he was to be honoured caught Guay completely off guard when he first heard the news last month.
“I really was surprised,’’ Guay said in an interview.
“I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. But it quickly began to sink in. This truly is an honour, especially when you look at some of the people who’ve received this award in the past — Kim Dunn, Chris Corrigan and George Antoniak. I’m proud to be considered in the same company as those guys.”
Guay said he’d never really thought about himself that way before.
“You tend to not think about the business a lot or about how others see you. For me it’s not been so much about the business as it has been about the art of making music.”
Making music has been a huge part of Guay’s life since his early teens. Like many players of his time, he was inspired to pick up a guitar by the music of British invasion bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Zombies and by popular Montreal bands of the day like The Rabble and The Haunted. “That music really got me,” Guay said. Not long after that he acquired his first guitar, a tenor guitar. He taught himself the basics of playing bass on that guitar. He recalls buying his first real bass guitar a couple of years later. “I went to Steve’s Music Store in Montreal with my father. Steve’s was one room back then. It’s a whole block now. I was interested in a bass guitar. My dad sold cars and Steve was interested in this Plymouth. “They talked. I got my first bass, a Winston, for about $60. And I got a little Symphonic amplifier to go with it.” As the music changed, Guay changed with it. He became drawn to artists like Jimi Hendrix, Otis Rush, Albert King, Neil Young and Little Feat. In fact, he devoured their music. His appetite increased when he attended Presentation High School in Montebello, Que., where he met a number of other young players.