Music has taken me around the world.

The Early Days

Music was a part of my life from the very beginning.

Back in Saskatchewan, while still an infant in the carriage, I whistled to entertain myself. Folks passing by would wonder where the sound was coming from, and were delighted to discover a whistling baby. This marked the beginning of my musical life. As a child I learned classical piano with my grandmother and sang soprano in the church choir. At age twelve I began to improvise on piano and play by ear. In my teens, I began playing guitar and danced to fiery Ukrainian melodies at family weddings.

The Travelling Years

While hitch hiking through Europe in the summer of 1972 I was inspired by hippy street musicians to learn fiddle and concertina.

By 1976 I was performing regularly at folk clubs and festivals. I toured with the outdoor, horse drawn Caravan Stage Company for a couple of years, travelling about 500 miles by horse and wagon each summer.

The Romaniac Days

After earning a music diploma from Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, I fiddled my way from Moose Jaw to Moscow.

Touring first with the Canadian folk group Stringband, I then joined forces with mandolin maniac Steffy Levine (aka Steve Bengtson) to form The Romaniacs, a non-stop tongue in cheek polka party from the Ethnic Fringe. We played every major festival in Canada, toured Australia, the USA and topped it all off with a command performance in Climax Saskatchewan. Music took me around the world.

Recent Ramblings

I still love travelling and sharing my music with the world.

I continue to travel often, teaching fiddle in First Nations communities of the North West Territories and the Cariboo -Tsilhqot’in. Since 1997, home base has been Victoria BC where I play regularly at the Irish Times Pub. Come on down and take in some music for the soul!

Photo Album

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Stringband back in the USSR, 1983. We toured Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Moldavia and Belarus. The audiences were so kind. They showered us with flowers and standing ovations, requesting 2 or 3 encores at every performance. L to R: Anonymous KGB agent, Denis Nichol, Calvin Cairns, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Bob Bossin.

Steffy Levine and Joe King Romaniac 1988. Tragically separated at a shopping mall in Eastern Europe then happily reunited at a massive wedding in Climax Saskatchewan.

The Fabulous Romainiacs 1988. We played every major festival in Canada, performed with the Halifax and Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestras and toured Australia. We really got the audience's ethnic blood pounding with our passionate performances. L to R: Scott White, Calvin Cairns, Steve Bengtson, Ron Thompson.

I teamed up with comic genius Gina Bastone in 1995 creating the Suzy and Uncle Joe Family Show. We left a trail of “I can’t believe they did that!” everywhere we performed.

In 1998 I joined Devon Avram McCagherty's Original Stomp Club, a good time, Old Time band playing music of the 1920's - 1940's.
L to R: Devon, Jimmy Sweets, Nathan Gage, Calvin Cairns.

In 2013 I was invited to play music for Les Cornoulliers a French Canadian dance troupe based in Victoria BC. We provided the cultural component for a humanitarian exchange in Senegal. This photo was taken while visiting an orphanage, where I was giving kids a chance to try the violin.

Winnipeg Folk Festival 2013 on Stringband's 40th anniversary tour. Bob Bossin proclaimed it to be his last performing tour.  I was happy when we reunited for two additional tours in the years following.
L to R. Denis Nichol, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Bob Bossin, Ben Mink, Calvin Cairns.

In 2017 Stringband was invited to the 40th anniversary of the Winnipeg folk festival. This irresistible offer brought us together once again!

2017  in Yellowknife at the Snow Castle built on the ice of frozen Great Slave Lake. In this photo, I'm playing for the Snow King's Royal Ball. That's an ice wall behind me creating an unmistakeable feeling on the coolest stage in Canada.

In Deninu Kųę́  (Fort Resolution NWT) while visiting at the home of renowned Métis fiddler Angus Beaulieu. I'm modelling his handcrafted, beautifully beaded Dene moose hide jacket, gauntlets and muskrat fur hat. I've been teaching fiddle at Deninu School in Fort Res since 2014.

Gabriola Island 2017. In rehearsal for the final Stringband tour.

Canada day 2020 in Victoria with Avram McCagherty.

If you would like to learn more about my music, or if you’d like me to teach in your community, please get in touch to discuss the details!