Friday, Aug 19th, 2022
7:30 PM - 11:30 PM
Saturday, Aug 20th, 2022
7:30 PM - 11:30 PM
Thomas Alexander aka Bob Alexander began his career playing with The Patchwork Quilt in 1968 to being in Edmonton’s first Funk band The Key, rocking with Southbound Freeway, and more recently his solo works.
Thomas talked about what it was like playing in Edmonton in the 1970’s and 1980’s and his favourite live gig and the musicians he worked with when he CO-HOSTED CJSR’S THE SHOEBOX AS PART OF LEGENDS OF THE EDMONTON MUSIC SCENE SERIES!
Thomas Alexander was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in a taxi cab outside the St. Boniface Hospital. He was supposed to be named Robert Thomas Alexander. However, his birth certificate only had Thomas Alexander. He used his first name Robert (Bob) during his
career. In 1955, at the age of six, he moved with his parents to Edmonton.
Thomas was inspired by such musical legends as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Billy Eckstine, and Ella Fitzgerald. His father, a music lover, named Thomas’s brother after Duke Ellington. With music in his blood, Thomas started singing with the band The Patchwork Quilt at the age of 19 in 1968.
The Patchwork Quilt eventually became The Key. The Key, with its brass section, rivalled the popular Brass Drops band in which LeVero Carter played and also the popular horn band Privilege. The Key was the first funk group in Edmonton and played all over Alberta, drawing from a repertoire that included the music of other funk groups like Sly and the Family Stone, The Buddy Miles Express, Cold Blood, and Tower of Power.
Unfortunately, the size of the band made travelling difficult, and the group eventually fell into financial difficulties and broke up.
Several of The Key’s band members joined the rock band The Southbound Freeway and Thomas would also join the band when he replaced the prior lead singer. The group toured Canada and the United States. They eventually recorded an album in San Francisco and, in 1973, released the single ‘Right Now Good Vibrations’, produced by Mavis McCauley Vaugeois and Wes Dakus. Thomas played with Southbound Freeway from 1971 to 1973 and also in 1975. Richard Osepchuk who played in Southbound Freeway with Thomas Said that “Bob Alexander was a treat to play with”.
Thomas Alexander left The Southbound Freeway to grow as a musician. He joined Red Deer’s Gaetz Avenue Dance Band, which played in both Calgary and Regina. For five and a half years. Thomas stopped playing with bands and, instead, performed on television and radio; wrote jingles for commercials, including one for MacDonald’s; and worked on learning different styles of music.
The next band he joined was Force Major from about to 1979 to 1981, based out of Seattle, Washington. Force Major opened for such bands as Kool and the Gang, The Bar- Kay’s, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Platters and The God Father of Soul, James Brown (James Brown wrote the autograph for Thomas read, from Soul Brother Number One to Soul Brother Number Two). A show band, the members of Force Major didn’t record and, instead, toured Eastern Canada and throughout the States concerts and dance clubs Club Etcetera in New York for a while. From 1981 to 1984 he played in The Blades with Dwayne Osepchuk, Thomas and Dwayne both from The Freeway.
Thomas is a very fine songwriter and has written many songs including ‘Right Now Good Vibrations’ which he Co-Wrote with Dwayne Osepchuk. They also wrote 17 others songs together including songs for their group The Blades like ‘Do It Right’ “Weekend Going Strong” in 1984.
Thomas left the music scene and gradually got back into music, singing some Jazz on television and for the Miss Edmonton Beauty Pageant and making it to the cover of TV Times. He was then invited to go to Japan, where he was named by the Japanese “The Canadian Bluebird” because his tenor voice was thought to be as beautiful as a song birds. In Japan, Thomas became part of a Las Vegas-style rhythm and blues show. He released seven CDs there, all under his pen name, Rejie. Also, it was while in Japan that Thomas’s wife Paulette gave birth to their son Asia.
The Alexanders eventually moved back to Canada. In 1994, Thomas took his country- rock singing talent to the Canadian Country Vocal Star Search contest, where he won a recording contract
Thomas has also sung in Mo’ Magic a Motown Tribute with Irene Cara of Flash- dance and Fame, Florence La rue – lead vocalist of the 5th Dimension and with Freda Payne of the song “Band of Gold” fame. He also starred .in the world premiere of Music of the Millennium, which featured the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. One of his all-time favourite musical events was when he played the lead role of Judas
in Jesus Christ Superstar opposite Alfie Zapacosta who played Jesus at the Mayfield
Dinner Theatre, Liz Nichols of The Edmonton Journal said of Thomas Alexander’s role “Makes Judas Soul Man #1 in an exciting performance”.
Thomas Alexander continues to perform his music in Edmonton, but he has increasingly turned to playing and writing Religious Christian, R&B, Jazz, Funk, and Pop music. In 2005, he sang George Blondheim’s anthem for Alberta, Alberta Strong and Free, during the centennial celebrations on 1 September. In January 2005, at the request of her family, he sang at the memorial service for Lois Hole. Thomas also sang at the Memorial service for Dwayne Osepchuk where he sang with a passion for his Soul Band- mate! Thomas Alexander also sang on the DVD Called Wild Rose Country which was about the Diverse Culture in Alberta.
His family’s roots go back to the first Black pioneers that settled in Alberta and because of that he was asked to sing the song” Blue Alberta Blue” produced by Legendary Edmonton musician Gerry Dere, which was written by a descendant of the first Black Pioneers. It should be noted that Thomas also a Legend, has worked with another Legend of The Edmonton Music Scene Tommy Banks fronting The Tommy Banks Big Band. Thomas Alexander is continuing his career with new material in 2015. He has an amazing musical range singing Jazz, R&B, Country, Pop, Dance, Reggae and
Gospel. Thomas Alexander AKA Thomas Alexander is also known as “The Voice” which is a perfect moniker for Mr Alexander.
THANK YOU! to PETE the ROCKER and CJSR THE SHOEBOX for permission in using this interview.
Thomas Alexander - Vocals
Charlie Austin - Piano
John Gray - Acoustic Bass
John De Waal - Drums