AJB Johnston on stairs, black and white photo

Looking ahead ...

2020-09-16 16:35:26 A.J.B. Johnston

It’s fun to have the large version of the Kings of Friday Night book cover.

Thanks, Nimbus Publishing.

One day I’ll get to bring it to an in-person event where I will offer a visual and audio presentation on the legendary 1960s Truro-based band.

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Numbus Book Event

2020-09-04 11:18:29 A.J.B. Johnston

My time slot on the program is 10 AM.

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2020-06-18 17:10:00 A.J.B. Johnston

My conversation with Costas Halavrezos about the “Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns” is now available as a podcast. I’ve posted the link below.

It was fun speaking with Costas because he had read the book closely and came up with some great questions. In addition, Costas remembered The Lincolns fondly from his own university years at St. FX and then from a later reunion or two.

As an added attraction, Costas starts and ends the podcast with a couple of classic Lincolns songs. The segment begins with “Midnight Hour” and closes, after a number of acknowledgements by Costas, with “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.”

Hope you enjoy the talk and the music!

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Unpublished Photo

2020-05-24 11:08:26 A.J.B. Johnston

There are dozens of photos in the KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT, each of which was chosen to help readers get the most out of the story being told. I think Nimbus editor Angela Mombourquette and designer Jenn Embree did a great job including as many as they possibly could. Inevitably, of course, dozens of additional images had to be left out.

Of the ones that did not make it into the book, I particularly like the one I am posting here. It catches The Lincolns at Dartmouth High before a dance, posing with the school janitor.

The photo displays the obvious camaraderie within the group, and you can’t help but wonder what drummer Rod Norrie was laughing at. Something the janitor just said is my guess. I’m also curious as to why organist John Gray is missing from the photo? Maybe it’s because he hadn’t yet arrived at the school gym?

Finally, I notice that singer Frank MacKay (far right) is standing a few inches away from Frank Mumford and the rest of the group. After reading what Frank wrote in the “Afterword” of KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT — where he talks of how he had to hide a part of himself while growing up — I can’t help but wonder if at some deep-down level Frank was unconsciously choosing to remain ever so slightly apart from the rest of the band.

“Different” is the title Frank gave to his piece in the book’s Afterword. To reinforce the message he wanted to convey, Frank included some of the lyrics from a song of the same name he had composed a few years earlier.

“What do they mean by different? And how could they know?
These feelings I keep to myself. I’ve never let them show.”

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The Teenage Years

2020-05-24 11:05:39 A.J.B. Johnston

For many, the teenage years can be both the best of and worst of times, and sometimes one after the other like a roller coaster. That’s because it’s the period when we begin to figure out the world and our place in it. Hence the term, coming of age.

I didn’t fully realize it as I was writing the KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT, but I can now see in retrospect that the book is in large part a celebration of the teenage years my generation went through. Maybe that seems obvious, but while I was writing I was just writing, not stopping to think about what was coming out.

Now I can see that my version of the story of The Lincolns is essentially the tale of a quest; a search by a group of aspiring, teenage musicians to make music. That they did, and along the way they found not just their own distinctive sound but also their individual identities and a decades-enduring group ID as well. Meanwhile, down on many a dance floor across Nova Scotia and into New Brunswick, thousands of young fans were eagerly soaking up what the band was giving out: intense joy. It was incredible fun!

I am drawn to this reflection this morning because of our COVID 19 situation. Though everyone has been affected by the shutdowns, I tend to think the closures are probably hardest on teenagers. They are ready to get out there and explore, live and love; they want nothing more than to find out who they can be and where they belong in the world. How complicated that must be when nearly everyone else is two meters away!

I wonder if any of today’s teenagers would be interested in reading about a time, a half century ago, when there were no cell phones or social media, and people loved going to dances?

Here are three photos that speak to these ruminations. The first is a b&w shot that captures some of the spirit of the bygone era, peace symbols and all. Joy O’Brien sent me this photo recently. It presents a bunch of Truro teens standing in front of the town’s Drop-in Centre in what is thought to be 1968 (even though someone inked in 1969). Every person in that photo, I’m guessing, regularly went to Lincoln dances, except for the two little kids.

There are four people in the photo who are specifically named in the book. In the back row below the inked-in middle arrow is bass player Phisch Fancy (with a moustache). Also in the back row, the third and fourth heads to Phisch’s left, are Mary Topshee and Joy O’Brien, both of whom are quoted in KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT. And that’s Peter Cox, occasional guest singer with The Lincolns, in the center of the front row.

The color photos were taken in June 1968, just as my Grade 12 classmates were graduating from Truro Senior High. Craig Stanfield (in the white sweater) and Maxine Wallace (in the yellow dress) both shared some great memories of Lincoln dances in KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT.

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Where A Certain Book Title Came From

2020-05-23 19:26:56 A.J.B. Johnston

Everyone I know really likes the title, KINGS OF FRIDAY NIGHT: THE LINCOLNS. So do I, but I have to confess that snappy title was not the original one I had in mind when I was writing the book. The folks at Nimbus Publishing deserve the credit for that eventual, much better title.

The entire time I was writing the book my working title was some variation of “Dreams to Remember: The Life and Times of The Lincolns.” It’s true that I did use the phrase the “Kings of Friday Night” in the manuscript but not as its title.

After I submitted the final manuscript to Nimbus, the Halifax-based publisher came back with a range of possibilities, none of which was my original working title. I wasn’t upset at all, because I could see that some of the ones they were considering were better than what I had proposed. I circulated the various Nimbus titles to members of the band to get their input, and then Nimbus and I made the final choice.

While I am on the subject of acknowledging Nimbus’s personnel in the process of turning a manuscript into a book—having thanked Angela Mombourquette and Jenn Embree the other day—I would like to add two other names today. First up is Barry Norris, who did the copy editing. In the process, Barry made the book a much better read—tighter and clearer on every page. And then there’s Kate Watson who has been heading up publicity since the book came out. This book has garnered more publicity than most of my books, and I don’t think that is an accident. Thanks, Kate.

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