Longtime readers of TorontoMoon.ca and our to-nite magazine and Open Season progenitor publications stretching back to 1992 will be well familiar with the name of towering southpaw Country Rock songwriter Ted Rusk.
Hopefully some of them can help top up a GoFundMe.com campaign to help his son, Max, afford to make regular trips from home in Sauble Beach to St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, where the big guy is slowly beginning to recover from a suitably massive heart attack on May 24 that nearly killed him.
Although he moved to Brice County well over a decade ago now, Ted has maintained his friendships and musical contacts from TO’s Kensington Market area, in which he was a community and musical fixture for many, many years, continuing to do occasional shows at Lola and other rooms both solo and, in recent years, with his rip-roaring The Great Canadian Swampstompers band.
We first wrote about him in 1992 in Open Season, when he had his Powers of Ten trio going in the Kensington area and he was the cover feature of Issue #10 of to-nite on October 4 of 1993 as the Jays were playing in the world series (and distracting bargoers from live music!) and we have continued to follow his career with interest, including another cover article [in to-nite #459] on his Moon Motel release in 2009.
A fiercely intellectual freethinker and powerfully intense and literate songwriter, Rusk, playing a Fender guitar upside down left-handed (it was how he learned to play and he’s never seen a reason to change) is equally at home in Rock and Country genres and seems to have found a niche with Country Rock that suits him and audiences.
Predictably enough, the longtime Moon/to-nite subscriber and patron has become a mainstay of the local music scene in his neck of the woods, previously with his band Our Shotgun Wedding, which we wrote about five years ago, and also as a jam host and, for the past year or so, as the host of a monthly episode of the weekly Georgian Bay Roots radio show broadcast Sundays on CFOS 560AM radio out of Owen Sound and available as a podcast on soundcloud.com.
Ironically, just a couple of days prior to his coronary, he had been promoting his latest episode, which aired May 20 and remains online, celebrating “the most Canadian holiday of them all, the TOOFOR weekend,” featuring tunes :about bonfires, barn dances, beach blasts and backwoods bunkies” by many artists readers will be familiar with, such as Samantha Martin, Julian Taylor Band, Urban Highlanders, Boxcar Boys, Slocan Ramblers and The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer along with many other stellar tunesmiths.
Ted’s still not out of danger and I don’t believe he’s yet allowed visitors aside from his immediate family. His brother Richard reports that after a week on life-support, as of June 1 Ted’s heart, breathing and circulation functions had begun working on their own and that he had been conscious, alert and able to speak a little following removal of sedation.
While you’re visiting the GoFundMe page and deciding how much to donate, you can also check out a couple of vids of Ted with his Swampstompers band doing original Rusk tunes, including an amusing one for his “Payday Blues” and a charming Christmas song, “Have A Happy Holiday”.
-Gary 17, TorontoMoon.ca