Brian Miessner Brings His Own Brand of Pop To The Red Door

This Friday, July 21, Brian Miessner will be playing at The Red Door Pub in Meaford, accompanied by Melinda Camplin on violin.  Brian plays regularly around town with the popular party band Bored of Education, contributing bass and vocals.  He also plays with The Thirsty Night Boys, another collective of local talents, and in the past year or so has been gigging more frequently with solo acoustic guitar, billed as Brian Miessner and Friends.  This is usually a trio, with Bored of Education’s Rich Fletcher on guitar and Melinda on violin.

“Up until I arrived up here,” he says, “I’d never done a solo acoustic thing.  Then I got playing with The Thirsty Night Boys, and it just progressed.  I was always in groups before.”

From his youngest days in Saskatoon, Brian played in bands, never following the troubadour route of singer-songwriter, even though he has always written songs.  He spent the first part of his life as a touring musician, with some big money gigs along the way, a string of arena shows, a contract with Capital Records, and a few charted hit singles.  He came off the road and entered the regular working world when he and his wife of ten years had a baby.  After his subsequently successful career in advertising, he retired to Georgian Bay to enjoy the lifestyle amenities this area offers and was surprised to find himself in an area that bursting with musical talent.

“It’s just like a hotbed here,” he says, “People around our area really love music.”  It gave him the opportunity to delve again into his love of performing and songwriting without the lifestyle sacrifices that are part of living as a touring musician.  He can play often to appreciative audiences, joined by talented bandmates, and still sleep in his own bed at night.

Around 1968 his Saskatoon band broke up when the guitar player moved to Toronto to join Sugar and Spice, a trio of female singers who were enjoying the success of their chart-topping cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1962 hit, “The Cruel War”.  Brian followed and soon joined the same band himself.  “That group didn’t really play clubs,” says Brian, following the concert circuit instead.

“A lot of bands have internal strife,” Brian says, most commonly over musical differences or individual ambitions, and a professional musician is forced to adapt.  One by one the girls in Sugar and Spice dropped out until it became Brian’s band by default.  Before long it had run its course.

That’s when Brian hooked up with Ray Danniels, whose Moon Records later became Anthem Records, home to rock bands Rush, Max Webster, A Foot In Coldwater, and a band called Liverpool.

“Ray had the idea of a Beatles cover band,” Brian explains, “so we hired guitar players and hit the road.  We were making a ton of money.”  As North America’s first Beatles cover band, Liverpool enjoyed tremendous success in Canada and the U.S. playing the first ever Beatles Festival in New York City and the famed Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles. Fans flocked to see their re-enactment of the Beatles musical odyssey complete with Sergeant Pepper outfits.

The band had a Canadian top 25 hit with “Dolly” written by Brian Miessner and produced by Ian Thomas.  With the shift away from the Fab Four to original material, they changed their name to Aerial and their first album “In The Middle Of The Night” was distributed by Capital in the U.S. and Anthem in Canada.  With their second release they toured arenas opening for Trooper.  They revolved through three or four guitar players and when the band eventually broke up Brian kept it going as a power trio until the beginnings of a family led him to a lifestyle change.

While he pursued his new career in advertising, the songwriter in him kept calling and as the new millennium arrived, he began recording under his own name.  Collaborating with producer/guitarist Steve Sherman, Brian created two independent pop albums, “In My Perfect World” and “Windows and Walls”.  Now he has a new country album, not yet released but ready to go.

His re-emergence into live playing in this area began at the Blue Mountain Community Church, where he found several Worship Groups that he likens to “mini-rock bands”.  That’s where he fell in with the Thirsty Night Boys and where he found Melinda Camplin, who will be joining him at The Red Door.

“Melinda was there playing piano, and then I heard her on the violin and thought that would add an interesting sound to what I do.  The violin gives it depth and, with the acoustic guitar, it sounds really nice.”  He particularly likes what she adds to his version of “Eleanor Rigby”.

While he will be sprinkling his sets with some originals, including some from the days of Aerial, he does a number of covers that he is particularly drawn to.

“I really like to do the songs my way,” he says, “I like to give them a little twist.  I do a lot that have been done by female artists.”  He cites “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse and some Alison Krause songs as examples.

The show begins on the patio at 5 pm, so you can enjoy an entire evening of al fresco entertainment, taking in Brian and Melinda before crossing the road to catch the Meaford Summer Concert Series.

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To listen to Brian’s music, click on album cover:

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