Michelle Smith

INTRODUCING : Jimi Bertucci

In the mid-1970s, a young Toronto band called Abraham’s Children found themselves on the North American charts with the songs “Gypsy” and “Goodbye, Farewell,” written by bassist/vocalist Jimi Bertucci. It was actually an introduction to the wider music world for the singer/songwriter, who had dedicated himself to rock and roll at the age of 13 after seeing The Beatles at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964.

Fast forward nearly five decades and Bertucci is still making catchy pop-rock. His latest release is Bouquet On Pink, a six-song EP that shows Bertucci’s skills have aged like a fine wine. From the title track’s classic crunch (which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Guided By Voices record), to the majestic “Feel” and jangly “Turn Around,” Bertucci puts on a master class in power pop composition.

Leading the way is Bouquet On Pink’s producer Daniel Wonacott, former bassist for California post-hardcore band Finch, whose sonic touch makes Bertucci sound as powerful as he ever has. Balancing that is the EP’s lyricism, inspired by the Marc Chagall painting of the same name that adorns its cover. Bertucci says all of the songs are connected to that painting in one way or another.

Having survived the rock and roll wars – Bertucci was a familiar face in L.A., as his bands regularly played venues such as the Whisky A-Go-Go, the Roxy, the Viper Room and others – he’s happy at this point in his life to make music on his own terms and at his own pace. Still, Jimi Bertucci remains one of Canada’s greatest unsung rock ‘n roll heroes, and Bouquet On Pink is living proof.

How did the process begin making Bouquet On Pink?

The process began when Daniel Wonacott and I started to discuss the tracks. We met at a Starbucks in Claremont, California, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. I told Daniel the recording should be fresh with some nostalgic flavours. We began with the title track “Bouquet On Pink,” and once we laid down bed tracks we were off. As the song started developing, we were beginning to feel its progression, it was sounding very cool.

What was your overall artistic vision for this recording?

As an artist you want to have everything perfect. After we finished “Bouquet” I realized it was a very important song, as it opens discussion about a man and his art. Marc Chagall was somewhat cynical of his work, but his explanation for his cynicism was left to the imagination of the viewer. The painter is like the musician, his brush strokes are the music on his canvas of colours and as they bleed into each other the vision is complete.

If you could highlight one or two songs on the record, what would they be and why?

“Turn Around” would be one. It’s about how love can be sparked by simple emotions, and characterized by one’s continuous passion for that certain individual. Another song would be “You are Rainbows,” which I hope can help people in these trying times. It represents a time when life was not as demanding and everyday pleasures were not overwhelmed by this constant confusion.

How would you describe where you are based now in California to someone who has never been there?

For me, it was a case of, “go west young man.” I recall the first time I arrived in L.A.; it was 1:30 in the morning and I was so tired that I took a room in Venice by the beach. The next morning I woke up in what seemed like the worst area of L.A. I had breakfast in a restaurant filled with artists, and people wanting to be artists, and I soon realized this was one of the most interesting places to be a part of. There are still live venues that bands can take advantage of, along with lots of recording studios. Then there’s the beach, and a tremendous collection of great musicians like my friend and producer Daniel Wonacott. All is cool in Cali.

Can you name a record or concert experience that was life-changing for you?

There have been many moments in my life that I can be proud of. The birth of my kids was monumental, but hearing a song I’d written on the radio for the very first time was like a confirmation that music would become my life, and that hasn’t changed.

You can find more information about Jimi Bertucci at...