D'arcy (Darcy Draper)
Origin: Montréal, Québec
I started in music playing in basement bands with some friends (Black Sheep, Lost and Found) in Montreal at high school dances and fraternity parties in the late 1960’s. We had only two original songs, all the others were covers, although we were the only band we knew that had any original material.
In the early 1970’s I changed over from playing electric to acoustic guitar and teamed up with Dick Kelder to form Mantra. I began composing original material and we recorded one album of original songs as Mantra (titled Mantra), which was released by London Records.
The album included Pierre Fauteux (bass – Lost and Found), Graeme Lennox (keyboards – Size Five), and Dave Walls (percussion – Size Five), and was recorded in only 2 days. Dick and I were pretty traditional, playing only acoustic guitars.
Mantra played the coffee house circuit in eastern Canada including Le Hibou in Ottawa, The Yellow Door in Montreal (both still in operation) and other venues in Montreal and the Maritimes.
After the album we all agreed we weren’t going to make enough to live on by playing around Montreal, and since no one wanted to take a chance on going to New York or LA we decided to quit.
Some months later I was contacted by Donald K Donald, the Montreal manager of Maskmakhan and later April Wine, to play as an opening act for Maskmakhan. Graeme Lennox and I appeared as an opening act for 3 of their concerts. That’s where we met Gerry Mercer (drums) and Rayburn Blake (guitar).
Around this time someone brought the Mantra album to the attention of Doug Pringle who was the top DJ for CHOM, Montreal’s 1st FM station. Doug was a great promoter of local talent and asked Dick Kelder and I to perform live on-air CHOM several times. When Doug heard that we were quitting he asked if we would continue to write if he could arrange a record deal.
A few months later he had a deal put together with Studio Six in Montreal and Polydor who would master and distribute an album. We agreed another acoustic album was not worthwhile and I approached Graeme Lennox, Gerry Mercer and Rayburn Blake to ask if they would participate in an album of new original songs, but one with a more folk-rock sound. They got releases from Donald K Donald and I began writing and rehearsing new songs with Graeme, Ray, Gerry and Pierre Fauteux (Bass).
We recorded the “Back at The Beginning” album in 1972 at Studio Six in Montreal. Some songs were done on an 8-track machine and later, after the studio bought a 16-track machine the album was completed.
The album got a lot of airplay in Montreal particularly with CHOM and Doug Pringle’s backing but only modest sales. We never formed a group to play the music live and did not tour. Everyone had commitments.
After that we more or less “retired” from the music scene. Gerry Mercer went on to April Wine and Ray Blake to Riverson. Pierre Fauteux later founded a recording studio in Montreal named “Giraffe” that recorded many well-known Montreal acts.
In the late 90's Graeme Lennox and I formed the "supergroup" The Travelling Willnuts, but that's another story entirely.