Small sees life through a new prism

Matt Stanley (left) and Heather Clark joke with Henry Small in his new downtown studio.   - DAVE EAGLES/KTW
Matt Stanley (left) and Heather Clark joke with Henry Small in his new downtown studio. 
— image credit: DAVE EAGLES/KTW

There was a time when Henry Small would be on stage with Prism, not opening for the band.

That was then and this is now — and the veteran musician doesn’t mind kicking off the Jan. 27 show for the band that once had him as its lead singer.

There’s less pressure, Small says, and the gig ends earlier so he can just sit back in the audience at the Kamloops Convention Centre and listen to songs he once sang.

Small smiles as he contemplates this — perhaps because his focus isn’t on the past, but the future.

He’s got a new CD in production now. The tracks are down and Kris Ruston is working his magic to finish them for a release Small says he believes may be his best work ever.

That’s no small feat for a man who has shared the road with Burton Cummings and John Entwhistle, who was fundamental to Scrubbaloe Caine and who co-wrote Stranger in a Strange Land for Eddie Money.

Maybe it’s because he’s writing from the perspective of a life largely lived — although the Leap Year baby jokes he’s still just a teenager, turning sweet 16 next month — or maybe it’s because he’s been surrounded by music and musicians for so long that music has become part of his DNA.

Whatever it is, Small says he’s finally answered the question that’s been nagging at him in the last many months: Do I want to continue with this?

The answer was a resounding yes and a new, larger studio is just one indication of his resolve.

“A friend said to me ‘What would you do without a studio?’,” Small says.

“And, you know, it’s not about making money, but about being creative and helping others be creative.

“I’m doing what I like to do. What else would I do — grow tomatoes? I’d like to do more music now.”

After weeks of construction, Small World Studios reopened last November.

Many local musicians got their start in Small’s studio, something he’s delighted to have experienced.

“If you can give young people confidence and they have a good experience, chances are that will affect their lives,” he says.

Ruston is one of them, a gifted musician Small met and first recorded when the man now producing his CD was just 19.

Paul Filek also credits Small with encouraging him to pursue his musical career.

“Henry was a big stepping stone into what has now turned into a full-time job for me. Henry has always been honest with me, pushing me to work harder, to get better and to believe in myself.

“I have learned so much over the years from him both as a musician and as a person.

“Looking back now, it’s hard to believe someone could ever put as much time and energy into someone else’s dreams as Henry has for me.”

Matt Stanley’s another one, a guitarist who went to see Small at the Broadcast Centre, where he co-hosts an early-morning show, to give him a CD he had made.

Stanley was 16 at the time.

Now, he and Ruston are musicians in the Henry Small Band, along with Sean Poissant, Leo Racicot and Marie Jackson.

Small points to his band members as proof of the level of talent in Kamloops and he’s glad they’re keeping their production local, too.

“You can do anything in a studio now that years ago you had to go to LA to get that kind of expertise and sound,” he says.

“And, the days of live gigs are gone. People have to record.

“If they’re not recording, they’re not going to anywhere.”

His upcoming release has elements of the Scrubbaloe Caine sound, Small says, and is a lot more raw than his last release, Time.

There’s no theme or title yet, just 12 tracks of what Ruston and Stanley agree are strong lyrics with compelling music that might surprise people who have forgotten Small’s musical history.

“I’ve been calling it Now and Then because I work on it now and then,” Small says. “But seriously, my kids are all working now and out of school and I was looking down the road a piece to see what I’d like to do.

“I’m not ever prepared to retire.”

Whatever he calls it, Small says the new release is indicative of “a kind of rebirth for me.

“Prism’s the past. It was a milestone thing but now, I want to be doing something different.

“They’re playing the same songs. I ain’t.”

Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 19-plus show. Tickets are $35 plus HST and available at the venue, 1250 Rogers Way, or at the Kamloops Live Box Office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483, kamloopslive.ca.

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