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Posted By ELLWOOD SHREVE
Chatham Daily News Nov.14th 2009
If you have a favourite local band still playing or from when you were younger, try checking out the website www.chathamusicarchive.com created by Shawn Beaulieu.
In a short period of time, the 35-year-old Chatham resident has compiled an impressive amount of information on local bands and musicians, including photos and small biographies, which are listed by both name and year released.
Beaulieu began the project about four or five years ago as a blog, but since being laid off six months ago, he has been able to devote several hours a day to the website.
“All of a sudden it turned into more than a hobby and all of a sudden it got bigger and bigger,” Beaulieu said.
He has been a part of the local music scene as a member of the band Foster Child, which became the Janet Theory.
Beaulieu credits the help he has received from Jeff Mifflin, who works at Strings N’ Things and is the guitarist with The O’Hara Brothers band. He said Mifflin was able to access photos of several local bands that have been displayed at the local music store over the years. He also noted the members of the 1980s group Manpower, which have teamed up again this year, “got me into a lot of this.” Beaulieu said the website is getting the attention of several local musicians, past and present, noting people have been coming to him with information. Beaulieu is impressed with the wealth of musical talent and the wide range of genres that has come out of the Chatham-Kent area, and wanted a way to show that to the world.
He has done extensive research at the Chatham Public Library, gathering information dating back to 1889 with the formation of the Chatham City Band. There is plenty of interesting information on well-known older bands, including the Melody Ramblers, which once boasted current country music star Michelle Wright as its lead singer. When Wright left to pursue a solo career, she was replaced by Wendy Jenkins, who also enjoyed success with the popular band. Then there is The Missing Links, including members John, Fred and Eddy Larson and Bill McGrath, whose 1966 album “It’s Link Up Time,” was produced by Paul Shaffer, best known today for his long stint with the David Letterman Show.
The site is also filling up with information on several local bands from today’s era. Beaulieu said the website can also serve as a resource for bands that are looking for musicians with certain skills or local clubs that want to hire local bands to play. “I only knew about 10 per cent of the bands when I started doing this,” Beaulieu said. “There’s a big scene going on, but nobody knows each other.”