One of southern Ontario’s hardest working and strangest musicians, Butch Haller, played Doogie’s in Guelph on Nov. 3 with his Chesterfield Ramblers.
As he sat in the green room in Doogie’s cavernous cellar before he took the stage, Haller took time to promote his upcoming show at the Chainsaw in Waterloo.
“We love it there in Waterloo,” he said. “We played a beer festival and a rib festival there in the summertime – it’s hot. They love us down there. We love the Chainsaw there. It has a violent sounding name but when we were there they had a macaroni and cheese tournament on … I don’t know if they got violent or what. They had awards and trophies for different macaroni and cheeses at the Chainsaw. People get pretty serious about their macaroni and cheese.”
Some people question his claim, but Haller believes he wrote every song in existence and they’ve been stolen from him.
“We’ve got about 5,000 songs in the catalog we’ve pulled from my memories,” Haller said. “So, it’s everything under the sun that’s been stolen from me by all kinds of artists from Tony Bennett to Slayer – it’s been a crazy journey for me.”
Haller also claims he’s losing out on “all the money.”
“I don’t have any money, so that’s why I have to be on the road constantly trying to reclaim my hits,” he said.
Despite a lack of money Haller has 17 healthy cats.
“They feel good,” he said. “They look good. I have a leash for all of them. They pull me around in a cart in my neighbourhood so yes, they are strong.”
When he’s not on the road reclaiming his songs, he produces his own online television program, The Butch Haller Show.
“It’s like the Merv Griffin Show,” he said. “I have cooking. I have tips about your cat on it and we have bands on. It’s a lot of fun.”
Haller explained that people who want to find his music have two choices besides seeing him live.
“I understand a lot of my material is on the internet, which is, as far as I understand, a system of computers attached to each other that communicate by phone lines,” he said. “Now that’s one way to get my music and another way is on a compact disc format, which is an aluminum disc and a laser shoots the information into – I don’t know how they do it. It’s an incredible technology … it’s some kind of space metal, which, we know, aluminum comes from space.”
Haller’s drummer Shiraz Ebrahim described the experience of playing in the band as a unique.
“He gets confused sometimes,” Ebrahim said. “You know there are a lot of people who don’t believe he wrote these songs. We’ve had band members who weren’t sure if he wrote these songs … it’s feasible … he’s been around – he’s very old.”
Crystal Smith, a hardcore fan who travelled from Brantford to see Butch Haller and his Chesterfield Ramblers at Doogie’s in Guelph can’t get enough Butch Haller in her life.
“I’ve seen them multiple times,” Smith said. “The energy they give is just phenomenal …. It’s hard to find good live music these days and they never disappoint.”
As far as Smith’s thoughts on whether Haller wrote these songs that were made famous by the likes of Wham! AC/CD, Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths and Culture Club, she just said, “I don’t know whether he did or not but he sure does play the s**t out of them.”
For Darcy Davies, the show at Doogie’s was her first time being exposed to Butch Haller.
“I think they put on a great show,” Davies said. “Really high energy, super entertaining. If you get the chance to see them, go see them. It’s such a great performance.”
Butch Haller and His Chesterfield Ramblers will be playing at the Chainsaw in Waterloo on Saturday Nov. 17. Doors open at 9 p.m. with a $3 cover.