Interviews of the Not So Rich and Famous - Ep11 - Mr. Anchovy

Sunday, April 13, 2008
You can't have an interview series without featuring someone from Canada's most hated city ... the centre of the universe ... the T Dot. That would just be un-Canadian. When reviewing my list of interviewees, I noticed that I had included a bunch of bloggers from the UK, another bunch from Canada's west coast, another bunch from the USofA, even one from Cow Town. Seems I had completely left out the rest of my very own country!!! Enter Mr. Anchovy. He's salty ... but in a good way. An artist on many levels, in the summertime you can often find him Busking on the street corners. So, this summer if you find yourself in the vicinity of the Kensington Market and you feel the melodic tones of an accordian wrapping their sweet tendrils around you, follow them - they'll lead you straight to the man himself. If you don't live in Toronto, you can always visit his blog and buy one of his CD's.

1. Name, favourite artist, and are you a pizza condiment or Caesar dressing ingredient?
I was given the name Mister Anchovy by my friend Anthony Stagg, the Emperor of Ephemera, in Chicago. Tuffy P's alter ego, Sheila Gregory, is my favourite artist. You can see her work at There are a number of artists whose work I have really loved over the years. They include Phillip Guston, Emily Carr, Jack Shadbolt, Ron Bloore, my friend Claude Breeze, Pierre Alechinsky, Asger Jorn and many more. I'm for sure a pizza condiment.

2. At your annual physical, your physician tells you you're pregnant. What's your reaction? (Yes, I know you're a man).
I knew there was a good reason I avoid doctors.

3. On one of your neighbourhood walks, you stumble over a leprechaun. To keep you from telling everyone about him, he offers to give you three wishes. What are they (and remember you can't ask for more wishes or anything sensible like that)?
Food and shelter for those who need it...Lots of time to make paintings, have adventures with Tuffy P, play music, chase trout, play go, all without having to worry over making a living....A big dumb loyal slobbery dog that likes cats....

4. Why are accordions so darned sexy?
Har! All that in and out....hey remember that old rock and roll tune, Mama's got a Squeezebox?

5. What's the weirdest dream you've ever had and what does it say about you?
The weirdest recent dream found me in a hospital, but not sick, and Bob Dylan showed up and was looking for a room to record a tune, and I found him one, and he handed me a Uke and asked me to accompany, but I couldn't play the Uke, and he said, it's OK, I don't play very well either. The Uke had these really stretchy loose strings, but when I strummed them, it seemed to sound OK. I think we were in a room where some doctor liked to come for a nap, because we found him there...he said, it's ok, I'm just closing my eyes. Bob had an old portable cassette recorder from the 70s with a little condenser mic. That's all I remember right now. I probably says that I had too much spicy food for dinner that night.

6. If you could be any vegetable, what would it be and why?
I would be a mushroom because they are so mysterious to me, because they come in so many forms, because they have an exotic beauty, because there is always the element of danger...

7. Who's your most famous relative (dead/alive) and what are they famous for? Are you jealous?
I had an uncle who was a piano prodigy and a chef and later, a spy. He was friends with Alice Toklas and Man Ray and other artists and writers he met while living in France. No, I'm not jealous, but I would have like to have hung out with him. He is one of two uncles I never really knew. My father's side of the family were all musicians. My dad played sax and clarinet. My grandfather played and made and repaired violins, and I had uncles who played violins, and cello and piano. My dad used to say, "Son, you must have music in you, because none of it has ever come out".

8. What's the strangest thing (comment/experience) that's happened to you while busking?
For a while, I kept seeing the same fellow everytime I went busking. He would be hanging out in the background. He never said anything, and if I looked at him, he would disappear then reappear again later. One of the most delightful things that I experienced was a whole bunch of kids who were shopping with their parents, dancing to my music. Then some of the parents started dancing with them. One day, a woman with her face covered, in the Muslim way, walked by and dropped $5 in my case. She must have heard me play from afar and got out the bill, because she didn't stop to listen. She just walked by and dropped the $5. It was the first time I received a bill as a tip. A fellow came up to me one day, dropped a tooney into my case and thanked me for playing Star of Logy Bay, and told me how it reminded him of growing up in Newfoundland.

9. Is Tuffy P (aka Mrs. Anchovy) really as tough as she sounds?
Let there be no doubt.

10. Who's cooler and why: Weird Al Yankovic or America's Polka King, Frank Yankovic?
I think Frank Yankovic is way cool because he stuck with his own brand of traditional music, even long after it went out of fashion, which I really admire. And, he continued to be successful in a world that turned its back on the polka.

11. Math Question: If Billy is traveling from Toronto to Montreal on a train going 100KM/hour and it leaves the station at 3PM, and Anne is on a bus traveling from Montreal to Winnipeg at the same speed, with ½ hour stops every 150 KM, what CD are you listening to in your car as you drive to visit friends in Peterborough and what's your favourite track?
A Tribute to Ward Allen. Favourite track is of course his greatest song, Maple Sugar.

12. Of the multitude of kitties in your household, who's your favourite and why? (Come on, you know you have one…it's like being a parent).
Parents would never say. William has been with me the longest, so we're good old friends. Shadow comes to me like a dog, and is very affectionate with me. Jerry has a kind of dignity that only comes with having lived on the streets. Don't tell the others I singled out these three.

13. Can anyone learn to play the accordion or is a skill that you're born with?
The skill isn't the number one issue. What's important is the curious mindset that finds messing around with a complex mechanical archaic wonder like the accordion to be fascinating. One skill that is vital is the ability to do two different things with your two hands and keep them straight.

14. Why are manhole covers round?
So giants can skip them like stones on a lake.

15. If you were a pizza, what would your three toppings be (not including sauce or the standard mozzarella)?
Hot chile peppers, green olives and onions.


Wandering Coyote said...

Grr...I just left a comment but my connection crapped out...

Anywho...Another great interview! Of course, I have had the honour of meeing Mr. A and Tuffy P and all the cats in person, and they are all fantastic.

I have to disagree about the Yankovic issue, though. I still think Weird Al is a genius!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Anyone who busks and lives with a multitude of cats has my vote! Great interview.

mister anchovy said...

The current lineup of felines are:
and Rossi

* (asterisk) said...

Mister Anchovy is da man! By the way, Mr A, I recently saw a tattoo that you'd love (kinda). I'll try to mail you a pic soon.

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