Founder of A Better World
Brian Gladstone, the man behind the scenes, is this month's feature story.
By Paul Rawski – Brian has positively touched the lives of many people throughout his adventures as a master finger-style guitar player, active touring singer-songwriter, music producer, founder and organizer of 'The Association of Artists for a Better World', as well as devoting much of his energy to raising his three children as a single parent.
Below is the transcript of an interview with Brian Gladstone by 96.9 FM Humber Radio DJ (Paul Rawski) taking a powerful glimpse at Brian's journey thus far, to learn what drives such incredible, selfless accomplishment. A Better World spotlights its founder Brian Gladstone.
Paul: His music stands for peace, harmony, and the love for Mother Nature. He’s living proof that one man can make a difference, by reaching out to his audience about important issues that affect us all. Growing up in the 60’s made a great impression on Brain Gladstone. Social revolutions were shaping the world, and he saw first-hand how much of an impact the youth movement had on bettering our world. As soft spoken and mild-mannered he may appear, his music carries with it a powerful message.
Brian: I grew up in an era that had a lot of protest songs being written. I grew up in the Vietnam era that I actually witnessed, and I saw with my own eyes how youth culture and music can change politics, and the course of history.
Paul: Every great story starts somewhere. For Brian, it begins right here in Toronto. Growing up in the big city, he was exposed not only to the pop culture of the day, but also that of generations before him. The singer-songwriter is humble about his beginnings, but also admits that fate played a hand in the process of becoming what he was destined to be.
Brian: I just have a love for the art form. I’m a writer by nature and tend to be very creative. In my teens, as most people, I was just very very into music. I don’t think I made any decisions, I think it decided for me. I just basically followed where it took me. I don’t really have a choice in this. You know, if I don’t do music, it does me.
Paul: Many different influences come together to form Brian’s unique sound. Not greater perhaps than one of his greatest inspirations; American folk and country singer Doc Watson. But he also takes cues from some the best in traditional North American Roots music, folk styles, southern blue grass, country, and even chains of rock-and-roll and psychodillia. Brian’s songs make his older audiences nostalgic, and his younger audiences stand up and listen.
Brian: I grew up in the folk revolution in the 60’s and 70’s. Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot. It really formed and had an influence on me. You know, I’ve seen the Beatles, every major rock-and-roll band. I was an attendee at Woodstock so I’ve just basically been engrossed in music my entire life.
Paul: The message of the music transcends time. It’s about bettering ourselves and bettering our world. To that end, Brian shows us that activism is very much alive. He’s the founder and organizer of the Toronto-based Winterfolk Festival, The Association of Artists for a Better World, and is involved in numerous other projects, including benefits for Hurricane Katrina and concerts for Earth Day Canada.
Brian: What I try to do, or what our organization does, is we try and get artists in touch with causes, and causes in touch with artists. I don’t think it’s power, I think it’s just a natural evolution. It’s the words in the music that have the power to change the world.
Paul: Brain Gladstone’s positive sounds and skills are more than just the reflection of a generation we once were. In today’s world, everything his music stands for is alive and well within us all. It stands for peace and justice. It stands for loving your environment and your fellow man. And there can be little doubt that Brian’s songs are meant for the heart just as much as they’re meant for the ear.
Biography of Brian Gladstone
Brian Gladstone is old enough to remember the heyday of the psychedelic 60s and young enough to still believe in and try to live by the values of peace, love and understanding that were at its core. His self-taught guitar picking style has often been described as masterful and unique and he also taught himself how to promote his music and build a solid career –to the point that he was able to quit his day job as an acclaimed electronics engineer several years ago and now supports himself through his creative endeavors. Since 1999 he has released four albums of original music, written the theme song for a television show, appeared at numerous festivals and done countless television, radio and newspaper interviews. Nine years ago he created the now iconic Winterfolk Festival and through his charitable Artists For A Better World organization has staged concerts and released 10 compilation albums of music by songwriters from across the planet. As an open stage host he has encouraged scores of fellow artists to share their talents and he continues to write himself, with a new album of originals coming out later this year.