By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
Melvin Rose is a well-known musician on the Southwest coast. He has played in a variety of bands, such as Guess Watt and the Jack Daniels Band. His music career began in high school.
“I started playing music back in early 80’s. We had a high school four-piece band called Horizon that played locally around the area. Around 1984 we formed the Rose Blanche group Guess Watt,” said Rose.
The Guess Watt group was a spin-off of Horizon, and the new group continued to play up until 1995. During this same time period, Rose would also fill in for the group The Isle Aux Morts Boys, on those occasions when their singer, the late Keith Ball, could not make it for a trip or a gig.
“This gave me a chance to sing more traditional music, along with top country hits at the time. My buddy (Shawn Horwood) from the Guess Watt days was playing with the boys in 1995 and I joined them for a trip to Ontario in 1995, as a sound guy / driver / extra singer,” laughed Rose.
After the Ontario trip, Rose decided to move there and put his music career on the back burner. He worked at a vinyl siding plant, which had around 45 employees also hailing from Isle aux Morts.
It wasn’t long before Rose felt the need to get back up on stage in front of a music loving crowd, and by chance, a spot opened up in a former band that was heading up his way.
“Being away from playing in front of people was hard. In 1997 I made some bookings around southern Ontario for my buddies back home, who had a band at the time. My buddy and longtime bandmate from the Guess Watt days, Shawn Horwood, was playing with this band.”
However, things took a turn when members of the band could not make the gig, and Rose found himself on stage once again.
“Just before they were supposed to travel up, two of their band backed out because of work commitments. Shawn asked if I would play bass and sing, so the other two remaining members could make the trip. I said yes and we played those bookings as a three-piece traditional Newfoundland band, along with a mixture of rock and country.”
Rose was pleased to find that many people came out to see their shows, even though the group had yet to find a name.
“The bookings included the Newfoundland Garden Party in Orangeville Ontario. That was the biggest crowd we had ever played for, and our group didn’t even have a name. We shared the stage with Roy Payne and Derek Pilgrim. It was a fun time,” recalled Rose.
Just as he couldn’t keep away from the stage, Rose could not stay away from home as well. He moved back home in summer 1998.
“We had a chance to buy a business back home in Rose Blanche. We did that for 3 years and then moved to Isle Aux Morts where we still live.”
After the return home, his collaborations with local bands on the Southwest coast continued, including his old band,The Isle Aux Morts Boys, and the ever-popular Jack Daniels Band.
“The Isle Aux Morts Boys were in need of a singer so I joined in. We still play together when the opportunity is there. In 2017 I was asked to join the Jack Daniels Band. We started out in September of that year with a few songs. And then after many hours of hard work and practice, we are enjoying playing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused difficulties for Rose and his band, as it has for so many other entertainers. With restrictions on social gatherings, it became a challenge not only to play shows, but to get together and practice as well.
“The pandemic was a hard time for us. Never in my music life could you be unable to play or even practice. Thankfully we are getting on the other side of this thing, here in Newfoundland and we are looking forward to next summer, Come Home Year in Newfoundland and Labrador.”