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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 04.13.04

RICKY BLUE

Blowing harp with Bill Macy

Having a few beers with a friend. We hear about a film shoot on the lakeshore. Some celebrity like Bruce Willis? No, William H. Macy - a real actor. On our way home we drive by. Too late.

Next day I get a message. Something about a film. We play telephone tag. I give up. She calls back. Found me in the Musicians' Guild Directory. Bill Macy needs a "harmonica consultant."

Rehearsing with George Bowser the next day, I say: "He probably needs someone to show him how to pretend to play."

George says: "You would be perfect because you have been pretending to play for years."

I meet Macy. He needs harmonica help. He plays well enough to cover a busking-in-the-park scene. But not to accompany his young co-star as she sings Rockin' Robin. It is her showcase opportunity. He doesn't want to let her down. But he insists on "real." No fully orchestrated soundtrack music suddenly coming out of nowhere.

We hang out. I admire his ukulele. I meet Ned Beatty. I restrain myself from humming the theme from Deliverance.

I figure out a melody. Macy likes it but the director doesn't. We substitute Marvin Gaye's Can I get A Witness. Good harmonica riff, but the lyrics don't fit.

Back to square one. I figure out a way to use the 'Witness' riff to accompany Robin. Everyone is happy. Macy gives me a ukulele sent from L.A. I am touched.

One set is an apartment building on rue Jeanne Mance. They scraped the hallway to resemble a gritty, neglected tenement. I say that I know plenty of buildings in this area that are already plenty gritty and neglected.

I meet Don Rickles. I ask him what his part is. He says: "Jew walking."

And indeed, even though he must be a hundred years old, the director makes him walk up and down a stairway twenty times.

I comment to the producer how refreshing it is for Macy to insist on playing harmonica for real. He says: "That's the kind of actor Bill is."

They decide to use a recording of my harmonica only for the Robin song. I get nervous.

Macy says: "Don't worry."

I say: "You are an optimist."

He says: "I have to be. I'm an actor."

His stand-in, whose job is to take his position while the lights and cameras are being set up, looks exactly like Bruce Willis.

He says: "I'm not Bruce Willis."

I suggest: "Make it work for you." A little while later I see him signing autographs.

I say: "Hey Bruce!" He winks. The autograph girls are visibly excited.

Later he says: "They don't recognize Bill Macy. They think he is my stand-in."

We shoot the outdoor harmonica scene near Place des Arts. Surrounded by seventy extras, and a crew of fifty, Bill sits in the middle like a Zen master waiting for someone to say: "Action."

Marlon Brando once said that acting was being able to be natural in an unnatural situation. At first the playback is the wrong version. I step in and correct them.

"Good thing you were here," the production manager says. The scene goes well. The producer says Bill was not able to sleep until I arrived. He was so concerned about his Rockin' Robin part.

I leave, satisfied. All in a week's work for Rick Blue, harmonica consultant.

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