My Friend, Don Celsie

I first met Don back around 1955. He and his older brother Art Celsie ran a Sunday Night Jamboree that was held at the York Farmers Market, in Thornhill, Ontario just a few miles north of Toronto.


I was playing sax at the Sunday Night Jamboree with a group called “Al Hepburn & The Houndogs“. The Houndogs dished out a new brand of music called Rock and Roll to an audience of mostly Country fans and it seemed to go over well. (This would be my first paying gig. I got $2.00 for the night.)

After the Jamboree shows, I didn’t see Don again until around 2010 when I was playing at a Service Club in Orillia. That would be roughly some 55 years later, and there he was smiling in the audience with his lovely wife, Joan (to whom he has been married forever).

Don has always been full of surprises: as well as being a promoter of Country Music, he is also a picker and a grinner and he has written several songs over the years. Here’s one of Don’s songs, called “RAG TOP


Don tells me that he wrote “Rag Top” back in the 1960s when he worked for Roy Foss Motors on Yonge Street in Newtonbrook. A lot of the streets and highways mentioned in the song are well known in the Greater Toronto area.

Here is Don doing a raw demo of a song that he took to Nashville.

… and here is a studio version of Don’s song, as recorded in Nashville around 1998 …


Asking Don about the Nashville session, he said:

Do you remmber Gary Buck? He made it in Nashvile. Thats Buddy Emmons on steel. It played good on radio in Eurupe and a few stations in Canada  But not the U S – Don

Here’s another song written by Don for his beloved wife Joan and their 50th wedding anniversary. Joan is singing with him and appearing in video photos (Steel guitar and bass by Ollie Strong)…

Now, for something real different!

Russ and Don at Orillia ANAF

Russ with his soprano sax – Don with his dad’s homemade “sax”

Don said in a recent email,

By the way you know I started oil painting in 2000. I started with landscapes, then buildings, then animals, etc. 2 years ago I started portraits. Since then I have done 250 of all kinds of celebs . Do you know who this is? -Don

Don’s portrait of Russ

[I was so surprised and humbled that Don would paint a portrait of ME – Russ]

Don’s portrait of Jerry Lee Lewis
Don’s portrait of Buddy Holly
Don’s portrait of Tanya Tucker
Don’s portrait of The Beatles


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